You really can go on vacation for 2 months. Here’s how


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Whether you’re planning a road trip across America or want to visit family on the other side of the country, long trips take a lot of planning. 

What’s the safest way to leave your home? Who will look after your pets? How do you budget for a trip that lasts weeks or months?

These are all questions that people going on their first long trip often ask, and it’s all too easy to forget something essential. 

In this post, we’ve asked some experts for their top tips for planning a stress-free long trip. From budgeting to a full packing list, we’ve got you covered. 

How to Prepare for a Long Trip

If you’re planning an extended trip for a few weeks or more, here is everything you need to prepare. 

What To Do With Your Home Before Going Away

When you’re going on a long trip for more than just a couple of weeks, there are some things you need to do to prepare your house:

  • Make sure your bills are paid and up to date
  • Freeze any food that will spoil
  • Water indoor plants and set up self-watering
  • Unplug all electronics
  • Check the burglar alarm is working
  • Check all the smoke detectors
  • Close all blinds and lock all windows
  • Do a deep clean and take out the trash

“When we spend a lot of time at home, it’s easy to spot when pests pop up. But going away on a long trip means that certain pests might invade our homes and go unchecked for extended periods. It’s always best to get an exterminator out to check your home before taking a long trip, just to be safe.” – Gulshan at Pest Keen

Prep your vehicle

If you’re planning a road trip, that can put a lot of strain on your vehicle, especially if it’s not used to long journeys. Before you head off, here are a few checks you can do to make sure your car is ready for the trip:

  • Top up your water, engine oil, brake fluid, and antifreeze, so you don’t run out mid-trip. 
  • Check your tires are in good condition and have enough air. 
  • Replace your brake pads if they’re worn out. 
  • Check all your lights are working – you might need a buddy to help with this one. 
  • Pack an emergency kit to store in the car, including food, water, blankets, jump leads, and a first aid kit. 
  • Make sure your insurance and breakdown coverage is up to date.  

You can’t prevent a breakdown from happening but doing these quick and easy checks beforehand help prevent your car from having any major issues on the road. 

Planning Ahead: Flights and Accommodations

Don’t leave booking flights and accommodations to the last minute – it’s added stress, and you’ll end up overpaying. 

By booking in advance, you can take advantage of better deals and can spend time choosing the very best accommodation in the area. 

“If you’re planning a trip to Florida, there is so much to do and see. From the theme parks to the pristine beaches, you’ll want to make sure you plan your accommodation in advance to be close to the action. In the summertime, hotels fill up quickly, so the earlier you can plan your trip, the better.” – Josh from That Florida Life

Learn all you can about the place you’re visiting

No matter where you’re going, there will be some hidden gems worth exploring. But if you don’t learn about the area in advance, you’ll miss out on some of the best little-known experiences. 

If you like to stay off the tourist path and want to get to know a place on a deeper level, learn all you can about the place before you even leave home. This will give you a better understanding of where to go when you’re there and will help you pack in much more sightseeing than normal. 

Make sure you have fun activities for the trip

If you’re planning a road trip across the country, think about planning a hike or bike ride along the way. Or, if you’re planning on visiting the coast, see if you can go snorkeling or kayaking on your trip. 

It’s tempting to go with the flow and see what’s available when you arrive, but you’ll get much more out of your trip by planning activities like these in advance. 

Many of the popular tours, events, and excursions in almost any city book up weeks in advance, so it’ll be tough to do things on the fly. 

Take regular breaks

Long trips are exhausting, no matter how much fun you have along the way. Even if you think you can cope with eight hours of driving a day, you can’t. Plan regular breaks and get some decent rest along the way. 

This might mean finding motels on your route or booking into a local Airbnb to get a good night’s sleep on your road trip. 

Nothing spoils a trip more than feeling tired and cranky, so these breaks will make the world of difference. 

Packing Essentials: Must-Haves

For long trips, there are a few essentials you need to pack, including:

  • License, registration, and insurance information
  • A map (phones die, but you always have a map)
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Large water bottles
  • Toilet roll
  • A camera and binoculars
  • An extra phone charger and power bank
  • Blankets
  • Comfortable clothes and shoes
  • Travel pillow
  • Snacks

Obviously, you’ll be packing a lot more than this for your trip – but these are the essentials that often get forgotten about and are sorely missed on the road. 

