When not to “wing it”
It’s always nice to retain some spontaneity with your travel. However there are some things you shouldn’t leave to the last minute. Here are our tips for what you don’t want to leave too late.
It’s generally recommended you see your doctor a month before you go away. Vaccines need time to work. At a bare minimum you’d want to have any necessary jabs 2 weeks before your trip (This is only intended as general info, not medical advice. This is our general understanding but please consult your medical professional). This information from the CDC is very authoritative about travel health and vaccinations.
Extending your passport or drivers license.
If your passport is going to run out within 6 months of when you plan to enter your last foreign country then extend it before you leave. You should also check that your drivers license isn’t due to expire. Even if you get an international drivers license, your home license must still be valid or the international license isn’t valid. The international license is really just meant as a translation of your home license. Passport extensions in particular can take widely varying amounts of time. I know someone who had to cancel a trip at the last minute last year because their passport didn’t arrive in time. They were gutted. They weren’t able to apply to expedite it after they’d already requested standard processing.
Buying your travel insurance.
Again another sad sorry. We had workmates, a couple, who had a massive trip to Europe planned. The husband got diagnosed with cancer and they had to cancel their trip. Now this story actually had a happy ending – they were initially told it was very likely to be a very bad type of cancer but surprisingly it turned out to be benign. Sometimes people think they’ll just get their travel insurance just before they depart, but if this type of thing happens to you, you’ll lose all your deposits if you have to cancel and you hadn’t purchased your insurance yet. If you aren’t prepaying much, this won’t apply. Our friends were able to go on their big trip a few month later.
Booking if there will be a big event going on, or in seasonal destinations.
Some places get extremely booked out for big events. Rates can be triple or quadruple normal rates during popular event weekends. This really does happen. Rates can also get really astronomical in locations that have a distinct high season, for example, winter weekends in the places that snowbirds tend to go, where the location also gets weekend visitors from a nearby city. Camping accommodation, especially in National Park type facilities, is something else that often needs to be booked months and months in advance. If something is very good value and all the other lodging around it is overpriced or not of a good standard, then expect to need to book extremely early or get very lucky with a last minute cancellation. Many national park or state park systems have online booking these days so there is no excuse for being disorganized!