Make all important reservations in advance and organize all your confirmations and other travel documents for easy access.
When your husband was alive, you might have risked a road trip without hotel reservations every night. It is not a wise thing to do as a widow. For peace of mind, I want to know before I leave home that I am not going to have unpleasant surprises.
I travel at least monthly, so I may carry organization to the extreme, but I want to enjoy my destination. I do not want to worry about the details. Hotels, restaurants, airport transfers, car rentals on those rare occasions when I’m driving—all booked in advance. Depending on circumstances, I may use Amex Platinum, the hotel concierge or Open Table. I utilize the perks of Platinum (Amex and American Airlines) and Avis Chairman’s Club. I like having their 800 numbers in case of emergency. I also buy trip insurance and exchangeable airline tickets. It doesn’t cost as much for me to travel as it would for Lev and me. I justify (or rationalize) that that makes spending a few extra dollars to ensure my safety and peace of mind worthwhile.
After five years of constant travel, I still find it difficult to plan and organize the paperwork for multiple trips at once. Again, I may overdo the organization. I keep a portable file box on my desk with those papers I refer to regularly, such as trips, work pending, season tickets. At first, I insert copies of airline and hotel reservations into the “trips” folder. I may add travel articles about my destination. If the trip grows complicated or too fat for a large paper clip, I create a separate folder for it. When the trip draws near, I place the folder on my desk, and I pile on top of it whatever papers I may need to take. I make a point to to check that I have everything in order, that I have not overlooked anything. When it’s time to leave, I simply grab and go.
I also create folders on my computer, where I can save online reservations and other communications. Recently, I started creating “mailboxes” for my email on specific trips, where I can simply drag relevant emails. The value of that over standard computer files is that the information is stored on the “cloud,” and I can access it from my iPhone and iPad while I’m traveling.
When you read this, I will be back in Nantucket, sandwiched between the writers’ conference in Dallas and an art exhibit in Philadelphia. I have a fat folder with lots of reservations, including admission tickets–more than I can possibly remember. My file folder is my security blanket.
Feedback: I’d love to know how you keep up with your travel arrangements. Please share your tricks and tips.