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 iamat.org for more vaccination recommendations based upon your travel destination.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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