Don’t Leave the Coffee Pot On!

The day that you take off for a trip can be hectic. In the rushing around, it’s easy to leave the house in a hurry without some important steps. Here are the last set of “Before You Go” tips – the day of departure.

1. Turn off/unplug unnecessary appliances – coffee pots, fans, hair dryers, toaster over, etc.

2. Check the status of your flight to make sure there are no changes, as well as the departure gate.

3. Adjust your thermostat to keep your electricity/heating bills lower while you are away. If it’s winter, don’t turn the heat all the way off – pipes could freeze and burst. If you turn air conditioning completely off in the summer, indoor plants might not be alive to welcome you home. If you have important plants, adjust your air conditioning accordingly.

4. For international flights, arrive at airport at least 2-3 hours before your flight; domestic flights arrive at least 1-2 hours before flight. IMPORTANT: Check with airport for suggested arrivals as this may change. Leave additional time for traffic, parking, and other issues that could delay you. Mornings, especially early in the week, are busy times for business travelers so allow for extra time at security if traveling during this time.

5. Make sure all items in your carry-on are allowed on board. Airlines require some items to be in your checked luggage. You can find a list of permitted/prohibited items on the TSA website. There’s also now a TSA app that you can download for updates.

6. Make sure you have not packed any important documents/necessities for your trip in the luggage you plan to check at the airport. This includes passport/identification, tickets or confirmations, medication, money, or anything with personal details on it. The same goes with items that are either monetarily or sentimentally high in value. If it’s something you that you can’t easily replace, or will cost you a lot to do so, keep it in your carry-on, assuming it’s allowed.

Before You Go – 1 to 2 Days

You’re trip is in just a day or two! It’s a very exciting and busy time. Here are some tips for the day or two before you take off.

1. Check your flight on the airline website to make sure there are no last minute time our routing changes. Generally you (or your travel planner) will receive notifications via email, but this just serves as an additional check. Most flights will also let you check in online 24 hours prior to your flight time.

2. Call airlines to confirm/add any special meal requirements. IMPORTANT: This must be done AT LEAST 24 hours before. If possible, do this at time of booking.

3. Check packing list and make note of things that still need to be packed.

4. Confirm arrangements made for your pets/home.

5. Check to see if you have any bills that are due while you are away or right after you come back and if so, pay them before you leave. If you are unsure of how much your bill will be, call the company and ask or check online.

Before You Go – 1 to 3 Weeks

You’re trip is just around the corner and you’re getting all excited! Here are some important things to think about that to help make sure you’re trip goes smoothly!

1. Make two copies of your passport and itinerary. Give one to someone back home; pack the other in your carry-on in a separate spot from your actual passport/itinerary.

2. Call credit cards, debit cards, and bank to let them know that you will be traveling overseas. For theft protection, many banks/card companies will freeze an account if they see overseas charges that they do not believe belong to the cardholder.

3. Copy down your credit card numbers/information and the international telephone number. Keep them in your luggage/carry separate from your credit cards.

4. Check voltage at destination ? you may need a voltage/outlet converter.

5. Arrange for your mail to be stopped or have someone pick up your mail for you.

6. Alert a neighbor/friend of your travel dates. This lets them know to be suspect of any activity around your house.

7. Have luggage tags on each piece of your checked luggage ? put at least your name and phone number on the tag, or use a business card. You may also want to put something distinguishable on your luggage if it is a common color.

8. Check the amenities of your hotels ? you can avoid packing items that the hotels already have. Check other hotel details such as if they have air conditioning and elevators, and pack accordingly.

9. Check the weather at the destination.

10. If you plan on using your phone – for calls, texts, email, or internet – while traveling, call your phone company to let them know and see if you need any additional features added to utilize overseas without incurring outrageous roaming charges.

Before You Go – 1 to 3 months

Part two in this series of “before you go” tips contains those items that I suggest doing one to three months before you travel.

1. Check luggage restrictions for flight/transportation. You may not think you need to do this so far in advance, but I recently stayed at a hotel that required a boat transfer, and they only let you bring carry on bags and personal items on the boat, and therefore to the hotel. We had to leave the rest of our luggage locked in their head office in town from where the boat departed. This is certainly something you want to know ahead of time – some of us actually purchased new carry on bags to make sure we could hold enough for our few days at the hotel.

2. Check with your bank about obtaining local currency. Some currencies could take a while to order because the bank doesn’t have them in stock at the branch. You want to have at least some local currency when you arrive at your destination ? most cab/transport companies will not accept US Dollars, and in some locations taxis do not take credit cards or charge a large fee for doing so.

3. Begin a general packing list (on the computer if possible). It doesn’t need to include specific items, just categories – i.e. jeans, long sleeve shirt, walking shoes, etc. Add things as you think of them. Keep this list for future reference. If it’s an electronic list, you can easily adjust it as needed.

4. Make arrangements for any pets/your house. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the planning and forget but if you plan to be away, you want to know that your pet and/or home will be taken care of.

5. Have a copy of all travel confirmations/confirmation numbers. Your travel planner should provide you with the confirmations when you book, but you want to make sure you can easily locate all of the essential details and that you have no major questions. If you look at this in advance, it provides time for us to answer any questions you may have.

Before You Go

I’m a list maker. I keep a lot reference lists for both myself and my clients. One of my favorite is my break down of “Before You Go” items. There’s often so much to remember prior to a trip that a lot can get lost in the shuffle. There are tasks that, if not done on time (or worse, at all), can wreak major havoc on a trip. I break this list down into increments – 4 to 6 months before the trip, 1 to 3 months before, 1 to 3 weeks before, 1 to 2 days before, and the day of departure. These items are in the form of a physical check list, and I highly recommend them to anyone planning a trip. I’m sharing here, in sections, starting with the furthest time period and moving closer to your travel date. I can also provide this as a full check list in PDF format, if anyone would like one.

Part 1: 4 to 6 Months before your trip (note, these are in no particular order, except they all fall in this time period):

1. Contact your travel planner if you haven’t already. The more time we have to plan, the more options that are available to you for flights, hotels, activities and the like.

2. Check your passport. If you’re traveling out of the country, unless it’s to a U.S. territory, you’ll need your passport, period. Some countries require your passport to be good for 30 or 60 days after you leave the country. If you’re passport is close to expiring, best to renew now. Some travel arrangements will require your passport details in order to book, so renewing it sooner than later is ideal.

3. Do you need a visa? Many countries that require a visa will provide it on arrival. Others require you to get it in advance, sometimes in person. Visa rules need to be examined carefully – some are good for multiple entries within a certain time frame, whereas others are valid for one entry and can only be provided within x number of days prior to your trip. Discuss this with your planner and make sure you are comfortable with the visa process before booking anything. We can help you with most of the process, but if it requires you to obtain it in person, there’s only so much we can do.

4. Check on any vaccines, medications, and other health suggestions/requirements for your destination. You can find these details on the CDC website. Most of the time, your GP can provide you with these shots and medications, and there are doctors who specialize in travel medicine as well. Some countries may require proof of a vaccination in order to enter the country. This is often true of yellow fever. When you get the vaccine, a card is provided that shows the date of vaccination and is signed by your physician. If it’s a required vaccination, you will need to carry this card with you when you travel.

5. Double check all travel documents and confirmations as soon as you receive them. If you have any questions, let your travel planner know immediately.