One of my reasons for becoming a Virtual Assistant was to have the freedom to work from anywhere. My family is all over the world (literally!!) and I’m always looking for ways to make my trips more manageable and enjoyable whether I travel for a vacation or business. I don’t enjoy feeling rushed and crazy before a trip, and I’m sure you don’t either. Here are some of my favorite stress-free tips (in no particular order) that will keep you feeling as mellow as you can, while you travel to your next adventure.
- Itinerary Folder: Grab a brightly colored folder (the kind with the little silver brads on the inner spine) and some page protectors. Your flight info, your hotel info, things to do, embassy phone numbers, photocopies of your credit cards (front and back) and passport – it all goes here. Keep this travel folder in your personal item. Include any important phone numbers back home, mobile provider, emergency contacts, etc. Stress-free advantage? Important information is all in one place.
- Groupon! Yes, Groupon. Going to Paris? Rome? Dubai? London? They all have Groupon. Try out some interesting restaurants or excursions and don’t pay full price for them! Google Groupon + the city you are traveling to, purchase some Groupons, and put those in your Itinerary folder. One thing about Groupon overseas, they may not accept the mobile app, so print out your coupons before you leave. Stress-free advantage? Save money while sampling the local cuisine.
- Global Entry: I cannot tell you how much I LOVE GLOBAL ENTRY. Caveat: You have to be an American to use Global Entry. Added benefit of Global Entry? You also get TSA Precheck. How many hours have I saved by not waiting in long lines? So many! I love, love, love it. Best $100.00 you’ll ever spend if you travel often. TSA Precheck is $85.00, so spring for the extra $15… it’s good for 5 years. Stress-free advantage? Zoom past all those poor souls who don’t have Global Entry when you’re tired and are almost home.
- Travel cubes. Travel cubes, where have you been all my life? These are great! Use them! They also keep things a little more compact in your suitcase – not as much as a space bag (the kind you suck all the air out of), but then they also don’t need excessive ironing when you get to your destination. Stress-free advantage? They keep things nice and organized inside your checked bag and the contents don’t end up looking like a mosh pit.
- Unpack your suitcase immediately. Hang it up, air it out, put it away. You will be so much happier if you can look for things in a closet or drawer rather than tearing through your suitcase. Stress-free advantage? You can find your stuff.
- Contact your mobile phone provider a few days in advance of traveling outside of the US. They will be able to tell you phone, text and data charges for your destination, and whether or not you need to alter any of your phone’s settings in order to use it overseas. It may be worth your while to purchase a global phone plan and then cancel it when you get home – $20 or so could save you a lot of $$$ in the long run. Stress-free advantage? A phone that works when you get where you’re going and no disturbing financial surprises when you get home.
- I use a big travel tote and let this be my “purse” or personal item. A typical personal item measures 7x15x16 inches. Large enough to fit my laptop, cords, and a smaller purse that I will use when not on the plane. It has a good strong strap on it, and is big enough to hold the things I will need during my flight. I don’t put my laptop in my roller board because there have been times where for one reason or another I needed to check that. If you’re one of the last groups to board, you always run the risk of them insisting on your roller board being checked. Stress-free advantage? No need to freak out if the flight attendant tells you your roller board must be checked.
- Leave your itinerary with a close friend or relative that has hotel phone numbers on it. Stress-free advantage? Knowing loved ones won’t worry about you so much.
- Get to the airport early! This is so basic but I’ve seen so many crazy people at the airport having unnecessary meltdowns. Why do that to yourself? If you have bags to check, arrive at the airport a minimum of 90 minutes before your flight is scheduled for domestic flights and 2 hours for international. Emphasis on the word MINIMUM. If you can, give yourself a little extra cushion. Rest comfortably at your gate, catch up with a friend, do a crossword puzzle, whatever. Stress-free advantage? You won’t be the sweaty, crazed last person on the plane, or worse yet, the person who is on the wrong side of the closed gate door.
- Keep a pre-printed packing list. Don’t reinvent the wheel every time you travel. And to make life easier, I have a comprehensive free checklist that I would be happy to send you. Complete the info below and it will be on its way to you. Stress-free advantage? You won’t forget anything important!
Yes! I want a copy of your free Travel Checklist!
Please let me know if you plan on trying out any of these travel ideas and also if you have something that really makes your travel experience less stressful! Bon Voyage!