A checklist for planning your vacation will keep you from making mistakes associated with loss of memory as well increase anticipation for the big day when you back the car out of the driveway armed with the full knowledge that you have left no small detail undone.
Ideally, you should start planning a big vacation three to six months in advance of the time frame that places you at your vacation location. During this time frame, you will want to make flight reservations because with that much advanced planning you should lock into the most affordable plane tickets you’ll likely find. If your vacation is going to be taking you out of the country, this three to six month ahead planning stage is the ideal time to get a passport or renew your existing passport.
Three months before leave time is a good period for you to start planning out your itinerary. You don’t need to get all anally retentive about; you don’t want to destroy the sense of discovery when you actually get to your vacation destination. Just plan an itinerary that hits on the must-see spots and includes a few things that you hope to fit in, but will okay with if you miss. Get a feel for those areas of your destination that those who have gone before you have expressed disappointment. Believe you me, there is no shortage of places on the internet where you can read badly written, but passionate reviews of popular vacation sites. Just keep in mind that what you are looking for in a vacation site may not be what those who have gone before were looking for. Take all online criticism with a grain of salt.
Two to three months before the vacation is a good period to start getting in shape. If you are going somewhere where a lot of walking is involved, dropping ten pounds or so can do wonders and you can easily lose ten pounds in three months. If your vacation is going to be filled with exhaustive activities like backpacking, mountain climbing or deep sea diving, you may want to push back the start day for getting in shape a few months so that you can be in peak condition. A summer vacation to the Disney World means losing those few precious pounds that can mean going the distance inside the park from opening to closing every day and the need to take a two or three hour break back at the hotel every day.
One month left to leave time and you should go shopping. Isn’t that the phrase you always love to hear. By a month before the vacation, your exertions to get into vacation shape should mean that you can buy a smaller pair of pants or a tighter shirt. Pack for the destination: shorts and T-shirts for summer vacations, coats and gloves for Christmas vacations.
Two weeks before the trip commences is when you should take the car in for servicing. Get the oil changed, have your tires and breaks checked and perform all the routine maintenance that you usually put off. Top off all precious fluids inside the car and make sure that your GPS system actually works since it’s been a year since you used it. This time period is also when you should start making plans to have your pet taken care of. If you need to border the pet in a kennel, get going on that during the two weeks before you leave. Otherwise, make plans for someone to come by and feed the pet and check up on it. This two week period is also a good time to make sure you’ve got prescriptions that can be filled either before you go or while you are away. Arrange for someone to take care of your plants if you have a garden or indoor plants that need attention.
The week before the trip is the time to arrange for someone to take you to the airport or bus station or railroad station. Get your mail and newspaper delivery stopped while you are away. If your house is wired with a security system, inform the security company of your plans to be away from the house. Sit down and make a comprehensive list of everything you can think of that you will need to take with you. This mean medicine and first aid kits, sporting equipment, picking up new toiletries, special clothing and games and toys to keep the kids entertained. If you have a DVD player and monitor in the car, let the kids pick out the DVDs they want to watch. Double-check this list to make sure that they haven’t picked something that is going to drive you crazy while you drive them to the vacation destination. You can get around this by equipping the kids with separate headphones.
Two days before the vacation starts is when you should head to the bank to pick up travelers cheques if you plan on using them. If your vacation plan were a movie, consider this the money shot. Make sure your debit card’s magnetic strip isn’t defective. Make sure you’ve got enough cash on hand for buying things at places that don’t take debit or credit cards. A day or two before you leave is also the time to write out checks to bills that will be coming due while you are on vacation.
A day or two before lift-off is the time to start packing. Do it any earlier and you’ll pack something you need to wear on the day before you leave. Try several different methods of packing to find the most efficient way of lodging all you’ve got into a limited amount of space. Check the refrigerator for food that is really going to stink up the joint if left to spoil. Take the trash outside even if the bag is only half-full. You don’t want to come home to a house that smells like the inside of Bill O’Reilly’s head.
The day you are leaving is when you should set the thermostat of your heater or air conditioner to kick on only to keep things from being too sultry or too chilly when you come back home. Make sure to close all curtains and drapes and shades and blinds so that potential burglars can’t see into your empty house. Set your lighting timer to kick on and off in a way that makes it seem like somebody is home. Set out things like your passport, checkbook, driver’s license, confirmation numbers, reservations, printed maps and everything else that can be easily left behind in the rush of excitement before heading out on vacation. Place all these things next to your keys so that you will be sure you leave the house with them. This means not packing them a day or two earlier because you may wind up thinking you’ve left without them because you don’t remember having packed them.
Take a deep breath and lock the door behind you.