A Down and Dirty Summer Travel Checklist

It’s summertime and for many of us that means it’s time for the annual road trip. Sometimes the trip is spurred by a hot travel deal, and others are long planned bucket list adventure travel. Summer vacation may require travel tickets and lots of time off, or could just be a summer weekend getaway. To maximize your relaxation, you need to know that everything is taken care of. The easiest way to cover all of your bases is to use a checklist. Whether you’re traveling just out of town or across the country, you need to have a plan.

Long Range Planning

Planning your trip a few months in advance has many advantages. Finding that hotels are booked several months out in your preferred travel spot allows you the freedom to change travel locations or dates. Many venues offer discounts, advance tickets or special packages that are only available to customers who buy early. Airlines are known to have the least expensive rates about two months out from the departure date. Longer range planning also allows more flexibility in where in the world you are traveling.

If you plan to travel internationally, you will need a passport. According to the State Department, current wait times for a US Passport is “Approximately 6 weeks from the time of application, including mailing time.” If you are going to a place you have never been, you will have time to buy and read travel guides that will help you have an inexpensive summer vacation, or an all-inclusive holiday destination.

Short Range Planning

family-travelNot every trip is planned months in advance. Spur of the moment trips can be some of the most exciting, but also may cause the most headaches. These kind of vacations will often be road trips, as air fare for spur of the moment trips is ridiculously high. Keeping that in mind, the first priority after setting your destination and time will be ensuring that your car is ready for the journey.  When we are rushed for time, we often forget to pack certain items, or leave something on the table that we really meant to bring. Nothing ruins the first day of travel like realizing that you left your wallet in last night’s pants, and you’re 100 miles away, stuck in traffic. To avoid this kind of mistake, make a checklist of all the things that must be with you on your travel.

Don’t forget about the kids! Make sure you have something to keep them entertained on the car ride and add travel time for bathroom breaks. Are you bringing Rover? Who is watching your cat? Even if the vacation is short fused, take the time to map out everything you need.

 

Down and Dirty Checklist

Here is a quick guideline for your summer trip planning:

  • Decide your venue
    • Active vacation?
    • Relaxing vacation?
       
  • Plan tentative dates
    • Check the venue attendance on weekends against weekdays.
    • Is the highlight of your vacation on a specific day?
    • Are you remembering to add travel time?
       
  • road-tripExplore travel options (Air, Train, Auto, Ship)
    • Air
      • Fastest mode for long distance
      • Advance ticket purchases are less expensive
      • Arrange parking/dropoff
    • Train
      • Available stops
      • Roomier conditions than air
      • Arrange dropoff/parking
    • Auto
      • Comfort of your own car
      • Cost of fuel vs. other modes of transportation
      • Sightseeing along the way
    • Ship
      • Shop around for best price
      • Explore different amenities
      • Consider what ports of call to visit
         
  • Determine lodging
    • Hotels
      • Do you just need a place to sleep and shower?
      • Will you need to spend serious time in your room between venues?
    • Resorts
      • All-inclusive resort?
      • Is there a specific activity at the resort? Beach? Golf? Family entertainment?
    • Campgrounds
      • Certainly the most rustic option
      • What amenities are available? Showers? RV? Tent?
         
  •  What to bring
    • Clothes
      • Often the most over packed item is clothing. Unless you know that you will be attending a wedding or a retirement while you are at your destination, do you really need to bring a suit? Bring just what you will need
      • Footwear. This topic often goes hand in hand with over packing. Try bringing just one or two pair that are neutral and will go in any occasion
      • Foul weather. Many places (like Florida) have afternoon thunderstorms that you can set your clock by. Plan ahead and bring a light rain jacket.
    • Medications
      • Don’t forget your prescriptions! If you are on a schedule of medication, use a pill box to help you stay organized
      • If your destination includes a place with lots of plants and flowers, don’t forget your allergy meds
      • Nothing stops a good vacation like a sudden case of bad belly. Keep a card of anti-diarrheal chewables in your luggage to stop the runs in their tracks.
      • That bottle of ibuprofen in your glove box has probably been sitting there for a while, go ahead and replace it, especially if you will be dealing with traffic!
    • Pets
      • Leaving pets behindtraveling with pets
        • Leaving pets behind can be a traumatic experience for some folks, but if you do your research, you should find pet boarding kennels and catteries that will take good care of your little buddy.
        • If you have a trusted friend who will be watching Fido and Fluffy, make sure they are aware of any medical problems that your pet has, and leave your buddy with enough food and toys to last a few days more than you plan to be away.
      • Bringing Lassie along
        • Bringing pets on vacation can be a wonderfully rewarding and fun experience if your vacation is pet friendly. Most amusement parks are not going to let you bring your pets, and most likely Odie isn’t going to be thrilled about a water flume ride or the Triple Lindy Loopty Loop. Check sites such as http://petfriendlytravel.com/ or http://www.petswelcome.com/ to see if your furry friend will enjoy the vacation as much as you.
    • Parting thoughts
      • Anything can happen while you are away. Fires, flooding, or a break in to your home are all emergencies that you will want to know about when you are away. Contact a trusted neighbor or friend, and have them check on your house regularly while you are away. Have them also pick up your mail and any newspapers in your driveway; burglars often use those as signs that you are not home.
      • If you are leaving for an extended vacation, consider unplugging toasters, coffee pots and other heat producing appliances.
      • Use a plug in timer to switch lights on and off in your house while you are away to deter unwanted visitors.

Nothing recharges the batteries like a well-planned vacation. Being well-planned does not always mean having a rigid plan.  Leave yourself plenty of time to attend the attractions that you want to see so that you are not rushing from one place to the next. Over-packed schedules lead to needing a vacation from your vacation, and nobody wants that! Now that you have a plan, go out and enjoy that summer break!


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