For many of us, spring is finally here. Gone is the long, cold winter and in its place are blooming flowers and warm sunny weather. It’s also a good time to do some spring cleaning and get your travel life in good, working order.
Dust off the Sherpa
In a perfect world, I would completely clean out my carry-on bags and suitcases after every trip. While I somehow manage to transfer the clothes from my luggage to the laundry within a week or two, there are always scraps of paper and an illustrious collection of what-nots left behind. Now is the time to clean out all of your travel bags and backpacks and get rid of all the useless paper, coins and left over gum (yuck). It may bring back memories, but there’s no reason to keep that receipt from the Tower Bridge in London.
Also rethink the size of your bags and how much you take when you travel. I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to over packing, but intellectually I know that less is more on a trip. I don’t think I’m quite to the level of going “carry-on only” on longer, international trips, but I have rethought what and how much I take. Choose your wardrobe wisely, take clothes that can be worn more than once and coordinate in different ways. With a little forethought, you can reduce your suitcase size immediately.
Travel requires a lot of paperwork, and this is a good time to make sure everything is current and accurate. Start with the most important, the passport. Always store it in a secure location, my little blue book is in a fireproof safe, and keep an eye on the expiration date. Passports are usually valid for a decade, in the case of the United States, but most countries won’t let you enter if your passport if within six months of expiration. If you got married or otherwise changed your name, make sure your name is consistent throughout all of your documentation.
I’m probably an extreme, but I have dozens of frequent flier and hotel loyalty cards, none of which are terribly well-organized. Run through yours and make sure that they are still valid. If some of the cards are foreign to you, then your account may have been canceled. Call the company to check on the status of your account, there’s no need to keep a card if it’s worthless. Better yet, go digital. Use a program like Cardstar to enter all of your loyalty cards so you can quickly access them instead of using them to prop up shaky card tables.
Now that you have your travel house in order, it’s time to plan a trip. While it may be too late to find truly great deals for the summer months, there are last minute bargains to be found. Make sure you sign up for your favorite airline’s emails and keep your eyes open for that killer deal.
Forget summer though, the best time to travel is in the off-season, and fall will be here before you know it. Some of the best autumnal deals for North Americans are cruises and trips to the Caribbean. It’s cheaper not just because it’s the off-season, but because it’s also hurricane season. While it’s unlikely a hurricane will ruin your trip, it could, which is why it’s important to research and buy the right kind of travel insurance. Make sure not to buy insurance from the travel provider though, instead look for a reputable independent company.
This is the perfect time to get your travel life in order and it will help you have a more enjoyable experience the next time you hit the road.
What are some of your travel spring cleaning tips?