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Been awhile since you’ve traveled? Think more time may pass before your next trip? Why not take this opportunity to get things taken care of and in place! Even though we can’t travel in the same manner now, it doesn’t mean we can’t sort some things out. A little leg work now can help you get ready for your next trip much faster. These are some smart ways to prepare for your next trip!

Review Travel Insurance Policies

Put your downtime to use and familiarize yourself with your travel insurance policies. Now more than ever, it is essential you understand what types of things are and are not covered. Every policy is different.

If you haven’t made it a habit to have trip insurance in the past, this is a great time to research different policies and find out what kind of coverage may work for you.

In addition to learning more about insurance policies, check to see if there are different benefits you are not utilizing. This is especially true if your travel insurance is provided through one of your credit cards.

Check Expiration Dates

Get out your driver’s license, state issued I.D. card, passport, travel membership cards, or whatever else may be relevant for traveling. Check the expiration dates. If they expire any time soon, now is a good time to renew them. Remember, with decreases in staffing, processing times take a bit longer. Why not just get it taken care of?

Obtain Your REAL ID

While the deadline has been extended, you will still need your REAL ID to fly domestically in the future. So, now that you have your driver’s license out to check the expiration date, look for one more thing. If you don’t see a star at the top, you will need to get your REAL ID.

Sign Up For TSA Pre-Check

While it may be awhile before you get on your next flight, take this opportunity to sign up for TSA Pre-Check. The process itself takes a bit of time to work through (application, screening appointment, approval) so best get a jump on it.

Although we have done quite a bit of international travel, we still find this to be the better option than Global Entry. Our experience trying to sign up a few years ago was less than stellar. We have found that using TSA Pre-Check along with Mobile Passport meets our needs just fine. It costs less, is valid longer and, with fewer international flights for the foreseeable future, it just makes more sense right now.

Organize Travel Documents

It may not seem like it, but there really are several things you should do to organize your travel documents. This is especially true if you get new things like identification documents and travel insurance. There are a few ways to organize your travel documents, so we are breaking it down for you.

Photocopies

We make two photocopies of identification documents like driver’s licenses and passports. Leave one photocopy back home in a safe place or with a trusted contact. Take the other photocopy with you on your trip. Just make sure to store this in a separate bag from your original form of I.D. (Note – your I.D. should NEVER go in checked luggage!) Having supporting documentation accessible allows for easier replacement should something get lost.

Electronic Copies

Along with making a few paper copies, we like to store many things electronically. Cloud-based software like Google Drive is great for this. Not sure what items to save electronically? Here are a few things to consider:

  • Frequent flier account information
  • Hotel loyalty account information
  • Travel insurance policies
  • Important contact numbers and email addresses

When we are traveling, we also save our trip itineraries and other pertinent information electronically. It helps us stay organized and spend less time fumbling through papers. Using downtime is a great way to go into your next trip well organized and prepared!

Make A Trip List

During this period where we can’t travel, our wanderlust has been growing deep. We are aware that for awhile travel is going to look different than it has in the past. Road trips will reign supreme for some time.

We are list people. Naturally, we made a “trip list.” This list isn’t filled with far-flung destinations we hope to visit one day like our travel bucket lists. Instead, this list consists of places we are able to visit – easily and safely.

To keep it simple, we broke the list into two sections. One for the “easy” places – destinations that are 5 hours or less by car. The second section is “moderate” destinations located within 8-10 hours. You can assemble a similar list by mapping locations on Google Maps or visiting Withinhours.com.

Now, when the time is right, we can easily pull out our trip list, make a quick selection, and hit the road.

Preform Home Maintenance

There are several home maintenance steps people should implement before departing on a trip. If it’s been awhile since you have carried out preventative home maintenance, this is a great time to catch up.

There are many things you can do to help keep your home safe and secure during your absence. Using some of this down time will have you ready to leave in no time, with few worries about the safety and security of your home. We are sharing plenty of easy, affordable options here.

Clean Out and Update

For the longest time, we would come home from a trip and I would toss my bags in the storage room to be “dealt with later”. Well, now it is later! If it has been awhile since you cleaned out your bags since your last trip, do it! When I recently cleaned out mine, I found crushed Biscoff cookies which were handed out on our last Delta flight home, a leaky pen, and a pair of shoes I had been looking for!

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Once you clean out the old stuff, add in some new things. You may find your travel headphones are broken and need replaced. Or, the hand sanitizer you always take is now expired. Whatever the case may be, this is a great opportunity to clean out the old and update items in your bag.

Schedule Vehicle Maintenance

Road trips will likely be the primary method of travel for some time. Be sure to take some time to catch up on any overdue vehicle maintenance before hitting the road!

