The Ultimate Pre-Trip Travel Checklist

Forget something? Don't leave home without checking off these important items from our ultimate pre-trip travel checklist. |

Planning a holiday getaway? You’ve booked hotels, flights and time off of work, but it’s always the little things that leave one scrambling at the last minute. Our ultimate pre-trip travel checklist will help you enjoy a stress-free vacation, secure in the knowledge that you’ve locked the doors and packed the phone charging cables.

Ultimate Pre-Trip Travel Checklist

Check Your Passport

Check if your passport is valid. Now check if it’s valid for at least six months before expiration, as many destinations have that entry requirement. If not, renew that paperwork ASAP. If your destination requires a visa, visit the Government of Canada’s travel site for more information. FYI – You may need to send your passport to a foreign consulate for a period of time for visa processing, so ensure that you won’t need to use it during that waiting period. Finally, make a hard copy of each person’s passport papers, and store in a separate place from the actual documents.


Have you had your shots? It’s always a good idea to protect yourself and your family from serious illness, and some destinations require proof of certain vaccinations. Check with your local health authority or for more information based upon your travel destination.

Health Insurance

It’s crucial to have extended medical insurance when travelling outside of Canada. Many employer insurance plans and credit cards offer some built-in insurance, but call your provider to check on specifics. Purchase additional coverage based on destination, and the age and size of your travelling party. Some third-party insurance providers offer family plans that can bundle coverage.

Medications + Prescriptions

Pack a clear, resealable bag with your favorite household pain relievers, in particular children’s medication. The pharmacy at your destination may have completely different medications than what you’re used to, or language barriers that may be an issue.  Ensure any prescription medications cover the duration of your holiday.

Prep Your Home

Stop mail and paper delivery. Tell a trusted neighbor that you’ll be away and ask them to keep an eye on your home. Install a timer on select lights to give the impression that someone is home, and book lawn maintenance if needed. Tidy up before you leave. I love returning to a clean home after a long trip, so we vacuum and ensure the house is clean and tidy before departure.

Cellphone + Data Plans

One of the number one forgotten items is phone chargers and wires. Invest in a small storage bag to keep all that electronica in its place. We swear by our STM Cable Bag when we travel.

Avoid the nasty shock of international roaming charges from any calls and data usage. Contact your service provider before you leave for their roaming rates and data plans, even if you only intend to use your phone for GPS navigation. Make sure to add Skype and Periscope to your phone Apps to keep in touch with family and friends while abroad.

Credit Cards

Let your credit card company know when you’ll be out of the country. It may save on purchase hassles, and those panicked phone calls from the card issuer checking whether your recent purchases are legitimate. Confession: this just happened to me in while travelling in Florida, and I appreciated the company’s due diligence in protecting me against potential fraud.

Forget something? Don't leave home without checking off these important items from our ultimate pre-trip travel checklist. |

Currency Exchange

Cash is king in many destinations. You should always have local currency (and US dollars as a secondary option) on hand upon arrival. In addition to larger denominations, pack a stack of small bills for tipping, hotels and cabs.

Of course, obtaining foreign currency can be a very time consuming process. We’re busy parents. Who has time to stand in line when you have a million things to do before you leave?! Well, here’s some good news that’s about to make your travelling life a whole lot better.

CIBC Foreign Cash Online is an incredibly convenient service that allows you to order the currency you need online before you travel, and the best part… it’s delivered free, straight to your door or your branch, anywhere in Canada. How great is that? If you live in the GTA, it can also be picked up at the Toronto Pearson Airport location (T1 international departures, post security) before you take off.

Existing CIBC clients can use the Foreign Cash Online services through Online Banking, by clicking “Order Foreign Cash” from the left hand navigation pane. This experience is fully integrated and allows clients to order within a few simple clicks – even better, your exchange rate is locked in as you purchase! Your bank account is debited immediately, and you can get it delivered to your home, Toronto Pearson Airport and any CIBC branch in Canada. Delivery time: Two-to-three days for most urban branch/home locations. Three-to-five business days for most rural locations.

Not a Client? Not a Problem.

