By Lori Sweet
After many years of travelling by plane, car and motor coach, I have learned a few tricks to make the trips smoother. Whether you travel alone, as a couple or family, multigenerational group or a group of friends, many of the items on this list should work for you.
There will inevitably be delays or even a change of plans when you travel. Knowing this at the start can make travel less stressful. Sometimes a change of plans can turn up even more interesting experiences than you had planned on.
Travel Insurance is a must. People generally know that getting insurance for travelling out of the country is essential. What they don’t seem to know is that if you travel outside your home province within Canada, your provincial insurance i.e. OHIP for me, doesn’t necessarily cover everything. If you are from the United States, it will depend on your insurance company. I have also heard many people say that they have insurance because they used their credit card to pay for the trip. Always check what is covered, because there are often limitations on the coverage. If you need to use the insurance when you are on a trip, when possible, call the insurance emergency number first before you go for medical help. They will tell you where to go for treatment.
Passport, credit cards and other forms of documentation that you have with you should be photocopied (both sides) and stored electronically. It makes it much easier to get them replaced when you have all of the information, if these things were stolen or lost.
At the Airport or Border Crossing
I happen to love airports. People watching and wondering what their destination is, excites the travel writer and photographer in me. What I don’t enjoy is the chaos of security. Too many times people are not prepared. Have your documents ready, your liquids in the proper sized containers, your coat, sweater, belt and laptop in the bin as quickly as possible. This makes your time at security and everyone else’s much less stressful. A smooth transition through security can set the tone for the rest of your time waiting for your flight.
If you are crossing a border between countries either by personal vehicle or motor coach, always have your documents easily accessible. You do not want to have to get out of the vehicle and search through your luggage in the trunk or under the motor coach, for the documents.
If you are travelling with minors and both parents are not present, it is advisable to have a document from a lawyer indicating that you have permission to be travelling with that minor. Anything to create smooth passage is likely to start or end your trip on a good note.
Create a List
I have a basic list of what I need to pack regardless of destination. You can create your own or find one online that can be customized. One of the lists I use extensively comes from a company called Knock Knock. I picked mine up at my local Chapters/Indigo. https://knockknockstuff.com/product/pack-this-pad/
Travel to a Resort or Beach Location
Travel to a warm sunny locale no matter what time of year can be a great deal of fun. I have travelled with a group for many years. We started out when our children were young and have now transitioned to adults only. Many of the tips and tricks we started out with, we still use today.
-Clips for the beach chairs. Go to the dollar store and get a package of large clips to hold your towels down on your chair and to make it easier to spot which chairs are yours.
-Bring a large travel mug. Not only does it keep the sand and dirt out of your drink, but it keeps it cold or hot and is easily identifiable as yours. The bonus is that you have to refill less often.
-Straws are something that many resorts don’t give out. They are light to pack and are very handy to have.
-You have the travel mug and a straw so now you need to decide what to drink. Word of caution.... Do not indulge in too many drinks that contain coconut. Coconut is a natural laxative. Tummy trouble is not what you want on vacation.
-Rinse off after you have been in the water especially if you have been in saltwater. It is especially important to rinse your lips. I cannot count the number of times over the years that someone in our group did not do this and as the week went on developed cracked and sore lips. I did it once and never again. That is when having a straw came in handy for sure.
-Hats, sunscreen and sunscreen for lips are essential. Sunscreen can be very expensive if you are travelling to sunny destinations, so packing extra in your checked luggage is a money saver. Don’t forget to put some on the part in your hair. A flakey scalp to go along with your tan isn’t a nice accessory!
Travel in General
-Bring your own pillowcase...it smells like home.
-Ear plugs. You never know when you might need them.
-Travel pack of wipes for the tray on the airplane, train or motor coach and the remote in your hotel room
-Travel alarm clock. Many places do not have one. I don’t trust a wakeup call.
-Small washcloth. These come in handy and in numerous overseas locations, especially Europe, hotels do not have them.
-Chargers, adapters and converters. Double check what the power and plug configurations are in the country you are visiting.
-Prescription glasses. Either carry a backup pair or a copy of your prescription. I have heard of too many vacations being ruined because the crucial pair of glasses were broken and there was no backup.
-Medication, especially prescription medication, should always be in its original bottle to avoid confiscation at security.
This list is by no means exhaustive but the tips and tricks could be what turns a good vacation into a great one!
Lori is a freelance travel writer and travel photographer based in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. She has had a life-long passion for travel and for learning about other cultures, while travelling on and off the beaten path. Taking detours along the way has enriched her experiences immeasurably. Lori enjoys writing and photography, so it was a natural fit to combine this with her love of travel.
Lori was in education for 30 years. She was able to combine that with 14 years of part-time work as a Tour Director for a travel company that provides motor coach trips across North America. Upon retirement from teaching, she moved into the tour company office as a tour planner. She now spends her time working on other interests. She has kept a travel journal for over 30 years!
Lori has taken online and live travel writing and photography workshops and is a member of the International Travel Writers and Photographers Alliance (ITWPA).