If I’ve seemed quiet the last couple of weeks, it’s because I’ve been busy with my absolute favourite part of travelling: planning!
We’re about four weeks away from our dream road trip around Bulgaria. We’ve been mapping a route, booking Airbnbs and narrowing down the things we can’t bear to miss. City, culture, seaside and mountains, this is going to be a good one!
Confession: I also began planning next year’s trips – and dabbling in the year beyond that if we’re being honest – because once I go into planning mode, it’s hard to stop!
But I MUST focus because we are less than four weeks away from vacation and there are things that need to be taken care of.
A checklist to be followed.
Checklists keep things ticking along. I thought I’d share our thought process a month before a trip and let you in on our secret to planning a smooth vacation. Checklists!
Without further ado, I present the Four Weeks to Vacation Checklist.
✓ Order Packing Cubes
This is a new development in my world. I am a notorious light packer, so when it’s just me and Rasho, it’s pretty easy to keep organized. With kids, however, it’s a different ball game. I’ve tried everything from Ziploc bags to tying up bundles of outfits, but we still end up with socks and pajama shirts floating around the luggage and confusing people.
I learned about packing cubes recently, and I am pretty sure this is the answer! Everybody’s shirts, bottoms and unmentionables can be neatly compartmentalized in these zipped up fabric cubes with mesh windows for easy viewing (and air flow). I went with these guys, and I’m really excited to try them out. I’ll let you know how it goes!
✓ Doctor and Dentist Appointments
Ideally you’ll be having these appointments around the four-week mark, so there is time for any follow-up appointments before travel time. It’s one thing to be prepared for the unexpected while on holiday, however, a preventable toothache is NOT something you want to be dealing with.
We all went last week and we have two return appointments between us. Even with four weeks, it’s a bit of a scramble to schedule.
Luckily we don’t need vaccinations for this trip, so besides the kids’ annual physicals last week, we’re good to go.
Any prescriptions should be refilled now.
✓ Arrange Pet Care
If there are furry additions to your household, they’ll need a care plan while their family is away.
In our case, we just have sweet Lizzie, a 10-year-old Golden Retriever. She gets very stressed out when she’s away from home, so any sort of boarding or kennel is not a possibility. We’re lucky to live next to the kindest and most wonderful neighbours imaginable, and they usually care for her when we go away.
At the four-weeks-to-vacation mark we’ll talk to them to see if they’ll be home while we’re away. If not, then we have time to make phone calls and arrange for someone to come stay with her.
If a pet was heading to a doggy hotel, then four weeks allows time for a vet checkup and to gather proof of vaccinations, etc.
✓ Arrange House Care
This is also a good time to make arrangements for plant watering, gathering mail, and frequent home checks while you’re away.
We had a burst pipe situation once, and thankfully it was caught right away because we had someone checking on the house. A nightmare situation in any case, but at least time was on our side.
Enlist a trusted friend, ask the neighbours to be vigilant, or consider a house sitter. A family friend might have a college aged student who’s up for the job. I’m interested in Trusted House Sitters when we take a longer trip. I’ve heard amazing things in the travel community, and I love the idea! If I didn’t think poor old Lizzie would fret, I would have signed up already.
✓ Check Passports
You probably checked your passports when you booked your trip, but time can get away from you and those passports could be expiring soon. Go check right now and make sure all passports expire at least six months after you’re scheduled to be home from your trip. At four weeks to vacation, there’s still time to take care of this if you act right now.
✓ Country-Specific Documentation
At four weeks to vacation, it’s time to make sure all your paperwork is in order.
- Print off insurance information and make sure each adult has a copy
- Photocopy/scan passports and have extra passport photos of each member of the family
- Renting or driving a car overseas? Check if the country you’re going to is on this list, and if so, get an International Driver’s Licence.
- Renting a boat or a jet ski? Check country and state laws and where possible, get certified online before you go
- Is one parent travelling alone with the kids for any leg of the journey? Don’t get lectured at the border like I did! Bring a notarized Consent Letter from the other parent. Europe is strict about this.
With these essentials under control, you can move on to the excitement of packing, daydreaming, and planning the fun trip to the airport (kidding! There is nothing fun about airport logistics).
The countdown is on!