Top Travel Planning Tips

plan travel

Top Travel Planning Tips


Ready to get away? It is important to get away from our day-to-day responsibilities to relax and have some fun during the spring and summer months. Adequate downtime is crucial to maintaining our productivity, but to truly unplug and unwind, it is important to plan ahead. Below are PTA’s top tricks and tricks to ensure that our travel R&R is all that we dream it to be, and that our transition back to our daily responsibilities goes smoothly.

Plan for Your Travel

This might seem obvious on first read, but it’s important to plan for your trip. Lodging and flights can book up quickly, as can popular restaurants, excursions, and our favorite dog boarding facility. Booking early will allow you get the best options. While you’ll likely not want to plan every minute of your time off, it is nice to have reservations for the things you want to do when you are at your destination. When making reservations, be sure to confirm the cancellation policy and check to see if the operators will work with you on unforeseen circumstances.

Manage Travel Expenses

Don’t confuse the vacation mindset with a debt mindset. When it’s sunny and breezy and you’re feeling all carefree, you might be tempted to spend more than you normally would. Couple this tendency with the all-too-common tourist pricing dynamic and the dollars spent on a trip can quickly add up. The solve? Set aside a budget for your travels and stick to it. Set an allowance that is realistic, one that won’t drain your good vacation vibes when your next credit card statement arrives. Beyond the big ticket items such as travel, lodging and dining, don’t forget to plan for things like incremental clothing/equipment purchases, transportation transfers and tips. A solid budget will allow you to relax and enjoy your time away.

Plan for Your Absence & Your Return

In most cases, the responsibilities you’re leaving behind are still going to be there while you’re away. Where possible, line up coverage to help so that everything is not waiting for you when you return. Where you can, designate someone to answer questions and make decisions on your behalf. If at all possible, eliminate the option of being contacted to handle something while you’re absent. Remember: you’re getting away. Set out-of-office reminders on your email and voicemail. Include confirmation on when you’ll be back and able to respond to someone.

Your vacation planning shouldn’t stop the day you plan to arrive back home. If you’re coming back to the office on, say, a Monday, block off time during that day to catch up. Don’t plan to jump right back in as if you’ve never been gone. Give yourself the time on your calendar to sort through email and review the activity you’ve missed. Here you can find more tips for getting back into the swing of things easily on your first day back.

Getting Ready to Travel

So now you’re booked and you’ve got your back-ups in place and it’s almost time to go, but there’s one more task that looms: getting packed. No one likes packing, but the process doesn’t have to be painful. Start by making a checklist of everything you know you’ll need to bring. Ideally, start this list a few days before you’re leaving to optimize your planning and avoid a time crunch. Plan out your outfits to pare down your list of clothing items. Don’t forget to include area-specific needs you can bring (instead of buying locally), such as sunscreen and bug spray.

Many find it helpful to break down the actual chore of packing into bite-sized stages. For example, if you’re packing for children, set aside time to do their packing separate from your own. Similarly, you might pack up your toiletries as one project, then tackle your clothing later. You might also begin to lay out your outfits a couple of days at a time.

Make it Easy to Find What You Need While You’re Traveling

Going beyond the items you’ll put in your suitcase, make certain you have access to all the information you’ll need for your trip, including any booked excursion reservation information and/or activity logistics. You don’t want to be worrying about what is coming up while you’re enjoying another activity. Put everything together in one location for quick reference. If you’re fully digital, save everything in one easy-to-find location, such as an Evernote folder, which is available offline, or use a Notes folder on your phone. And if you are worried about needing access to something that requires internet access and you can’t ensure you’ll have internet access, print what you need to serve as a hard copy.

If you’re flying, set a timer to check-in ahead of time. Even better, if you use the airline app, you’ll be reminded when it is time to check in. Save your boarding pass on your phone to eliminate the need for a paper copy. If you’re traveling with a passport, keep it with you in one designated spot. Don’t forget to take a picture of your passport to aide you in the unlikely event of it being stolen. Also, keep your prescriptions on your person, not in a checked bagged. Prescriptions should be in their original, labeled containers with the prescriber’s information displayed.

Plan for Delays

Finally, be sure to pack your patience. Delays and cancellations can certainly happen. If you’re flying and encounter a problem, try calling the airlines. Onsite assistance is often less efficient. Plan for delays. Pack some snacks. Throw a swimsuit in your carry-on so that you can hit the pool while you wait for your missing bag to arrive or if you need to wait on your room. And don’t build too tight of an agenda for the day you arrive.

Plan Ahead to Ensure Your Best Travel

Adequate downtime is crucial to personal productivity. When properly planned for, vacation travel serves as valuable, enjoyable downtime. Establish a budget and formalize your plans for getting away from it all. Make arrangements for your responsibilities while you are away, so you can truly unplug. Before you head out the door, get organized and prepare for unavoidable travel delays. Equally important, to avoid erasing all the zen you’ll collect over your time off, give yourself an adequate runway to get back into the swing of things when you return from your R&R. Bon voyage!


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Sara Genrich & Nancy Kruschke, founders of Productivity Training Academy, came together with the vision of creating practical, results-driven online on-demand courses for time management, productivity and technology training.  With over 50 years of combined productivity experience, Sara and Nancy’s knowledge, skills and talents illuminate valuable paths to business gain, serving as an effective catalyst for positive change.