December 18, 2019
I’ve had my fair share of domestic and international travels. I wouldn’t say I’m seasoned, but I do find I have a pretty good grasp on some essentials required to make me feel confident about my planning.
I’ve learned over time there IS such a thing as overplanning! A downside is not allowing enough air to breathe in between todos and getting exhausted or stressed out. This can cause frustration and tension if there are multiple people involved.
But this list should build you to a healthy foundation for your trip.
Get yourself a list of places (countries, regions, cities, landmarks, heck, even local cats or dogs) you want to visit. This will help out with the next step.
If you are traveling internationally, make sure your passport is valid for when you will be traveling.
If you don’t yet have a passport and plan to travel abroad, you can expedite the passport process under certain conditions.
It might difficult earlier on to figure out how much you are willing to spend, but this step will help you determine whether or not a trip is viable. For me, I have a hard cap on how much I’m willing to spend to go to X-country during Y-time of the year. I’d most likely say HELL NO for roundtrip tickets to Japan (from California, USA) anywhere north of USD 1,000. You can find much better deals!
Knowing your budget can also help you determine when in the year to go. For example, tickets are generally cheaper to go to Hawaii during the spring since it is their offseason.
What are milestones? These are the BIG things. The things that will make you miserable if planned poorly or the thing that you WANT to do might be what inspired the trip.
Don’t get too carried away here. I’d say lodging/stay is required, but the others are nice things to have for excitement.
Note: Only officialize this part after purchasing your plane ticket. It makes no sense to do it before you know you’re officially going. However, it may make sense for you to see a soft-list of milestones to help you determine whether or not to purchase your tickets. For example, maybe the concert or hotel you wanted to stay at is completely booked.
Any credit or debit cards you plan to use to pull money or make payments should be cleared with your banks for travel. Some banks don’t require this (Bank of America), but some still require you to make a manual notice (like Chase).
You can usually do this on their online portals and select which dates you plan to travel to. I usually do this the week before I fly out.
There are a couple of important notes here:
Some people like to disconnect when traveling. Not me. I like to be alive and know where I am going. I mainly use this for maps, pick up local transit information, and to determine what I should do next.
Depending on where you are going and your requirements, check to see your best options for receiving service and data. Popular options:
It’s scary getting around a new place! To decrease any anxiety, familiarize yourself with local public transit systems offerings (buses, local/bullet trains, subways, ferries, taxis, rideshares, etc) and payment methods.
Good questions to ask yourself:
Again, I stress that overplanning can cause anxiety especially because unforeseen issues can pop up (delays, bad weather, cancellations, etc). The more things you have planned, the less amount of flexibility you have. But, ensuring you have the essentials is key to feeling relaxed about a looser schedule.
When all else fails, just remember the only two things you need are your passport and money. Those should be able to get you somewhere safe.