I want to start out with the start a new mini series I'm going to be doing on here - the Pre-Travel Checklist! The first one, which is being released today is for the first planning part of a trip. The things that should be done as far out as 6 months out but mostly around 2 months out. Go ahead and Pin/Save the cheat sheet above for your convenience!
6 Months Out
If you don't have your passport yet, apply AT LEAST 6 months prior to your trip. Maybe even 8 months to be safe. You never know how slow your government might be with approving the paperwork and mailing your passport to you.
2. Verify Your Passport ✓
If you already have your passport, make sure that it is not expired or within 6 months of expiring. Most countries will not accept your passport if it is set to expire within 6 months. If you are within the 6 month time frame or your passport has already expired, you will need to renew it ASAP.
3. Learn the Language ✓
Start to learn the basics of the language of the country you are going to if you don't speak the native tongue. Attempting to speak the local language will go a long way with the people of the country you are visiting even if they do speak the language you are strongest with. Plus you get to learn a different language...how cool!
4. Book Holiday Airfare/Flash Deals & Sales ✓
If you are planning to travel for the holidays, book your tickets as soon as they go on sale. It sounds very type A/hyper planner active but you will save so much money. If you aren't traveling over the holidays but know of a destination you are going to way in advance, it doesn't hurt to keep an eye on airfare prices. Airlines will have flash deals or sales that just might happen to be during your travel time. Take advantage of these sales while they are going on instead of waiting for your trip to get closer. Chances are you won't find as good of a deal closer to the date. Go with your gut...if it seems low and reasonable, just do it.
2 Months Out
The magic number...47 days. Yes, exactly 7 weeks out is when you want to ideally book your airfare (except for holiday travel!) You will get the best deals around the 7 week mark and try to book on a Tuesday if at all possible. This is the day airlines generally update their prices. Also, if you are wanting the best experience possible, try to go with a national airline. They tend to have the most fair prices and best on flight experiences. And last but not least, if you have a flexible time table for when you can take your trip, try to fly on Tuesdays or Wednesdays and avoid Fridays and Sundays at all costs.
2. Book Your Hotel(s) ✓
After your airfare is set, try to book your hotel, too. By doing this you get the two biggest parts of planning your trip out of the way. This way it also ensures that the best hotels and the ones you want to stay at aren't all booked up. I pretty much make it a rule of thumb to book my hotel immediately after I book my flight...sometimes I even do it together! Compare sights like booking.com and expedia.com for the best deals.
3. Check Medical Requirements ✓
Buy a LonelyPlanet guide book or even Google health requirements if you are going to a foreign country. You might have to have different vaccinations or certain medications with you to go to certain countries. For example, most countries in Africa will require you to have Malaria tablets with you. That's not a common thing in North America so it's easy to overlook. It's always best to double check early on that way if you do need a shot or special medication you can schedule an appointment with your doctor well before your trip happens to get it all worked out.
4. Check Visa Requirements ✓
Some countries require you to purchase a Visa before you can enter their country. Research the requirements at least 2 months in advance so you know the procedure on how to get a Visa so you don't get denied entry in to the country. We waited in a 30 minute line in Istanbul to be told we couldn't enter without purchasing a Visa. Thank goodness there was a Visa counter across the way that took US dollars so that we could enter Turkey. It's important to read how the Visa works, too. Our Visa was good for 180 days with a duration of staying in the country for only 90 days at a time. Make sure you don't purchase the Visa too far in advance that you can't even use it. Read the fine print...international travel can be tricky. As long as you read and research though, you'll be just fine!
5. Dream Up a List ✓
Start a list of all the places you want to go and see after you've booked your trip. You don't have to come up with 20 things on the first day, Just start with a few and slowly add to it over a months time. This way when you go to sit down and plan out your itinerary, (I'll help you with this on the next post in this series) you don't have to research things to do plus plan out when you want to do them.