Essential Trip Checklist

Ensure a smooth trip with these oft overlooked gotchas ✅.

14 reminders, updated 1 month ago

Two months before

Many countries, especially in tropical regions, have requirements or recommendations for vaccinations like yellow fever and won't let you enter without proof you've had them. Use IAMAT to check.

Many cities have walk in clinics for these types of shots, but for those that don't it may take some time to schedule which is why we listed this for two months out. Don't forget to check whether your health insurance covers any of the shots, as some of them can be quite pricey.

Often the best local experiences are limited in the amount of people they can take. For example, restaurants on the World's 50 Best list and permits to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu are usually booked multiple months in advance. Often this is for a good reason too: allowing too many people can quickly lead to problems with sustainability and maintenance. If these type of experiences are high on your list, it's best to be proactive and book ahead of time.

A week before

In case the pharmacy doesn't have it, this provides enough time for them to re-order or for you to go to another pharmacy.

Just in case anything happens while abroad, let your friends and family know where you're going and any relevant contact and housing info.

When you use your credit or debit card when traveling, there's always a chance your bank could think it's fraud and stop the transaction especially if it's international. This can be really annoying, especially if you don't have service or are in a rush, but it's also a sign your bank is doing its job trying to protect you. Save yourself the potential trouble by calling your banks ahead of time, especially if you don't travel often.

Banks base their fraud detection on your spending patterns, so if you travel a lot eventually you won't need to notify them anymore. Certain cards like Amex also don't need to be notified.

Keeping paper and digital backups of your driver's license, passport, medical cards, visas, and other documents can be a life saver in case you lose them or you're robbed. Dropbox has built in scanning in its mobile app or you can use a dedicated scanner app like JotNot.

Double check and write down important info somewhere you can access offline in case you arrive and can't get service (plus, when has airport wifi ever actually been good?). Screenshots are often an easy method.

  • Check in and check out time: see how it coincides with your expected arrival time. If you're really early, hotels will usually let you leave your luggage there while you go explore. Airbnbs may be trickier.
  • Address: make sure it actually maps somewhere, especially if it's an Airbnb as the addresses they provide may be in a different language or written in a different format.
  • Check in instructions: these can be especially confusing for Airbnbs. See if they actually make sense and if not message the host beforehand to figure it out.
  • Any tour info if you're joining one

A day or two before

Many apps offer an offline option. Make sure to first enable the offline option and then let them sync as many are only set to do so while connected to wi-fi and may take a while.

Popular apps and their offline features
  • Spotify and Apple Music let you sync offline playlists
  • Evernote lets you sync entire notebooks for offline viewing
  • Dropbox lets you download specific files for offline viewing
  • Google Maps lets you download offline maps of cities
  • TripAdvisor lets you download offline reviews of cities
  • Google Translate lets you download languages for offline translation

Might seem obvious, but check it again in case you based your packing list on a weather report that was 5 or more days out. Weather is statistically much more accurate a day or two before than when five days or more out and it wouldn't be that unusual if it had changed a few degrees or went from cloudy to rainy.

Avoid being the person that starts packing the night before only to realize you have no clean clothes. 😧

This prevents potential thieves from easily being able to tell that you're gone since there isn't a pile of newspapers/mail building up, lowering the chances your house is targeted for robbery.

The day of

Many companies like AT&T will let you suspend your mobile phone's service if you're traveling abroad for an extended period of time. This lowers the monthly fee down to $10/month or less, which can add up.

Letting people know you're gone, especially when it comes to work, can help make the transition smoother when you get back.

Just in case anything happens, like your wallet or purse being stolen.

Think this checklist is missing a key reminder? Let us know »

Wanderprep curates the best travel gear, apps, and tips. Our goal is concise recommendations that respect your time and help you travel better and more responsibly. To fund these guides and our giving back goals aka make money, we sometimes use affiliate links. Learn our story and approach. We believe a good checklist helps us get the most out of our adventures. See what we evaluate besides importance, timing, and time saved.