Travel Preparation Checklist

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Skier resting on a sunny day

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).
  • __________________________