Have you ever left the house, gotten on the highway and started thinking “Hmm, did I blow out the candle? Is the front door locked? Is the garage door properly closed?” It’s not a nice feeling to find yourself in such a situation, and it’s worse if you’re on your way to the airport.
That’s why I created a checklist of 50 things you need to do before leaving for a trip. It has helped me immensely and I’m excited to share it with you. This will help you spend less time worrying and more time enjoying your next trip.
The first set of things to remember on the to-do list starts 1 month prior to your departure date.
ONE MONTH BEFORE TRAVEL
1. Review Passport Validity
This is important if you need any visas. It’s good practice to have at least 6 free as it is required to enter some countries. The “amendments page” does not count.
One more thing, you need to make sure your passport will not expire within 6 months of your trip. Some countries will not allow you in if your passport expiration date is within 6 months of your entry date.
2. Check Visa Requirements And Submit Application
Find out the visa requirements:
- Do you need to apply for a visa online?
- How many days does it take to process?
- Do you need cash and passport photos for when you arrive?
Trust me, you definitely do not want to leave these to last-minute preparations. Every day, people get turned away from countries because they don’t have a proper visa. If this happens, you’ll not even be allowed to leave the airport. You’ll be forced to leave the country on the next available flight, which means this “little mistake” could end up costing you thousands of dollars.
3. Get Your Vaccinations
Depending on where you live and the time of year, booking an appointment with the travel clinic could take anywhere from 2 hours to 2 weeks. This is why you should do this one month before your travel. Don’t leave something as important as your health to the last minute.
4. Order Prescription Medications
Make sure you have enough in stock for the entire duration of your trip, plus a little extra just in case. You may need to have a doctor’s approval to get some extra prescriptions filled in advance. This can make for a lengthy process. You definitely want to get this sorted out on time.
5. Order Contact Lenses
Do you use contacts? Order for an extra pair. Order it now! Losing your contacts while you’re outside the country can be one of the most dreadful things to happen on a trip.
6. Book Your Flight
I will assume your flight is already booked at this point. If not, get on it! Prices are usually lower around 6 weeks before your travel date. Once you’ve gotten closer than that, booking prices start to rise.
7. Book Accommodation
Book accommodation for a night to two nights starting from your arrival date. On Booking.com, you usually have the option of free cancellation if you happen to change your mind. Booking accommodation in advance gives you peace of mind knowing you will have a place to sleep when you arrive.
8. Get A Credit Card With No Foreign Transaction Fees
This is optional, but if you decide on getting one, I recommend Stack. Not only are there no foreign transaction fees, but they also have an app that notifies you anytime there’s unauthorized spending on your card. The app allows you to freeze your card on demand if you suspect any unauthorized activity on your account.
9. Check Your Debit, Credit Card And ID Card Expiry Dates
If they’ll expire while you’re on your trip, you have to order new ones as soon as possible before your travel.
10. Apply For An International Driver’s License
Do you plan on driving while you’re away? Then you need to apply for an international driver’s license as early as possible. The process is inexpensive and easy, but the earlier the better.
11. Buy Tickets To Must-Do Attractions
Depending on where you’re going, you don’t want to arrive at your destination only to find out that bookings to a popular attraction have been sold out. I made this mistake once on my trip to Thailand only to realize on my arrival that the Elephant’s Sanctuary books out up to 2 weeks in advance.
ONE WEEK BEFORE TRAVEL
12. Book Your Travel Insurance
Please do not travel without insurance. I use Safetywing, but I recommend that you first check with your employer and your credit card company, because you may already be covered.
13. Make Copies Of Your Passport
It’s common to have to show your passport when you travel, but considering that it’s a high-value item, you don’t want to lose or have it stolen.
Keeping an easy-to-access copy of your passport that you can show when necessary, instead of pulling out your actual passport is a good way to stay safe. It’s less likely that you’ll lose your passport if you don’t have to constantly pull it out, and if you do lose your passport, at least you’ll have an extra copy to fall back on.
14. Share Your Itinerary
I recommend that you share your full itinerary with a friend or family member.
Tripit is a free app that I use. I email all my confirmation emails to Plans@tripit.com. It compiles my entire itinerary, and it helps me keep my plans in check for myself. You can share it with someone else to help the person keep tabs on where you are.
I always share my itinerary with my mother. If she can’t reach me, she’ll at least have the address, phone number, and confirmation of where I’m supposed to be.
15. Register Your Trip With The Government
Check if the government of your home country has a registry of people who are traveling abroad. If they do, it’s well worth taking the time to register, and it takes as little as 2 minutes. This will help them get in contact with you in emergencies and enable them to help you out of any potential ‘problems’ abroad.
If it’s available in your country, there should be a website to register on. It’s free, quick, and easy. So why not?!
Register Trip (Canadians): https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration
Register Trip (Americans): https://step.state.gov/
16. Review Luggage Restrictions And Weight Limits
If you’re traveling with a carryon, you should know your weight limits. The cost of checking a bag when you arrive at the airport can be up to $50 or more. This can be a problem if you’re traveling on a budget airline. They will weigh everything and you will be nickel-and-dimed if you cross the weight limits. Try to know your luggage weight ahead of time.
17. Unlock Your Phone
If your phone is locked to a specific network, you won’t be able to get a SIM card when you arrive in a new country. Call your network provider or go into a phone store and they can quickly unlock your phone if it is set to a specific network. It is quick, easy, and cheap. This way, you can get a traveler’s SIM card and be able to make use of it.
18. Pay Bills And Set Future Bills To Auto-pay
Pay any outstanding bills and set future bills to be Auto-paid. Having these put in place ensures peace of mind. If you have the option, open an online account and set them to auto-pay.
19. Arrange For Mail Hold Or Pickup
You can arrange for a friend to help pick up your mails. If you aren’t able to get a friend or family member to do this, you can contact your local post office and have them hold your mails until you return from your travel.
20. Arrange For House-Sitting
Arrange for a friend or family member to come by and water the plants, and also take care of your pets if you have any. If you don’t have a friend or family member who can do this, you can do a quick google search for a house/pet sitter in your area. There are lots of websites where you can get one.
21. Buy Non-Perishable Travel Snacks For The Road
If your flight is delayed or you arrive and can’t find something to eat, it comes in handy if you have something packed before your travel. Nuts, dried fruit, protein bars, and oatmeal are great options.
22. Pick Up Some Non-Perishable Foods For When You Get Home
When shopping for non-perishable snacks to take on your travel, get some extra to keep at home for when you get back. You don’t want to get back home from your travel to find absolutely nothing to eat. Think of oatmeal, coffee, and frozen meals.
23. By Some Gifts
If you’re visiting someone, it’s good practice to get them a gift. Even if you’re not staying in a location for long, you’ll most likely meet new people. I love carrying a Canada branded socks or maple candy that I’ll leave with my landlords or anyone that I make a real connection with. Simple things like these can be fun for someone who has never been to your home country.
24. Notify Your Bank Of Travel Destinations And Dates
It’s a frustrating situation to have your cards flagged for suspicious activity and locked when trying to use them in a new country. Calling your bank and letting them know when and where you’re going may help prevent this from happening. I always call but still get locked out sometimes. It helps to notify them as early as possible. It’s worth the try.
25. Order Foreign Currency
If you can get foreign currency before you arrive in your destination country, do it! Try to get small bills of local currency for tips and other emergencies.
26. Carry Cash
Whether you have foreign currency or not, it’s always best to carry some USD. If for some reason you can’t withdraw from the ATM, you can exchange it for the local currency.
27. Break-In New Shoes And Clothes
I can’t count the number of times I’ve bought something new for a trip and don’t bother wearing it before my travel. I then realize on arrival to my destination country that I either don’t like it or it doesn’t fit properly. This is important for shoes, break them in by wearing them around the house a week before you travel to be sure they fit.
28. Cancel Or Hold Subscriptions, Memberships, And Plans
This depends on how long you’re traveling. Cancel them or put them on hold. Things like gym memberships, meal service delivery, and phone plans.
I save up to 90% on my phone bills when I travel and put the account on hold. Why pay for things you aren’t using?
29. Clear Up Space On Your Camera And Phone Memory
This helps you create storage space for making new memories on your travel. You don’t want to travel with a full memory card only to find yourself having to delete your old pictures and videos to make space.
30. Back-Up Your Photos/Information
Your phone is valuable, but the actual device can be replaced. What you can’t replace is the memories and information stored on it. Back everything up to a cloud or hard drive.
32. Print Your Confirmations and Email Them To Yourself (and a Friend!)
This means exactly what it says. Most places accept your confirmation from your phone, but if you lose your phone, the battery dies, or you can’t access the internet, it’s great to have a printed confirmation of your accommodations, visa letter, flights, and travel insurance.
