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Pre Travel Checklist: 31 Things to do at Home Before Going on Holiday!

Are you wondering what to do before a vacation to make sure you’re prepared? I’ve forgotten more things than I can count and struggled with organization when traveling for a while. In the last few years, since having kids, I’ve learned how to be organized and use checklists to help me be more relaxed when I’m traveling and on vacation. I’ve compiled the ultimate pre travel checklist which includes 31 things to do at home before going on holiday. Starting at the top of the list are items that can be done earlier pre-travel followed by the more last minute items towards the end of the list. Whether you are traveling to an international destination, to the national parks, or somewhere else in the states, you’ll be fully prepared if you follow this checklist. And you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation stress free knowing you did all the vacation prep you needed to.

1. Put a Stop on Your Mail

If you don’t have a house sitter, or are going to be gone for more than a couple days I would recommend putting a stop on your mail. The last thing you want is to have your mail stolen or piling up in your mailbox. The first time putting a stop on your mail is the most difficult. You’ll have to create a USPS account initially, but after that it’s an easy process. Click the link here to put a stop on your mail.

2. Find a House and/or Pet Sitter

Having a house or pet sitter you trust is amazing for your peace of mind while traveling. You won’t have to worry if anyone is bothering your house or if any maintenance issues popped up. We actually had our sprinkler system with a huge leak while we were traveling that was noticed by our neighbor who was watching our house! That time alone saved us a ton of money. And if you have pets, it’s so nice to know that someone is watching your babies and giving them lots of love while you’re gone.

3. Make Restaurant and Ticket Reservations

Depending on where you are going, it may be a good idea to make restaurant reservations or reserve tickets for different events ahead of time. It’s so fun to be flexible at times, but it helps to look into some of this ahead of time. I like to have some of our travel be spontaneous, but I make it a point to make reservations or buy tickets for things that I would be really disappointed if we missed out on.

4. Get Travel Insurance

It’s never a bad idea to get travel insurance, especially if you are traveling internationally or with your kids. Luckily we haven’t had to use ours up to this point, but just knowing we have a plan in case of emergencies is so important. There are tons of great travel insurance companies out there, we’ve used Allianz Global Assistance in the past and it was really easy and affordable.

5. Pay Bills

Look for any bills that are going to be due while you are gone or shortly after you come back. Pay them ahead of time if you can. Better yet, put everything on auto pay and you won’t have to worry about it. I’m always a little out of sorts when I return from vacation so I try to pay my bills out at least a week after returning so I don’t miss any payments.

6. Plan Your Airport Transportation

Make a plan for getting yourself and your family to the airport. If you are planning to use a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft, you can often pre-schedule the pickup to make sure there is a driver available. If you’re planning to park at the airport, it’s a good idea to check out the map and figure out which terminal you’ll be in, especially if you are unfamiliar with the airport. Or if you’re planning to have a friend drop you off, it’s probably a good idea to give them a reminder and set a time you would like them to pick you up.

7. Make a Vacation Playlist

A vacation specific playlist is totally optional (obviously!) We love to add songs to a playlist for a month or so before our trip that gives us the vibes we’re looking for while we’re there. It’s super fun to listen to new music, and it’s fun to revisit this playlist when you’re home and reminiscing on the fun times you had.

8. Download Books, Podcasts, Music, Movies

Never, and I mean NEVER, trust that the airport wi-fi will come through for you when you need it. I’ve definitely made this mistake and found myself sitting on the plane in silence because I forgot to download a podcast or book. If you’re traveling with kids, make sure to download movies or YouTube shows they’ll like. Netflix makes it really easy to download shows as well. And don’t forget headphones for you and your kids.

9. Pick up Prescription or Over the Counter Medications

As a pharmacist, I have to mention this one! This may one of the most important things on your pre travel checklist. It will definitely put a damper on your trip if you end up in the emergency department to get refills of your medications, or scrambling around trying to get ahold of your doctors office.

It’s also a good idea to pick up any over the counter medications you may need including pain relievers, stool softeners, anti-diarrheal medication, antacids, allergy medications, motion sickness, sleep aids, first aid kit supplies, etc. If you are traveling to a country with malaria or high rates of traveler’s diarrhea make sure to get an appointment to get prescriptions for those as well (or get your pre-travel vaccinations).

10. Print Travel Documents

In today’s world, we usually have all of our travel documents on our phone. Maybe it’s old school of me, but I try to make sure I have a printed copy of important travel documents just in case my phone dies or the internet isn’t working. It’s also helpful to have copies of your passport with you, but not absolutely necessary.

I’m a little (or a lot) type A, so I always have a printed rough itinerary as well. I don’t plan out every detail of our trip, but I do like to write down where we’re staying when, ideas of short hikes or things to do in the area, and restaurants within our budget with good reviews.

11. Clean Out Your Vehicle

Cleaning out your car or truck is very important if you’re going to be going on a road trip. If you’re like us, your car will be very messy by the end of your road trip, so starting with a clean slate is best. Make sure you have some of the basic road trip essentials in your car like tissues/napkins, chapstick, phone chargers, etc.

12. Make a Last Minute Trip to the Store

It’s time for your last minute grocery store run. If you need any travel size toiletries, snacks, crossword puzzles, etc. Make sure to take inventory of a special road trip snack that each member of your party likes. You’ll save money by buying this at the grocery store rather than making purchases at the gas station every time. We also try to bring some healthy options too. Don’t get me wrong, we love junk food on occasion, but fruits and veggies make for good road trip snacks too! This is also a good time to make sure you have ice or ice packs in the freezer if you’re planning to pack a cooler.

