Travel certainly hasn’t gotten any simpler but planning ahead will eliminate a lot of the stress associated with travel – whether it be by plane, car or boat.
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
Keep all your important documents together.
Even though it seems antiquated, I highly recommend having printed copies of all your travel confirmations (as well as electronically). It’s great to have everything handy on your smart phone; except if your battery dies, there is no internet connection, or the app just doesn’t feel like working right now. The last thing you want is to be that person holding up the line because you can’t pull up your boarding pass on your phone!
Create a project folder for your trip.
My family likes to travel. A LOT. So at any given time, we could have more than one trip being planned. The very first thing I do is create a project folder for the trip, or occasion if it involves several legs. I like to use these plastic project folders from Amazon (affiliate link!) I label the folder, using a label maker, so that it can be easily removed and used again for another trip.
I keep anything and everything that has to do with the trip in this folder. It could be a few scribbled notes, coupons, or maps. As reservations are made and confirmed I print those out and place them in the file as well. Directions and addresses should be in here as well. Print your boarding pass, even if you have it saved on your phone.
If travel plans are complex, or involve multiple people and stops, I like to put all the various confirmation numbers and timetables in a one page Travel Itinerary. You can use a spreadsheet, or an online app like Travefy.com, which you can share with other travel companions and family members.
Make sure you have identifying documents on hand.
If you have had a name change recently, make sure you have a copy of a marriage / divorce certificate showing the reason for the change. Carry both your driver’s license and passport even if you only need one.
If you are traveling internationally, make sure not only that your passport is current, but that you have access to your passport. I had a friend once wait until the day before her trip to get her passport out of her safe deposit box at her bank. Unfortunately, she had forgotten that it was a holiday and the bank was closed. Make sure the passport is ready and in your project folder at least a week before your trip.
Traveling with children.
When traveling internationally, if you are traveling with a child that is not your own (stepchild, minor relative, child’s friend), make sure that you also have a notarized Minor Travel Consent Form. (You may even need to do this if you have shared custody of your own child; and you could also carry a copy of your legal custody documents.) It might sound like overkill, but it is always better to be prepared.
Review your travel folder a few days before your trip.
A few days before your trip, review all the documents, and place them in the order needed. You can throw away any notes or items that are not needed any more. You can also move your passport and airline tickets out of the folder and use an RFID blocking wallet. Your passport, photo id, and tickets will be needed more than once when you get to the airport (or cruise terminal) so you want to have those handy. You should keep your travel folder close by in your carryon.
Download this free travel itinerary to help you stay organized next time you plan a trip!