Let’s talk about planning for a big trip, shall we?
Say a big, dream trip. A trip of a life time. We have a big trip coming up that I can’t wait to share with you all, but for now – let’s talk planning.
The first stage is the day dreaming. Where you figure out your Why, what makes your heart beat faster, what fulfills and calls to you. This could be one of your Top 5, or it could be something that you came up with while writing out your plan for the year, or plan for the season.
Determine if you are driving or flying.
If you are driving – are you taking your own car or a rental car?
If you are flying – what dates are you going? What airline are you flying? Are you playing the credit card game? *
*Proceed with extreme caution.
I do usually apply for the airline card. I book that plane ticket and the travel expenses with that card. I then pay off the balance in full immediately afterward with the savings account that I have set aside for the trip. I use the card while we travel – and then I pay the card off in full when we return home. If there are any bonus points I can use from that airline – I try to use them for a seat upgrade. I don’t like to hold onto my points because I don’t travel often enough to know that I’ll use them before they expire. This is not a travel credit card hacking site. Good for you if you do this and love it, it’s not for me at this point. I also don’t want to sway anyone down that road because I don’t know enough about it, and I’m generally against credit cards. A few people use them responsibility, but they wreak havoc for so many people that I just don’t think they are worth the risk.
I use Google flights to pick the cheapest date range to fly and then I book the rest of my plans – hotel, car rental, etc.
Next, I obsessively stalk the area online, scoping out all of the things I want to do when we get there, where to eat, and any specifics I may need for that area.
Check your passports early. It can take 6-8 weeks if you need to get a passport so do this early on. Did you know that passports can be limited within six months of their expiration date? A family member of mine recently had a trip planned to Sicily. When they tried to board their flight, they were informed that they could not let them gain entry to the country because their passports would expire in four months. They were only planning to be there for a couple of weeks, so they had no idea that this would be an issue. Thanks to their travel nightmare retelling, we checked the official rules. So check your passport and the country that you are traveling to rules and when in doubt – renew before your trip.
Photos can be taken at any Walgreen’s. I like to freshen my hair and makeup first. You keep these photos for 10 years! My husband and I like to do this together and then go out for a drink or a nice dinner to toast to our upcoming travels.
There are very specific requirements. No exaggerated smiling. No showing your teeth. Keep you ears in view – tuck your hair behind them if need be. And they need to be a specific size and zoomed in so that your head is a specific size.
Fill out your passport form slowly and methodically. Have another person check it over to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Then I like to check it again at the post office before I send them off.
The passport can make or break your life time trip so this is a big step.
Now comes all the fun stuff – pinning and itinerary planning.
Set up a Pinterest board and pin all of the best tips, restaurants, blogs, and ideas.
In the final weeks before you depart, make notes on your travel documents for what days you’ll do what and where to eat on those days, etc. You can always ditch these well-thought out plans for spontaneity that day, but, I’ve learned that having a plan and some narrowed down suggestions make for a better trip. There is nothing spontaneous about scouring trip advisor for reviews while at your dream destination.
Make copies of the credit cards you will be carrying and your passports, along with all of your travel documents. If you have access to a scanner, you can scan them to .pdf files, password protect them, and save them to a jump drive, and store them in a draft email so you can access them from your phone.
Leave a copy of your itinerary at home so your loved ones have access to it if need be.
Not to be morbid, but my husband and I will often write a general plan for our estate, have it notarized (my office manager is a notary) and leave it at home. Just a quick instruction as to who we wish to raise our children and how we’d like to leave our possessions behind. Totally not necessary if you have an up to date will and estate plan, but worth the time if you don’t.
If you need any currencies – plan ahead for that. If you have an account at Wells Fargo, you can get foreign currency there – but you may need to call ahead. They only have so much on hand in the registers. The afternoon I was there they only had about 200 Euro and a one hundred pounds…. mostly in larger denominations – no coins.
Your turn! Gimme all of your best travel planning tips & tricks.
Can’t Wait to Hear from you,