After ten years of full-time travel, you’d think we’d be better at it. But time and again, we make stupid mistakes that cause stress and cost money — and often, these errors could have been avoided if we’d just checked that we’d done the kind of thing we normally do without even thinking.
Sometimes, though, essential tasks get forgotten, and we’ve finally decided that we really need a “day-before-you-travel” checklist to make sure that everything’s been done.
Now we just have to remember to use it!
Passport and visas
- Check that you have your passport and that it hasn’t expired. Some countries require that the passport be valid for the entire duration of your stay, or for a certain number of months from arrival. Make sure that you have enough time remaining.
- I know you’ve already checked to see if you need a visa for wherever you’re going, but, uh, just look it up again. It’s worth the time. Make sure you meet all the requirements for entry: some countries require onward tickets or proof of funds, for example.
- Check in online for your flights if you haven’t already.
- Print off boarding passes or make sure you’ve saved the code to your phone. I usually take a screenshot of boarding confirmation codes for accessibility.
- Print off any bus or train tickets you need, or make sure you have them to hand.
- If you haven’t already, book some accommodation or make a plan for where to stay.
- If you’re staying with someone, contact them to confirm your arrival time.
- Find the address, and enter it into the map app on your phone. Save a pin or take a screenshot.
- Record the address somewhere other than your phone so you have access to it if your phone runs out of batteries or otherwise lets you down.
- Run through the entire journey you’re going to make, from your starting point to your accommodation tomorrow night. Consider: how are you getting to and from the airport/bus station/train station? toandfromtheairport.com is a helpful resource.
- Check prices for local transport if you’re going to use it.
- Make sure that you have all the clothes and equipment you need for your trip, including toiletries and medicines.
- Check the airline’s size and weight limit for baggage and make sure you’re not too far over!
- Buy travel insurance or check that your policy is valid.
- If you’re travelling to a country that uses a different currency, make a plan for getting money. You could pre-purchase currency, plan to make a withdrawal from a local ATM, or take some cash with you to convert on arrival. Don’t forget to make sure you have enough cash in the account you will withdraw cash from. Thanks to Christine Parkhill for this tip.
- Download podcasts or audiobooks for the journey and update apps.
- Set several alarms to wake you up in the morning. Thanks to Amanda Kendle for this tip.
Special thanks to a podcast listener who suggested this section when we sent through his extensive pre-trip winter-proofing checklist! You’ll have to consider the individual needs of your house, and items will vary depending on how long you’re going away.
- Clean the house so you come back to a pleasant environment.
- Winter proof pipes if necessary.
- Contact your house sitter to confirm arrival time or leave a set of keys with your neighbour for emergencies.
- Lock all doors and windows that you won’t be using the next day.
There are lots of tricks you can use to prepare for your trip and make sure you avoid stress, pain, and being turned back from borders. What have we missed? What do you do before a big trip? Let us know in the comments!
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