Are you getting excited about traveling somewhere new? Is it getting overwhelming thinking about the type of trip, the travel essentials, important documents, and details you need to know before going?

I, Catherine, am such a planner for everything we do. It makes me feel comfortable to start thinking about our next trip in advance. We have fun planning the details and thinking about all the fun things we want to experience while on vacation.

Planning gives us the time to think about what we want to do, what our must-see/must-do things are, and to plan to trip of our dreams! Most importantly, it allows us time to budget and save money so that we can do everything we want without breaking the bank.

Having a monthly breakdown is helpful so that you can stay on track with planning your trip.

Let’s get started with planning! What should you do first?


Creating a dream or vision of what you want the trip to be is the fun part (besides actually being on the trip, of course!). It’s the best way to see what you really want to get out of your trip.

  • Research the place you want to visit. If you can’t decide, make a list of places you want to visit and then research to narrow it down to just one! It is always a good idea to do thorough research so that you are familiar with the place you are traveling to. Some places have different customs and requirements you may want to know about.
  • Create a ‘must-do’ list. (this one is always fun!) What are the most important things that you want to see, do, and experience while on vacation? Make sure to write those down and plan for them.
  • Create a vision board. If you are a more visual person, a vision board will be so exciting for you to make for your trip! Fill it with pictures of all the things you must do, see, and experience while on your trip.
  • Estimate the cost of the trip based on the time of year you will be staying, flight, transport, hotels, food, tours, souvenirs, international phone plan (or a sim card), and whatever else you have your heart set on doing while there!
  • Start to plan your budget. Write it down somewhere and plan to save extra money every month to go towards the goal. We love to have a visual to keep us motivated and on track for our savings goal.

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There’s still plenty of time to work on your travel plans whether it is a long-term trip, road trip, or a family vacation.

Over the next few months, here are a few things you can accomplish.

  • Narrow down a date of when you want to go on your vacation. During the research period, you should have decided the best time to visit your destination. It’s okay to change the dates and work them around things going on in your life, but eventually, you need to narrow down the dates so you can begin to book things.
  • See if you need to get any immunizations for the destination you want to travel to. You can find information regarding this here.
  • Check your passport! If you don’t have one, make sure to get one! If you do have one, make sure that it is still valid and will be valid for the trip. A passport must be valid for at least six months from the date you are traveling for most countries. We have both had to renew or update our passports to travel and it can take a while to get them back unless you pay for expedited service.
  • If you are going to be doing long-term travel, you may need a visa. Find information on visa requirements for the place you are traveling to see if you will need to apply for one.


Getting this close to your trip is so exciting! This is when the fun of booking everything and making it official starts. We usually start booking things around the 6-month mark, but it really depends on where you are going and how in demand things are there.

When we traveled to Paris, we planned and booked things 6-8 months in advance. When we travel to places in the U.S. we book about 3-4 months in advance.

If there is something you really want to do, I recommend booking as far in advance as you can. The last thing you want is to miss an opportunity because of poor timing.

  • Book your flight(s)- make sure to get travel insurance!
  • Finalize your itinerary. Get more specific with what you want to do while on your trip. If you’re like me and love to be super organized, create a day-by-day itinerary so you have an idea of what you will be doing each day you are there! You don’t want to miss anything, so having an itinerary can help you to be sure to fit everything in.
  • Book your hotel room or rooms (accommodations).
  • Book the things that you will be doing! Things like tours, events, and activities. It is best to book these in advance because many things will be sold out, or the lines will be very long to get into on the day of.
  • Book a rental car. if you don’t plan on using public transportation, a rental car is a great option to get around a city or travel to different cities.
  • Book your transportation from the airport to your hotel and vice versa. Something we like to do is stay at the airport (if possible) the night before we head home! It makes the process so much easier.


  • Purchase anything special you may need for the trip. Make sure your luggage is in good condition and can handle the trip!
  • Get an International driver’s license if you will need one.
  • Learn some of the basic language if traveling to another country. We love to use the DuoLingo App to learn languages! It can be so much fun and the locals will appreciate it.

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  • Notify the bank and credit card companies of your travels. If you are visiting multiple places, let them know each place you are going. You don’t want your credit cards to stop working while you are out of town!
  • Order local currency if you are planning for international travel. You can use a credit card at most places, but it always gives us peace of mind to have some cash. You never know when you may need it!
  • If you haven’t already, put your time off down at work.
  • Write an ultimate packing list so you will not forget anything!
  • Go shopping for any last minute or specific items that you need for your trip.
  • Take your car in for routine maintenance if you are going on a road trip.
  • Find someone to house or pet sit. If you don’t want to leave your house empty, find someone to house-sit for you! It’s a great way to keep your home protected and can make a huge difference in you not feeling nervous about your home and belongings while you are away.


  • Check the weather for where you will be going. You may want to change the clothing items that you will bring or add different outfits than you originally thought about bringing.
  • Start packing your suitcase. Carry-on bags are easier for international travel, but we have a checked bag now and then on international trips. Make sure to weigh your luggage if you plan on checking it (most airlines have a weight limit before and charge extra if you go over it).
  • Get any prescription medications
  • Print out your itinerary to give to a friend or family member so that someone knows where you should be at different times.
  • Print out other important travel documents like hotel confirmation, tickets, and other information you may need for air travel.


  • Check-in for your flight
  • Double-check your travel information. Check flight times. Check your hotel information. Plug your destination into Google Maps (if doing a road trip) to make sure you leave on time.
  • Make sure you have all the essential items that you need in your carry-on or day bag so that you have easy access to them.


  • Wear comfortable clothes and comfortable walking shoes for your trip.
  • Make sure the house is in order before leaving for your adventure.
  • Check that you have done everything around your home and personal life with this checklist.
  • Make a list of things to not forget (phone charger, water bottle, etc.)

We hope you have had a fun time planning and preparing for your trip! Is there anything you would add to this list to not forget during the preparation process for a vacation?

We would love to know your favorite part about planning a trip!

Until next time,

The Traveling Tylers