Sometimes we get so caught up in the excitement and anticipation of an upcoming adventure that we forget to take care of some important details before we leave. And it’s easy to do! There are so many travel tips and other things to consider in addition to the planning and prep of the trip, that it’s easy to forget the not-so-exciting details of the trip. So to help make sure your trip is as smooth as possible, here are 20+ things to do before leaving for vacation.

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20+ Things to Do BEFORE Leaving for Vacation

Research Destinations

Probably one of the most obvious things to do before leaving for vacation is to research where you are going. Spend some time researching your destination and activities there. Read travel blogs, guidebooks, and even talk to family or friends who have been there before.

The more you know about where you’re going, the better prepared you’ll be for anything that comes your way while you’re there.

Research Accommodations too

Check reviews of accommodations that you read about and ask for recommendations, whether it’s with family or friends or online travel groups. Sometimes the best places we have found haven’t come from guidebooks, but rather through recommendations.

Side note: We love to use booking.com – they always have the best prices and plenty of options. You can filter by preferences and read honest reviews. In all our years of travel, I’ve only ever had a few disappointing experiences, and it’s always been when I’ve booked in a hurry and haven’t researched properly!

Book Flights and Transport in Advance

You might be able to get away with waiting to book your accommodation, but when it comes to flights and other transport, it’s best to book in advance. Not only will you get a better price that way, but you’ll also have the peace of mind knowing that everything is sorted and you can just relax and enjoy the lead-up to your trip.

When booking flights, be sure to check the cancellation policy (especially in regards to covid restrictions) and the baggage requirements. Many flights allow a personal item for free, but you may have to pay for a carry on or checked bag. This will help when you get around to packing for your trip!

Book Accommodations

You don’t necessarily have to book your entire trip, but be sure to have the first few nights booked so you’re not scrambling to find a place when you arrive.

Again, check the cancellation policy and make sure you understand what you’re getting for your money. Read reviews and check to see if it’s family friendly, in a good location and easily accessible to the activities you are planning to do.

Check Documents

Check which documents are needed – is your passport up to date, is there a visa needed or other entry requirements such as immunizations?

If you’re traveling with kids, be sure to have copies of their birth certificates or other identification as well. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Make Copies of Important Documents

This is such an important step, yet so often overlooked! Make sure you have copies of your passport, driver’s license, travel insurance policy, credit cards, etc. and keep them in a separate place from the originals. This way, if anything happens to your wallet or purse while you’re on vacation, you’ll still have all the information you need.

If you’re travelling solo with your kids, be sure to have a consent letter as well as a copy of the kids’ birth certificates – never take the original copy!

Buy Travel Insurance

This is something we always recommend, regardless of where you are travelling to, but especially if you’re traveling to a country with less-than-ideal medical care. Travel insurance will cover you for any medical expenses, as well as lost or stolen belongings. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Check the Weather

And don’t forget to check the weather for your destination! You’ll want to pack accordingly, whether it’s bringing a light jacket for cooler evenings or packing sunscreen and hats for a beach vacation.

Check Kids Clothing

While it’s important to check all clothing that you’re packing, if you’re travelling with kids, one of the things to do before leaving for vacation is to check their clothing and make sure it fits. Chances are they’ve grown since the last time you travelled!

Check shoes, watershoes, sandals, bathing suits and rashguards – all those things you may not have used since last year or last vacation. Do they still fit or do you need to do some shopping before you pack?

Pack Your Bags

You’re almost ready to go… now it’s time to start packing your bags!

Be sure to check the weight and size restrictions for your luggage, as well as any items that are not allowed in carry-on luggage.

Make a list of what you’ll need for each day of your trip and pack accordingly. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to do this simple task.

Write down what you need and check it off as you pack – it’ll save you a lot of time and hassle in the long run.

For more ideas on packing for travel with kids, here’s a printable family travel packing list, including a handy checklist with clothes, electronics and misc gear that will be useful when travelling as a family.

Pack Carry-on Essentials

No matter how long your flight is, there are always things that can make it more comfortable. Be sure to pack a few snacks , an empty water bottle to fill after security, a scarf or sweater in case it gets cold on the plane, your travel pillow and headphones.

And if you’re traveling with young children, don’t forget to pack some activities and snacks for them as well! A few small toys or coloring books can go a long way in keeping them entertained during a long flight.

Change Money to Local Currency

It’s always a good idea to have some local currency before you leave. This way, you’re not stuck looking for an ATM as soon as you arrive. Most banks will allow you to order currency a few weeks in advance, so be sure to do that before you leave.

If not available in your area, check where you can get local currency once you arrive. Usually there are places in the airport or train station, but these are often more expensive options.

Arrange Transportation to Accommodations

The last thing you want to do after a long day of travel is try to figure out how to get to your hotel, especially if you don’t speak the local language. Be sure to arrange transportation in advance, whether that’s a taxi , Uber or public transit. We’ve also used drivers from MyDayTrip, and while it’s not the most inexpensive option, we’ve always had a good experience.

Write out Trip Details

Once you have your travel itinerary finalized, write out all the details and leave a copy with a trusted friend or family member. This way, if anything happens while you’re away, they will have all the information they need to get in touch with you.

Be sure to include:

  • Your travel dates
  • Contact information for where you’ll be staying
  • Your flight details, including flight numbers
  • Any rental car information
  • The contact information for your travel insurance company

It’s a good idea to keep a copy of these details with you as well!

Arrange for Pet Sitter or Boarding if You Have Pets

If you’re like us, your pets are part of the family and you can’t imagine going on vacation without them. But if you’re travelling somewhere that’s not pet-friendly or if you’ll be gone for an extended period of time, you’ll need to make arrangements for someone to take care of your furry friends.

This might mean asking a friend or family member to come over to feed them and let them out, or taking them to a boarding facility. If you go the boarding route, be sure to book in advance as spots fill up quickly, especially during peak travel times!

If you don’t have a friend or family to look after your pets, a good option is to use trustedhousesitters, where you can advertise for a house sitter and choose someone who will be a good fit for your pets and home.

Don’t Forget About Your Car

If you’re heading out on a road trip, be sure to get your car tuned up and checked over before leaving. Check the tire pressure and all fluid levels.

For more tips on taking a road trip on kids, we’ve got a full post here.

If you’re not taking your car on vacation, it’s a good idea to leave your car in the driveway if possible and make it look like someone is home.

Last Minute House Things to Do Before Leaving for Vacation

Take Care of the House Before You Leave for Vacation

One of the last things to do before leaving for vacation, is to look after your house. Make sure things are turned down or off and someone is checking in and letting you know if anything goes wrong. Here’s some other things to put on your last minute checklist:

  • Arrange for a neighbour or friend to water the plants while you are gone.
  • Turn down the thermostat and water heater
  • Turn off outdoor water supply – the last thing you want to do is to come home to a frozen or burst pipe.
  • Set email and cell phone to vacation mode
  • Pay all bills ahead of time
  • Turn off and unplug electronics (my dad used to make me unplug everything from the wall, and it’s become a good habit to get into).
  • Take out the garbage and empty the garbage disposal
  • Turn lights off – set timer for lights if desired
  • Let neighbours know you’re leaving
  • Leave contact info with anyone who is housesitting, a neighbour or a friend.

Now you’re all set!

With these last few things taken care of, you can finally sit back, relax and enjoy your vacation!

If you have any other tips for things to do before leaving for vacation, be sure to share them in the comments below! Safe travels!

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2 Comments

  1. Fantastic post on travelling with kids and a much needed checklist…thank you for sharing

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