Pre-Trip Checklist


Ok, we know not everyone is a compulsive list maker, but trip details have a way of spinning out of control. This time-line guide will help you plan your trip.

One Year Ahead

  • Start Research, using websites and guidebooks.
  • Figure a realistic daily budget for room, food, sightseeing, and entertainment.
  • Start saving furiously. Open a savings account just for your vacation.
  • Consult a calendar of events for places you may want to be, or avoid on your trip.
  • If you are going abroad, consider taking a foreign language course.


Six Months Ahead

  • Check your passport if you are traveling outside the U.S. Make sure it is still valid (Some countries require a passport that’s valid for at least six months from dates of travel). Apply for a new one or renew it, if necessary.
  • Buy hiking or walking shoes, so you have enough time to break them in.
  • Do you need shots? Check with a doctor or a travel medicine specialist early. Some vaccines require several shots over a period of several months.
  • Contact destinations to get information and maps.
  • Test your camera equipment. Consider what else you’ll need to record memories.
  • Request time off from work (Some workplaces may require longer lead times.)


Three Months Ahead

  • Book your cruise, air, and hotel reservations. (Even earlier for peak travel times.)
  • At work request time off and begin a plan for your replacement to do your job.
  • Apply for visas, if needed.
  • Sketch out a rough daily itinerary that includes what you’d like to see and do. Include phones, addresses and costs. Include hours of operation.
  • Start a file of important papers (with copies of confirmation numbers) and keep it in a safe place (and one place only).


One Month Ahead

  • Set up an e-mail account accessible anywhere in the world.
  • Check with your bank to see whether your ATM card will work abroad.
  • Check out your luggage: Is it appropriate for your destination? Figure out a way to distinguish it from all the other black suitcases on the luggage claim belts.
  • If you are going abroad check with your cell phone service to see whether you can make/receive calls abroad.
  • Make kennel reservations for Fluffy and Fido or arrange for a pet-house-sitting service, earlier if it’s a peak travel time.
  • Finalize air, rental car reservations and hotel if you haven’t done so yet.
  • If this is a driving trip, have the mechanic check your car and get maps.
  • Consider your wardrobe. Do you have appropriate clothing for your destination? If not, go shopping or plan to shop at your destination.


One Week Ahead

  • Put a vacation stop on your newspaper.
  • Request a hold on mail delivery.
  • Give copies of your itineraries to two or three trusted relatives or friends who will help if there’s an emergency. Also give a copy to a neighbor so you can be reached if there’s an emergency at your house.
  • Check your prescriptions. Re-fill if needed. Make a copy and file with important papers.
  • Verify again hotel, car rental and airline reservations.
  • Ask a neighbor to put out your trash and take trash tubs back in.
  • Call for shuttle service (or go online) and arrange a ride to the airport.
  • Make sure all your trip documentation is in one folder. (A bright colored plastic file folder can be easily spotted in your carry-on). Include copies of confirmations, passports, maps, telephone numbers, addresses, prescriptions for meds and eyeglasses.
  • Print yourself a copy of emergency contacts at home and put it in the same folder.
  • E-mail yourself scans of your important documents, such as your passport, to that e-mail account you set up.
  • Going out of the country? Call your credit card companies and let them know.
  • Get some local currency through a bank, auto club, or currency exchange house.


Two Days Ahead

  • Put lights on a timer.
  • If you are driving, make sure you have games, audio books and music to amuse yourself and kids, and emergency items (flashlight, spare tire) in case of problems.
  • Check the long-range forecast ( and make sure you have appropriate clothing.
  • Pack. Now take out half of what you have packed and leave it at home.
  • Get rid of perishables in the refrigerator.
  • Make sure you have a carry-on bag with essentials, in case your checked luggage doesn’t arrive. This includes medication.
  • Put a copy of your itinerary with your name and contact information in your suitcase.
  • Get cash or traveler’s checks.
  • Check the camera batteries, put the camera manual in your bag and pack extra batteries or a battery charger.


One Day Ahead

  • Take pets to kennel.
  • Turn down furnace or turn up air conditioner.
  • Put water heater on “vacation setting”.
  • Water plants.
  • Print your boarding pass.
  • Put snacks and bottled water in your carry-on.
  • Stay calm and get a good night’s sleep.


Have a Great Journey!