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Essential Vacation To-Do List, One Month Before Departure

Updated: Nov 3, 2019

A checklist helping you set yourself and family up for a smooth departure + stress-free travels.

Pinterest photo for essential vacation to-do list one month before departure

Our family is addicted to lists - we’ve found that the formation of a good one frees our minds from trying to remember uninspiring, yet essential, travel to-dos so we can focus on soaking in the goodness of positive anticipation and the actual trip.

Having these lists ensures you don’t spend sleepless nights trying to figure out what essential items you’ve forgotten to pack, and helps you make sure things like work, home and pets are good to go before departure.

This list is focused on tasks that are important to look into about a month before departure. After you check off the to-dos in this one, take at look at these other lists you might find helpful...

When you’re about a month from departure, dive into the following preparatory details of your adventure.

* Click here for a printable checklist.

Book transportation

White van in front of snowy mountain reminding people to book transportation before a trip

If you haven’t already, book your transport to and from the airport, or any other routes you haven’t already procured transportation services for.

Ensure your travel documents are in order

Suitcase, maps, camera, passport and money for organized travel

While you hopefully took care of passport and driver’s license renewals, visa or international driver's license procurement, vaccinations and any other document-related requirements for your destination a few months ago, this is a good time to confirm all your docu-ducks are in order, and organize them in a waterproof folder. We also recommend making a photocopy of these documents.

Print maps

Printed maps in case you don't have internet or cell service on a vacation

If you'll be driving in a destination where you won't have cell service, print or purchase maps of the areas you'll be navigating. Next, store them in the above-mentioned waterproof folder.

Polish your itinerary

Laptop, map and notebooks used to create a travel itinerary

Review your itinerary to make sure it's filled with activities that are still exciting and doable for your family. For support crafting the ideal itinerary for your family, click here. Then...

Ensure all your activities are booked

Man kayaking on lake at sunrise during a family trip

If some of the "maybe" activities on your itinerary have reached "we definitely want to do that" status, book your spots for the desired day and time, if a reservation is required. And to avoid future hiccups, print the confirmations for all activities.

Create a preliminary list of restaurants or markets you’ll want to try

Tomatoes and corn at a farmer's market

You might have taken care of food ideas when you crafted your itinerary, but if not, research eateries or markets you'll want to try. This forethought can seriously simplify "where do we want to eat?" conversations.

Look into childcare options, if applicable

Children playing soccer during a family vacation

If you’ll be on a cruise, or a ski or resort vacation, there will likely be childcare options. If this is something you’ll require, look into whether you need to reserve a spot for the littles ahead of time. For those traveling to a destination that doesn't provide on-site childcare, find a thoroughly vetted child care provider through or (if you'll be abroad.)

Write a packing list

Paper and pen used to create a packing list

The sample packing lists we offer can be used as jumping off points for this task. As you edit them, think through your itinerary and your family’s unique preferences to ensure you bring the essentials. Speaking of essentials, prevent the hassle of can-barely-close luggage by only packing items you’re almost certain will get used.

Begin gathering travel essentials

Backpack, jacket, compass, map, hiking shoes and other essentials for a hiking trip

If your packing list includes specialized items (e.g., snorkeling gear, camping gear, extra camera batteries, travel-size toiletries, etc.) that won't be used before your trip, gather them in one location to facilitate easy packing when the time comes.

Examine luggage needs

Pink suitcase with flowers filled with a woman's clothes for a tropical vacation

Keeping the nature of your trip in mind, check out your family's luggage supply to ensure it will meet the needs of your trip. For example, if you'll be moving around a lot , you'll likely want small luggage with wheels. If you're heading to one location for an extended stay, you may want larger bags. For backpackers (who don't already have a massive backpack), you'll want to head to a sporting goods store where they can help you find a backpack to suit the unique framework of your journey.

Refill all essential prescriptions

Ensure you'll have enough medication, contact lenses, inhaler cartridges, Epi pens or whatever else it is that you need a prescription for by loading up at least a week before departure. If you're worried you'll run out while away, call your care provider to procure a paper prescription you can use while away, or get extras of the items you need. Ideally you'll have enough to get you through an extra week of vacation in case something happens and you're stuck in paradise for longer than expected.

Make necessary arrangements for pets and house care

Pets being watched by a sitter while owner is traveling

If you have pets that need regular care, or would rather not leave your house empty while you’re away, arrange to have a friend stay over, or utilize one of the many house and pet sitter services. Click here for a complete home-prep checklist to go through before you depart.

International Travel

Here are a few extra to-dos for those traveling beyond the borders of their home country.

Learn important phrases

Spanish translation guide being used on a trip to Spain

For those traveling to an area that utilizes a language you're not fluent in, it can be fun and respectable to learn key phrases in that language (and write them down so you don't forget.) For example, Where is the bathroom? Please and thank you. How do we get to...? Can I please order...? are good places to start.

If you'll have access to cell service, download a translator app like "Speak and Translate" to help you with on-the-go translations. (Eric once had a two-hour conversation with a Spanish gentleman using this app.)

Exchange currency

Map, passport and money that will be exchanged during a foreign holiday

If you'll be in an area that doesn't accept credit cards (or charges a large fee for credit card transactions) you'll want to get your hands on the local currency. Research the exchange rate of your needed currency at your local bank, compared to the rate at the airport, and in the area you're going. This research can help ensure you score the best rate.

Before we went to Cuba we discovered that Euros and Canadian dollars had a better exchange rate than USD, so we exchanged a few hundred dollars worth of USD for Euros at our local bank, then exchanged that for CUCs (Cuba's currency for tourists) in Cuba.

* Click here for a printable checklist.

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