Preparing To Travel; A Checklist

*Photos provided courtesy of Unsplash.

“Always be prepared to have the time of your life.”  -Unknown

Have you ever started on a trip only to realize that you have forgotten something?  I have!  There can be so much to do and remember as you prepare to leave home and it can be a stressful time, but it doesn’t have to be!  Once we have booked a trip, I find that if I start to plan early, get organized, and use a good checklist, I am much calmer as we get ready to leave.  

I hope my pre-travel checklist is a good starting point for you as you prepare to travel.  Be sure to add to it and give yourself a check as you care for each item.  I know that when it’s time to leave home, those checks will put your mind at ease too, and help you to transition into vacation mode quickly. 

Prepare your home

When I travel, it eases my mind to know that my home is clean and safely waiting for me so I find that literally putting my house in order is a must.  These are my recommended tasks:

Clean as you go.  You’ll thank me when you come home to a clean house!

Establish lights in your home that are on timers or devices you can control remotely such as Amazon’s Alexa.  Alternate how these lights come on and go off to give a lived-in appearance to your home while you are away.

Adjust your thermostat.  If you aren’t home, consider setting your thermostat to temperatures that will save some energy while you are away.

Ask your neighbors, friends, and family to keep an eye on your home.

Turn off water supplies to appliances such as the washing machine.  A water leak, while you are away, is a terrible thing to come home to.

Empty your fridge of leftovers and other perishables.

Empty the trash and ask a neighbor to put your can on the curb if you will miss a trash day.

Arrange care for all family pets.

Put a hold on your mail. If you are an online shopper, plan deliveries to arrive before you leave or resist ordering until you get home.  If a delivery is scheduled while you are traveling, ask a neighbor to bring it in.

Secure the outside of your home.  Secure loose lawn furniture that could blow around or could be damaged if there are bad weather conditions while you are away.  Cut the grass or arrange for your lawn to be maintained if you will be traveling for an extended period.

If you have a home security system, be sure to notify the monitoring service that you will be away.

Check that passport

Don’t wait until you are heading to the airport to realize that your passport has expired.  It is wise to know when your passport expires and to take action to renew it early.  Be aware that some countries will not allow you to enter if your passport expires within 6 months and if you need to renew, you should expect your new passport to take between six and nine weeks. 

If your document is current, pack it and double-check that you have it before you leave the house.  Before we leave, my husband and I make it a habit of getting Passports and other travel documents out and doing one last check.  Don’t leave home without it!

Stay in touch

Leave your itinerary with friends and family. Include flight numbers, airline carrier names, and other pertinent details.  Don’t forget to include where you will be staying and the contact information for those locations. Establish a plan to check in with loved ones at home.

Reservations & Flights

Confirm all reservations including hotels, tours, transfers, or vehicle rentals.  If you have worked with a travel professional to plan your trip, they should be able to help you with confirmations and any needed adjustments.

Stash names and telephone numbers for points of contact, hotel addresses, airport transfer paperwork, and any other pertinent info you might need when you arrive at your destination together in an easy-to-reach spot in your carry-on. Load helpful apps onto your phone before you leave such as the Uber app, Google translate, Flight Aware, your airline’s app, and apps for your car rental company, and hotel.

Check-in for your flight 24 hours before you fly.

Cell service

Contact your cellular provider and be sure to understand your plan services as you travel.  Roaming costs are very pricey so don’t come home to a large surprise bill.  Consider options for an international service plan, if needed.

Review your credit cards

Thin your wallet.  Take only the credit cards and IDs that you need.  Leave the frequent shopping card for your local grocery store or library card at home.  Consider traveling with no more than two credit cards and be cautious with the use of a debit card.  Consider protecting credit cards that have chips with RFID sleeves.

Touch base with your credit card company to be sure that your card(s) will work properly if you are traveling internationally.  This could avoid any hold for “suspicious activity” that a protective credit card company may put in place while you shop for souvenirs.

Exchanging Money: now or later?

There are two methods of thought around exchanging money when traveling internationally.  Some travelers prefer to exchange money at their destination while others exchange at least a small amount of cash before leaving home. 

Before deciding on your preference, do your research.  Know that not all merchants or taxis will accept credit cards or the cards you like to carry so having some local currency when you arrive can be wise.  Having local currency for tips, if tipping is customary, is helpful as well.  Some locations such as resort areas in Mexico and the locals in the Caribbean are happy to accept USD.  Knowing if, when, and how to exchange money as you travel can actually save you money.  If exchanging before you leave, seek assistance through your personal bank. 

Your suitcase

Give your suitcase a check-up before you start packing.

-Check the handle to make sure it will go up and down smoothly and is sturdy enough to pull the suitcase along.

-Check the zippers to make sure they are in good working order and ready to hold the contents of your suitcase, especially if you have to sit on your suitcase to get the opposing sides of the zipper together. 

-Check the wheels on your suitcase.  Whether you two-wheel it or use a spinner, make sure that all of the wheels that support your suitcase move smoothly and are not cracked or broken.  These little troopers are often the first to give up under the weight of a heavy suitcase so making sure they are in good order is a great idea. 

-Consider shopping for a new suitcase if any part of your current gear is not working properly or is showing excessive wear and tear.

The packing and repacking

Make a list of items you want to take so that you have a checklist.

Wash the clothes you want to take, fold and start placing items that are ready in or near your waiting suitcase.

If you are traveling with medication, make sure you have a supply that will get you through your trip.  Get refills, if needed.

Pack and then remove all the “just in case” items.  Make sure that you have room to bring home souvenirs or consider taking a smaller, easier-to-handle suitcase.

If you are a list maker like me, having a checklist makes sense.  If it is not in your nature but you need help remembering key items or tasks, I highly recommend taking the time to create a checklist that makes sense to you. 

Please keep in mind that my list is what works for me but I hope that it is a helpful guide as you prepare for your next trip. 

Create a website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: