We Have A Detailed Checklist To Prepare For Travel
Anyone who followed us for awhile, just knows we must have a detailed checklist to prepare for travel. The checklist is in a spreadsheet. And David and I have our own.
The checklist has two sections. One for things to do before we leave home. And the other is things to pack. Both sections are critical to make sure we don’t leave home with that nagging feeling that we forgot something.
This blog post focuses on the things we do to prepare for travel. Since we travel about 6 months a year on many trips each year, our list gets exercised regularly. But since it works, we thought we might share a few tips.
What Things Are On Our Travel Checklist?
You may already know that David and I totally think differently when it comes to organizing. We can’t share photo directories, password apps or anything else that requires sections and sub-sections. So it should not be surprising to learn that we each have our own prep and packing lists. Although they are both in spreadsheet form. The advantage of this is that we get bit of a cross-check.
The checklist to prepare for travel covers off anything we need to do at home before we travel. I have one master list. Although I have considered lists for different kinds of travel. In the end I decided to put “n/a” (not applicable) beside an item if it doesn’t apply for that particular trip. I really only need to charge my dive computer when I am going on a scuba diving trip!!
The list has major sections for:
✅ Home prep
✅ Tech Prep
✅ Data Prep
✅ Miscellaneous Prep
✅ Last Minute To Do
Over the years, the list has had items added and subtracted. It is an art not a science. But the checklist still keeps me organized.
The carry-on group out there would say there is nothing you can’t buy when you travel. If we travel for shorter trips, within Canada or to the U.S., the shopping part of the list is less critical.
We always try to have a little local currency if we travel to a foreign spot. If we have visited before, we may have some small amounts already. But while you may be able to buy most things on a credit card, I like to have enough cash on me to get a cab and get me to my hotel. Uber is great if it is available as a non-cash option. But I have had issues even at home handing over my credit card to a cabbie.
A drug store visit to re-stock my home pharmacy is always on my list for trips out of North America. I make sure I fill any prescriptions. And stock up on key cold products I know work for me. I have spent lots of time and dollars trying to find something in foreign pharmacies. If I am worried about stomach problems, I often travel with antibiotics. I once returned home a week into a two week vacation when my stomach bug would not clear. And I ruined 2 weeks in Thailand sick in bed.
When we pack medicines, we make sure to check if there are restrictions in countries we are visiting. When we travelled to Dubai, we had to remove the codeine-based cough syrup. These days the rules concerning CBD-based products vary from country to country. I once left a great CBD-based inflammation gel behind when I was worried about being stopped.
And sometimes we make a shopping list for our destination for things we can’t buy in Canada. For our 2020 trip to South America, we want a really good bug spray. And the one our travel doctor recommended cannot be bought in Canada. So we will pick it up when we travel in the U.S. before our trip.
My carry-on bag is packed with snacks and lots of entertainment options. So I make sure we have good protein bars. And download free, rented or purchased books, tv shows and movies to load up my iPad for travel.
We have out of country travel insurance that covers us for up to 40 days. If our trip is longer, we always buy top-up medical insurance. We have never had a major issue. But the insurance has paid for itself when we got outrageous charges for medicine when travelling.
Shopping before I travel lets me not have to worry about getting sick or bored. This starts my checklist to prepare for travels.
Preparing Our Home So We Don’t Worry After We Leave
A few years ago, we sold our house and moved to a condo. At that time, our home prep list got much shorter. But there are still things we do before we leave home.
There is nothing worse for me than coming home to a dirty, cluttered house. So the last day while we are packing we are cleaning too. The degree that the fridge gets emptied depends on how long we are away for. And sometimes what time of the day we return. Before we leave the house we make sure the light timers are on, the temperature is set for us to be away and the blinds on all windows are closed.
We always run the dishwasher, empty it and clean it. We don’t want things growing in that moist environment. And we turn off the water to our condo. A water leak when we are not home can be costly to us. And to the people below us!
If we are gone for a short time, we don’t have our mail picked up. We have moved as much as possible to electronic delivery so we can deal with things while we are away. But for long trips we have the mail picked up. Otherwise the junk mail fills the box.
Before we leave the condo, we set the alarm. And turn on our motion enabled wifi security camera. When we travel, the condo maintenance team may need to enter. But we will always know when they come and go.
