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Unpacking the Secrets of Stress Free Travel

On this episode of Talk Clutter to Me, I'm talking with Kim, owner of Globe Trotter Travel and we're unpacking the secrets of stress free travel! Kim has even helped me with vacation planning! She not only saved me a bunch of time while planning my vacation but also saved me some money as well!

How do I organize my trip better?

I would venture to say that this is one of the most common questions that I get asked and probably that Kim gets asked as well so I thought we'd talk about it! Kim started off with discussing how to organize before you go on your trip. I have a specific spreadsheet I use that I've talked about with Kim in the past. While Kim doesn't use a specific spreadsheet, she does make a list on a cool pad of paper she grabbed off amazon.

Kim goes on to say that the list itself helps keep things organized but also helps prevent overpacking. You can lay out your trip, how long you're going to be gone, how many days you're going for and then you can down what you need. And even if you want to pack a spare or two you can without overpacking.

What are the first steps to planning a trip with a client?

No two trips are alike, even if two families are going to the exact same place, there are always going to be differences. I wanted to get a run-down from Kim about her process and how she starts planning a trip with each of her clients.

Kim says she starts by having a conversation about how independent they want to be on their trip. Some people like to rent a car and drive themselves whereas other people would rather take guided tours. Once she knows what their preferences are then she will give them recommendations.

How do you make a living planning trips for other people?

Another question that I bet a lot of people want to ask but may be too afraid to ask is how Kim gets paid to plan vacations for people. She did say she gets this question a lot and the most basic answer is that she is a commission based salesperson. There is commission built into the price of travel regardless of how or where you book it. The only exception is airfare which doesn't always have commission built in to it which is why a lot of travel advisors don't book airfare any longer. So regardless if you're booking on Travelocity, Costco, or through a travel advisor there is a commission built in.

The other way travel advisors make money is through fees. This is a hot topic right now among the travel community. A lot of advisors started charging fees during Covid and have continued. Some choose not to. Kim is somewhere in the middle and may charge a fee for a more complex itinerary. This makes up maybe 5% or less of the trips that she plans.

How do you organize all of the moving parts of the trip?

Continuing on with the planning process, I wanted to know how Kim organizes all the things that are going to happen on the trip. She mentioned that it does again depend on the type of trip, but if the client is doing a guided tour type of trip, the company that the client agrees upon usually sends over a detail itinerary closer to the trip and that is passed along to the client.

If its a more complicated trip, such as a multi-stop, eight country trip through Europe, for example, Kim will use travel advisor software that will combine all of the hotels, transfer times, activities, etc. into a nice, time slotted itinerary with all of the details in a PDF file.

Sometimes Kim won't talk to a client for 6 months or so after they book the trip until right before they're ready to go. Other times, she'll have clients that she talks to frequently before their trip because they are anxious or excited or a combination of both. She is always happy to help her clients as much or as little as they like, it just depends on the individual. Even though it varies a little bit from one person to another, they will always have a final itinerary that every single detail and also the who do I contact in case of an emergency and things like that on there as well.

Most Forgotten Things when Planning a Trip

  • Currency conversion. Kim typically uses a credit card as much as she can because you get the best exchange rate, but it is to your advantage in most cases to exchange currency before you leave because you'll get a better exchange rate that way.

  • Checking the expiration date on your passport. For a lot of countries you have to have six months remaining on your passport to keep traveling.

  • Locating your passport. A lot of times people think they know where it is and then it's the night before a trip and they can't find it.

Moral of the story, start preparing as early as possible.

What are some of your go to things that you are always taking on a trip?

How do you avoid over packing?

Overpacking is such a common thing with so many people. I thought getting another person's perfective of this would be helpful for a lot of people. First things first, there is no such thing as overpacking when you're traveling with kids. You don't want to be the one whose toddler's having a meltdown on the plane and you don't have whatever the thing is they need.

On the other hand, when it comes to packing for yourself, be practical about things. The more you travel the better you will get at not overpacking. If you've gone on a couple of trips and always pack a certain jacket or a pair of shoes but you never end up wearing them, stop packing them. Conversely, if it's your first time traveling to a certain place, think about things practically. Are you planning on shopping or bringing home souvenirs you need to save room for? Do you really need to wear a different swimsuit every single day? Do you really need 21 shirts for a 6 day trip? Kim's dream carry on bag? A Carry-On Closet from Solgaard!

I always say less is more and this really reaffirms that because if you're tacking more clothing, you're taking more luggage, and you're going to be spending more money on transportation to fit all that luggage into. I also like to re-wear clothing when possible. One thing I always pack is a collapsible duffle bag and I put it in the carry on just in case I need more space on the way home.

6 tips for people who are traveling with kids?

  1. If you're traveling with a car seat, get it on wheels! Either take the stroller/car seat combo or buy a car seat trolly. It will make traveling the airport much easier.

  2. Have a variety of NEW quiet toys for flights. These things don't have to be bought new, but are new to your child. A light up busy board is a great example of a quiet and entertaining toy.

  3. Travel with a blackout curtain. This is great for the little kids who go to bed much earlier than the adults. You can drape this around their pack and play to give them the darkness they are used to at home in their rooms. When they're a little older and don't sleep in a pack and play, you can get a blackout pop up tent for them.

  4. Take the stroller! Until you are 100% confident your child can walk the entire time, take the stroller. It's not only great once they've have enough and need to sit but also great for toting around all the things! And don't go for the umbrella stroller, there's no storage! Stay with your original one, better yet, get the jogging stroller if you're in the market! It's so much easier to maneuver.

  5. Use nighttime diapers on the plane! Put one on right before you get on the plane and you should be goo for the entire flight!

  6. Give your kids responsibilities while on the trip. For example, I told Owen that this one area was the shoe spot, so everyone's shoes were in the same spot. He was very attentive to make sure everyone's shoes were in that spot the entire trip. Bonus Tip: Use air tags! If your kid might be out of the stroller and you're going to a busy place, put an air tag on them so you can find them quickly if the unthinkable happens. Kim also mentioned to not be afraid to use that backpack with a string! She was very worried about judgement when she used it in the busy, Cancun airport, but found zero judgement and peace-of-mind in a very busy/stressful airport.

What is currently cluttering your life?

I love asking my guests what is currently cluttering their lives because I am a firm believe that every single one of us deals with clutter in one way or another. I asked Kim what was currently cluttering her life and she mentioned that her office is a bit of a mess right now! They recently moved her son from his nursery to her old office and are currently converting the guest bedroom into her new office.

For me, my to do list is currently cluttering my life. I have ADHD, but I also have this mentality that when something isn't done right away I procrastinate more and more on it because now it feels intimidating to go back to it because I didn't do it right away. I have that perfectionist mindset. So my to-do list is cluttering my life.

Now you're ready for your next trip!

So today, we've unpacked tons of valuable tips for organizing your next trip, from creating a pre-trip list to combat overpacking to using travel advisor for complex itineraries. Whether you're a seasoned traveler or a first-timer, Kim and I provided actionable advice to help you conquer trip planning and ensure a smooth, stress-free adventure. So, grab your favorite notepad or travel app, and ditch the clutter of a disorganized vacation!

More from Kim Barber at Globetrotter Travel

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