London, Israel, and Rome next week means travel posts this week! I have been flying since I was an infant, to multiple places, time zones and continents. And yes, I do know how lucky I am. My parents raised me to believe that experiences and memories are more important than possessions, and even though I love shopping and writing about all the makeup I buy, I agree with them one hundred percent. If I could afford to see every corner of the world, I’d be off on a new adventure every week! But until then, I have to wait months in between these magical trips, so the excitement is just building and building!
I don’t really get anxious about traveling, but I know that my comfort comes in large part from being very organized about it. And friends who’ve taken my advice about how to organize before traveling have told me later that it helped them too! So for the first part of this little travel series, here’s a breakdown of how I prepare for a big trip:
- Do your research. If you’re going somewhere you’ve never been, learn about it before hand. It is so easy nowadays to Google just about anything, so check out the location of your hotel, local attractions, popular restaurants, and the weather.
- Talk to people. Unless you’re going to a remote village in Zimbabwe, chances are, someone you know, or someone they know has been where you’re going. I always love getting recommendations for local eateries and shops; chances are, you’ll find a great hidden spot by asking a friend!
- Brainstorm your outfits! This is such a fun part of prep for me, because I get to imagine myself looking all fabulous in exotic locales. This step is important for two reasons: you start thinking about what to pack as well as storing up outfit options for the actual trip, so you can waste less time picking out clothes while you’re there and just explore!
- Make packing lists. Yes, this is a list and I’m telling you to make lists, but what did you expect? Typically I have two lists, one for what will be going in my carryon and what will be going in my big-ass checked baggage. Making lists makes me feel so in control of my belongings and the situation. My mom is the same way; her iPhone’s “Notes” app has like, hundreds of lists for basically every situation and place we’ve been in the past five years.
- Make more lists! Do your research and write down the sites you want to see, restaurants that looked good, stores that you want to spend money at, etc.
- Draft a rough itinerary. My favorite way to explore a new place is to just wander around, but if there are museums or palaces that you want to see, make sure to carve out time to do these things. When I went to Vienna two years ago, I basically went to one or two sites every day and spent the rest of the day walking around and eating. I came home from the trip feeling like I saw a lot of incredible things but also got a real taste for Viennese culture. So if you go to Paris, you should probably go to the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, but if the city is known for its amazing street art and outdoor markets, just walk around and find it. It’s all about the balance.
- Let people know you’re going out of town. This can mean many things, for example:
- If you’re going out of the country, make sure your bank and credit card company know so your cards don’t get frozen while you’re overseas. Most online banking apps have the option to set a travel alert, so you can do this really easily on an iPhone app, like I just did. No waiting on hold for twenty minutes and then screaming information at a bank representative!
- Go to your local phone store and make sure to purchase an international plan so you’ll at least have your phone for emergencies. It can get insanely expensive if you don’t have any international plan. I’m talking hundreds of dollars in an hour…
- Ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your place or to collect your mail. Mail piling up at a door is a break-in waiting to happen.
- Let loved ones know your rough itinerary and how to reach you in case of an emergency. This is just common sense, people.
- Make one last list. This is a list of all the things you have to do before you leave. I always make sure to get a fresh mani/pedi, a recent hair appointment, and fill my prescriptions before any trip that’s going to last longer than a weekend. And there is nothing worse than coming home exhausted to an apartment that wasn’t travel-prepped. For example, I always leave fresh sheets on the bed, throw away flowers, water my plants a bit extra, take out the trash, clean out perishables from the fridge, and try to leave my apartment extremely clean so I can come home and recover from jetlag in peace.
- Get ready to have an incredible time! I realize that doing all of these things can make a trip seem more like a chore, so remember that every step you take brings you closer to starting an amazing journey. Most importantly, open your mind to everything wonderful that can happen to you. Get ready to laugh, cry, and run wild down a new path. You never know what’s waiting for you…
Some of you might feel more anxious after this list, but it is temporary, I assure you! The motto here is, “Be prepared now so you can party later!” Doing all of these things to be hyper-organized will enable you to be so relaxed on your trip. The first time you go through all of this, it might seem intense, but it really prepares you for a lifetime of traveling. And the weirdo in me is even more excited for packing and all this stuff now; it’s like my vacation has already begun!