Phase 2: Reality & Paper Trails

But first, check out Phase 1 here!

Once you are pumped up and ready to go… this is when reality will set in. Traveling costs money and requires organization – no matter how free-flow your trip will be.

Previously, we covered inspiration and looked into websites for our travel tickets and accommodation. Finding the cheapest time of year, the best company, and the one that doesn’t arrive at 3 a.m. is something that takes time. Some mistakes to avoid:

  • Only searching on one device. Tracking cookies may bump up your pricing. Look on your phone, laptop, and work computer.
  • Using the wrong days. Tuesdays are cheapest, to buy and travel. Simple as that!
  • Overlooking why its half price. They may not allow checked luggage OR a carry-on. Is it only a one way when you’re looking for a round trip? Is it a 12 hour flight with no food or drink service? Double check!
  • Too many connecting flights. How many times are you changing the physical airplane or bus you are on? The more you switch, the more likely you are to lose things and miss departure times.
  • Only using companies you are familiar with. There are so many companies you simply have never heard of; don’t distrust them for no reason.
  • Not considering pick ups. Broadly, don’t forget that someone needs to be there to drop you off and pick you up. Arriving on that super cheap 3 a.m. flight might mean no one is at the front desk of the hostel when your taxi driver drops you off.
  • Not reading reviews. Read the reviews of your accommodation! Take reviewers seriously and inspect them like a house with an infestation, for every one negative you see – there are more hiding behind the walls (so to say).
  • Not knowing who you’re sharing space with. Is the hostel co-ed? How many beds per room? How many restrooms will be available for 50 people wanting to all shower before the 8 a.m. shuttle? Do they have the rest of the motel booked out to an elderly bowling convention? Simply call and ask or look online.

If leaving the country, many countries require visas, and the governments are allowed to change anything about them at any point. With a little digging and a lot of government websites, you will be able to discover which visas you’ll need. However, here’s one of the big kickers – visa applications can be as simple as writing your name and telling them you’re coming. Or, they can also be as complicated as proving how much money you have in the bank via notarized documentation. Visas also often may take time to receive. DO NOT overlook what is happening in the location you are headed. Festivals, NFL games, riots, or the Olympics (if you’re me and didn’t put the Olympics and your travel dates together in your mind). Plan timing wisely: if you end up reaching your flight date before you get your visa… well, then that’s all she wrote. (Side Note: Get your passport first. Passports work basically the same way with less to consider when applying. Make sure to follow all instructions and a local agency is just a google away.)

Paper tickets often feel more reliable, but honestly, just go for the mobile boarding pass on your cellphone. There won’t be any shuffling around while approaching checkpoints or worrying that you’ve misplaced the one tiny paper allowing you to enter and exit an airport or bus terminal. All you need to keep track of is a wallet, passport, and cellphone in your travel bag this way.

So, we bought our transportation, received our travel visa approvals, have our paperwork on our phone, switched dates to avoid the elderly bowling convention at our motel, and have our visas and passports in our custody. Now, what about travel insurance? Your normal carrier might not help if you’re out of the state – much less out of the country. Check your coverage and don’t get trapped in an expensive situation! You can also buy travelers insurance for cheap, but again, be careful. Don’t double up on anything: this can cause you to be dropped by either or both carriers. Though I don’t always opt for it, travel insurance calms the nerves of a lot of travelers. It can sometimes even cover lost or stolen baggage. Find a plan that makes sense for you, your trip, and your budget.

LINKS:

Wikipedia Visa Info– because it changes often

The Government– because they should know some things

Mobile Passes– these guys know what’s up

Google – your best friend

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