Friday, August 24, 2012

My Tips: Trip Planning

I have today off so it's kinda like I'm on vacation- except instead of tanning and sipping pina coladas, I am going to various appointments in the city. Joy of Joys!

However I DO have a big trip coming up in like A MONTH. How the heck do these things seem so far off and then all of a sudden I am way behind on my trip planning?? Well, today I thought I would share some tips for planning for a trip. Especially a touring trip and not a lying-on-the-beach type trip, like I am taking!

1. Check to make sure your passport is good to go. They recommend not travelling if it is within 6 months of expiry, so make sure you check the dates! You don't want to pay extra to rush a passport application, so do this as soon as you realize you are planning to leaving the country!

2. Check your luggage to make sure it suits your needs and is in good condition. For instance, mine has a busted wheel and I STILL haven't gotten it fixed. I called the luggage repair shop but they wouldn't even give me a rough quote and want me to drag my entire giant suitcase to their store (not near me) before they tell me what it will cost. Ugh. So I will probably go on vacation with a busted wheel. haha

3. If you are travelling with friends, spend some time making lists of your top 10 must-sees. When I went to Europe last fall, we were each in charge of our own country and planning the itinerary for the cities in that country. We also allowed each person to voice their must-sees in every location we were visiting so the planner could accommodate everyone's wishes in their country. It worked very well!

4. Book ahead of time. Flight prices seem to jump at the last minute. I don't plan to be an expert in timing buying plane tickets, but just get it over with as soon as you have agreed on dates- especially if you are not going to a common airport and are unlikely to find deals. I like to scour the paper for deals in the months of "maybe we should go away" to see if my destination comes up often. I also like to book any flights or trains that will occur during the trip. Once you cement down the days in a city, you should also book accommodations- you don't want that headache while you are in a strange city! Even hostels book up fast! Be sure to print confirmations, addresses, and directions to your hotel.

5. Check weather reports and historical reports! I like to get an idea of the types of clothing I will need so I don't bring 50 sweaters and it ends up being warm.

6. Make a checklist of everything you need and start shopping in advance. I actually use excel because I am a giant nerd. 

7. Be realistic about what you need. I try super hard to pack light. I like to pack a lot of neutral clothing that can mix and match and layer. I also make a point to wear outfits twice and therefore bring half as much clothing. I also like to pack accessories to jazz my outfits up so I don't feel like a dowdy tourist. I have seen so many videos on youtube where they seriously overthink clothing. You need comfy outfits for wandering around town and a couple nice outfits for nights out. That's it!

8. Carry-ons should be kept light. I don't know why some people look like they have jammed a weeks worth of clothing in there. You need a book, vital meds, a change of underwear, and a bathing suit (if you are going to the beach). Oh and some snacks in case the airplane food sucks. And you can bring some moisturizer or whatever you like for the plane. Just check the airport rules for carry-on items so you don't slow everyone down at security!

9. Make sure you get all your ducks in a row. Have your plane tickets and passport in your purse or carry-on, and make sure you have printed confirmations of any reservations and other tickets in your carry-on or in a designated spot in your luggage.

10. Arrive at the airport early! I hate stress when I am on vacation, so I like to arrive ridiculously early and then go and get a meal or a drink at the airport to kill time.

11. Pack plastic bags and baggies. I always pack a plastic bag for dirty clothing so it doesn't "mingle" with clean clothes in my luggage. I also put anything that can leak or explode in plastic bags and I pack extra just in case.

12. Clean your house before you leave. You won't want to but you will be SO happy to come home to a clean house when you get home (and it will help you feel less depressed about vacation being over). If you have a housesitter (I always do) stock up on some goodies as a thank you to them!

So that is all I can think of to help alleviate the pre-trip stress and set yourself up for an amazing time!

And as for my trip, I am going to MEXICO CITY! I am sooo excited to visit my friend and her family who moved there last year! The city seems so interesting and I am very excited to explore! I also hope we can carve some time out to go to Acapulco too! This girl likes a beach ;)

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