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Pre-travel Checklist: Last minute things to remember before traveling

leaving home pre-travel checklist

Locking the door as you head out on your trip is an exciting moment. It’s also one of the most stressful.

Put worries aside with a pre-travel checklist! Keep reading to find out things to do before leaving on a trip.

How can a pre-vacation checklist help you?

Using a list of things to do before traveling:

  • Reduces worry over forgetting to do something important. With a checklist, planning becomes less stressful. You know you won’t forget anything. 
  • Helps you to feel less exhausted by all the details that go into planning a trip. With a checklist of what to do before traveling, you can have fun even in the planning and preparing stages of a trip!
  • Frees up your energy to focus on other tasks. It can be hard to balance normal life with travel preparations. A checklist of things to do before going on a trip keeps trip planning from sapping all your energy and time.
  • Reminds you of the things you need to do before traveling, but aren’t part of your normal day. A pre-travel list brings the peace of mind that you remembered to put a travel notice on your credit card and locked the back door that normally stays open. 
  • Helps you to remember the things you do on autopilot during your normal routine but can be easily overlooked when your routine is disrupted on a travel day. With a pre-travel checklist, you can be secure in knowing that you put your medications in your bag and not back on the shelf!
  • Reminds you that you already did something, which is vital on those really hectic days. This can be especially comforting when panicked thoughts pop up halfway to the airport. Just peek at your checklist and you’ll have proof that you actually did lock the house door.

Apps to keep a list of things to remember when traveling

Keep your travel checklist on your phone. That way, you’ll be able to add things quickly while planning. When traveling, you can easily reassure yourself that you didn’t forget anything. Just open your phone and away you go!

On iPhones, the Notes app is actually sufficient for your travel checklist. While basic, it gets the job done and can be stored on the cloud and accessed on all iOS devices.

If you use an Android phone that doesn’t come with a note-taking app, you can use the Google Sheets or Docs apps. 

There are also several apps specifically for making checklists. I haven’t used this one, but 2Do looks interesting and is compatible with multiple operating systems.

Things to do before a trip

The amount of things to put on a pre-travel checklist can be overwhelming. Some things should be done a few weeks before traveling. Some things should be done the day before leaving. Other things must be done right before walking out the door. 

This list of things to check before travelling will help you get everything done on your pre-travel countdown!

Things to do before travel: 1-3 weeks ahead

  • Stop your mail or arrange for someone to empty your mailbox regularly.*
  • Put bills on autopay or schedule their payment.
  • Tell a trustworthy neighbor that you’ll be traveling and ask them to keep an eye on your place.*
  • Give a trusted friend a key for emergencies.*
  • Share your itinerary with a trusted friend.
  • Arrange for pet care.*
  • Confirm that you have the necessary insurance.
  • Confirm flight and other travel arrangements.
  • Confirm accommodations.
  • Research medication restrictions, if traveling internationally or with controversial medications.
  • Ensure sufficient prescription medications are available; refill if needed.
  • Write your packing list; clean, repair, or buy items as needed.
  • Wear your travel clothes to be sure that they are comfortable and you feel good in them.
  • Do a test day with your travel shoes. Do they stand up to a long day of sightseeing?
  • Plan travel day food. Will you pack for a road trip, eat at the airport, fast until arriving at your destination?
  • Plan return day food. Will a friend drop off a meal? Will you eat out? Will you stop by the grocery store on the way home?

*These won’t be necessary if you ask a friend to house sit or to stop by a few times a week to water the plants, check the mail, and make the house look lived in.

Things to do before travel: The day before leaving

  • Finish packing.
  • Check the contents of your bag against your packing list.
  • Eat, give away, or throw out perishable food.
  • Ensure non-perishable food is properly stored to keep out vermin.
  • Clean the house so you’ll come back to a refreshing space.*
  • Do laundry so you don’t come back to a pile of moldering stinkiness.*
  • Water the plants.
  • Put lights on a staggered timer.

*These depend on the length of your trip and personal preferences.

Things to do before travel: Travel Day

  • Check your bag’s contents against the packing list.
    • Do you have all your medications?
    • Do you have your ID?
    • Do you have two forms of payment?
    • Do you have your tickets?
    • Do you have proof of insurance?
    • Do you have accommodation contact information?
  • Check that all toilets are flushed completely and have stopped running.
  • Check that all faucets, including those outside, are turned off and not dripping.
  • Check that the refrigerator is completely closed (or unplugged if empty).
  • Check that all windows are locked.
  • Check that all side and back doors are locked.
  • Turn down the thermostat.
  • Turn off all the lights.
  • Lock the front door, including the deadbolt (Put the key in your bag!).
  • Go enjoy your trip with the peace of mind that you’ve done everything you needed to do!

Things to do before flying

If your trip includes flying, there are a few more things to remember when traveling.

  • Check your travel shoes. Are they easy to remove while standing?
  • Check your bag. 
  • Confirm your flight times and connections.
  • Have two ways of accessing your tickets in case one way doesn’t work.
  • Plan and confirm transportation to and from the airport.
  • Plan and confirm transportation at your destination, if needed.

Things to do before traveling internationally

Building on the previous two sections, there are a few more things to remember before travelling overseas. Ideally, you’d do all these steps well before the last minute, but if you didn’t or you have an unexpected last-minute trip, this checklist can help you cover the essentials.

  • Double-check that your passport is valid for the necessary time. (Do this as soon as your trip is confirmed. It can take months to renew a passport.)
  • Double-check that you’ve met visa and vaccination requirements.
  • Double-check that you have needed doctor’s notes and a copy of prescriptions, if needed.
  • Buy travel insurance. (Hopefully, you didn’t wait until the last minute, but if you did, buy it now!)
  • Activate the international plan on your cell phone or decide on another option. (If you can do this ahead of time, that’s even better.)
  • Research options in case your cell phone doesn’t work at your destination. (Again, it’s better not to wait until the last minute, but if you forgot, now’s the time to do the research.)
  • Review TSA requirements and pack accordingly. (These can change unexpectedly, a quick look the night before you leave can help keep you up to date.)
  • Research cultural considerations at your destination and edit your packing list as needed. (Ideally, you’ve done this earlier, but if you’re a last-minute packer, take two minutes to research this.)


A pre-travel checklist can help you to keep track of things to remember before traveling. With a checklist to help, you can stop worrying and start enjoying your trip!

What else would you add to these lists?

Written by Jill

Jill Hames is a freelance writer, musician, and ESL teacher who, at the age of four, said she wanted to learn every language in the world. She hasn’t managed that yet, but is proud to have taught herself enough Swahili to understand context from native speakers. She's too busy having fun with music and language to be found online.

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