How to prep for a stress-free vacation

We all love to travel. But the whole packing and getting ready, although exciting, can get a little stressful. Especially since we all lead such busy lives. Another factor is that many of us, myself included, try to stay budget conscience when planning and taking a trip. Not all of us have the luxury of packing light and then buying everything we need on our trip especially if we have to deal with foreign exchange.

Things can get tricky when you are traveling on a budget. For example, likely you purchased your tickets at a great price. But many of the cheaper flights may have extra layovers, or have very strict baggage policies. This is just one little hurdle you come across when planning and preparing for your trip. Here are a few tips for planning ahead that can help make things a little less stressful and hopefully save you a few dollars.

Travel planning

Things to prepare a week or so before your trip:

  • Take advantage of the time before to check and verify information. Check status of your accommodations. I like to re-confirm with Airbnb or wherever we are staying so that we don’t have any last minute confusion when we arrive at our destination
  • Check your airline information to understand weight restrictions, baggage restrictions and if you have to pay for checked baggage. This will help you determine what to pack and also how much you will bring on your carry on. The worst is having to pay for your checked bags at the airport unexpectedly! Surprise, that will be an extra 50 dollars!
  • Map out all the major locations like airport, your accommodations, nearest train station, subway station, pharmacy, grocery. This way you are prepared and can even plan your route to and from airport and you also know approximately how long it takes to get there.
  • Always a good idea to buy some health insurance if it’s not included on your major credit card. This will save you lots of money on the occasion that there is an accident or you get sick and need medical attention or prescription medication
  • Arrange your pick up and drop off to and from your local airport or remind yourself of the public transportation schedule

Don’t plan everything to the very last detail. Leave room for the unexpected

  • Check the weather forecast a week prior and a day prior too. This is very helpful in knowing what sort of clothing items to pack. If you see a pattern of cold weather then don’t pack short pants and t-shirts for the whole trip. Then you are stuck buying extra clothes that you don’t need but had to buy because you didn’t bring your own. Been there done that!! (Who knew LA would be cold in May?!?!). That being said the weather can change, so always bring a light sweater or extra layers if needed. This is especially important if your hitting more than one country. (September can be cool and crisp in London but in Athens it’s still pretty hot)
  • Start planning your meals at home carefully so you don’t waste food by leaving with a fully stocked fridge for two weeks. Freeze what you can or plan to use it that week.
  • Check if you need to get any particular vaccines or meds for your trip if you haven’t already. (Some require a series of shots so hopefully you checked when booking your tickets)
  • Check the type of electrical current that your destination uses and buy a converter if needed.
  • If you need a house-sitter or someone to come by and water plants, feed and look after pets, now is the time to arrange that
  • book your hair appointment or waxing appointment

Travel planning

  • Inform your bank and credit card company of where you will be visiting and exact dates if you plan on using your credit cards (many credit cards no longer require this, but call just in case)
  • Exchange some money to the foreign currency that you will need if available. It’s better to do this at the bank than the airport. We don’t usually carry and exchange a ton of cash when we travel but it’s always good to have a little to pay for your cab ride to your hotel or even to buy metro/tube/subway passes if you plan on taking this mode from the airport (saves you time and frustration of having to do it when you get there). Some places allow you to purchase transportation passes in advance so it’s a good idea to look into that
  • Have a basic itinerary planned for your trip and do a little research on places you would like to visit. Certain places require a particular dress code, some places need to be booked in advance or you have to reserve and can’t just walk in.
  • Make a list of what you need to bring in categories of clothing, shoes, undergarments, medications, swimwear, toiletries etc. It’s always best to keep things simple, plan actual outfits and clothing than can easily pair with other pieces your bringing to save in packing space. Doing this in advance will also help you see if you need to wash things ahead or mend things or find coats or boots in storage (bikinis and summer clothing). There are a lot of free printable packing lists you can use on line and on Pinterest to make this very easy for all of you who hate making lists. Having this list will help you determine if you need to buy items for your trip like medications, vitamins, extra socks and underwear, travel toothbrush, extra floss etc..
  • Planning on buying any gifts for people you maybe be visiting or staying with? Now is a good time to do that otherwise this can be completely forgotten and then you have to spend your travel money at the airport! Not good!

    Travel planning

A few days before :

  • Open your suitcase and start putting things in from your list. You don’t need to pack or fold but put them in and start crossing them off your list
  • Prepare or buy snacks you might want or need for your flight like granola bars etc
  • Start cleaning your house and tidying up so that you don’t come back with a mess on your hands

The day before:

  • Double check the weather forecast for the destination your headed to
  • Double check your packing list and do your final pack and check the weight of your bags. Zip and then leave by the door.
  • Set out shoes and all clothing you will wear on trip so it’s ready to go
  • Pack all your flight essentials like snacks, reading material, an empty water bottle, pain killers, vitamins, sleeping pills, makeup, toothbrush, sweater, socks and shawl for the airplane freeze and etc
  • Empty out all garbages and ensure no food is left out not even fruit like apples and bananas

Day of:

  • Shower, dress, turn off all electrical main switches and go!

Hope these little reminders help make planning and going on your trip more enjoyable and less stressful! Please share any more reminders or things you do before flying out.