I'm usually a planner, but lately I've had this overwhelming urge to book last minute trips. Case in point: I recently purchased a ticket to Bali and only have a few hours to throw everything into a suitcase and hope for the best. Luckily, I prepared a checklist of things I need to do (and pack) before I leave for the airport. Sharing this with my fellow wanderlusters to help mitigate any pre-trip, planning stress.
Print boarding pass, hotel, airport parking, and rental car information.
Send a PDF document of your passport and driver's license to yourself via email in case you lose your passport abroad and need a replacement. Alternatively, you can take photos via your mobile device so that it is readily available.
Call your phone carrier and activate international data, phone, and text plans to avoid excessive charges. (Note: Do not watch YouTube videos unless you are connected to Wi-Fi abroad. Doing so can wipe out your entire data allocation). Once you're at your destination, reset your data usage statistics so you can monitor your international usage while abroad.
Call your credit card companies and bank to alert them of travel plans so they don't block credit/ATM access.
Make sure that your ATM pin code only has 4 digits. Some international ATMs/bank machines do not accept anything longer than that.
Check for any visa or vaccination requirements. Certain visas can take weeks to acquire. Plan accordingly.
If you're enrolled in Global Entry, make sure to check into the airline at least 24 hours prior to your flight and enter your redress number (the 9-digit PASSID on the back of your card). If you do, you may receive advanced TSA approval to avoid those lenghty security lines. If you see TSA approved on your boarding pass, you can proceed to the TSA security queue.
Check the exchange rate in advance or download a mobile app such as World Currency Converter (iOS).
Research and download translation apps such as Language Translator since you'll need it to communicate during any situation (ordering food, communicating with the taxi driver, asking for help, etc.).
Google weather forecasts to prepare for any possible scenario.
Check for special airport transportation tips. Trains are cheaper than taxis and easier in some cases.
Research tipping ettiquette for each country you are visiting.
Do you need an electronic adapter or plug converter? Check in advance.
Forward itinerary to your designated emergency contact.
Contact your local post office and place a mail "hold" if you're out of town for long periods.
Water your plants.
Make sure you've unplugged any potential fire hazards (e.g. curling iron) before you leave for the airport.
Did you lock the front door, activate your alarm (if any), and close the garage door before you left?
Do you have dollar bills for shuttle + bell hop tips? Have them in your jacket/jean pockets so you're not rifling through your wallet in public.
Global Entry/NEXIS identification cards
Cash + Credit Cards (Bring a coin purse or small plastic bags to separate coins for multiple currencies if applicable)
Electronics (e.g. laptop, kindle, phone, tablet, camera, GoPro)
International plug converter/adapter
Wireless access cards
Toiletries (Note: Some international hotels do not have hair conditioner.)
Socks (travel socks too!)
Shoes (dress, casual)
Sunglasses, eye glasses
Sleep aids, medication, etc.
Earplugs, sleep masks, travel pillow
First aid (band aids, ointment)
CANDY, CANDY, CANDY
Quart-sized plastic bags, rubber bands, etc.
Selfie-stick (Note: Check in advance if this is banned where you are headed.)
Curling iron/Flat iron
Purse and back up collapsable bag/tote (shopping, beach, etc.)
Nail file, clippers, tweezers
Hair accessories (hair ties, clips, comb)
Client contact information (printed copy in case your phone runs out of battery or you don't have a wireless connection)
Rental car information
Car phone charger
Moleskine/notes planner + pen
Battery packs for smartphone (especially helpful during long conferences)
Back up outfit in your carryon just in case your luggage never arrives. Almost had to show up to client meetings wearing sweats and flip-flops.
Hot Weather Destinations
Argon oil and anti-humidity hairspray
Beach gear, swimwear
Water shoes, flip flops
Sunblock, suntanning lotion
Sunhat, light breathable cap
Cold Weather Destinations
Body and face lotion to prevent skin dehydration
Scarf, earmuffs, gloves
Toque or hat (preferably one that covers your ears)
Parka, blizzard jacket, or puffy coats
Cold weather socks such as Heat Holders
Umbrella, rain boots, rain coat
Travel Tips in Non-English countries
If you're traveling to South Korea, China, or other country where English is not often spoken, make sure to ask your hotel reception clerk/airport information personnel to write destination information down on a piece of paper such as hotel, train station, conference hall location IN THEIR NATIVE language. Your taxi driver will thank you for it since most don't recognize English characters.