Travel Planning 101: Before You Go

All that planning has paid off, and your vacation is practically here! All that’s left now is to tie up any loose ends and get going!

Here is my pre-vacation checklist.

One Month Before:

  • Make a list of any items that will need to be ordered in advance. Think shoes, RFID belts, credit cards with no foreign transaction fees, adapters, etc. Order them now so they arrive well in advance.
  • If this trip warrants a new pair of shoes, start breaking them in now! Walk to the grocery store, walk on the treadmill, wear them to work…whatever it takes. Those comfortable memory foam shoes won’t be so comfortable if you haven’t broken them in before your trip.
  • Check with your phone service provider to see if you need an international phone plan. Make any necessary arrangements and be aware of the pricing plan well in advance.
  • Buy any guide or phrase books now, and familiarize yourself with the language. Memorize important phrases like, “Where is the bathroom,” “please,” and “thank you.” Don’t be the pig who doesn’t know how to say “excuse me” in a crowded area.

One Week Before:

  • Call the bank to make them aware of your travel plans.
  • Transfer funds, withdraw, and exchange money if needed. If you plan on using a debit or credit card while abroad, read up on your bank’s foreign transaction policies and plan accordingly.
  • Confirm and print out any travel reservations.
  • Write down important addresses, phone numbers, and names, for example, the place you will be staying and how to get there
  • Make a copy of your passport, visa, etc. in case your passport is lost or stolen abroad. Bring it with you and keep it separate from your actual passport.
  • Download travel apps now and make sure they function correctly. I also find it helpful to screenshot travel timetables and directions in advance, so I’m not stuck at a bus station with no WiFi and no idea where to go next.
  • Double check closures and operating hours for any place you plan on visiting. The Louvre, for example, is closed on Tuesdays. Plan accordingly so you aren’t disappointed later.
  • Pay (or schedule payments for) rent, utilities, and any other bills due during your trip.
  • Buy or create a travel first aid kit. Mine includes everyday items like Advil and Pepto Bismol, as well as Airborne, Dan’s seasonal allergy medication, band aids, and mole skin for blisters.
  • Stretch! If you don’t stretch regularly, now is the time to start. Your body will thank you when it’s stuck in a cramped airplane seat for hours on end.

2-3 Days Before:

  • Decide what to wear on the plane, and make sure to set it aside so it doesn’t wind up at the bottom of a packed suitcase.
  • Pack your bags! Leave a little extra room for souvenirs. I also like to measure and weigh my bags beforehand, just to be absolutely sure they aren’t considered oversize.
  • Make sure to pack the credit or debit card used to pay for certain bookings, as many places will want to confirm the card information when you arrive.
  • Confirm arrangements with the house or pet sitter, and make sure the home is stocked with necessities like toilet paper and pet food. Write down the WiFi password, building access codes, and any other information the sitter may need.
  • Stock up on snacks and entertainment options for the journey. I also recommend buying gum and chewing it during takeoff and landing to help prevent your ears from “popping.”

The Day Before:

  • Tidy up the house, take out the trash, put away dishes and laundry, etc. Doing these chores now is much easier than doing it after a big vacation. I know when I come home, the only thing I’ll want to do is sleep and order takeaway.
  • And speaking of which…clean out your fridge now and toss any items that will expire while you’re away. I also like to make a short shopping list, so grocery shopping and cooking are less of a pain when I come home. If you like, leave something ready-to-eat in the freezer, like a pizza.
  • Charge electronics such as your laptop, Kindle, and camera.
  • Pack your on-plane bag, or “personal item.” I like to bring snacks, a book, my laptop and some movies, a few toiletries like lotion and lip balm, and one change of clothes.
  • Leave some kind of room freshener out, especially if no one will be stopping by to check on things. After sitting in that stale airplane air for so long, coming home to a stale-smelling house won’t be much of a relief.

The Day Of:

  • Pack any last-minute items. Don’t forget your toothbrush and deodorant, in other words!
  • Double and triple check to make sure you have all your important travel documents, cash and credit cards.
  • Remember to unplug and pack any items that may have been charging overnight.
  • Lock any doors or windows. Set light timers and security system, making sure to notify the sitter of the system password.

Doing all these things now will give you peace of mind while you are away, and make the transition easier when you return from your vacation.

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