Before You Leave Home Travel Checklist

Preparing for a trip can be stressful. There are many things to do before you get to your favorite destination. A great way to reduce the stress level is by being organized by using a Travel Checklist. You will want to review this checklist before you leave home on your next trip.

These are the things we typically do before we leave the house on vacation travel. Its great piece of mind when we are driving to the airport knowing that you didn’t forget anything.

3-5 Days Before You Leave:

  • Hold the Mail – If you will be gone for more than a few days it is recommended to setup a Mail Hold with the US Postal Service. Simply complete the form with your name, address, start and stop date and you are all set. No need to bother the neighbors. If you need mail held longer than 30 days, contact your local Post Office to arrange.
  • Stop the Newspaper – If you have newspaper delivery, contact your provider to setup a Temporary Hold similar to the mail. Most providers have a web form so you don’t have to call them.
  • Start Packing – Start washing clothes and laying out what you need bring with you clothing-wise. Also, its a good idea to check your bags to make sure zippers, wheels, handles and alike are functioning properly.
  • Check Your Packing Checklist Download the Ultimate Packing List from SmarterTravel and use it to help get things organized.
  • Refill Prescriptions – Make sure you have enough of your medication (and any supplements) to pack for the duration of your trip.
  • Set up Travel Notifications – Contact your credit card company and bank to let them know you will be traveling abroad to avoid issues withdrawing money or making purchases.

1 Day Before You Leave:

  • Setup Timers – If you have lamps, you can plug in some inexpensive timers to turn on and off the lights each night. It is a good security measure to make your house look like it is lived in while you are gone.
  • Tell a Trusted Neighbor – Hopefully you have at least one neighbor who you can ask to keep an eye on things while you are gone. You know, to alert you of any moving trucks in the driveway, etc.
  • Hide a Key – Consider giving your neighbor a key or hiding on outside. A lockbox is a great solution.
  • Send Itinerary to Loved Ones – Send an email out to family and friends who need to know the pertinent itinerary details like flights, hotel contact info and travel dates.
  • Check Your Cameras – If you have security cameras, check your application(s) to make sure everything is operational in case you need to access while you are gone.
  • Back Up Computers – You never need a backup of your digital life until its too late. A good practice is to backup or clone your computers and take the backup out of the house in case of fire or theft. We normally leave the backup drives in the car at the airport. You could even bring with you since backup drives are so small these days.
  • Back Up Your Cellphone – Its a good idea to make a backup of the settings and configuration before you leave in case your phone gets lost or stolen. It makes setting up a new phone so much easier.
  • Buy an International Data Plan – Using your cell phone abroad can be ridiculously expensive. Check with your provider for plans to cover you while you are gone. We use AT&T and they offer a Passport Plan that allows roaming on partner networks abroad.
  • Pay Your Bills – Pay the bills that may come due while you’re away. One less thing to worry about when you are having fun.
  • Clean Your House – Its nice to come home to a clean house. Besides, you’ll be spending a lot of time doing laundry when you come home and you probably won’t want to clean the house at that time.
  • Copy Important Documents – If traveling internationally, take a picture of the information page of your passport and other important documents using your phone in case you lose them.
  • Pack Your Bags – Okay, the time has come. Start organizing and loading the bags. You should have 95% packing completed before bedtime so you can get a good nights rest. And don’t forget The 10 Must Pack Items for any Trip!

The Day of Departure:

  • Dial Down the Water Heater – Most water heaters can easily be adjusted to lower the temperature or setup a vacation schedule to reduce energy usage while you are gone.
  • Set Thermostat to Eco – Modern thermostats can be easily controlled via an app to setup a vacation schedule to setup efficient operation while you are gone.
  • Turn Off Ice Maker & Empty Ice – You never know if the power will go off while you’re gone (weather or accidental).  Water can leak out of the freezer and can cause damage to your house.
  • Throw Out Food – You don’t want to come home to a smelly house/refrigerator. Trash the food that might spoil before your return.
  • Turn Off Water to House – If you are worried about a potential leak in your house you can shut off the water at the house main, or at individual valves under the sink or behind the toilet.
  • Finalize Packing – You should be pretty much ready to go at this stage. Pack those final items and toiletries and start zipping up the bags!
  • Check Appliances – Make sure the stove is off, refrigerator and freezer doors are fully closed and that nothing else is running that should be off.
  • Check Doors & Windows – Verify that they are all locked before you leave.
  • Throw Out Trash – Again, you don’t want to come home to a smelly garbage house.
  • Turn on the House Alarm
  • Head on Out and Have a Great Trip!


These are just a few of our suggested tips to help you get organized and begin your journey with less stress. What things do you do?

Comment below and let us know what other tips you use and might suggest.