So you’ve been lucky enough to spot or be treated to a last minute trip? Here’s all you need to do to get ready for an amazing time without stressing, forgetting things at home or work, or setting off without something crucial. Let’s hit the road happy.
Last Minute Trip: Keeping the home fires burning
Now’s the time to dig out – if you kept them – any lists from previous trips, so you can sort out what needs to happen at home before you leave. These are the things I normally do.
- tell anyone who needs to know – in our case our neighbour – that you’ll be away
- set up security lighting and alarms if appropriate
- check the weather forecast for the time you’re away, and set your thermostat accordingly
- batten the hatches – make sure all your doors and windows are properly secured. If you’re traveling in a period of severe weather, do what you can to minimise the impact e.g. lag your outdoor tap.
- pay any bills that fall due while you’re away
- if it’s appropriate for your bank and your journey, advise that you’ll be using your card overseas
For a better homecoming
- check use by and best before dates for anything in the fridge and eat up or freeze beforehand
- clear out anything that will be unpleasant by the time you get home such as the coffee maker or the kitchen bins
- prepare anything you’ll want when you get home. We have an open fire, so I like to leave the grate and ash bucket clear; I can have a fire going in ten minutes if we arrive home chilly in winter.
Last Minute Trip: Work Commitments
Check any work deadlines, and do your best to knuckle down before you leave if at all possible. It’ll mean you can enjoy your time away more. Consider whether you’ll need to be in contact while you are away, and to what extent. For most of us, there’s no such thing as down time, but it is possible to corral what you do into a small part of each day. Are you able to manage with your phone, or will bigger documents and a need for more lengthy exchanges require your tablet or laptop?
If there is anything you can delegate, then do so. If it would help, advise people when it is best to contact you. I normally try to confine work into the early morning over a coffee; my partner sleeps way better than me, so I don’t affect his day when I deal with things early.
Last Minute Trip: Raring to go
If you’re a regular traveler, you’ll probably have your own preferred packing lists. You may even keep a set of small toiletries ready to go. If that’s the case, you have a great head start. If you’re looking for help in getting your bag packed, I can offer suggestions for:
- winter carry on packing tips
- summer carry on packing tips
- packing for a road trip
- packing for a business trip
- and surviving a long haul flight
Then there are the other considerations:
- Charge all the things. Start off with everything full of juice and you’re good to go. Don’t forget powerbanks, connectors, chargers and adaptors.
- Check you have cash for your destination if possible. Cashpoints on arrival can be the ones that charge megabucks for the privilege. Or there may not be one conveniently placed when you arrive (one at Ghent station disappeared for several months during renovations).
- Pack a snack. Hangryness never makes for a good arrival.
- Check your seat allocation if flying, and (via the mighty Seatguru) see if there’s anything you’d prefer. Similarly you can change your seat allocation on Eurostar if feasible; our hacks are here.
- Have a copy of your travel documents, whether online or on paper. A spare never hurts.
- Double check your dates, flight times, and the spelling of your name. None of those are things you want to get wrong.
- Focus on remembering your essentials including those travel documents and medication. Most other things can be fudged around.
Last Minute Trip: Destination Preparation
If you don’t have long before you go to build up your anticipation and draw up lists of things to do, it can be a bit of an empty page when you arrive. That can be a positive, as going with the flow can be fun. Equally you can find yourselves wandering aimlessly in a way that’s not as pleasant as an aimless wander should be. So take a bit of time out to look at the following:
- Destination weather: being cold or overheated doesn’t enhance those feelgood vibes. Check and pack accordingly.
- How do you get from your arrival point to your accommodation? You may not have wifi immediately, and it’s not a great start to be trying to work it out if you are tired after a journey. (And be clear. I had a sleepless moment confusing Long Island and Long Island City. It wasn’t good.)
- Check out where you’re headed on Street View. It makes arriving a whole lot easier when you have an idea what you’re looking for.
- Get a few ideas of what you might want to do, but don’t follow those ideas slavishly. We had big lists for Nashville and Memphis; we did everything on the Memphis list, but very little from Nashville’s because we were having too much of a good time just going with the flow.
- Local events at your destination (via FB pages, city guides etc.) are great to note for your back pocket. You might find something else you’d rather do, but it’s good to have plans C and D if needed.
- Don’t forget any special research that’s tailored to you. I have food allergies, so I’ll look at where to eat, and whether local specialities could be safe for me. Download any apps that might help, or bring translation cards if they would be useful.
Last Minute Trip: Attitude of Mind
Travel is meant to be a blessing, not a stressor. So do the best you can to accept the limits of what you can complete beforehand, then go with a happy heart to enjoy what lies ahead. If you start prepared, you should be in a better place to enjoy all the excitements of the journey.
So the night before, take a deep breath. Try to be rested as you start your journey. So many times I’ve arrived at an airport with numerous post-its stuck to my phone, all with things I need to do before I fly. Now I am more strict with myself and set a stake in the ground. I have a deadline beyond which I don’t work, and my travel experiences are richer for it. For more of the things I’ve learned from 50 years on the road, check out my 50 travel hacks here.
Post-trip comedown affects us all, so try to have some plans in mind for when you return. Whether it’s getting together with friends, a walk in the woods, or simply a new book you can’t wait to dig into, having something that fills you with joy on your return is a big bonus.
Now sit back, chill for a while, and allow the anticipation to flood in. Wishing you happy journeys.