I always find the days before a trip to be hectic, but with a checklist I can take a quick glance at it and make sure I didn’t forget anything I meant to do. It’s great to have a checklist detailing what you want to pack, but a checklist of things to do in the days before a trip is helpful to keep you organized.
The following are some items from my pre-travel checklist. It is based on being a single person with pets but no children, and a neighbor who will bring in the mail when she comes over to feed the cats. I’ve excluded any trip planning — making hotel reservations, deciding what I want to do while there, etc. — because those actions were completed during the travel-planning stage.
- Update cat/home care instructions as necessary.
- Make sure there’s enough cat food and kitty litter.
- Decide if there are any bills to be paid before leaving (and then pay them). Alternatively, schedule payments electronically to go out at appropriate dates during my trip.
- Check thermostat levels and adjust as needed.
- Clean out perishables from refrigerator; use them up or give them away.
- Take out the trash.
- Makes sure I know the luggage rules for my airline.
- Get prescription refills as needed.
- Make sure all the over-the-counter medicines I want to take have not expired; replace if need be.
- Buy any gifts I want for people I’m visiting.
- Check the weather forecast for my destination.
Electronic devices preparation:
- Charge up any electronics I’m taking with me.
- Load any documents I might want to Dropbox.
- Get all contact information for my destination into my cell phone.
- Download any apps I want that are specific to the place I’m visiting.
Additional travel preparation:
- Arrange transportation to the airport, if needed.
- Get maintenance done on the car, if needed.
- Get a haircut, if needed.
- Remove unnecessary things from my wallet.
- Remove unnecessary keys from my key ring.
- Mail off my absentee ballot, if traveling at election time.
- Make sure relevant people have my travel itinerary and know how to reach me.
- If I’m traveling internationally, make sure those people also have a copy of my passport.
- Make sure I have a hard drive with a recent full backup in my safe deposit box.
Preparation regarding responsibilities to others:
- Make sure any roles I serve in organizations will be covered while I’m gone.
Early preparation, for international travel:
- Make sure I’m OK on passport and visas, if needed.
- Understand immunization requirements, and get any that I need.
- Understand any other health issues, and prepare accordingly. (For example, are there any concerns about the drinking water?)
- Learn a few key phrases in the language of the place I’m visiting, if it’s not English.
Additional preparation for international travel:
- Call credit card companies and tell them charges will be coming in.
- Decide if I need to use my cell phone — and if so, figure out how to do that most economically.
Why create such a checklist, especially when it’s all pretty much common sense? Because I’ve had a few close calls when I’ve forgotten to do things that would have seriously disrupted my plans. One time, I didn’t realize my passport was about to expire, right before an international trip. Fortunately, the friend I was traveling with noticed it in time for me to get a renewal. And, I once got a last-minute immunization at the San Francisco International Airport, right before boarding a flight.
There have been less serious incidents, too. Many years ago, I found myself in New Orleans during an unusual cold snap, without warm-enough clothes. I’ve also found myself running around at the last minute getting a new bottle of Advil and a tube of Neosporin.
I got tired of having this type of thing happen, so now I have a checklist. What is on your pre-travel checklist? Share your must-do items in the comments.