10 Things You Should Do Before Going on Holiday
There’s always this whirlwind of activity right before you depart for a trip.
Whether it’s just a weekend away or it’s that dream trip around Africa or Asia that you’ve been planning for years, time has a funny way of running away from you the closer you get to your departure date.
Those long months, weeks, and days that seemed to stretch out forever ahead of you are suddenly all too little time to get everything done that you needed to.
The night before you set off, you find yourself juggling the competing demands of packing, last-minute itinerary planning, and a million other things.
In all of the chaos, it can be easy to forget things that might seem like common sense.
That’s where I come in!
10. Figure out your mail and email situation
In the excitement of getting ready for your dream trip, it can be easy to forget about something as every day and humdrum as your correspondence.
Regular mail might be able to just be left at your house if you’re only going away for a day or two, but if you’re headed off on a longer trip or don’t have a waterproof place to keep your mail as it arrives, it might be worth setting up mail forwarding or even a mail hold.
When it comes to email, don’t forget to put an out of office notification up unless you want to be dealing with your emails the entire time you’re gone. Most email service providers have easy to set up auto-replies you can activate so people don’t think you’re ducking them.
9. Let your bank know where you’ll be
With identity theft and petty theft alike being a risk when you’re travelling abroad, banks are often hyper-vigilant to what might seem like a suspicious transaction on your account.
“Hmm… why is Joe Smith suddenly purchasing a massage in Thailand?”
To avoid the frustration of having a temporary block put onto your card, be sure to contact your bank and let them know which countries you’ll be travelling to. This way, they’ll know not to cut you off when you make a late night withdrawal in Las Vegas.
8. Don’t forget your pets!
Obviously, you aren’t going to let your precious fur babies starve to death while you’re gone, but it’s always worth double-checking that everything is ready for their care while you’re gone.
While some people are lucky enough to have a friendly neighbourhood kid looking to earn some extra pocket money, others are more comfortable putting their beloved pets in a kennel while they’re away.
These days, more and more people are also looking towards house-sitters to take care of their pets. Don’t have a family friend who is willing to do it? Sites like Trusted Housesitters allow you to contact and interview potential housesitters who will stay in your home and take care of your pets while you’re away.
7. Turn off valuable electrical appliances
There’s nothing worse than coming back from a trip to find that an electrical storm has fried your TV or gaming console. While it’s an incredibly rare occurrence, why tempt fate?
Before I travel, I always run through the house one last time and unplug any non-essential, pricey electrical appliances such as televisions and computers.
While you’re at it, make sure you unplug any electrical appliances that won’t be needed while you’re gone. Your fridge probably needs to stay plugged in, but unplugging or switching off your hot water heater can be a great way to save some money while you’re away.
Oh, and don’t forget to make sure you have spare batteries for your camera and chargers for any travel electronics you might be taking with you.
Lastly, double-check that you’ve got the right adaptor for the outlet where you’ll be travelling. Check World Standards to be sure.
6. Buy travel insurance
It seems like an obvious thing, but you absolutely need travel insurance when you’re travelling. While some credit card companies offer complimentary travel insurance to their members, I’ve always just taken out a comprehensive travel insurance plan with a company like World Nomads.
You know, except for that one time I accidentally forgot to do it and then broke my arm in Indonesia.
That was an expensive mistake I won’t be making twice.
If you’re doing any unusual or especially risky activities while you’re away, it’s a good idea to also check to see what is and isn’t covered. You’d be surprised what things might fall outside of your insurance policy if you don’t read the fine print.
Lastly, be sure to insure any expensive electronics you’re taking with you. Many policies don’t offer full coverage for things like laptops and expensive DSLR cameras, so you may need to insure these individually at extra cost.
5. Make sure your home is disaster ready
While we’re on the subject of unexpected disasters, it’s a good idea to also make sure your home is covered should the unthinkable happen while you’re away.
Just ask Adventures Around Asia, who went on vacation and came back to find her Chinese apartment had flooded while she was gone.
Making sure your home is disaster-ready is something that’s going to vary from place to place. If you’re in an area where theft or burglary is likely to be a problem, it might be a good idea to have somebody checking the house regularly.
If you’re like me and come from a country where things tend to spontaneously catch on fire every summer, taking steps to safeguard your house ahead of bushfire season is a must. You can find more on bushfires and bushfire safety here.
4. Double check your packing list
I’m sure you’re absolutely sure you have everything you need but are you really sure?
The last thing you want to do is get to that gorgeous stretch of beach and realize you left your swimmers on the line behind the house.
You don’t want to make the mistake of setting out for that epic hike through rural Japan only to find out that your hiking boots are still by the front door.
Check and double-check your packing list to make sure you’ve got everything you need for your trip. You’d be surprised at the things people forget to pack when they travel.
3. Make copies of your itinerary and travel documents
This one might sound like the kind of suggestion an overprotective mother suggests right before you head off on your first Contiki tour, but there are some good reasons why you should make copies of your travel documents.
In the nightmarish event that you lose your passport or rail pass while you’re travelling, having a copy of an important travel document can really expedite the process of getting a replacement.
Don’t carry this copy in the same place as the original! Either pack it in a different bag or have your travel companion carry it for you. Rick Steves has some great information about making copies of your travel documents.
Lastly, make sure somebody back home has a copy of your itinerary and your travel insurance policy. While it’s extremely unlikely they’ll need it, it’s better that they have these documents on hand in case you’re injured or there’s a natural disaster where you’re travelling.
2. Double check your visa paperwork
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be stunned how many people arrive at the airport in their destination and realize they’re missing some vital part of their visa application.
Thankfully, a responsible airline won’t let you board a flight to a country that doesn’t offer visa free travel or visas on arrival, but make sure you have the relevant currency for purchasing visas, any vaccination certificates you might need, and/or a passport sized photo for the visa.
In some cases, you can apply for a visa ahead of time using eVisa sites or print out the visa form ahead of time, so look into this too.
Also, even in countries where visas are not needed, it is often a requirement that you have your outbound flight, train, or ferry booked. Don’t get caught at the airport buying an expensive last minute flight so they’ll let you on the plane!
1. Check your health
If you’re heading off on your dream vacation, chances are you’ve already done your research about what vaccinations you need, what medications you should pack, and all of that other stuff.
Still, it’s always a good idea to check sites like Smart Traveller for the latest health and safety information. Take what you read on sites like this with a grain of salt, as they’ll often sound every bit as paranoid as that racist aunt we all seem to have.
A visit to your doctor to make sure your vaccinations are all up to date is a great idea too.
If it’s been a while since you’ve been to the dentist, make sure they’ve also signed off on your teeth. You do not want to be stuck abroad with a toothache! Not only can it be hard to find an English speaking dentist abroad, but costs vary wildly and travel insurance plans rarely cover non-emergency dental work.
Oh, and don’t forget to buy travel insurance. Is travel insurance worth it?
Don’t ask stupid questions. Just get it.
Now that all of that’s under control, it’s time to tilt your seat back, plug in your headphones, and get out there!
What are your pre-travel rituals and routines?