Vacation….ahhhh what a glorious word! I live for vacations. I plan months in advance, count down the days until I leave, write packing lists, and more. Beyond making sure to pack an extra USB cable or reconfirming hotel reservations, here are six things you can do to before leaving that will help you to enjoy your time off even more.
- Enroll in TSA Pre✓®. TSA Pre✓® allows low-risk travelers to experience expedited, more efficient security screening at participating U.S. airport checkpoints. With TSA Pre✓®, you won’t have to remove your belt, shoes, and jacket or take out your 3-1-1 bag and laptop at security screening areas. Family members ages 12 and under, traveling with an eligible parent or guardian that has a TSA Pre✓® indicator on their boarding pass, can participate in expedited screening too. There is a nonrefundable processing fee of $85 per application. If you travel several times a year, the cost of obtaining TSA Pre✓® status may be worth it to save you and your family time and hassle at the airport. If you travel outside of the country, consider enrolling in the Global Entry program. Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Participants may enter the United States by using automated kiosks located at select airports.
- Have the postal service hold your mail. There’s no need for you to worry about your mail piling up or asking someone to collect your mail daily when you are away. The United States Postal Service has a Hold Mail Service that keeps your mail safely at the post office until you return. They will hold your mail for 3 to 30 consecutive days. The best part is that you can schedule it all online up to 30 days in advance and receive a confirmation email within minutes of entering your request.
- Call your credit card company to let them know that you’ll be making charges away from home. In recent years, credit card companies have become vigilant about protecting their clients from credit card fraud. Often when your credit card is used away from your home area, the company will flag purchases and put a hold on your card until you call them to verify the transaction. During this time, you are unable to make any transactions with your credit card. I’ve had this happen to me several times when I was on vacation, which can be startling and frustrating in the moment, even though I’m actually very grateful that my credit card company is keeping an eye out for me. While the hold was quick to clear up once I spoke to a customer service agent, the ordeal was emotionally draining and took time away from enjoying my trip. This is easily preventable, so make the call.
- Order food for your journey. Whether you’re taking an airplane, car, bus or train, food options in transit can be pricey and not desirable. While making and packing a snack or meal may be the most cost effective option, we all know that there’s rarely time to do so as you prepare to leave for vacation. I’ve found that ordering take out and picking it up on the way to airport is easy, and I’m always thankful for the yummy food after an hour into a flight. A few things to note is that you’ll want the food you order to be well packed so you won’t experience leaks or smushed food. You also want to pick choices that won’t spoil quickly. Food that doesn’t require using utensils like sandwiches are great choices.
- Take your vitamins and supplements, and get lots of sleep. Nothing puts a damper on a vacation like getting sick or even worse having your child become ill. I’ve been there, and it’s a horrible experience to go through. Boost your immunity for a vacation by taking your vitamin mix of choice everyday for at least a week prior to departing. Our family likes to fortify ourselves with vitamin C, probiotics and essential oils. Jenny’s family takes camu camu juice and turmeric. My Aunty Ann swears by Airborne, and my sister-in-law loads up on garlic and echinacea. Remember to take these items along with you so that you can keep healthy the entire time. Importantly, don’t skimp on your sleep before you leave. Lack of sleep significantly depletes your immune system and makes you extra vulnerable to germs.
- Get a surprise travel gift for your child. When taking family vacations with children, buy a small gift that will keep them occupied during travel, such as a book, game, or coloring book. My mom does it for my children when we travel together, and the kids love it! Wrap the gift, and present it to your child once seated in your mode of transportation. I’ve found that this is a great time to present the gift as it’s usually been a few hours since you’ve left home and the child’s good behavior is waning after checking in, going through security, and waiting to get on board. The wrapped gift is a wonderful surprise, will keep the kids busy for a while, and may delay the inevitable question “Are we there yet?”…for at least a few minutes.
Allot time in your vacation preparations for doing the above items. You’ll be happy you did.