Before you head off on an epic holiday, there’s an epic list of things to do. The trick is remembering them all. To help you, we’ve put together a 100-point checklist to make sure you’ve got absolutely everything covered. And yes, it’s epic.
1. Check the expiry date on your passport (give yourself enough time to organise a new one if necessary!). It should be valid for at least six months before you enter another country (although some airlines require that it be valid for six months from the date you return home).
2. Are you travelling abroad? Do you need a visa for any countries you’ll be visiting? Make sure you organise them well in advance.
3. If you’re planning on using your credit card while abroad, avoid huge charges by applying for one that charges no fee for overseas usage.
4. Sort out your travel insurance before you leave your home country (preferably when you book your air tickets).
5. Have a medical check-up.
6. Check if you need any shots and when (some vaccinations require repeat doses, and/or take time to take effect). Keep your vaccination card with your travel documents, just in case.
7. Get refills for any prescription medication that’s set to run out while you’re away.
8. Some medication is forbidden in certain countries, so check if you need a copy of the script or a letter from your doctor as proof of medical authorisation.
9. Get organised if you think you’re going to need things like sleeping pills, travel sickness pills, antihistamines etc.
10. Stock up on other pharmacy items, such as paracetamol, vitamins, Berocca, contact lens solution etc.
11. Do you wear prescription glasses? Pack a spare pair, plus an eye glasses script (just in case).
12. Let your bank and credit card company know where and when you’re going, so they won’t assume your card’s been stolen and refuse any charges. Be sure to take their emergency phone numbers, just in case.
13. Pay any bills that are due while you’re away, or schedule automatic payments.
14. Withdraw some cash and change it to the local currency of where you’re heading, just so you don’t get stuck with no money if there’s a problem.
15. Also, check the exchange rate and write down how much money you’ll want to withdraw from an ATM (in local currency) when you arrive.
16. You can usually access foreign currency at your destination airport, but a few countries (eg Zimbabwe) require you to pay cash for your visitor visa when you enter. Do your research and be sure to have the necessary cash on you (US dollars tend to be the currency of choice).
17. If you’re travelling to the US, have some US dollars changed into a bunch of single dollar bills. Ditto anywhere else where tipping is the norm.
18. When packing, don’t keep all your cash in one place – put it in separate places throughout your bag.
19. Need car hire? For better prices and car choices, pre-book it if at all possible.
20. And if you’re driving overseas, make sure you have an international driving permit (IDP). You’ll need this as well as your Aussie driving licence in many countries – if not, some insurance policies won’t cover you.
21. Contact the hotel or Airbnb where you’ll be staying on your first night and ask them the best way to get there from the airport. Save the information into your itinerary and key it into your GPS when you pick up your hire car.
22. Check if downloading a GPS navigation system to your smartphone or tablet would be preferable to renting a GPS device from your car-hire operator.
23. If you’re still worried about getting around when you arrive at your destination, print off driving directions in case your digital map of choice doesn’t work properly.
24. Arrange for a ride or taxi to the airport, or pre-book a parking spot/shuttle service.
25. Plan your route to the airport – always allow extra time in case of any disruptions and listen out for traffic alerts.
26. If you leave your car in an airport car park, write down exactly where you left so you can find it quickly and easily on your return.
27. If you haven’t got one already, set up a Skype or FaceTime account so you can chat with people back home.
28. Update your calendar and reschedule/cancel any appointments or commitments that you might have booked for the time you’re away.
29. Create an automated email response so anyone who’s trying to message you will know that you’re out of town.
30. Don’t speak the local lingo in the country you’re visiting? Buy a phrase book or download a relevant app. It might come in very handy!
31. Share your travel itinerary with relevant family and friends, and make sure they know how to get in touch with you in an emergency.
32. Make arrangements with anyone you want to meet up with during your trip.
33. Set up a blog and keep your entire crew updated on your trip. Better yet, share your stories with us, at the Travel at 60 Travel-Lovers Club.
34. Register your travel plans with smartraveller.gov.au so you’re contactable in an emergency.
35. Print – or scan and print – all important documents, including: your itinerary, airline tickets, hotel bookings, passport info page, entry visas, travel insurance policy, credit cards, emergency numbers, driving licence, boarding passes. Photograph them on your phone as well.
36. Keep a hard copy of all of these – get organised and put them all together in some sort of folder or travel wallet.
37. Email the scanned copies to yourself and every traveller in your party, so you can access them online. Leave another set with family or friends.
38. Use your mobile phone to take photos of things like prescription medicine bottles as well.
39. Make sure you also have a list of emergency contact details printed out, saved on your phone and emailed to yourself.
40. Programme phone numbers you’ll need into your phone (eg your airline, hotel or airbnb etc).
41. Pack a pad and pen as well, just in case your phone’s out of range or battery!
42. Is your camera’s memory card big enough to hold all of the photos you plan to take? Clear and reformat existing memory cards or buy another one (or two, depending on how snap-happy you think you’ll be).
43. There will be times you don’t have access to power – if you don’t want to miss out on any photo ops, pack an extra camera battery.
44. If you take photos on your smartphone, make sure it’s got loads of space (clear photos/back up to the Cloud etc).
45. Fully charge all of your devices (eg phone/tablet/laptop and all spare batteries etc) before you leave.
46. Pack chargers and cables for each device.
47. Check what sort of adapters you’ll need and pack at least one (tip: take a power board for all of your gadgets and electrical items, and just one adapter).
