(BPT) - Planning a trip abroad? That’s exciting! But you have lots to do and less time than you think to get it done. What do you need to accomplish before leaving?
Here's a handy checklist to help you get your ducks in a row.
If you have a current passport, check the expiration date. Many countries require that you have at least two to four blank visa pages, and that your passport be valid for 6 months past the last day of your trip.
If you don’t have a passport or it needs renewal, get that done first. The U.S. State Department announced an increase in processing time for passports to 6-8 weeks. Even a higher-cost expedited passport can take three weeks.
Fortunately, FedEx Office is teaming up with RushMyPassport to offer further expedited U.S. passport services. Stop by one of 2,000 FedEx Office locations or visit FedEx.com/passport to complete your application. You can even purchase government-compliant passport photos at their locations. There are six options:
This doesn't include shipping, so add one day or more for shipping, or arrange pick-up at their location in select cities.
Some countries don't require visas for brief visits, but you should check well before leaving. Find the country at travel.state.gov/destination to determine necessary paperwork and allow several weeks for the process. You will typically need to visit the website of that country's embassy for current visa requirements and instructions. FedEx Office does not currently offer visa services, but plans to in the future.
If your destination country doesn't require a visa, they may require proof of sufficient funds for your trip, proof of onward or return flights and a passport with one blank visa page valid for 6 months beyond the date you arrive.
Bring along information for the U.S. embassy and consulate, in case of emergency. You should also carry contact information for family members in case anything happens to you. Leave a copy of your travel documents (such as passport) and itinerary with someone back home and carry copies with you (separate from originals, in case of loss or theft).
Savvy travelers carry a combination of cash, traveler’s checks and credit cards in separate locations. Learn overall currency exchange rates and make a cheat sheet with that country’s equivalents of $5, $10 and $20. Remember, exchange rates change daily and vary depending on where you exchange money.
Exchange some at the airport when you arrive. Then exchange more in a touristy area posting competitive exchange rates to find better deals.
Consult your doctor to catch up on vaccinations. Find out if the country where you’re traveling requires vaccinations for entry, or which are recommended, on the CDC website: wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/travel-vaccines. Vaccines should be administered a month ahead for maximum effectiveness.
If you take prescription medications, bring them in their original containers, plus a copy of the prescription(s).
Some health insurance policies cover you overseas, but many don't. You can purchase travel insurance to ensure you’re covered for both doctor or hospital visits and for transporting you to a hospital if necessary. Some renters or homeowners insurance policies cover loss or theft abroad, but you can purchase additional coverage if they don't.
Planning ahead will not only ensure a hassle-free trip, but will give you peace of mind in case the unexpected happens. Knowing what you need before you go will make your trip memorable — for all the right reasons.
These general guidelines are not exhaustive. Be aware that laws change and vary from country to country. Check relevant resources including travel.state.gov/destination for information about your destination.
The US boasts an abundance of places that allow you to experience the true beauty that is present in this world. From towering mountain ranges to lush forests, you can immerse yourself in a variety of landscapes that demonstrate the wonder of this nation and its natural scenic beauty. Here are three US travel destinations to visit if you want to feel the awe-inspiring wonder of nature.
The Hoh Rainforest
Located in Olympic National Park in Washington state, the Hoh Rainforest is an amazing example of a temperate rainforest. A variety of hiking trails make it easy to get up close and personal with the wonder of this unique destination. This rainforest boasts the highest annual precipitation in the country. In fact, according to Dew Drop Inn, the Hoh Rainforest gets a grand total of 140 to 170 inches (or 12 to 14 feet) of precipitation a year! The lush green growth of the forest is something to behold and unlike any other spot in the US. The Hoh Rain Forest is home to a “hall of mosses” where there are tons of beautiful, tall trees that have various mosses growing on them. It makes the rainforest look like a true otherworldly nature wonderland.
