final travel checklist with a tone filter applied | original photo

You have a few days left until you’re out the door and onto exploring the world. The immediacy of your trip can be severely stressful and exciting in equal measure. Amidst these heightened emotions (which in case you haven't guessed will keep building until you set foot on your plane) it’s easy to miss things that need your attention before you leave.

So rather than waiting until a day before your flight to figure out if everything has been taken care of, take a moment to review the list below and ensure you're ready for takeoff!

1) Make sure you have all of your important documents

  • Passport
  • Extra passport photos in case your destination requires one
  • Proof of insurance (both your home primary insurance if you have it and your travel insurance)
  • Hard copies of your travel itinerary (flights, hotels, check-in times, etc.)
  • Important phone numbers (your home country’s consultant in each country you’ll be visiting, family member phone numbers, etc.)
  • Proof of vaccinations if required
  • Tickets for any flights or transportation that will let you print in advanced 
  • Anything else you can think of

Once you’ve ensured that you have all important documents, my recommendation is to stick them in a large zip-lock bag to keep them together and help them resist water damage and put them in a safe compartment in your carry-on bag.

Next (just to solidify my reputation as someone who suffers from severe paranoia) I suggest making a copy of every document (including a photocopy of your passport) and giving the copied set to a trusted family member or friend back at home for safe keeping.

Finally, take pictures/scans of all your important documents and back them up onto a cloud drive (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.) so you can easily print backups if all else fails.

You can never be too safe when it comes to this stuff so cover your a$$.

2) Select the clothes you’re bringing on your trip, wash them and pack them

You don’t want to wait until 24 hours before take-off to find out that your only pair of swim trunks have a hole in them or that all of the clothes you were planning on bringing aren’t going to fit in your bag. Save yourself the nervous breakdown and finalize your clothing situation now!

3) Withdraw a small amount of emergency cash

I start every trip by storing five $10.00 bills in a safe place (usually split between my carry-on bag and fanny pack...yes my fanny pack). That $50.00 of emergency cash has helped me through A LOT of pinches. One that comes to mind was when my travel partner and I took a bus from Ha Long Bay to Hue in Vietnam. The person who sold us our bus tickets charged us a tourist bus price (our expectation was the bus would drop off in a tourist area) but booked us on a much cheaper local bus that took 19 hours and dropped us off far from our destination. When we got off in the middle of the night we were lost and alone. After stumbling around a bit, some people offered to give us a ride into town for $20.00. There were no ATM’S around. My emergency money got us to our hotel.

4) Make sure you have a photo storage solution in place

You’re going to be taking a ton of pictures on your trip (social media followers beware). On my first excursion, I quickly used up my phone’s 32gb internal space and had to scramble for a photo backup solution. I’m pretty tech savvy so it wasn’t a big problem but if you’re not, you don’t want to be wasting precious time trying to figure out how to free up space on your phone when you should be exploring.

My recommendation - Download Google Drive’s photo storage app (ios/android) (or some other alternative if you’re in the Google = Evil camp) and at the end of everyday backup your photos and videos to the app. You get 15gb of free storage so that plus your phone’s internal storage should be adequate for your photo taking needs (and if not you can purchase more storage or spread your photo backups across multiple free accounts). If you have a phone that allows you to expand its internal memory with a micro SD card, consider picking one up on Amazon. They're dirt cheap and will make it so you never skip a photo-snapping beat!

5) Make sure you have your prescription medications in hand

At this point, you should have spoken to your doctor about your trip so they could give you vaccination recommendations and arrange to have your prescriptions filled to last you through your journey. If you haven’t talked to your doctor and need medication for your trip you need to get on the phone right now and make that happen. You should always have all prescription medication you need for a trip in hand at least seven days before departure. Also, remember to keep your medicine in their prescribed bottles while traveling in case anybody in a foreign country asks if you’re allowed to legally be carrying the drugs you’re transporting.

6) Check your wallet

Make sure you have both a primary and secondary means of payment with at least one widely accepted logo (ex: VISA, MasterCard) in your possession. After confirming you have these, I recommend keeping your two cards in separate places in case you lose your wallet. Finally, make sure to call both card’s customer service numbers and let the agents know your travel plans so when they see charges from foreign countries they don’t shut down the card thinking it’s been stolen.

7) Make sure you have your toiletries/miscellaneous items

Who among us hasn’t forgotten a toothbrush? How about a retainer? (sorry mom, but there goes the $2500.00 you spent to make my mouth not look like a blender.) Make sure everything you’re going to need for your daily/nightly bathroom routine is packed away. Special face wash, shampoo, toothpaste (all funneled into travel-sized containers if you're going to save a boatload by only traveling with a carry-on bag), feminine products, emergency tissue, etc.

Most of this stuff will be for sale wherever you’re going so just pack what you need to get you started.

8) A note of final intent

This is a depressing and optional step but you never know what’s going to happen when you’re country-hopping across the world. Do you think an adventurer like Indiana Jones didn’t have some kind of note with directions on how to divvy up his assets if he ever fell victim to a venomous snake bite?

(Maybe he didn’t.)

But you’re smarter than Harrison Ford!

I always type out a note explaining where I want my money/notable assets to go, how I want the data on my computer managed, passwords for my social media accounts so they can be shut down and tell everybody that if they’re reading this letter I’ve faked my death and not to cry for me (I should probably stop doing that as that might undermine the legality of my note...). I then sign and seal the note leaving it with the person I trust most, instructing them not to open it unless something bad happens to me.

When I come back in one piece, I collect the note and burn it. (A little dramatic but I like to celebrate my looking death in the eye and spitting in its face with FIRE!)

(Note: I’m not an attorney and going about carrying out instructions in this way is not something I can ensure is legally binding)

That's it!

Once you've gone through this checklist, your last task is to pack your bag exactly how you’re planning on doing it when you leave. Don’t worry if you have to unpack some stuff because you need it between now and takeoff. This practice is just to make sure everything is going to fit and the bag is comfortable to lug around.

If your bag is overstuffed or burdensome in any way, leave things behind! You will thank yourself later. Believe me! 

Set your bag aside as finalized as possible and be sure to double check everything 24 hours before your flight.

Happy Adventuring!