Travel & Leisure

Tips for Planning That Trip of a Lifetime

A memorable trip involves lots of planning—which is easier to handle if you approach it step by step

By Katrina Caruso

If you’re thinking about taking a big trip this year, remember that there are quite a few steps involved in planning that trip if you want it to be the most memorable ever. Where to begin? No problem. The following guide can make the task less overwhelming. Just take each step slowly and do a little at a time—and start early.

Destination & Background Research
– Figure out where you want to go, when, and for how long. Once these points are more clearly defined, you’ll have a better grasp on all the next steps.
– Depending on the destination you choose, there are better (and worse) times to go…you don’t want to end up fleeing a hurricane or hiding from monsoon rains.
– Find out (early on) whether the location(s) you’re thinking of require a visa.

Budget & Saving
– Figure out how much how much you’ll need to spend to realize your plans—and then figure out how much you can afford to spend.
– If you’ll need to save for the trip, check out these 6 Tips to Save Money or even download one or more of these 7 Apps for Managing and Saving Your Money.

Flight & Accommodations
– Sign up for e-mail alerts for discounts to certain countries.
– Some websites, such as Kayak, can show you the best deals on flights offered by different airlines. The earlier you book, the better.
– Decide what kind of accommodations you want and book early.

– Most of these can be booked once you’re there. It’s a good idea to plan ahead, especially if you have some specific activities in mind (especially if these are expensive—they’ll affect your budget), but it’s also nice to be flexible.

Banking & Cards
Get a travel credit card so that you can amass points on flights and hotels.
– While away, use a no-fee card for ATM withdrawals and low foreign conversion rates.
– Set up online bill payments and online banking.
– Let your card companies know you’ll be away.

Health Considerations
– Get travel insurance—it’s not fun to think about, but you’ll need it if something goes wrong.
– Update your will and estate planning, just in case.
– Get any appropriate vaccines.
– Make sure to book any appointments with your doctor and dentist before you go (especially for a long trip), just to have peace of mind.

Documents & Housekeeping
– Make photocopies of all the important documents (driver’s licence, passport, flight tickets) that you’ll need while travelling. I like to keep everything in a manila envelope in my carry-on, and my travel buddy will get copies, too.
– Arrange to have someone come by your home to take care of your cat, your lawn, or your mail while you’re away.

It can be tempting to over-share on Facebook while you’re away, but save your sharing for when you’re home again. Sometimes people who post travel photos to social media come home to find that they’ve simply announced that their homes are unoccupied and been robbed as a result. Be careful with what you share when you’re travelling.

Photo: iStock/Fly_dragonfly.