The Smoky Mountains
Spanning both North Carolina and Tennessee, the Smoky Mountains is an expansive demonstration of the beauty of nature. According to Smoky Mountains By Owners, the mountain ranges, some of the oldest in the world, boast the most biodiverse ecosystem in the whole National Park System. While visiting the Smoky Mountains, you will encounter a myriad of wildlife including black bears, coyotes, deer, bobcats, and elk. At over 6,500 feet, Clingman's Dome is the highest point in the park. Visitors can climb to the top of Clingman’s Dome's observation tower to be rewarded with views of this impressive mountain range and its biodiversity.
Rocky Mountain National Park
There is a variety of amazing National Parks throughout the US. According to Elevation Outdoors, one of the most stunning is certainly Rocky Mountain National Park. With mountain peaks towering over 12,000 feet and over 260,000 acres of wooded paradise to explore, there is always something new around every corner. Although it is opened only seasonally, Trails End Road is a must-see drive for anyone. The beautiful Sprague Lake area offers majestic views of the Continental Divide, helping you to feel connected to the power of Mother Nature. As a bonus, the nearby town of Estes Park is a charming place to call home base while exploring this gorgeous region of the country.
The United States is truly full of natural treasures. There are beautiful forests, mountains, and plains that are available for anyone to explore. Regardless of your travel destination, be sure to take the time and effort to disconnect from the real world so that you can truly appreciate them. Your oasis of beauty and tranquility is waiting for you!
Looking for a vacation that’s not only fun, but also meaningful? Wish you had more time to volunteer in a way that really makes a difference? There’s a simple solution: Plan your next vacation around a great volunteer opportunity.
(BPT) - Looking for a vacation that’s not only fun, but also meaningful? Wish you had more time to volunteer in a way that really makes a difference? There’s a simple solution: Plan your next vacation around a great volunteer opportunity.
Whether on your own or with the entire family, volunteering on vacation is a wonderful way to explore a favorite destination or someplace you’ve always wanted to go, while contributing to a cause you care about. It's also one of the fastest growing travel trends in 2019. According to a Google Consumer survey, one in four travelers report that they plan to volunteer on an upcoming trip, and almost half of travelers (47 percent) say they would choose a vacation destination based on a volunteer opportunity they are passionate about.
With the Travel for Good program from Travelocity, you can easily explore volunteer activities in popular vacation destinations all over the U.S. Most activities require anywhere from just a few hours to a whole day.
Here are just a few of the types of opportunities you can find on their interactive volunteer map.
Concerned about hunger?
Travel to New York City to volunteer for Rescuing Leftover Cuisine. This nonprofit organization saves food from New York City restaurants that would otherwise go to waste, and then delivers it to folks who need a helping hand.
Or visit Washington, D.C., to sort food donations, stock shelves and assemble nutritious food packs for elementary school children at Food for Others. Volunteers age 12 and older can sign up for weekday shifts, making it a great opportunity to teach your tween or teen children about how they can make a difference.
Care about animals?
You can spend time at The Nashville Zoo, one of Tennessee’s most popular attractions, to enjoy the wildlife while assisting at one-time volunteer opportunities for special events like the adults-only Brew at the Zoo and holiday-related celebrations for Easter, Halloween and more.
Or if you love cats and dogs, consider volunteering your time to help out at an animal shelter, such as Best Friends Animal Society in New York, Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Washington, D.C., or PAWS Chicago.
Passionate about the environment?
Plan a trip to California to volunteer with Surfrider Foundation, which organizes regular beach cleanups around the Bay Area. Or head farther south to help out at San Diego Coastkeeper, an organization that helps make sure San Diego's waters are safe and clean.
In the Big Easy, help Green Light New Orleans work on sustainable, eco-friendly projects, including installing energy-efficient light bulbs in residential homes, installing rain barrels to collect stormwater runoff and other good deeds.
Want to help build healthier communities?
You could spend your vacation in San Francisco, getting your hands dirty while tending the land at Alemany Farm, the largest urban farm in San Francisco, which educates visitors on how to become healthy food producers and gives away all the food it grows for free.
Or help teach hygiene habits to vulnerable groups in Las Vegas with a volunteer stint at Clean the World Foundation.