48. Want internet access while you’re away, but don’t need to be connected 24/7? Use free Wi-Fi services (in hotels and cafes etc) and you can leave your usual SIM card in place – just don’t forget to turn of data roaming as soon as you head off.
49. If you want more internet access, but don’t want to pay roaming charges, buy a local SIM card.
50. If you plan to use local SIM cards, remember to unlock your phone before you leave.
51. Otherwise, get a multi-country SIM card (get advice on Google) or check out data packages with your provider.
52. Download any apps that you think will be useful on your travels – eg Google Maps, Weather Live, Google Translate, XE Currency Pro, CityMaps2G, Tripit, WhatsApp, Skype etc.
53. While you’re there, download any music and movies/shows you think you might want for the journey.
54. Ditto any books for Kindle/iPad. Or pick up magazines and books from your library/newsagent/bookshop.
55. Pick up some snacks at this stage too, rather than paying five times the price at the airport.
Read more: 9 simple tips to help stop overpacking
56. You’ve organised travel insurance – make sure your home insurance is also up-to-date.
57. If you have an alarm company, let them know the dates that you’ll be away.
58. Ask a trusted neighbour or friend to keep an eye on your house and give them details about who to contact if there are any problems. Make sure they have a spare set of keys, too, in case of emergency.
59. If you have a spare key hidden somewhere outside your house, remove it before you go away.
60. Put all home deliveries on hold (eg mail, newspapers, groceries etc). They’re a dead giveaway that you’re not home, and an open invitation to burglars.
61. Speaking of burglars, if they operate in your area (or if you just want extra peace of mind), consider buying some timers and turn on a lamp or two at night – and off again during the day.
62. If you’re going away for a long time and have a lawn, arrange for someone to mow it.
63. If you have pets, arrange a pet sitter or kennel stay.
64. If your pets are going to a kennel or to stay with friends or family, pack up everything they’ll need – and be sure to include food and medication for a few extra days in case you’re delayed, plus contact details for your vet.
65. If your cat is staying home and you have a friend or pet sitter popping in to check on them, be sure to clean out the litter tray before you leave, and leave out an extra full bowl of food and an extra bowl of water.
66. Turn off any heaters/air conditioners. Unless it’s freezing/boiling and you have pets staying in the house. Then set timers/thermostats accordingly.
67. Arrange to have your plants watered if you’re going to be away for a while (or if it’s very hot and dry) and be sure to give them a good water yourself just before you leave.
68. If you don’t want to leave your home unattended, arrange for a house sitter (preferably one who can look after your pets and water your garden!).
69. If you have windows where people can see in to your house, close the blinds or curtains.
70. Do any pre-travel personal care routines (eg nails, eyebrows, shave legs etc).
71. Do all your laundry (leave enough time for them to dry before you’re ready to pack). As well as washing items you need for your holiday, wash sheets and towels for a fresh and fragrant homecoming.
72. Make sure you haven’t left any wet clothes in your washing machine or dryer.
73. Eat, give away or chuck any perishables before you leave and clean out your fridge.
74. Clean all kitchen counters, wash any dishes in the sink and run the dishwasher.
75. If you have a garbage disposable unit, make sure it’s clear of food scraps.
76. Take out the rubbish/recycling/compost from every room in the house.
77. To conserve energy and money, switch off and unplug TVs, computers, toasters etc.
78. Remember to turn off lights before you leave (but turn on any timers for lights).
79. Double-check that all doors and windows are shut and locked before you leave (if you find you often worry about this, take photos on your mobile phone to reassure you later).
80. Research your trip a little – from the weather and transport to local culture and do’s and don’ts.
81. Check in to your flight online as early as you can, to try and ensure best seats (if not already reserved) and print off boarding passes if possible.
82. Confirm your hotel reservations.
83. Confirm your rental car reservations.
84. Remove anything you won’t need from your wallet/purse/handbag (eg foreign currency from your last trip, extra credit cards, reward cards that can’t be used etc).
85. Make sure you have the full address of where you’re staying printed out, and with directions. Photograph it on your phone for extra back-up.
86. Get some cash out of an ATM, so you have it for any last-minute travel needs (eg taxi, coffees etc).
87. Double-check your luggage allowances before you start to pack. Remember to weigh your carry-on luggage as well.
88. If you decide to take extra luggage, pre-book it in online in advance. Read the fine print.
89. Make a detailed checklist of everything you need to take on your holiday.
90. Make sure this list includes some comfortable shoes!
91. Double- and triple-check this list in the lead-up to your departure.
92. Leave a note next to your suitcase, reminding you to pack things you might forget (eg medications, contact lenses, water/snacks in the fridge).
93. Travel as light as possible, but try to include the following in your carry on: neck pillow, ear plugs, sleeping mask, noise-cancelling headphones, socks, baby wipes and spare underwear/change of clothes.
94. Put any liquid items in a plastic bag and make sure any items like tweezers or nail scissors are packed in your suitcase and not on your person.
95. The night before you leave, lay out the clothes you’ll be wearing when you leave for your trip the next day.
96. Pack everything (minus whatever you need on travel day) in your suitcase and carry-on bag.
97. Then remove anything that’s not essential – the lighter you can pack, the better.
98. On the day you depart, check that you’ve packed items that you use often, such as reading glasses, sunglasses, wallet or purse, phone, medicines etc.
99. Do a final check that you have your passport and itinerary packed in your carry-on bag.
100. You’ve done everything, so relax and enjoy your trip!