Throughout this series, I have covered the basics of how to add more travel into your life, how to research for a trip and where and how to book the trip. For the final step of travel planning, depending on what type of trip you are taking, I have put together some timelines, checklists for travel with some tips on how to make it easier. These are the things I tend to think about and/or use for each of our trips. Make sure to add in your own as well so you don’t forget things that are particular to you or your family.
International Travel Checklist
Traveling abroad can be daunting, even for people who do it often. It’s easy to miss something small in the scheme of planning such a big trip. The following are my first line thoughts while planning any international travel. Some of these items need to be checked well in advance. For example, some vaccinations for travel require several rounds of injections a few weeks or months apart for full efficacy. In addition, the visa process for some countries requires a good deal of advance timing. Keep these things in mind during the planning phases of your trip.
◻️ Renew passport (Make sure it is valid for at least 6 months past your return date)
◻️ Check CDC’s website and/or visit a travel clinic for necessary travel vaccinations for the country you will be visiting
◻️ Acquire visa’s required for travel (Some countries require this to be done well in advance, while other countries allow visas on arrival. Research your options and make sure you have all the documentation you will need.)
◻️ Do you need travel insurance? Check with your home owner and/or medical insurance providers to find out what is covered while abroad.
◻️ Determine travel requirements for bringing children into/out of each country. (For example, South Africa requires an original birth certificate stating both mother and father’s name for entry/exit even if the child is traveling with both parents. Other countries require a letter from parents if traveling with only one parent. Also bring all documentation for adopted children.)
◻️ Find out the car seat requirements for the country you will be traveling in (for private cars, tour buses, taxi’s, etc)
◻️ Do you need to the local currency prior to arrival? If so, order currency in advance from your local bank.
◻️ Obtain an International Driving Permit from AAA if you plan to drive abroad (valid for 6 months from issuance).
◻️ Inform credit card companies when and where you will be, as well as noting down the international phone number (not a 1-800 number) to contact in case of a lost or stolen card.
◻️ Call your cell phone provider for their phone/data plans abroad and/or unlock phone to use a local SIM card
◻️ Research local customs in terms of acceptable/unacceptable dress
◻️ Purchase voltage converters and/or plug adapters
◻️ Check your carry-on bag size/weight for each of the flights you will take (always different for different airlines.)
Before You Fly
The most common form of travel for most families will end up being domestic/international trips involving flights. With the constant change in rules around flying, it’s good to keep up to date on the latest happenings. Below are the items we check off before each of our flights here at home or when heading abroad.
◻️ Book airport transfers to/from the airport at home and at each destination. Or reserve parking at the airport if necessary.
◻️ Confirm flight time as the date nears.
◻️ Determine what time to leave for the airport given the time of day, traffic and airport parking situations. (This is useful to take into consideration when actually booking your flights as well.)
◻️ Load up on snacks for yourself and the kids in case of delays at the airport or on the tarmac.
◻️ Determine what type of baggage you will take (carry-on vs checked luggage) as well as current restrictions and fees. Book in advance if necessary for the lowest rates.
Road Trip Checklist
◻️ Get your oil changed and/or service your care
◻️ Update your insurance and registration if needed
◻️ Make sure to have AAA or other road side assistance numbers available.
◻️ Clean out your car, adding in necessary travel items based on your destination (Snow chains, beach supplies, camping supplies, etc)
◻️ Prepare a cooler for snacks, drinks, etc
◻️ Put together an entertainment packet for children (Car Bingo, weaving board, follow along maps, I-spy, add in a baking tray with colors and paper, small etch a sketch, etc)
◻️ Get directions or check that your route comes up on your GPS device without problems
◻️ Fill up the car the night before leaving
◻️ If you are driving as only 1 adult with your kids, pack everything the kids will need in easy reach for them or for yourself (snacks, activities, water, etc)
Well in Advance of Your Trip
◻️ Book flights, accommodation, rental car, fine dining excursions and any activities
◻️ Arrange house/pet sitting
◻️ Renew passports, obtain visa documents and other travel documents
◻️ Take care of all medical issues prior to travel. Make sure you have enough prescription medication to last the duration of your travels, along with the prescription in case anyone needs to verify it. Don’t forget contact solution, extra lenses and glasses if you wear them.
◻️ Create itinerary with all pertinent information, with a sketch of your daily activities outlined.
◻️ Play with your camera settings at home, practice any specific photography techniques (night time, Northern Lights, etc).
◻️ Consider purchasing items needed for travel such as a rechargeable power bank for your phone/camera as well as extra memory cards
3-10 Days Before Your Trip
◻️ Cancel/Pause any regular delivery services, prepay your bills and hold your mail if needed.
◻️ Decide what you will want to wear on travel days and to pack
◻️ Finalize last minute shopping: food, clothes, toiletries, or items to bring on trip.
◻️ Do your laundry and/or pick up dry cleaning.
◻️ Make copies of your credit cards, passports and other critical documents. Keep extra copies in your suitcase as well as email to yourself or put in a secure file you can access from anywhere.
◻️ Download any apps you will need (currency exchange, Skype or Whatsapp, Uber or other taxi services, translation apps as well as any offline maps you might need)
◻️ Download apps or shows for the kids on the iPad
◻️ Pack travel entertainment packs for kids
◻️ Back up phone and any other electronics you will be taking
◻️ Share your itinerary with close friends and family
◻️ Explain and share with your children how the travel day will go a few days in advance to begin preparing them.
1 -2 Days Before Your Trip
◻️ Write out instructions for house/pet sitters
◻️ Get manicure and pedicures
◻️ Check the expected weather conditions to tweak packing options
◻️ Pack your carry-on travel bag (Toddler Go bag, etc)
◻️ Pack your bags to make sure everything fits
◻️ Prepare your 3-1-1 quart size bag for all lotions, perfumes, creams, etc.
◻️ Double check your purse or other carry-on items for prohibited items (like scissors, other liquids like lipgloss)
◻️ Carry-on restrictions are always changing, so check the TSA website in advance for what you can bring on the plane.
◻️ Print out your itinerary, insurance policies and other travel documents. (I like to have mine printed vs on my phone, just in case my phone is dead when I need an important number. Include confirmation numbers, phone numbers and addresses.)
◻️ Give a copy of your itinerary to family or friends.
◻️ Charge camera & iPads (including extra battery and if applicable)
◻️ Collect and pack all chargers for phones, computers, cameras, other electronic devices you will be taking
◻️ Pack a collapsible bag that you can use to bring home extra items
◻️ Create a file with information on valuables that you will be taking. In case anything is lost or stolen on your trip, make sure to have the serial numbers, makes, and models, as well as photos of each item.
◻️ If possible/necessary, check in 24 hours in advance, pay for any baggage and print out boarding passes
Morning of Your Trip
◻️ Clean out the fridge & take out the trash
◻️ Pack last minute items such as toiletries, phone charger, snacks, children’s sleep lovey’s, etc
◻️ Pack all chargers and electronics in carry-on bags for use in transit
◻️ Check updated flight status
◻️ Confirm you have your ID and/or passport
◻️ Provide a buffer of time for traffic or other delays (especially traveling with children!)
◻️ Set lights on a timer
◻️ Lock up the house & head out!
Whew, you made it! Now, relax, hope you didn’t forget anything and enjoy!
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