We’ve all been there. It’s 10:00 p.m. and you have a 6:00 a.m. flight out tomorrow. Guess you should start packing, right?
I am dangerously notorious for this behavior. I once opened a suitcase to start packing for Australia exactly one hour before I had to leave for the airport. I ran around frantically for 60 minutes trying to pair outfits, and trying to push down the anxiety welling up in my chest. The result? I left behind my hairbrush, my razor, and the brand new (fabulous!) skirt I bought for the trip. Fail.
Since then, I’ve developed a schedule for myself to help me prepare for a trip without the drama. It may seem like overkill, but when I follow this, I cut my travel anxiety in half. I also don’t have to waste money at my destination purchasing things I already own but forgot to pack — plus I usually have time for a glass of wine at the airport before my flight. WIN.
Three months to take-off (International Trips only):
- Passport Is your current passport valid? If not, renew. If it is, confirm that it does not expire within the next 6-12 months. Many countries won’t grant a visa if your passport expires before the visa term is up. If you’re due for expiration, go ahead and renew now to avoid hassles.
- Visas Does your destination require a visa to enter the country? Do your research to find which visa(s) you’re eligible for, the application process, application deadlines, etc.
- Vaccinations Depending on your destination, these may be required. Do your research and book any necessary doctor’s appointments now to avoid a time crunch.
One month to take-off:
- Assess Your Gear / Closet Do you have everything you need for this trip? Are you attending any special events that you need a specific outfit for, or doing any outdoor activities that require special equipment? Do you still need to pick up travel-size deodorant? Whatever it is, buy it now.
One week to take-off:
- Confirmation Take time to confirm your travel plans. Flights booked? Accommodations arranged? Will you need a rental car or public transit pass? Book it now if it’s not done already.
48 hours to take-off:
- Lists, Lists, Lists I love lists (can you tell?) I make them for anything and everything. If you’re worried about forgetting things, jot down a list of key items you’re bringing to avoid forgetting them in the melee.
- Luggage Pick a suitcase / travel pack, open it, and put it on your floor. Over the next 24 hours, place items next to it that you’ll be taking with you as you think of them.
24 hours to take-off:
- Pack The time has come. Start placing items you won’t need in the next 24 hours into your luggage. Set anything you still need before take-off (hairbrush, toothbrush, etc.) next to the pack and grab it when you need it. Put it back after to avoid forgetting it altogether.
4 hours to take-off:
- Assemble Place final items in your carryon. Do a mental checklist (or run through your packing list) to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. Top of my classic “I-Forgot-It” list? Toothbrush, razor, cell phone charger and ear buds. Always.
- Documentation Double check that you have your ID / passport, and visa(s) / vaccination confirmation, if needed. You won’t get far without them!
2-3 hours to take-off:
- Shut Down Make sure your heater/air conditioner is off (to avoid high bills when you get back) and check that everything in unplugged that should be. Double check that all doors are locked, windows closed, etc. Also, did you remember to DVR Game of Thrones? Good.
- Transportation If you’re catching a ride to the airport, call your Uber / Loved One now to pick you up – you’re ready! If you’re using Uber or a cab service, keep an eye on availability as you’re making your final preparations. I once tried to call a taxi an hour before my flight-time, only to hear that an event in my area meant no available cabs. Fun.
1 hour to take-off:
- Silly goose. You should already be at the airport sipping a bottle – I mean a glass – of wine. No more list for you. Enjoy your vacation!
How do you avoid travel anxiety? Are you a list-maker or a risk-taker? Let me know in the comments!