It doesn't matter how much we love our jobs, nearly everyone looks forward to the chance to get away – on an annual vacation or even just a couple days' break.
But what happens when problems threaten to take the shine away from a trip? Perhaps the checklist in this article can ensure peace-of-mind on your next vacation.
The secret, of course, is in the preparation and in knowing what to do if things go wrong. It’s always good to start by thoroughly researching your intended destination before you even book it. These days, you can get a wealth of information online, including resort or location details, and other people's opinions of places and hotels. You have to be a bit cautious with the latter since you'll find as many opinions as there are reviewers.
Once you've booked, here are a few recommendations:
- Write out a checklist of all the documents you'll need – passports, tickets, confirmations, driver's license, insurance, etc – on the outside of a folder in which you'll store them.
- If traveling abroad, check your passport is up to date, and that you have any visas and inoculations you might need. Find out about local customs and rules.
- Obtain maps and other literature on the places you plan to visit and find out where hospitals and police stations are located. Abroad, you also need to locate the nearest US embassy or consular office. Put these details in your folder.
- If you're flying, double check with your airline and the Transportation Security Administration (http://www.tsa.gov/) on baggage restrictions.
Then, before you leave:
- Give a trusted neighbor and/or family member your itinerary, contact details and a key to your house to keep an eye on your home. Make sure you have a list of their contact numbers with you too!
- Don’t give away the fact that your house is empty. Cancel newspapers and use timers to switch on lights at random times.
- Pack a first aid kit, an emergency repair kit (needle & thread, scissors etc) and labeled prescription medications, with at least some in your carry-on. Take more meds with you than you need and even consider documentation from your physician to vouch for your need if traveling abroad. Take a spare set of reading glasses too.
- When flying, pack a set of underwear and a few other clothing items in your hand luggage, then spread your other stuff between different suitcases (in case one gets lost).
Once you're on your way or in your location, there are a couple of key things to do: If you're with others, always agree on meeting places in case you get separated; and, if you don’t know the security of a location, don't go exploring deserted places or venturing out alone at night.
There's more, of course, but these basic rules may help you anticipate and overcome the vast majority of concerns about vacation travel – enabling you to concentrate on the main purpose – enjoying yourself!
For further guidance, especially if you're traveling overseas, check out http://travel.state.gov/