Finding a place where you can volunteer on vacation may seem daunting, but it's easy to locate nonprofits in need in some of the top cities across the country by checking out www.travelocity.com/travelforgood. The site also offers tips from fellow volunteer travelers for your next adventure. Make your next vacation both memorable and meaningful by finding the right volunteer opportunity for you.
The options for experiencing an amazing vacation are so plentiful, such as exploring a cruise port, eating and drinking your way around a city or simply visiting a new destination, you may find yourself struggling to narrow down the choices. Once you’ve determined how you’d like to spend your time, you can begin to explore some hot travel destinations, such as these.
Bucket List Travel Destinations for 2019
(Family Features) Taking time to go on vacation or to just unplug from everyday life can be beneficial, and there’s certainly no lack of options when it comes to choosing an ideal vacation spot. The options for experiencing an amazing vacation are so plentiful, such as exploring a cruise port, eating and drinking your way around a city or simply visiting a new destination, you may find yourself struggling to narrow down the choices.
By focusing first on what type of vacation experience you would enjoy most, the details of the location may more easily fall into place.
“Often, would-be vacationers get so hung up on figuring out where they want to go, they forget to consider what they’ll do when they get there,” said Matthew Phillips, director of travel for AARP Services, Inc. “It makes sense to keep location in mind when it comes to considerations like climate, but knowing what types of activities, entertainment and sights you hope to experience can help ensure you plan a travel experience of a lifetime.”
Once you’ve determined how you’d like to spend your time, you can begin to explore some hot travel destinations, such as these:
California: Rent a car and take a road trip down the California coast and experience sunshine, culture and more as you drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco. It may be one single coastline, but California is filled with scenic views of the Pacific Ocean and tourist attractions, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Hollywood sign.
Caribbean: There are few better ways to escape the cold weather than with a Caribbean cruise, where breathtaking excursions, first-rate cuisine, exciting nightlife and spectacular entertainment fill every day and night. There are dozens of cruise options available, so it’s a good idea to do plenty of research and look into special incentives and offers to complement the experience. For example, the AARP Travel Center powered by Expedia provides exclusive offers to members on select cruises, including up to $1,000 in onboard credit.
Florida Gulf Coast: The warmer seasons are perfect for unplugging and relaxing by the sand and water. Head to the beaches of Florida and get a room with a view so the water is never out of reach. For example, Sarasota, Florida offers miles of beaches, including Siesta Key, known for its majestic waters and luxurious amenities.
Southwest France: Explore the beautiful wine-growing region of Southwest France through a fascinatingly historical and invigorating river cruise. For example, the Uniworld Bordeaux river cruise allows guests to sail three rivers: the Garonne, the Dordogne and the Gironde. The experience blends land and water with archaeological and historical tours, artisanal wine tastings, sprawling gardens and charming villages to explore. Take your experience a step further and see the sights while feeling like a local by going on a spotlight tour, an intimate way to uncover hidden gems.
Singapore: If you want to immerse yourself into a completely new and unique culture, hop on a flight and explore Singapore, commonly referred to as a “shopper’s paradise” for its emerging brands and bargains stores. Enjoy both the urban and natural attractions while indulging in the eclectic dining scene. Singaporean cuisine is full of diverse plates, such as bak kut teh, laksa and friend carrot cake, derived from several ethnic groups.
If you’re ready to start planning a satisfying getaway, a resource like AARP Member Benefits can assist with planning and saving money along the way. Learn more at AARPBenefits.com/travel.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
AARP Services, Inc.
The Caribbean is one of the world’s most popular regions for cruise travelers. The islands are not only conveniently accessible, but offer spectacular beaches, legendary crystal-clear waters, vibrant towns and popular shore excursions. Contrary to what some may think, the hurricanes had little to no or little impact on the vast majority of the Caribbean – a far-reaching region covering more than 1 million square miles.
The Caribbean is Open for Cruise Vacations
(Family Features) Contrary to what some may think, the hurricanes in September had little to no impact on the vast majority of the Caribbean – a far-reaching region covering more than 1 million square miles.
