Be safe. Travel smart.

Once you have finally dropped your bags at your destination, the next 24 hours of any trip can be both thrilling and completely disorienting. Having a plan for getting things done and getting your trip truly under way upon arrival can set the tone for an entire vacation. 

Reset your clock.

If you changed time zones while traveling, you will want to assume the daily rhythms of the new zone immediately, right down to the type of foods you eat. If it is morning, go have tea or coffee and breakfast foods (pancakes, pastries, etc.); if it is evening, have a proper dinner; if it is nighttime, maybe a cocktail and a snack. Don’t succumb to the urge to stay on your old schedule, especially for your most ingrained habits — which brings us to…

Take pictures.

A pro photographer I know always dedicates the first few hours of a trip to taking a lot of photos; he noticed some time ago that his eye was always “freshest” when he first arrived in a new place, and he would notice things in the first few hours that he might ignore after a few days. Flinn says simply, “Take a camera; you never know when you will see something magical.”

Charge your electronics.

When you arrive in your room, the first thing you want to do is whip out all your electronic devices, make sure you can plug them in if you are traveling internationally and put a full charge on them. If you need adapters, you will want to deal with this early in your trip; having your laptop or camera bail out on you right after you arrive can make the normal hassles of traveling overwhelm the first promising hours of your trip.

Let someone know you arrived and where you are.

Especially if you are traveling alone, it’s a good idea to let someone close to you know that you arrived safely. You should also tell him or her how to get in touch with you if needed (hotel phone and room number, your preferred traveling email address, your cell phone number if you’re using it, etc.).

Have a plan to deal with your caffeine addiction.

Let’s face it — a very large percentage of us have a caffeine addition of some type. Getting this under control and on track as quickly as possible is going to be critical in adjusting your biological clock to match your new surroundings. If you mess it up in the early going, it can take days to correct, and even exact a toll on your overall enjoyment of your trip.

Get outside.

When you visit a new place, the light is different, the air is different and your entire sense of the world can be different. After spending hours in parking lots, airports, planes, shuttle buses and rental car garages, put down all your stuff and get out the door.

What do you think?