Less stress, more sunsets - here's what you need for every trip (and not a thing more!)
I’m a list maker, there’s no other way to put it - and travel goes hand in hand with lists! But I have to admit I sometimes have a tendency to get too bogged down in the details – after all, travel is about dreaming as much as it is about planning!
So where is that fine line between being organized and prepared and worrying too much? How can you pare down a list of 100 things you ought to do (but don't always need to do?) Whether you’re a spontaneous, last minute traveler or a compulsive planner who needs to focus on what’s really essential, here’s my ultimate check list of the top 7 things – the only 7 – you need to think about before you go out the door.
Find your passport. I bet you stored in a super safe place after your last trip. The question is: Do you know where that place is? It’s amazing how such an important document can disappear so often! Be sure to assign it a permanent home when you get back. (PS: Planning on domestic travel? The same advice holds for your drivers' license).
Packing lists are like candy for me – I can never read enough! But there really is only one thing that matters. You’ve got to have plenty of clean, comfy undies! Finding your ideal size, fit, and fabric is easier said than done in foreign countries – so go ahead and load up the corners of your pack. Mom would be proud.
Book your first night of accommodations in advance, no matter what your travel style. It’s hard to be a free spirit when you’re busy walking from one crummy guest house to another in search of a free bed. Booking your first night, even if it’s just in a hostel dorm, means there’s a clean bed waiting for you on the other end of your epic journey- and you're free to enjoy your trip.
Grab some money. Yes, I know that the exchange rate will be marginally better at the Central Bank of Bulgaria, but it really won’t make a significant difference for moderate amounts of money. If you arrive in the middle of the night (or if there's a bank strike – it happens!) you'll have enough money to get to your hotel and fill your stomach.
Double check your insurance. Like everything else in travel, think value, not price. Chances are that the cheapest policy doesn’t represent the best long term value – a middle of the road price point is a safer way to go. And remember: honesty is the best policy. Not declaring pre-existing medical conditions can be a very costly mistake.
Ask a trusted friend and neighbour to keep an eye on your house. Taking in your mail and clearing your doorway of leaves or snow is its own kind of insurance – one you can pay for with a souvenir. Freshly roasted coffee is our go-to gift of choice (if I can keep Ryan away from it long enough).
Finally, don't forget to check your flight status. To say that airports are busy places is an understatement and it always pays to be informed before you go out the door. Plus, even if your flight is on time, you might get some clues about how your trip will go by checking how many other flights in the area are also running on schedule.
You really CAN buy everything else that you need on the road.
There's no pretending that I'll ever swear off lists entirely. Let's face it, packing is just too much fun, right? Anyone? Am I right? *Crickets*. But I have learned to stop sweating the small stuff when it comes to travel. Take care of the big issues and the small ones will take care of themselves. Don't spend every moment fretting about your safety and comfort - address it before you leave. And, most importantly, live for the moment. Most of us only get so many trips in a lifetime - let's make them count.
What weighs on your mind before you travel? Are there any 'must have' items on your list?
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