In fact, of the nearly 100 ports in the Caribbean, almost 90 percent are open and fully operational – and welcoming thousands of cruise ship passengers every day.
To help make sure consumers are aware that the Caribbean is open for business, the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) has launched a campaign and website, CaribbeanIsOpen.com, to provide the latest updates.
The Caribbean is one of the world’s most popular regions for cruise travelers. The islands are not only conveniently accessible, but offer spectacular beaches, legendary crystal-clear waters, vibrant towns and popular shore excursions.
The locals welcome vacationers to their islands as tourism, and the cruise industry in particular, is critical for the economy.
According to the FCCA, cruising generated $2.4 billion in direct economic impact for the Caribbean and created nearly 55,000 jobs and $842 million in wages throughout the region during the 2014-15 cruise season. This is in addition to the indirect jobs created in supporting industries, such as providing supplies for shore excursions, ports and restaurants.
“Seasoned cruisers to the Caribbean understand that most of the islands have been unaffected,” said Carolyn Spencer Brown, chief content strategist for the website Cruise Critic. “They also understand tourism is a top driver for the islands’ economic well-being and that cruises are a large part of that equation. Because of that, it’s important for both cruise lines and travelers to continue to support so many of the Caribbean islands that are ready for business and eager to provide travelers with the incredible vacations they’ve come to expect from the region."
Now is an ideal time to plan a Caribbean cruise vacation. Contact a local travel agent or check out cruise line websites to find plenty of options for cruise vacations.SOURCE:
Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association
(BPT) - Last call for your summer road trip. Grab the family, call your friends: The Great American Road Trip still awaits. Don’t let summer fade into the sunset without a last hurrah.
According to the Auto Club, you won’t be alone: 37.5 million Americans hit the road during the Independence Day holiday this year, up 2.9 percent from 2016. And to no one’s surprise, the Auto Club says the old-school, family-type road trip and visits to national parks and theme parks remain the most popular types of vacations for families.
They say getting there is half the fun, so before you head out on a “roadie,” here are a few tips to make the trip safer and more enjoyable.
* Be flexible: It’s always wise to plan ahead, and leave a little extra time in the master schedule, especially if you’re traveling with kids. But it’s also fun to be spontaneous, so don’t plan too far ahead. Maybe you want to stop and see the world’s largest thermometer in Baker, California. Make time for the fun stuff that’s off the beaten path.
* Lost and found: There’s nothing more frustrating than being lost, especially while on vacation. Use apps like Waze and Google Maps to help you get around traffic and get to your destination.
* Must-haves: Don’t forget to bring: the cell phone charger, flashlight, batteries, bottled water/juice, first-aid kit, snacks, music and toys/games/videos for the kids.
* Clean sweep: Since your family or friends will be in your vehicle for several hours a day, be courteous and throw out the ancient Big Gulp cups, food wrappers, empty sugar packs, old gym clothes and all the junk you’ve tossed in your backseat the last few months. Besides, you’ll need to make room for all the silly souvenirs you’re going to buy along the way.
* Check, please: One thing you definitely need on a road trip is a reliable vehicle, so you’ll want to make sure yours is in excellent, road-worthy shape. Pre-check everything, from all the fluids to your tires. Especially your tires — even the spare.
“I can’t say enough about the importance of your tires, especially if you’re heading out on a family road trip,” says Fred Koplin, senior director of marketing and motorsports for Yokohama Tire Corporation, manufacturer of a variety of tires for passenger cars, SUVs and pick-up trucks. “Tires are the only part of a vehicle that actually touches the road and they affect everything from braking and steering to comfort and handling.”
Koplin says while it doesn’t matter what type of vehicle you drive, it’s super important that you have the right tires to get the best handling, ride and treadwear.
For a fun summer road adventure -- and daily driving, too -- Koplin recommends a touring tire, which combines the comfort and tread life of a passenger tire with the handling and sports-like feel of a performance tire. “The Avid Ascend is a great example of a touring tire,” says Koplin, “because it offers exceptional all-season performance, remarkable treadlife and excellent fuel efficiency.”
