The ultimate step-by-step guide to plan the perfect Spring Break getaway

Sara Mathew·

Somehow it’s already February, which is just crazy, but it also means that Spring Break is right around the corner! Regular vacation planning can get overwhelming quickly, but with added travel restrictions, changing mandates and antsy kids, figuring out how to manage time feels even harder than normal. Arrange is making it easy for you to plan a stress-free getaway for your family. Use this checklist to get prepared and avoid travel calamities - like realizing you forgot your passport when you get to the airport - and you’ll be able to create an unforgettable family trip.

Pre-Planning: Check On the Basics

Task 1: Confirm travel dates (~15 min)

Before you get started on any of the fun planning, make sure you know exactly what days your kids are out of school. Make sure all requests for PTO necessary are made as soon as possible and move or cancel any regular lessons, or after school programs for that week.

Tip: When using Arrange reminders, set this plan’s event date to the first date of your trip.

Passport & calendar
Check your passports to make sure you have at least 6 months between travel and expiration.

Task 2: Check the expiration on your travel docs & memberships (~30 min)

For the last 18 months many of us haven’t had much use for our passports or airport memberships. Do a quick check of your family's passport to see if any are set to expire within 3 months. If so, this may limit your options to domestic travel. TSA, CLEAR and global entry are much easier to renew in a tighter time frame.

Tip: If you don’t already have TSA Pre-check, global entry or CLEAR, check your credit card rewards as many of them cover these costs. Check Here

Planning an Awesome Adventure: The Bulk of the Work

Couple looking at map
Decide what sort of vacation you want to have and then find the best place that's in budget and open to travel.

Task 3: Decide where you’re going (~60 min)

Picking the perfect place is one of the most daunting tasks on the list because of how many options there are. Think about what kind of activities your family likes to do together. If your family loves going camping or on hikes every weekend, an all inclusive beach vacation may not be the best idea. On the other hand a vacation to the adventurous rainforests of Costa Rica might just be a great choice. Tailor your choice to your family for best results. If you’re struggling for ideas, check out this list for inspiration.

Check if your destination has any covid restrictions or requirements. If you need to get a test prior to leaving or coming back home, make appointments asap or order approved at home tests. For some testing centers you won’t be able to make a reservation until a few days before, so make sure to set a reminder.

Tip: Include your family in making this decision. This will help to get everyone excited about the upcoming trip!

Sign post on a beach

Task 4: Choose your accommodations (~60 min)

Once you’ve decided on what type of trip you’re taking this should be a lot easier. If you’re planning to spend most of your vacation poolside or by the beach, an all inclusive resort with dedicated kids programs would give you the chance to get some relaxation too. If you’re exploring a city, a vacation rental through airbnb or vrbo could give you more room and the flexibility to make some of your own meals (and potentially save some money). An aggregator like Google’s hotel finder can help you compare your options.

Tip: Booking directly with hotels will often get you the best deal and perks along with earning valuable hotel points.

Woman making travel plans
Compare at least 2 sites for best pricing

Task 5: Make travel reservations (~60 min)

This might mean booking airline tickets, or renting a car depending on your destination. Whichever option you choose, make sure you compare prices but don’t wait too long to book as Spring Break prices get higher the closer we get to mid-March. If you aren’t ready to purchase your tickets quite yet, track your flights via google flights or hopper to make sure you catch any dips in the price.

Tip: Sign up for discount travel sites like Scott’s Cheap Flights to keep your eye on affordable travel. You’ll get alerts when there are great deals from your local airport and you might even be able to go to a destination you didn’t think was within your price range!

Task 6: Plan your itinerary (~60-90 min)

Once you know your destination, dates, and travel companions, the most fun and time intensive part of the process begins. Check out Arrange’s other plans if you’re planning a roadtrip, a ski trip or traveling by air. If you don’t know where to start your research, the easiest place is google. Simply type in “insert destination” travel guide or family friendly guide and usually a few different options will populate. Don’t get overwhelmed. The first 2 or 3 should give you a good sense of activities, food and local culture. Vistacity and Lonely Planet are great resources. Try to book all your activities in advance so you have nothing to worry about once your vacation has begun. If you’re a hyper organized person, it might help to create a spreadsheet with all the activities, times and costs so you can easily keep track!

Tip: Tripadvisor forums are a wealth of knowledge that tends to be the most up to date and driven by answers from locals or people who have recently visited. You can ask a question or search through the thousands that have been asked and answered.

Reserved sign on dining table
Make dinner reservations in advance so you're visiting the best spots.

Task 7: Reserve your table (~30 min)

If there’s a foodie in the group this will be especially important because the best restaurants fill up fast and with covid limiting capacity, reservations are going even faster! Most restaurant reservations open 30 days ahead.

Tip: If you’re planning last minute and aren’t able to find many reservations, set a notification on Resy to be alerted if tables open up. If you’re staying at a hotel, ask the concierge about how they can help, they often are able to snag last minute tables or recommend local gems.

Prepare for Your Trip: Set Yourself Up For Success

Appointment on calendar
Schedule beauty appointments ahead of time so you look & feel your best.

