When you are planning to travel for vacation, there are so many things to do and remember to do before you depart. I like to start a checklist about two weeks ahead of time so that every time I think of something, I write it down and once I complete the task, I mark it off, making sure that I don’t miss anything from my checklist.
I have a lot of things going on in my life, as many of us do, so a checklist helps to get things from your mind onto to paper and you can come back and visit it at a later date. Amongst the million things that I normally added to my checklist, here are a few things that will always be on my checklist prior to traveling:
- Create Travel Document Folder: As soon as I book a trip, the first thing I do is gather myself a manila or a 2-pocket folder and put my travel documents in the folder. This folder usually houses my reservations, confirmation numbers, transportation instructions, and any contact information that I need for my trip.
- Passport: I pull my passport from my safe and a jumbo binder clip and clip my passport to my carry-on bag. My biggest fear is arriving to the airport without my passport. Therefore, one of the first things that I do is clip my passport to my carry-on bag. I don’t care, as much, if I forget to pack toiletries or clothes because I can always buy those when I reach my destination, but….I cannot buy another passport to get to my destination so that is always the first thing that I put by my luggage.
- Contact my bank and credit card companies: One time when I was on vacation in Los Cabos, Mexico, I ran out of cash (I totally under estimated my spending) and needed to get money out of the ATM. My credit card declined! My bank would not allow me to use my card or get money out of the ATM because they suspected fraud. Now, when I book a trip, I complete the travel form with my bank and my credit card company to notify them of my travels, so that my card does not get declined while traveling.
- Purchase Travel Insurance: Travel Insurance is never a fun topic to discuss, but it is necessary. Travel insurance is so much more than needing it just in case you need to cancel. It covers trip delay, trip cancellation, trip interruption, lost baggage, medical needs, death, etc. Never travel without travel insurance because the one time you think you don’t need it, you will need it and it will be too late.
- Money: Do I need to convert money where I am going? I always research and find out if I need to convert money. If I do, I am going to do this prior to departing for my vacation . It has always been my rule of thumb to never do it at the airport because of the high fee. I try to do it, at my own bank, in the United States.
- Vaccinations: Find out if I need vaccinations and what is the vaccination schedule on how far in advance that I need to get the vaccinations so that I can contact my doctor and make preparations.
- Medications: I travel with personal medications. I make sure that I pack my medications and keep them with me and not check them in my luggage. Travel with your medications in the original prescription bottles and if you need a doctor’s note for certain medications, always consult your doctor prior to vacation. Keeping your meds in the original prescription bottle can also come in handy if you lose your identification. This happened to me. I lost my wallet on the airplane and didn’t have identification to travel back to Nashville. Airport security asked for anything that I had in my purse that could identify me and one of the things they asked for was a prescription bottle, and I had it! Yeah!
- Contact your mobile carrier: Once you do this, on your first trip, you will be good to go. I no longer contact my mobile carrier because I know T-Mobile’s International Plan. It is amazing and I love it! However, I know the rules of my mobile carrier’s plan and I know what I can and cannot do to stay within my budget. Contact your mobile carrier to get all the information about your international plan and/or if you have an international plan on your phone.
- Leave a copy of your Passport and Itinerary with someone you trust: I always leave a copy of my passport with someone that I trust just in case I need it for backup. I also have a photo copy on my iPad. Not that it will be accepted. I tried that at the airport when I lost my wallet, but they would not accept it. But some cruise lines will, so you never know. Also leave the itinerary with someone just in case someone needs to get in contact with you, in case of an emergency.
- Secure your home: If you are going away for more than a couple of days, make arrangements for someone to pick up your mail (or have your mail stopped) and check on your house. With so much sharing on social media, you never know when the wrong person is paying attention. Therefore, make sure that all the outside lights, of your house, are working and put your inside house lights on a timer.
- Don’t announce on social media your “countdown to vacation”: I see this so many times. Why give someone time to prepare for your absence at your home–especially if you live alone. This is giving the wrong person, the right opportunity to take advantage of your absence.
- Confirm all reservations and activities: If you are not working with a travel agent and booking everything on your own, prior to departing for your vacation, confirm all reservations and activities to ensure that what you thought you booked is actually booked. There is nothing worse than showing up to your destination and not having a reservation. Things happen. Humans and computers make mistakes. If you can confirm prior to departure, then it will make everything run smoothly when you arrive to your destination.
- Clean your house: Prior to every vacation, I make sure that my house is cleaned and laundry is done. I hate coming back from a long travel day and walking into an uncleaned home. It just makes your travel day that much better, when you can come home to a clean house.
- Look up the hotel and/or resort that you are staying: I always look up the hotel and/or resort that I am staying prior to arrival. I like to know everything that hotel has to offer me, what I can do while at the hotel, and what perks that I can get. At the same time, I like to know what the hotel does not offer, so that I can decide if I need to pack any extra comforts in my suitcase.
- Gather Embassy information: If I am traveling to a foreign country, I always gather the embassy information and address. If you feel the need, you can always register with the U.S. Embassy in the country you are visiting to let them know of your travel dates.
There are plenty more things that could be added to the list of preparations for an upcoming vacation. However, I wanted to provide you with the things that I find most important to properly prepare to jet set around the world.