Whether you are taking a weekend away or an international journey, there are plenty of things to do in preparation for your trip. Some things need to be taken care of well in advance, so make sure you have time to get everything done before you go.
Where to stay and how to get there: Accommodation and travel costs will probably be your biggest expenses for your trip, and costs can vary a lot so it pays to do your research and find less expensive options. Off-season and shoulder-season prices are usually much cheaper than during the high season, but sometimes you’ll find special discounted rates even during busy times. Also if you book your space early you might get a lower rate. Start looking early so you can find the best deals.
Pets: Be sure to book the kennel or get someone to pet sit as soon as you know, or even suspect, your travel dates. You don’t want to have to change your travel plans because you left it too late and every kennel is completely booked. Where I live, kennels fill up early so we have to book 6 months in advance.
Passports and visas: Check the date of expiration on your passport and make sure you’ll have at least six months left on it by the time you return. Sometimes they give you a hard time at passport control if you’re traveling with less than six months left on your passport. I don’t know why, because the passport is good until the final date, but they do. Also make sure to find out what the visa requirements are in all countries you’ll be visiting, and if you’ll need to apply for a visa ahead of time. Some countries require visa applications well in advance, some places you can buy your visa when you arrive at the airport, and some countries do not require a visa. This all depends on your country of citizenship and can be vastly different for different nationalities. Especially if you are traveling with people of different nationalities, make sure you know the visa requirements for each person in each country so nobody gets left behind at the border.
Medical: If you’ll be going to exotic destinations, check which vaccines and/ or preventative medicines (malaria etc.) you’ll need. Some vaccines need a series of injections over a period of several weeks, and some medicines need to be taken for a certain amount of time before you arrive in your destination country. Don’t risk your health; make sure you have plenty of time to take care of these things before you depart. Wherever you’re going, make sure you have plenty of meds to take with you. Depending on how long you’ll be away you might need to get extra prescription medications, which may require a visit with your doctor so make sure you get an appointment in plenty of time.
Travel insurance: Check on your insurance needs during your trip. If you are going out of the country, be sure to buy travel medical insurance in case you get sick or injured so you don’t have to pay hundreds (or thousands) out of pocket. Make sure you buy your travel insurance in plenty of time to receive your documents before you depart. If you’ll be traveling outside your state of residence, check with your healthcare provider if you’ll incur out-of-network fees for doctor’s visits or emergency services.
Home stuff: Be sure to fill out any appropriate forms for mail to be held. Sometimes mail holding service can take some time to come into effect so factor that time in. Check if any bills will come due while you are away, especially things that come only once or twice per year like insurance renewals. See if you can pay these electronically, either online or by auto-pay, while you are gone. If not, ask if you can pay the bill early so you don’t miss the payment while you are away.
Work stuff: Sort out who will cover your work duties while you are away, or whether you will be doing work online during your vacation. Avoid miscommunications and an angry in-box by making sure the expectations are clear on both sides as to how available you will be while you are away. Don’t forget to put on your auto-replies informing people when you will next be available for communications, and who to turn to in your absence. Do everything you can to prevent a massive pile of backlogged work waiting for you when you return!
By getting all of these details taken care of in plenty of time before you go, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your trip knowing you’ve got it all covered!