In the weeks before a trip, I seem to start decorating my desk with post-it notes. Some have notes for things I need to do for work, others are trip-related, and then there are the random reminders that just make things look colorful
Here’s my basic checklist:
- Pay bills: For the bills that are not on autopay, I make sure I set up payments for things like credit cards and utilities. It’s horrible to return from a vacation and find out you accidentally missed a credit card payment and now there are interest charges.
- Notify credit cards: Even though many cards and banks say you don’t need to notify them of travel plans, I do anyway. Make sure the companies know where you will be and how to contact you.
- STEP: The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a US State Department program that allows travelers to register where they will be, when they will be there, and how to get a hold of them. Once you register, you will get emails if there is anything dangerous going on in the city where you are. Also, the State Department will know how to find you in case of an emergency. Personally, I find this very re-assuring.
- Hold Mail: If nobody is going to be in your house, hold your mail so it doesn’t pile up. The postal service will hold it all and deliver it when you return. The USPS also has a great service called Informed Delivery. By 9am each day, you will receive an email showing scanned photos of all the mail that will be delivered that day. I love this service since I can keep track of when I receive checks from vendors, notice anything out of the ordinary, and make sure nothing is missing when I return.
- Add travel plan to phone: Every phone company is different, but I am with Verizon and I add a monthly plan to my phone before I leave the USA. The plan gives me a set number of sent texts, call minutes, and data to use during the month. They also have options to add a daily charge for what you use, but I don’t find this economical for me. Other companies have similar options. Check with your provider.
- Make passport copies and cards with you: Make copies of your passport and cards you are taking with you and leave the copy with someone you trust. This way if anything is stolen, that person will have everything to cancel the cards. I also email myself a copy of this information and print out a couple passport copies and put them with important things, away from my actual passport.
- Print copies of confirmations: In this high-tech world, it is easy to just assume everything is OK as long as it is electronically confirmed. There have been many times I have needed a printed copy of a hotel reservation when I checked in to confirm a perk or a rate. Also, having flight itineraries can be very helpful in case of delays or cancellations. Having printed copies might not be good for your printer ink usage, but it could save you some hassle once you are on your way.
What’s on your pre-trip checklist?