Hate to wait? When you’re traveling, some things are out of your control. You can’t always avoid wasting time, but don’t despair. You have power over a lot of travel conditions. Taking certain steps before and during your trip can help you to become a more efficient traveler.
Get a Head Start
A little prep work makes the trip run more smoothly. Start by researching your destination. How much time you spend depends upon location and objectives.
Details to learn include:
- Time zone
- Monetary unit
- Tourist attractions
- Transportation options
- Cell reception availability
- Vaccination requirements
- Electrical current used
- Border crossing requirements
- Driving rules
Not only is it efficient, the more you know ahead of time the more likely you will be to experience less culture shock when you arrive.
Completing certain tasks makes travel go more smoothly:
- Copy passports
- Print itineraries
- Print transportation and lodging confirmations
- Give your travel schedule to someone close to you
- Obtain some local currency for immediate use
- Check on health insurance coverage
- Arrange for a pet sitter or kennel
- Check on ATM availability
Decide what you’ll wear for en route. If you’re headed for the airport, shoes that slip off and on easily move you along faster at security. No matter how you’re traveling, make sure your clothes are comfortable.
Have Some Reservations
If you’re booking a domestic flight, the best time to do it is 3 p.m. eastern time on Tuesdays. This is when airlines post sales and match prices.
If you’re concerned about price as well as efficiency, book at least six weeks ahead. You can also look at shifting travel dates, going to regional airports and flying early-early-early in the morning.
Budget airlines like Southwest don’t use comparison websites, so if you want to be all-inclusive, you’ll have to visit their company sites.
When you’re searching for accommodations, consider location carefully. Something that’s centrally positioned will save time when going to attractions and restaurants.
Look for lodging with amenities you need, such as express check-in and checkout, Wi-Fi or a gym. You’ll get a lot done without leaving the building.
Also, to enhance efficiency, consider an efficiency hotel room with a kitchenette and dining area. If you don’t mind a little food prep, you’ll spend a lot less time waiting for restaurant tables.
Put Yourself on the Map
If you’re going to be doing some driving during the trip, map out your route as much as you can before you leave home. Things such as researching which roads include tolls, looking into purchasing an E-Z Pass, collecting some money to avoid scrummaging for loose change throughout your entire car so you can pay for these tolls or buy a snack along the way can all be life savers! You will be thankful when you remember to do this step especially if you are trying to save a bit of unexpected frustration!
And a quick parking tip: when you’re in an unfamiliar place, use your phone to take a quick pic of your vehicle and its surroundings. Memories aren’t perfect, and you won’t waste time later looking for your car.
Fly Through the Airport
Skip the airport lines, and check in with an app (StudentUniverse’s Flights app will let you save your itineraries across all the carriers you have booked on to save time and space on your phone). You get a bar code instead of boarding pass, so you’ll need your phone to get through security.
Before heading to the airport, check your flight status. Don’t waste time waiting at the airport for a plane that’s delayed or even cancelled.
Also, before leaving, double check for necessary documents: driver’s license or other ID, tickets or boarding pass, passport and itinerary.
On the plane, if you can’t find space for your carry on right off the bat, go ahead and make room in the overhead bin. Don’t squish other people’s belongings; just arrange them more logically. This could keep you from having to check a bag at the last minute.
To get through security quickly, don’t have forbidden items in your carry on. Know which items are limited, such as liquids, and which are outright prohibited (everything from liquid bleach to dynamite).
Pack all liquids in one clear plastic bag, and put it in the front pocket of your carry on. Now you have easy access at the security checkpoint.
If you fly frequently, consider the TSA’s pre-check program for expedited screening. There’s a fee, and not every airline and airport participate. However, this also means no more long lines.
Pack with Precision
If you’re flying, learn your airline’s requirements for carry on bags. You’ll get through airports faster if you don’t check suitcases. Plus you won’t face the time-wasting possibility of lost luggage.
Make a checklist so you don’t forget essentials. This helps you pack efficiently, and you’ll have it throughout your trip so you won’t forget anything.
Pack as light as possible. Include versatile items, like dark jeans, so you can mix and match to create multiple outfits. To reduce wrinkles, roll your clothes; don’t fold.
With a well-packed bag in one hand and your pre-planned itinerary in the other, you’re ready to maximize fun and minimize delay on your trip.