Take screen shots of all your travel confirmations and make two physical copies of your essential travel info because you never know.
If you’re traveling internationally, double (no, TRIPLE) check that your passport still has plenty of time left on it for your plans.
The government recommends renewing it at least nine months before it expires. You can pay to get a renewal expedited. But, that’s not ideal for any party involved.
But! Keep in mind that there are still LOTS of cool domestic and/or short trip travel opportunities. I promise you can still have fun in other places BESIDES Italy (where seemingly everyone was this summer).
Related: There’s no need to feel like you’re missing out because you haven’t been to 53 countries like seemingly every other man on dating apps. Not everyone’s life or budget allows for that. You should be celebrating the things YOU are getting to do and don’t let someone else’s experience make your own pale in comparison. Folks are posting picturesque IGs, not their PTO calendars or credit card statements after going on said trips. And my writing this story is in hopes that you’ll get the most out of all of your future travels — no matter the length or destination <3.
Look into a cruise (yep, a cruise even if you’ve said you’re “not a cruise person”) if you’d like to have a LOT of the trip planning done for you. And if you’d rather not be on a ship with a bunch of kids, there are *legit* good adult cruises.
And consider booking your trip with an actually cool group travel company. It’ll give you a chance to have someone do a chunk of the planning for you and meet like-minded people who wanna explore without waiting on flaky friends or partners who keep putting off that bucket-list trip.
Check your credit card and bank’s rewards before you book to see if there are money-back rewards or complimentary services you can take advantage of.
Check out SeatGuru for info on plane seats by carrier, date, and flight number so you find your perfect spot that suits your flying comfort level.
Finding a great hotel deal doesn’t have to feel like work (for real). Try Hotwire Hot Rates (which show up in red while you search the travel booking site) to help you score some solid discounts on your next vacation. Just note that they’re often nonrefundable.
Also check out the Hopper app (a personal fave). It lets you sift through all sorts of travel deals for hotels, flights, car rentals, and home rentals. You can also set watch alerts for flights and get push alerts when the prices change.
Plus! If you aren’t already using the free Google Flights flight price tracking, wyd still reading this.
Look up the COVID testing and masking rules and restrictions for your origin point, destination, and any places you’ll transit or visit during your vacation. And! Be respectful of them.
YUP, just because you can walk into your hometown’s grocery store without a mask or showing proof of vaccination doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to walk into an art museum in Europe in the same manner. Rules tend to change frequently and you should look them up a few times during your trip-planning process to make sure you have what you need. In August 2021, I had to wear my mask inside the Roman Colosseum…which is a completely open building. But! My word, it is ONE of the seventh wonders of the world and I’m so fortunate to be able to travel. Wearing a piece of fabric on my face is NBD given the context.
Check out the State Department’s travel advisories by country.
When you have to get tested, opt for a telehealth at-home COVID test instead of standing in line for one.
Watch some YouTube videos about your destination before you go. It’ll be a way to get pumped for your trip and pick up all kinds of little tips along the way.
Even if you’re strictly a hotel person, check out Airbnb Experiences for tours and activities to try out in your locale.
But also poke around on Viator a bit because they have amazing trips and experiences that you can’t always find on other sites. Embrace the bookable day excursion!
And look for free walking tours in your destinations. These tend to book up a bit earlier than paid tours, though, so it’s worth googling them as soon as your trip is booked.
It’s even more important to book reservations for top attractions whenever possible.
And check out hop-on, hop-off bus and trolley tours because they’ll save your old dogs from an obscene amount of walking and they’ll hit most of the must-see attractions in one area.
When you’ve got a lot of ground to cover, this is an easy bet.
But! When making sightseeing bookings and appointments, don’t over-schedule yourself. Some timed ticket entries are very strict and you don’t wanna miss out on must-see attractions.
If you’re into the ~unusual~, do a bit of research on Atlas Obscura to find sightseeing ops that are a bit off the beaten path or decidedly kooky.
If you’re cruising, you can often find shore trip guides and tours for cheaper by booking ahead of time *not* through the cruise line. (Tour prices are gouged port-side and on the cruise.)
