On some level, everyone has a set of their own pre-travel rituals they go through before take-off. All the little actions you take to get ready for a trip after you pack your bag—maybe you like to carry your bag around to see how heavy it actually feels, or you set 12 different alarms to make sure you can wake up for that early morning flight. My pre-travel rituals are centered on helping me to decrease travel stress to give me an easier journey. Here are 16 good travel practices you should try out now!
1. Make copies of important documents
I always suggest making a (color) photocopy of your passport. If you’re flying and checking a bag, keep one copy in your checked luggage and an extra copy in your carry-on. If you can, I’d also recommend making color copies of any visas you may have for the trip, your driver’s license, and your health insurance card.
2. Call the bank and have a back-up plan with your money
Make sure your bank knows you’ll traveling, otherwise they may freeze your account as a precaution and you won’t be able to access your money. Call your credit cards as well. And always have a back-up plan with money, whether it’s an emergency credit card or some cash hidden in your luggage, so that you’re never dependent on only one way to access your money.
3. Bring a printed copy of your itinerary (with addresses of accommodation)
Take the 10 seconds to type up a list of the places you’ll be going, as well as where you’ll be staying (or where you’re hoping to stay) and the addresses of those accommodations. If you need to take a taxi to your accommodation and you and your driver don’t speak the same language, having an address you can give them will save you a lot of trouble.
4. Buy travel insurance!
After I got sick on my solo trip to Russia and found out my travel insurance had expired 6 days beforehand, I can’t believe I ever traveled without travel insurance. Buy an insurance plan before you go, and make sure it covers the whole duration of your trip. I am currently using World Nomads for travel insurance—their 3-month worldwide plan was only $206, a very affordable price for the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re covered.
5. GoogleMaps directions to accommodation
If you’re planning on walking to your accommodation when you arrive at a new destination, GoogleMaps the walking directions to where you’re immediately going. And print off a picture of the walking directions too. (Otherwise you’ll wander around Prague for an hour at 7:00am trying to figure out where the hell your hostel is. Or was that just me…?) Even if you don’t have a map of the city, it’ll help you know where you’re going.
6. Carry less stuff
Hauling around a lot of luggage is stressful. Worrying whether or not the airline will lose your bags is also stressful. Pack only what you need, and carry the least amount of stuff possible. Lugging big bags around will make a long day only longer.
7. BE EARLY!
So much of travel stress comes from missing flights, trains, buses, etc. Be early. Be so early it hurts. Be so early the person at your check-in desk says, “you know you have a couple hours still, right?” Be so early that you can take buses around middle-of-bum-fuck-nowhere-St-Petersburg-suburbs for an hour and still make your flight on time. Just. BE. EARLY.
8. Pack your prescription medicine in your carry-on (and make sure you have enough of it)
You should never let your meds leave your sight and run the risk of being stranded without them. Always pack your prescription medicine in your carry-on bag, and always check to make sure you have enough of it to last you for the duration of your trip. It is usually easier to get extra before you go, than to get a new prescription away from home. (And maybe carry your copy of the prescription just in case any security/customs officials ask.)
9. Make a mini first-aid kit for yourself
Before I travel, I always make myself a little first-aid kit of anything I think I might need. I always include: Tylenol, Advil, Neosporin/antibiotic cream, tons of band-aids, cough drops, Kleenex, sunscreen, and hand sanitizer.
10. Get prescriptions for any illnesses you’re prone to BEFORE you go
If you can, try to get a prescription for common travel illnesses, or any illnesses you’re prone to, while you’re in your home country with your own doctor who speaks your own language. I am extra paranoid about this following my experience getting sick in Russia—which might have been avoided had I had antibiotics on me.
11. Charge everything before you go
Don’t stress out about running out of battery. Even though lots of airports and stations will have outlets for charging, charge all your devices (laptop, camera, phone, etc.) before you go, and relax knowing you have full battery.
12. Always pack a spare pair of socks, underwear, and t-shirt in your carry-on
Just in case any checked luggage you have gets lost, bring an extra pair of socks, underwear, and a t-shirt in your carry-on bag. It will hopefully last you until your bag can catch up to you.
13. Pack your toothbrush and toothpaste in your carry-on as well
Being able to brush your teeth on a long flight can change your whole day around.
14. Keep your valuables with you at all times in transit
Whether you’re on a bus, train, car, boat, whatever, always keep your valuables on you. This is really important when you store your luggage out of sight and can’t keep an eye on it. I usually have a small purse or backpack for my laptop and camera—it never leaves my side, ever.
15. Brush up on the local language before you go
This is particularly important if the country you’re visiting doesn’t use the Latin alphabet, since reading signs when you arrive can get seriously confusing. But learning the words for at least “hello,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” can go a long ways in interactions with locals.
16. Bring a currency conversion chart with you
It’s always important to know how much money you’re spending when you’re in a country with a different currency. I always print off a little chart and usually keep it in my wallet before I go, so it’s easier to do the math when I’m abroad. I use “FXCheatSheet for Travelers” by OANDA (it’s completely free).
What are your good travel habits? Anything I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below!