I have gone on a lot of trips and vacations. In a little less than a week, I’m heading over to Porto, Portugal to celebrate Easter. That being said, I now have a routine that helps me get ready for my trip. I’m not including actually making reservations for flights and hotels in this post – I’ll save that for another post in the future. Rather, this is my final two weeks before a trip. What do I do when? Find out here:
2 weeks before a trip
- Research places you want to visit and mark the places on a Google Map – I mark all sorts of stuff from restaurants to concept shops to particularly lovely squares or parks. I like to have it all on Google Maps even if it isn’t necessarily a priority. If I’m just in the area, I might remember to pop in for a bit.
- Download Google Trips – thanks to my friend Kate for this tip. Not only is this a great way to consolidate all your reservations and marked attractions – it also has suggestions from locals and recommendations based on famous aspects of a city. I really am happy with having this app on my phone.
- Make reservations for any attractions that might require advanced tickets – If you are going to a large city, you may want to skip lines for museums, churches or attractions. In your research, if reservations are recommended or even required – make them two weeks ahead of time. I know attractions like the Lourve, the Anne Frank House, all of Gaudi’s wonders in Barcelona and the Prado all use a reservation system.
- Find someone to take care of your pet, plants or home – I make sure to have a plan to take care of my animals and plants. Right now, I’m only a plant mom but in the past, I had to coordinate animal care too. I was lucky to have amazing friends and family to take care of my cat, Oscar. That’s not always the case. I know my sister in Germany is having a hard time finding someone reliable to take care of her cat when she’s away. It’s worth it to interview a candidate and see how they act around your animal.
1 week before a trip
- Start watching the weather daily to see what the trends are – Sometimes it might look like every day is going to rain on your app but really you see that it’s just a shower in the afternoon. Maybe the days are really warm but the temperature drops in the evening. Those are things you can plan around! Start watching the weather to see what’s going on about a week ahead. Any more than a week and I find it can be an unreliable tool.
- Make your “Must see” list – At this point, you may already have reservations for some attractions but a week ahead you can really see what’s open and for how long. I remember in Warsaw, I really wanted to visit the Warsaw Uprising Museum. I got all the way there and found out they had a holiday that day. I really wish I had checked for holiday hours.
- Mark 2 nearby public transport stops per “must see” location. This way – you have options if a line is delayed or if you happen to be closer to a bus stop than a metro station. I think having two stops marked is helpful.
- Similarly, download public transport maps and check to see if there are any closed lines. This happens all the time – make sure that you are going to be able to use the lines you need to. Last time I went to Barcelona, the exact stretch of metro I needed to get to my hostel was closed. It was pretty inconvenient. Thank goodness I’m familiar with the Metro System.
- Make sure you have offline Google Maps downloaded if Roaming. This is pretty imperative and so helpful. Fussing with a paper map can be conspicuous and dangerous (if you lose it). Instead, download the sections of Google Maps that are relevant to you. If you are going on a day trip, download that area as well!
- Double check airline luggage allowances for all legs of your trip – make sure you aren’t going to get smacked with a huge baggage fee because you weren’t allowed a certain sized carry on for a flight.
- If you are traveling internationally
- Check the State Department Travel Department if you are headed somewhere that may have some civil instability. You can register with their program STEP as well. In addition to general travel alerts – this website also lets you know about any health warnings.
1 Day before a trip
- Pack your clothes and shoes – You’ve watched the weather – you now should have a pretty good idea of what you need to bring with you. I’ll make a series of packing posts in the future for different lengths of trips – but you really don’t need to pack until the night before. I reference a packing list I made for myself ages ago and have tucked into my Bullet Journal (shown above) .
- Check in to your flights and download your boarding passes – these days, some airlines actually charge for a printed boarding pass (gotta love the nickel and diming). Just make sure you have it on your phone. In theory, then you can’t lose it.
- Strip down your wallet – Only bring the cards that you actually need. I don’t recommend changing your wallet from whatever you normally use but I do think you should get rid of any cards you don’t need immediately. If you happen to have a student ID from college days – BRING IT. There are probably discounts.
- Charge all of your electronics – I always make sure my kindle, computer and obviously phone have full charge before a trip.
Day of a trip:
- Double check to make sure you have all your documentation ready to go – If you are going international, you need your passport. If you are renting a car – don’t forget your drivers licence. Double check for your children and pets too if they are coming!
- Pack your cords and toiletries. I have a bag packed the night before but if I need to use some of my toiletries and cords the day of, I just stick the bag into my suitcase/backpack the day of the trip.
- Lock your doors, make sure all your lights are off and start an amazing adventure 🙂
Those are my essential things that I do before a trip. Obviously, if you have children or you are traveling in a group – some of those are not going to be relevant or you may need to add additional steps. But what can I say? I’m a solo gal. What are your best tips for preparing for a trip? Let me know below!