Most, if not all, of your travel arrangements are complete and you can’t wait to leave for vacation. Here are the things you should remember to handle in the weeks before you leave.
2-3 Months Before You Leave
- Purchase your starter set of foreign currency. You want enough to pay for transportation to the hotel and miscellaneous needs (about $100 to $200 US currency is generally sufficient).
- Purchase your train tickets if you are traveling by train. You can purchase these from your travel agent or directly.
- Purchase tickets for “hard to book” museums and events. For instance, The Academia in Florence houses Michelangelo’s David and pre-purchased tickets enable you to skip the long lines. If you are visiting Amsterdam and want to visit Anne Frank’s museum, tickets go on sale exactly 2 months from the scheduled visit day and sell out quickly. These are just some examples. Check out the city’s Museum Pass to see if it is good idea. They often enable you to skip the line and provide free admission to many sites. Sometimes they can be purchased in advance, such as the Vienna Pass.
- Finish shopping for all of your travel needs. This includes clothing, comfortable shoes, toiletries and packing aids. If your luggage is subject to weight limitations, purchase a luggage scale. Do you need more TSA approved locks?
- Finalize all other arrangements. Flights, Hotels, and Transportation should be set. Did you forget to arrange for a dog sitter?
- Visit your city’s/country’s tourism page for up to date information. Each city/country has its own tourism site and is full of valuable information.
- View some of those YouTube Videos and other websites such as Lonely Planet and Rick Steves. We are currently planning our own Christmas Markets trip and the YouTube videos and official city Christmas Markets websites have been informative. I already know what I plan to purchase in Linz!
2 – 6 Weeks Before You Leave
- ATM Card. Contact your bank to let them know which countries you are visiting and the corresponding dates.
- Credit Card. See ATM card instructions, if required. At self-service kiosks you may need a pin number in order to use your credit card. Contact your bank for a pin number in case you need it. (https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/money/chip-pin-cards ) If you don’t have a pin, check to see if have a “contactless” card which enables you to tap it at the kiosk.
- Mail Newspaper Delivery. I know, you are asking who gets newspapers delivered. Well some do. Make arrangements to stop and start delivery. Stop the mail or make arrangements for someone to pick up your mail.
- Confirm Arrangements. We had someone cancel at the last minute and fortunately were able to find a substitute pet sitter. But it pays to confirm ahead. Confirm with House/Pet sitters, scheduled tour guides, airport drivers/parking, and any other people necessary for your stress-free vacation
- Create a detailed packing list. Check off items as you place them in your luggage. It is a good idea to start packing as soon as possible
- Decide what medications you need to bring. This refers to prescription and non-prescription medications. I have my own list that includes treatments for traveler’s diarrhea, colds, cuts and other common health issues. The CDC is your resource for this: (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/resources-for-travelers and https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/pack-smart )
- Purchase a Global Phone Plan. Determine if you need a global calling plan while abroad and sign up if required. Some carriers only charge you for the days you actually use your phone. Contact your carrier to determine the plan that is best for you.
The Week Before You Leave
- Carry On Items. Whether it is a bag, backpack and/or carry on suitcase, plan what you will bring with you. This should include required medications with prescription labels, reading material, enough clothing for about 1-2 days in the event your checked luggage arrival is delayed and anything else you cannot live without. Make sure you check your airline carry-on limitations and TSA for banned items.
- Cross Pack. I always carry on enough clothing for about 2 days in the event that my luggage does not arrive with me. If you are traveling with a spouse/friend, think about cross packing some of your clothing in the event one suitcase is delayed in arriving.
- Finish packing. And weigh your luggage to be sure it is within the airline weight limits. When in doubt leave it home. Think in terms of layers and be prepared for different weather possibilities.
The Day Before You Leave
- Complete Online Flight Check In. Airlines sometimes swap out plans and re-ticket travelers. Make sure you have a seat. We once left in the aftermath of a hurricane. The airline had seats for me and a friend – they just didn’t have seats for our husbands. Fortunately, we all made the flight.
- Make sure that your carry-on includes:
- Currency – US and Foreign
- Credit Cards
- Flight and other transportation confirmation information
- Hotel Vouchers, if needed
- Smartphone and Charger
- Instructions for converting to Global roaming, if needed.
- Other necessary paperwork
- Confirm with your transportation to the airport, pet sitter, etc.
- Finish packing.