Pre-trip checklists can save you from forgetting important details. Here are some key items from my travel checklists.
One Year Before Trip
- If using miles, flights often need to be booked 11 months in advance to get economy reward seats. Before booking, I use guidebooks and travel forums to craft an itinerary and plan flight routes. I prefer open-jaw trips: arriving and departing from different cities 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
- Research accommodation using guidebooks, TripAdvisor, and Airbnb. If going to a popular destination like Japan, book top-rated budget accommodation as soon as possible, since it fills up quickly.
Three Months Before Trip
- Survey clothing and gear requirements for the trip and start shopping
- Determine required vaccinations and make appointments to get them
- Purchase travel and medical evacuation insurance
A Week Before Trip
- Start packing
- Take inventory of first aid kit and replace 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 if needed. 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. You can upload these to Google Drive for emergency access during your trip.
- Transfer travel funds into the bank accounts I plan to use. My main 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 the ATM card for my local bank account.
- Get cash. I usually bring U.S. $200 as a backup.
- Save offline Google maps on my phone of the area I’ll be traveling to if needed
- 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
- 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
- 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 having to do these calculations when I arrive, jet-lagged and groggy.
- Set Evernote trip notebooks to Offline Access in mobile app settings to access notes without an Internet connection. Note: Offline access requires a premium Evernote account. For me, Evernote Personal is worth it for this feature alone.
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.
Do you have a pre-trip checklist? Please share your suggestions in the comments.