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The Essential Pre-Trip Checklist

For a stress-free, tranquil trip, preparation is key. Download our pre-trip checklist to help you take care of the essential tasks before embarking on your getaway.

For a stress-free, tranquil trip, preparation is key. If you’re getting ready to go on vacation, download our pre-trip checklist to help you take care of the essential tasks before embarking on your getaway. This customizable and editable chart includes everything you’ll likely need to do before heading out the door, from arranging pet care to taking care of finances. Download the list and add in any extra preparations you might need to complete—and you’ll be well on your way to a worry-free adventure. NEW: Download a mobile-friendly version of the pre-trip checklist.

Pre-Trip Checklist for Home/Pets

  • Turn off AC/fans
  • Take out trash
  • Clean out fridge/throw out food
  • Return due library books
  • Close/lock windows
  • Unplug electronics
  • Turn off lights/set timer for lights
  • Notify home-security system co.
  • Arrange house sitter
  • Place stop order on newspaper
  • Place stop order on mail
  • Stock up on pet food and litter
  • Arrange pet sitter or kennel stay
  • Obtain documentation for required pet vaccinations

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Pre-Trip Checklist for Finances/Health

  • Visit a travel clinic if traveling to a foreign country
  • Program ICE (“in case of emergency”) number into your phone
  • Check overseas medical coverage
  • Refill prescriptions
  • Get necessary immunizations
  • Make copies of passport/ID
  • Notify CC co./bank of travel
  • Pay necessary bills in advance
  • Research entrance fee costs
  • Create trip budget
  • Take out cash at ATM
  • Obtain foreign currency
  • Get small bills for tipping

Pre-Trip Checklist for Itinerary/Flight

  • Look up baggage fees for airline
  • Add new luggage tags to your suitcase
  • Download travel apps/e-books
  • Set up away message
  • Set up flight alerts via text
  • Weigh packed luggage
  • Set up a travel plan for cell phone
  • Charge all electronics
  • Remove previous airline luggage tags
  • Check in online/print boarding passes
  • Confirm rental car reservations
  • Confirm flight, train, bus reservations
  • Confirm hotel reservations
  • Create/print itinerary
  • Check weather
  • Pack
  • Notify friends/family of travel
  • Check your passport expiration date
  • Program phone numbers into cellphone
  • Arrange transportation to the airport

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2012. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

By Caroline Costello

Caroline Costello's travel accomplishments include surviving a 2 a.m. whitewater rafting excursion in the Canadian wilderness, successfully biking from Dusseldorf to Cologne without a map, and gaining access to a covert pizza speakeasy in New Orleans.

Caroline is an active member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). Her work has appeared on USA Today, the Boston Globe,,, ABC News, TODAY Travel, and, among other publications.

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