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Travel Checklist: Things to Do Before Traveling

Updated on July 6, 2014

It doesn’t matter if you are traveling locally or internationally there are certain things that all individuals must do when preparing to travel. Some things are basic knowledge but other things you may have forgotten about. The following is a short checklist of what I have found most vital when I am traveling.

1. Bring your Driver’s License and/or Passport:

If you are traveling internationally your passport is a must. If you do not travel very much, be sure to check your passport’s expiration date. Passports last for ten years, and they can take up to six months to receive after applying for one. So if you are traveling overseas, locate and check your passport as soon as possible.

I have also found that when traveling internationally it is nice to have some sort of small wallet purse, but not the flimsy kind. Often pick pockets will not even bother trying to get into your purse, they will simply slice the strap. There are many travel websites that sell wallet purses that can go under your clothes, or you can purchase ones that have a wire in the strap, which does not allow the strap to be cut by potential thieves.

If traveling internationally make sure you leave a copy of your passport with a friend or family member in the states and to make a copy to keep with you in a separate area than where you are storing your passport. By having copies it will be easier to get another passport in the chance that you lose or misplace your passport.

2. Camera and Camera Batteries

If you are anything like me, you will be taking a lot of pictures while on your trip. Of course make sure you have a working camera, an extra scan card, and an extra set batteries. I also highly recommend bringing your battery charger.

When packing your camera, cards, batteries, and battery charger be sure to put all of these things in your carry-on bag. All of the above mentioned things will be needed in order to shoot pics of your new memories. If you pack any of these things in your check in luggage who knows what could happen to it. Luggage gets lost all the time, which means you would be on your trip without a camera. Airport staff go through your luggage sometimes, and not all of the staff is honest. Some get tempted by sticky fingers, and lastly with all of the scanning that check in luggage goes through who knows if your card will be damaged. So it is very important to keep your camera with you in your carry-on luggage.

3. Pack Medication In Its Original Package

Make sure you bring a week more of your medication than you are planning on traveling. I suggest a week longer because you never know what may come up when traveling by plane. Planes are cancelled and delayed all the time, so travelers need to make sure they have enough medication to last them for longer than they are planning to travel. I also suggest leaving medication in its original package for security reasons. It will make it easier for airport security to check your personal items if they remain in their original cases.

Travelers should pack all medication in their carry-on luggage, for the same reasons listed above. Luggage gets lost and it could get stolen. Also, certain travelers may need access to their medication during the flight. I recommend bringing all prescription drugs needed, aspirin, cold medicine of some type, pepto or something similar, band aids for possible blisters/cuts, bug spray (depending on where you are traveling), sun block, and motion sickness pills (if needed).

4. Check for Vaccinations

When traveling internationally some countries require certain vaccines when traveling to them. Make sure you check the requirements for the country you are visiting at least five months in advance so you have enough time to get any required vaccinations. Your family doctor may also be able to tell you what they would recommend when traveling.

5. Apply for Visas

Not all countries require travelers to apply for Visas but there are many that do. Again check with the specific country’s bureau that you are traveling to or ask your travel agent if you need any type of Visa while traveling. Visas need to be completed and sent in prior to traveling and this process may take a few months, so it is best to do this as soon as possible.

6. Buy Converters or Plug Adapters:

If you are simply going to be plugging in your camera battery charger, cell phone charger, kindle/nook charger than a simple adapter will work for these needs. Different countries use different plugs than we do in the states. It is best to go on one of the travel websites to buy the specific type of adapter you will need in the country you will be traveling to. You do not need to buy a converter unless you are planning on plugging in things that use more voltage like hair dryers, razors, fans, etc….

7. Call to Confirm Reservations

I used to think simply keeping the confirmation numbers were enough to ensure my hotel room would be available, however, upon arriving to New York City at 11:00 p.m. and finding that I had no room available was very frustrating especially since I had the confirmation printed out stating I did indeed have a room. The confirmation did not get me a room any quicker and I spent almost three hours in the hotel lobby waiting for things to get sorted out. Ever since this event occurred I now call ahead to make sure there will be no problem with my reservations.

8. Pack Things That You Don’t Mind Throwing Away

If going on a long trip, it can be difficult to carry everything you need in your luggage, especially when you may be coming home with souvenirs. Some travelers pack or purchase clothing that is cheap or that they no longer want so when on their trip instead of storing dirty clothes or doing wash, they simply dispose of the item. Thus freeing up space in their luggage and getting rid of the task of washing clothes.

9. Bring a Garbage Bag

If you are not someone who has things that they are ready to throw away, make sure you bring a garbage bag or something like it to keep your dirty clothes in. Not all hotels have access to washer and dryers, so more than likely you will have to pack your dirty clothes with your clean clothes. In order to keep things separated, pack a big plastic bag to place your dirty things in. Thus keeping your clean clothes clean.

10. Pack Undergarments in Zip Lock Baggies

This all depends on the individual. There is a chance that airport staff might go through your check in luggage. It’s a personal choice whether you place your undergarments in a baggie or not. If you do not want strange people touching your underwear, pack them in a see through baggie and there is no reason for airport staff to go digging through your private undergarments.

11. Have Currency for the Country You Are Traveling to, Prior to Traveling

Many local banks can send away for other countries’ currency. It is always best to have some amount of money in the country’s local currency prior to traveling to the country. By having the international countries currency prior to traveling you may have a better chance at getting a better exchange rate, than you would in the airports.

12. Bring Antibacterial Wipes or Lotion

This may seem a little like being a germ-a-phobe but when traveling things are very dirty. I recommend wiping down your airplane arm rests, trays, and tv screens for all flights. I also recommend wiping down remote controls, light switches, and phones in hotel rooms. The best thing you can do when traveling is remain healthy and by taking these little precautions you will have a better chance of succeeding.

13. Stop the Delivery of Your Mail and Newspaper

While you are gone you do not want your mail and newspapers piling up. These are signs to burglars that you are not home and that an empty house is available for their choosing. If you do not want to stop your mail and newspapers, ask a trustworthy friend, neighbor, or family member to pick up your mail and newspapers each day. It would also be beneficial to have someone continue to cut your grass, depending on how long you will be gone.

14. Place TSA Approved Lock on Your Luggage

The locks may not keep the TSA out of your luggage but it will at least deter some people from trying to break into your luggage. If you do not use a TSA approved lock, there is a good chance airport security will cut your lock, so make sure it is TSA approved.

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