Our checklist to prepare for travel ensures that we never have to worry about things at home after we leave.
A Long Tech List
As good geeks, our tech list to prepare for travel is quite long.
One of our favourite travel apps is our offline map app. Before we go, we download the maps and guides for all the cities and countries we will visit on a trip. We always make sure to mark key initial spots on the map – airports, train stations and the hotel we booked. There is nothing more reassuring than knowing that the cab is in fact heading towards the right hotel. In the most direct way!
There is a long list of things that get charged before we travel. Watches, camera batteries, dive computers, phones, tablets, computers, power sources, wifi hotspots and headphones are all on the list. This list seems to get longer all the time.
When we travel, my iPhone is one of our two cameras. So before we travel I make sure I put the iPhone into a good case that will protect it when we travel. I am also playing with some external camera lenses that I will report on soon.
And yes, we do travel with a lot of technology. After all, we do work on most of our travels. So our checklist to prepare for travel ensures that all of our techie gadgets are ready to go when we leave the house.
Making Sure We Have The Data We Need
We are sometimes belt and suspenders people. Especially when it comes to having backups of our data. All of our devices are Apple. That gives us iCloud backups for many things. And our computers are connected to Time Machine backups that work automatically.
But we also have backups of the backups. And archives of old data we don’t need to have with us all the time. Often when we travel, we do not have great internet coverage, despite the many ways we found to get internet when travelling. So we carry copies of key data we need on portable backup devices.
We would really love to have everything all in the cloud. But not when we can’t get to the cloud. And when there are still all kinds of data we don’t trust to be protected in the cloud!
The more work we do when we travel, the more we need to have access to our data. So this is often on our checklist to prepare for travel.
And The Catch-All List
We used to have a longer “Work Prep” list when we were working more. It included setting out-of-office notices, packing work we had to do when we travelled and notifying key people of our expectations when we were away.
Now we work on our blog and pictures when we travel. We print blog business cards because we are often asked for our blog and social media info.
We like to book a car in advance to take us to the airport. The few times we did not plan this in advance, we waited anxiously hoping that there would be no delay in getting a car. This is absolutely important if we have a very early flight. Or are travelling in rush hour.
Even though we travel with a VPN to make our internet traffic secure, we try to pay as many of our bills in advance before we travel. The less financial information we enter online when travelling, the happier we are. This may mean pre-paying some things the might come due while we are away.
If we are doing a road trip with our car, getting the car a check-up before we travel is important. We have had major car problems when we travelled that have cost us time and money.
I am on the fence about notifying my credit card companies before I travel. In the past, I have not found it to be necessary. Only once have I had my identify challenged when travelling.
We always make sure we travel with copies of our key pieces of identification – drivers license, passport and Nexus cards. We head to South America in 2020, so we also have copies of our immunization records. When I had my purse stolen in Madrid, it was great to have all the numbers for my identification and credit cards in one easy place to find.
This list of “other” things to do grows and shrinks depending on the trip. But the checklist to prepare for travel keeps it all in one place.
Last Minute To Do
Despite a long checklist to prepare for travel, there is still usually a small list of last minute things to do. We always check to make sure we have passports and tickets. Although even that check failed us once and resulted in a trip back up to the locked-up condo.
Our last minute check ensures that all devices and chargers are in our bags. We want them all charged. So they are the last things packed.
As we leave the building, we forward our cell phones to our home phone. We love our VOIP (voice-over-internet) home phone system that sends us emails with voice clips for any phone call we get at home or from our forwarded cell phones. This does mean we can usually use our home phone number as our contact number when travelling. Since we know we will always get the messages.
We make sure all important things are locked away in the safe. And put the security alarm on the condo. And off we go.
Hopefully we never have to wonder if we have turned off the iron. Or flushed the toilets! And have to find someone to get into the condo to check!
Our Checklist To Prepare For Travel Works
I can truthfully say, we hardly ever give home a thought after we are on our way! Our checklist to prepare for travel is pretty detailed. And it ensures we don’t worry about home until we are back!
We have tried a variety of apps to keep our travel prep list. But the spreadsheets seem to have outlived all of the apps. It is easy to add and subtract items as our travel needs change.
Do you have a checklist to prepare for travel? Is it as complicated as ours? Have you had issues because you were not this organized?
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