How to stay organised before your big overseas trip - aka avoiding my awful nightmare

by - Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The other night, I had a stressful nightmare. I was with my Contiki group and we were heading towards the international airport of some location. While we were there, my friends and I got distracted by this museum, and we decided we had time before we needed to meet up with everyone, so we walked through all the displays. For some reason, we needed to take off our shoes so we could walk inside - so I had my (impractical) black wedges on that I checked in with this older man who left it on one of the racks, then I walked inside the shop.

I walked through the shop very quickly; there just wasn't much to see. I waited for my friends, and when we were all together again - we walked towards the airport.

But oh! I forgot my shoes!

I tell my friends to not wait up, I'll just quickly grab them. But wait - I go to find them within the racks behind the man, and I don't see them anymore. I can't just walk to the airport without shoes...

I'm freaking. The lady behind the desk tries to find the pair I'm trying to describe - black, strappy, with a small sized wedge heel and a silver zipper down the back. She brings me another pair of shoes which are strappy, but flat. I tell her I guess they'll have to do because I have to get to my flight on time. But I really loved my wedges, and I'm basically stealing someone else's shoes. So I'm endlessly searching the racks till I basically have no more time. I have to run to my flight now.

But hold on - I don't even know what flight I'm taking. I only know I'm going to Hawaii. I reach for my phone to try and phone Ebony our tour manager. But I've got my NZ sim card - my Europe one had the phone number in it! I'm panicking now - what am I gonna do?

So I start running. And running. I don't even know what direction I'm meant to go in, I just need to find a desk and ask someone. I take turn after turn - and for some reason, there are a lot of cruise ships leaving the international airport too. I run through gate 11 and find someone to talk to, and I tell her my name. She asks 'Are you Elissa?' and hands me Elissa's boarding pass.

'No, my name is Melissa. Melissa Low. I don't know where I am meant to go, I just need to get on my flight to Hawaii'.

She searches my name and finds out I'm meant to be at gate 10 for my 8pm flight. I check the clock - it's 7.58pm.

'No!' I stress out. 'What am I supposed to do!"

~ and then I wake up back in my bed, stressed out and full of anxiety.

It may have been a dream, but the feelings were very real. I hate feeling like I forgot something or that I should have done something ahead of any trip, whether it's a local trip across the ditch or a big overseas holiday. So I have seven tricks I follow to help me feel in control over preparing myself before I head out to the world.

Make your own itinerary.
It sounds corny but having a go-to document for everything saves you a lot of time and confusion. Whether it's knowing what time your session tickets for a show are for, to which accommodation your taxi needs to take you. You can always create one for yourself in an online document, or there are websites and apps that will help create everything for you. But when putting your itinerary together, always list the codes such as airline codes and ticket booking numbers. It can make it easier on both you and whoever is behind the desk. I personally create it in Google Forms so I can share it with the family or friends that need it, but the Google Trips app is an okay substitute for using yourself.

Put all your documents in one place.
Passport wallets are alright - but travel wallets are better. In a travel wallet, you can keep your flight tickets, your itinerary so you know your next accommodation, any other relevant documents, and even a pen so you can fill out your customs forms when you need to. My travel wallet became my second handbag while travelling, and saved all that time rifling through my backpack for small items.

Make a printed copy of your online tickets or documents just in case.
Phones are supposed to make things easier, but you can't always rely on it, say when you don't have data or no signal. It's best to not stress yourself out and just keep a backup to keep either in your travel wallet or your suitcase.

Get a world clock on your phone.
Because international time zones are confusing and it's the worst thing to be late.

Buy space saver bags.
I received some for my birthday and I was a bit sceptical at first how much space they'd actually save me. But other than really flattening your clothes, it's also great for keeping your clothes organised. I used mine in Europe to separate what I'd wear for different temperatures and between casual and more smart-wear. Then I had a spare third bag to separate my dirty clothes from my clean clothes during the trip.

Get yourself a proper toiletries bag.
This is especially for your carry-on luggage. I try to choose overnight flights because I find it easier to fly at night, and it usually saves me a night accommodation. But with airline rules about how much liquid you can take in your carry on - it's simpler to get a proper regulation sized toiletries bag, with containers you can use specifically for travelling. So I carry things like face wash in a travel-sized bottle, toothpaste, toothbrush and facial creams that all squeeze into one ziplock bag. And then customs never has to worry about it when they see the size of my stuff.

Keep a To Do list with every thought in the lead up to your trip.
Instead of saying to yourself 'okay I'll try to remember that later' while you're in the middle of another task during the day - just write it down on your phone. Keeping a list of notes of thoughts and tasks will save you a lot of stress and panic about 'I hope I didn't forget anything!' Then, when you have the time, there's nothing better than clearing your Travel To-Do list. My go-to apps for this include Todoist and Google Keep.

Hope this will keep you organised the next time you're preparing to head overseas!

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