My Pre-Travel Checklist for Stress-Free Trips

by joeheg

I’m a list writer (Note from Sharon: OMG, is he a list writer!). In fact, to this day, I still use a hard copy packing list when getting ready for a trip.

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(Note from Sharon – posted with Joe’s permission. But still…he has to write down to bring underwear and toothpaste? Really? #rolleyes #giggle)

I’ve noticed that besides the list of things I need to bring with me, I also need a list of the things I need to do before the trip. This is the stuff you don’t want to remember you haven’t done the night before or, even worse, the day of your vacation.

As our lives get busier, the list keeps getting longer because I keep forgetting to do more and more things.

Things to do one week before the trip

  • Double-check reservations – make sure everything is still in line. Plane reservations, hotel booking, rental car.
  • Speaking of those reservations – do you have a plan for getting to the airport or train station? Whether you have someone who’s going to drive you or if you’re driving yourself, confirm those plans. Do you need to arrange to park your car? Did your friend/relative forget that they were picking you up at 5 AM for your flight? Better to find out now.
  • If we’re driving instead of flying, do I have our route mapped out ahead of time? I know from experience that I can’t depend on Waze or Maps if I don’t have a cell phone signal for part of the trip.
  • Make sure to have plans for your pets – we’re lax at this one because we’re on good terms with Dobby’s “camp” (Dobby is our toy poodle) but we’ve gone up until a few days before a trip and had to call and ask, “Is there still room?”
  • Put mail and package delivery on hold (here are the updated ways of how to do this with the major shippers [UPS, USPS, FedEx])
  • Alert your credit cards – While most of them now say it’s not necessary, some of them still have a place on their websites where you can tell them, just in case.

Things to do a few days before the trip

  • Make sure you have enough of your medications for the trip, plus another day or two worth, just in case. Make sure your prescriptions are all refilled. I also have a list of over the counter drugs I need to bring when we travel and this is when I’ll restock any OTC’s that I’m low on (if I haven’t done so already).
  • Laundry – You don’t want to start packing and find out that the shirt or the pair of jeans you want to bring is still in the laundry pile. There is nothing like putting in a washing machine of clothes at 11 PM the night before a trip (we’ve done that before) (Note from Sharon: No dear, YOU’VE done that before).
  • Tell your neighbors you’ll be out of town. We like to alert them that we’ll be traveling, so if a moving truck arrives at the house, it’s time to call the cops. (Note from Sharon: I also ask them to water my flowers in the summer).
  • Stock up on anything else you need – Now that I have a pair of Bose headphones, we run through AAA batteries faster than we used to.
  • Update and verify your tech – Your phone is probably the most useful item you have for most trips. Make sure it’s updated. You don’t want to be downloading the new OS the night before you leave. Also, open up the apps you’ll need on your trip, especially if they have a login. Those can disappear when you update, and you don’t want to be at the airport checking in for a flight and not remembering the password or user name you made for the airline.
  • Get the most important thing you need to bring with you when traveling in the U.S., tip money. This is even more important since I apparently need to tip my UBER drivers with cash to help improve my passenger rating.

Things to do the day before the trip

  • Pack up your cables and plugs – this list will vary, depending on where you’re traveling.  When we’re going somewhere domestically, it might just be throwing some USB charging cables in the backpack. We have a dedicated set of plugs and cables that are just for when we travel, but if we’re going overseas, we have a whole extra bag of adapters, converters and plugs we bring so we don’t fry our electronics.
  • Load up your media players – download music, movies, books or whatever else you need to keep you occupied for your trip.
  • Charge your electronics, including your power banks – your tablet, phone, reader and computer are all no good if the battery’s dead. Don’t depend on the power jacks on the plane because they might not work. You also shouldn’t depend on public charging stations. Oh, and don’t be fooled by these at the airport.
  • Do the pre-trip wallet shuffle.
  • Empty the fridge of anything that’s going to go bad while you’re gone. You might not want to dump that milk down the drain but trust me, it’s better than dumping it after you get home when it’s a week past the expiration date. Not that I’ve ever had to do that either, or anything… (Note from Sharon: Mmmm hmmm…)

Things to do on the day of the trip

If you’ve done everything else, there are only a few things left:

  1. Enjoy your trip!!!!!!
  2. Go to step 1

Did I miss anything? Let me know…

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Glenn June 18, 2019 - 6:39 pm

After breaking a shoelace while putting my shoes back on after going through security, and then having to run across a large airport (with one shoe basically untied) to catch a very tight connecting flight, I learned to always keep a spare pair of shoelaces in my carry-on.

colleen June 18, 2019 - 10:28 pm

sunglasses, You’re only issued one original set of eyes. : )

joeheg June 18, 2019 - 11:52 pm

If I told you that I broke my favorite sunglasses on our last trip and hadn’t replaced them yet, would I get a pass?

colleen June 19, 2019 - 12:45 am

harsh, but you’ve only got one pair. 😉

you’re all good as long as you add it to the list. pronto.

(I have forgotten them many times, thus my evangelism)

Marchus Shane June 19, 2019 - 3:15 am

Probably always as being a traveler while shifting from one country to another we always need a guide about what should we pick up the things what kind of information.Sometimes when we are on hurry we get messed up with these things and automatically gets problem.So thank you for such a readable article about the things we shouldn’t forget while travelling.

Leslie Jenkins August 2, 2021 - 9:44 pm

We forgot to flush the toilet before we left for a 2 week trip. Ewwww.

joeheg August 3, 2021 - 9:34 am

I always check the toilets before we leave and occasionally dump in some bleach or other toiler cleaner. I just didn’t put it on the list 🙂

StAugustine January 1, 2023 - 12:46 pm

Now that EZ Pass is usable in Florida I have added to my carryon list my EZ Pass tag and the suction cup holder thingy for it that I got on Amazon. NOTE: if you take a toll road to the airport remember to bring the tag from the car you are NOT driving to the airport.


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