Posted by: gabriellereneeleblanc | May 9, 2012

Trip Prep 101

There is always so much to do to get ready for a trip, it can be a little over-whelming.

Alright, a LOT over-whelming.

So, months out, it’s time to begin working on the next great adventure. You have the destination in mind, you know when you want to go, now what? First, we tackle the 3As of travel:

Airline: As stated in my previous post, Flying American, it is essential that your airline ticket be the first thing purchased for your trip. If you’re already a member of a rewards program, check your mileage balance and see if you’re up for any awards or upgrades. If you’re not yet a member of any program, do some research, pick your airline, and sign up!

Alright, lets say you don’t travel much and you’re on a really tight budget. I understand. Believe me, I’ve been there. I work at my job non-stop for months to finance my adventures. (Thank the travel gods for good tippers!) If you don’t want to make a commitment to an airline and just need the most affordable, most convenient flight out there, check out Kayak.com. It’s a wonderful website that lets you compare the rates of many discount sites (like Expedia) all at once. Before I joined the American Airlines program I booked all my flights with them.

Accommodation: Congratulations, you have your plane tickets. Which means, barring a natural disaster or airline strike, you have your travel dates set in stone. Now is the time to start thinking about where you’re going to sleep.

If you’re one of those people with a flush enough saving account to go ahead and book both airline and hotels in one go then congratulations…and I hate you. (Okay, maybe not “hate”. How about “greatly envy”? Yeah, that works.)

In any case, once I have my flight paid off I’m generally wiped out and it’s back to working double-shifts until I have the funds to finance my room. Unless, that is, I’m traveling to Europe and willing to stay in a hostel.

HostelWorld.com is one of the greatest websites out there for the traveler on a budget. You can search accommodations in cities by availability and book then and there with just a small percentage as a deposit rather than paying the full balance at once, as required by most hotels.

If hostels aren’t your game and you’re willing to spend a bit more, then check out the discounted hotels through Kayak or other sites. Just be aware that sometimes the “special rates” advertised are actually not as good as those offered by the hotels themselves. Do your research: the internet is your friend.

As a pedestrian and food-enthusiast, I tend to gravitate towards hotels with continental breakfasts, located in close proximity to public transportation. Naturally, I suggest you do the same, but everyone has their own priorities.

I guarantee that somewhere out in cyberspace there is a hotel or hostel or bed & breakfast out there that will meet your criteria at a reasonably discounted rate. You just have to be willing to commit to the search.

Apparel: You may think my inclusion of this category is simply for the alliteration, to complete my “AAA”. While that is an added bonus, having the proper apparel for your destination is pivotal and can be a major drain on your pocketbook.

Lets say you live in sunny Hawaii (lucky bitch) and you’re traveling to Cleveland in February. After the initial question of “Why the hell would you want to visit Cleveland in February” comes the second query “What are you going to wear?” I doubt the residents of Maui have much in the way of a waterproof Timberland snow boot.

It’s best to start thinking of this early so you can begin to pick up a few things at a time, rather than incurring the expense of a new wardrobe the week before you fly out. Check the seasonal weather of your destination, the typical highs and lows, and plan accordingly.

Picking up a few items here and there is also a lot less stressful than running around in desperate search of a parka on the eve of travel.

I suggest picking up any specialty footwear first, giving yourself enough time to break them in. For my upcoming trip to Edinburgh, Scotland–where I’ll be walking up mountainous crags and along cobbled streets–I’ve recently shelled out the dough for some good, sturdy boots. They are currently killing my feet. Better to suffer through now and soften them up (when I can take them off periodicity) rather than find myself with blistery toes in the middle of my trip.

When it comes to travel, especially internationally, there’s no such thing as “over-thinking”.

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