Yikes, I need to organise a month-long trip overnight as my husband was offered an opportunity in Europe for 6 weeks. We were about to have school holidays for 3 weeks. It would be silly not to go right? Or rather, shame to waste this opportunity to experience some European summer! With my husband leaving at the end of the week I needed to get moving and lock in details if I was using the corporate travel center to help with our booking. That means I needed to move quickly. Overnight kind of quickly. Thank goodness for technology and the internet.
Checklist for a quick trip
- Valid passports. Does everyone have at least 6 months on their passports?
- Where is the luggage? Do we have locks and are all zippers functioning.
- Confirm flights and transfers to and from the airport. Given we will be away for a month-long trip, we decided to take our time and have a stop-over on the way with 3 days in Singapore to see friends and some sights.
- Verify accommodation – it will fit all of us.
- Visas – check if visas are required and to where.
What to organise at home
- Our dog or any pets you have? I need a dog sitter. T
- The house and the plants. I need a house sitter and plant watering helper.
- Mail – to be redirected? Or can my house sitter help out?
- Notification to the school. I need to send them a note advising them about our month-long trip.
- Let the family know we will be away for a month-long trip and how to contact us.
Don’t forget the doozey
- Ooops, that doozey we all forget – travel insurance!
- Contact my Health Insurance. Vaccinations – do you need any for where you are going?
- Notify the bank – yes there will be activity in Europe. Do we have enough cash for the period we are away? What will the daily budget be?
- Create a packing list – this is a great way to ensure you don’t forget anything.
- Back to school – is there anything you can do now to be ready when you return? Are the kids returning to school in the same uniform or has the season changed?
- What time do you get back? It might be worth asking the house sitter to do a quick shop before your return of at least eggs, bread and milk to ensure if you haven’t eaten and it is late, you can fix something.
- House keys. Where are you leaving them or where are you packing them?
Click here for a printable checklist
The next phase, the research phase
I have all the necessary arrangements lined up I can start with some investigation. I work in project management so data is something I deal with all the time. Whilst I don’t necessarily need to book and plan everything I do like to be informed as to what my options are. Or is it because I have a panic at the thought of wasting a single minute.
I revisit our accommodation and ask the following questions:
- Does it have the amenities we need?
- Kitchenette – I don’t like eating out all the time and nor do the kids cope with it.
- Storage? Is there cupboard space?
- What about laundry facilities?
- Are there parks nearby?
- Can I organize some of the colleagues to have a park date with their children?
I revisit the packing list after asking these additional questions:
- What is the weather? Do we need cold weather gear? Activities that we are we likely to do and what needs to be packed for these.
Now I can start to learn about where we are staying and what is nearby.
- Is a trip to Paris possible? (if in Europe, why not huh?)
- What is a quick weekend away and what could we do over a longer weekend?
- Are there and museums and art galleries worth seeing? How many points of interest are there that would suit our likes and interests?
- What safety concerns are there? I use a couple of apps/sites for this. Triplingo gives you some emergency phrases. I use Tripcase for storing all my itinerary details mainly because I like the interface. If you demand more and want more interface Tripit is possibly more highly recommended. Safety Map Worldwide gives you a rating of various areas around the world. I haven’t used this one, but conceptually it seems pretty cool.
- In addition to apps. I make sure I am aware of the Embassy address and details and ensure I have researched this prior to departure. You could need this at the airport so it pays to be prepared.
- I ensure I am aware of the emergency contact number of the country I am in. This information should be readily available for tourists as they arrive.
- Try this app for left of center experiences, something the other tourists are not doing. Sometimes tourist trap after tourist trap drive me mad. Click here for more.
- Field Trip is a great app that aims to bring cool stuff around you to your attention. It is a Google map app that you never thought you would need. Click here to download it.
What to do next
Once you have worked through the check list and understood more about where you are going, you will need to actually pack. Going for a month means you do not need to have something for every occasion. Pack clothes and outfits that complement each other – you will be able to wear things with much greater versatility if you pack the same tones. For the kids, I pack what fits. Heaven knows they will most likely grow out of those on the plane!
Pack two pairs of shoes. One walking shoe and one more formal shoe. If my husband has a dinner or an event, I will just buy something. The chances of booking babysitting while we are away is unlikely, but in the case it arises, I chose to take the extra expense and gain room in my suitcase rather than carry around an outfit I am unlikely to wear.
I tend to pack and leave it for a day then take it all out and loose a few outfits. My bags are always packed with too much and even when I remove ‘stuff’ I am always left not wearing everything I have packed.
Using an on-board bag that becomes an admin center for when I am travelling, is merely a sensible decision as the master mind of our family trips. Here lies the tickets, passports, tour vouchers, accommodation details, transfer details, insurance details, chargers, phones, laptop, medications and prescriptions. This of course means I also become the family pack horse with all the necessary information at my fingertips. If there is a bag that is never forgotten or left anywhere – it is this one. At the end of the day if we arrive with no luggage – we have this bag and the wonderful opportunity to experience a different culture for a month-long trip?
Once you have completed all of this, dress in comfy clothes and be ready for the transfer for the airport.