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So, you’ve booked your flight. Yay! Step one towards embarking on your trip is officially complete.

But what’s next? How do you make sure that, when the times comes, you’re ready to leave on this trip? How do you ensure that you’re not forgetting anything super important?

These kinds of questions constantly stress me out before I leave on a big trip. However, over the years, I’ve gotten better and better at anticipating what I’ll have to do before leaving. So today, I have compiled a list of 15 things to do before you depart on your trip. Enjoy!

Get Travel Insurance

If there’s one thing I want you to get out of this article, it’s this: don’t skimp out on travel insurance.

You’ve probably heard this a million times from other travel bloggers, but it is super important. In the past, I have wondered if I actually needed travel insurance. I had been on a few trips, paid for travel insurance, but have never actually used it. So, why should I bother getting it this time?

But that’s the point of insurance. It may be a pain to pay for it now, but if you don’t, you’ll regret it later. Because, if you go traveling often enough, there will be an injury. And, at least for me, not having travel insurance will be a constant weight in my mind (don’t get injured, don’t get injured, don’t get injured…)

I usually purchase travel insurance from my health insurance company. However, other possibilities include World Nomads, Travel Guard, and Generali Global Assistance.

Get Your Travel Documents in Order

Do you have a valid passport? Will you need a visa to enter the country or countries you’re visiting? Do you need any proof of vaccinations?

Note that many countries require that your passport has at least 6 months left before expiry at the time of departure from said country. In other words, make sure you still have 6 months left on your passport at the end of your trip.

Retro camera and American passport on map

Get Your Travel Vaccinations

Getting any recommended or required travel vaccinations is also very crucial. This is especially the case if you’re visiting somewhere completely foreign with diseases you’ve never been exposed to; you need to protect yourself.

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Note that you should visit a travel clinic at least one month before departing on your trip. They’ll describe the risks in traveling to the areas and countries you’re visiting, and recommend any travel vaccinations or prescribed medications you might want or need.

Photocopy All of Your Documents

Once you’re certain your passport is valid, you have the required visas, and you have all the essential vaccinations, it is crucial to photocopy all of these important documents.

I also like to photocopy all of my flight itineraries and accommodation bookings, just in case something happens to my cellphone, and I need another way to access this information.

Also note that you should keep these photocopies in a separate location from your original copies. That way, if you lose one, or it gets stolen, you still have the emergency copy in another location.

Check the Travel Advisories

By this point, you have probably decided which countries to visit. But, I like to consider the travel advisories in deciding what the possible risks are, what I should prepare for, and what areas I should avoid.

Do Your Research

Now we get to my favorite part: research! This is where you get to brainstorm where you want to go, and what you want to do. There are many sources of inspiration: Google, YouTube videos, Pinterest, Instagram, travel blogs… (and hey, here’s my shameful plug – why not check out my other articles! Click these links if you’re going to Asia, Europe, North America, or South America 🙂 ).

Recently, I’ve been trying to be more spontaneous in my travels, and plan a little less. But, I still like to do some basic research, to ensure that I’m not missing anything incredible.

Archaeological Site in Ayutthaya, near Bangkok, Thailand

Book Your Accommodations

I typically don’t like to book all of my accommodations prior to a trip. Of course, this is dependent on the type of trip I’m taking. If I’m backpacking, I don’t like to book in advance; this gives me the flexibility to go wherever I please. But, if I’m going to a popular destination in tourist season, I know it’s best to book in advance.

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Furthermore, certain factors I would consider when booking accommodations are:

  • Price: Is it within my price range?
  • Distance from Downtown: Is it within easy-walking distance of downtown? If it isn’t, is it easy to access the city through bus or train? Is the price of commuting worth the differences in price?
  • Ratings and Reviews: What did past customers think?
  • Amenities Offered: Do I get my own bathroom? Do they offer laundry services? Et cetera.
Sign of "China (H.K.) Hotel" at night, with green lighting

Plan Your First Day

Traveling can be stressful. Flying, customs, delays… they can take a toll on you. So, I like to have a good idea of what I’ll be doing the first day I’m in a new country.

Questions you should be asking yourself include: how will I get from the airport to my accommodations? What time will I be arriving? Can I check in right away? Will I be jet lagged? What are some good, simple activities I can do?

I would not recommend making huge plans your first day. I made that mistake years ago, and was literally falling asleep in the Louvre. So, I would recommend taking things slow. Overall, preparing for your first day makes the whole experience a lot less stressful.

Plan Your Last Day

Similarly, planning your last day can greatly reduce your stress. Questions you should be asking yourself include: where are you staying on your last night? How are you going to get to the airport? How early should you be there? Do you have time to explore a bit more before leaving?

Once again, you shouldn’t be making huge plans on your last day. It’s tempting to squeeze every last ounce of your trip for its worth, but you don’t want to make the mistake of planning too much, and risk missing your flight home.

Red arches in Kyoto, Japan

Check the Weather at Your Destination

This includes checking both the general climate weeks in advance, and the current weather days in advance. This will advise you on what to pack: if you should expect rain, sun, blistering winds, scorching deserts… (you climb to the highest bloody room of the tallest bloody tower… Sorry. Got off topic.)

Get Your Supplies and Start Packing

Next, you can start assembling your supplies. This includes procuring a dependable bag, whether that be a suitcase or a backpacking pack. Other things to consider getting includes a good water bottle, packing cubes, a travel adapter, hand sanitizer, a power bank, and a microfiber towel.

Now, you can start packing!

And, if you’re heading to Southeast Asia, click here to check out my packing guide!

Layout of packing bag with clothes, shoes, bag, and more

Check the Weight Restrictions

Now that you have a good idea of what you’re packing, you can determine if you are within the weight restrictions of your flight. I always double check the weight restrictions on every flight I’m taking, ensuring that there’s no way I can over pack (as this can come with a hefty price tag!)

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Also, make sure that you have enough space in your bag (both physically and weight-wise) so you can still shop for souvenirs!

Get an International Driver’s License

While this does depend on your plans, I recommend getting an international driver’s license, if you can.

Being able to drive places – either in a car, a motorcycle, or a scooter – allows you to have so much more freedom to explore. And, while some places lets you rent scooters without a driver’s license, you can still get fined for it (which stresses me out considerably).

Person Holding Map With Car at the Back.

Let Your Friends and Family Know About Your Plans

This step is imperative, especially if you’re traveling alone. And, if you’ve read or seen “127 Hours”, you can probably guess why; if something bad happens, people will generally know where you are. This can potentially save you in emergency situations.

A stone wall and a farm, on the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain
So, if you’re in the middle of nowhere like I was on the Camino de Santiago del Norte, your friends and family will know your general location.

Go to the Bank

Finally, before you depart on your flight, inform your bank about your travel plans. That way, when they see that your credit card was used halfway across the world, they won’t freeze your accounts.

You can also take this opportunity to exchange a little bit of money. However, I personally find the exchange rates too high at banks, and prefer to exchange money at local currency exchange centers instead. You can also exchange money at the airport, or an ATM, upon your arrival.

In Conclusion,

While traveling and exploring new places can elicit incredible feelings, it can also come with a lot of stressors. By doing these 15 things, you can hopefully reduce the amount of anxiety and stress you feel leading up to your trip, and instead be consumed by jittery anticipation!

Thanks for reading the article! If you have any questions, feel free to comment down below, and if you want to see more travel and hike-related content, make sure to check out my other articles.


15 Things to Do Before a Trip
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