10 Things You Should Always Double-Check Before Traveling

things to do before traveling

For many people, the holiday season involves traveling, whether by plane, train, or automobile! Heading home for the holidays (or wherever it is you’re going) can be stressful, and stress can make it easy to forget things you’d normally have no trouble remembering.

So to help your holiday travel go as smoothly as possible, I put together a list of 10 things to double-check before you leave for the airport or pull out of the driveway. I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten to do all of things before a trip at one point or another, and I figure I can’t be the only one!

Related: These Are The Best Tips For Packing A Carry On Bag

Before traveling over the river and through the woods, make sure you’re not forgetting these 10 things! (And for even more useful travel tips, check out my ebook The Getaway Guide — it’s free for OGT Plus members!)

10 Things To Double-Check The Night Before Traveling

external battery

1. Charge Everything

Before you leave, make sure all of your electronics are fully charged. That includes your cellphone, tablet, e-reader, and portable battery packs. (If you don’t have an external battery, consider getting one! They aren’t terribly expensive, and it’s so nice to have a way to charge your phone on the go.)

wallet with cash

2. Get Some Cash

I don’t often carry cash with me, as I typically use debit and credit cards for most purchases. But cash can be very helpful on a trip, especially when it comes to tipping, paying for parking, and other cash-only situations you might encounter.

medicine container

3. Pack Toiletries & Meds

Double-check your toiletries to make sure you have everything you need. This is also a good opportunity to make sure that nothing has passed its expiration date. And make sure you have all of your necessary medications with you!

woman sleeping

4. Get A Good Night’s Sleep

Traveling can be exhausting, so you want to start out feeling as well-rested as possible! Make sure you get your packing done early enough that you can still get a full night’s sleep before your trip.

paper coming out of a printer

5. Print Your Itinerary

While you likely have the important details of your trip on your phone, it never hurts to bring a physical copy too. Make sure your printed (or written) itinerary includes confirmation numbers, reservation codes, addresses, and phone numbers.

That way, if you end up in an area with bad cell reception or limited Wi-Fi (or, heaven forbid, your phone dies), you still have access to those important details!

reusable water bottle

6. Bring A Water Bottle

In addition to being exhausting, travel can also be dehydrating. Make sure to bring a reusable water bottle with you (but make sure it’s empty if you’re heading to the airport!) Keep your water bottle full, and don’t forget to use it!

umbrella in a stand

7. Check The Weather

It’s always a good idea to know what to expect when it comes to the weather. The night before you leave, check what the next day’s weather holds for your destination. It might be a good reminder to bring an umbrella or warmer footwear.

audible on an iphone

8. Download Entertainment

The night before you leave, make sure to download anything you want to watch or listen to for entertainment. This could include music, podcasts, TV shows, movies, audiobooks… whatever! It’s better to download them rather than to hope you’ll have a good connection while on the road or in the air.

passport being put in a backpack

9. Don’t Forget Your Passport!

If you’re leaving the country, you definitely don’t want to forget your passport. If you will be using it at the airport, make sure it isn’t expiring within the next few months!

taking a screenshot of a map

10. Take Screenshots

Smartphone apps are great for getting directions or keeping track of travel documents, but you may not always have cell service. Avoid getting derailed by taking screenshots of important documents or travel routes. Screenshots get saved to your photo app, so you don’t need service to access them.

What do you recommend doing before leaving for a trip?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Bright Ideas

  • All great reminders! I’d like to add two things. Don’t forget to shut off the water to your house and use a zip tie if you have a curb type shut off valve. It should have little circles that line up when the water is off. This prevents (or at least discourages) anyone from turning on your water.

    Also, if you are going on a road trip have your mechanic do a once over on your car. If they find something you can fix it first. The last thing you want is for your car to breakdown only to have to trust a mechanic you’ve never met to fix it.

  • Excellent job! I do all of these & have recently added one more: I carry a small “purse” (or you can use a “fanny pack”) that holds my phone & ID, this way I don’t lose either in my personal bag and hold up any lines. I also put NOTHING in my pockets! Sunglasses, jewelry, keys, etc are in another bag. I also wear slip on shoes or sandals in case I have to remove them at TSA.

  • In relation to checking you have all necessary medication,certain medicines necessitate you to carry a letter from your General Practitioner or Consultant, if you dont have this and then take these medications through different borders; still in their original containers, with prescribing label, you can end up delayed (while your meds are checked/tested) and in a very sticky situation.
    There should be a list on customs web pages detailing which meds ned this letter.
    Surprisingly, many people in the UK who take ‘prescribed, controlled drugs’ are still unaware…

  • I know I’m late to this but just recently found your site.
    My husband and I like to cruise, not that we have done any for a while (Have had our last 3 cancelled, one the day before we were to leave, husband was already packed!). Several years ago I save a pad of “Pack This” forms and tweaked it for us. I have since tweaked it more and do one for my husband and 3 (I know, I over pack), I break it down into what gets packed and where. I look up the usual weather where we are going to kind of get an idea of what to pack as well.

  • I recently was made aware of a situation where the traveler forgot her ID. She got all the way to the airport before she realized. It was still on the counter at home. She was not traveling abroad – so her passport was not packed. A quick trip home was just enough to make her miss her flight and she had to call the company to book a new flight – what a pain.

