You want to go on a trip… now what? Planning a vacation takes a lot of effort. From choosing a destination to buying tickets to reserving a hotel to planning activities, you have a lot to choose from. And sometimes, it feels as though each of those tasks must be done separately, making the process an arduous one. But travel planning doesn’t have to be this way — your resulting schedule doesn’t have to be sprawling, either. Here are a few methods for streamlining your trip from start to finish:
1. Start a Spreadsheet
Pre-trip, you probably make a slew of different lists, from planning to-dos to packing must-haves for your getaway. You can streamline this organizational step with a spreadsheet. Bonus points if you use an app like Google Sheets — you can access these spreadsheets from any web-enabled device. Having such a resource will keep you on track as you plan for the trip ahead. You can use spreadsheets to track all of your travel planning steps, as well as the money you’ve already spent on everything. Once you arrive, you can mark off the activities that you want to do and track your spending in real-time so that you don’t go overboard, either.
2. Do Your Research
What comes first, the trip destination or the research? It depends — if you have your heart set on a specific destination, then you’ll begin there. If you’re open to suggestions, then start brainstorming options before you book anything. You can seriously streamline your travel planning with the right amount of research. Having ideas of where you’ll fly, what you’ll do, where you’ll stay, and more can make it much simpler to put together your trip.
3. Map Transportation in Advance
Not every city will have Uber, so don’t rely on the app-based taxi service to get you around. Your research will come in handy here, too — learning about a city’s transportation options will seriously streamline and de-stress your next journey. Start with your trip from the airport to your lodging. How will you make the trek? Some major airports will have shuttles from the terminal to the city center. In other cases, you might want to book a transfer in advance. Such services do make travel more comfortable and reliable, which you might want after a long overseas journey, for instance. Be honest with yourself and book the transportation mode that will best suit your state of mind. To that end, you should learn about a city’s public transit system. That way, you have an idea of how you’ll shuttle around the tourist destinations you want to see. Find out if there’s an app you can download to map each leg to streamline your daily jaunts.
4. Prepare for Overseas Changes
An international journey requires a bit more streamlining than a domestic trip. So, learn all you can about the place where you’re going and make the additional preparations to ensure you’ll survive in such a foreign locale. For instance, you should brush up on basic phrases in foreign languages so that you can communicate with the locals. Although many people will speak English, showing you’re trying will endear you to the people with whom you interact. You might also want to prep in advance for jetlag. Bring melatonin or sleep masks to help you rest on your plane ride — streamlining means making the most of your time and fighting jetlag will help you do that. You might also consider learning the local etiquette for tipping, greeting people and other common tasks. It’s a great sign of respect to conform to the society you’ve entered into, so make this research part of your prep work, too.
5. Organize the Suitcase Smartly
How easily can you remove your laptop when you reach the TSA security line? Do you have all of your liquids in a plastic bag? Have you removed your belt? Thinking about these steps before you arrive at the airport will make these checkpoints a breeze.Start by wisely packing your carry-on. Make your laptop and other electronics accessible, as you might have to remove them for scanning. You might want to opt for slide-on shoes, too — if they have to go through the machine, then you can easily pop them on and off. Avoid wearing accessories that will set off the metal detector, as an additional screen will keep you in the TSA area for longer than necessary. If you really want to speed things up, consider signing up for the TSA Pre-Check Program. After an interview and approval, you will be able to enter a separate, less intense security line when you arrive at the airport. According to their website, 93% of customers with the TSA Pre-Check designation waited less than five minutes to go through security. Now, that’s streamlining.
Planning = Streamlining
You can’t plan for everything. But the highest level of preparedness will make your next trip simpler to plan and live out. So, follow the above five steps and you’ll be well on your way to a streamlined getaway from start to finish. Having a plan will set everything in motion the way you envision, the simplest and most enjoyable way possible. Now, it’s time to hit the road and see it for yourself.
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