While I enjoy traveling and look forward to opportunities to go anywhere (even just a short road trip!), traveling via plane or out-of-country also makes me nervous. I tend to make lists and overthink what I need to do while I’m away, but I’ve learned a bit more with each trip I take. So here’s my current top 5 travel tips.
1. Make sure your phone travels with you. I knew I’d want to call my husband and girls while I was away at BlogHer14 and also that I’d be trying to connect via text or phone with other bloggers at the conference. We have an old phone we rarely use, so my husband helped me unlock it (we found a service online to do it for $5) before I left. Roam Mobility offers very reasonable roaming plans for traveling in the U.S.; I bought their SIM card, popped it into my phone, and set up an account online in seconds. I felt more confident traveling knowing that my husband could contact me if necessary and I could make phone calls if, say, I got lost in the airport or needed a taxi or something.
2. Pack the right bag. This comes from experience for me, because I packed a 20-lb duffel bag when I went to Australia, and was too cheap and sentimental to trade it for a better bag even when I realized it was awkward and unwieldy. Even when we went to Mexico two years ago, we packed a couple of duffel bags again—and then ended up carting the girls’ bag through the airport so we could check it. Thankfully, my husband has since found a pair of rollie suitcases for us and I packed one of those. It was great to be able to wheel it around the airport and later around the conference center when I was unable to get into my hotel room.
I also recommend checking the baggage allowance for the airline you are flying with, and their baggage policies. When we flew to Mexico, we were surprised to find that checking our bags would cost us extra—thus we carried a bag we hadn’t planned to. For this trip, I knew that my rollie would fit into the carry-on allowance so I didn’t check it going there, which made it easier to get through the airports because I didn’t have to get it at U.S. Customs or wait for it when I arrived. (Coming home, I checked it because I was bringing a bottle of wine back, but I knew what that would cost so planned for it.)
3. Check your passport. Yes, this sounds obvious, but I woke up about a week before the conference with a terrible feeling because I knew my passport was expired. Thankfully, Passport Canada offers one-week and 24-hour passport service for an extra fee, so I was still able to make it to the conference. They also have a new simplified adult passport renewal if your passport hasn’t yet expired or has only expired in the last year (like mine), so I recommend keeping your passport up-to-date even if you don’t know when you’re traveling next.
4. Get travel insurance. I’ve waffled on this one every time I travel, as I hate paying extra for something that I feel like I’ll never use. Finally, I talked to my aunt, who has traveled to 40 countries (and counting). She pointed out that travel insurance isn’t only for something that goes wrong on your trip, but things that could go wrong at home. Right away I knew she was right—if (heaven forbid) there was a family emergency while I was gone, I’d want to get home ASAP. For this particular trip, I also saw a lot of bloggers who planned to go and then were unable to at the last minute; while conference tickets can be sold, flights can’t. Plans change, so be prepared.
5. Plan ahead. Again, this seems obvious, but I’m terrible at it. Life is busy. Before leaving for conference, I was trying to sew curtains, pack and clean at our old house, unpack and clean at our new house, think about homeschooling Sunshine in September, write blog posts for while I was gone, get our truck fixed for its out-of-province inspection, and do the usual laundry, dishes, housecleaning, and grocery shopping. Thanks to Google and Facebook, it doesn’t take long now to find information, but make sure you set aside an hour or two a couple weeks ahead of time instead of the night before you leave. Things like booking car parking, my friend recently paid for parking in liverpool airport and it was a great price! So be prepared and plan ahead.
In a few seconds, I found some roommates and someone to share a taxi with from the airport (so I’d feel safer catching a ride). I also knew that my hotel was located at the conference center which was only 15 minutes from the airport. I read through the conference booklet and wrote notes to myself about what events I wanted to attend and where. For holiday or family vacations, my husband and I spend more time researching what to do, what it costs, what ages can do the activity, etc. Spending an hour or two doing this ahead of time will save you much time while on the trip.
For more travel tips, especially for women traveling alone, I recommend checking out the Government of Canada’s publication Her Own Way.
What tips do you have for holidays or business trips? Do you take your phone with you when traveling out of country?