Travel Planning Pays Off
Each time we travel, we learn something new. We learn what we did right the last time and what we should have done right. We understand our limitations and requirements better, as well as our tolerance for certain aspects of travel. Keeping all this in mind, here are 12 things that you should consider before your next travel, if you haven’t done so already.
1. ADVANCE RESEARCH
Spend some time planning your next trip and researching salient facts about your destination, travel route and planned activities. Know the best time to visit different countries or cities. Would you be able to avail off-season discounts? Can you get a better fare by using the national airlines countries that promote tourism? If you’re traveling with family, research family-friendly destinations such as Australia where there’s plenty to see and do for kids.
2. TRAVEL SAFETY GUIDELINES
Follow all reported events pertaining to your planned destinations on TV, newspapers and blogs. Subscribe to destination specific travel blogs to stay updated. Check with the state department of travel in your country with regard to specific warnings. Heed warnings of diseases, natural disasters, terrorism warnings and so on.
3. DESTINATION COST OF LIVING EVALUATION
How much does a meal for one cost at your destination? If you forget to pack essentials, will it be more expensive to buy them locally? How much does basic transport cost? Can you avail child or senior citizen discounts for transport, tourist attractions and hotel accommodations? These considerations will help you fine tune your budget to suit your actual needs, not just your estimation.
4. USING A TRAVEL BUDGET PLANNING TOOL
Get yourself a smartphone and download either a free or paid travel planning application such as TripBoss for iPhone. Having a nifty little application that helps you plan your budget, stay on track with expenses, obtain the best currency rates and split travel bills will prove to be hugely advantageous. Applications such as Kayak will help you grab sweet hotel, airline and car rental deals close to you.
5. BUYING TRAVEL INSURANCE
Consider getting solo, group or family travel insurance as the situation indicates, for your next travel. The right travel insurance can help you recover the cost of a canceled trip, flight expenses if you’re returning home disabled, ticket refunds if your flight is held up due to natural causes and so on. Travel insurance also helps cover your medical expenses when out of the country.
6. STUDYING DESTINATION CULTURE
Discovering things as you go on is great, but don’t go into a strange country blindfolded. Learn as much as you can beforehand, about the customs, dress code, what’s appropriate and what’s not, language, currency and so on. You can save yourself everything from acute embarrassment to a jail term by being diligent in this area.
7. LUGGAGE CONSTRAINTS
Evaluate the luggage needs of your family, or just yourself if you’re going solo. International airlines usually allow passengers to carry more luggage than domestic airlines do. Pack according to your destination’s domestic airline luggage limit, if you know you’re going to be flying to different regions locally. If you’re going to be paying a fine for extra luggage, best to pack only what you need and consider buying basics at your destination.
8. PASSPORT REGULATIONS
Is your passport valid for at least a year? In some countries, you will not be permitted entry if your passport is valid for less than six months. Before the date of travel, get all the passports of your travel group assessed for validity. Also make sure that there are sufficient blank pages in the passport for stamping visas and remarks.
9. VISA REQUIREMENTS
The rules have changed now, even for travel between friendly countries. Find out if you need a visa to travel to your destination for any length of time. Visa requirements differ depending on your travel purpose. Some nations require you to obtain transit visas as well, if you’re transiting via those countries. Some nations require you to take an appointment with the consulate offices of your destination’s embassy for a face-to-face visa interview.
10. LOCAL EMBASSY CHECK
Consider traveling only to those countries that have your country’s embassy. Remember that your home embassy can help you if your passport gets stolen, if you get robbed, if you meet with a medical emergency or if you fall prey to criminal intent. Your local embassy is your bulwark and safety anchor. Iran does not have a US embassy and Americans traveling to Iran do so at their own risk.
11. LUGGAGE RULES
Find out what items you can carry safely into your destination country. For example, some countries will not allow you to carry any form of drugs, not even prescription drugs, unless accompanied by a doctor’s prescription. Sometimes the customs officials will call your doctor to ensure the prescriptions are not forged. It’s always best to be prepared with all the information you can find.
12. THE LATEST AIRPORT SECURITY RULES
Given the recent emphasis on anti-terrorism measures, security has gone up in airports all around the globe. Do a thorough study of the latest airport security rules, not just in your home country, but in each airport you’ll be passing through before you return home. You don’t want to carry something that you might consider harmless such as a pain spray and find yourself penalized.