Travel Tips

Pre-Vacation Checklist

A checklist makes preparing to travel less stressful. It might even encourage you to travel more and heighten your excitement for doing so. Pre-vacation checklist help you stay organized and not forget those necessary items.

Printable Checklist Here

One Month Before Your Trip

1. Research Your Destination

Trip Advisor: This is where I usually start because TripAdvisor is a great travel resource that provides insights into landmarks, attractions, accommodations, and transportation. When you search for things in a specific location, you get a list of results in categories by groups so that you can focus on what interests you and quickly narrow down the picked activity by selecting more related subcategories.

Read Posts By Travel Bloggers Who Have Been There: A travel blogger travels to places of interest and writes about their experiences for others to read. They can write about a wide variety of subjects, from luxury travel to backpacking. Some might write about historical landmarks, while others write about cultural foods.

Watch Travel Videos on Youtube: Every month, more than one billion people visit YouTube to watch more than six billion hours of video, making YouTube an ideal place to explore travel destinations. On YouTube, you can research destinations and restaurants and even watch a video on the hotel where you want to stay to see what the pool looks like.

2. Create a Plan

A well-organized vacation means a comfortable, joyful, unforgettable, and safer trip. Create a schedule of activities. Remember to ask the other travelers what they want to do. Discussing plans with your family can generate excitement for the journey. I have created a Travel Itinerary Planner here that you can download and print out.

3. Create a Budget

Planning for your trip ahead will help you break down your travel expenses. Planning your budget makes it easy for you to analyze what you are going to spend when away. You can promptly tell the amount to spend on transportation, accommodation, meal, and sightseeing, among other travel activities that will make your trip less stressful.

4. Make Reservations

Waiting until the last minute can mean having to pick from what’s left over rather than from what you actually had in mind. Booking early gives you much more freedom of choice and the opportunity to book the vacation you really want instead of the only one you can get.

Flight: If you book your airfare tickets early, you can select your seat. It allows you to select an aisle or window seat. You are not left sitting in the middle seat next to the bathroom, that is, unless you want to. You can choose seats that allow your whole travel group to sit together.

Also, whenever you book your ticket early, you will get it at a cheaper rate. Whenever you book your ticket a couple of days prior to the actual departure, you usually pay more.

Hotels: There are several reasons to book your hotel room early. One reason is access to great deals. Booking weeks in advance ensures the rates are on the lower side, which also helps you with creating your budget. You also get to choose where you want to stay and what type of room you want. You are not left with what is left over. It also helps reduce stress to know where you will be staying and not have to spend time searching for a hotel when you first reach your destination. 

Rental Car: Booking within a week of your trip will likely cost you more. Within the final 48 hours, prices almost always go up. So booking early allows you to shop for better deals, and it also allows you to pick your car preference. And again, you are not left with whatever is left over.  

Make sure you check with your auto insurance policy; most contain different types of coverage that could provide protection if you are in an accident while driving a rental car.

5. Create a Folder

A travel folder for documents is a great way to keep your important papers organized and easy to find while you are on the go. This folder can be used to store various documents, including your passport, boarding pass, tickets, and other essential papers. You can also print out and keep your hotel information in this folder.
Another option, the one that I prefer, is to use an app called Tripit. This app allows you to create a schedule and add all your confirmation numbers. You can even download documents and e-tickets that can be printed at your hotel if you forget them.

6. Make Appointments:

Most people know that they have to make reservations for their trip but sometimes forget the appointments that need to be made before their trip. A month before your trip, you should schedule your pre-trip hair and nail appointments, etc. Refill any prescriptions that you need to bring along too.

Two Weeks Before Your Trip

7. Plan your Outfits

Start planning what clothes you are going to pack. Put together some outfits and try on your clothes and shoes. Add this to your checklist. Now is the time to wash anything that needs it, repair anything that needs mending, and get rid of the wrinkles in your summer clothes that have been put away for months. Take pictures of your outfits, if needed, for reference when you are on your trip. I created a Packing List checklist to help me Pack Lighter.