Emailing it to yourself (or uploading to a cloud) means you can access the information from any device, and sending it to a friend or family member ensures extra safety. If something happens to you, you want to know there’s someone else who has the information.
These are a list of things you should have printed and send:
- Insurance information
- Hotel, flight and transport bookings
- Your visa
- Driver’s license
- Credit and bank cards
- Trip itinerary
- Important phone numbers (including theft hotlines for your credit/bank cards)
31. Research Your Destination
I have a whole video on things you should look up about your destination linked here. A couple of hours to do this research will save you so much stress and time when you arrive.
You’re almost set to go, there are just a few more things you need to do the night before or a day to your flight:
ONE DAY BEFORE TRAVEL
33. Pack 2 Days’ Worth Of Necessities In Carryon
Pack a couple days’ worth of clothes and medicine in your carryon in case your checked luggage is delayed. You don’t want to be stuck without a toothbrush or underwear for 3 days because you left them in your checked luggage.
34. Charge Your Electronics
Ensure your electronic gadgets are fully charged. If you have a battery pack, charge that too. You don’t want to find yourself stuck at an airport with a dead phone while trying to find a way to get a cab.
35. Check Flight Schedule
Things can change suddenly. Check for up-to-date information to know if your flights will be on time, delayed by weather conditions, canceled, or have a new travel alert.
36. Check-In For Your Flight
Check in to confirm that your booking is still in place. This gives you time to sort out problems if there are any.
37. Check The Route From The Airport To Your Hotel
This helps you know if you’ll need to order for a cab, take the bus, or use the subway. Knowing the route can save you a lot of money and time.
38. Check The Up-To-Date Weather Forecast For Your Destination
Are there any weather alerts? Will it rain? Will there be a storm? Having answers to this information can help you dress appropriately and plan accordingly.
39. Remove Things From Your Wallet/Purse
You don’t need everything in your purse/wallet when you’re traveling. Gift cards, membership cards, office keys, bus pass, and a library card are things you may not need in the country you’re traveling to. Clear out your wallet until you only have the essentials.
40. Weigh Your Luggage
Weigh your luggage again. You can get a luggage scale for a couple of dollars. It’s worth it!
41. Tag Your Luggage
If you already have them tagged, make sure the address and contact information is up-to-date. I recommend a covered luggage-tag (the ones with a cover on them) so your information is not on display.
42. Spread Your Money
Keep some money in your jacket pocket, some in your trouser pocket, and some in your carryon. This ensures you don’t have all your money in one place in case something is lost or stolen.
43. Download Necessary Apps
Review and download any apps you may need in your destination country and download them before your travel.
Ride-sharing apps like Uber and Grab (check what’s used in the country you’re traveling to), Currency conversion app like XE currency, Google translate, and time zone converter can be gotten from an app store.
44. Download Specific Things You May Need From Your Apps
Download information from your apps that you may need for offline use. This information can include Google maps, Netflix episodes, Spotify playlist, podcasts you love, and books for your kindle.
45. Set An Auto-Responder On Your Work Email
By doing this, you don’t need to worry about replying to your co-workers while you’re away on vacation.
46. Set The House Thermostat
Setting the thermostat to about 4 degrees warmer or colder depending on the time of the year can help you save on energy bills. There’s no need for spending money on electric bills that you’re not around to enjoy.
47. Clean Your House
Do the laundry and dishes, get the garbage taken out, and throw out anything perishable in the fridge. You don’t want to come home to a house that’ll have dirty dishes and laundry lying around. Don’t forget to run the dishwasher.
48. Put Water Bottles In The Freezer
You can usually bring solidly frozen water bottles through airport security so you don’t have to pay for overpriced water at the airport.
49. Make Sure Appliances are Unplugged and Water is Turned Off
I unplug everything whenever I’m traveling, even TVs. If there’s going to be a storm, I don’t want my electronics fried from a lightning storm. Leaving them plugged into an outlet while you’re not around is a potential fire hazard.
Also, turn off the water to keep the house from flooding in case there’s a leak while you’re away.
50. Lock Windows And Close Blinds
Close your blinds, curtains, and windows to protect your privacy while you’re away. It’ll also help in keeping the house temperature stable if you’re in a hot place with lots of sunlight shining in.
Traveling is exciting, but there’s no denying it’s also a little stressful. These 50 things will help you focus on enjoying all the incredible things you’ve got planned for your trip, without cluttering your mind with worries of things you might have forgotten to take care of.
I created a printable checklist that I use before each trip with all of these to-dos.