Trip planning can be stressful. Learn what to do before you plan your next trip to make traveling as organized, stress-free, and cost-effective as possible. From prepping and packing to getting through airport security with ease, a few easy guidelines and pre-travel preparation can help cut down on travel delays and on-the-go mishaps. Whether you’re a beginner or experienced traveler, these 33 easy tricks are sure to help make planning your next adventure a breeze.
Before you leave home:
- Reconfirm your flight.
- Reconfirm your flight directly with the airline 24 to 48 hours before departure.
- Pack Smart Here’s a packing guide plus a FREE packing list with more information.
- Place “Stop” Orders and Advance Payments when applicable. Once your travel is booked, you should look into placing “stop or hold” orders on any regularly occurring deliveries or services. These may include postal mail, newspapers, house cleaners and the like. If you want particular services to continue (such as landscaping), consider paying in advance if this is not your usual arrangement. Many service providers allow you to place stop orders online; this is particularly the case for mail delivery and most newspapers. As most stop orders require one or two business days’ advance notice, make sure you take care of this, at least, three days before you travel.
- Call your bank and let them know where and when you will be traveling so they do not think your credit card has been compromised. Use only an RFID blocking wallet or bag with an RFID blocking compartment to protect your identity. Credit card companies look at irregularity in your credit card usage, so if you have not used your credit card outside of your area in some time, and suddenly charges start showing up abroad, or out of your area, the card issuer may shut down your card until the out of norm usage is explained.
- Protect yourself and your valuables by placing medicine and expensive items in your carry-on luggage.
- Keep a pencil or pen handy throughout your trip to note gate, departure time and connecting flight information.
- Know the TSA rules about carry-on items and packing your luggage.
- Identify your baggage bag tags or colorful tape on the exterior to make it easy to spot on the luggage carousel.
- Place a baggage tag with name, home address and telephone number on the outside of your bag; inside your baggage, put your home information plus your destination address and telephone number.
- Bring fewer carry-on’s to speed boarding. Typically airlines only allow one bag plus a purse or backpack, check your airline’s guidelines before packing.
- Up to two items may be carried on, and each must fit under your seat or in an overhead compartment. Check your ticket envelope or call your travel agent or the airline’s reservation office for size and weight requirements.
- Read your ticket and ticket envelope in advance. They provide helpful information about policies set by the government and the airline.
Leaving and Arriving at the Airport:
- Leave early for the airport.
- Arrive at the airport up to two hours before departure for domestic flights and up to three hours before departure for international flights. Anticipate slow-downs during the holidays — traffic may be heavier, airport parking lots may be fuller, and lines may be longer.
- Check baggage routing.
- Ensure that the agent or skycap attaches the correct tags for your destination city. If you don’t recognize the city code – for example, ORD is Chicago O’Hare airport — ask, particularly if you have connecting flights.
Check in Early:
- Check-in at the airline ticket counter if you don’t have a seat assignment; go directly to the gate for check-in if you have a boarding pass and aren’t checking luggage. Check in one hour before departure on domestic flights and two hours before international departures.
- Carry at least one form of photo ID at all times. A second photo ID might be required at some airports.
- Know your departure gate.
- Ask the agent or skycap to write your departure gate number on your ticket envelope or boarding card. Be sure to be at your departure gate at least 30 minutes before scheduled departure time.
Security Check Points:
- Once at the airport, be prepared to have your belongings searched by security personnel.
- Remove heavy metal at security checkpoints.
- Don’t wear large metal buckles, belts or jewelry that will activate the metal detector’s alarm.
- Laptop computers and other electric devices might require additional time to clear security.
- Never leave luggage unattended or under the watch of a stranger.
- Do not accept any item from strangers or carry any package with unknown contents.
- Stay close to the departure gate.
- There you will receive boarding instructions and any last-minute information you need for the flight.
- Board when asked:
- Be sure to board when your row number is called. Empty seats will be counted and given to standby passengers.
When the plane lands:
- Upon arrival at your destination, go immediately to the baggage claim area to pick up your luggage. Have the claim stubs available.
When in doubt:
Ask questions. Airline employees are generally friendly and helpful. No question is too simple. Just ask.