When you’ve traveled as much as me, you get pretty methodical about preventing travel disasters.
The days leading up to a trip are always so hectic. Running errands, packing, making sure every last work project is buttoned up so you can fully relax once that plane starts lifting into the air (or an hour before that at the airport bar. No judgment!). Before I leave on any trip, there are a lot of things I like to check off my to-do list.
1. Create a Travel Must-Haves List
No matter where you’re going, or whether you’re jetting off for business or pleasure, there are a few things you 100 percent, absolutely need. Precisely why I always double and triple-check on the following things leading up to the trip.
And on my way to the airport.
And again when I am waiting security.
Make a list of the things that would ruin your trip if you left home without them. Then make sure you don’t. Some examples:
You’re not getting through security without it. Make sure your license is in your wallet. If you’re traveling internationally, double-check that you have your passport and that it’s up-to-date (do that second part a few weeks before you leave). Even then, if it’s within a year of expiring, most places won’t let you in unless your passport is good for another 6 months.
It’s going to be real challenging to get by without any way to pay for stuff. Make sure you have a credit or ATM card in your wallet (not stuffed into the pocket of, say, the coat you walked the dog in yesterday!) and some emergency cash. I always bring $100 US dollars as my emergency cash that I store separately from my wallet.
Do you have medication that regulates your heart or diabetes or something else that’s keeping you alive and healthy? Don’t forget that at home, and don’t pack it in your checked luggage that could go missing for your entire trip.
Necessary Travel Documents.
Visas, medical documentation, whatever. Make sure they’re packed (make copies, too!) and kept somewhere safe. Maybe even scan and email to yourself.
We couldn’t imagine going to the supermarket, let alone Rome without one. And yet we did it all the time in the 80’s and 90’s!
Are you traveling for a special event, like a wedding? Make sure you have your bridesmaid dress/shoes/jewelry or tux/suit/dress socks/shoes! The wedding won’t be ruined if you don’t match the rest of the attendants, but the bride may make you feel that way.
If you have all of this stuff, you can almost guarantee anything left at home can be purchased at your destination (or you can live without it for a few days).
2. Create a Necessary Packed Items List
There are a few items that always seems to get left behind. Double-check that you’ve packed the following things:
Phone, eReader, computer, tablet, FitBit, camera, GoPro… pretty much anything techie you might want on the road needs to be charged. Be sure you’ve got all the right chargers (and memory cards with ample space for cameras and video equipment!). I travel with at least two outlet adapters, as well as a small USB charging station because so many devices need to be charged overnight.
It’s pretty easy to find a drugstore on the road. However, it’s usually not until you’re checked in to your hotel room and in your PJs that you realize you forgot your toothbrush, toothpaste, cleanser or anything else required to wash off a dirty day of travel. Make sure you have all the goods before you leave for home. If you travel a lot, keep a set of travel toiletries separate from your regular stuff and always keep it well-stocked.
I also travel with a small pouch that is my “medicine cabinet” pills for headaches, stomach issues, aches and pains. Trust me, you never get sick at a time it’s convenient to make it to a Walgreens.
Stuff You Always Forget
Underwear, socks, workout shoes (or a pair of nice ones for dinners out!), swimsuit, jacket… I always seem to forget one of these items and end up buying some version on the road. Run through the scenarios of what you might be dressing for as you finish packing. And always double-check the underwear and socks. Even if you know you packed some.
Hunger makes travel (and people) intolerable. Throw some ready to mow snacks in your bag. My go-tos are peanut butter, almonds, granola and protein bars. Plus, tea bags just in case I need a caffeine boost or calming chamomile moment.