How to Plan a Trip from Start to Finish

20 April 2016

Summer’s coming – and if you’re thinking of taking a family trip, the time to start planning is now. Using this simple travel planning timeline can help you stay organized from start to finish:

3-6 months before departure:

  • If you haven’t decided on your destination, make a list of all of the places you’d like to go. Once your list is complete, discuss all of your options with the people who will be traveling with you.
  • Now that you’ve created a list of destinations (or have your destination finalized), you’ll need to determine how long your trip will be and your travel dates. Knowing when you’ll be traveling will help all of the other pieces come together.
  • If you’re planning to travel outside of the country, now is the time to apply for a passport if you don’t already have one. Processing a new passport can take weeks, and expedited service can be expensive. Applying well in advance of your trip will help you avoid any last-minute headaches as your trip draws near.

3 months before departure:

  • Now is the time to book your hotel and any transportation. Are you staying at a Country Inns & Suites By Carlson hotel? We have over 450 hotels worldwide that will meet your travel needs.
  • Start a rough itinerary of your trip, including any activities you and your travel group are thinking about participating in. Some tours and activities are booked far in advance of arriving, so knowing what you plan to do before you arrive will help ensure that you won’t miss a thing.

1-2 months before departure:

  • Your departure date is getting closer, and now is the time to finalize your travel itinerary. If you and your travel group have decided to join a tour group or enjoy a local activity, reserve your spaces now.
  • You won’t be packing your suitcase for a while, but starting a packing list will help you organize all of the items you plan to bring and find out if you’re missing anything. We don’t want you to be rushing around at the last minute to purchase missing items!
  • If you’ve got furry family members you’ll be leaving behind while you travel, confirm your boarding reservations or pet sitter well in advance of your trip. We know you’ll miss them while you’re away, but knowing that they are in good hands will prevent you from worrying.
  • Technology can help make travel easier, so take the time to research and download any travel apps to your smartphone or other device. This will give you time to learn how to work each app and enter in your travel information. We recommend downloading the Club Carlson App. You can easily search for hotels, book a stay, review your reservation, explore the local area, and more!

The week of your trip:

  • Your trip is almost here! Now comes the hard part: finalizing your packing list. Before you start filling your suitcase, check the weather forecasts for all of your travel destinations. If you feel unprepared for any of the weather you see, add items to your list to cover those days. When you’re ready to start the packing process, don’t just throw clothes into a bag. Set out all of the items you plan to take, then pack what you can until your actual day of departure.
  • To be on the safe side, make copies of all of your travel documents, including forms of identification, reservation confirmations, and tickets. You should also create a list of emergency contacts for everyone in your travel party in the event that something goes wrong.
  • If you are traveling internationally, now is the time to call your bank and credit card companies to let them know your travel plans. If you forget this step, you may find yourself in another country with a non-working debit or credit card!
  • For those of you flying to your destination, arrange for transportation to and from the airport.

The day before travel:

  • We live in a digital world, which means you are most likely bringing one or more electronic devices on your trip, whether it’s a cell phone, portable DVD player, tablet, or all of the above! Make sure that all of your devices are completely charged and packed safely in your luggage with their chargers nearby.
  • Most of your items are packed, but there are always a few thing you need up until the day you begin traveling. Pack these items before you go to bed, or, if needed, the first thing in the morning on the day of your departure. You don’t want to find yourself hours away from home without a toothbrush!
  • You should never travel without letting a friend or family member know where you are going, so leave a copy of your itinerary with someone.
  • Prepare for the next day by making sure that everything is packed (including all of your travel documents and copies), labeling your luggage, and packing anything you’ll need for the trip, whether it’s snacks for the car or a book for the flight.
  • Last but not least, get a good night’s sleep! You will want to be well-rested when you get to your destination tomorrow.

Do you have any tips and tricks that you use when planning a trip? Share them with us in the comments

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