Non-CIBC clients can also order Foreign Cash Online via CIBC’s eCommerce portal This eCommerce solution provides non-clients with the same number of currencies, the only differences are that you pay via credit card and delivery options include home and Toronto Pearson Airport. Delivery time: Two-to-three days for most urban branch/home locations. Three-to-five business days for most rural locations.

CIBC Foreign Cash Online works to provide customers with innovative and convenient ways of ordering/receiving their foreign currency. CIBC is the only financial institution to offer this complete suite of delivery options: with CIBC Foreign Cash Online you have access to up to 75 currencies representing 90 countries. Now, not only can you have cash delivered to Toronto Pearson airport, but you can purchase it last minute on your way out of the country as well!

Whether you are a CIBC customer or not, using the service is easy and you are all set anytime you need foreign cash!

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by CIBC Foreign Cash OnlineTM. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Photo Credits: CIBC, Shutterstock 

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Forget something? Don't leave home without checking off these important items from our ultimate pre-trip travel checklist. |

27 thoughts on “The Ultimate Pre-Trip Travel Checklist”

  1. An emergency stash of cash can come in handy. For example, one of mine is an undamaged $100 bill in USD. An empty lip balm or dental floss container makes a decent hiding place. I actually have three spots, spread across my bags and clothing. Thank you for the information on CIBC services. I’ve never thought of using CIBC as the nearest branch is 50 km away. This information changes things, especially if their rate is a little better than that of other banks.

  2. Great ideas! we travel enough that we have spare Apple chargers with the right outlet for both US and Europe in a ziploc with other US or Europe adaptors. Makes it easy to remember because the one thing you don’t want to forget is the phone charger!

  3. Things are a bit different over here – if you are from the EU and travelling in another European country you need a special healthcard to entitle you to the same benefits you get in your home country. But for most of us we need travel insurance too.

    I tend to end up with a local sim for non EU/Three countries – I once didn’t and ran up a bill of £50 in the first half hour!

    Great checklist though

  4. We always forget our phone chargers too! We need to just invest in a spare charger for travel and have it put away in our luggage so it’s ready for trips. The service offered by CIBC sounds great and so convenient!

  5. Quite a handy list! A lot of people tend to forget about vaccinations and travel/health insurance unless if they part of the visa requirements. Pretty neat of CIBC to offer free delivery and free pick up of foreign currency at Toronto airport, by the way. Sure makes things easier!

    1. I love that pick up or delivery service too! Looking forward to when they roll it out in other airports across Canada.

  6. Great list Claudia, you have everything covered here but when you are travelling with a family you always need to do your check list don’t you?…I still always forget something, it’s usually a charger, doh! Also great list for those that don’t travel frequently, particularly the reminder about health insurance, so important to get sorted out before hand! 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comments, Mel. Yes, I swear by several travel checklists. I’ve even broken them down by season as we do a lot of winter-based activities that are gear-heavy. Striking off packing items is also highly satisfying. 😉

  7. All great advice, especially about your passport being valid. I learned this the hard way when my daughters passport had expired and I discovered that fact on the day of her proposed trip. Now I am paranoid about making sure we keep up to date with renewals.

    1. Oh no, what a terrible discovery to make pre-trip! I’ve put a reminder in our calendar on passport renewals, though we’ve still got a few years left. 😉 Thanks for your comment, Sue!

    1. Getting a local SIM card has worked well for us too, especially in Europe where cell charges are substantially less than in Canada. Thanks for your comment!

  8. Very good advices! Like in Katja case, my friends card was blocked after he used it within 3 days in 3 different European countries… that’s nice they care, but it may be also annoying. 😉

  9. Great list of reminders before traveling! I always make sure to take plenty of my children’s medication. Even though you can get medication abroad, I like to stick with the meds I know.

  10. Branka Stefanovic

    Hi @luckyBgirl here. I am so impressed with the added value CIBC is providing to their customers and others. As exciting travel is, it is a stressful time trying to get everything in order. To have foreign money delivered to our door would enhance our experience by eliminating one thing off the “to do” list. Thank you for the travel tips… I say there is always something new to learn. Can’t wait to chat !!

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I’m Claudia, an adventurous mom who loves to explore the world and travel with my family. This site shares modern-mom-tested family travel sanity tips, destination advice, and inspiration to stay ever curious and create lifelong travel memories.

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