The top things to do before a flight range from enrolling in a frequent flyer program to packing your necessary passport and visa documents.  There are a lot of important things to do days, weeks, or even months before you get on the plane, so plan ahead and follow these tips! Let’s face it, air travel can be crazy.  From long lines at airport security to intense competition for overhead space, air travel is not what you look forward to on vacation.  But it doesn’t have to be so bad.  In fact, air travel can even be enjoyable when you take the time to prepare and organize yourself beforehand.  Here are my top tips and dos before flights in 2021.

1. Get a travel rewards credit card

Ideally, you’ll want to get one of these before you book your flight (point, point, point!) Basic cards don’t charge an annual fee, while you get extra points for travel and dining-related expenses.  Cards with higher fees give you more in return, including airline lounge access and credits for incidentals (like free checked bags).  I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which has no foreign transaction fees, 2x points on travel and dining, and 25% extra value when redeeming travel expenses (airfare, hotel, car rental, and cruise).

2. Confirm holidays with your boss

When you are planning the trip of a lifetime, remember to run dates by your boss, colleagues and clients and plan for upcoming projects accordingly.  You should also set boundaries and expectations around your vacation (ie do you want to be offline the whole time, or do you plan to check email at night?) The last thing you want after a trip is to come back to the office and get dirty.  Shows from colleagues.  So set expectations ahead!

3. Book your accommodation

If you haven’t already done so, book your stay now.  I’ve found that hotels and Airbnbs are cheaper at least a month in advance, so plan accordingly!  Here are some promo codes for my go-to sites that you can use to save money.

4. Check your passport and visa documents

Going on an international trip?  I recommend double-checking your passport and visa documents at least one month before takeoff.  First and foremost, make sure your passport has expired at least 6 months after the final date of travel.  Many countries will not allow you to enter otherwise.  If you’re taking an international flight to a destination that requires a visa, make sure your visa conditions are correct.  If there’s a problem with your passport or visa documents, you’ll still have plenty of time to get it straightened out.

5. Stay on top of vaccinations

Depending on where you are traveling, you may be required or encouraged to receive vaccinations.  As such, it’s always a good idea to check your government’s travel advisories (here’s the US State Department’s website) and consult your doctor beforehand.  If any vaccinations are required, don’t wait until the last minute to schedule them.  Also, if you take any prescription medications, now is a good time to get them refilled.

6. Get travel insurance

An essential item before a flight I’ve been guilty of not doing this, but I recently started using travel insurance and it’s been a life saver.  This gives you peace of mind if plans change or you encounter any unexpected obstacles.