Whether you’re a student preparing for a semester abroad or a retiree taking your dream vacation, the weeks leading up to departure can be filled with stress and worry. Some stress is normal and even helpful, Without a little bit of stress we might never get anything done. But if the joy of preparing for your travel adventure is marred by the anxiety of getting ready, you may benefit from a few helpful tips.
1. Have Passport, Will Travel
If it’s your first time traveling outside of the U.S. you may not have a passport. Be aware that you must apply in person if this is your first passport. You’ll need a certified birth certificate, a recent passport photo and the full application fee to file an application. Allow at least six weeks to receive your document after filing the paperwork.
Remember that a passport isn’t the only travel document you’ll need. Make copies of your travel itinerary, passport and emergency contact numbers. Leave one copy with someone staying at home. Supplemental insurance is always suggested when traveling abroad as U.S. policies may not be valid in other locations. Purchase the insurance that best fits your needs, such as a student health insurance plan if you are studying abroad.
2. Check or Carry On?
The cost of checking bags can considerably increase your travel budget. Visit your airline’s website to educate yourself about their baggage policies. If you’re traveling on more than one airline, check the policies of each company to ensure you’re in compliance. Keep in mind that lugging heavy bags through airports, train stations and hotels can decrease the enjoyment of travel.
3. Family Travel
If your trip abroad includes children, involve them in the travel plans. Participating in the preparation may help ease their anxiety about taking a big trip. Also, when it come to keeping track of the family’s belongings, invest in matching luggage or matching bandances to tie onto luggage. This simple step will eliminate time spent worrying about luggage whereabouts in crowded locations.
4. Research Your Region
Students, families, retirees, honeymooners or anyone traveling abroad will benefit from researching their intended destination. Invest in a good travel guide or two. Spend the weeks prior to your departure learning about the country’s customs, history, laws and culture.
5. Leaving Your Four-Legged Friend
Leaving a beloved pet in the care of someone else can be the most stressful part of travel. If you don’t already have a trusted boarding facility or pet-sitter, don’t wait until the last minute – or even the last few weeks – to find one. A trustworthy kennel will require vaccination proof and may require an assessment before boarding your animal. Getting your pet in for a short trial visit will help ease your stress.
Any change in your usual schedule is stressful, even if it’s a fun change you’ve been looking forward to for years. Instead of obsessing on all the “what ifs” and unknowns, channel your pre-travel anxiety into activities that will make your trip smoother. Most of all, find ways to enjoy all of your travel preparations; after all, they’re part of the experience too.