Traveling can be a major part of your lifestyle If you are part of the baby boomer generation. With the children grown and gone, these empty nesters have all the freedom to spend their time and money exploring the world.
We all know that traveling can be exciting, but it takes time and effort to set up your travel itinerary and organize a whole trip. Even though it does take time, but it is well worth it because it will ultimately save your precious time when you are actually there to explore.
Here are some helpful travel tips to consider before planning a vacation or going on a long-term trip:
Prepare your home before going away.
It might be hard to leave your house when you are going away on a short or long trip. But creating a list of tasks needed to prepare your home is one of the most important tips.
When you check off each task accomplished, you can head off on your adventure knowing that your home is safe.
- Clean out the refrigerator and freezer and get rid of all perishable goods.
- Empty and wash all trash bins.
- Empty the dishwasher and leave it cracked open, so any additional water in the system will evaporate.
- Set the thermostat to practical temperature. For our winter trips, we always set the thermostat to 55 degrees. It keeps the house well above freezing and prevents the pipes from bursting.
- Make sure that the smoke detectors are working properly.
- Turn off the water valves to toilets, sinks, dishwasher, and washing machine. This can prevent any damage from water leaks. We usually turn off the main water line into our house before we leave.
- It is recommended to turn off the water heater. There is no reason in maintaining a hot tank of water for months when you are away traveling.
- If you are leaving for a very long time, I would recommend unplugging all electronic devices.
- Arrange with the local post office to have your mail is forwarded or held. Mail can be held for 30 days or less, and you can do it through USPS.com. Although, our small-town post office can hold mail for three months. Also, reserving a P.O. Box from a local post office can be a good idea as well. Even though we pay all our bills online, we still receive a lot of leaflets and flyers in our mailbox. When you are away on a long trip you do not want a bunch of letters hanging out of your mailbox, shouting to the world that you are not home.
- If you are planning a long-term trip, try to put on hold your cable TV and internet. Not all cable TV and internet service providers will allow you to do that, but some will. So, if it is possible put your expensive services on hold.
- I like to leave my house clean before I go on vacation even though it is the last thing you want to do in the middle of packing. That is why I always thank myself and feel happy when arriving back to a clean and uncluttered home.
- The ideal way to leave your car is parked in a garage out of everyone’s eyes. We do not have a garage, so we have to leave our cars parked in our driveway. Another tip is to disconnect the car battery to prevent drainage.
- It is important to have trusted neighbors or hire a house sitter. When we travel, we leave a set of house and car keys with our trusted neighbors. We feel grateful to have good neighbors who help to keep our home safe while we are away.
Benefits of using travel apps.
There are apps for almost everything these days and it includes traveling. The rise of websites gives us direct access to hotel and airline booking.
But let’s face it – vacation planning can be overwhelming. You can spend hours browsing hundreds of travel websites and blogs researching destinations, accommodations, available flights, tours, and activities. You can go back and forth multiple times before ultimately choosing one.
But if you want to spend more time enjoying your trip and less time planning, you should consider using travel apps.
Even you do not use apps in your daily life, consider taking advantage of many helpful apps when you start preparing for your travels.
If you are looking for a travel app to help to book your trip, Kayak is one of the best apps to make that part of travel easy. I prefer to use Kayak because it is a one-stop shopping app for browsing hundreds of websites for the best deals on hotels, flights, vacation package deals, and car rentals.
I like to use TripAdvisor while researching and reading reviews of restaurants, hotels, and destinations. The best part is you can make reservations directly from the app.
Yelp features reviews written by people who visited local eateries, cafes, diners, restaurants, etc. I even wrote several reviews and posted them on this website. If you are looking for a local flavor, this app might be your best bet.
Google Maps is one of the best driving directions apps available. You do not need to carry a printed map with you anymore. It might be not perfect, but it helps me to get around in places or towns I never visited before.
WhatsApp is one of my favorite apps to communicate with friends and family who live overseas. I use simple text messages, group chats, video chats, and phone calls to keep in touch with everyone when we travel. We can exchange photos and videos without SMS fees.
Benefits of using a travel agent.
