How exciting! You and your best girl friends or boo thing are going on a trip! Now comes the hard part; actually planning your vacation. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love even the tiniest of details that come with planning a trip, but most people would rather have their vacation completely booked with the snap of a finger. If you’re one of those people, you’re in luck; we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to make planning your next family vacation, gal-pal getaway, or solo self-care retreat the easiest you’ve planned yet. Bon voyage!
The flight is often the most expensive part of a trip, and knowing how to score a deal on airfare can help you save big. One of the easiest ways to save on your flight is to book early, as it only gets more expensive the closer it gets to takeoff. Try booking about 3 to 6 months ahead, but if you’re worried prices may drop lower, you can set up price alerts on apps like Google Flights, Kayak, and Hopper.
If you have more flexible travel dates, Skyscanner may be your best friend. The website’s whole month price comparison feature allows travelers to see prices for each day of the month, and you can even search by the cheapest month! If you’re really itching to jet off somewhere but don’t quite know when or where, Skyscanner’s Everywhere feature is one of the best ways to get a cheap flight. Just enter your departure airport and your destination as everywhere, and Skyscanner will show you the cheapest places you can fly, and when.
Unfortunately, the myth of booking your flight on a Tuesday for the lowest fares has been debunked, but certain days of the week are cheaper to fly. Mondays and Fridays tend to be more in demand and more expensive, with Tuesdays and Wednesdays usually being the cheapest. If booking your flight for mid-week still doesn’t help your rate, changing your airport might. Bigger cities like New York and Los Angeles have multiple airports, and flying into a smaller one could help you save. Even using a combination of flights, buses, trains, or rental cars will get you to your destination for less, especially if you’re visiting Europe. You’d be surprised how fast you can get from London to Paris by train!
For the most efficient packing, packing cubes are a hero product. Packing cubes comes in various shapes and sizes, and help compress and separate your clothing for the most beautifully packed suitcase you’ve ever seen. If you’re on a short trip and don’t feel like completely unpacking, packing cubes are a great way to keep your clothes organized by day or activity, so you don’t have to wreck your whole suitcase to get one outfit. Our editor Fran swears by packing cubes, and says she was able to fit a week’s worth of outfits in a carry on with them! You can also use the cubes to store items other than clothing, like electronics, camera gear, daily essentials, or toiletries.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll wait to pack your suitcase the night before your trip and make a mental checklist, but may or may not end up forgetting something. Preparing a checklist that you physically check off as you load down your suitcase can ensure no item is left behind, and apps like Packing Pro and PackPoint make packing easy with their premade templates and themes.
Even if you’re not using packing cubes, there are still ways to keep your suitcase organized and clothes looking nice. When putting your outfits together, try to opt for clothing that doesn’t wrinkle easily, like denim, knits, wool, spandex, and polyester. Then, when you’re ready to pack everything up, roll your clothes by outfit to prevent wrinkles. For example, if you’re preparing for a hike, roll your pants, undergarments, socks, shirt, and any other items you need, together to form a bundle. Then, you can easily find what you’re looking for when getting dressed and there’s no flustered digging through your suitcase!
If your pet gets anxious when you’re away, a good pet sitter could be your saving grace. Your precious pooch or feisty feline remains in the comfort of their own home and continues on with their regular schedule, while receiving lots of love from their sitter! Pet sitters can also check on the rest of your home, like watering any plants that are getting a little droopy. Before your sitter arrives, make sure your pet is okay welcoming people into their home, prepare your house for their stay, and write down any specific care instructions for your pet. Now, rest assured that your pets are in loving hands and enjoy your vacation!
Rather than getting a sitter while you’re gone, you can also take your pet to a boarding kennel, a sort of “hotel” for animals. These facilities provide opportunities for your pet to socialize with other animals and people, while also being a comfortable spot for them to eat, sleep, and play. Since your pet will be around other animals, make sure they are updated on any vaccinations or treatments and let the boarding facility know of any behavioral issues that could arise. You can also leave an unwashed item of clothing with your pet so they can be comforted by your scent while you’re gone.
Accidents can happen anywhere, and a medical emergency can wipe out your savings, especially if you’re overseas. Though we all like to think that could never happen to us, travel insurance is a fairly inexpensive way to get financial coverage in the case that you hurt your back, lose your passport, or have to cancel your trip for other reasons.
When I traveled to Paris with a school group in 2016, two of our chaperones got their passports stolen and the process they had to go through to get back to the US was long and intense. Making handy dandy copies of important documents like your license and passport can help you if you find yourself in a situation like this, ultimately saving the day!
In the unfortunate case that your luggage is lost in transit, having essentials in your carry-on could save you money, time, and lots of frustration. Stuff your carry-on with an extra outfit, your medications, electronics, toiletries like a toothbrush and contact solution, and if you’re headed to somewhere tropical, throw in an extra bathing suit. Once you’re sunbathing on the warm sand, you’ll be glad you were prepared!