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When you’re traveling, it’s far too easy to forget a responsibility or leave something essential behind. Maybe you’ll forget your passport or that pair of comfy shoes you’re going to regret not wearing if you have to spend a long day on your feet.
No matter how short of a trip I’m taking, I always make sure to review my last minute checklist for travel. From checking the weather forecast to remembering to call your credit card company. Here’s your guide of essential things to do before traveling–every task you must complete before leaving for your trip!
If you want to stay absolutely organized, make sure you pick up my free travel planner. You’ll find my list of things to do before traveling inside, as well as sections for notes, budgeting, logging airline tickets and hotel reservations, and more. Fill everything out with your details, then use it as a printable last minute checklist for travel or save it directly to your device for paperless, offline access when traveling.
Things to Remember to Pack
Remember to pack the essentials.
Make sure you have all of the clothing items, intimates, and sleepwear you planned on bringing. Even if you’re traveling domestically, it’s always best to bring a set of emergency medical items like extra pairs of contact lenses and medications with you. But leave the irreplaceable items, like sentimental jewelry, at home!
Take a look at my comprehensive traveling checklist for the best travel essentials for women if you need ideas or to double-check you didn’t forget anything!
Check the weather forecast.
You should always check the weather forecast of your intended destination before you start packing. The last thing you’ll want is to be caught in the cold when you only packed light shirts and shorts.
Plan out a travel capsule wardrobe before you pack.
Planning your clothes means that everything you bring can be mixed and matched with each other. The key to a perfect travel capsule is choosing pieces that work well together, like in the same color scheme or style. And clothing options that can easily transition between day and evening wear.
Make sure you bring comfortable walking shoes for every activity.
Running shoes, a sturdy pair of hiking shoes, and a pair of flip-flops are a minimum for more adventurous trips. And you can never go wrong with a lovely sandal or boot for dressing up.
Create a go-to travel outfit.
Make sure they’re the absolute comfiest clothes in your closet and go with your capsule wardrobe. Nothing less will suffice. Whether you’re traveling for 2 hours or 10, it makes a difference if you’re comfortable during your vacation.
My go-to travel outfit consists of my Adidas sneakers, my favorite leggings, layers, and a scarf. I use my scarf as a shawl on the plane. Then, once I arrive at my destination, I take the leggings off for a new, weather-appropriate quick change!
Try to pack as light as possible.
There are clothing pieces and travel accessories that are nice-to-haves, and there are others that you and I both know you’re never really going to wear or use it. Remember, this isn’t forever, and even if you’re traveling abroad, you’ll most likely be able to find what you need no matter where you go.
Check what souvenirs you can bring home through your country’s customs.
If you’re traveling abroad, make sure you check the local laws regarding what you can bring inside the country you’re traveling to, as well as what you’re allowed to bring home. Most likely, we’re talking about specific food souvenirs that you might not be able to bring home with you. But definitely make sure you stay away from prohibited items such as illegal drugs or weapons.
Try to keep your luggage light–at least on your departure trip.
Keeping some space in your luggage will mean you won’t have to toss out your newly-purchased souvenirs at the airline gate or spend the overage fees.
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Things to do Before Traveling
Work with a travel agent to arrange the details.
Coordinating holidays can be difficult, especially when you’re trying to find the best flights, accommodations, and transportation. With so many options and little information, a great travel agent is invaluable.
We’re experts that can save you time, money, and stress when you have a million other things to do before traveling to worry about. Whether this is business travel or a family weekend trip, I provide personalized service and attention to find you the best deals and plan your trip to not miss any attractions or activities. Send me a travel request and we’ll get started planning your trip!
Check on the status of your transportation.
Planes, trains, automobiles–and ferries. Which one are you using to get to your destination? If you can, make sure to check-in in advance and keep watch for itinerary updates. Sometimes a snowstorm comes in out of the blue and delays your trip for a few hours.
Contact your credit and debit card companies.
Let them know in advance that you’re heading abroad. It’ll be a huge hassle if your credit or debit card company suspends your account for suspicious activity. All because they weren’t aware you would be using your card abroad.
Also, some cards have foreign transaction fees, and it’s better to know ahead of time than when you get back and have substantial additional charges on your card.
Choose an international plan with your cell phone company.
While they won’t shut your service for suspicious activity, going without an international phone and data plan gets very expensive, very quickly. Every American phone company has some global phone plan, but some are more generous than others.
For example, Verizon’s monthly international plan is pretty expensive for very little data, while a standard T-Mobile plan gives you unlimited worldwide data, but at 2G speeds.
If you’re staying abroad for more than a month, it might be worthwhile to consider exchanging your SIM card for a SIM in the country you’re visiting. That way, you can purchase a local calling and data plan there, and you’ll be able to use your cellphone as usual.
Or, look into purchasing or renting a Skyroam 4G LTE personal hotspot for your WiFi and data needs. You can connect up to 10 devices at once with different pay-per-gigabyte plans.
Confirm that you have all of your vital travel documents.
Keep them on your person at all times or in a secure, locked area. Losing your identification information in an unfamiliar place will almost certainly ruin whatever lovely time on your travels you were having. Make print copies and digital copies of your passport and other vital travel documents, so you’re never without, just in case.
Make sure you have all electronics, charging cords, and travel adaptors.
There are a few electronics, like a portable phone charger, a DSLR camera, and your computer, that you need to remember to pack. However, along with the must-have travel gadgets, you need to bring all of their travel adapters, memory cards, and cords.
Pack snacks for the travel time.
If you’re following a specific dietary lifestyle, or are picky about airplane food, plan ahead and bring your favorites.
If you’re flying, TSA has a whole section on its website dedicated to what foods and liquids are now allowed in your carry-on and checked luggage.
Packing foods for snacks and mini-meals helps save money at the terminal and ensures you’ll have something to eat that you enjoy on long travel days.
Arrive at your departure transportation early.
It’s suggested that you arrive at your departure airport a minimum of 2 hours early for domestic flights and 3 hours before for international trips. And it’s always best to be at train stations and ferry terminals in advance in case of any changes.
Although it seems like a lot of time waiting around, don’t underestimate how long it might take to go through security. It’s always best to be calmly waiting at your terminal than racing the clock to arrive on time.
Prepare for security in advance.
Depending on the airport, some airport security screenings still require you to take off your shoes before proceeding through the checkpoint. To be on the safe side, wear shoes you can easily slip on and off.
Also, keep your electronics easily accessible so they can be readily removed and replaced into your carry-on bag.
If you’re American and fly often, TSA Precheck or Global Entry might be the right fit for you! Check out TSA’s website for details on PreCheck and Global Entry, as well as airport security policy changes and applications.
Keep a change of clothes and a reusable, empty water bottle in your carry-on.
There is nothing more inconvenient than discovering your luggage didn’t make it to your final destination. If space allows, pack 2-3x pairs of basic undergarments and a change of clothes in your carry-on.
And, packing a reusable bottle saves you money in the long run and ensures you’ll have a bottle of water in your daybag throughout your travels. Most major transportation hubs have water stations where you can fill up travel size bottles.
Take a look at my recommendations for the best travel backpacks, daybags, and purses.
Enjoy your adventure!
After checking off every task on this list, whether you are heading to a warm tropical destination or a winter wonderland in the mountains, you’ll arrive there feeling comfortable and confident.
What do you add to your list of things to do before traveling?