For most of us, vacation planning revolves
around the exciting stuff: plane tickets, hotel reservations, and creating an
itinerary of exciting or relaxing activities. The less exciting pre-trip details
tend to get overlooked. A travel checklist can provide an organized way of
preparing for your trip.
There are also certain things you should do
to ensure your trip is as safe as possible—particularly if you are headed to a
Avoid the last-minute frenzy and learn more
about what to do before you go to ensure that your trip starts off stress-free
and stays that way till the end.
In the trip-planning excitement, it’s easy to remember the dress shirts and swimsuit while overlooking certain important items. While you certainly want to avoid over-packing, remember these essentials as you plan your trip.
Contact Info & Essentials
- Bring a cell phone and charger.
If you are travelling abroad, consider renting an international cell phone.
There are many companies offering this service—typically, you pay a small
rental fee, and then any calls are charged per minute. The per-minute fee will be high, so use it only on an
- Take a printed list of emergency
phone numbers, in case you lose your phone or the battery dies .
- Leave a travel itinerary with a
neighbor, friends, and family, including a list of where you can be reached,
Make sure all your documents are in order. Important
papers and other documents should remain close to you, in a purse or wallet,
instead of in luggage that will be stowed on the plane. Make sure you have:
- Any needed visas. To find out if you need a visa, visit the U.S. Department of State’s visa information website.
- Your passport. Make sure it’s current; some countries require that it’s
valid six months before arrival.
- Travel insurance is
something you may want to consider. It can cover medical expenses, travel
delays due to weather, trip cancellations due to the financial default of
travel suppliers (like tour groups), and other losses that can be incurred in
the course of traveling.
- Cards. Take only what’s important—driver’s
license, insurance card, one or two credit cards, traveler’s checks. Leave the
unnecessary cards at home.
- Keep an extra stash of emergency cash in a safe location
(separate from your wallet).
- Don’t forget your house keys (and car keys, if you are
parking your car at an airport or other departure locale).
Security & Home Prep
Before you travel, make sure your apartment
or house is neat and tidy. Arrange for a neighbor or friend to periodically
stop by so that your house continues to seem lived-in and avoids becoming a
- Lights: set lights on a timer, so the
house doesn’t appear to be vacant.
- Temperature: turn the
thermostat up or down to match the season.
- Plants: water plants and arrange for a
friend to continue to water them.
- Mail: suspend mail delivery, or have a
friend collect it for you.
- Trash: empty all waste baskets and wash
any dishes in the sink .
- Food: store some food in the freezer
so you have options when you return, and remove all perishable items from the
- Locks: lock all windows and doors.
- Yard: put cleaning and gardening services on hold, or discuss having a friend or neighbor help with lawn upkeep.
Vaccinations & Medicine Kit
Be informed of the health requirements of
your destination. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) divides vaccines for
travel into three categories: routine, recommended, and required. Make sure you
are up to date with your routine vaccinations and find out if you need any
other vaccines for the countries you’ll be visiting. The CDC has an extremely
useful tool for determining health requirements of every country across
Speak with your doctor about scheduling a
vaccination, and keep in mind that most vaccines will take time to effectively
What to Do
- Get vaccinations (at least four
to six weeks before your travel date).
- Consult with your doctor before
you go if:
- you are pregnant
- have a pre-existing condition
What to Take
- cold/sinus medication
- anti-diarrhea medicine
- antibiotic ointment
- insect repellent
- contact lenses and solution
- supplements and vitamins
- prescription medications (Tip: always carry a copy of your
prescription in case you need to refill while traveling).