Before travelers leave home, there are a few things they should do. Sure, they don’t have to do any of these. However, planning ahead will give them the best possible chance of having an amazing trip. And what traveler doesn’t want to do that?
Here’s what people need to know before they leave home on a trip. Whether it’s big or small, planning ahead can save quite a bit of headache and hassle.
Before travelers commit to a particular trip or a particular destination, they should know what kind of documentation they will need to have before they can make the trip. If they want to travel within their own country, they may only need a driver’s license or a similar piece of documentation. Most people have these already or can easily obtain them.
Still, travelers without this documentation need to give themselves time to get it before they need to travel. It can take several weeks to get an actual ID card in the mail. People traveling overseas will need even more documentation. They will almost surely need a passport, and they may need entry documents as well.
Many people have passports and keep them updated just in case they need or want to travel to another country. Others may need to get a passport for the first time. The process for doing this is different in different countries. Travelers can find out what they need to do to get a passport on their country’s website.
Most of the time, it takes weeks or months to get a passport, unless the traveler has special circumstances. Finally, travelers need to know what kind of documentation they will need to enter the country or countries they want to visit.
They may be able to enter without a visa, either by getting a visa upon arriving in the country or by getting an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) ahead of time. It is up to each traveler to make sure they know what authorizations they need and get them at the proper time so they can take their trip as planned.
If they do need to get a formal visa, they will need to make sure they understand how to do this. Some visas can be applied for electronically, while others require embassy visits, interviews, paperwork, and more. It can take months to find out if travel is possible.
Travelers may choose to visit places where getting into the country is easier. Or, they may want to take the time to get the visas they need for their trip. Either way, the whole thing will go better if they know what is required before they make any formal travel plans.
Travelers also need to know why they are taking their trip and, if there are more than one of them, agree on a purpose for travel. This helps ensure that everyone is on the same page. If one person wants to visit family, for instance, and one wants to sightsee, there are a lot of potential conflicts there.
It is possible to travel for more than one purpose. However, it helps to assign certain time slots to each part of the trip. This can take a couple of forms. Some people will designate different travel days for different purposes (i.e. sightsee for three days, then do business for five, then sightsee again for two).
Others may designate part of each day for different types of travel. For instance, mornings may be for business while evenings are for sightseeing. Travelers can make any plan they all can agree on. The important thing is that everyone knows what to expect before they take the trip.
Travelers will want to do extensive research on the destinations they hope to visit. They can do most of this online, though they may also want to talk to people who have been there before. Some travelers like to do more research than others. Some want to know exactly what they want to see and do before they arrive.
Others are more interested in seeing what happens. They may plan to see a few things, but want days or hours where they can do anything that comes up and seems interesting. Either way, some basic research is in order. Travelers should, for instance, make sure that they know something about the city where they will be arriving in the new country.
They may also want to research other destinations in that country that they want to be sure to see, as well as how to get there and what kind of travel options are available. After all, no one wants to take a trip to another country only to find out later that they missed something they really wanted to see!
Travelers may also want to research the surrounding countries, especially if they are nearby and would be easy to visit. They may want to extend their trip or take day trips to these locations. Travelers should also research local customs and culture. They don’t need to know this inside and out in order to enjoy their trip.
They do, however, need to know if there are things that they should or should not do because they will cause offense to the locals. They don’t want to insult someone accidentally!
Travelers should also research any special needs that they might have, to ensure they can get what they need during their visit or bring it with them from home. Travelers with food allergies or sensitive stomachs will need to make sure they can get food they need in the country, or that they can bring it with them if they can’t.
Those that need medication will need to either get it in the country or carry it with them as they travel. People with sensory, dental, cognitive, and other needs should also research before they travel to make sure those needs can be met in their destination. Most of the information listed in this section should be readily available online. Travelers should be able to find everything they need to know about a country on the internet. Contacting a local agency in the country can also be helpful to travelers in getting to know the area.
Once the research is done, travelers should set a reasonable budget for their trip. This budget needs to take into account the country they are visiting, the level of luxury they want, etc. They need to be sure that their budget makes sense given who they are and what they want to do. For instance, travelers who want luxury suites should not plan a shoestring budget.