To learn more about touring tires, Koplin says to check tire company websites like www.yokohamatire.com or your tire retailer’s website for more help.
Koplin offers more tire tips that will help you throughout the year:
* Check tire pressure at least once a month -- this takes about five minutes. Always use an accurate tire gauge and make sure the valve is free of debris and water. Consult the vehicle’s owner’s manual or placard on the driver’s door to determine proper tire pressure. The correct tire pressure is specified by the manufacturer of the vehicle, not the tire manufacturer. Tire pressure should be checked when the tires are cold -- at least four hours since the vehicle was last driven.
* Check your tread depth by placing a penny upside down into a tread groove. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tire’s tread has worn down to the legal limit and you need to buy new tires.
* Tires should be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch, the lowest legal limit. It’s best to replace them before they reach 2/32 for optimal performance, especially in bad weather.
* Rotating your tires regularly promotes even wear of the tread. Tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.
* Check your alignment at least once a year or sooner, especially if the vehicle is pulling to one side. This will help avoid uneven wear on tire tread. Tire balance should also be monitored.
For more tire care and safety tips, visit www.yokohamatire.com/tires-101 or www.USTires.org.
(BPT) - There was a time decades ago when taking a flight was truly a privilege. People looked forward to comfy seats, cold drinks and friendly service.
Today? Not so much. With the cramped seating and impossibly long security lines, flying is the unpleasant grunt work of travel — something you endure to make it to the better thing. But travel pros know the best ways to soothe their nerves in the face of even the most aggravating situations.
Below are five big annoyances on commercial flights, and smart strategies to help you cool your jets and deal with each. As you can see, new technology is helping to make flight much more enjoyable than you’re probably used to.
Inflight annoyance No. 1: Noisy passengers
Whether the toddler in row 15 is throwing a fit, or your neighbor continually wants to strike up a conversation, few things are more annoying on a flight than noisy passengers. This is where a pair of noise-canceling headphones is worth the investment. While dampening the surrounding sounds, these will help you focus on your work, a movie or even sleep. Even better, they send a clear signal to the world that you’re not available for idle chit chat.
Inflight annoyance No. 2: Seat kickers
Many parents have been on both sides of the “seat-kicking” issue. Of course no one wants to feel their chair kicked, but it’s harder to prevent than a lot of non-parents think. Little kids move fast, and 2-year-olds aren’t the best listeners. A recent survey by YouGov shows most respondents (55 percent) said they are annoyed having their seats kicked or hit when flying.
The key to staying calm is dealing with the situation early and politely. Turn around with a smile and ask the child’s parent if they could help their child to not bump the seat in front of them. You might even suggest putting a carry-on under their feet to rest their legs on. Finally, stay patient. The parents want a peaceful flight just as much as you do.
Inflight annoyance No. 3: Flight delays
There’s no need to get worked up when you get the bad news that your flight will be late due to maintenance issues. Instead of getting frustrated, use the extra time to treat yourself. Grab one of those chair massages in the concourse. You’ll feel more relaxed, plus the muscle rub-down will send a message to your brain that everything is OK.
Besides, you may not get many chances in the future to treat yourself because technology advances are starting to cut back on the length of these maintenance delays. For example, GoDirect Maintenance Services from Honeywell Aerospace wirelessly connects mechanical systems to maintenance crews, so they can quickly address potential mechanical issues. They'll know what the plane needs even before it lands, saving time and keeping operations smooth. By reducing troubleshooting time by up to a whopping 25 percent, that means less downtime for airline flights and fewer delays caused by maintenance.
Inflight annoyance No. 4: Terrible Wi-Fi service
Besides being charged a bundle just for internet access, passengers are often disappointed by what they get: dropped service and the inability to use the Wi-Fi for things they really want, like streaming music and movies.
Preparation is key to staying calm, so before the plane takes off, keep your device stocked with movies, albums and books. But one day soon, that won’t be necessary.
