You have worked hard to save up the money and you have time to go on a vacation. Whether it is a short trip or long trip, you need to prepare for it. Making sure you are well-prepared for your vacation will make your trip more enjoyable rather than full of stress and panic.
To make sure you have all of your bases covered, you need a checklist! Having a checklist will make sure you have not forgot anything in the preparation process. They help us through certain things and I am sure this one will help you if you found this article.
This is our list of things you need to do BEFORE leaving for your vacation. Things that are absolutely necessary to planning your vacation, preparing for your departure, and even leading up to getting on the airplane.
The Planning a Vacation Checklist
Set a Budget
Set a Time and Pick a Location
Book a Flight
Book a Hotel
Create an Itinerary
Get Your Immunizations
Make Sure Your Passport is Valid
Get a Visa or Any Other Necessary Travel Documents
Get to the Airport on Time
Knowing how to plan a trip begins with knowing much you are willing to spend. This is the first step to your trip. This allows you to then choose a destination based on how much you are willing to spend. You could spend more on a flight to get somewhere that has less expensive day-to-day expenses like food and accommodation. This would be good for a longer trip. Or if you have a shorter trip then maybe you should spend less on the flight for a place that may have moderate day-to-day expenses.
Or if you just want a resort and to relax during your vacation, be on the lookout for packages in advance or find a last minute deal if you have a flexible departure date. See more about creating a travel budget here.
The first thing you need to do is to choose a time you are going to travel. Is it a flexible time? Begin with your chosen destination and start your research. Is this a good time of the year to visit this area? If it is the rain season, you may want to move on to the next destination on your list or see if you can change the time you are traveling. See The Weather Network website to look at the weather of a city during a certain period of time.
You never want to go somewhere because it was cheap and find that you are going during their rainy or hurricane season. You want the good weather to make the most of your time while you are there. Once you have the time of year and location that you want to visit, you are ready to find the right deal on the flight.
Now that you know how much you are willing to spend, you are ready to book the flight. Generally, booking three months in advance and on a Tuesday or Wednesday is when you are going to get the best deal on a flight. There are many good websites to search for deals for your flight. We use Skyscanner.net to book our flights. It searches for the cheapest deal on competing websites and it allows us to watch the prices as they change over time.
There are however great websites based on where you are flying from to find great deals. A lot of times you can sign up for alerts to get deals sent right to your email. Find the resource that is most relevant to you or ask around on online groups that will help you find the best deals.
After getting your flight booked, your next step is to look for where you will rest your head at night. Depending on how late you are waiting to book your flight, you may need to search to make sure you can get the accommodation that you want. We have had an emergency landing before where we landed in an airport at night and tried to find a hotel only to find that all of them were booked up in the area. That night we had to spend sleeping in the airport. This is a drastic example, but you do not want to book a flight only to find that the accommodation left to book is unavailable or not ideal.
Depending on your budget, you can look at different options. If your looking for something cheap, check out Airbnb or Couch Surfing for options. We like using AirBnB or finding a place on Booking where you can search below.
Now that you have your flight and hotel, your trip is set in stone. Let’s move on to creating your itinerary. Here is where you are going to plan the remainder of your trip. Researching what others have done where you are traveling to will help you decide what you should and should not do. Consider your budget, consider your timeline, and consider your personality.
Are you a beach-goer, an adventurer, or an adrenaline seeker? Make a list of what you would like to do and narrow done your list. You should know where you are traveling around and how you are going to get from place to place. Will you rent a car, use public transportation, or will you be booking shorter flights? Think about all of these questions and write down your itinerary so you have a hard copy of it.
See what immunizations you may need before going on your vacation. Some immunizations are even required to get into the country. Make sure you plan in advance as you will need time for the vaccination to become activated. Give yourself at least 6 weeks before going to your doctor to ask about the immunizations that are required and recommended.
This is very important. Most countries require your passport to be valid at least 6 months from the point you enter the country. Make sure your passport is updated. You don’t want your trip being cut short at the airport when you are about to board the plane. Also, scan your passport and other forms of government ID. Send yourself an email with these photos attached. This will help you in the rare case that you lose your passport while traveling. Do not leave anywhere without doing this!
Check to see if you need a tourist visa to enter the country. Some countries don’t require one. Other countries do, but exempt specific countries from needing one. Search online to see whether or not you will need a visa and make sure you have yours well in advance.
This one should be a must, no matter where you are going or for how long. There was one time that we decided to not get any insurance while traveling. It was a stupid decision. Maybe it was a false sense of security or maybe it just never crossed our minds for a short four day trip to Hawaii. But, my ear drum ruptured after it never popped on the airplane. I was taken in an ambulance to the hospital and received a $3,000 USD bill months later.
All of this would have been covered should we have paid the little bit of money to get travel insurance beforehand. You can read more about this story and what we recommend for travel insurance here.
When your ready to, start your packing. Having a list of things that you know you will need will help you stay organized. See our list of forgotten travel essentials to bring on a trip to help you with packing.
This is obvious, but you should double-check the time of your flight, especially leading up to the departure time to make sure it has not changed. Have everything you need printed. Have a hard copy of your flight ticket, hotel reservation, itinerary, and anything else you think you may need. Take pictures of your important documents and send them to yourself in an email. This will help if you ever lose one of these documents while traveling.
Plan your parking in advance or if you are taking a shuttle to the airport. All of this will help you have a smooth and care-free ride to the airport.
With this how to plan a trip list, you will be well-prepared and avoid the stress leading up to and while you are on your trip. Preparation is the key to any great trip, and this list allows you to be organized and ready for your travels. The last thing you want is to be turned away at the airport after having planned this trip for months. Enjoy your adventure!
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