4 Less Obvious Things You Should Do Before Your Vacation

Days before our vacation, we’re usually busy getting our work done. If we have time to think of the vacation, we prefer to be researching a tour or two or selecting some restaurants for sunset dinners or just daydreaming about relaxing at the beach.

We often assume that all the logistics of our vacation will go on without a hitch.  Many times that is indeed the case.  That being said, you should spend a few minutes verifying some important details in the days leading up to your flight to paradise. Here are four things you need to do before your vacation.

1.  Verify your flights. In an effort to reduce operating costs, airlines are cutting out flights and modifying schedules. According to Janice at Tripso, the airlines may or may not contact you to inform you of the flight cancellation.  As I cautioned in this post, you should periodically check that your flights are still scheduled. At a minimum, check your flights the day before your trip.  If your flights have been canceled, the sooner you know about it the sooner you can get an alternative plan in place.

2.  Check with your health insurance plan for approved care facilities at your destination. In the unlikely event that you have an accident, you should know where you can go for approved medical care.  I accidentally scratched my cornea on my first trip to Maui. The accident happened on a Sunday and the call center for my health insurance was closed.  I didn’t know where to go, so I went to the most convenient spot, a Doctors on Call urgent care office in Kaanapali.

As it turned out, according to my health plan Doctors on Call were not an approved provider.  According to the health insurance representatives, I should have gone to the emergency room at Maui Memorial Medical Center in Wailuku. I had a minor injury and in the end the insurance company made an exception to cover my costs. Since health insurance is a real pain to deal with, particularly after the fact, it’s best to know in advance their approved service providers.

3.  Call the hotel directly to verify your reservation. Do this at least a day or two before your vacation.  Occasionally I read about lost hotel reservations on Chris Elliott’s blog. (Here’s just one example.)  If something got lost in the reservation process, it’s best that you get the issue resolved before you go rather than show up at the check-in desk with a “I’m sorry. We don’t have a record of your reservation.”

4.  Call your credit card company and let them know when and where you’ll be on vacation. In an effort to stop credit card fraud, card companies will sometimes place a freeze on your card if it considers your activity unusual. Though the credit card company may be sophisticated enough to realize your on vacation, sometimes they’re not.  So, it’s best to pre-empt a freeze by calling the toll-free number on the back of your card and let them know when and where you’ll be on vacation.

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It shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes total to complete these four tasks.  Hopefully you will find that you didn’t need them after all.  In case you do discover a blip, you are in a much better position to resolve the issues days before the trip rather than at the airport or hotel.

Do you have any other less obvious, but important recommendations to add?  Please share them.

4 comments
  1. Great list! Some minor ones to add:

    Get your newspaper and mail held.

    If you have a managed alarm system, you can let them know where to reach you–in case your alarm goes off.

    Make sure you have plenty of prescription medications with you.

  2. Great tips Sheila! I thought that I was on the ball since I did do everything on this list. I checked my flights religiously. Our Miami-LAX flight changed 4x in 7 months, but each time, I received notice from Spirit. . Even with my diligent planning, I neglected to check our interisland flights. Our Maui-Kona flight was scheduled for noon and when I checked online to see if they had online chck-in, I see that they had changed it to 5PM! Way too late for us. So we called to see if we could be changed and they told us that our only option was a 9AM flight. It was past 7AM. We had to quickly pack, return condo keys, fuel up & return car and hightail it to the airport. We made it. But it ticks me off that (I later found out) they had not been flying the noon flight for over a month. How hard can it be to send out a quick form letter to everyone. Even Spirit does that. We would have been stuck at the airport from noon to 5! Not very fun in my opinion.

  3. Here are a few of the more obvious things that you will need to do:

    Get vaccinated. You will need to get vaccinated for a range of diseases to protect the local Hawaii population. There are about 50 shots in all which are administered in stomach and kidney areas of the body. The process takes about four hours and is extremely painful. (Bring something to bite on)

    Don’t forget your passport. If you don’t have your passport you will, not be allowed to board the aircraft.

    You should go to your bank to exchange your money for Hawaiian currency before you arrive, not after. You won’t be able to buy anything until you do this so you should just get it out of the way. Current exchange rate is about 3 Puka Shells to 1 US dollar.

    Just kidding… Don’t worry about that stuff. 😉

  4. @ Andy – great additions.

    @ Lissete – That stinks that your interisland flight was cancelled without notification. Ugg! I’m glad you were able to catch the earlier flight and not have to spend 5 unnecessary hours sitting at the airport.

    @ Dave – Hahaha! I might add to make sure to purchase snake repellent to ward off all the Hawaiian snakes. 😉 What’s sad but true is that I see people asking those very questions about passports, money, etc pretty often.

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