You’ve booked your flights, made the necessary arrangements for arriving in your destination, and it’s almost time to go! Now what kinds of travel preparations do you need to make before you leave? Well, I’m glad you asked!
When planning a trip, we spend so much time thinking about what we’ll do when we get there that it’s easy to forget the things we need to do at home before we leave. There are a few travel preparations you can make ahead of time that will set you up for success on the road and make sure you don’t come home to an unpleasant surprise.
Use this article to make your own travel preparations checklist so you can make sure you get everything done! For an in-depth look at planning an international trip, particularly to Europe, check out this article. Now, let’s get to it!
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Travel Preparations Checklist for Getting Your Home Ready
The last thing you want at the end of an epic trip is to come home to an unexpected mess. There are a few quick and easy things you can do to get your place ready for you to be gone, whether it’s for a week or a longer stretch. If you have a love done nearby or neighbor you trust, let them know you’re leaving and ask them to check on things for you.
Four steps to get your home ready for travel:
Hold your mail or have someone you trust pick it up for you. Here’s the link for US addresses to request a mail hold online
Arrange care for your pets and plants, if you have any. Trusted Housesitters is a great option, if you don’t have friends or family who can look after things for you.
Schedule yard care, if your home has a yard. We’ve had a neighborhood teenager mow the lawn and also hired professional services for around $30 per visit.
Get a timer for a light or two in the house. Set them to go on around dusk and off either around bedtime or in the morning. It’s a super easy and affordable bit of security.
Travel Preparations Checklist for Accessing Money Abroad
There are few things that will send you into a panic faster than arriving in a new country and being unable to access your money! Thankfully, with a few clicks or quick phone calls you can make sure that doesn’t happen. I’ve been doing this since 2008 and have never had an issue (knock on wood) when I take these steps.
Research your destination to find out if you need to take foreign currency with you. For travel to Europe it’s not necessary to get cash beforehand. When you arrive, simply visit the ATM in the airport to get local currency. Some countries, like Denmark and Sweden, prefer that you use a credit card so you may not need cash at all. Check out this article for more tips on planning your trip to Europe.
Three steps to access your money when traveling internationally:
Contact your bank and credit cards to let them know your travel plans.
Save phone numbers for your bank and credit cards in your phone so you can call if there’s a problem.
Make sure your ATM card works by getting a little cash to get you to your destination.
Travel Preparations Checklist for Accessing Your Itinerary
When you’re arriving in a new destination, you want to have all the important information easily accessible. You’ll probably be tired and just want to get to your accommodation. Knowing you have everything you need readily available with help you feel more confident when you arrive.
I’m a fan of having a backup plan (or two) in case the technology isn’t working the way I’d hoped. This means I have a printed copy of my itinerary with me and also have the document downloaded on my phone. It’s just a one page document I create (front and back if I’ll be gone for a while) with the important information about my travel plans. Overkill? Maybe, but a piece of paper doesn't take up much space and gives me extra peace of mind.
Before you go, save the phone numbers for airlines and accommodations in your phone, just in case. Also save the addresses for your accommodations. If you’re staying in an apartment, make sure you chat with the host beforehand to arrange your arrival. Bookmark the accommodations and transportation hubs in your Google Maps before you go so they’re easy to see on your map.
What itinerary information should you have readily available?
Flights: Dates, airline, booking confirmation number, departure and arrival times, flight number, seat information.
Accommodations: Check-in and check-out dates, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses (if provided), and confirmation numbers.
Other Transportation (train, bus, ferry, etc.): dates of travel, departure and arrival times, and also print your tickets if they send them via email. Having the printed ticket has saved me a ton of hassle that I’ve watched other passengers go through.
Rental Car: name of the agency, pickup and dropoff dates, pickup and dropoff locations, phone number, type of car, booking confirmation
Travel Preparations Checklist for Technology
Modern technology makes travel so much easier! Making sure you have your phone, laptop, and other devices ready to go will make your transit more enjoyable and help you avoid any issues when you arrive at your destination. This bit of travel preparation is one of the keys to making sure you don’t overpay for data usage and other fees.
Deciding how to manage your phone service is one of the biggest pieces of getting your technology ready for international travel. Most carriers offer options for overseas phone usage. The best choice for you will depend on the length of your trip and how much access you want while you’re out and about.
Personally, I usually go with a minimal amount of data and phone service, which I reserve for emergencies. During the day, I want to be present in the moment, not looking at my phone. Accessing email and social media can wait until I have wifi at my accommodation. I load my Google Maps with bookmarks before I go so everything is accessible without data or wifi. For tips on how to use Google Maps for planning your trip, check out this article.
Steps to Prepare Your Technology for International Travel:
- Check your phone carrier’s international options and set up your service. (You can also use a local SIM card -- here’s an article about that).
- Bookmark important locations to Google Maps.
- Download apps that make travel easier! (next section)
- Download books, movies, music, and games to your devices.
- Make sure your devices are fully charged before you head to the airport. A backup battery pack is helpful too.
- Take pictures of important documents (passports, visas, etc.) and put them in a secure folder in your phone.
- Organize all your cords, chargers, and adapters in a small case for your carry-on.
Apps to Download to Make Travel Easier:
- Airline apps: I always download the apps for all the airlines I’ll be flying.
- Accommodation apps: Booking.com, Hostelworld, AirBnB, VRBO, and brand specific apps are great for easily accessing your reservations on the go.
- Public Transportation apps: many cities have apps for their public transportation systems that make them easier to use. You may be able to buy tickets right from your phone and access maps of the system on the fly.
- Google Maps: I assume this is a given, but I’ll put it here anyway. This is probably the app I use most often when I’m traveling. Here are some tips for customizing your Google Maps to make it extra helpful!
- Special Interest Apps: there are all sorts of great apps for special interests (hiking, historical sites, etc.) or specific destinations. Simply search your device's app store to see what’s available.
Now that your travel preparations are complete, you’re ready to go! I hope that having all this information in one place gives you peace of mind. None of these things take a lot of time to do, but they help everything run smoothly.
I’m a total nerd for travel planning, so here are some other popular articles to help you create the most awesome travel experience!
- Planning A Europe Trip: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Trip You’ll Love
- 7 Tips for Finding Cheap Flights to Anywhere You Want to Go
- 5 Different Types of Accommodations that Can Save You Money on Your Next Trip
- How to Plan a Trip With Google Maps in 4 Easy Steps
- How to Plan a Travel Budget + Tips to Save Money on Indie Travel
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If you’d like to talk to a real person who can give you insight on your plans or want some help figuring out the details, check out these consulting services. They’re designed specifically for fiercely independent travelers like us -- you won’t be handing your trip over to anyone and you’ll only get the assistance you want.
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What does your travel preparation process look like? Is there anything you’d add to this list?
Share your thoughts in the comments!
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