High-speed inflight Wi-Fi from Inmarsat’s GX Aviation, powered by Honeywell’s JetWave system, is already a feature on select international flights. Passengers can tap into home-quality Wi-Fi around the globe to stream their favorite TV show without annoying interruptions or being dropped. Having reliable inflight Wi-Fi is also great for entertaining kids throughout the entire flight. Especially since most people (61 percent) are not willing to offer a traveling parent help who's struggling to entertain or calm down a young child, even if it could mean positive travel karma for them, according to YouGov. No disruptions to a child’s favorite TV show could be the ticket to a calmer travel experience for all on board.
Inflight annoyance No. 5: Dry (potentially smelly) cabin air
It’s much easier to relax when you are comfortable, and the easiest place to start is with your airplane outfit. Wear moisture-wicking active wear to keep things breathable in a warm environment, but be sure to stash a fleece jacket in your carry-on so you can warm up if the temperature drops.
But what if you sit next to a passenger with body odor or someone who brought bad-smelling food on the plane? YouGov’s recent survey shared that 74 percent of people are annoyed with these unwanted smells when flying.
Fortunately, fluctuating cabin temperatures and smells are on their way out. Thanks to Honeywell’s Integrated Environmental Control System, advanced technology monitors and controls the cabin environment, so the air conditioning, cabin pressure, cooling and ventilation are always in perfect balance. Here’s to a more pleasant travel experience for all.
Read more about Honeywell Aerospace on the Follow the Aero blog.
Flying? 5 ways to keep your cool and get through it
Back in the golden age of flight, boarding a plane meant you were in for an amazing experience – comfortable seats, plenty of cold drinks and smiles everywhere.
Today? Not so much. With the cramped seating and impossibly long line to get out the door, flying is seen as the unpleasant grunt work of travel, something you just have to get through. Talk to the travel pros, though, and they’ll tell you there are ways to sooth your nerves in the face of even when the worst . It just takes a willingness to take a few deep, cleansing breaths and see the solution.
Let’s walk through the five most annoying flight experiences with strategies to help you calm down and restore your mood to good.
Inflight annoyance No. 1: The passengers
Whether a toddler in row Q is having a fit over being belted in, or your seat mate wants to strike up an unwanted conversation, noisy passengers can distract your creating that zen-like flight experience you want to create. Not to mention, it’s very annoying. This is where a pair of noise canceling headphones is a flier’s best friend. While dampening unwanted sounds, these allow you to focus your ears on podcasts, music or an audio book – while sending a clear signal to the world you’re not available for idle chit chat. (To send a stronger message, just lean back in your seat and close your eyes.)
Inflight annoyance No. 2: Seat kickers
Little kids love to swing their legs. Which would be fine, if you didn’t have to feel it drumming on your lower back during an entire flight. The key to staying calm is dealing with the situation directly. Turn around and politely ask the child’s parent if they would put a stop the kicking, because it’s keeping you from relaxing during your flight. If the pitter patter of little feet doesn’t stop, offer your carryon suitcase as a foot rest to accommodate their short legs. The sacrifice may be worth a peaceful flight, and with any luck, the parent will take the hint and grab their own luggage to solve the problem.
Inflight annoyance No. 3: Flight delays
When you get the bad news that your flight will be late due to maintenance issues, there’s little point in getting worked up. You can’t do anything, plus the So why not use the extra time to treat yourself? Grab one of those chair massages in the concourse. You’ll feel more relaxed, plus the muscle rub-down will send a message to your brain that everything is OK.
Besides, you may not have these chances in the future, because technology will cut the length of these maintenance delays. For example, emerging technology from Honeywell Aerospace called GoDirect Connected Maintenance will place important mechanical data right in the hands of maintenance crew, even before the plane lands or before something breaks. By reducing troubleshooting time by a whopping 25 percent, that means briefer downtimes for airline flights.
