Travel Planning Checklist

Travel Checklist: Don't Leave Home Without It

I have been accused by certain individuals (my family and friends) of being "too organized" while traveling, showing up at the airport "too early," and bringing along "too many excel spreadsheets full of information." I think they just like to make fun of me. Rather than be anxious and rushed, I simply like to be prepared. You can avoid travel planning stress too, by following my travel planning checklist.

  • 01 of 06

    3-6 Months Ahead

    Travel planning checklist
    David Malan/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

    ___Contact a travel agent.
    If you're working with a travel agent, now is the time to get in touch and tell them where you plan to go, what you'd like to do and how much you want to spend. 

    ___Book travel and accommodations
    Flights, buses, rail, hotel/motel, camping site. In most cases the further ahead you book, the better.

    ___Book hair/grooming appointments
    Most vacations are often accompanied by a lot of picture taking. Book your appointments now so you’re not struggling to fit them in the week of travel.

    ___Locate passports & visas
    In case something needs to be updated or applied for, locating what you need well ahead of time will make the process much less stressful.

    ___Book pet accommodations
    Kennels and cat sitters can book up too and many have vaccine requirements that will necessitate a visit to the vet. Don’t leave your pets out in the cold. (More on pet boarding) Now is the time to contact the kennel or pet sitter and find out what their requirements are. Kennels may even ask that you bring your pet in ahead of time for an "interview" -- this is a good thing! It means the kennel really wants to make sure they are a good fit for your pet. 

  • 02 of 06

    1 Month Ahead

    ___Confirm your bookings
    Pour a cup of coffee, sit down and either call, email, or confirm online the travel accommodations you’ve booked.

    ___Create a travel itinerary
    At the same time, create an itinerary to bring on your trip and to hand off to a trusted friend or family member.

    ___Think about anything you can organize in your home ahead of time
    Can you drop something off at the dry cleaners while you're away? Have your knives sharpened? Read the list: Organize Your Home While Your Travel

  • 03 of 06

    2 Weeks Ahead

    ___Put the mail and newspaper on hold
    Call, email or log in online to your newspaper of choice and put your subscription on hold. You can put your mail on hold online via the USPS.

    ___Create a packing checklist
    This doesn't have to be right down to the number of socks you'll need, but in general, think about the climate you'll be traveling to and the types of activities you'll be doing.

    ____Check your camera batteries and accessories
    It's better to discover a broken camera accessory ahead of time, and if you need new batteries, you can put them on your shopping list

    ___Create a trip shopping list
    Leave this somewhere visible and convenient (refrigerator, smart phone) so that you can add items as you think of them. 

  • 04 of 06

    1 Week Ahead

    ___Do the laundry
    Spend a morning laundering anything you'll need for the trip.

    ___Go shopping
    The week ahead is the time to pick up any last minute odds and ends you might need (travel tooth brush, SPF) this way you don't have to store this extra stuff for too long before a trip. (Don't forget your travel journal.)

    ___Start packing
    I like to lay my suitcase out and I will begin packing things I won't need until the trip.

    ___Begin assembling your carry-on bags
    I like to call this the Adult Diaper Bag. More on that in Travel Tips. 

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    The Day Before

    ___Pack your bags
    Pack everything except the outfit you plan to wear the day of travel and the toiletries you plan to use.

    ___Check in
    If you're flying and have the option to check in online, do so now. It's a time-saver at the airport.

    ___Go over your itinerary
    One last time, go over your itinerary and make sure you have all the documents you need in a secure but reachable spot in your carry on bags.

    ___Gas up the car
    If you're driving and the gas station is not on your travel route, make a special trip the day before to save time on the road.

  • 06 of 06

    The Day Of

    ___Pack daily toiletries, medications, and makeup.
    As you get dressed/ get ready in the bathroom, pack your toiletries and medication as you use them so you don't forget anything. These may include your hairdryer, medication you take every day, mascara, etc.

    ___Check your appliances.
    Chances are you didn't leave the stove on, but check it anyway. Ditto the curling iron. Turn the heat down if it's Winter.

    ___Review your checklist one last time.

    ___Hit the road!