Our Checklist To Prepare For Travel

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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!!

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The list has major sections for:

✅    Shopping
✅    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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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About TravelAtWill 737 Articles
Travel blogger and photographer! Scuba diving, luxury cruising, chocoholic, sea and sunshine addicts, camera attached and just generally curious! Join us on our adventures!


  1. I have a very similar list too. The things to take/check before leaving home, I’ve put it in all caps at the end of the list. While the tech list is long for us too, toddler list is longer than that for us! Haha…
    Atleast thrice so far my bank has contacted me to make sure it was me using the card and not a fraudulent activity. So for me, notifying bank is necessary!

  2. I love that all the electronics are listed for charging. My counter top looks like a Best Buy with everything plugged in at once before I leave! I usually restock medicines and personal care products as soon as I get home while I’m aware of what I need, one less thing to think about as I run around prepping. I know I will have jet lag and no energy when I get home so I also clean, wash all my work clothes and buy frozen lunches for the week I return. I have a list but tend to think I will remember everything and never pull it out… resulting in forgetting a thing or two.

    • Sherianne, As I get older, I find lists help me to stay organized without being stressed. Still forget things when I mindlessly tick things off the list without checking. Or I assume my headphone did not lose the charge! Good idea to shop when you return and you know what needs replenishing. Linda

  3. A travel checklist is a great idea so you don’t forget to pack something. I’ve never thought to have a shopping portion. I bring a big bag of OTC medicines just in case. A VPN is essential, you have to protect your data. 🙂

  4. This is something we now have down like a military operation when we’re preparing for a trip. There are so many things to think about depending on the destination you’re visiting. I always rely on Amazon for getting last minute essentials that I can’t get in the UK like sea sickness tablets and nice smelling bug spray. Keeping your home safe whilst you’re away is always important to remember, hadn’t thought about the diswasher before (thank you)

  5. A fantastic checklist here and a good reminder to have in case something is forgotten (and I always forget at least one item on each trip I make). VPN is vital for me not just because of data protection etc, but as I go to China often, this is on the top of my list.

    • I am a planner by heart and truthfully my list is in my head. I really should put pen to paper one of these days. I start about a couple weeks out getting stuff organized, it’s all part of the fun and anticipation of a trip! I do a lot of the same things. Except I do like to buy over the counter medicine in Europe, as I find it is much stronger than what I can get in Canada. Great idea, and I am going to make my list next trip!

      • Renee, Without a list, I am lost these days. So many things to do. But maybe it is just getting older. I understand about getting some better medicines in Europe. If you know exactly what you are looking for. Hope your list works next time! Linda

  6. Agree an I have a similar master check list before I have set off on travels. I often have nightmare that I forgot some thing or the other either in the house before I left or after I have started traveling.True before road trips it is better to check the car if you are not hiring. Never prepared a spreadsheet but i think that is a great idea.

    • Indrani, There have been far too many times when I got in the cab and asked “did we xxxxx”. So the list has grown over the year. Between David and I, we seem to have most things covered. The spreadsheet works for me better than apps I have tried. Linda

  7. I could always do with a travel checklist, and the most useful thing in this checklist is a VPN. I travelled to Iran and China and was almost stuck simply because I didn’t prepare for a VPN ahead of time. Thanks for sharing this detailed list for forgetful souls like me to pre-prepare before a major trip!

  8. This is very helpful. I love that you included the preparations needed at home before leaving. Will definitely be updating our travel checklist. Thank you for sharing this. I truly appreciate it.

  9. Great tips!! As a traveler myself I always like to read more information on how I can travel efficiently and safely with all my gadgets because sometimes traveling with so many electronics can be a real hassel. I totally agree with preparing your phones some VPN because some countries can ban or scrutinize your every digital moves.

  10. Organization and having a system that works for you in place is the key to successful planning for travel. For us, leaving everything to the last day — cleaning and packing — is a mind bend waiting to break. So we start the process a few days before. Backups in the cloud are great … until they are not. When we are traveling, we use very high speed solid state backup drives for all our photos … and we double down on everything. IF, and only IF we can find secure, high speed data connection to we then count on synching to the cloud for additional backup.

    • Michael, So agreed about starting the planning and prep in advance. We wish everything could be instantaneously in the cloud. But have discovered the limitations. Glad you have a system that works. Linda

  11. Great compilation. I am clumsy and last minute packer coz I travel so much that I never make a checklist. But some of the recommendation are really worth considering, especially preparations needed at home before leaving. Will certainly try and do it from now.

  12. We also use a checklist. It made things a lot easier and there is a lot to consider, especially on long tours, from post diversion to autoresponders.

  13. What a great list. It is always such a nice feeling to leave for a trip with everything fully in order and, as you mention, devices charged fully! I originally downloaded a VPN for use in China, but like you, I’ve grown into using it while using free WiFi in cafes and hotels around the world.

  14. I’m always super forgetful so a checklist will definitely make my life easier. I totally know what you mea too about confirming whether or not taxis are going the right way. I’m always skeptical and think the drivers will scam tourists by going longer routes because we don’t know any better hahaa. Awesome list!

  15. This is a fantastic travel checklist to prepare for upcoming travels. It’s always a great idea to download the maps and guides for the destinations in advance and mark the important places on it to ensure a smoother trip – definitely saves on time to have things planned ahead this way. Those last minute checks are so important for making sure everything is in place before we head out from home and of course for peace of mind. Thanks for all the helpful information.

  16. Oh my gosh, why have we never thought of bringing a power strip with us? That is such a smart move. Off line maps are a life saver too when you’re in places without a good connection.

  17. I really wish to travel for longer giving up my usual boring life, but it always haunts me how to prepare for that. Your blog helps a lot in enlisting the things to keep in mind while you get ready to do that. Especially, the long tech list is really important, getting everything in order, getting your Ipad, mobile charged and getting batteries, they are so so important. Using VPN is also very important to secure internet traffic – these are small things that we tend to forget. Thanks for keeping everything together in place.

  18. These are some great tips. To be honest, I am still a very unorganized person and even if I make a checklist, I usually fail to abide by it. But I think I need to start making a checklist and follow it as well. Preparing the house before leaving for travel is very important and so are the last minute checks. Thanks for these tips. Will try to implement these once I start travelling again.

    • Amrita, Every year we get a little more forgetful. So the checklists help us to not forget anything. And to not worry when we are gone. Pick one and work on that. And then move on to another practice. Linda

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