We all look forward to vacations—those weeks or even months where we don’t have to set an alarm, clock into work, or worry about anything other than enjoying our favorite hobbies and seeing new places. But as any experienced traveler knows, planning a trip isn’t quite as easy as just packing a bag and going. It takes time to make sure everything will go smoothly. From confirming reservations to checking your credit card’s foreign transaction fees, there are always things that need to be done before the big departure day.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make this task more manageable and reduce the stress of pre-travel preparations. To ensure you have a stress-free and memorable trip, check out these 10 tips to plan your trip:
1. Choose a destination
This is one of the most important decisions you can make before you start planning your trip. Where will your dream getaway be? It can be something as simple as deciding on a region to help you narrow down your options (such as Napa Valley, Tuscany, or the Caribbean) or as specific as laying on a beach reading a book. Ultimately, it depends on what kind of vacation you want and what your budget is like.
2. Figure out how long you want to travel for
How much time you spend on your trip is another factor that will influence how many places you visit and the pace of your vacation. Do you want to travel fast and tick places off your list, or do you prefer to linger longer in each destination? The latter may take a lot more planning, but it can be more relaxing in the long run.
3. Consider the season
The weather and climatic conditions of your destination will also play a big role in how enjoyable you’ll find it. For example, if you’re planning a safari it might be a good idea to go during the wildebeest migration when there are more animals around and less tourists. Alternatively, visiting popular national parks during the winter can be cheaper than during the summer.
4. Create an itinerary
If you’re planning on travelling to a place that’s not too familiar, try researching local restaurants, attractions, and other sites ahead of time so you can map out your trip. You can also look at local blogs, travel guides, or other websites for recommendations on what to see and do.
5. Ensure you have the right paperwork
Depending on where you’re headed, you’ll need to make sure that you have the proper documents with you before you leave. For example, some countries have visa requirements that you need to research and secure before your trip. Others require vaccinations and health certificates that you should get well ahead of time, too.
6. Identify point people
It’s important to know who you can trust to take care of your home and pets while you’re away. Whether it’s your mom who is willing to stay with your pets, a trusted neighbor who can water your plants, or coworkers who will cover for you at work, you should know the name of anyone who can help you out while you’re on vacation.