Inflight annoyance No. 4: The terrible wi-fi service
Besides being charged a bundle just for internet access, passengers are often disappointed by what they get: dropped service and the inability use the wi-fi for things they really want, like streaming music and movies. Preparation is key to staying calm, so before the plane takes off, keep your device stocked with movies, albums and books. If this is a working flight, download hard copies to your laptop, so a dropped signal doesn’t disrupt your progress. One day, this hassle will go the way of the horrible inflight music and movie. High speed inflight wi-fi powered by Honeywell’s JetWave hardware is already a feature in select international flights. For you, that will mean you can tap in to home quality Wi-Fi, and stream your favorite TV show without worrying about being dropped!
Inflight annoyance No. 5: That dry, ever-changing cabin air
It’s much easier to relax when you are comfortable, and the easiest place to start is with your airplane outfit. Wear moisture wicking active wear to keep things breathable in a warm environment, and be sure to stash a fleece jacket in your carryon so you can get cozy if the temperature drops. In the meantime, fluctuating cabin temperatures are on their way out, thanks to Honeywell’s Integrated Environmental Control System, will use advanced technology to monitor and control the cabin environment, so the air conditioning, cabin pressure, cooling and ventilation are always in perfect balance.
Staying organized while traveling can help relieve some of the stress of juggling so many details and moving parts. Here are ways you can stay organized while traveling, and feel more confident that you have control of your vacation plans.
(BPT) - Vacation is supposed to be fun and relaxing, but more than half of Americans say vacations cause them stress, and 46 percent say stress interferes with their enjoyment of traveling, according to a survey by HomeAway. Vacation stress comes from multiple sources, including crowded airports, making transportation arrangements, booking lodging and more.
However, staying organized while traveling can help relieve some of the stress of juggling so many details and moving parts. Here are ways you can stay organized while traveling, and feel more confident that you have control of your vacation plans.
Prior to departure
* Make an itinerary with important information, such as flight numbers and times, hotel phone numbers, check-in and check-out times, prices, ticket numbers and phone numbers for attractions you’ll visit.
* Gather together travel guide info. If you’re still a fan of paper, create a packet of travel guides and maps for the area you’ll be visiting. Or go electronic and download guides and maps on your smartphone.
* Remember to make arrangements for your home while you’re away. Discontinue newspaper and mail delivery, put lights on timers and ask the local police department to do vacation checks on your home.
* Pack a few days before your departure. Waiting until the last minute to pack can make you feel rushed and stressed — and increase the chance you’ll forget something important.
* Make a checklist of everything you need to take with you and check off each item as it goes into your bags. Organize your checklist by when items can be packed — well in advance (for seasonal clothes you don’t need at home) to last-minute (toiletries).
* Plan outfits and take items that can be mixed and matched with each other.
* Before critical items go into your bags, outfit them with technology that will help you keep track of them. TrackR pixel is a coin-sized item tracker that attaches to virtually any item — from car and house keys to wallets, passport cases to handbags — to help you keep track of important items while traveling. When downloaded to your smartphone, the TrackR app works with the item tracker to help locate the tagged items. You can use the app to locate tagged items, remind you to take items with you and even locate them on an in-app map. If you misplace your phone, simply press the button on the tag, and it will make your phone ring so you can find it. To learn more or to purchase online, visit www.thetrackr.com.
On the road
* If you’re traveling with the whole family and have a lot to carry, consider making each person responsible for a different, age-appropriate, item. For example, parents can manage large bags, teens and tweens can handle carry-on items and young children can be responsible for any small entertainment or comfort items, such as stuffed animals and carry-ons with coloring books and Crayons.
* Keep all passports in one place and have a single, responsible party manage them. Attach a TrackR item tracker to passport cases to ensure you can always find these critical items.
* Carry a small journal to help keep track of notes about places where you go, changes in plans or reservations, receipts, tickets and more.
* Pack a small bag for snacks and water. Vacation travel often involves waiting, whether it’s at the airport for a delayed flight or in line for a popular attraction. A small snack bag can help prevent hunger-fueled frustration and lack of focus.
Some stress while traveling may be unavoidable, but staying organized while on vacation can help ensure you feel as little stress as possible — and leave you plenty of energy to enjoy your trip.
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