When it comes to travel, there is a long list of tasks and chores that must be done before you even leave home. Use the travel checklist below and leave home with the peace of mind that you didn't forget to take care of something important.
Confirm Your Identification is Current
Check the expiration date on your driver's license or passport. At the ticket counter at the airport or when trying to rent a car is not the time to find out that your license has expired. If you'll be traveling internationally, check your passport's expiration date well in advance. The normal turn-around time for passport renewals is 60 days. If you need it sooner, be prepared to pay to expedite the renewal.
Cell Phone Plan
Make sure your cell phone plan will adequately cover you while you're away so you don't return from vacation to a cell phone bill that is significantly higher than normal. Call your carrier's customer service department and alert them of your travel plans. The agent will be able to explain your options and make you aware of any potential additional charges. Many plans offer short-term upgrades to your agreement for a reasonable fee that cover international usage, texting and internet access while traveling.
Determine whether your current prescription medications will last for the duration of your trip plus a few days (you don't want to have to make a midnight run to the pharmacy on the day you return from vacation). If not, make arrangements to get them refilled in advance. Consider taking a copy of your actual prescription with you along with your physician's contact information in the event something happens and you find it necessary to fill one of your prescriptions while out of town.
Make a trip to the dry cleaners with any items that need to be cleaned. Add picking up the dry cleaning to your list of tasks for the day before your trip to avoid the frustration of realizing while packing that you forgot to pick up your favorite outfit.
Are you planning to board your pets while gone or perhaps hire a pet sitter? Make arrangements or reservations at least two weeks in advance of your trip. Most boarders require proof of up-to-date vaccinations and shots. Ask what documentation they require when making your reservations. As soon as you hang up the phone, go ahead and track down the documents and put them with your other travel papers. There's nothing more stressful than trying to find critical paperwork on the day of your trip when you are under travel time constraints.
Out-of-Town Medical Insurance Requirements
Check with your medical insurance carrier or read your insurance policy prior to your trip to determine what your medical options are in the event of an out-of-town emergency. Many insurance companies require that you notify them within 24 hours of using an out-of-town emergency room or urgent care center in order to cover the claim.
Alert Your Bank and Credit Card Companies
Call your bank and credit card company customer service departments. Alert them to the fact that you will be traveling in the coming weeks and give them a list of all of your travel dates and locations. Many banks and credit card companies deny charges in foreign countries or popular vacation locations if you have not alerted them to your travel plans in advance.
Stop Mail and Newspaper Delivery
Contact your local newspaper delivery person and either stop your paper delivery for the duration of your trip or ask that your papers be held for delivery until your return.
The post office has made it easy to stop and restart mail delivery. You can now do it online. Visit www.usps.com. Click on the "Products and Services" tab and select "Put Mail on Hold." Using an online form, you'll fill in the last date you want to receive mail prior to your trip and the date you'd like your mail delivery to resume and all of your on-hold mail delivered.
Consider Hiring a Housesitter
Thieves like to target homes where it appears no one has been home for several days. Consider asking a friend, relative or neighborhood teenager to housesit. If you can't find someone who is able to actually spend the night at your house while you are away, at least ask someone to drop by your house to check on things at different times each day you'll be gone.
Will you be out of town on garbage day? Ask a neighbor to put your trash bins and recycle bins out on your curb for regular pick-up and then return them to your storage location at the end of the day.
Empty Your Refrigerator
Either give away or throw away any perishable items from your refrigerator. There's nothing worse than coming home to rotten lettuce and moldy leftovers. Consider ordering pizza for dinner the night before you leave for a trip. Not only will it make getting dinner on the table in the midst of everything else you must do much easier, you won't have to worry about what to do with the leftovers. It's also a nice way to transition from your normal routine to vacation mode.
Make sure you have all necessary travel documents including:
- Copies of your credit cards and a listing of 800 numbers to call in the event of loss or theft
- Medical insurance cards
- Passport and driver's license
- Travel itinerary
- Reservations and confirmations
Just Before You Leave
Turn your air up or your heat down. There is no sense paying to cool or heat an empty house. Shut down all computers. Unplug televisions and other electronic devices. Make sure the coffee pot and toaster oven are turned off and unplugged. Take the garbage out. Make sure all doors and windows are locked.
Relax and enjoy your trip knowing that you have used this travel checklist to make sure all pre-travel tasks have been accomplished.