8. Make a List of Items for Trip

Nothing is more stressful than traveling and discovering you have left your essentials behind. Making a List of all the items you need for the trip helps prevent this. Include things like chargers, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc. Create a Packing List checklist for everyone in your family.

9. Maintenance of Car

If you are taking a road trip, this is the time to get maintenance on your car. Oil change, tire pressure and tread check, all fluids checked, etc. Do not forget to have your car washed and detailed. You are going to be spending a lot of time in your car.

10. Make Restaurant Reservations

A lot of restaurants do not allow reservations to be made more than two weeks out. So this is a good time to make reservations. Reservations are a great way not to waste time waiting to eat your meal. I love to use the OpenTable app for this. Or you can just add them to your Planner.

11. Get out Suitcases and Packing Cubes

This will be a good time to inspect them for faulty zippers, wheels, etc. This will give you time to have them repaired or purchase new ones.

One Week Before Your Trip

12. Put Mail on Hold

Visit your post office and put a hold on the mail that comes to your home. Or you can have someone pick up your mail every couple of days.

13. Prepare Travel Size Toiletries

You can refill your travel-size bottles with shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, etc. These are my favorite refillable bottles. This is a good time to purchase any toiletries you are missing. Add these items to your Packing List checklist.

14. Pay All Bills That Will Be Due While You are Away

No one likes to come home to overdue bills. Might as well pay them now, while you still have some money. Or set up auto pay. 

15. Arrange for a House Sitter

Arrange for Someone to house-sit or have a family member, friend, or neighbor check on your home regularly. Don’t forget to make arrangements to board your pet.

16. Clear Unnecessary Things

Clear any unnecessary photos, apps, etc., from your phone. Do not forget to clear your camera if you plan on taking one.

17. Entertainment for the Trip

Download books, music, games, apps, and movies for your trip. Save magazines or check out a book from the library.

18. Get Cash for the Trip

Cash is always a good thing to take on trips. It is great for tips, or it can you can use it if you have issues with your credit card. This brings us to our next item….

19. Contact your Bank and Credit Card Company

Always notify your bank and credit card company of your plans to travel, especially if you plan on leaving the country. It makes problems easier if they know you will be traveling.

The Day Before Your Trip

20. Check-in for Flight and Print Boarding Passes

Most airlines allow you to check in for your flight 24 hours ahead of your flight. It is also a good time to print your boarding pass, so if you are not checking a bag, you can head directly to the security line.

21. Pack your Suitcases

Pack your suitcase with those checklist clothes that you have already laid out. I love to use packing cubes because it allows me to separate my clothes into outfits, so I only have to pull out one cube at a time. This is great for children. Pack the cube you will be using first on top. Usually, this is my pajamas. I then put my travel clothes into the cube and continued to cycle the next day. These are the ones I use. They come in three sizes.

22. Bring Your Pet to Kennel

In my town, our veterinarian boards pets.

23. Fill Your Car with Gas

Filling your car with gas the day before ensures that you will not have to stop at the gas station the day of your trip.

24. Lay Out Clothes For the Next Day

Having your outfit set out allows focusing on all the other things you will have to think about on the day of the trip. Make sure you check the weather for your travel day so you will choose an outfit that is comfortable.

25. Charge Electronics

Charge all your electronics including your power backup battery.

Vacation Day!!

26. Prepare Your Home

Turn your thermostat down and unplug everything that is not necessary. Water your plants. Make sure no water is running. Throw out perishables from the refrigerator and take out the trash.

27. Pack Last Minute Items

Take one last look around for those forgotten things not on your checklist. Pack all those last-minute items. Make sure not to forget your charger. Refer to your previous list.

28. Lock all your doors.

Check all doors and windows and make sure the garage door is closed.

29. Relax and Enjoy Your Vacation

You deserve it!!

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