Whether you are a first-timer or a frequent traveler, you want a smooth travel journey. Even though I’ve traveled a lot, I’ve still done some things I wasn’t supposed to:
- Forgetting my travel adapter at home (I need it!)
- Not calling my bank to inform them that I’ll be out of the country
- Not making sure that all my bank cards are working properly
So before you get too excited about your upcoming travel, make sure you don’t leave home without doing the following 10 things!
1. Plan Your First Day
The first day is always the most important. You don’t want to get to a new country for the first time feeling lost, do you? As you won’t be familiar with the local surroundings and cultures, planning your first day will help you get a rough idea about the country you’re visiting.
So what should you include in your plan? Confirm your accommodation, figure out where you’re going, the distance of all the attractions you wish to visit and so on.
If you’re very picky with your hotel choices, check out another article on the Top 10 Things to Consider When Booking a Hotel to help you determine the right hotel for your trip.
2. Plan Your Last Day
Depending on your travel period, planning your last day will be helpful in ensuring a smooth travel journey.
If you know you need to be at the airport in the morning on a weekday, it will be best for you to stay closer to the airport or leave your hotel early in case of a massive traffic jam. (Like the one in Jakarta. The traffic is crazy!)
Also make sure that you have everything you’ll need such as working documents (if any), enough cash for your taxi ride, etc. Perhaps leave some funds for a final meal too, just in case you get hungry before your departure. A gentle reminder: you won’t get any free meals if you’re traveling with a budget airline.
3. Do Web Research for Your Destination
Whether you’re traveling with an itinerary you created yourself or by someone else, doing some research about your destination and the things you can do there will be helpful. This habit is especially useful for travelers with very little time. For example, travelers who come for a 1 or 2-day visit will have an idea of what to do and where to go.
This is also great for those who like to plan their own travel without the help of a travel agency. If no one is going to do the research for you, you’ll have to do it yourself.
4. Visit the Bank
Make this a habit whenever you need to travel. Get all the extra cash you’ll need for your trip so you won’t be slammed by surprising ATM fees when you’re on the road. You also won’t have to worry about looking for an ATM in an unfamiliar place.
Inform your bank about your trip too. You can simply give them a call and tell them how long you’ll be traveling overseas. Make sure all of your bank cards are successfully activated.
In case they aren’t activated when you’re already abroad, call your bank. Whenever this happens to me, I’ll use Skype credits to make calls to my issuing banks.
5. Get Your Entertainment Ready
There will be times when WiFi is rather limited. Don’t be surprised if you get to a place with no WiFi at all. This is when e-books, game apps, a TV series, movies and/or music will come in handy. You can watch them anytime you want. Even while you’re on the plane!
Before I fly anywhere, I always make sure that I download as many songs and movies as I can. They’ll keep me company whenever I am not connected to the internet. I don’t usually read e-books, so I carry my own paperbooks instead. You might think that’s a bit “old school,” but I feel happy everytime I leave a book I’ve read in a country I visit.
Don’t forget to visit your airline’s website to check out the in-flight entertainment available.
6. Download Useful Apps
Many of us own a smartphone today. I won’t be surprised if you’re reading this article from your smartphone!
Now look at it. What apps do you have on your smartphone and why do you have them? When traveling, I like to keep apps that I use on a regular basis and also the ones which I download specifically for my trip.
Apps I use for my travels:
- Hotel and flight bookings: Traveloka
- Music: Spotify and Soundcloud
- Video streaming: YouTube and Netflix
- Photo sharing: Twitter and Instagram
- Chat: Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and Whatsapp
- Dining: Zomato and Yelp
- Transportation: Uber and GrabCar
- Gaming: Ketchapp
- Navigation: Maps and Waze
There are of course many more apps you can use to make your travels easier, smoother and more fun. Most importantly, get the ones you know you’ll need.
7. Settle All Outstanding Bills
There is nothing more annoying than getting chased around for bills especially while you’re out traveling. I’ve experienced this before, so I totally understand how that feels.
Before you travel, whether in or out of the country, always pay all outstanding bills. The last thing you want is a warning letter from an attorney while you’re relaxing on a tropical beach.
Paying your bills before you travel is also good practice because you don’t know what could happen while you’re abroad. You might get stuck in a country (due to unforeseen circumstances) and fail to come back home on time. If you happen to borrow a book from the library whose due date is approaching, be sure to have it returned before you leave. Do this and you won’t have to bear any late return penalty.
8. Check the Weather
Trust me, you don’t ever want to travel during winter without a winter jacket. Hence before you travel anywhere, make sure you’re aware of the current weather.
Many people take weather forecasts for granted. But not doing your research on the weather can really affect your trip. For example, the temperature in Hanoi last February was around 15 degrees. It was about 0 degree in Sapa!
I was aware that it was going to be cold, but I had no idea it was going to be cold and rainy! I didn’t have an umbrella or a raincoat with me.
So I bought mine from a local market. Unfortunately, my travel buddy had difficulties in getting one for himself. He couldn’t find one in his size!
9. Check Your Checklist
Making a checklist is always helpful for planning your trip. I usually carry a small notebook for all of my checklists. Check everything you need for your travels a day before your departure. If you’re traveling abroad, you cannot afford to forget your passport!
If you don’t like using a notebook/organizer, you can opt for travel apps like Pack your suitcase, Checklist, Springpad or My Travel List (which are all free).
10. Charge Everything (Including Yourself!)
If you’re traveling abroad, make sure you have the right adapters and converters for all of your electronic devices. This is the one task I tend to forget… all the time!
Well, if you forgot to carry them with you, you can always get a few new ones at the country of arrival. Optionally, you can always ask your hotel to lend you a spare. And please recharge yourself a day before your departure. Traveling can be super tiring. Make sure you give your body the quality rest it needs.
How many of these 10 things do you do before you travel? Following this list will be helpful in ensuring you have a smoother and happier journey. Happy traveling! =)