Tips & Checklist on How to Plan a Vacation Trip

Being a seasoned traveler, when I create My World Travel Guides, I am well aware of the hassles faced by travelers. There are inconveniences about travel that we can avoid and those which we simply have to bear. Here are some tips to assist you to be a smart traveler.

The maxim “you get what you pay for” does not always apply in travel. While paying a low price, you may expect basic service, paying a higher price does not guarantee superior service.

Getting the room directly from the hotel does not guarantee you the lowest rate. Often online booking sites that book rooms en masse can offer a lower room rate. However, no online booking site can provide you with the lowest rate for every room at every destination. To get the lowest price each time, you must do some homework to compare prices offered by different sites. 

Many budget/low-cost carriers offer astoundingly low fares if you book well before your trip. This can be as far ahead as a year before the trip. To enjoy the best airfares, plan your holidays a year ahead.

A full-package tour through a tour agent offers no flexibility while going as a free independent traveler comes with its related hassles. Depending on destination and season, it’s not possible to guarantee which is cheaper than the other. It may be impossible to travel as a free independent traveler to high-demand destinations during peak season, as all rooms may have been blocked off by agents. On the other hand, tourists on packaged tours are often taken to numerous shopping stops – this is the case for many countries, where shopping commissions entirely support the tour guide. In such states, it may be better to travel on your own.

It’s never a good idea to arrive at a remote destination on a rainy night without a booking, and there’s only one room left at the hotel. That room will probably have its resident tale to tell.

If traveling to many countries over a long duration, make sure your passport has at least six-month validity at the final entry point. You don’t want to be turned back by Immigration. Check all updates about Delta Flights – List Of The Airports Where Delta Restricted Its Services Due To CoronaVirus.

Mark your luggage to make it easy to identify. The usual way is to place a name tag or ribbon. However, decorations quickly come off through rough handling. You may consider painting a pattern or your initials on the luggage itself, making it easy to identify even from the far end of the carousel. Don’t worry too much about how your luggage appears. What’s inside is more important.

Never make jokes about bombs or hijacking when going through Immigration. Immigration officers are notoriously humorless, and you can well miss your flight – or worse – by being too funny for your good.

Tips for preparing for your trips:

Most people approach preparations for a trip with both excitement and trepidation. The confusion comes from looking forward to your vacation and the fear that you may overlook something in your training. It is natural for some people to feel overwhelmed by the thought that they have to prepare for the trip. They hate packing and often put aside the activity until the last minute. Forgetting to bring along an essential item can cause a lot of inconvenience, comfort, and expense. While the whole exercise may seem cumbersome, if you systematically approach it, you will leave for your trip relaxed and enjoy your holiday much more.

In your preparation, I have prepared a Packing List, which you can print out and use. This checklist covers the essential items that general travelers will be bringing along. If you are going on a specialized trip, you may have to create a second packing list with specific questions. 

For example:

Dr. Graham Thompson is flying from Los Angeles to Buenos Aires to speak at a medical seminar. He uses my Packing List to cover his essentials and creates a second packing list that includes his presentation, pointer, X-ray slides, etc., things he needs are not part of a general traveler’s luggage.

Bill is spending a month as a monk at a monastery in Thailand. In addition to my Packing List, he also has a second list that includes his attire, gift, letter of commendation, etc.

Those going on a specialty trip that requires a second packing list should create the list at least two weeks or more before the actual journey commences. In that way, you have time to amend your listing, adding and removing items. Never wait till the last minute.

When to start packing

Pack your bags as early as possible. Items that you will not be used daily should be packed and checked off from your packing list. Many travelers have a set of “travel toiletries,” so they do not have to empty their bathroom of items they use daily. This helps ensure that you don’t have to wait until the last day to do the packing.

Segregate and pack the clothes that you will be bringing on the trip from those you still intend to wear until the day. Read my accompanying article, How to Pack Your Luggage.

