Detail-oriented frequent traveler here. There's an excellent packing list posted on this forum, adding my list of what to do to prepare for a trip.
Additional information, hyperlinks to resources and a printable pdf available here: http://bit.ly/15Eic8H
11 MONTHS OUT
□ Book international flights, if using frequent flyer miles
□ Claim your seat, if allowed
6 TO 11 MONTHS OUT
□ Book international flights if not using miles
□ Book hotels. The best ones fill quickly
2 TO 6 MONTHS OUT
□ Order your passport and visa, if necessary
□ Obtain vaccinations and medications (some vaccinations are administered in a series and must be initiated months in advance)
□ Book your in-country/in-continent destination-to-destination flights
□ Book a driver, if appropriate
□ Schedule your petsitter or nanny (their schedule may fill-up quickly during holidays)
□ Make restaurant reservations
ONE MONTH OUT
□ Order a hard copy map of your destination at Amazon and/or upload city/country specific apps
□ Confirm flight, ground transportation, accommodation and restaurant arrangements and reservations
□ If you’ve booked through a travel consolidator, verify your reservation directly with your hotel
□ Book tickets to major attractions online
□ Request certificates for hotels booked with points, if necessary
ONE WEEK OUT
□ Purchase trip insurance, if appropriate
□ Ensure you have the correct converter adapter for the country(ies) you’ll visit
□ Scan your vital passport pages and email the file to yourself and one or two contacts. Print a copy to store in your checked bag
□ Organize your itinerary; email the document to yourself and one or two contacts.
□ Buy snacks (I don’t travel anywhere without KIND bars and nuts)
□ Notify your credit card companies that you will be traveling to a foreign country
□ Withdraw cash
□ Confirm arrangements with petsitters, nannies, housesitters, post offices, newspaper delivery, etc.
□ Obtain an international driver’s license if you will be renting a car abroad (go to the American Automobile Association for a list of locations to obtain a license). (By the way, you still need to bring your state-issued driver’s license)
□ Register your trip with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Recording information on your trip allows the Department of State to assist you in case of an emergency and provide travel updates
□ Plot places that you want to visit (stores, restaurants, museums, etc.) on your hard-copy map
□ Determine your communication strategyTWO NIGHTS OUT
TWO NIGHTS OUT
□ Notify trusted neighbors of your trip
□ Download plenty of podcasts, books, movies and songs
□ Get a manicure, pedicure, wax, shave, tan, take a laxative, etc.
□ Begin Malarone if you’ll be entering a mosquito zone in the next two days
□ Prepare at work
ONE NIGHT OUT
□ Double-check what you’ve packed against your packing checklist
□ Call your airlines (or look them up online) to confirm the status of your flight(s) and know your departure terminal. If you can book your seat only 24 hours out, claim your seat. Check in
□ Order a taxi to the airport, if appropriate
□ Remove and secure unnecessary items (excess credit cards, bank cards, etc.) from your wallet
□ Lock-up valuables (jewelry, credit cards, checkbooks, keys you don’t need to carry, etc.) if people will enter your premises while you are away
□ Charge your electronics
□ Water plants, fill pet food and water bowls
□ Tag your luggage
□ Set your alarm. Double-check it
□ Leave out instructions and payment for petsitters, housesitters
DAY OF TRAVEL
□ Make mental notes when you turn off your appliances and lock your doors so you don’t drive yourself crazy wondering if you did it later
□ Adjust your thermostat
□ Close blinds, shades, etc.
□ Keep your keys and medications in your carry-on!
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