Tag Archives: vacation

Trip Planning Checklist

No  matter where you live or what your job is, getting yourself organized to get out of the house for a trip takes a bit of thought and planning—for it to run smoothly, that is. My current life revolves around a demanding Silicon Valley job, lots of time commuting in my car, and newfound responsibilities related to being a new homeowner. As a result, I lack a lot of extracurricular time, which can make it difficult to prepare for a trip.

Being a ‘planner’ by nature, I immediately began to brainstorm ways that I could maximize my trip planning effectiveness and minimize stress. What organically came together was a custom checklist that keeps me on track in various intervals leading up to my trip. I find that whenever I’m preparing for a trip, I pull out a copy of my checklist and use it as a base model to outline what I need to do.

Recently, I was chatting with my fellow TK blogger Bri about all the travel that my husband and I have planned, and she mentioned “You should do a blog post about how you use your checklist to get yourself organized for an upcoming trip.”

The checklist is a huge life-saver for me and creating one is really quite simple. Here are a few steps to help you get started on  your own.

The most time-consuming step of developing a checklist is creating a base template. I recommend walking yourself through the steps you’ve taken in previous trips and come up with some high-level categories. For me personally, this tends to include:

Travel Checklist 1

From there I focus on what specific things I need to do for each category. To get a better sense of the specifics, I’ve listed a few suggestions below:

Travel Checklist 5

Next, I take my specific tasks and organize them into time intervals, which form the final version of my Trip Planning Checklist template.

Travel Checklist 3

Once the template is built, I save this on my computer and create a custom version before I travel. Having the template as a base saves me time from ‘recreating the wheel’ each trip. It also allows me add custom items that are specific to my particular destination.

I’ve experienced numerous benefits from using a checklist. First, it allows me to take a bit of personal time (typically on the weekend) to think about my trip. How long will I be gone? Who will be looking after the house? What items do I need to pack? It’s amazing how much less you forget when you have this planning time and are not up against the clock.

Second, the checklist allows me to partition the tasks out amongst a timeline, which avoids a lot of last-minute running around trying to get everything done.  I focus on thinking about what I can do in the week leading up and knocking those tasks out early.

Lastly, my checklist guides me through the final things that I need to do on my departure day, which gives me the confidence that I haven’t forgotten anything.  True story, over the past holidays my husband and I overslept our early morning flight and woke up with little time to spare. Even though I was somewhat panicked, I went right to my list and was able to check off the last remaining things that I need to do to get out of the house. (And yes, we made our flight!)

As previously mentioned, it does take some time to come up with your personalized template, but it’s well worth it, which will become more evident when time is saved in future trips.

Also, consider putting together a packing checklist (something we’ve written about before on Triple Knots). Similar to the Trip Planning Checklist concept, you can develop templates to meet your lifestyle, which again provides you with a good foundation to build out what you need to bring as you travel.

Happy traveling, TK readers! Also, let us know if you have a special way you get yourself organized before you travel.

Tips for the Budget-Conscious Traveler

Spring is in full bloom and we are pulling out our travel calendars in preparation for summer getaways and the soon-approaching “wedding season.” While we all wish we could have unlimited travel funds and jet-set around the globe, most of us are tethered by other financial obligations that encourage us to be budget-minded when we book our fabulous trips.

Travel Tips 1

In celebration of the upcoming travel season, we wanted to share some of our favorite budget-friendly travel tips.

  • Book Early: The most simple tip, and yet the most challenging to execute, is to make all your reservations as early as possible. Without a doubt, you will get the best pricing and the most variety in everything from flights to hotels, activities to car rentals. For an added convenience, most booking sites allow a certain amount of flexibility in modifying or cancelling your reservation, without penalty. As a result, booking early will allow you to “lock in” a special price, but the flexibility to cancel, if something better comes along (or your plans change).
  • Pre-Plan Activities and Eateries: Consider doing some research prior to your trip on some of the activities that you want to participate in, and even some key restaurants to visit. While it’s fun to leave part of your trip up in the air, pre-planning a portion can allow you to search for a good deal for tickets to a Broadway show, or point you in the direction of that amazing hole-in-the-wall restaurant that people rave about on Yelp.

Travel Tips 2

  • Alternate Accommodations: With the rise of AirBNB and VRBO, there are lots of options for accommodations, beyond a traditional hotel stay. These privately-owned apartments and homes often times offer just what you’re looking for at a cheaper or comparable price. Plus, those that offer kitchens allow you to eat breakfast or lunch at home, which can cut down on food expenses (not to mention Vacation Weight Gain!).
  • Travel Promo Codes: Make sure to check out the latest promo codes prior to booking anything for your trip. Most hotels, car rentals and activity companies have promotional discounts on sites like RetailMeNot, and many work with online rebate companies like eBates. While 10% may not seem like a lot in the moment, the savings can add up when you’re utilizing multiple codes.
  • Voucher-Based Promotions: Have some flexibility in planning the exact days and activities of your trip? Consider popular voucher-based programs like LivingSocial, Groupon or Travelzoo. These companies provide fantastic discounts for a variety of destination activities. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast looking for a great deal on a river rafting adventure or a budding chef interest in taking a cooking class, vouchers can offer significant discounts on otherwise costly activities. While you always want to read the fine print for limitations (i.e. periods of time you can redeem your voucher), utilizing vouchers are a great way to increase the amount of activities you can participate in, without breaking your budget.

Travel Tips 3

  • Travel on Off-Hours: I love to try to book flights at “off hours.” I’m a morning person, so I often select the first flight option of the day. While you have to get up early, you often can maximize your activities in your destination by having time on your travel day to explore. Plus it reduces an extra evening at a hotel that you may incur when booking a later afternoon/evening flight.
  • Stay Off the Beaten Path: If you’re visiting a city with a good public transportation system or even a destination with surrounding suburbs, consider booking accommodations just outside your main destination. Hotel prices can be significantly less—this way, you can avoid downtown prices but still have access to the travel attractions.

Do you have a favorite budget travel tip? If so, we’d love for you to share!