Delegating Home Responsibilities

Make sure everything at home is in order during your absence. If you leave behind dependents (children, the elderly, the invalid, pets), make sure you have assigned someone to look after them while you are away. If you have plants at home, assign someone to water them, or ensure they are watered by a drip tray. Expensive jewelry is put away in a safe deposit box at the bank.

Leave a set of house keys with someone you can trust – a family member, relative, friend, colleague, or neighbor, and ask the person to check on your home from time to time. Give the person a copy of your itinerary and your contact numbers so that you can be reached if necessary.

Cancel your newspaper delivery for the duration of your trip. A stack of newspapers on your front door is not a good tell-tale sign of your absence. 

The night before

Select the clothes you will be wearing on the trip. This should not have been packed into your luggage, as rummaging may mess things up. If you need a second set of clothes to change into upon arrival (you are going for dinner, the beach, a seminar), where your travel clothes won’t do, pack that second set of clothes above the rest of your luggage. That way, you don’t have to rummage deep to find them.

Preparing to leave for the trip

Go through your Packing List once more, ensuring all items needed have been packed. Keep your Packing List handy at all times.

Close all windows. Do not, however, “advertise” your absence. If you do not usually draw the curtains, leave them as they are, or pull them halfway, to avoid arousing unnecessary suspicion. Put away valuables and expensive items that are usually on display or leave them under the care of someone until your return.

As you prepare to leave your home, ensure all electrical appliances are switched off. If you have a security system installed at your home, ensure it is switched on. Make sure timers for lights are working correctly. Make sure all faucets are turned off as well as the mains.

You are ready to leave. It’s time to carry your luggage out of your home. Lock the door. Count your suitcase once. Did you forget anything? Take five steps: look back. Is everything in order? If yes, you are ready for a pleasant trip. It’s time to relax and enjoy yourself. Have an excellent time.

Tips for planning your travel Itinerary

Although many people love to travel, not that many are keen to plan the itinerary, because of the hassle involved, some say that they prefer the serendipity of discovering things as they appear. That’s fine and well if there is nothing specific you are planning to see.

On the other hand, if your purpose of travel is to visit specific places and there is a list of sights you intend to see, planning your itinerary helps you make the most of your time while helping you reduce the hassle and expense involved.

If you travel frequently, you should make planning the travel itinerary a habit. Once it’s second nature to you, you can do it with less stress and effort. The first thing to remember is to go systematically. That way, you are less likely to overlook things. Get a descriptive guide about Delta Comfort Plus to travel in 2020 

Components of the itinerary

Arrival date & time

Departure date & time

Destinations (if there’s more than one)

Accommodation

Transfers

Meals

Sights

prose Every itinerary starts with a blank sheet into which you add the details and activity.

Step-by-step Guide to Creating Your Itinerary

In the example below, Larry and Becky are planning their vacation to Bali. It is their first time to this destination, and they want to make sure they get to visit all the major sights.

Step One: Add the title. Number the days.

A short itinerary can be done within a single page. A complicated plan of over a week should require more than one page.

Step Two: Add arrival/departure times, accommodation, transport.

Your arrival and departure time give you an idea of how much time you have on your first and last days, whether it is possible to fit activity into these days. You should seek accommodation and pre-book them before arrival. Otherwise, this will eat into your precious vacation time, add to your hassle, and give you unnecessary stress. Vacations should be stress-free.

Step Three: Add sights and activities.

This is the body of your itinerary. When adding sights, allocate sufficient time for your journey from one to another. Try to group views according to their geographical location. Allow time for relaxing on the penultimate day of your trip, as you prepare for your journey home.

When planning your itinerary, it may be more useful to simply list out the sights you intend to visit for each day, rather than describe them in prose. This allows you to view at a glance all the sights for the day and adjust your time accordingly.

Specific performances or dinner shows should be booked well in advance, to ensure you get your tickets. You usually get to enjoy the best price for items scheduled well ahead of time.