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Pre travel checklist – what to check before your holiday

It’s approaching holiday season and there’s so much to check before you go on holiday. You don’t want to be that person who gets to the airport and realises you’ve forgotten your passport (my worst nightmare, and even though we rarely go abroad, I still have nightmares that I am that person!). Do you have a pre travel checklist or are you a wing it person and it’ll all turn out ok?

Have you travelled 3 hours on a roadtrip, worrying that you’ve forgotten something, rung the neighbour to check and they tell you your front door is still wide open with the key in the lock…(yes this was my mum when I was about 9).

To make your holiday run more smoothly, and reduce your panic, it’s always worth writing a pre holiday checklist of what you need to do before you go. And more importantly what you need to take.

My list isn’t just for travelling abroad. Adapt the reminders for home based vacations too. However or wherever you’re travelling, you don’t want to waste time having forgotten something you end up needing that isn’t easy to get to from your holiday location.

pre travel checklist

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Pre travel checklist

Longer term prep tips

Check in with school if you need to request time off for children. Most schools won’t authorise holidays, so plan for requests or how you’ll deal with any fines if you’re taking them away during term time.

Passport details. In the UK at least, there’s been so many changes since Brexit, checking your passport well ahead of time (ideally when booking your holiday), for the expiry date, check that against the end date requirements in the country you’re visiting, and order a renewal or new passport in plenty of time.

VISA requirements. Similarly VISA requirements have changed in many countries, so check what documents you need before you arrive, during travel, and on arrival. Have as much as you can done in advance, and don’t forget to take them with you. Paper copies as back up to anything electronic.

Insurance. Ideally book your travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday, and check what you’re covered for. Comparison sites are great for travel insurance, but do check you’re comparing like for like, and decide whether annual or per trip insurance works better for you and your family. Before you travel, make sure you can easily take or locate your documents in case needed, including any phone numbers you’d need.

Injections or medical requirements before you go. Book jabs or order medicines well in advance in case there’s a long wait for them, or you have to get to a different pharmacy or doctors to get them. Make sure you have a doctor’s letter and check permission to take the medicine you need into the country you’re going on holiday. Even simple pain relief or off the shelf products can be banned in some countries.

For injections you have to take before boarding a flight, work out the timings and where you’ll be able to do your injections. I’ve had a nightmare before because often medical spaces are outside security. If you need to inject 1 hour before flying, but need to be checked in and through security 2 hours ahead, it makes it hard. Work it out before travelling and there’ll be less stress.

Drivers licence/car insurance. If you’re intending to drive while away (or driving to get to your holiday), check your drivers licence is ok abroad, and your car insurance will cover you in the countries you’re going to. Hiring a car at your destination means anyone who wants to drive the car will need their licences.

Also think about child seat rental and requirements. What’s the law in the holiday countries, will you take your own child seats, or can you hire them there.

Petcare or booking for kennels/cattery – are you getting pet sitters in, or are pets going to a kennels or cattery. Again these can book up fast, so get arrangements organised as soon as you book your holiday.

travel planning and equipment to take photo by annie-spratt-unsplash
Photo: Annie Sprat, Unsplash

Shorter term run up checks

Your booking details. Keep all your holiday documents together – paper copies in a folder. Do similar online – either keep all documents in a folder on email or in your downloads folder so it’s easy to find (even without phone signal).

Logistics. Do a final check on how are you getting to the airport, and transfers. Where you pick them up from, or if you’ve organised them yourself, either book in advance (in particular if you’re arriving out of normal office hours). Check potential traffic detours en route – if you’re concerned, you could stay over in a hotel before flying so you’re nearer the airport or ferry. Also check parking costs booking ahead vs just turning up as you’ll likely get the best deals. You might find that valet parking and pick up is a good option, at least for the return journey (although our only experience was still having to wait for a while as they didn’t have enough drivers available for the number of people they’d booked)

Booking extras. If you’re booking anything in advance, do think about cancellation policies. Some things you might want to wait until nearer the time to book. During school holidays you might find you have to book ahead for things like pool slots, or activities.

Book any restaurants especially if you’re holidaying in the UK and want to eat at a specific time or location that’s popular. We found in Tenby it got so busy, we saw people queuing or being turned away. Getting advice from locals before going might give you some tips on what works best.

Who’s keeping an eye on your house. You could ask a neighbour or family member to pop in regularly to water plants, check everything’s ok and move post. Or do you want a housesitter to move in? Make sure you don’t order lots of parcels to arrive while you’re away as that makes a house a prime target for thieves if they can see post piling up.

Set timers for lights or other security if needed. Just before you leave, set up how you want your house to look. You can use lights on a time, maybe get the person keeping an eye on your house to pop in and close curtains at night/open in the morning. If you’ve got a neighbour with extra cars, why not offer to let them park on your drive while you’re away.

Check in times / method. Check how long you can check in in advance, and what method you can use.

Luggage allowance. Don’t get charged excess, make sure you weigh before you go or book extra allowance well before your travel date.

Airline rules check. What hand luggage can you take, check the liquids regulations, and do you need proof of vaccinations before you go, do you need to wear masks.

Packing list. Don’t overpack, and obviously don’t forget key items, especially if you’ve got young children and don’t want to be spending at resort prices. If you’re travelling out of season, you might find it harder to buy any travel must haves you need, so online shopping, try second hand, or at the airport.

What other things would you add to your pre travel checklist?

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