Robert and Michael leave their apartment in a rush and find a taxi to take them to the airport. After paying the driver, Robert turns to Michael and says, "That was close! I thought we'd be late for sure. Come on, now, we have to take our luggage into the terminal and check in at the counter." "Right," responds Michael, "did you bring the tickets and our passports?" "No," answers Robert, "I thought you did!"
This scene could be from a TV sitcom or real-life. Every traveler's nightmare is forgetting something major like tickets, ID, passport, or money. This is needless worry, however, if travel plans are made early and organized efficiently. Since travel for education, business, or pleasure is more and more common, knowing how to prepare for worry-free travel is both important and beneficial. This lesson will help the novice or experienced traveler avoid potential travel problems, allowing for a pleasant journey.
Unless there is an emergency, travel plans should be made well in advance. Never wait till the last minute to try to reserve airline tickets or hotel rooms. They may not be available, or you may be forced to choose an inconvenient or unnecessarily expensive flight or accommodation. The best day to book travel or lodging arrangements is the day you decide to go.
After all travel arrangements have been secured, the next step is to make sure your travel documents are in order. Is your passport valid? Remember that some countries do not accept passports which have less than six months' validity remaining. Do you need an overseas driver's license? These can be applied for at certain government or travel agencies or associations. Leave enough time to process any paperwork that is required. A travel agent or experienced friend or colleague can inform you of what steps need to be taken and how best to take care of them.
Preparing for packing is next. Even if the proposed trip is a month away, certain items should be readied at once. The most important of these is, of course, the luggage itself. Do not wait for a last-minute sale on the suitcase of your choice; be ready with enough good-quality luggage long before you leave for the airport or train station. In choosing baggage, make sure that it is within regulations, especially for air travel. Oversize suitcases or carry-on baggage can be a great headache later.
The rule of thumb for packing is pack less, not more. Most travelers buy at least some items on the road, and some buy quite a few souvenirs or personal items, so leave enough room for them. Keeping a toiletry kit permanently in a piece of luggage is a smart idea. In this way, you will never have to worry about whether your razor or deodorant has been packed. Casual clothing, including footwear, should be placed into bags or suitcases the night before. Formal wear can be packed in the last-minute to reduce wrinkling. Don't worry about taking reading or writing material for pleasure; newspapers and magazines are widely available, as is stationery. The day before leaving, reserve a cab for the day of departure if needed. This is also the best time to ask a friend or relative for a wake-up call for those leaving early on the day of departure; this is even better than one's own alarm clock. Leave a copy of the itinerary with lodging telephone numbers with a family or friend. Place all travel documents into one briefcase or folder rather than in several places for ease of checking. After packing each piece of luggage, put it near the door for easy exit. These simple advance steps will help reduce stress on the day of travel.
On the day of departure, the only steps remaining should be to pack one's formal clothing and to recheck one's travel documents and money. Whether for business, education, or pleasure, travel can be an unforgettable experience. Whether you want to remember that experience fondly or try to forget it depends on the few simple steps outlined above. Bon voyage!