As vaccines allow life to slowly return to pre-pandemic normal, the world is breathing a collective sigh of relief. Regulations are easing, and destinations are finally allowing travel again. With a year of Covid behind you, you’re antsy to take them up on their offer.
Your tickets are booked and your itinerary laid out, but as you haul out your suitcase, you realize something. You are no longer as familiar with the travel process as you used to be. How many more things do you need to prepare? Where do you start?
First, take a breath and scroll down. After you do these five things, you’ll be much better prepared for any upcoming travel.
1. Research Your Destination Beforehand
There are a multitude of important factors that will affect the quality of your trip if you don’t take them into account. You’re accustomed to your local area, but remember just how diverse the world can be. Do some research on things like weather and culture to get a good sense of your best tour in Nashville destination.
What kind of clothing will you need? What type of electrical outlet is standard in the region? Are there any local customs you’d be wise to be aware of? In France, for example, restaurants often lock up tight at 2 p.m., so you’ll want to avoid late lunches. In Greece, you may be encouraged to pay for your souvlaki in cash.
Consider this the fun step — cultural differences are what make travel interesting. And be sure to make a list of must-visit attractions so you won’t miss seeing your destination’s hotspots.
2. Ponder Your Payment Options
While away, you’ll need ready access to your funds to pay for everything from your morning croissant to Uber fares. If you’re traveling domestically, a reasonable amount of cash and the usual cards in your wallet will probably suffice. If you’re going overseas, though, the way you pay for things will require more thought.
First of all, there are exchange rates and currency conversion fees to consider. You should also, as noted, take into account your destination’s preference for cash transactions. Typically the least expensive way to get foreign currency is to use your debit card to withdraw cash from a local bank’s ATM. You will, however, want to check into foreign transaction fees so you know what to expect.
It’s also a good idea to have a backup card solely for the trip. That way, you won’t be left in the lurch if your main card gets lost, stolen, or eaten by a temperamental ATM. To prevent fraud, you could consider signing up for a debit card that can be conveniently turned off at any time.
Speaking of fraud, before your debit card company gets suspicious of a charge from a new location, inform them of your travel plans. This will prevent their protective measures from going into effect and allow you to order that margarita without worry!
3. Gather Your Travel Documents
Depending on whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, you may require different identification while passing through security. Domestic flights typically only require a driver’s license or another form of government-issued ID. International flights also require a passport and occasionally a travel visa. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the visa guidelines and restrictions at your destination so the process goes smoothly.
Complicating this picture are Department of Homeland Security guidelines that would require domestic travelers to upgrade their driver’s license to a RealID. Originally planned to take effect in 2020, implementation of these guidelines was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now they won’t go into force until May 3, 2023.
But while RealID changes won’t affect your travel plans in the immediate future, passport processing delays might. If you hope to travel internationally and don’t have a current passport, you may wait up to 18 weeks to get one. You’ll need to plan your trip accordingly.
4. Make Sure You Have Phone Coverage
While traveling domestically or internationally, having access to the internet gives you the benefit of information anywhere you are. Searching for a place to eat or finding a bathroom on short notice becomes a lot easier. Although Wi-Fi hotspots are increasingly common, you can still get caught in a dead zone.
Check to make sure that your phone plan has the necessary coverage in the area you are traveling to. If it does not, you have a few options. You can get a local SIM card, purchase a cheap local phone, or upgrade to an international plan. You can also choose to use your same plan and pay roaming charges, although that is likely to get expensive. Consider your alternatives, and choose the approach that makes the most sense based on your cell provider and intended destination.
5. Organize Your Belongings for the Security Line
One of the first hurdles of the airport experience is the line for security. You aren’t doing much other than waiting, but it can take an hour of doing so before you finally reach the checkpoint. Five stressful minutes later, you’re wearing one shoe, your ticket is in your mouth, and your bag is overflowing.
What happened to cause this chaos? You accidentally left your computer at the bottom of your carry-on. “Next time,” you tell yourself, “it will be different.”
Allow next time to be this time. As you prepare your bags, take note of all the items you will be using on the day of travel. Set aside everything that may need to be scanned separately and pack your bag so these items are easily accessible. It will make going through security a breeze, and your computer will be readily available on the flight.
Organizing a trip has always been a daunting experience. There are so many different aspects that need to be worked out. How long can you take off from work? How will you get around at your destination? What will you want to do when you get there?
On top of these questions, the pandemic has dulled our travel instincts and created new circumstances to bear in mind. These can be a lot to deal with, but with preparation you can overcome them. Once you’ve checked these things off your to-do list, you will be out and about in no time!