Traveling is stressful. As an individual who travels for both work and leisure, it has become evident in recent months that traveling is becoming more difficult, whether it be an increase in flight delays and cancellations.
There is also a decrease in options to get from place to place. The best thing you can do in this environment is to have a plan. My wife and I consider ourselves, if nothing else, very prepared travelers. Below are some helpful hints for traveling with your significant other.
When my wife and I travel, we do everything in our power not to check baggage. Most of our trips are for a weekend or extended weekend and we rarely have an issue fitting everything in our carry-ons and backpacks.
That isn’t to say it’s easy, as sometimes weather conditions or destinations will have the need for a couple outfits each day. It is just much more convenient to not have to worry about dropping off and getting bags (plus the rising baggage fees). Also, if just using a carry-on, most airlines no longer have enough overhead space and will ask for the volunteers to check a bag for free.
The first step to packing is making a Packing list. A day or two before we depart, we will put together a list of all items we will need. This ensures we don’t forget anything at the house and ensures we aren’t making a quick stop at a Target to grab a needed item.
While packing, if one of us is running out of room, we will utilize any extra space in the other bag to make sure we work together to bring everything we want and need for a trip. As is often the case, I have plenty of room in my liquid ziplock bag so I am happy to add her extra liquids to mine as she runs out of space.
Maximize Airline Benefits
As stated above, I have to sporadically travel for work. Because of this, I have signed up for Frequent Flyer programs with all major airlines and Rewards programs with many of the top hotel chains.
While I recommend this for most regular travelers, my wife does not have the Rewards programs. I handle all of our bookings using a Credit Card that also offers a multiplier for travel purchases to ensure I am getting all the Reward points I can. We have accrued several free trips and nights as a result of pooling our points.
Plan! Plan! Plan!
A running theme of my writing about travel will be planning. One of our favorite pastimes is planning our next trip as we are on our current trip (We will really get the living in the moment thing down one of these days). Because of this, we make a strong itinerary for all of our trips. We have columns for Travel (Flights and Hotels), Food (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack, Coffee), and Activities (Either Planned by the Hour or divided by Morning, Afternoon, and Evening).
Once we have our activities and our food, we will put them in Google Maps to determine the shortest route between places to maximize the number of things we can do in a given time, determine what activities we may need transportation for, and take a look at the streets we will be going through to ensure walkability. Being proactive before your trip relieves any stressors that can take away from the enjoyment of a trip.
One Thing Rule
While going on vacations, it is unlikely every trip is something that is designed for the entertainment of both travelers. Because of this, the top priority should be to make sure the individual the trip is designed for is getting everything they can out of the vacation to enjoy their chosen destination.
However, we don’t want to forget there are two people on this trip. Because of this, we make a concerted effort to find one thing, whether it be a restaurant, an attraction, or an event that is catered to the individual. For me, I like to find a nice steakhouse or a sporting event wherever we are going. My wife enjoys the architecture of local libraries and interesting historic house museums. By having the rule to make sure everybody has at least one thing they can really look forward to, it can provide a much more enriching experience for all.
This tip is directed at me just as much as anyone reading this. Vacation is exhausting at times and you have to give yourself time to adjust before going back to the real world. While we are bad about planning a buffer day between returning home and going back to work, we will usually find the first flight out at the end of the trip.
This process allows us to get back home at a reasonable time, do laundry, pick the pets back up from boarding, and get some much-needed rest to mentally prepare for going back to the office.
When you have the ability, you should plan for a day between the end of travel and head back to the real world. You don’t always realize how tired you actually are until the day after a fun trip.
As I recap my travels and give recommendations for places to go and things to do, I will try to incorporate the importance of these above items. At the end of the day, these trips are about experiencing a place and making memories with the person you are with. If there are ways to maximize those two things, I would find any way to do it.