Rick Steves has a great video (shocker) about a Mediterranean cruise and in it, he mentions that it’s great for solo travelers. You get a lot of independence on days on shore but can meet other cruisers.
You can sometimes buy a combo city pass that covers many attractions for a discount. Look up passes by the locale for everything from transportation to parks and historic sites.
And sometimes you can luck out with free museums and even *free* museum admission days!
Check into your flight ASAP! Don’t wait ’til you get to the airport. You want to check in before other passengers to secure your seat assignment and avoid getting bumped from the flight.
Airlines overbook flights and sometimes even when they don’t, passengers can get bumped simply for the reason that they were the last to check in for a flight.
I used to be one of those people who refused to give up space on my phone for an airline app and would check into the flight at an airport kiosk before going through security. I stopped that a few years ago when I saw a fellow passenger find out that he didn’t have a seat assignment and the airline counter employee at the gate told them that they didn’t have a seat because they were the last to check in to the flight. Now when I’m ready to go on a trip, I plan accordingly to check into my domestic flight 24 hours before and for some international carriers I’ve been able to check in days beforehand (for example, EasyJet lets you check into your flight starting 30 days before).
If you’re traveling internationally, you might have to show your negative COVID test results to even get *to* checkout counters. This also adds on quite a chunk of time at the airport. I nearly missed my flight back to NYC from Rome thanks to a line of hundreds of people at a checkpoint where any US-bound passengers had to have their test results checked. I made the flight. But it was a very close call!
Get to the airport EVEN EARLIER for your flight than normal because, well, have you read or watched any news in summer 2022?! Airports are more crowded than during pre-COVID travel, and many airports and airlines aren’t at full staffing levels just yet.
Pay for Nannybag (in select cities) for someone to babysit your bag in case your hotel can’t hold your bag until or after checkin.
Share pics with your trip mates (and any loved ones who want to share in on the fun) with Google Photos for free. And then if you want to print photos out later…you already have some g2g.
Research whether tipping is part of the culture. Depending on your destination, that’s how some people make a living or could be incredibly offensive. And it can also help determine how much cash you should exchange for local currency.
It varies by location and by the service!
Don’t assume that everywhere has the frigid AC you enjoy at home.
It might be best to ~mentally~ and physically prepare for that. In some hotels, you might even have to pay extra for AC in your hotel room. Sometimes before going on a trip, I’ll try to sleep with the AC unit either off (depending on the local weather) or up by about 5 degrees for a week before my trip so it isn’t as much of a shock to the system.
And remember that the same temp can feel VERY different in two different locales. So pack accordingly!
And while we’re on the subject, make sure you wear an adequate amount of sunscreen because the sun’s rays may feel more intense in that locale. And buy sunscreen at the destination.
If you’re going on a beach vacation, try to only pack one or two cover-ups that also function as normal nonbeach outfits.
But! Slip dresses will look incredibly chic and take up a minuscule amount of space in your suitcase.
Pack some under-eye masks for some pampering, depuffing…especially while you’re fighting jet lag. They take up VERY little space in your bag and will feel a little luxurious — even if your friend booked a lackluster 2-star hotel and you’re googling where to rebook your stay while you wear said masks.
If you want to get the most magical pics, get to popular tourist sites at dawn to beat the crowds. THAT is how your favorite travel IG influencer got that pic of the Trevi Fountain without 50 other tourists in the shot.
Don’t be afraid of public transportation! Depending on where you’re visiting, it can be much easier to navigate than anything you’ve tried at home.
But! Don’t show up at a public train station or bus stop completely unprepared. You will need to do a smidge of research before your trip.
Planning on renting a car abroad? You might want to consider the smallest car your party can fit into to deal with smaller parking spaces and streets.
When you’re checking out of your hotel, see if you can use some of your leftover local currency for your bill.
I got this tip from my colleague Tasia Bass! There’s always going to be a loss when you exchange foreign currency back into your local currency because you’re charged for the service. So at least with this route, you’ll put most of your leftovers to good use!
Reviews have been edited for length and/or clarity.