Different budgets are also reasonable for different countries. For instance, in some countries, they can eat for only a few dollars a day, while that’s not possible in other places. This is one place where research comes in really handy. Travelers should be able to figure out how much they will need, on average, per person per day in the country they want to visit. They should also take exchange rates into consideration. If their currency does not have a favorable exchange rate with the country they want to visit, the trip will cost more for them.
Finally, travelers need to take their own financial situation into account. They should look at how much money they have and not plan to spend more than a portion of that. Travelers who do not make a budget will usually spend more than they intend to. Things come up and they won’t know how much they’ve spent until they come home and add it all up.
Once travelers know (at least roughly) what they want to see, where they want to go, and how much they can spend, they should start planning their trip. Even if they want to fly by the seat of their pants, they should get a place to stay for their first few nights in the country.
No one wants to figure this out at the last minute, while jet-lagged. They should also make sure that they plan anything that requires reservations ahead of time. This may be tours, entry to particular sites, dinner at certain restaurants, etc.
Some places are impossible to get into without this kind of planning. Research should tell travelers which destinations require this kind of planning. Travelers may also want to plan a part of their trip that is special, such as a luxurious getaway. Even if they don’t travel like that all the time, they will want reservations to make this happen.
For instance, they might plan to spend a night or two in an overwater villa. They will want to choose the location for this stay and get it on the calendar well before they travel. Travelers will also want to make sure they have the plane tickets (and any other tickets) they need before they leave home. While they may be able to buy some tickets later, like train tickets or bus tickets, they will likely want to buy most plane tickets well in advance. Travelers should also note that some countries may require them to show an itinerary and firm travel plans before they enter a country.
In these cases, they will need to do a lot more planning. They will want all of their overnight stays booked, as well as the tours they want to take. Then, they won’t have to worry about what they will show at the border. Overall, travelers should make as many reservations as they need to to enter the country and feel comfortable traveling there.
Travelers will also want to make sure they pack well for their trip. Their research should come in handy here, too. For instance, research should tell them what the weather should be like in the areas they will be visiting, so they can pack accordingly. If they don’t have the clothes they will need, like if they are visiting somewhere cold and come from the tropics, they should plan ahead to order what they need ahead of time.
They should also make sure they have good luggage for their trip. This should be large enough without being too large, fit within their airline’s requirements, and be easy to find in an airport. They may want to research what kind of bags they want. They can choose roller bags, duffel bags, backpacks, and more.
Different people will want different bags and there’s no one single kind of bag that’s best. Each traveler can get their own so they feel confident they’ll be able to handle it on the trip. Travelers should also pack for the activities they have planned. If they want to go camping, for instance, they may need different clothes than those who plan to stay in a hotel.
If they are planning on participating in any activities that require equipment, they will need to decide if they want to bring their own or rent/buy in their destination. Items like golf clubs, skis, paddleboards, bicycles, and more can fall into this category. Some travelers choose to transport their own while others choose something else.
Travelers should also bring leisure items, like books, tablets, etc., and anything they will need for communication, like a mobile phone or a laptop. They may want to minimize the number of electronics they bring, as these can attract thieves and take away from time focusing on travel in their new location.
However, they will need something electronic for communicating and may want more for times when they just need to let their brains relax. Travelers should also make sure they have anything they need for any special needs. They may need to refill prescriptions early, for instance, so they have medication to bring with them.
They will need to research some types of medications to make sure they are legal in the country they are visiting. This includes any kind of steroid or stimulant. If it’s not legal, they may need to go through a process to be able to carry it into the country, or they may have to leave it at home. This category also includes sensory toys or equipment, braces or bandages, or anything else that is for a medical or other special need.
Once they know what they need to bring, travelers just need to make sure they have enough clothing for the duration of their trip. They should note when they might want to do laundry and which of their hotels have laundry services or facilities. This may change how much they need to bring.
While it’s always a good idea to pack light, there’s such a thing as packing too light. Travelers need to make sure they have what they need to be comfortable and enjoy their trip. If this means not bringing much, that’s great. But they can also choose to pack more if it means a better, more comfortable trip.
No amount of planning can guarantee that a trip will go well. Disasters happen and people don’t always act the way the plan expects them to. However, having a good plan gives travelers the best possible chance at having a good trip. They should remember that they can always change their plan if they need to.