11 Things To Do At Least One Week Before Your Trip
Planning and organizing a trip can be a very stressful event. For me it's definitely not the most fun part of the journey. There are so many things to cross off your checklist of what to do, what to see, how much it all costs, where to stay, what to pack, and so on and so on. The list of 'things to do' can be pretty intense once you factor into duration of stay and whether you are traveling domestically or internationally. I've organized a list of 11 things that you should do at least one week before your trip. Some of these things can be done the day before. Let's jump right into it, shall we?!
Week of trip
1. Double check your departure/arrival dates and times
This one is probably the most important of them all. You should know when you are leaving and returning right? Pay special attention to those red eye flight times (11:55pm on Monday, versus 12:05am Tuesday), as well as those flights that cross the international date line. Not paying attention could trip up even the most experienced traveler.
2. Send family and friends flight and hotel reservations
Let those who are important to you know where you are going, and where you will be. Or at least shoot the information off to the parentals. Just tell someone! We are all aware of how tragedy can hit while traveling. Keep your loved ones aware.
3. Create a loose itinerary
Prior to taking your trip, it's helpful to have a loose itinerary of at least what you want to see and do. You don't necessarily need to have each minute of the day organized, but you don't want to spend time wandering aimlessly either (unless that's your thing!). I personally fall right in the middle. I love exploring and stumbling upon places and things, but I also know what I want to do and see and be able cross of my list. It might even be helpful to think about why you are visiting that particular place.
Day before trip
4. Screenshot or write down all of your travel plans and reservations
If you are headed to a foreign country and won't have immediate access to wifi as soon as you land, take a screenshot of all of your car, hotel and flight information, as well as any directions, phone numbers, and activity reservations, before you leave your home country. This was very imperative when traveling to Cuba because wifi was borderline non-existent. You should know where you need to go in case you are not easily able to search through your email and get the necessary information.
5. Set up travel alert with bank
I bank with Bank of America, and they make it super easy to log into the app and set up travel alerts. I also have Capital One, and although you don't need to set up alerts when traveling within the US (easy!), only International, again, I just log into the app and set up alerts. (UPDATE: Now no alert needed for Capital One - they do monitor strange activity.) Regardless of who you bank with just make sure they are aware of where you are if you plan on using your cards. The last thing you want to happen is your card to be declined, funds not available, and your account on froze, because they are not aware. Remember they are protecting your money from any funny business.
6. Get cash
No matter where you are going, please have cash. Because who doesn't accept cash?! Don't think 'oh I'll just use my card'. This can be the easiest and safest way to pay for things you want and need, while traveling. You don't have to worry about it being declined or frozen. Of course, you can still use your bank or credit cards, but cash is best for those hole in the wall spots or food trucks, for example. Create a budget to help guide you on how much cash you plan to spend per day, factoring in food, drinks, and activities.
7. Download any language apps
Headed to a country where English isn't the main language? Make sure you download an app or two to help guide you. Just knowing simple phrases might not be enough. From my experience, some locals in France will turn their noses up at you if you don't speak the language and you are trying to communicate with them. Now I'll be the first to tell you I barely know a lick of French other than the very basics. But using a trusty foreign language app is a life saver. While on the opposite end, the locals in Cuba I encountered, preferred me to speak English. I still downloaded and used a Spanish translation and dictionary app because it was absolutely necessary. Tip: Be sure to open the app and make any necessary in-app purchases and downloads prior to leaving.
8. Download entertainment apps
Airlines nowadays are pretty good about keeping their customers entertained during flights, whether it's TV in the headrest, rental of tablets while in the air, or the ability to watch shows and movies on your own devices. Research what type of entertainment your airline offers. To watch on your own devices will probably require you to download their app or a third party app. Make sure you have the necessary apps downloaded prior to even arriving at the airport. The last thing you want to do is board a 5 hour flight only to find out you can only watch a movie using the "gogo entertainment" app, that you don't have and it's too late to attempt a download. Trust me, been there done that.
9. Charge camera battery
This can be an easy one to forget, especially if you only dig out your camera when you are traveling. Make sure your battery is fully charged, as well as any spare batteries you are bringing with you. Luckily nowadays, the camera quality on smartphones like the iPhone 7 is amazing, so you could easily swap out that DSLR camera, but if you are really into travel photography, or photography in general, then you want to be sure to use that camera that you probably paid a pretty penny for.
10. Double check that your passport is packed in your personal carryon
Headed on an international trip? Of course the most important piece to get you there is your passport. Double or, better yet, triple check that you have it in your possession before you walk out the door. Nothing worse than getting all the way to the airport to find out you left it on the kitchen counter.
11. Pack any medicines, including daily vitamins
Grab a baggie and throw in any needed medications or vitamins or use a travel size pill organizer. Don't forget to include any pain medicine such as Ibuprofen or aspirin. I don't know about you but I would prefer to just pack some Advil rather than go searching for something to cure my throbbing headache in a foreign country. Target and most drugstores have travel size products for your convenience to simply throw in your purse or bag.
So there you have it. 11 things to help you plan and stay organized before your trip. Which of these will be a life saver for you? Any suggestions for what else could be added to the list?