This time of year we catch ourselves dreaming about two very important things: outdoor gatherings and weekend trips. And no matter which route you choose to go for your July 4th celebrations, the number one ingredient to ensure a successful weekend is preparation. You can’t just plan a last-minute get-away on the busiest travel weekend of the year, and you certainly can’t throw together and epic party in 5 minutes. You need to dedicate a little time and a little thought to what will make July 4th special for you, and then get to work. Here are some tips to help you plan July 4th weekend like a boss, no matter where you go or what you do.

If You’re Planning to Travel…
Long weekends are a great chance to travel, because you have an extra day to help you maximize your time off, and with summer weather on your side, there are a ton of options of places to go visit. The problem with July 4th trips is that this is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. In 2015 AAA projected “41.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this Independence Day, the most since 2007 and a 0.7 percent increase from the 41.6 million people who traveled last year.” That’s a lot of people traveling to a lot of places around the country, which means if you’re also planning to hit the road (or sky, or sea) then you should be planning that trip ASAP. The sooner you book the more likely you are to find a deal on housing and airfare or travel, and while hotels and resorts certainly have perks, if you’re thinking of throwing a July 4th gathering, you might want the comforts of home, so you should check out Airbnb or VRBO for a homestay vacation rental.

Also Enjoy: 6 Awesome 4th of July Activities & Getaway Ideas