The Ultimate Pre-Trip Checklist

travel checklist_pre-trip checklistAs you’re preparing to leave for vacation, you’ve probably found yourself running through your mental pre-trip checklist of things to do and things to pack. Packed you swimsuit? Did that. Shampoo and face wash in tiny TSA-approved bottles? Got ’em. Checked in for your flight?. Done… But wait, why is the dog still here?

A vacation is rarely as easy as packing a bag and walking out the door. Given this truth, we created a checklist so you can leave the house and your cares behind. Follow these steps, and we promise you’ll walk out the door with a clear head, ready for vacation. Studies say that it can take Americans up to four days to stop thinking about work while they’re away. Hopefully, by eliminating other worries with this pre-trip checklist, you’ll be able to cut that down to two days, or maybe even zero. We’re here to help you actually relax on your vacation instead of thinking about whether you locked your front door on the way out.

So, Here Is Your Pre-Travel To-Do List

When you first book your trip, you’ll want to book your hotel, start creating an itinerary, and book a rental car for when you get to your destination. You may want to get new luggage, order packing cubes to maximize the space in each bag, and arrange for someone to take care of your pets .

Then weeks go by, and your vacation is just days or a week away, and you have so much to do. We’ve got you covered. This pre-vacation checklist will set you up for success.

A Few Days Before (Or One Week Before)

  • Stop the mail and newspaper(s). Nothing says you’re out of town like a scattering of newspapers piled up on your driveway, so put a hold on delivery while you are away. Many newspapers let you go online to set a stop and restart date. Be sure to hold the mail, too. If a package may be delivered while you are out of town (thank you, Amazon Prime), alert your neighbors. Ask if they can bring your package inside their home until you return.
  • Make sure your phone is ready to travel. If you’re leaving the country, check in with your cell phone provider. You may want to add an international calling plan. You do not want to get stuck with massive roaming fees and per-minute charges while you are away. AT&T’s International Day Pass and Verizon’s TravelPass both allow you to use your current cell plan while abroad for just $10 a day. If you don’t want to pay to use data internationally, turn on Airplane Mode for the entirety of your trip and use free WiFi in your hotel and cafes. Your data plans won’t charge you as long as you use WiFi. If you need to use your phone for directions or for restaurant recommendations, selectively turn off Airplane Mode and only pay for data on the days you need it.
  • Write down addresses. Most cities have multiple hotels with Marriott or Westin in their names, so make sure your taxi driver gets you to the correct one. No one wants to be jet-lagged and eager to check in only to be told there’s no reservation in your name. Why? Because you’re booked at the hotel with a similar name across town. Write down the address of the place you’re staying so you can easily give it to your driver who may not speak the same language as you.
  • Make copies. Make copies of important documents you’d be lost without, like passports, credit cards, and travel insurance documents. Leave one hard copy at home, place one copy in your suitcase, then email yourself a soft copy to an account you can access anywhere, like your Gmail or Yahoo account.

One Day Before

  • Clean Out the refrigerator. Do you have perishables, like strawberries or ground beef, that you can cut up, split up, and freeze? Take care of them before you go. No need to come home to spoiled and smelly food. Toss any leftovers you’ve saved in reusable containers, then place the containers in the dishwasher to clean them before you leave.
  • Get small bills. When you travel, you can never have enough small bills. You will most likely need a few to tip the valet, the bellhop, room service, housekeeping, etc. It’s not cool to ask the valet to change a $20, so get $1s and $5s before you leave home so that you can tip appropriately for good customer service.
  • Check the weather. Make sure you’ve packed a weather-appropriate wardrobe. You may be traveling to an area that is consistently sunny and mild, like Scottsdale, Arizona, but even this fairly reliable hot weather desert escape got snow this year. With the weather forecasting technology available today (“Alexa, what’s the forecast this week in….“), there’s no reason to get caught off guard by untimely weather. If it’s going to be chilly, pack extra layers that you can easily add or take off as the temperature fluctuates. If the forecast calls for rain, pack a lightweight umbrella, raincoat, or poncho you can easily carry with you.
  • Print out boarding passes. If you’re flying, check in for flights and print out boarding passes ahead of time, if only to ensure you don’t get stuck in boarding group D on Southwest. Some airlines may charge you if you don’t print them out at home, so keep that in mind to keep some extra cash in your wallet.
  • Inform those who need to know. Check in with next-door neighbors and immediate family members to let them you won’t be home. Let your bank and credit cards know where you’ll be traveling and when so they don’t hold your card if they think it was stolen. This is especially important if you’ll be away for a week or more.
  • Charge up the gadgets. Before you leave the house, juice up all phones, cameras, and tablets. The last thing you want to hear in the middle of a long plane ride or driving day is that one of the aforementioned gadgets is dead, especially not from a cranky child. Bring along a mobile device charger for the car and a portable power pack to use on-the-go.

As You’re Walking Out the Door

  • Adjust the thermostat. Avoid heating or cooling an empty house by turning your thermostat up or down. In the winter, set it between 50 and 60 degrees so that you’re not wasting energy to keep it warm. In the summer, adjust it to 85 degrees or higher. All the better if you have an adjustable thermostat that lets you set it and forget it. This way, it will go up or down while you’re away, then pop back to your everyday temperature a few hours before you step foot in the house.
  • Load the dishwasher. Leave the house with clean dishes. Or at the very least, load up the dishwasher and switch it on as you’re leaving for vacation. You do not want dirty, sticky dishes sitting on the counter attracting ants and causing a stink in your kitchen while you’re away.
  • Take out the trash. Make sure to take the trash outside before you leave, especially if you were handling any kind of raw meat or perishable foods the night before. The surest way to ruin your post-vacation glow is to walk into a house that stinks of rotten meat that’s been sitting in your kitchen trash can for a week.
  • Lock up. This one seems obvious, but make sure to close and lock all doors and windows. Fence gates, too. Gates naturally seem to invite strangers when left open.

Now, enjoy your vacation. Send us a postcard or simply use #TheKeytoTravel while you’re away to share your travel photos with us. If you procrastinated and still need to book a hotel for your trip, we can help. Visit today to compare loyalty member rates from your favorite hotel brands around the world.