We’re heading into some of the busiest travel months of the year. You don’t want to get caught forgetting something important or scrambling at the last minute to get stuff done. There are a lot of things you can line up before you go to have a smoother trip. I’ve learned from experience.
I’ve put together my personal checklist. Some of these seem very basic, but when you’re getting ready to go away, you’d be surprised at what might slip your mind.
Personal things to do
Double check when your passport expires. Some countries may not allow you in if your passport expires within three months of your date of return home. Jamaica is an example of one that may not depending on some factors. Get it renewed before traveling if this is the case. The last thing you want to happen is to be denied entry into the country once you land. If you’re traveling with children or elderly parents, also check theirs.
Call the bank where you have your debit and credit cards. Let them know where you’re headed to make sure they don’t put a hold on your cards because they think it’s suspicious activity.
Know what can go in your carry-on. Airline restrictions always change, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people scrambling to unload a too-heavy bag or throw away items that weren’t allowed, just to get on a plane. If you need some packing tips, check out our posts, Travel fashion Q&A with Samantha and Aldo and Do you really need to take it with you?
Make sure you have and pack all necessary documents. ID and documents needed differ from country to country, but a passport, visas, medical information or inoculation, driver’s license, birth certificate and student or senior international ID cards for discounts, are some. For example, to visit Australia from specific countries, you may need some additional paperwork.
Make copies of the important documents. If there is an emergency, or you lose them, don’t forget to make copies of the ones you’re taking with you.
Phone plan. If you’re traveling abroad, get a travel plan for international calling, texting or data, or to unlock your phone.
Take care of medical needs. If you have prescriptions or any health needs that might come up while you’re on vacation, take care of them before you leave. You don’t want to get stuck somewhere without enough medication or in need of medical assistance for something that could have been looked after before you left (not including medical emergencies).
Travel insurance, yes or no? If you have regular insurance, check if it covers travel for cancellations, illness or other things that might come up when you’re away. If it doesn’t, or you have no insurance, I am a strong believer in getting travel insurance. It is hard to get money back from them sometimes, but it is impossible to recoup money if you have none.
Line these up for your destination before you go
Reservations. Book your spots for popular restaurants, major sights or tour guides because it’s peak season. You may be out of luck when you get there. If you’re someone who likes to book accommodations as you go rather than ahead of time, think twice about it during peak season because of availability. If you’ve ever been stuck staying somewhere you do not want to be; you will know how important this point is. Trust me!
Car rental. If you’re renting a car when you reach your destination, make sure your driver’s license is valid. An International Driving Permit is required in some countries so make sure you’re eligible to drive there before renting a car.
When you’re taking the train. Before you leave home, you will need to reserve trains in certain countries or get a rail pass. During this time of year, it’s sometimes impossible to do it when you arrive.
Traveling short distances between countries. For short distance flights, especially in Europe and parts of the Caribbean, I’ve booked flights once I get there. It’s almost as easy as hopping on a train or bus. But during peak season you want to get the best price and make sure you can get a seat, so I suggest booking before you leave.
Download necessary travel apps. You may need apps like translators, maps, discounts and schedules when you get to your destination. No one wants to have to eat into data or get hit with huge roaming fees having to download things when you’re away that you could have done at home.
Let someone know what you’re doing. Tell someone at home where you’ll be and what valuables you’re taking with you (including photos and any information you have about them, like serial numbers). Make sure they also have your current contact information.
This is my to-do list before I go, what are some of yours?