Travel 101: The complete guide to a stress free vacation.
09 Jun 2017
There is so much to do when planning a vacation. Each time we travel, we follow this easy guide to ensure we have the most fun on our vacation. Preparation in advance can really help keep your stress levels at bay.
This is only a suggested guide. You can follow as many or as few tips as you want. I think that the more you follow, the less stress you will have on your vacation.
As Canadians, you need to ensure your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your intended vacation. If it is not, you will need to renew your passport before departing. Although you should allow a couple months for the passport process, passports can be obtained faster for an additional fee.
Make a copy of your passport. Keep this on your person, and maybe have a second copy in your bags. In case your passport gets lost or stolen, this will help identify you, and make getting back into Canada a little easier.
Before traveling, make sure you have purchased travel insurance, both medical and baggage loss. This can be done through your travel agent, or purchased from an insurance company. Also check your credit cards… some cover travel insurance.
Print it. Scan it.
You may think it’ll never happen to you, but theft and loss to happen. You don’t want to end up not having your documents. Keep copies with you, at home, and with family or friends. This also includes a copy of your passport. For added protection, scan everything, and email it all to yourself.
When printing out all of your documents, make a second copy to give to a family member or a friend. With these documents, make sure there is a number where you can be reached at. This can be the hotel you’re staying at, or your cell phone, or both. Then, make sure you have their number in case you need to get a hold of them in an emergency.
Call the number on the back.
Your bank and credit card companies Will need to be notified of your travel. Last thing you want is to try to use your debit card at an ATM, or try to charge something on your credit card, and it won’t work because your bank or credit card company has flagged the transaction. To avoid unnecessary hassle, call the number on the back for traveling. It only takes a few minutes, and can save you a lot of downtime and embarrassment.
Make sure you are connected.
Check with your wireless carrier to ensure that you have coverage where you are going. I know a lot of people like to disconnect when on vacation, but our family is very digitally connected, and love to post photos on social media as they happen.
The Roam Like Home package through Rogers is fantastic for this. No surprises when our bill comes. It’s five dollars a day for US travel, and $10 a day for international travel. You are only charged for a maximum of 10 days per billing period, and only for the days when you actually use your phone on your trip.
Get geared up.
Take stock of all the electronics you are bringing with you, and ensure you have the proper cables and battery chargers for those items. Taking a couple extra cables, and an extra battery or two can come in handy if you lose one, or one fails. Always have a back up.
Dos cervezas por favor.
Learn a few key phrases in the language of the country/countries you are visiting. He can come in Candy when talking to taxi drivers, or vendors. Phrases like “hello”, “good morning”, “good night”, “please”, “thank you”, and “two beers, please!” spoken natively can go a long way. If you need to translate on the fly, use Google translate.
Take emergency cash.
Having a small stash of cash and an extra credit card separate from your wallet can come in handy if you happen to lose your wallet.
Note your digits.
Ensure you jot down your credit card numbers, and the contact information on the back of the card, in case you happen to lose your credit cards, or they get stolen. Keep a copy of this at home, and on you.
Go see the doctor.
A quick visit to your doctor is very important. This is your chance to stock up on all of your medications, and to make sure you are properly vaccinated for the country you will be entering (if necessary).
Don’t be a smuggler.
Research what you can and cannot bring inside the country you are visiting. Countries like Australia have quarantines, and have high restrictions on what you can bring into the country, and what you can take out of the country. Best to know what the limitations are. Oh, and a kangaroo does not make a good travel companion.
Travelling to an ethnic culture? Know what types of food will be available, so you can be prepared. Step out of your comfort zone and try new foods. As well, understand the types of music you will be hearing. If soca is not your thing, Trinidad might not be the best destination for your trip.
Research local cultures, customs, laws, and etiquette. In a lot of Caribbean countries, their way of life is very laid-back. You are on vacation, so nothing should be rushed. You are not sitting in rush hour commuting to work. Vacation is a time for rest and relaxation. Enjoy it.
Always remember different countries have different ways of life. They may not be up to the standards you are used to, but this is a country where you will be a visitor. Either be prepared to accept it, or choose a different destination.
