Preparing for a trip might just be one of the best parts of traveling.
You’re excited about taking time away from home, and as things start making their way into your suitcase, you finally get to see (literally!) how close your trip is getting. But it’s not all fun and games.
There are so many things you have to do to get fully organized for a trip. When it adds up, it can feel a little stressful and overwhelming.
Taking some time the night before you travel to go over a few things can go a long way toward making the trip the best it can be from start to finish.
Use this checklist to help you stay on top of everything.
1. Pack your bags!
You can say it — duh.
The first and most important thing to do before a trip is to know what you’re taking with you. Your packing list is key. Plenty of people will include making a packing list among their top travel tips, and we can’t disagree.
It’s natural to feel rushed or worried in the minutes and hours before you actually hit the road, so you’re probably better off reviewing your packing list a day or two in advance. This will give you a chance to make sure that everything is ready while you still have time to grab any items you may have overlooked.
At that point, you may also think of a few things you forgot originally — and you’ll still have time to add them to your bag! Be sure to pack anything you might need while you’re away, from clothes and toiletries to medications and phone chargers.
And for those who love the new, innovative luggage bags they’re coming out with, the video below shows the 5 New Smart Luggage Bags of 2019.
2. Make sure family and friends know where you’ll be.
Even if one of the goals of your trip is to get some space, it’s still a good idea to have a few people in your network who know where you’ll be and for how long. They don’t necessarily need a detailed itinerary — just some basic info so they can get in touch in case of an emergency.
Give a basic rundown of your trip and any necessary contact information (hotel phone numbers, etc.) to a trusted friend or family member.
Bonus Travel Tip: Keep some emergency contact info in your wallet or backpack so that strangers can help you contact loved ones if you need help while traveling. If you are injured while away from home, care providers will know who to call!
It always helps to read up on all of the essential travel safety tips that you can.
3. Stay organized.
Regardless of the mode of transportation you’re using, you probably have some kind of paperwork or documentation for your trip. Keep all of that reservation and confirmation info together so your travels can run smoothly once you’re on the road.
There are also many travel apps that can help you stay organized while traveling.
Between hotel reservations, plane tickets, and anything else you need, you should be able to easily locate that document or confirmation. This helps sro you don’t have to spend a lot of time digging through your bags. E-confirmations can be super helpful on this front! When all of your paperwork lives on your phone or other devices, you won’t have to wonder where you packed different types of paperwork.
If you’re traveling out of the country, be sure you have your passport and all other identification in a safe place that you can reach easily at every step of your trip.
4. Double-check your itinerary.
Make sure you know where you need to be and when, especially on the first day of your trip. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive at the first destination.
If you’re flying, aim to get to the airport about three hours before your flight so you have plenty of time to check your bags, get through security, and get to your gate before boarding. Some airlines will recommend that you leave even more time, so pay attention to those suggestions.
Taking a work-related trip? It’s more important than ever to double check your itinerary. Being on top of the schedule (and showing up consistently at the right time and right place) will ensure you make a great professional impression.
5. Make sure things at home are covered.
If no one will be at your house or apartment while you’re gone, be sure to include a review of the homefront as part of your travel checklist. Here are some specific things to think about:
- Close and lock all windows and doors.
- If someone will be checking your mail, house-sitting, or pet-sitting, make sure they have all the info and resources (like keys!) necessary.
- If you’re going to be away for more than a few days, it may be worth investing in timed lights or other safety measures so no one knows that the house is empty for so long.
- Turn off unnecessary lights and appliances, set the temperature appropriately, clean the dishes, and take out the trash.
- The more you do before you leave, the easier it will be to come home and relax before jumping back into your regular routine.
6. Wrap up last-minute work tasks.
If you’re going to be away from the office, you don’t want to leave work tasks undone so you feel pressure to check things off your to-do list while you’re supposed to be vacationing.
The night before you leave, make sure any last-minute work tasks are taken care of so you can enjoy your trip without worrying about whether or not there will be problems waiting for you when you get back!
7. Squeeze in a good full body workout.
Exercise might not be high on your priority list of things to do before a trip, but it’s a good way to stay in your health-focused mindset, and it can help you relax before you go. Doing a workout like online yoga classes or another full body workout at home will boost your energy for travel and even when you’re already traveling.
When you have health and wellness goals on the brain, a final yoga session or full-body workout will help keep you on track and minimize the pressure you might feel to make up for it later on.
8. Get a good night’s sleep.
Once everything is ready, the final thing you should do before a trip is get a good night’s sleep! You’re bound to be excited about your upcoming adventure, but sleeping well before you go will help make sure you have the energy you need to enjoy your time away, especially on that first day.
If you don’t get enough sleep, you may be grumpy and groggy, and you risk making mistakes with your travel logistics.
Go to bed early and use the time to relax and wind down before you actually fall asleep.
And sleep isn’t just important before your trip. It can be argued that it’s even more important after you have already started traveling.
“All of us have an optimal period when our bodies want to sleep — typically around 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. This is called your ‘circadian window. And any time you travel, particularly across two or more time zones, it ends up wreaking havoc on your circadian window,”
So have fun on your trip and be productive, but make sure you get your sleep and try to stick to a sleep schedule.
Travel Checklist Recap
Whether this is the first big trip for you or you’re used to traveling a lot, this travel checklist can help ensure you’re prepped for your next vacation.
- Pack Your Bags
- Make Sure Friends and Family Know Where You’ll Be
- Stay Organized
- Double-Check That Itinerary
- Make Sure Things at Home are Squared Away
- Wrap Up Any Last Minute Work
- Fit in That Workout When You Can
- Get a Great Night of Sleep
Take the travel tips that apply to you so you can keep organized and make sure that you’ll be ready to actually enjoy your time away from home. From double-checking your task list to a final yoga session or full-body workout at home, the things you do before a trip help set the stage for a good experience.
Ideally, you’ll come home with lifelong memories to share with friends and family… not frustrations about the obstacles that had to be overcome every step of the way.