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Pre-travel To Do List

The holidays are upon us! Halloween kicked it off, Thanksgiving is around the corner, Christmas is mere weeks away, Chanukah is coming, and New Year’s rounds out the season with a celebration for fresh beginnings. And all those post-Halloween holidays are great reasons to travel! Here’s my master list of pre-traveling “to-dos.”

1 Month Out

 1. Consult Trip Advisor
I do not get paid by Trip Advisor for listing them here, I just really love their service! As soon as I know where I’m heading (or if I just want ideas on where to go next), I get on my phone and consult their app. I find Yelp to be a complainer’s haven, but Trip Advisor seems to get more balanced reviews, in my opinion. I love how searchable everything is–you can search for specific restaurants, attractions, accommodations, and more, and you can see them all in a list by rating or by distance. There is even a map feature you so can see where things are located in proximity to everything else. It’s my trip planning headquarters!

1-3 Weeks Out

 2. Make a Packing List
I don’t know about you, but my stress level goes down a few notches when I make a list of any sort. Look at this blog post–it’s a great big list! Your list can be as detailed or high-level as you like. Here’s a sample of what’s usually on my packing list:

 3. Make a Last-minute Packing List
There are certain things you have to pack at the last minute. I’m always concerned about forgetting something at the last minute, especially if I have to catch an early flight! Here’s a sampling of that list:

  • laptop and charger
  • phone and charger
  • retainer (19 years after braces and I still wear mine!)
  • glasses (because super near-sightedness is a thing)
  • toothbrush

 4. PACK!

This one is pretty obvious, but it warrants having a place here. I recommend starting to pack at least a week out. That might seem a little bit obsessive-compulsive, but I’m a visual person who likes to see things laid out together. So I have a dedicated space (our guest room) where I lay out all the things I’m packing. I usually change my mind a few times, so I don’t actually put anything in my luggage until a day or two before I leave, but it helps me to be able to see things laid out before I commit them to the bag! Find more packing tips here: Packing Strategies.

3-4 Days Out

 5. Stop Your Mail (or ask someone to check it for you)
If Steve and I are only going somewhere for the weekend, we don’t bother stopping our mail. But if we’re gone more than about 5 mail days (Sundays and holidays the mail doesn’t come anyway), I make sure to go to and request that the post office hold our mail until the day we return. You can choose to have it delivered that day or pick it up at the post office yourself.

24 Hours Out

 6. Check in for Your Flight
Get excited! You can check in for your flight online 24 hours before your scheduled departure time. You can opt to print your boarding pass or or use the QR code boarding pass on you phone if you have your airline’s mobile app.

 7. Check Flight Status
This one is very important during wintertime travel (and for the northern hemisphere, that’s the holidays). Weather in New Jersey can definitely effect flights in Florida, so look for your aircraft’s specific routing on the airline’s website or mobile app. You can see “Where is this aircraft coming from?” in some mobile apps, so if you know they’re having terrible weather in New England and that’s where your aircraft will be coming from, start making a contingency plan! If you catch a problem early enough, you might be able to rebook on a different flight free of charge. See “Where is this aircraft coming from?” at the bottom of these three pictures?

 8. Book Transportation
This one does not apply to road trips, but if you need to get to the airport and want to avoid incredible parking charges, this one’s essential! Steve and I usually book a cab, since we’re only about 10 minutes away from our home airport. If you live much farther than that, ask a friend to drop you off and pick you up (and be sure to offer to return the favor for them sometime).

 9. Get a Good Night’s Rest

My honey, the strong sleeper!

Travel sure is exciting, but don’t stay up too late packing or letting your mind race with all the things you have to do! Holiday travel can be awesome, but not if you’re starting out cranky.

30-60 Minutes Before Leaving Your Home

10. Pack the Last Minute Items
It’s time! Grab those things from your list in #3 and get going. Happy travels!

Did I leave something off? Share your pre-travel do do list below!


3 thoughts on “Pre-travel To Do List

    1. Those are great things to do! There is also an app called Trip It that keeps confirmation emails, reservations, and flight info available offline, in case you lose the papers for any reason!

      1. When I worked in Philadelphia and lived in Nashville, we made our travel arrangements about a month in advance for the three month period. I kept an Excel spreadsheet with confirmation numbers (flight and hotel), flight numbers/times, loyalty reward numbers, etc. Felt so good to have the stuff in one place (and I needed it!)

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