Staying Healthy On-the-Go: Food and Exercise

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of living on fast food and barely moving on a long trip, especially one that involves a lot of driving. But this will just leave you feeling sluggish and frustrated – who wants that on a long trip?

Before you set off, prepare healthy snacks and lunches, so you don’t have to rely on gas station food and fast food joints on your journey. And schedule regular stops to stretch and do some walking. 

No matter where you’re planning on going, there are thousands of amazing walking trails across the US that have some breathtaking views. You probably won’t get a chance to walk them again, so why not get a little exercise and explore on your way??

Making Sure your Pets are Taken Care of

If you plan on taking your dog with you on your trip, you need to do some serious planning in advance. They’ll need enough food for the journey, access to water regularly, and a comfy spot to sleep. 

Not to mention they’ll need regular pee breaks and walks to stretch their legs. Dogs can be great companions on road trips, but they can’t tell us when they’re hungry or in need of the toilet, so we need to be extra aware of their moods on long trips. 

“Not all dogs do well on long journeys, and some will even get car sick. If your dog hasn’t taken a long trip before, take them out for regular car trips before you go to get them used to the car. Make sure to take plenty of treats and offer them water frequently to keep them happy campers.” – Megan from Good Dog Swag

Keeping Connected: Technology and Communication

Technology helps keep us connected and safe on long trips, so make sure you have everything you need in advance:

  • Your phone, a charger, and a backup charger
  • A power bank (if you can’t charge your phone in your car)
  • A GPS system to plan your route
  • The What3Words app (which will give you your exact location in case of an emergency)
  • A radio (just in case your phone dies or breaks)

Someone close to you should know that you’re planning a long trip and the route you plan to take. You should also have regular check-ins, so they know you’re safe and on track. 

This way, if something should go wrong, your contact has a rough idea of where you are and where you should be heading. If you’ve broken down or had an accident, this will make it much easier for emergency services to find you. 

Financing Your Trip: Budgeting Tips

When you plan on being away for weeks or months at a time, a budget is essential. The last thing you want is to run out of money midway through your trip. 

Start by working out all of your pre-travel expenses, including your insurance, car repairs, gear, vaccinations, etc. 

Next, think about your big expenses, such as hotels, Airbnb, excursions, etc. 

After that, think about how much you’ll spend on daily expenses, such as food and fuel. 

Finally, always have an emergency budget set aside that you only use in emergencies. 

It’s impossible to see the future and plan a budget for every expense of a long trip, but the more you can plan in advance, the easier it will be to save money along the way. 

Keep This In Mind If Traveling With Your Partner

If your trip involves you and your partner, be prepared to argue. Long trips mean spending a lot more time together in incredibly close quarters, and you are bound to rub each other up the wrong way. 

Have a conversation in advance about your expectations for the trip, and how you will handle disagreements. Arguing on a long trip is totally normal, but having some coping mechanisms ready will make it much easier to reconcile and move on. 

“Long trips can be a strain on couples, no matter how much fun they have. But communication is key. The more you can openly share your feelings and receive any feedback from your partner, the smoother your trip will go. Remember, this is a unique experience and opportunity to make lasting memories together – make the most of it.” – Sira from The Truly Charming

Make Your Long Trip Memorable

The key to making a long trip stress-free is planning. The more you can plan in advance, the less that can go wrong on your trip. 

From packing essentials to planning your route, take the time to make plans covering everything on your trip to give you the confidence to set off for weeks or months at a time. 

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

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50 slick deals & freebies for travelers

50 slick deals & freebies for travelers

There’s the cost of the travel itself, plus meals, souvenirs and all those hidden expenses that pop up. The price tag amps up even more if you have any disruptions — unless you’re saved by travel insurance

Whether you’re planning a road trip, flying somewhere new or setting sail on a cruise, your wallet will thank you for any savings you can find. Here are some deals and freebies you can take advantage of while you’re out exploring new places.

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This is one of the remaining free things you can get on a flight. Each airline has their own offerings, from granola bars and chips to nuts and pretzels. You may even be able to get one of each, if you ask nicely.

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DoubleTree hotels offer guests a free warm chocolate chip cookie at check-in.

