Preparing for an overseas vacation takes planning. Divide your plan into tasks that need to be done months, weeks, and days before departure.

The success or failure of a much-anticipated vacation can lie in the details of the planning, that is. From deciding where to go through to finally getting on the airplane, many arrangements must be made. Make the process less arduous by dividing these arrangements into tasks to be tackled months, weeks, and days in advance of travel.

Planning for a Vacation Months in Advance

The decisions to be made as far in advance as possible are the ones that are going to cost you the most. These include airfares, hotel bookings, travel insurance, and travel visas.

Booking months in advance usually results in lower airfare. For example, in New Zealand, Earlybird deals for long haul travel generally come out three to four months in advance of peak travel periods. Once you’ve purchased your airfare, remember to submit any seating or meal requests to the airline.

Similarly, hotels prefer to have their rooms booked as far in advance. Therefore, you are likely to have more hotels and deals to choose from when booking months in advance.

While last-minute deals on airfares and accommodation are standard, their chances of being applicable and available on your specific dates are rare. Traveling with a family or just at certain times of the year, booking ahead is more likely to save you money than booking at the last minute.

As soon as you have paid for airfares and accommodation, you should also purchase your travel insurance. Travel insurance should be purchased simultaneously as your big-ticket items so that you will be covered immediately against cancellation penalties if any unforeseen circumstances arise that may delay or cancel your travel plans.

You should also investigate if travel visas are required and, at the same time, ensure that your passport is valid for travel to your particular destination. This is because travel visas and passports can take a long time to process, especially if the embassy or passport office is overseas.

Planning for a Vacation Weeks in Advance

Planning what to do when you are away and what to take should be done weeks in advance. It is so that any dentist and doctor’s appointments can be tidied away, especially if you need to renew prescriptions or get vaccinations. These are usually tasks that require a few weeks’ planning.

Booking house sitters or kennels and catteries for pets often need to be made weeks, if not months, ahead of travel. Booking car parks at the airport or booking a shuttle to take you to the airport should also be squared away weeks in advance.

Once you’ve decided where you are going on vacation, the fun part is planning what you will do when you are away. First, you can buy a brand new travel guide; although be warned, they can be costly. Alternatively, bid on used travel guides on online auction sites. If you start looking a few weeks in advance, you should be able to get a recent one at a reasonable price or take advantage of book sales. You can even download special travel guide applications to your Apple iPhone for a fraction of the cost of paper guides.

Creating a packing list a few weeks in advance will be helpful, so when you discover that you need a new bikini, you will have sufficient time to save for one or search for the ever-elusive perfect one.

A packing list will also help identify anything that needs to be purchased, such as power adaptors, a new book, earplugs, or noise-canceling headphones for the flight.

Planning for a Vacation Days in Advance

The only tasks that remain to be done in the days leading up to your vacation should not rely on supply. For example, don’t put off buying anything till the last minute. Likewise, the only things that should be done in the days leading up to your travel are charging any electronic devices you are taking, doing your laundry, and suspending paper deliveries.

Foreign currency can be purchased anytime, ideally when you think you will get the best exchange rate. I hate having money lying around the home, so I generally only buy currency in the days leading up to my travel. However, don’t leave it until the last day because it may not always be available at your chosen supplier or even at the airport if they have had a run on that particular currency.

Similarly, if you are relying on your credit card as the primary source of funds, ensure that you have transferred funds to it days in advance to allow time for all transfers to clear.

Packing takes time, so do it over days. This way, you’ll have time to reflect on the wisdom of your packing choices and alter them if need be. Also, ensure you are up to date with any laundry washing that needs to be done to have a whole wardrobe available to choose from.

If no one will be clearing your letterbox or housesitting for you, ensure that you suspend any paper deliveries to avoid making it completely obvious to opportunistic thieves that no one is home.

Have Fun!

Now it’s time to rest. Nothing is worse than stress on the way to the airport when you discover that you’ve forgotten to pack something or turn off the stove. Planning means less stress in the lead-up and more chance of enjoying your holiday because you’ll know that everything possible has been done.