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Careful Preparation Makes for a Great Vacation

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/24/2006 | Travel
Finally, the time has come that you have decided you either need, deserve or just want to take a vacation. You might be the type of person who quickly throws stuff in a suitcase and caution to the wind. However, most people like to arrange their vacation to make it as worry and trouble free as possible. The key here is planning and organization.

First you should select the type of vacation and its destination. Are you looking for a relaxing time on the beach, an exciting skiing vacation or a thrilling gambling junket to the islands? Once you have narrowed down the type of excursion you have chosen, it is time to do some research. You will want to find the peak time of the year to go for your particular trip along with the best prices on transportation and lodging. You can get the information from your travel agent or do it yourself on the Internet.Then depending on your decision, purchase the airline tickets, schedule the cruise, rent a car or reserve the hotel or campground. Arrange for transportation to and from the airport.

Allow enough time to get your traveling documents in order. For instance, ordering a notarized birth certificate or applying for a passport, visa, international driver's license, travel insurance, etc. Be sure if you will be going as the solitary parent, to obtain a notarized letter of consent from you spouse or ex-spouse that you have the permission to bring the child with you to your destination. However if the other parent is deceased, you may need to present their death certificate. Then again, if you will be leaving your child with a guardian, give him or her a notarized letter allowing them to authorize emergency medical attention. Check to see if any mandatory inoculations are necessary for immunization to travel in the area you are going to be visiting. Verify that your health insurance is up-to-date.

Plan your itinerary because a well-planned itinerary will save you both time and money. For example, if you decide you really want to attend a special festival, concert or other activities while you are away, check out if it will require tickets or reservations and order them before hand. This will avoid arriving to find a long wait or the activity is sold out. Do not overload your schedule. See how long it will realistically take to get from place to place. What is the best way to get there? How long will you stay? Realize there will be delays caused by weather, transportation and possibly health issues.

You will want to make sure you have everything at home tended to while you are away. You will need someone to take care of your pets, plants and trim the lawn. You may wish to hire a house or pet sitter. Otherwise, you will have to arrange to have your pet boarded, the mail held at the Post Office and deliveries like the newspaper and bottled water temporarily stopped. Make sure that you supply your house sitter with a key and the alarm code to the house. Provide instructions for taking care of your pets. Also make a list of emergency phone numbers they might need, such as, the veterinary, police, fire department, alarm company and where you will be staying.

Shortly before you leave, make sure you have your prescriptions refilled. Pay any upcoming bills. Shop for things you will need to bring with you. Give yourself plenty of time to pack your luggage so you will not forget anything. Advise your alarm company and police department of the time you will be gone. Put lights and maybe a radio on timers so it looks and sounds like someone is home. Throw out anything in the refrigerator that will spoil. Make sure to have the credit cards, travelers checks, cash or foreign currency, reservation confirmations and traveling documents you will need.

Right before you depart on vacation, shut off all electrical appliances and unplug televisions and computers. Depending on the season, raise or lower the heat and air conditioning. Take out the garbage. Shut off the water to your washing machine and outside faucets. Check with the airline to confirm your flight is on schedule. Lock up the house and car. Get ready to have a fantastic vacation knowing everything has been taken care of due to your careful preparation.