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Let’s face it. Packing for a trip is not easy. Even the most organized or seasoned traveler, like me, still makes stupid mistakes. Learn from my “almost disasters” and  leave the stress at home. Here are my tried and true packing tips for travel:

You'll be in the doghouse if you don't make arrangements for your pets well before you take off.

You’ll be in the doghouse if you don’t make arrangements for your pets well before you take off.

Look Backwards

1.     Glance in the rear view mirror as you pull away from your driveway, rental property or rest stop. I’ve left a suitcase at the door of the garage, a pet at a rest stop, and a bicycle in the driveway.  Retrieving the pet, the bike and the luggage was easy when I noticed it quickly.

Good Neighbors Save the Day

2.    Notify a neighbor that you’re going on vacation and carry their phone number with you. I’ve driven 200 miles from home when I questioned whether I left the garage door open or turned off the coffee pot. A quick phone call proved I wasn’t so scatter-brained and put my mind at ease.  

The Devil is in the Details

3.     Double check your documents and reservations the moment you receive them. Confirm the correct time, departure and

arrival cities and especially the spelling of your name.  My last name was misspelled on a plane ticket, and didn’t match the correct spelling on my photo ID. I almost missed my flight home due to all the red tape.

Slow Down When Buying

4.     Re-read all the details on your reservations before you push the BUY button. 
I’ve purchased two tickets because I grew impatient with the computer and clicked twice.

 Think Ahead for Luggage

5.     Anticipate being forced to check your roll-aboard suitcase when you get to the plane. Pack the essentials into a small bag that you can pull out of the carry-on and take on board with you.

Rental Car Rip-Offs

6.     Inspect your rental car when you pick it up and take photos of dents. A letter in the mail a month later with charges for car damage you didn’t occur is a very bad surprise.

Avoid Ouch

7.     Ouch. Avoid sunburn.  Don’t suffer through a miserable sleepless night or long flight rubbing your blistered back on a scratchy airplane seat. Wear protective clothing, eye-wear and use sunscreen.

 You Only Have Two Eyes

8.     Avoid eye strain that causes squinting and will interfere with your sightseeing.  I have actually burned my eyes by being on the water without sun protection. Changing from inside light to bright outside light, you want to make sure your eyes are comfortable, so make sure you wear proper eyewear.

Big Bills, Little Bills

9.     Cash is “King.”  If there’s an emergency, and power is out, (tornado, etc.), you won’t be able to charge with your credit cards. Taxi drivers sometimes demand cash too.  I survived a tornado on Cape Cod, but ran out of cash quickly and couldn’t buy gas, batteries for flashlights or fresh food.

 Credit and ATM Planning

10.  Notify your credit card companies and bank for your ATM card of your travel plans. They will cancel your debit or credit card due to “unusual activity.”  In Budapest my credit cards were frozen and I had to survive a three day holiday weekend with little cash before I could resolve the issue.