13. Fill Up With Gas or Charge Your Vehicle

When you make a trip to the store, just go ahead and fill up. Don’t save this for the “we’ll just get it in the morning”. I am that type of person, and thankfully my husband is not. If the road trip is going well, you’ll be able to get to your destination quicker if you don’t have to make an unexpected stop at the gas station.

14. Withdraw Some Cash

This may not be relevant if you’re traveling within the states. However, it’s a good idea to have some cash on hand no matter where you’re traveling in case your credit cards get cancelled or your wallet gets stolen. Store some of this cash in a different place than your wallet or in a fanny pack, just in case! It’s also fun to get some local currency at the bank if you’re traveling to a new country.

15. Double Check the Yard

No one wants to come home to a dead lawn that you’ve worked hard to keep up all year! Whether that is making sure your sprinkler system is set to the correct settings or giving those outdoor plants one last watering, it’s an important thing to double check. This would also be a good time to mow your lawn one last time or make sure you have someone to mow your lawn while you’re gone.

16. Water Indoor Plants

This kind of goes with the item above, but if you’re like me you will forget about those poor indoor plants. Although weirdly, my indoor plants seem to thrive when I forget about them… You can use self-watering bulbs for your plants instead if you’re going to be gone for a while.

17. Eat or Throw Away all Perishable Food

I try to plan our weekly menu for the week before travel around using up perishable food we have in the fridge or the pantry. If it gets close to the day of you leaving and there are things that are not going to last throughout your trip, get rid of them. You definitely don’t want to come home to moldy or stinky food in the fridge. Or better yet, gift them to your neighbor if it’s something worth sharing.

18. Check the Weather at Your Destination

This one is important. Even if you think you’re going to a tropical paradise, the weather could surprise you. Make sure to pack at least a few outfits that prepare you for weather you are not expecting. Not to mention, you may still have time to pivot some of your plans if you’re supposed to have poor weather or a major storm.

19. Do Laundry

Make sure to do laundry the day or two before you leave so you can pack those extra underwear that needed washing. However, it’s also important to not do this too far in advance or you may end up with a bunch of dirty clothes again and nothing to pack. My friend once packed too early, and was slowly picking clothes out of her suitcase in the time leading up to her trip. When she ended up at her destination, she actually had zero pants to wear. Whoops!

20. Clean the House

There is nothing better than coming home to a clean house after a long week of travel. I promise your future self will thank you for this one. And, if you have a house sitter, it’s important to leave them a nice house. Run your robot vacuum one last time as you are leaving for an extra sparkly floor for you to return to.

21. Pack

Okay, this is obvious thing to add to our pre travel checklist but here is your reminder to start packing. I know it’s hard and you probably are planning to leave this for the very last minute, but just do it now! That will give you time to do extra laundry or make a trip to the store if you need. It’s also helpful to make a list of last minute items that you can’t pack quite yet. This way, you won’t forget anything you need.

22. Last minute grooming

I like to do some last minute grooming at home as part of my pre travel checklist so I feel fresh when I arrive to my destination. Remember to shave, clip your toenails, get a manicure or paint nails (if you like), wash your hair, and any other things that are part of your routine.  I love to put on some stick on nail strips because I don’t have the patience for the salon. I definitely keep my pre vacation beauty checklist simple. You’ll be ready to hit the beach or the pool right when you arrive!

23. Make a List of Last Minute Items

Items that you can’t pack until morning need to go on a list, trust me – I’ve forgotten my toothbrush more than half of the time I travel. Other things on this list may include other toiletries, water bottle, baby monitor, phone charger and more things you use up until the time you leave. Don’t trust yourself to remember this in the morning when you are chasing your kids around to get them dressed.

24. Choose your Next Day Outfit

No more fumbling in the dark for whatever outfit you plan to wear to the airport. Just pick one and set it out so you can travel comfortably the next day.

25. Check-in for Your Flight

If you haven’t learned how to check in for your flight before you get to the airport, this is your sign to learn! You will save yourself so much time by not going through the check-in desk. I can’t count how many times the self-serve kiosks have been malfunctioning. Get your boarding pass on your phone and print an extra copy if you’d like before you get to the airport.

26. Charge Your Devices

A crucial item on the pre travel checklist is to make sure to charge all of your devices including iphones, ipads, portable chargers, laptops, headphones, and more. And don’t forget to charge your portable charger if you have one! Occasionally the planes will have chargers, but don’t rely on that. It’s no fun to be the person sitting on the floor of the airport because you need a phone charger or worst of all to have a dead iPad when you’re trying to entertain your toddler! 

27. Weigh Your Bag

If you have a scale at home, it’s so helpful to weigh your checked bag prior to going to the airport. I have also been the person whose bag was over the weight limit. Having to open and rearrange your luggage when there are 20 people waiting behind you is not ideal. Even if your scale is slightly off, you can get an estimate of where you’re at.

28. Run the Dishwasher

Don’t leave dirty dishes in the dishwasher all week. Just run it and if you don’t have time to unload it, at least the dishes will be clean for when you get back. Your future self will thank you!

29. Turn Down the Heat or AC

Depending on the season it’s good to do one of these two things to save some money on bills and also to be as eco-friendly as possible. Don’t turn it down so far that your pipes will freeze, but at least lower than you’d normally keep it for comfort.

30. Take Out the Garbage/Recycling/Compost

This kind of goes without saying that you don’t want smelly garbage sitting there for a week while you’re lounging on the beach. That will not be a good welcome home, I promise.

31. You’ve done everything! Now you can relax and enjoy your vacation!

Okay, now you can take a deep breath and relax – your pre travel checklist is COMPLETE. That is, after you arrive at your destination. Hopefully this list will give you some peace of mind that you did all the things you needed to get done before leaving for vacation!

What else do you do before you leave for vacation?? Leave a comment!

Happy travels!

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