6 MONTHS AHEAD
Confirm financial feasibility
Announce intent to boss/colleague to confirm time off
Make childcare arrangements
Buy travel insurance-medical, baggage, interruption and cancellation
Start researching details: entry/travel visa requirements, vaccinations, Must Do/Sees, hotel info (elevator/stairs, breakfast included, bedding/bathroom features, location in relation to transport and major sites), transportation details (bus/plane/train boat- amenities included and not included), weather, local customs, currency, safety, baggage allowance etc .
Resources: Lonely Planet, Frommer’s, Trip Advisor, various online and book sources, travel agent/tour operator, fellow travellers
4 MONTHS AHEAD
Get any required vaccinations or medications. Research yourself or visit a special travel clinic ($$).
Do this well in advance! Involves 2 or 3 medical office visits plus a pharmacy pick up, as you may first need to be tested for immunology from past immunizations i.e. hepatitis, and sometimes pharmacies experience delays in obtaining certain vaccines.
Tip: keep a detailed record of your immunizations as many require boosters at intervals or expire all together after a length of time. Ask your doctor or public health for a vaccination record book, or make your own- record type of vaccination, booster/full dose, date and any reactions noted.
Your detailed itinerary should be well drafted by now.
Confirm your passport will meet requirements- many countries require at least 6 months remaining before expiry.
Cement arrangement for your spending money while on the trip.
2 MONTHS AHEAD
Draft Pack List based on itinerary, accommodations, weather, baggage allowance, transportation logistics, personal discipline and back strength. Ensure you have your bags chosen by now and that they are in good condition. I recommend Carry-ons ONLY- it’s too hard lugging around suitcases and airlines habitually lose luggage. Any bags you are not carrying on your back, waist, or arm should have wheels.
Start accumulating detailed Pack List.
Plan house/car/pet-sitting arrangements
1 MONTH AHEAD
Obtain travel visa/entry requirements. This generally takes a week or two but I live in proximity to all major foreign embassies- give yourself a month or 6 weeks leeway.
Make 2 copies of passport, tickets, itinerary and trip contact information. Originals stay on your person, 1 copy goes in bag in case of emergency, second copy stays with your emergency contact back home. Scan another copy and email yourself so you can get it on the road if needed.
Plan dates for any household work (close pool, order firewood, oil change) that should be done before you go, your Test Pack, and any beauty /grooming appts (hair cut, tanning etc).
Notify your bank and credit card company that you will be travelling- dates and locations so they don’t put a hold on your account when you are trying to book a boat cruise in Laos--bummer!
Order foreign currency from your bank if you will be bringing some. Banks generally carry USD but even Euros can take a couple weeks to get. I bring foreign currency and my bank card and VISA, knowing many places will accept only cash.
2 WEEKS AHEAD
Do a Test Pack- all items on your list get packed and you carry it around wearing all the clothes you are travelling in on the day. Allow a wide open area, at least 2 uninterrupted hours, coffee and a strong drink for this frustrating activity. Take notes of everything you missed on your list and need to buy. Keep everything packed if possible as you fill in the blanks approaching Departure. Put away the 50% over pack and resign yourself to wearing the same underwear 4 times.
Make rounds to visit friends and family who all want to see you before you go.
Cement designates and work plans/deliverables for execution in your absence
Arrange to pre-pay any bills etc that will be coming in while away
Prepare and test any electronics: virus scan, defrag, updates, charging, download books, movies, apps and music
Start panicking about everything left to do!
1 WEEK AHEAD
Meet with boss and team for pre-departure checkpoint- review work plans/deliverables
Start popping vitamins and Airborne in earnest to build immunity.
Secure rides to airport if required
Confirm car/house/pet-sitting arrangements
Give copies of itinerary, contact info etc to emergency contact
Start losing sleep with excitement!
All beauty/grooming routines completed
Out of office email and voicemail messages ON
Confirm departure times and arrival location weather
Bags in car or next to door for departure
Book taxi for departure if needed
Set 2 alarms! Not that you’ll sleep a wink…
DAY OF DEPARTURE
Turn off all unnecessary household power requirements/ reset household routines (reprogram thermostats, security systems etc.)
Chuck any food in fridge that will expire and empty all trash cans (ever come back to fish scraps that have been poaching in a 30C garbage can for 2 weeks??? -------NASTY!)
Last minute prep of house /car /pet for sitter
Enjoy the journey!