Rome, Italy in August 2019
Admittedly, I’m not planning much right now given covid and the travel restrictions we have set for us. That said, you can bet that I am looking ahead into 2021 and already figuring out where I want to go once travel opens freely again! I feel good knowing that I can do all of my leg work now (flight and hotel research, reading reviews, gathering dates) so that I can easily pull the trigger once we have the “ok” to travel again like normal.
As someone who has planned countless trips – from small weekend getaways to multi-week escapades abroad – I find it necessary to share what I have learned. Planning travel can be stressful and overwhelming. I have certainly made some errors along the way but learned from each one for my next planning session. There are so many tools at our fingertips these days that can help make traveling easier, safer and more enjoyable. Continue reading below to learn more for a huge compilation of tips, tricks and tools for you to use.
Planning your trip
I find that there are 5 key ‘rules’ to live by when planning a trip:
- Do Your Research – Do the leg work ahead of time so you can relax and enjoy your actual vacation. I find that the more research I do ahead of time makes my life that much easier. Scour the internet for restaurant recommendations, know about the local area, research excursions and search Pinterest for packing lists. Save yourself the headache later on.
- Stick to Your Budget – Know that everything comes with a price. There are ways to splurge and ways to save – and sometimes the former isn’t always best. Be honest with yourself about your budget and work backwards to stick to it. Travel is meant to be fun and freeing, not a financial burden.
- Logistics are Key – This is especially important when traveling to a new-to-you place or out of country. Don’t wait until you arrive at the airport to try and find a ride. Plan ahead when it comes to car service, flights, trains, etc. It will make your trip infinitely easier and is worth the extra time/money upfront.
- Get Familiar with Local Culture – One of the biggest joys in traveling is learning about and experiencing local culture. Do your homework on the culinary, social, economic and political scene.
- Know Your Audience – I can’t stress this enough! If you’re traveling with kids, they probably don’t want to spend all day in a boring (to them) museum. If you’re traveling with couples, build in some alone time for everyone to decompress. A single trip can be planned a million different ways, depending on who’s going on it.
Top flying resources
A few helpful resources to use when starting your research are to be flexible with when you can go. Often times, you can save hundreds on flights if you are flexible with your dates. My “go to” online resources are:
+ ITA matrix software: My go to for all travel. It’s a bit more advanced, but you can plug in routing codes and it will show you which day(s) to travel are least expensive.
+ Google flights: I love using this when I know that I have an open weekend, but I’m also open to destinations
+ Hopper: an app that will track the specific location you want, alerting you when a good deal comes up!
+ Momondo’s “trip finder” section: This site is fun as you can type in departing airport, and then mix & match the rest.
+ Fareness: Almost identical to Momondo, but I think it’s a bit easier to use. Just head over to the landing page and play around, you’ll see!
+ Kayak: I often use this in conjunction with ITA matrix software once I know the general time frame and where I’m headed.
+ The Flight Deal: Get on this email list, especially if you’re located in the Northeast & West coast. They send daily emails with the latest flight deals and they’re often gone within 48 hours.
+ Jetsetter: For those of you who aren’t loyal to a specific hotel chain, or want a super posh hotel for less (i.e. Viceroy Anguilla), you can search by date & location on Jetsetter and see what’s available.
Preparing for your trip
Here’s a comprehensive list of what I recommend doing ahead of time, prior to leaving for a big trip:
+ Contact your bank & credit card company to let them know you’re leaving
+ Call your cell provider and turn on an international plan
+ Schedule e a neighbor or friend plan to stop by to grab your mail and water your plants
+ Stay hydrated and eat healthy the week prior – I prefer to eliminate dairy and processed food and take probiotics at least 5 days ahead of time
+ Write down a detailed list prior to packing (I divide into categories like checked bag, carry-on, need to buy, etc.)
+ Edit your carry-on list to essentials only (see below)
+ Consider your layover – will you need a change of clothes? toiletries? will you have access to a shower?
+ Know what you are wearing on the flight (I have a go-to outfit that I wear on every long-haul)
+ Invest in either Precheck, Global Entry or Clear. I have all 3 and it makes traveling a breeze!
A few additional notes if your trip is international:
+ Print extra copies of your passport and itinerary, just in case!
+ Bring duplicates of important forms and contacts
+ Write down the contact information for your country’s local embassy, in case of emergency.
+ Book with the right credit card and get travel insurance (read The Points Guy for more info)
+ Pick the right seat…I use SeatGuru when booking long haul flights to help me decide.
Packing for your flight
I’ve shared what’s in my carry-on bag and my top travel accessories before and these remain true. Depending on your airline, class and length of trip, flying can either be a dream or a nightmare. Since we can only control so much, I like to come fully prepared for the worst-case scenario to help me relax. A few packing tips and critical items I never travel without:
+ Snacks: jerky, an apple, sour patch kids (guilty pleasure), gum, protein bars, nuts (always pack more than you think you need)
Staying healthy during your trip
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – it is very easy to stay healthy while traveling! Here are my top 10 recommendations on how.
- Workout 1st thing every morning
- Drink lots of water
- Pack snacks
- Walk, walk, walk
- Plan outdoor activities
- Early to bed, Early to rise
- Eat meals sitting down
- Always travel with a water bottle
- Stick to your nutrient routine
- Take a Nap
Whew, ok! That was a huge roundup with countless tips for you. Anything I’m missing?