From city breaks to vacations to long-term travel, all travelers can benefit from a little prep, research, and planning to ensure smooth sailing.
Honed from many years of travel fails as a permanent traveler - here's some of the most important things that I do before traveling, and how!
1. plan logistics
Numero uno is to plan out your arrival travel route.
Determine a timeframe, budget and transportation, then research to find the one that suits you.
I like Rome2rio for planning because it shows many options and gives price ranges.
2. book travel
Pre-book major travel like flights, long distance buses, and train tickets ahead of time to get the best prices and reserve your seats.
I like Momondo for airfare planning.
3. book accommodation
Wherever you stay, you always need to pre-book your accommodation to reserve your space.
When booking a hotel or a private home, download the apps and confirmation info for an easier, faster checkin.
Pro Tip: Screenshot the hotel's address in the local language to make taxi navigation easier.
And, always look for discounts!
You can also save money by checking availability and booking accommodation directly from the property, like at Beaches Jamaica where you can save $25 for booking online.
4. house sit prep
If you're going to be house sitting, check in with the homeowners and confirm your meeting day, time, and location and all contact info.
Read and save the house sit contract and/or manual such as the welcome guide TrustedHousesitters displays on the sitter dashboard.
5. download transport apps
Download travel apps of all the services you plan to use and create an account with your credit card on file so you can easily purchase rides or tickets on the go and display confirmation as needed.
Don't waste time waiting in line or scrambling to buy paper tickets from machines.
Easily book a ride with Uber or Grab.
Most all city train, bus, tram and metros have apps, so check their websites for links.
6. Save passes to wallet
When available, scan and save all e-tickets and passes to your phone.
In case you can’t access wifi or cell data, or the app or the code doesn't work correctly or displays an error message, you can still always access wallet to see and display info.
7. note details
Create a note with all important travel details to easily refer to on the go.
Assume you can't access any of your apps or data or wifi and save any vital info that you'd be lost without.
Sync across all devices in case any of them gets damaged, broken, lost or stolen during travel.
8. immigration prep
US Citizens can research visa rules at travel.state.gov, plus required documents, current warnings, vax needed, and local embassy details.
If you're purchasing a one-way ticket, always rent an onward ticket or purchase a cheap throw-away ticket for proof of exit just in case.
9. Update step
US Citizens should also submit their trip info in STEP, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, with travel dates, address and contact info so that the local embassy will be able to locate and contact you and your emergency contacts in an emergency.
10. track schengen visa
Tourists traveling through the Schengen Zone on the short term 90/180 day visa need to diligently keep track of their allotted time.
Unless you have a thing for complicated retroactive algebraic algorithms, track travel the easy way with a Schengen app.
11. create your trip in mobile pass
US and Canadian citizens traveling to the US can add trip info into the Mobile Pass app to get through customs faster by breezing through in a faster, dedicated entry line.
12. submit a debit card travel notice
Submit a travel notice to your bank with the country or countries of travel so that they are aware of your travel plans, all your bank cards will work when you arrive, and your transactions won't be tagged fraud.
I use Schwab since they have no foreign transaction fees, reimburse ATM fees on unlimited withdrawals worldwide, and you can submit travel notices online anytime.
13. top off your data
Cellular data is essential for travel for whenever you can't access wifi.
I love using rechargeable global sim cards like OneSimCard, KnowRoaming, Keepgo, and iRoam so I never have to worry about purchasing or installing local sims.
Before you travel, always check your current balance and top up airtime.
I also recommend topping up credits on the Talkatone calling app for international calling as needed.
14. download offline maps
Maps is one of the essential travel apps you need to access maps offline for navigation.
You need maps, you don't want to burn through your data, and you won't always have wifi access.
15. download a language
When traveling to a country where you don't speak the language well, download the language offline so you still translate via photos or text.
16. learn some local phrases
To get by in the local language, try out a language app to start learning a language.
It's a fast, easy and fun way to learn anything from a few basic words and phrases all the way to full fluency.
17. load language translations
To help order food in another language, use Veganagogo to communicate.
Access the language you want to use with wifi or data first, so it can load, then you can access it offline after that.
18. research restaurants
I love food, so I research restaurants on apps like Happy Cow so I have an idea of where to grab a bite upon arrival if I can't use data or wifi.
19. download books
Download books to read for offline reading during travel.
I download all media to my iPad to save iPhone battery and storage for travel essentials like maps and apps.
The last thing you want to do is use your phone for media during travel and run your battery down so you can't access what you need upon arrival.
Assume you either can't access a phone charger or the charger outlets don't work and always prepare for the worst case scenario.
20. download movies
Download fun movies or interesting documentaries for offline viewing during travel.
Having entertainment for your brain helps you travel better.
Just like books, media is also way safer and easier to watch on iPad.
21. charge up
Charge devices to 100% before travel.
You'll need it for usage, plus you need them charged for airport security because if they're dead, they could be taken from you, because security can say they think it's a bomb if it doesn't turn on.
And then that security guard gets to - legally - steal your device.
So, ABC = Always be charging.
22. save your battery
The last thing you do, right before leaving on the day of travel, put your devices into low power mode to extend the battery life during travel so you always have access.
You're running in low power mode if the battery is yellow.
The more you know!