Vacations are all about relaxing and breaking away from your everyday routine, but the preparations leading up to your trip shouldn’t cause more stress than it’s worth. Prepare without pandemonium by following this step-by-step guide.
4–5 Months Away
First things first—you will need to decide where you want to travel to for your trip. If you are thinking of traveling internationally, there are more logistics to consider, such as getting an updated passport, studying up on local customs and language, etc. But if you’re traveling domestically, here are some of the most important tasks to cover at this stage:
You will want to devise a budget based on the activities you plan to do, the dining options you want to experience, and for travel between places, so that you may start saving now.
Be sure to notify your employer of any needed time off, or, if you are planning on traveling during the school year, brush up on your child’s school attendance policy.
To avoid breaking your budget (see above) or struggling to agree on activities, it’s a good idea to coordinate an itinerary of activities for each day of your trip. You may want to leave space for last-minute attractions or events that may come up, but it’s important to have some ideas in mind and to research the attractions beforehand.
Now is the time to book flights and hotels, especially if you are traveling a long distance. You can get great deals on flights if you book in advance—a good rule of thumb is 60 days for domestic travel.
One Month Away
As your vacation draws nearer, it’s important to start gathering important items together that you plan to bring on your trip (to avoid the dreaded I forgot to pack underwear! scenario) and to make preparations with friends or relatives who might be caring for your home and pets while you’re gone.
If you are going to be gone for a period longer than two or three days, you might want to consider finding someone who can handle basic tasks, like collecting your mail and keeping an eye on your home, while you’re away.
Nothing is worse than having to worry about money on your vacation. Be sure to notify your bank of your travel plans (to avoid any unnecessary holds on your account), and consider getting a credit or debit card specifically for your trip.
You most likely aren’t going to be bringing your pet along for the ride, so one month out is a good time to make arrangements with a sitter or kennel. Perhaps make an easy-to-follow guide for your pet’s caretaker that explains how much food he eats, when he will need to be walked, and where his treats can be found!
One Week Away
You must be getting excited now! Your trip is almost here, and it’s crunch time to prepare any last-minute arrangements, packing, and home prep that needs to get done before you head out the door.
Gather together all of the items you plan to bring for your trip, and start packing. It’s a dreaded process, but with a solid plan of attack and enough time, you’ll have everything you need ready to go.
Medications are one of the most important items to remember for your trip, but are often one of the most left behind. Make sure you check in with your pharmacy to have all of your prescriptions refilled, and make a list of any medications or emergency items you can check off as you pack them away.
Traveling with kids is hard, but it’s even harder if they don’t have anything to keep them occupied. Prevent a meltdown by packing games and activities they can play on the road (or in the air).
One Day Away
The day is almost here, and everyone is bound to be excited. In these last few hours before you leave, it’s important to go over all documents, financials, and arrangements to make sure your trip goes off without a hitch.
You won’t want to return from your trip to laundry in the wash and a fridge full of expired food, so be sure to throw away anything that might go bad while you’re gone, and tidy up small messes.
Traveling, especially if you’re driving, can be an exhausting adventure. Don’t forget to set your alarm, and give yourself plenty of time for getting your things together before you need to be out the door. Help little ones shake out traveling jitters by playing a tiring activity before bedtime.