Need a vacation, but feel like planning one is more stress than it's worth? A little pre-travel organization will de-clutter your mind, and allow you to focus on the fun that is soon to come.

1. Choose where to go.
With a world of locations to choose from, deciding your destination can be daunting. Narrow down your list by considering your budget and time allowances, and consulting websites such as Orbitz, Travelocity, and Kayak for ideas. Most aggregate travel websites offer package deals that will save you money and enable you to book a flight, hotel, car, and even activities with a few clicks of the mouse.

2. Plan how to get there.
Once you've chosen a destination, plan your transportation from doorstep to hotel. If you're driving to the airport, be sure to either arrange for a ride or secure long-term parking. Confirm transportation to and from your hotel; most hotels provide complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport. If shuttle service isn't provided, ask the concierge to recommend a reliable car service. Public transportation may be an affordable option if you travel light.

3. Know what to pack.
Now that you know where you're going and how you'll get there, you face the task of packing. To ensure that you haven't forgotten something and to simplify your tasks, try making a packing list that contains the following:

  • Travel Documents and Money
  • Clothes and Accessories
  • Electronics and Gadgets
  • Toiletries and Health
  • Other Necessities (ex. guidebooks, travel pillow, gum)

Remember to pack extra toiletries, a change of clothes, and any valuables in your carry-on in the event that your checked baggage is lost or delayed.

4. Make important calls.
Before leaving for your trip, call your cell phone provider to see if you'll incur any roaming charges if you use your phone while you're away. If you'll be in a roaming zone, consider buying a pre-paid phone or calling card. Be sure to leave the number of your hotel or temporary phone with a friend or family member at home if you plan to be unreachable at your usual number. That way, they can contact you in the event of an emergency.

It's also a good idea to call your credit card company. Confirm that your card will be accepted at your destination and notify them that charges may be made from a different location. For example, if you live in Iowa and try to use your credit card in Switzerland, most credit card companies will consider this suspicious activity and freeze your line of credit until they've confirmed that you've authorized the charge. Avoid this inconvenience by contacting the credit card company prior to your trip and requesting that they add a note to your account stating that you'll be traveling.

5. Prepare for traveling abroad.
If you're traveling to another country, be sure that your passport is current, you've received all necessary vaccinations, and are carrying either a credit card, traveler's checks or local currency. If you're traveling to a country where you're unfamiliar with the native language, a language dictionary and guidebook are two helpful items to carry at all times. Finally, think ahead by purchasing electrical adaptors for small appliances (such as cell phone chargers) before you leave for your trip.

6. Don't forget about your pet.
If your pet will be traveling with you, be sure you've made arrangements with your airline and that your accommodations are pet-friendly. If your pet will be staying home, find a reliable pet sitter and a backup or a boarding facility.

7. Check before you leave the house.
Check each room to make sure that you've turned off or unplugged all appliances and locked all windows and doors. If you have plants that will need to be watered or mail that will need to be picked up, be sure to make arrangements with a friend or family member. Leave a spare house key with someone you trust, in case of emergency.

8. There's an app for that!
Stay organized and stress-free during your trip by keeping all your information in one place. Travel apps including Trip It and Globejot are helpful organizational tools.