It’s that time of year again, and you’re heading off for a well deserved vacation. You’ve convinced your boss to give you a few weeks off, you know where you want to go, what you want to do, and everything is great. But as your departure draws near, you start to realize that you still haven’t done all the little things like, you know… packing. Probably a good idea, right?
Next time you plan your trip, consider writing a list of last-minute “to-do” items. Creating a travel checklist of actionable items a few days before you leave decreases your chances of making stupid and completely avoidable mistakes, such as forgetting your passport at home, or not bringing any underwear with you on your trip. Below are a few common items that I make sure to do before leaving on any vacation that’s scheduled to last more than a few days.
Things To Include On Your Travel Checklist
- Call your credit card company if you’re going overseas and tell them an estimate of the places you’ll be visiting, and the time you’ll be spending there. Depending on your credit card provider, transactions originating from half-way across the world can set off red flags and result in you having your card locked. When you’re on vacation, you probably won’t feel like sitting on the phone with your card provider trying to re-gain access to your funds.
- Bring cash in the currency of the country you’re visiting. You’re bound to have many small charges crop up, such as cab rides and street food, and having to pay for them with a credit card can rack up a lot of unnecessary charges. As an added bonus, you’ll minimize your exposure to credit card fraud and identity theft.
- Pack at least two days in advance, but no more than 5 days in advance. Packing too early will probably mean that you’re without certain items you need, but packing to late could mean that you forget to include certain items. Having a few days buffer gives you a bit of leeway in the “oh right, I should bring…” department.
- Write out exactly what items you need to bring, and stick to your list. People tend to bring no less than 16 times the amount of items they actually need, resulting in exhaustion, tears, sadness, and absolute horrific misery all around. Don’t be one of those people. If you forget to bring something that you just can’t live without, there’s a very good chance that you’ll be able to buy a replacement in your destination country.
- Scan a copy of your passport and a piece of ID and email it to yourself, and then print a few copies as well. If you happen to lose your wallet, or worse yet, your passport, these could come in handy.
- Purchase travel insurance, especially if you’re traveling to the United States. It’s a no brainer that you don’t want to insure yourself in a foreign country with no insurance. It may just turn into the most expensive vacation of your life. If you’re smart, you’ll shop around a bit and find a sweet deal online. Insurance companies compete, and you can use that to your advantage.
Planning a trip can be stressful, but you can reduce that stress by keeping a travel checklist of all the trivial things you need to do (such as remembering to pack a toothbrush) and instead focus your time on deciding where and how to spend your time.
(Photo: Man Honan)