  • Doctor’s gloves … I get the size large ones and put them on my feet when going through the security checkpoint when they make you take your shoes off. Bonus, you can play dinosaur feet with any kiddos because the fingers flop around on top and look like reptile digits!

  • I started my own list on my computer using excel spreadsheet. Print the grids so you have a check list to mark off. Clothes, meds, toiletries as usual and since we live in the country where you have septic systems added treat with RidX, shut, off water to washer. For long trips we shut of electric to dryer and stove. Lock the garage door openers – otherwise easy to bypass. Shut off the power to computers. I leave some extra spaces for anything we may have added.
    I use the same list when we return to make sure I return everything to operating positions.

  • These are great tips, but there are some, depending on where you are travelling from and to, that you might need to be careful about.

    For example: meds. If you are travelling to some places overseas, DO NOT take prescription meds out of their original pharmacy containers. Make sure that the containers are fairly new (don’t put the meds from your daily unit back into an old bottle). You could find them confiscated when you arrive. If you don’t want to carry a big (3 months) size bottle, ask the pharmacist for a 30 day supply. Your pharmacist may also be able to print an up-to-date meds list for you to take with you, in case you have any problems. Or, if you are only going for a couple of weeks, the pharmacist could package enough meds for that time in “blister packs” so that your daily doses are organized.

    Hard-side water bottles: again, make sure you know the rules for the airports that you will be travelling through. Regina airport in Saskatchewan, Canada, will confiscate any travel mug or hard water bottle in your carry-on luggage, and any in your checked luggage may cause delays while they open your luggage and verify what it is (I think because of the non-transparency to X-rays).

    When you print your itinerary, make extra copies and put one in each suitcase. That way, if your luggage goes missing, the authorities at the airport/s that it might be being routed through can use the itinerary to try to get it back to you. Of course, if your itinerary has a home street address on it, black that out with a heavy Sharpie or something, just in case … And leave a copy with family or friends who aren’t going to be on the trip.

    If you wear glasses or contacts, ask your optometrist for a copy of your most current prescription to take with you.

  • When we are getting ready for a trip, I start a list of things I don’t want to forget. I even have been using a whiteboard. There are travel lists you can find online to print out. Add things that pertain to you (Arnold the Pig for example:) that won’t be on the list, and check things off as you pack, and double check before you walk out the door. This is nice so you don’t forget the little things like an extra book, manicure kit, extra batteries, coupons, tickets, confirmations. Directions.

  • Another thing to check is your glasses and contacts supplies. I wear my glasses but need to bring my eyeglasses case, a few weeks of new contact lenses in case something happens to one of them, saline solution, cleaning solution, contacts case, glasses spray, and microfiber glasses cloth. I also bring eye drops and keep in my purse since planes are so dry and often I like the upper air fan on me for freshness, but again it can dry my eyes and make them scratchy and tired. It’s a great refresher during the trip or before you get off at your destination. Your eyes are very important, don’t forget about them. Oh, and don’t forget your eye shades which are not only handy for sleep where you are going but for the plane trip to chill out!

  • It is also a good idea to make a list of all the contents in your checked in luggage – make two copies…place one layer down of the packed items so that anyone opening and going through the suitcase will definitely see it. Make a copy for yourself for your records. Of course, do not pack valuables in the checked luggage.

  • Great ideas. It usually takes me a few days to round up toiletry samples. I keep ones I have bought but haven’t used in big bags in our bathroom closet. Getting a good night sleep usually doesn’t happen for us.,When we travel it’s usually by car and takes all day. Plenty of time for napping on the way.

  • Jillee, your prescriptions need to stay in the ORIGINAL container with the current label on it. Please post this right away as this could be awful if the person was in an accident or pulled over by law enforcement. Thank you

    • June, this question came up in a support group meeting in California a while back, and a nurse in the audience suggested taking photos of your prescription bottles and keep on your phone. I’ve tried this when taking my husband to the ER and wanted to only take a few of his medications to give him until the nurses had all of his prescriptions entered into the computer so they could be dispensed from the hospital pharmacy. His medications had to be given at four-hour intervals, so it was critical to keep him on schedule. It worked out quite well for us. This might or might not work if you’re travelling by air–I only took prescription medications in their original bottles for air travel.


    • When we travel I put an appropriate supply of all my meds into little 2-inch square ziploc “pill packs” I buy at the pharmacy. Then I ask our pharmacist to print duplicate copies of all our prescription med labels which I then affix to those little ziploc pill packs. That way I’ve got an official label on each of my prescriptions without the bulk of the full-size bottles. For things like ibuprofen, antacids, various vitamins, etc., I simply hand-write the labels. Then I tuck all those individual pill packs into a sandwich or quart-size ziploc and label it “Emilia’s Meds”. For further insurance/emergency purposes, I also line up all my pill bottles (scrip and over-the-counter), lay a sample of each pill in front of each bottle, and use my phone to take clear, close-up photos of them (in groups of 3-4), so that info is readily available on my phone if I need it. May sound like a lot of bother, but I really only had to do it once. Now I just keep each pill pack stocked and the scrip packs up-to-date. And ALL my meds, vitamins, and just-in-case pills merely take up the space of a small sandwich in my carry-on!

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