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What to Do to Prepare for a Big Trip

By Christian Roemer

Going on big trips can be a transformative experience. They’re also a decent amount of work. Between the travel arrangements, asking your boss for the time off, and actually getting to where you’re going, all the different gears turning in the vacation machine can feel overwhelming.

That’s why preparation is key.

Not only will preparing properly help make sure you arrive as planned, but it’ll also keep the proverbial train on the rails. I know from firsthand experience what a lack of proper preparation can do.

One time, I made it all the way to Germany and remembered that I forgot to pack underwear. Another time, I got stuck camping in 18 degree weather with only a 40 degree sleeping bag. Yet another time, I arrived in California for a week of hiking without a sweatshirt. I’m an idiot.

Which is why you should listen to me. Since I’ve messed up so many times, I know what kinds of things to look out for to make sure your vacation doesn’t get derailed. You don’t want to be hit with the reality that you don’t have a fresh pair of skivvies the first time you hop out of the shower. Here are the key things to do to prepare for your big trip.

Make a Packing List…at least a week in advance.

- This particular tip isn’t rocket science, but here’s a fresh twist: write out your packing list at least a week before you’re scheduled to leave. What always messed me up is that I’d write my packing list the night before the trip. What’s the difference between last-minute packing and last-minute packing list writing? Nothing, that’s what. A packing list is only as good as the time you’ve had to make sure you’ve included everything. I find a week to be the sweet spot. You’ll add things throughout the week that you initially forgot.

Remember Your Identification.

- Traveling is serious business these days. Back in the 90s, you could practically board a plane without a ticket. I’m being a little facetious, but only a little. If you knew someone that was flying, you were allowed to walk all the way to the gate with them. You’d go through security and chill next to the plane until it was time to leave. These days, not so much. You can barely even park in the parking decks at airports without two forms of ID on hand. Wherever you’re flying, make sure you’re bringing the correct forms of identification with you. International flights always require a passport. Even some domestic flights require it. Do the research and make sure you have the correct ID before you leave the house.

Have a Transportation Plan.

- Are you going to take a taxi or an Uber to your hotel once you land in the Las Vegas airport? Are you renting a car when you land in Wyoming? Riding the train in Denver? Hopping on the subway in New York? Riding a bus? Do you have to take a ferry across some sort of body of water? You don’t have to have every single detail down, but you need to know the game plan. Airports have specific areas for different types of transportation when you exit the terminal, and some are on the total other side of the building. Knowing what’s next before you land is paramount. If you’re not flying, make sure you know where and when you might pay tolls or hop on a ferry. It’ll save you a huge headache if you took the Florida Turnpike and didn’t stash away some quarters, for example. Don’t ask me how I know this.

Traveling is a blast. It’s literally my favorite thing in the world. It can be stressful sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right planning, you can make sure you’re not scrambling to adapt when you’d rather just be having a good time. You can wing some things, but you can’t wing a pair of wool socks when you only packed cotton and you’re going on a 7 mile hike in the narrows.

Make a packing list with plenty of lead time, remember to bring the proper ID, and have a transportation plan. Follow these three tips, and everything else will work out just fine.

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