Lydia Castro

Traveling solo can be expensive — but traveling with a family is even more so (obviously). You can negate some of those expenses by making smart travel decisions, like staying at a Holiday Inn, where kids always eat free, or visiting restaurants like Denny’s, Chick-fil-A or Applebees, which all offer kids-eat-free days and hours.

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Although more hotels are starting to charge for this amenity, you can still find hotels with free breakfast. 

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In addition to free packets or pods of Joe in your room, many hotels provide free coffee and tea in the lobby.

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Instead of just the cup, some flight attendants will give you the whole can if you ask.

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Instead of paying for a new water bottle at the airport, bring an empty reusable bottle and fill it at a fountain or filling station. Some cruise lines provide complimentary water bottles to guests. For example, frequent Carnival cruisers (VIFP status of Red or higher) get a one liter bottle delivered directly to their stateroom. 

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Kimpton Hotels host a nightly happy hour where guests can enjoy a nice glass of local wine at the end of their day. Check to see if your hotel offers something like this.

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Want to get a (literal) taste of wherever you’re visiting? Check out a farmers market and try out the locally grown or made items. In fact, we have a guide on the must visit farmers market in each state. Sure, you’ll have to spend some money to buy any fresh produce or bread, but there could be free samples involved.

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Not sure which places are worth visiting at your destination? Confused by the public transportation? Ask your hotel concierge for free insider tips.

Want money tips? We have ’em in our weekly newsletter.

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Consider this a freebie and a travel hack: Furnished in case you need dry-cleaning on site, the oft-free laundry bags in many rooms are a perfect thing to use to repack dirty clothes.

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When you get in your hotel room, check the desk and you’re bound to find a hotel-branded pen. Now you can write a postcard to those who aren’t traveling with you. In fact…

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At that same desk, you may find a hotel-branded postcard. Now all you need is a stamp, but that part doesn’t come free.

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It won’t be your fancy, soft-bristle toothbrush with deep-cleaning action, but many hotels offer free toothbrushes if you forgot to pack your own.

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Think the sample size you get at your six-month dental visits.

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Leave your TSA-friendly bottles at home, as most hotels provide sample size versions of shampoo, conditioner, soap and sometimes even mouthwash. There may even be vanity kits or shower caps waiting for you in your room, too. 

Buying miniature bottles for all your toiletries can get pricey — here are some travel-saving hacks to mitigate the cost. 

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Hair dryers are standard equipment in hotel rooms and cruise cabins, so save yourself the luggage space and use the free one in your room.

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Most hotels won’t let you take the robe home without incurring a fee, but it’s free to use during your stay. Check with the front desk to see if the slippers are meant for you to keep. 

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Unexpected downpour? Many hotels provide umbrellas for you to use in case this happens. Check the closet in your room or with the front desk to get one.

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Reading the morning paper over coffee is one of life’s simple pleasures, and at many hotels, you can have your pick of the day’s papers for free.

Prefer digital copies? They don’t have to be pricey. Check out this list of newspaper subscription deals.

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Skip the expensive airport bookstores and borrow a library book ahead of your trip to read on the flight or in your lounger. More of a Kindle reader? Most library cards can get you free ebook and audiobook downloads, too. Amazon Prime members also get a free digital book every month.

Want more perks from Amazon? Check out these 39 Amazon freebies, discounts and deals

Finish your books and need to download another? Free internet is an increasingly popular travel perk. Most airports let you log on free of charge as do many hotel chains, at least in the lobby. JetBlue, for example, offers free Wi-Fi to all passengers, while other carriers let their branded credit card holders skip the charge.

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Need to check in back home? You can make voice calls, even international ones, for free as long as you’re connected to Wi-Fi using apps like Skype or WhatsApp. As long as your phone is connected to the internet and you’re both using the same app, calls are free. 

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Some airlines offer free headphones for longer flights, which can be a lifesaver if you forgot yours. This usually varies by airline and, often, which section of the plane you’re on.

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Most hotels now lend spare phone chargers to guests. You can’t take the device home, but you can avoid having to buy a new one to stay connected while away.

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At more exclusive properties, you may be able to borrow electronics like iPads and GoPros at no extra cost. Check your hotel’s list of amenities to see what’s available.

Check community listings at your destination for any free outdoor movies at the park. Some airports, like Portland International Airport, show free movies for stranded passengers. Delta offers free in-flight flicks on newer planes, too. 

