Yesterday (June 20th) was the first day of summer for those of us in the northern hemisphere. I, for one, am very happy about the start of summer. The days are longer and there are so many fun things to do, like taking road trips and long weekends at the beach. I’m really looking forward to sharing new experiences with my husband and 5-month-old. Planning ahead will be even more important for us since we are now traveling together as a trio.
To make sure your summer travel plans go off (mostly) without a hitch, follow these simple steps:
Figure out everyone’s schedules
Whether you’re taking a weekend trip with your girlfriends or heading off to a week-long family vacation to Epcot, it’s important to know when everyone’s available. This may sound obvious, but it is essential and perhaps the most challenging part of planning. Get this information as early as you can and find out if there’s any flexibility with dates (just in case one or two people are not available when everyone else is). Sites like WhenIsGood.net and Doodle.com can help easily coordinate this task. Once you know when everyone has time off, you can pick a date and then you will need to…
Decide where you’ll go
Once the vacation dates are selected, figure out where you’ll go. Will you be taking your annual trip to your favorite destination or will you go some place new? Are white, sandy beaches on your mind? Or, would you prefer something more active (like a hiking vacation)? Once everyone agrees on the location, do a little research to find out if there are any special events that you’d like to attend, and add them to your calendar.
Decide who will do what
Who will be responsible for making the flight and hotel reservations? Or, will everyone handle their own arrangements? If you’re taking a road trip, figure out if you’ll drive to your destination together or if everyone will drive their own car. If you’re carpooling, do you need to rent a larger vehicle and who will handle that? Who will bring the snacks and drinks?
Decide how to take care of trip expenses
When traveling with a group, it’s important to discuss how the trip will be paid for before you travel or make reservations. Will one person pay and then get reimbursed? When will he/she get reimbursed? Who will pay for gas and snacks? Do you want to reimburse exact amounts or do you think it will all “even out in the wash?”
Decide what to bring with you
The last time I took a road trip, I brought the world with me. Since I would be on the road for eight hours, I wanted to have everything I could possibly need at my fingertips. When you’re driving with a child and dog in the car for more than an hour, you really don’t want any surprises. As it turned out, I didn’t use half of what I packed. But, now I have a better idea of what I will use the most and this will help me when it’s time for our next adventure.
Here are some things that will be helpful to have on hand (depending on your specific circumstances):
- First aid kit
- GPS and/or paper map
- Paper money and coins (for tolls, snacks)
- Cell phone and charger
- Sun screen or sun block
- Books, magazines, or Kindle
- Baby gear, if you have a baby
- Children’s games and music, if you have children
No matter where you decide to go this summer, put a few plans in place first. Planning may not seem like fun, but thinking things through ahead of time will make the trip less stressful.