Ten tips to a smoother trip

Even veteran travelers forget something or are so busy getting everything done before leaving town that it’s a relief to just get into the car or a taxi to the airport. Then come the oops…forgot to stop the papers and oh no, not more road construction.

What to take is about more than clothes
What to take is about more than clothes

Here are ten travel tips to avoid hassles that may sound obvious until one of the should-haves pops up:

1. Packing list Making a list is not enough. Check things off when packing the suitcase or car then take the list with you to check off when leaving a resort or town. Anyone who thinks the second check-off isn’t necessary hasn’t left chargers plugged into hotel outlets, slippers under a bed or a wet bathing suit out on a balcony chair -yet.

2. What-not bag Throw in a First Aid Kit, blister-style Band-aids, sewing kit and nightlight. Add a small sound machine-alarm clock to drown out hotel noise and ease worries of late wake-up calls.

3. Sun protection Don’t wait to pick up what you want when you arrive. That arm stuck out the car window can burn. The shop may not have the greaseless sun-block you like and you may stop to sightsee on the way. Bring an extra pair of sunglasses. Throw in a hat to protect the scalp.

4. Charge Take care of those tech tools ahead of time then remember to bring chargers and extra batteries. Frustration is a missed call or photo op.

5. Map it GPS is helpful but it isn’t always right. A recent experience was only funny when the GPS wandered off the highway to cut across farm fields because we already knew the roads we were supposed to take. In addition, you might ask it for the shortest route but learn while driving it that it is not the quickest way or the most scenic. So think about your route ahead of time and bring a map.

Plan ahead for fewer hassles. All photos by Jodie Jacobs
Plan ahead for fewer hassles. All photos by Jodie Jacobs

6. Check travel info websites See below for some state department of transportation websites to learn about road construction so that another route can be taken or more time allowed. If flying, check the flight time because your weather might be clear but the plane’s origination point might have problems.

7. Communicate Give someone the destination name, address and phone and your mobile phone number. Life happens. Need we say more?

8. Divide cards Split up the credit/ATM cards and money. If one wallet or card is stolen a companion will have the means to continue the vacation while the stolen cards are cancelled. Speaking of which, keep a list of credit card numbers and where to call in a separate place from the cards.

9. Car packing Put an insulated food bag into the fridge or freezer overnight to keep beverages or food that will go into the car colder, longer. Also put cold water bottles in the fridge ahead of time. Don’t forget the fridge stuff – really, it happens. Take packaged wet towel wipes, hand sanitizer, tissues and trash bag.

10. Car issues Have the tires, oil and brakes checked ahead of time to avoid problems on the trip.

Print out this tip sheet to have handy for future vacations. Have a safe trip.

Check road conditions ahead of time by going online to the Department of Transportation of the state where you will be driving. Here are the sites for some Midwest states:

For open road travel check state sites for construction
For open road travel check state sites for construction


Airline Contact Information

Weather, more weather info

Midwest weather

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