The 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.

Your Ultimate Pre-Trip Travel Checklist

Check Your Passport

You won’t go fly far beyond your borders without 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, take that photo and 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. Some destinations may also require proof of certain vaccinations prior to entry. Check with your local health authority or for more vaccination recommendations 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 for greater savings.

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

Medications and Prescriptions

Packing a clear, resealable bag with your favorite household pain relievers and necessary medications is a key item on any pre-trip travel checklist. If travelling with kids, ensure you’ve packed the children’s medication as well. 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.

Prepare 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 and Data Plans

Between smartphones, tablets and other electronica, we’re drowning in charging cables and plugs. And do they ever get left behind when we’re on the road. One of the number one forgotten items in hotels are phone chargers and cables. Invest in a small storage bag to keep all those plugs and cables in their place. We swear by our BAGSMART electronic organizer case when we travel.

Planning to share all those holiday pics with the family back home, use GPS on your road trip or keep in touch via Skype calls? Contact your service provider before you leave for their roaming rates and data plans options. Even if you only intend to use your phone for GPS navigation, you want to avoid the nasty shock of international roaming charges from any calls and data usage. And that includes gaming and video streaming by your kids, or yourself.

Credit Cards

Advise your credit card company when you’ll be out of the country. It may save on purchase hassles, as well as phone calls from the card issuer checking whether your recent purchases are legitimate. It may also prevent having your card cancelled entirely while you’re abroad.

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. Exchanging currency at your local bank or currency exchange is usually cheaper than doing so at the airport exchanges. Estimate your travel budget before you depart and exchange an appropriate amount of vacation dollars to cover it. In addition to larger denominations, be sure to have a stack of smaller bills for tipping at hotels and cabs.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Photo Credits: 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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