Traveling to new places can be filled with adventures and new experiences. But before all the fun can begin, you need to spend time planning and preparing.
The details of individual checklists will vary, but here are eight important things to do before you go.
1. Create a budget.
Traveling is expensive. Before you start packing your suitcases, you need to figure out how much money you can spend on the trip. Your budget must cover the cost of things such as transportation, lodging, meals and snacks, activities that might require admission or rental fees, and souvenirs.
2. Pick a destination.
This seems obvious, but it can take time and research to figure out where everyone in the family wants to go, while making sure a trip there fits into your budget. Look online or in guidebooks to learn more about the destination. What will you do once you get there? How long do you plan to stay? Will you need to rent a car? If the destination is out of the country, is your passport updated?
3. Choose your mode of transportation.
After deciding on a destination, you have to figure out how to get there. Is it close enough to drive? If so, make sure your vehicle has been serviced and you have proper insurance documents. Is the train or bus an option? Or is it more convenient to fly? Can you afford plane tickets? The cost of many of these transportation options can be lowered by taking advantage of military discounts.
4. Book lodging.
Unless you have friends offering you their guest room, you'll need to find a place to stay. Are you the outdoor type? Look into military campgrounds. Is there a military base near your destination? Try booking your stay at installation lodging. Sticking with hotels? Keep in mind that many hotels offer great military discounts.
5. Arrange for pet care.
If you have pets and don't plan to bring them on the trip, you'll need to arrange for someone to take care of them. Do you have friends or a trusted pet sitter who can watch your furry friends? If not, some military installations have kennels to board dogs and cats. Or your local kennel may offer military discounts, so make sure you ask when booking. If you're looking for a dog walker, Wag! offers a military discount on five dog walks.
6. Prepare for what you're missing while you're gone.
Are you taking time off work? Notify co-workers, reschedule meetings and complete projects that have deadlines during your trip. Are your kids missing school? Notify teachers and ask for classwork they'll be missing. Can you ask a neighbor to get your mail? If not, stop mail delivery. Do you need to pay bills early, pick up a prescription or return a library book? Taking time to arrange the details beforehand can eliminate stress while you're traveling.
7. Check weather reports.
The weather at your destination will affect what you pack, the activities you plan and maybe even your travel time, if inclement weather postpones flights or causes road delays. Keep an eye on weather reports and plan accordingly, whether that means buying travel umbrellas or loading up on sunscreen.
Use those weather reports to figure out which favorite outfits and shoes you want to bring along and whether you need outerwear for cooler temperatures or bathing suits for warm weather. What you pack is also determined by your mode of transportation and your planned activities. Driving might allow you to pack more items because you don't have to pay checked baggage fees. If you're flying, you must decide what to pack in a carry-on bag and what to put in checked luggage. As far as activities, your packing list will look very different if you signed up for snorkeling excursions than if you intend to hike in the mountains. And don't forget the chargers for all your gadgets.
Now that the prep work is done, have a great trip!