Pre-Departure Checklist for Travel

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The Essential Pre-Departure Checklist for Stress-Free Travel

Have you ever been so unprepared for your trip that you realised you had forgotten to organise something essential and then had to frantically do it in the last moment? Hopefully not, but I did. Fortunately, this checklist for travel was born as a result, offering you the chance to truly experience stress-free travel. 

Download the travel checklist print out here for maximum convenience.

I wish I had a pre-departure travel checklist at the time, but I had checked my luggage, passed Customs, and was ready to wait for my flight to Europe. Then that feeling in my gut hit me – the one where something just does not feel right. My subconscious was telling me I had forgot something.

Turns out it was two things: I had forgotten my phone, which had all my contacts, apps, usernames and passwords, and I still hadn’t even sorted out my travel insurance yet (for an 8 month backpacking trip), or any accommodation.

What ensued afterwards taught me that there’s no bigger buzz kill than realising you forgot to do something important when you’re already at the airport, or worse, already at your destination.

The lesson I learnt was that quite a few things are worth organising while you’re still at home. Arranging things before you travel can make the difference between your trip going smoothly, and being a nightmare experience that has you solving mistakes on the road (which you could have easily avoided if you had just planned better).

For this reason, I’ve created a handy pre-departure checklist for travel. This simple list is short and sweet and covers the essentials you need to cover before you travel. The more items you cross off, the more care-free you will be before you depart for your dream holiday!

travel checklist

Don’t leave home until you have checked off this list!

  • Inspect your passport expiration
  • Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months from the date you return home, otherwise you may be denied entry.
  • Check if a Visa is required
  • Certain countries require you to apply for a Visa before you enter. Be sure to apply in advance.
  • See your doctor
  • Visit your doctor at least 6-8 weeks before departure to see if you need any vaccinations. If you use prescription medicine, ask about the laws on traveling with them and stock up before you go.
  • Research travel insurance
  • Check whether your existing insurance or credit card covers you whilst traveling. If not, purchase insurance – it’s worth it.
  • Contact your bank and credit card providers
  • Advise them where you’ll be traveling and for how long so they don’t suspect fraud. You don’t want to discover your accounts have been frozen while you’re overseas.
  • Critical Bookings
  • Make reservations as early as possible for accommodation, major sights and transport (including rental cars), especially during peak season.
  • International License
  • If you plan on driving, keep in mind that some countries require you to carry an International Driver’s License.
  • Make copies of important travel documents
  • Keep print outs and cloud-based copies of important documents such as your passport, visas, insurance, credit card details, passwords and booking confirmations.
  • Save a list of valuables you’re bringing
  • Make a list of valuables you’re bringing including serial numbers, models and makes. Take photos and save receipts of your items to serve as a record for emergency or insurance reasons. Save them on the cloud.
  • International Roaming
  • Consider your options and the fees associated with international data roaming outside of Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • Update your circle
  • Let your family and friends know about your travel plans and contact details in case of an emergency. They’ll be better prepared to help you in an emergency.
  • Update your government
  • Share your itinerary with your home country’s travel authority in case of an emergency in the area you are traveling to.
  • Tell the airline of any special requirements you have
  • Vegan, gluten-free, lactose intolerant, allergic to something? Make sure the airline is aware of this before your flight.
  • Mail
  • Arrange for your mail to be collected by someone you trust or to be redirected.
  • There’s nothing better than being armed with local information about your destination so you can hit the ground running!
  • Currency
  • Exchange some cash for the currency of your first destination.
  • Confirm flight details and airline restrictions
  • Double-check the departure date and time and confirm what you can bring on the plane and whether your devices will need to be unlocked.
  • Research foreign customs
  • Be aware of culture dress codes and adjust your clothing accordingly.


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This Post Has 32 Comments

  1. Excellent pre-departure checklist! I have already printed it and saved it. It will a great addition to my travel checklist. Your list is very thorough and covers all the important points. Thank you for putting it together and sharing it with your readers!

    1. Glad to hear it, Anna. Nothing better than having that peace of mind before a big trip!

  2. This was an interesting article, some insight that I wasn’t aware of. Thanks.

    1. Great to hear Trent. Hope the checklist helps!

  3. This is a great checklist. It is so easy to forget things when you pack. Forgetting things when your packing is the quickest way to inject a healthy dose of stress into your trip.

    1. Haha yep, can attest to this. 😉

  4. Like Anna, I too have printed off several copies of this! We travel with six people, usually and losing or forgetting something is the worst. I am excited to have a checklist that I can default to when I am packing us for trips. This list is awesome!

    1. I’m stoked that you guys are gonna make use of this! Can’t wait to hear about your trips.

  5. I love your checklist! We are headed to Spain in September and I am already looking for all the things to do before we leave. This will help.

    1. I’m excited for you, Terri! I’m yet to visit Spain but it’s on the list for this year or next. ¡Disfruta tu viaje!

  6. I’m going to print this off and keep it where it’s handy. I’m sure another trip is around the corner, and I want us to be prepared and properly packed!

  7. Wow! Thanks for your checklist! I love using a checklist from time to time so that I can ensure that everything is in order. I hope to use this one next time I travel.

    1. Checklists work 100%! All you need to do is check the items off the list as you go along and then you have peace of mind before you depart. 🙂

  8. I know I would have been freaking out if I left my phone too! Great checklist!

    1. Haha, yep. You’d think after years of traveling it would be the last thing i forget. But it still can happen!

  9. Great travel tips! I don’t like flying so I need these!`

  10. Very useful list and tips here! I could definitely utilise travel insurance tips on my next trip.

  11. This is so incredibly helpful! Sharing with my friends and fam that are traveling this summer :). Thank you!

    1. Very happy to hear. Cheers Sara!

  12. This is so handy. I always make my own list for myself but, this saves me a lot of work each time I travel!

    1. Cheers Joanna. I hope it helps you and saves you the pain next flight!

  13. There is nothing worse than being caught off guard by something you needed and don’t have. A list like this makes it much easier.

    1. Thank you Tiffany.

  14. I remember being a first timer, wishing I had a list like this from someone who was experienced. Definitely very useful for those just starting out.

    1. Appreciate the kind words, thanks Vanessa.

  15. I rarely forget much of anything when I travel yeti this list could surely come in handy. It is a great benefit to have.

    1. Good to hear, Lavern!

  16. Great checklist. I really don’t care for flying so I have to have something like this to distract me.

  17. This is genius! I fly a lot, (and don’t like to!) so these tips I will take into consideration.

    1. For sure, thanks for commenting Myrah!

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