Pre-Trip Checklists

Key items from the long-term travel checklists I keep in Evernote:

One Year Before Trip

Taiwan's EVA Airways, United miles partner

Taiwan’s EVA Airways, United miles partner

  • If using miles, flights often need to be booked 11 months in advance to get economy reward seats. Before booking, I pore over guidebooks and travel forums to craft an itinerary and plan flight routes. I prefer to arrive and depart from different cities in order to avoid backtracking. This is easily done by booking two one-way reward tickets; they can be with different airlines.
  • Check passport expiration date and visa requirements for the countries I’ll be visiting

Six Months Before Trip

Plaza Hotel, budget business hotel in Taichung, Taiwan, for U.S. $40 per night

Budget business hotel in Taichung, Taiwan, for U.S. $40 per night

  • Research accommodation using guidebooks, TripAdvisor, and Airbnb. Start booking top-rated budget accommodation as soon as possible, since it often fills up quickly, especially in popular destinations.

Three Months Before Trip

Stocking up on travel supplies at Amazon

Stocking up on travel supplies at Amazon

  • Survey clothing and gear requirements for the trip and start shopping for required items
  • Determine which vaccinations are required and make appointments to get them
  • Purchase travel and medical evacuation insurance if needed

A Week Before Trip

Checking out interesting local Meetup groups where I'll be traveling

Checking out interesting local Meetup groups where I’ll be traveling

  • Start packing
  • Take inventory of first aid kit and replace any missing or expired items
  • Register with home embassy or consulate in the countries I’ll be traveling
  • Figure out which ATM and credit cards to bring and submit travel notices online for each one. I take two ATM cards and two credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Snap photos of the front and back of each ATM and credit card, as well as any other important documents
  • Upload the following to a new directory in Google Drive and share with my family:
    • Passport and document photos
    • Flight info
    • Itinerary
    • Contact info of the person watching the house
  • Transfer travel funds into the bank accounts I plan to use. My primary travel account is Schwab Investor Checking, which refunds all ATM fees and has a daily withdrawal limit of U.S. $1,000. As a backup, I carry an ATM card for my local bank account.
  • Get cash from local bank. I usually bring U.S. $200 as a backup.
  • Send an email confirmation to the first hotel on my itinerary
  • Save offline Google maps on my phone of the area I’ll be traveling to if needed
  • Print the following:
    • Hotel confirmations if needed. It’s good to have a printed backup if there is any question about a reservation.
    • Any other reservations or tickets like day tours
    • Trip itinerary and contact info for the person watching the house
  • Check out local Meetup groups where I’ll be traveling and RSVP to any interesting events
  • Install and familiarize myself with any apps I plan to use, such as public transport navigation, dictionary, or messaging apps

Two Days Before Trip

XE.com currency converter

XE.com currency converter

  • Calculate how much money in local currency to withdraw from an ATM on arrival and record it in Evernote. I use xe.com to determine the amount in local currency based on my ATM card limits and common ATM machine limits in my destination country. This saves me having to do these calculations when I arrive, jet-lagged and groggy, at my destination.
  • Let my neighbors know my travel dates and contact info
  • Cancel Netflix account
  • Clean camera lens and charge battery
  • Book Uber to airport. I live in the suburbs and have had difficulty getting an Uber in the early morning. To avoid difficulties, I collected the cards of a couple of reliable drivers and arrange for one to be at my house when I make the Uber request.
Evernote notebook offline option

Evernote notebook offline option

  • Set Evernote trip notebooks to Offline Access in mobile app settings so I can access notes without a data connection. Note: Offline access requires a premium Evernote account; for me, Evernote Plus is worth it for this feature alone.

One Day Before Trip

  • Charge Kindle and check out library e-books for travel reading
  • Prepare snacks for travel day if needed
  • Water houseplants

Night Before Trip

Car

  • To keep gas from going bad during a long absence, add Stabil to gas tank as per instructions, then drive a short distance
  • Pump up tires to 40 psi to prevent flat spots
  • Hook up car battery charger
  • Lock car and store car keys out of sight

Day of Trip

  • Check flight status and sign up for status change alerts
  • Be packed and ready to go a few hours earlier than your planned departure time. Twice, I’ve had to take an earlier flight at very short notice due to a cancellation.

House

  • Hide gadgets and valuables if possible
  • Unplug power strips
  • Unplug toaster, kettle, etc.
  • Take out trash
  • Turn down water heater
  • Turn off water if possible
  • Turn off heat or A/C (in winter, keep heat on at a very low setting to prevent pipes freezing)

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