This is a great perk while traveling, especially because a traditional theater experience doesn’t come cheap. Here’s why going to the movies is so expensive.  

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You can get things like jewelry, candy or alcohol tax-free simply by visiting duty free shops at the airport or when you’re on international waters on a cruise.

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Take part in the fun activities onboard and you could win free stuff. On past cruises, I’ve scored everything from free, full-size bottles of champagne to ship-specific trophies, which make for a nice, free souvenir. 

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This isn’t exactly a free item, but it is a savings. Check for hidden fees — think hotel, airline, cruise or resort fees — as these can make a significant difference in the total cost of your stay.  Here’s what you need to know about resort fees and how to avoid them.

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Sure you can use a map on your phone, but what if you’re in a dead zone? Most hotels offer maps, and you can also find them at tourist boards. Plus, a lot of tourist-friendly maps note where the must-see destinations in town are. While we’re talking about things to do…

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There are plenty of public (ahem, free) beaches to check out at just about any vacation destination, even in landlocked states. Refer to this guide of the must visit beaches in every state for ideas.


If your vacation coincides with one of the National Park Service’s four fee-free days each year, you can get into a participating national park gratis. In 2020, fee-free days include National Public Lands Day on Sept. 26 and Veterans Day on Nov. 11

Many famous museums, like the Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art, often have free or pay what you wish days. Here are some museums that offer free admission


Same goes for zoos, like the Bronx Zoo, which has free general admission on Wednesdays.

All that new food is delicious, but it can take a toll on your health. Getting in a workout doesn’t have to cost anything. If you plan accordingly, some hotels (like Kimpton) offer complimentary fitness classes for their guests. If yours doesn’t offer a class, most hotels and cruise ships offer free access to on-site or partnering gyms.

Apps like Google’s Field Trip, Roadtrippers and Rick Steves Audio Europe all offer audio tours that you can download for free, so you can get insider tips and history without paying for an expensive tour.

Sometimes it pays to not be a local. Stores, like the Macy’s in Herald Square in New York City, give discounts to anyone with an out of town driver’s license.

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You don’t have to spend money on an app or other tool to help you budget for an upcoming vacation — just download this free vacation budgeting spreadsheet and personalize it to fit your trip. 

It never hurts to ask for an upgrade, whether it’s on a flight, a car rental, a cruise or at your hotel.

You can earn these miles when you fly, but you could earn even more with a travel rewards credit card. These cards often multiply the points you earn per dollar spent on travel-related purchases, like flights, hotels and transportation. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to book your next vacation with miles alone. 

Here are more tips for getting the most out of your rewards points.

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You’ve got a few options here — there are airlines, like Southwest, that don’t charge for bags. If you frequent a different airline, aiming for elite status can come with perks like free checked bags, or you can get an airline-branded credit card. Often times, cardholders score free checked bags, which, if you fly on a regular basis, could be worth any annual fees that come with the card.

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Dozens of airports now make therapy dogs available to help passengers de-stress. Check your airport’s website for details.

You may not need to shell out cash for insurance if you rent a car. Check the fine print that comes with your credit card to see if this is one of the free perks you get for being a cardholder.

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If you’re renting a car or driving to your destination, try to find a hotel that offers free parking. After all, who wants to blow their travel budget on a spot to leave their car?

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Not driving? You don’t necessarily have to pay for an Uber or Lyft. Many hotels — even ones that aren’t a hop, skip and a jump away — have shuttles to bring their guests to and from the airport. Luxury hotels sometimes offer a comped car service.

Not staying at a hotel with a shuttle service? Here are six ways you could save on your ride-share service


There are a lot of free public transportation options in bigger cities, especially when you travel abroad. Check online before you head to your destination (or ask the concierge when you’re there) to see if you can hop aboard a bus, light rail or other public transit at no cost.

Rather get some exercise while you’re out exploring? Many hotels and resorts have their own bike-sharing programs so guests can take in local sites and scenery. Ask at check-in if you have access to free rent-a-wheels.

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Look for travel deals related to the season or upcoming holidays. Check out these 50 free things you can get this spring.


Stay with a friend or relative to save some travel costs. Don’t know anyone where you’re going? Consider house or pet sitting in exchange for a place to stay.

This article originally appeared on Policygenius and was syndicated by

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