A few days before travel, make sure you check the weather forecast for your destination. This could easily change what you have and have not packed. If inclement weather is expected, at least you can be prepared for it.
Think of Fido.
Your own vacation is not the only thing you need to worry about. Booking accommodations for your pet is just as important. I would recommend doing this a month or two out, to ensure availability at your kennel of choice. If your regular kennel is not available, you will still have enough time to source another one. If you are travelling during the holidays, try to book further out.
Secure your home.
Having a house sitter is essential. Whenever we go on vacation, my parents spend a significant amount of time at our house, even spending the night. We also have our neighbours look in every day. In some cases, we will have a friend stay at our place while we are gone. Whomever is staying at our place, (or watching our place) will collect the mail and any flyers that get delivered. They can also feed the fish and water the plants. You don’t want to come back from vacation and find Nemo floating upside down at the top of your tank.
Always pack a few snacks in your carry-on in case you get the munchies. This is especially important if you’re travelling with kids. They can also come in handy at your destination. Your kids maybe used to certain types of snacks that may not be available at your resort.
Check in online.
Most airlines let you check in 24 hours before your flight. Some airlines only allow a few hours. It is best to check in as soon as possible, so that when you get to the airport, you already have all that out of the way.
Book excursions in advance.
You can book excursions when you book your trip. The advantage to this is that you have already paid for it when you arrive, and you do not need to budget for it once there. Take your time, figure out what you want to do, and how much time you want to spend away from your resort. Then decide on which excursions are best for you and your family, and book them in advance. One less thing to worry about when you reach your destination.
Pack for a longer vacation.
If you’re going on vacation for seven days, pack for 10 days. I know this may sound silly, but accidents sometimes happen. You could rip a pair shorts, spill your breakfast on a shirt you just put on, or slip and fall in a puddle and have to change mid day. Best to back more than you’ll need, and be prepared, so you are not inconvenienced.
Now, this does not mean you need to pack every outfit you have. Be sensible.
Or, you could be vacationing in sunny Miami, and decide you want to hop on a quick 3 or 4 day cruise that was selling off spaces for a drastically reduced price.
That being said, I know a lot of people that just like to travel with carry-on luggage only, and pack really light. Take this piece of advice with a bit of salt… a lemon wedge, and a shot of tequila. You’ll need it if you run out of clothes.
Check dress code at destination.
Do a quick search on Facebook for groups related to where you were going to travel. If you can find your resort, join the group, and ask questions from people who have been there. They will be the best resorts for what you can and cannot wear at restaurants. As well, talk to your travel agent. Chances are, either they or someone they know, have been to the resort you are going to.
Don’t just bring it.
Check travel restrictions for carry-on and checked luggage prior to packing. Canada has some strict guidelines of what they will and will not allow in carry-on luggage and checked luggage. You can view a complete list here.
Pack a first aid kit.
A small first kit containing bandaids, antiseptic wound cleanser, blister pads, disposable latex gloves, gauze, safety pins, tensor bandage, thermometer, and tweezers, can be purchased at your local drug store, or on Amazon.
Over the counter medications for allergy, headache, motion sickness, upset stomach, anti-fungal, and cold and flu can also be added.
Download apps like the Weather Network, Google Maps, Google Translate, a Currency Converter, and other apps that may help you at your destination. Some destinations, like Disney, have their own apps that will help during your visit. Also ensure your wireless provider has coverage at your destination so you can use said apps.
Empty your fridge.
In the week leading up to travel, go through the food and drink in your fridge, and try to use up things that will not survive the duration you are gone. Whatever is left over, see if family or friends could use it for disposing of it.
Clear your memory.
Make sure you have enough space on your memory cards or your smart phone for pictures. You don’t want to be in a position where you are short of storage when you were trying to capture a cool memory. Download all of the pictures off of your phone, and make sure you back up all your memory cards. Format your memory cards in your camera prior to leaving for your vacation.
Enjoy your vacation!
Most importantly, have fun. Going through all of these tips is a way to insure you are prepared for any situation that can arise. Being prepared cuts down stress, and saves you time. And don’t forget to make a checklist!
I hope these tips help you prepare for your next vacation.
Disclaimer: I am a Rogers social insider. All opinions are my own.