If you’ve read any of my planning blog posts, you’ll know I am not typically a spontaneous traveller. I like to book everything months in advance (better for pricing and getting time off work) and I LOVE to plan. Excel is my jam.
For other planners like me or if you’re new to travelling, I thought I’d share some of my tips when preparing for a trip that is 2 weeks or longer.
6+ Months out
Pick your destination and book flights. Most trips I have planned months in advance: I love budgeting and plan the number of trips I’ll be able to take in a year based on my monthly savings. (See here for my blog post about budgeting).
For those of you who aren’t as planned as I am, choosing your destination about 6 months in advance means the cost of your flight will be greatly decreased.The farther out you can plan and book flights the better. It’s also a good time to plan your budget and save accordingly.
Visa requirements. Some countries require a travel visa. It’s a good idea to check the requirements and do your due diligence to see what you’ll need.
Check your passport expiration date. I almost didn’t make it on the plane to England because my passport expired within a few months of my departure date (England requires your passport to be valid for at least 2 months after entering the country, oops!). If you need to, this gives lots of time to renew your passport!
Create your packing list. Number of outfits/clothing capsule, toiletries (do you need sunscreen or a hat for a hot destination?), medical kit (I need cold medicine with me when travelling, I always get sick), etc. Check out my recent post here about my travel essentials.
Check tour availability. Some popular tours, such as the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, or for tickets if you’re travelling during a festival sell out quickly so do your research early and book tours/tickets where you can.
Book accommodations. Trying to book last minute and then paying an outrageous amount for a bed in a hostel is a terrible way to start a trip. Booking early also gives you a chance to research neighbourhoods in a new city or book close to the city centre (typically the most accessible spot for tourist attractions).
Travel vaccinations. Do you need them for your destination?
Purchase travel insurance. DO IT.
Women: Is it going to be that time of the month? Be prepared!
Book local transportation. Check out prices for buses to/from cities or the airport and try to get a deal.
Order local currency. Typically banks require about 2 weeks to get uncommon currencies and if you want a large amount of cash they likely won’t have enough readily available. (If you don’t do this, you will just pay higher commission fees at the airport or international banks or ATMs).
Organize a house sitter/dog sitter/plant sitter. I recently went on a 2-week trip and forgot about a new plant my friend got me and it almost died. It’s been a long recovery for it.
This is my personal favourite: set out your luggage and throw in things you start thinking of that you’ll want such as pajamas. I can’t even give you a real example because they’re always items I think about on the fly! (You can go through the items when you actually pack later).
Print tickets. Save tickets to your phone as a note where you can but double check if a ticket needs to be a paper copy.
Reconfirm tickets and time. You don’t want to get caught thinking a flight is in the afternoon when it was in the morning or miss it by a day or two!
Test pack and weigh your luggage. If you’re a heavy packer, this will save time at the airport.
Charge electronics. I like to charge all my camera batteries and portable charger before heading out on my trip.
Charge electronics. Charge your phone, fitness tracker (I have a Fitbit), laptop, etc.
Double Check. Make sure you have your passport, wallet and phone.
ENJOY YOUR TRIP.