10 things to do before taking off on holiday

Don’t leave home without finishing this to-do list

You’ve completed your travel trifecta – the flights are booked, hotels reserved and car hire reservation complete. Now it’s time to get organized. The trip planning process includes everything from buying your plane tickets, making reservations at your destination to packing. But before you head to the airport to catch your flight, make sure you’ve tied up all the loose ends.

 1. Call your credit card company

Many credit card companies have identity protection plans in place that help protect travelers from theft and fraud. In some cases, this means travelers must contact their credit card companies before traveling to ensure the card will work in another destination

2. Place a “stop” or “hold” on mail and deliveries                                                                                                           

Daily newspapers, magazines and mail will pile up while you’re away. Either ask a neighbour to collect your mail or arrange for the Post Office to hold your mail while you are away.  Also reduce the risk of break-ins by placing a stop on all automatic deliveries such as newspapers and magazine subscriptions.

3. Emergency phone numbers

This rule applies for those who might need to reach you while you’re away, and those you might need to get in touch with while you’re traveling. Before you leave, take some time to write out three lists: one for home, one for your hand luggage and a spare to stash in your suitcase.

Home: Leave contact phone numbers with family members and friends in case they need to reach you while you’re traveling. Examples include:

  • Phone number of the hotel(s) where you’re staying
  • Airline flight and car hire information and phone numbers
  • Phone numbers of the people you’re traveling with
  • If you’re traveling with a group or tour company, leave the company’s contact information
  • Phone numbers for doctors/veterinarians, in case of emergencies

 Away: While you’re away, it’s a good idea to keep a list of emergency travel numbers with you. Those contacts include:

  • Bank and Credit card companies
  • Travel Insurance Company contact and claim details
  • Doctor’s office
  • Australian Embassy/Consulates in the countries you’re visiting
  • Airline phone numbers

Print a hard copy of these, don’t just rely on an electronic version in case your phone/laptop is stolen.  Also a great idea to email all these details to yourself so they are always accessible via a WIFI connection or internet cafe.

 4. Set up pet care

If you have furry friends at home, make sure they are well provided for before you leave town. This includes leaving emergency phone numbers, and also some extra tasty treats to keep animals happy in your absence. Here are a few other must-do’s before you drop off your pet:

  •  Confirm your reservation at the local Doggie Day Care or pet kennel where you keep your pet.
  • Make sure all medications for your pet and the veterinarian’s phone number are packed with your pet before you leave.
  • If your pet has particular rituals, make sure to leave specific instructions with the pet care provider.

 5. Cash out

Never leave town without some cash, whether it’s domestic or foreign currency. If you’re traveling within the country, make sure to hit the bank before you leave. Taking cash with you will ensure you don’t pay ATM surcharge fees in another destination.

If you’re traveling overseas, it’s a good idea to carry some of the local country’s currency with you in a combination of cash, travel cards and as a back up some travellers cheques. Take enough cash for cab fare or transfer fees so you don’t have to go in search of an ATM as soon as you arrive. Use a currency converter to determine the best rate of exchange for your money so you know you are getting a good deal when exchanging money.

6. Pack maps, guide books, public transportation schedules

Before you head out into the unknown, do a little research and bring along some guides.  Forearmed is forewarned when it comes to getting around in a new place.

Most public transportation maps are also available online; it’s a good idea to print out a map of the area before you leave. Your guide book will serve as the bible for the trip, especially if you’re traveling somewhere new or to a foreign country. Consider printing out specific sections from travel guides online to assist you plotting your routes every day. There are also a number of downloadable apps for your smartphone and guidebooks can be purchased for e-book readers which can come in handy if you don’t want to lug around a bunch of heavy books. Pre-planning with some research about your destination before you go helps you  not be overwhelmed when you arrive.

7. Check the weather

Before you zip up the suitcase and head to the airport, do one last check of the local weather in your destination. Just because you’re traveling to a beach destination doesn’t mean it’s going to be sunny all week; you don’t want to be caught in rainstorm without waterproof shoes and an umbrella. The day before you leave, check the weather conditions and make any necessary adjustments to clothes and amenities.  For international trips if visiting multiple destinations check for all areas being visited as larger countries climates vary considerably depending on the terrain.

8. Make reservations

Whether you’re planning a spa vacation, golf getaway, a romantic dinner for two at your destination’s top restaurant or have a major site you want to visit it’s a good idea to make reservations before the trip to avoid disappointment. Check on-line the local entertainment guides, city newspapers and online entertainment sites to find the best restaurants and hottest shows. Hotel concierge desks are a good source for recommendations if you’re unsure of where to book. Call the hotel before your trip and ask the concierge to send you a list of restaurants, golf courses, spas or other entertainment activities in the area.  If you are doing a D.I.Y. trip most places have on-line information on how to make a reservation or ask your hotel if they can assist with advice on how to make reservations or to purchase required tickets.

9. Pack your essentials

Double check before leaving the house that you have all necessary essentials to travel with. Do you know where your passport or driver’s license is located? Did you pack all your necessary medications? The best way to ensure you’ve packed everything necessary for your trip is to make a list of your daily needs for one week. List everything from your medications to the credit cards you use. When it comes time for packing, refer to your list so you don’t forget anything important.

10. Plan your first days at your destination

This is especially helpful if you’re traveling somewhere new and unfamiliar. If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll need a list of things to do at your destination to help fight off jet lag. Take a look at local guides and find out what shopping, attractions and restaurants are near your resting place. Take a walk around your hotel and get familiar with its amenities. Planning ahead will help make a hectic first day seem a little more organized.

Making a to-do list and checking it is the only way to ensure everything is done and the only way to holiday stress free.

Happy travels.

Julie Warner