Task 8: Schedule personal care appointments (~15 min)

The first day you’re leaving for vacation would be a terrible time to remember you haven’t gotten a pedicure since last summer. Make sure you schedule any personal care appointments in advance so that you feel and look your best.

Tip: Groupon is a great place to find deals on spray tans, lash extensions, manicures or whatever you need.

Task 9: Create an initial packing list & order anything you’re missing (~30 min)

Double check what the weather will be like and if there are any dress code requirements for activities or restaurants. Start with a list like this and curate one for your family.

Tip: Hate everything in your closet but hate shopping? Try Amazon Prime Wardrobe to easily try things at home. If you’re going on a shorter 4-8 day trip and want a showstopper piece, consider renting from Rent the Runway. Members can even rent multiple items at a time and keep them as long as they’d like.

Task 10: Drop off items to be cleaned (~15 min)

There might be some things on your list you haven’t taken out of your closet in a few years. Make sure anything that needs to be cleaned or mended is trip ready.

Tip: Before you throw away any leather bags or shoes that look a little worn, try a local shoe repair shop. They can do wonders on leather and revive your favorite accessories.

Task 11: Schedule pet or house sitters (~15 min)

Save yourself a headache by getting your sitter or pet boarder on your calendar app ahead of time. If you need help finding a dog walker or sitter use Rover to find local help. You can even keep your pet comfortable at home by having someone come in to check on them instead.

Tip: If your pet is going to a boarding house or a sitter make sure you pack his or her bag in advance too with all the food, treats, toys and comfort items they need. If your pet gets anxious, consider getting them a Thundershirt and wrap it in a shirt that smells like you.

Last Minute Reminders: It’s Almost Time to Set Off

pile of dollar bills
Make sure to bring some cash, either dollars or local currency if traveling abroad.

Task 12: Pick up drying cleaning and cash for tips. (~30 min)

Check what time your dry cleaner’s are open as many of them are closed on evenings and weekends. While you’re out, pick up cash for tips you may need on your trip. Cash is still king in hospitality. Take out $50-$100 in small bills.

Tip: If you’re headed to a destination outside the US that does not accept USD, do not exchange money at the airport as you will get the worst conversion rate. Either convert money before you leave at a local bank or agency or wait until you get outside the airport.

Open suitcase
Pack any must-have items in your carry on in case your bag is delayed or lost.

Task 13: Pack your suitcase & carry on (~60 min)

Use that handy list you created earlier to make sure you don’t forget anything. With current baggage delays and issues we suggest putting your toiletries, anything valuable and at least one change of clothes in your carry-on in case you need to live without your suitcase for a night or two. Use this handy carry-on packing list and make sure to use TSA friendly bottles for the liquids.

Tip: If you’re always packing too much and your suitcase tends to be a mess, consider using packing cubes to be more efficient and effective with your space.

Passport in backpack
Keep travel documents in a secure place but so that they are easily accessible when traveling

Task 14: Pack travel docs & recheck COVID restrictions (~15 min)

This is the part where we remind you to put your ID or passport in your wallet, purse or backpack so you don’t end up at the airport without it! Make sure you have all documents for everyone in your family somewhere safe and easily accessible. If you haven’t already double check the CDC travel restrictions page.

Tip: Hopefully you’ve made any COVID testing appointments already but if you haven’t some major airports offer testing before takeoff but those spots go quickly. Book as soon as possible.

On Your Way Out: Before you Walk Out the Front Door

Task 15: Check the weather & grab a mask (~15 min)

Double check your weather app one last time in case you need to add an umbrella or extra sweater to your suitcase. Make sure to pack extra masks in case someone misplaces theirs on the trip. If you’re taking a long trip, consider using one of these to save your ears from any discomfort of wearing a mask for long periods of time.

Tip: Many people accidentally drool when they fall asleep on the plane. It’s not comfortable or clean to wear a drooly mask for the rest of the trip. If you’re wearing a cloth mask, put a medical mask inside so you can dispose of it, if this happens to you. If you’re wearing a medical mask, bring backups for the plane too!

Family leaving house for vacation
Plan a little extra time to get out of the house to avoid rushing or forgetting to turn lights off and lock all windows and doors

Task 16: Close up the house (~15 min)

Do one final sweet of your home. Turn down thermostats, shut off any lights, take out the trash and set the alarm as you head out to your wonderful vacation!

Tip: If you’re going away for a longer period of time, make sure you inform the post office to hold your mail so you don’t become an easy target for robbery.

On Vacation: The Perfect One You Planned

Hat and sunglasses by a pool
If traveling someplace sunny, don't forget sunscreen and a hat

Step 17: NOTHING

Enjoy the wonderful Spring Break that you have planned for you and your family.

Home Again: Back to Reality

woman unpacking
Unpack when you get home and take note of any clothes that need to be dry cleaned or if your suitcase needs a repair

Step 18: Unpack (~30 min)

A friendly reminder to unpack that suitcase on your bedroom floor before you get caught up in your daily routine. If your suitcase looks like it needs a refresh and you’re looking for new luggage, we love female founded Away, who offers a 100 day trial on all suitcases.

Feel free to share this plan with friends and check back for more calendar reminders and event planning guides from the Arrange app as we get closer to summer.

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