Traveling can be extremely overwhelming at times. There is so much that goes into the process from planning to getting to your destination to making the most of your time there. I've found though that if I can check off a small but very important list of things before we leave for a vacation we tend to have a way easier time with the entire process! So here is my pre-travel checklist to ensure that we leave ready to go and have the best time possible on all of our vacations.
1. Book Domestic Travel at Least 2 Months Out/International Travel at Least 6 Months Out
I am so much less stressed about a trip if I have ample time to plan it. I think of so many different things I want to do during this phase between booking and going on vacation that I'm so much more relaxed when it comes time to leave if we leave a good amount of time between when our flight/hotel is booked to when we actually depart. I rarely feel like I didn't do enough research on all the good spots or that I'm going to be missing something important. I also think that these markers are when the best prices for airfare are available. Sometimes if you buy too early you might pay a bit more and especially if you book last minute the airlines are going to get you for every dollar they can. I feel like this 2 month/6 month rule of thumb is a nice sweet spot. The only exception is if you are planning on traveling over a holiday. Book that trip ASAP.
2. Have Majority of Food Places Picked Out
I can't tell you how many times during our early travels that we didn't research good spots to eat and the trip wasn't the greatest because of it. We LOVE to eat, so finding good food is super important to us. In my opinion, it can make or break our trip. So while I try not to overplan too much, I really like to have most places to eat picked out before we take off for a trip. I'm 100% okay with altering plans once we get there if we find something better, but just in case we don't, at least we know we'll be going to a yummy, recommended, and clean spot for all of our meals.
3. Packing the Right Amount of Stuff
One thing that always stresses me out is not having everything I need while we're away on a trip. You might say I overpack because of this anxiety but I've never been overweight on baggage and always have room to add goodies I buy to my bags. I'd rather have a little too much then be left in a spot where I don't have the appropriate clothing or not enough of something. If you re-use some things during your time away you'll have enough space. I feel better about bringing extra outfits because you never know what might happen. You could spill on yourself or your relatives can drop that they're taking you out to a nice restaurant and if you're prepared for those kinds of things you won't be wasting time trying to shop for an outfit to wear over the fun stuff you had planned for your trip.
4. Check In/Print Trip Info the Night Before
You're probably like printing...what!? That's super old school! And yeah it kind of is but you don't have to actually print it all per say. You can save everything to one folder in your e-mail. But I personally like to print out my airline confirmation e-mail, rental car agreement, hotel confirmation, and any tickets I've bought for the trip. Not all places accept phones unfortunately especially in foreign countries. Plus what if you don't have service to get on your phone? Even if you have to make a trip to the library to use their printer, I'd recommend doing this and having a folder of everything in your carry on. That way if any of these places challenge you on your bookings you have it right there on hard paper that it's paid and booked.
5. Time Out How Long it Will Take you to Get to the Airport & Add 30 Min
I am the queen of leaving late. It's just a real problem for me. So if I get into my head that we have to leave by a certain time and we leave 10 minutes late as usual, it's no big deal. Living in Chicago has it's out of your hands issues too like lots of traffic. I'd rather be able to grab a bite to eat at the airport over being rushed and running through the terminals to my gate to catch our flight though. So I like to figure out how long it will take for us to get to the airport from our house during that specific time of day (it can vary from 1 hour to 2 hours honestly) and add in time if we are parking our car and have to take a shuttle to the airport. After I've added all that up I add another 30 minutes and then figure out what time we should leave based on two hours before our flight leaves (three hours for international). Two to three hours is always plenty of time to check our bags, get through security, and be at the terminal before the flight boards. By doing this I've never felt rushed going to the airport and have never missed a flight in my whole life!
6. Pack a Good Carry On
So once you're settled in on your plane, car, or train even, you want to make sure you're not going to just be staring at the seat in front of you feeling anxious for hours. I always pack certain things in my carry on to keep me occupied during the travel part and never really feel bored. I love to read so having my current book and something else I want to read, you know, in case I finish what I'm currently reading, is so important. I could read a good book for hours but if I want a break from a novel I'll switch over to a magazine. I always bring my iPad mini too and make sure I have a couple movies downloaded on it. I'm not the best plane or car sleeper but just in case I want to snooze I like to have my neck pillow and a scarf that I can use as a blanket to get comfy. I bring an empty water bottle to the airport and fill it up at the water fountain after security to save on those hefty prices the quick stands tend to charge and I try to pack a few healthy snacks that I can munch on throughout the travel time. A lot of times the plane meals or snacks aren't the healthiest so I prefer to have my own stuff just in case. I only bring my laptop if I have to get work done on my trip, otherwise I leave that bad boy at home. I can usually fit all of this in a backpack or a large Longchamp tote.
Stay tuned for revised travel tips when we start to add Nugget into the mix! It is going to be a big trial and error process but I'll make sure to share our new found wisdom with all of you when the time comes! If you have any good tips for travelling with babies please share them with us! We can use all the help we can get :)
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I’m Diana; curator & author of Tiny Dapper Fox. Here you’ll find posts on motherhood, home life, travel, & fashion/beauty as well as City Guides for places all around the world. Make yourself cozy and let’s be friends!
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