I love to travel, but millions of other people, I find the pre-travel preparation to be exhausting and terribly stressful. To alleviate some of the stress, I keep a track of everything by keeping an organized travel checklist.
I also print everything out, including boarding passes, so I have an actual “hard copy” in hand, which, trust me, comes in handy when you’re trying to deal with yet another airline delay or cancellation with only minutes to spare.
Travel checklist: The moment I decide to take a trip, I grab a file and label it with my final destination on top. I then place a Post-it Note to the outside of the file with a short list of “to do’s,” including: book flights, book rental car, book long/short-term parking and book hotel(s). As each item is completed, I simply cross it off my list and put the hard-copy reservation in the file. When booking multiple flights, cars and/or hotels, I include these on the Post-it Note as well.
Be sure to highlight the confirmation number, date(s) of travel and contact telephone number and URL address with a bright yellow marker, which makes locating the pertinent information so much easier. This is also a good time to double-check that the loyalty numbers (hotels, rental cars & hotels) are included in all of the reservations, as it’s easier to do this before a trip, than afterward.
The pre-trip checklist: After the trip is booked and most of the important pre-planning is out of the way, I create a second Post-it Note checklist for anything I can do in advance, which will save me time (and aggravation) later on, including making sure my passport is current, ordering any required visas for entry into certain countries; making sure my Global Entry ID is up-to-date; putting my mail on “hold,” cancelling the newspaper, reserving the dates with the dog sitter and calling the alarm company to let them know whom to call in case of an emergency.
Note: In order to avoid delays due to increased passport restrictions being imposed by many foreign countries, U.S. passport holders with less than six months validity on their passports should consider renewing their passports in advance of travel.
My personal pre-trip checklist includes purchasing museum and city passes in advance, such as the Paris Museum Pass (ParisMuseumPass.com), which is a must. Again, a hard copy of the confirmation, with the pertinent information clearly highlighted, goes into the trip file.
The week before checklist: Ask a friend to watch your house just in case the paper is delivered although you canceled it. This same friend should go into your home ever few days to make sure nothing is array. You may also want to ask your friend or neighbor to park his/her car in your driveway while you’re out of town.
The Shutdown checklist: I actually make a list of things to do at the very last minute before leaving my house, which includes, watering the plants, turning off the hot water heater and corresponding circuit breaker switch; unplugging the coffee maker, flat iron, hair dryer, computer and printer. This last-minute list also includes a reminder not to forget my iPhone, iPad and plugs.
Finally, my #1 hint for worry-free travel is to always keep your toiletry kit “trip-ready” at all times, which means the second you return from one trip, it’s time to replenish and repack your kit in anticipation of the next trip.