Editor’s note: This article was published prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you need to travel, check the CDC FAQ page about COVID-19 risks for travelers, which provides the latest guidance. For information about outdoor activities wherever you go (close to home is best), read Recreate Responsibly: An Activity-Specific Guide.
Going on a big trip? Use our travel preparation checklist to keep from forgetting anything important. List is ordered chronologically for easy use.
10–30 Days Before Departure
- Packing list: Download or create a gear list tailored to your trip plans.
- Pets: Arrange pet care; plan far ahead for pet boarding, particularly during holiday periods.
- School: Prearrange school absences for children.
- Luggage: Decide if you have enough capacity.
- Vehicle: Schedule pre-trip maintenance.
5–7 Days Before Departure
- Meetings: Reschedule appointments; notify others of your absence.
- Bills: Check due dates for bills; pay early if necessary.
- Prescriptions: Ensure your supply meets trip duration.
- Books: Pick up books, magazines and/or load your e-reader.
- Support: Leave a copy of your itinerary/contact info with a friend (and, at trailheads, under your car seat).
2–4 Days Before Departure
- Newspaper: Suspend delivery.
- Mail: Suspend delivery, or ask a neighbor to collect it for you.
- Yard: Mow lawn, or arrange to have it mowed (and plants watered).
- Trash: Cancel trash pickup (or ask a neighbor to handle the task).
- Lights: Set automatic timers at varying times and multiple rooms.
- Batteries: Charge rechargeables (for camera, phone, laptop, headlamp, music player or other items).
- Documents: Organize tickets, passports, maps, permits, medical info.
- Reservations: Confirm reservations (plane, hotel, airport, car).
- Weather: Check destination forecast; adjust packing list accordingly.
- Begin packing: Organize what you can ahead of time.
1 Day Before Departure
- Refrigerator: Clean out perishables.
- Office: Display a note informing coworkers of your return date.
- Computer: Set out-of-office automated response.
- Check-in: Use online check-in to print airline boarding pass early.
- DVR/VCR: Set timer to record favorite shows.
Day of Departure
- Plants: Water inside and outside.
- Heating/cooling: Reduce thermostat and water heater settings; raise air conditioner setting.
- Electricity: Unplug idle devices (e.g., toaster, coffee maker, computer, hair dryer).