Even seasoned travelers may become frazzled before a trip. There’s always so much to do and so little time in which to do it. There’s one’s job to tidy up prior to leaving and knowing what to take and what paperwork you’ll need and figuring out with whom you’ll need to leave contact information. If you’re taking your children, that demands extra preparation – and if you have children but aren’t taking them – well, that also demands preparation. Sometimes the most obvious things become sticking points. Have you ever attempted to retrieve a passport from a bank vault on a Sunday? (I have.) So how is a traveler to beat the pre-travel blues? Make a checklist, check it often, and stick to it. Here’s our checklist of important things that MUST be done before you leave.
Long before your scheduled trip, check on the following:
- Have you done your homework? Make yourself familiar with the area to which you’re traveling. If it’s a foreign country, you should be aware of important customs and traditions. Even if your destination is only a few hours away, learn about things to do in the area. It saves a lot of time during your precious vacation and gives you a chance to check out reviews of restaurants and local attractions beforehand so you don’t get caught up in tourist traps.
- Do you have the documentation that you need? You may need a passport, or a passport and a visa. Make sure that your paperwork is up-to-date. You don’t want to find out that your passport is outdated on the morning of your flight. Are there any special vaccinations that you need and documentation of these vaccinations? Look into it. Are you going to be able to take medications out of the country without documentation from your doctor?
- Check into airport security so that you’re not throwing out your full-sized toiletries prior to boarding.
The week before your trip:
- Print and take all information about your flights, hotel reservations, and any tours you have booked.
- If you’re using a babysitter, or dog/cat caretaker, or someone to water your plants make sure that you have everything covered with the caretaker.
- Make sure that your luggage is well tagged and tie something colorful to your luggage (which will look like every other piece of luggage on the carousel after landing if you don’t.)
- Print out a list of emergency numbers to have just in case you lose your cell phone or it loses service.
- Buy a power adaptor if you’re traveling internationally.
- Make sure that you have an ample supply of any medication that you may routinely take and that it’s in the bottles in which it’s supplied by the pharmacy.
- Ask the post office and the newspaper to hold your mail and newspapers until you return home. There’s nothing like a pile of letters and newspapers to let burglars know that your home is empty.
The night before your trip:
- Do you know where your car keys, house keys, medication, vitamins, extra contact lenses, reading glasses, cell phone and cell phone charger are? Put them next to something you can’t forget – like your luggage – and pack them as soon as you can.
- Have your luggage packed.
- Make sure that you have a carry-on bag with a quick change of clothing in case your luggage is lost, medications, cash, driver’s license, passport and other documentation, airplane tickets, credit card/s, and traveler’s checks. Add some snacks.
- Toss out anything in the refrigerator that you won’t want to come home to – i.e. once fresh fish, old leftovers.
Right before you leave:
- Put everything in your luggage and carry on that you left out for use before you left.
- Turn down the heat and unplug the coffee pot, iron, curling iron, and other small appliances.
- Check this list ten or twelve times.
- Lock the front door and you’re on vacation!