The travel industry has changed over the last decade. These days many people prefer to plan their own trips because online booking makes it easy to book airline tickets, hotels, tours, or cruises without visiting a travel agency.
However, the traditional travel agencies have not entirely disappeared. Many have adapted to the modern era. And there are still some situations when you may want to work with a travel expert instead of doing it yourself.
Here are the top benefits of using a travel agent:
- Travel agents are well-connected experts. They will do all the work for you if you do not like planning or have a complicated itinerary. If you are planning a big family vacation in another country, a travel agent can help to coordinate all the logistics. So, instead of spending hours on the computer searching for the best deals you will just pay the bill and show up at the airport.
- Many travel agents specialize in a particular type of travel such as cruises, luxury tours, resorts, etc. Travel agents have established relationships with many travel companies. They can help you plan a trip that meets your budget and needs without wasting your time and money on the things you are not interested in at all.
- Travel agents often have access to benefits that you might not be able to get on your own. Whether it is a hotel room upgrade without added expenses, better seats on the airplane, reservations to a popular tour, or event tickets, a travel agent can add some perks to your trip.
- Using a travel agent can help you save time and money even you have to pay a fee for their services. Generally, all agents receive information about rates and discounts and access to promotions from the resorts, tour operators, cruise lines, and other travel industry providers that are not available to the public.
- When you are working with a travel agent you can rely on her/his travel assistance if something goes wrong with your trip arrangements. You can call your travel agent if you need to rebook your flights or need assistance with the wrong hotel room or no scheduled transportation to a resort or a theme park.
Consider buying travel and medical insurance.
You do not have to be a frequent traveler to know that decent travel and medical insurance can save you time, money, and a lot of hassle.
We always buy travel insurance when we go on our overseas vacations.
But choosing travel insurance is not one size fits all process. You have to consider trip cancellation, medical emergencies, policy cost, exclusions, etc.
It is recommended to buy travel insurance within 15 days of making the first deposit on your trip, since buying early can qualify you for bonus coverages. You have to read through the insurance policies to understand what coverages are offered without an additional cost. Those bonus coverages may include:
- Coverage for pre-existing medical conditions
- Emergency medical insurance moved from secondary to primary
- Additional accidental death coverage
The main thing to remember is that you must buy travel insurance coverage before it is needed.
Even though some travel medical plans are available for purchase after you have left, most plans with medical coverage are required to be purchased before departing. That means you cannot buy any medical coverage once you got sick and need medical help.
The same applies to all travel insurance coverage.
You do not need to be in perfect health to start traveling. But you need to be in good enough health to endure the stress of being on a road for a long-time. Therefore, if you have a chronic health issue, I recommend checking with your doctor before making long-term travel plans.
Keep in mind, that Medicare does not cover medical expenses happen outside of the US. That is why you will need to buy travel insurance to cover any medical emergency.
What to pack for long-term travels?
When packing for a long-term trip, the most important things to keep in mind are the length of your trip and the weather.
When I am preparing for a trip, I always start with a travel packing list, so I do not forget anything important. My general packing list includes:
- Clothes – underwear, sleepwear, socks, T-shirts, a casual shirt, one pair of jeans, one pair of pants, shorts, a few dresses, swimsuits, a sweater, shoes, and sandals.
- Accessories – a hat, sunglasses, an evening bag, a purse, a few belts, jewelry, and an umbrella.
- Toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant, hairbrush, curling iron, sunscreen, makeup kit, medications, bandages, a small bottle of shampoo and conditioner.
- Electronics – cell phone, universal plug adapter, laptop, and electronic chargers.
- Documents – passport, copy of passport, emergency contacts, list of medications, a printed list of passwords, credit cards/ATM card, money/ cash.
- Misc. items in my handbag – house keys, glasses, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, earplugs, headphones, a book.
We all know that the pandemic has changed the way we travel. Make sure that you have your vaccine passport (vaccination certificate) or negative Covid-19 test results in your handbag. Many airlines require one of these forms to proceed. And do not forget to have a face mask on you and to keep a few extra in your handbag or carry-on.
Safe and Happy Travels!
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What are your favorite tips when planning a vacation or a long-term trip?
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