U.S. Domestic Travel Planning & Preparation

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U.S. Travel Preparation and Planning: Make the Most of Your Trip

You’re going on an educational tour, an adventure to learn. You want to make sure you prepare properly so you can spend as much time as possible learning and having fun instead of worrying about what you forgot or what you need. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to domestic tour preparation; we want all of the students on our trips to make the most of their learning experience.

When to Start Packing?

You want to make sure you leave plenty of time for packing, as waiting until the last minute will increase your chances of forgetting important items. We recommend packing over the course of a week, if possible, and you should have a checklist on hand the whole time to make sure you have everything needed. Make sure to double or even triple check that list before leaving.

Research the Where and When of Your U.S. Travel Trip

Before you start packing, look at where and when the school trip is taking place. Traveling to New York City in May is very different from going in January. Make sure you pack based on the weather patterns of your destination.

U.S. Travel Preparation: What Should You Bring?

  • Clothing: Pack just enough clothes for the trip, plus one or two extra outfits in case of delays or bad weather, and make sure you have an extra outfit in your carry-on luggage should your checked luggage get delayed. You should have a mix of short- and long-sleeved shirts, pants, shorts, jeans, etc to accommodate different needs. You should also pack one set of nice, dressy clothing for a special night out, such as going to see a Broadway show in New York City.
  • Shoes: One pair of comfortable walking shoes, such as trainers/sneakers, should be ideal, plus you should bring one pair of dressier shoes for nicer events.
  • Plenty of Socks and Undergarments: This is one case where it’s better to have too many over too little.
  • Pajamas: Don’t forget your cozy pajamas!
  • Raincoat/Umbrella: You never know when it’s going to rain, so we advise bringing at least one if not both of these in order to make sure you can stay drier when the sky opens up.
  • Bathing Suit (if applicable): If your group is going on a trip to Orlando or Savannah, the beach is only a hop, skip, and a jump away, not to mention that most hotels have pools. It’s not a bad idea to bring a swimsuit to enjoy some fun in the sun or a dip in the pool.
  • Lightweight Jacket: Museums, libraries, and other popular educational destinations are sometimes kept at cooler temperatures, so it would be wise to be prepared with a lightweight jacket for these situations.
  • Toiletries: You’ll need your toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, hairbrush, and hand sanitizer, and these things may be cheaper and easier to get at home in little travel sizes, depending on the length of your trip. You may also want to bring sunscreen, aloe, lip balm, and hand lotion, depending on the hot or cold weather and your needs. Insect repellant is also a good idea if you’re going to an area where mosquitoes are common since you don’t want to spend your trip focusing on itchy bug bites instead of the fun.
  • Extra set of glasses or contact lenses (if applicable): If you wear contacts or glasses, you want to make sure you have an extra set handy in case you lose them. These should be kept in your carry-on luggage, along with any cases you have for them. This will make for easy access during the flight as well; this way, you can sleep comfortably without worrying about losing/breaking your contacts or glasses.
  • Medications: Do not forget to pack any needed medications and inform group leaders about them.
  • Identification: It’s important to have a valid form of identification on you for safety reasons as well as for flight reasons, especially if you are over 18 years old. Check here for TSA’s accepted forms of identification.
  • Money: Make sure you have some money set aside for emergencies and for souvenirs and snacks. You may want to have a bank/ATM card for this and/or a personal credit card, but you may also want to carry no more than $50 in cash.
  • Electronics and Chargers: We recommend bringing as few electronics as possible since you won’t have a great deal of time to use them when you’ll be absorbing everything you are seeing and doing. If you do bring electronics, make sure you bring the chargers/batteries for them and keep them at the surface of your carry-on luggage in order to make security checks faster and easier. Some examples of electronics that you may want to bring include smartphones, cameras, or tablets.
  • A Journal: You’re going to be going on an amazing educational trip with all kinds of new experiences. Even if it is not required by your teacher or group leader, we do recommend bringing a journal to take notes and/or write down your thoughts and experiences each day.

Additional Tips for Packing

  • 3-1-1 Bag: If you’re carrying any liquids in your carry-on bag, make sure to have your 3-1-1 bag ready and towards the surface of your carry-on for easy removal during security checkpoints. A 3-1-1 bag is a clear, quart-size plastic bag that carries any liquids, gels, aerosols, pastes, or creams in 3.4-ounce containers (or smaller). The easy way to remember this is 3 ounces or smaller, 1-quart-size bag, and 1 bag per traveler, as permitted by TSA rules, or 3-1-1. Anything over three ounces will have to go into your checked luggage.
  • Select Your Clothing Carefully: Make sure the clothes you bring are comfortable and suitable for the climate and activities of the trip. Avoid purchasing new clothes just for the trip if possible, as you’ll be more certain that clothes you already have fit properly and comfortably. Also, make sure to bring layers in order to adjust for changing weather and activities.
  • Pack in Layers: If you are bringing a carry-on bag, make sure that any electronics, medications, and your 3-1-1 bag are close to the surface layer of this bag so that they can be easily removed and inspected without delaying you or other travelers.
  • Separate Medications and Medical Equipment and Inform TSA Officers When You Arrive: You should pack medications separately from your other luggage, preferably in another clear plastic bag, and make sure each medication is in its original container and has its prescription label so that TSA can verify them easily.
  • Keep Any Valuables in your Carry-On Luggage: You have more control over your carry-on luggage, so it’s better to keep your valuables in your carry-on as opposed to your checked bag(s).

U.S. Tour Planning Made Easy

If you’re still in the early stages of planning domestic travel for education, Son Tours would love to help. We have decades of experience creating customized educational travel tours that are suited to your curriculum and needs. We take care of all of the details, so you and your students can focus on the fun and excitement of learning outside the classroom. For more information on all that we offer, click here or contact us and we’ll be happy to help you plan an experience like no other for your students.