You will want to schedule your next oil change, tire rotation, and multi-point inspection soon! Take the time to verify headlights, tail lights and blinkers are working, wiper blades are in good condition, and windshield washer fluid is topped off.

This is also a great time to clean and inventory your vehicle’s interior. Be sure to also double check your vehicle’s emergency kit. Add a supply of hand sanitizer and wipes while you’re at it. Depending on the time of year and destination, you may also want to add a sun visor or a snow brush and extra blankets.

Start A Travel Savings Account

Unfortunately, so many people suffered major financial blows in 2020. The discretionary funds that were used for traveling have now been reallocated to other things. Saving extra for travel during a crisis may be out of reach.

However, we are firm believers that doing little things add up to big results. If you do not have a travel savings account, now might be a great time to start one if you have the means.

No matter how large or small your contributions might be, setting aside a little bit for a future trip has many benefits. Having a specific and measurable goal to work towards has many positive effects. Reaching your goal is even more rewarding!

As you can see, there are plenty of smart things to do now to help you prepare for your next trip. They will help keep you occupied now and give you something to look forward to in the future.

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22 Comments

  1. I smiled when I read you found a missing pair of shoes in your bags! How funny. A comprehensive list to help travellers get themselves prepared for future travel and interesting that some items on here are not used in the UK such as the TSA pre

    1. True, the UK doesn’t have TSA pre-check. Should you ever find yourself traveling to the States, it might be worth looking into for those return trips home! Glad you got a laugh about my shoes – I was so excited to find them!

  2. While we are travelling for less, it is indeed a good time to get travel documents in order. We made sure to check our passport and Nexus pass expiry soon after Covid hit. We knew renewal times would be lengthy. We are definitely using this time to catch up on things around the house. All of these may not be as fun as travelling, but it is good to get some things off the to-do list.

  3. I love packing but hate unpacking. Quite often my bag just sits in a cupboard for weeks because I can’t deal with going through all the pockets and putting everything back in place. I think it’s psychological, if I unpack, then that’s really the end of my trip .. so I’d rather put the process off so I delay the end of the trip!

    Taking photos of every document piece of information I need on a trip has saved me more than once. There’s nothing more annoying than misplacing a key piece of information in a pocket somewhere, but having to keep searching because you don’t have a copy. So now I always take a quick snap.

    1. I think you’re spot-on with what you said about unpacking symbolizing the end of the trip! I totally agree with that as well as taking photos of key documents. It’s super helpful!

  4. I was reading this thinking no need to do this but then I looked at my passport. Yikes, it’s about to expire. Now going through my backpack, it’s a bit scary what I’m pulling out of there – so yes, this is great advice lol.

  5. Great tips there to get everything updated while we are at home during this pandemic! We have not looked at our passports, driving licenses, insurance for months now. I also keep soft copies of these emailed to myself. That way you can access it from everywhere. Yes, we tend to leave things in our bags after a long travel and do not unpack fully. I often find pens, mints, and hotel complimentary stuff in our backpacks. Thanks for a good blog full of tips. 🙂

  6. Great list & fab idea to take on some of these thing in the downtime we currently have. I have now added update my new address on my Drivers Licence on my to do list! I really like the idea of creating a list for all the more local places I would like to visit. I have my Life List which is usually a road map for my activities but it has taken a bit of a back seat in 2020. Need another focus to start planning now…

    1. We’ve found that shifting the focus and planning in different ways has been helpful during this time. Hope this is helpful to you too!

  7. Yes, it’s definitely a good idea to check your documents while you don’t really need them; far too often, we do it rather last minute. That reminds me that I have to check my vaccines. Anyway, while in the past I was the master of copying documents, I know only take pictures of everything.
    Anyway, since yesterday, the Canary Islands aren’t a high risk area anymore, so I’m keeping my fingers cross…want to go there end of November.

  8. Great ideas in here for proactively using up time while we can’t travel internationally. I’m a big list maker too!

    As mum to a teen boy, I now always empty bags at the end of every trip, after once finding a fossilised banana stuck to one of his socks inside his backpack!

  9. I do like the “Home Safety” bit. You may relax much better on holiday knowing your home is safe. Also, saving money for the next trip is quite an important preparation in our house. The next trip is going to be awesome

  10. For US citizens who plan to travel internationally, I would recommend to sign up for Mobile Passport or Global Entry. Global Entry includes TSA Pre.

    1. We use Mobile Passport with TSA Pre-Check. It is not at all easy to sign up for Global Entry if you don’t live in a major metro city with a screening center. Not everyone, like us, has that luxury. And, for the foreseeable future, I’m not sure it is worth the money.

  11. This is an important compilation of things we can control and prepare for, particularly when so many other things seem to be happening at random. Saving for travel seems to be more important now than ever, if one wants to travel.

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