Planning a trip abroad? We share this essential travel checklist of the things to do before you travel, so you can plan your trip with ease.
Planning a trip can be stressful, especially if it is your first time abroad. Not only do you need to plan your trip and make sure you have all the correct documents but you need to prepare and secure your home ready for your time away. We cover 30 things to do before you leave for your big trip!
Still not sure of where to even travel to? Browse our destinations guides for the best place for you!
1) Double check your passport
Is it in date? And does it have enough time on it for your chosen destination? Some countries require your passport to have 6-12 months left on it before it expires so double-check the rules of your country and your passport.
2) Tell your bank
You should avoid using your debit cards abroad to stop those extra charges but just in case you need to, it always helps to contact your bank and let them know. The last thing you want is to make an expensive phone call to unblock a card. Most UK banks have a section on their online banking website for you to contact them about travelling abroad.
3) Write out your packing list
So the first big trip abroad I made was to Camp America and I can’t believe how much stuff I forgot to pack!! Make a list of things and add to it when you remember extra bits and bobs. We keep a list on our notes app so we can keep referring to it when shopping before the trip.
If you are going away for more than a week or so and plan to leave your home empty, then make sure you start eating any perishables a week before you head off. We use this time to eat frozen food as well, plus you save some money just before you head off.
Research whether you need a visa for your chosen destination but remember that some Visas can take up to 3 months to obtain. Unless you have a Golden Visa, most visitors to Asia will require a visa of some kind whilst many European destinations are open to EU citizens and more.
6) Sign up to travel newsletters
If you aren’t pre-booking all your flights and hotels before you leave then signing up to travel companies, airlines and hotel booking websites can save you quite a bit of cash whilst you are away. Keep an eye on last-minute sales, special deals and money-off emails whilst you’re away. We managed to get 15% off hotels in America because we received Expedia updates via email.
No, you may not always need it but you must always, always get insurance before you travel the world, no matter where you are heading to. We use World Nomads as they offer the best rates for all types of trips but also include cover for nearly everything that could go wrong (unlike most other insurance companies). Better to be safe than sorry!
8) Scan important documents
Your passport, insurance, Visas and any other ID need to be scanned and saved as PDF’s before you leave. Keep a copy of these on your laptop if you are bringing it along and/or email them to yourself so you have a copy online if you ever need it.
9) Learn about the culture
Read up about your chosen destination(s) in order to prepare for your trip. Some cultures have strict rules on clothing, public displays of affection and so on, so make sure you know about those little rules before you travel and pack accordingly.
10) Get a new credit card
I will never encourage anyone to spend money they don’t have but getting a travel credit card before you go, can give you some great perks, as well as a perfect opportunity to indulge in guilty pleasures. Not only can you save up miles and reward points but also you sometimes get free rooms or money when there are special offers on. Make sure you only spend what you have and repay it ASAP.
11) Book it
Find the cheapest flights to and around your chosen destination(s). If you are flexible on the dates you can travel then Momondo is a great website to use as it compares the cheapest day for you to fly on. If you have booked hotels, hostels or guesthouses anywhere in the world, it is always worth sending them an email to double-check they have your booking. There is nothing worse than getting to a hotel late at night and be turfed onto the street. It is rarely a problem but an email before arrival can also get you preferred rooms – a polite, friendly email goes a long way!
12) Get yourself on Skype
So most people these days have a Skype or Zoom account but if you are away for a long period of time it is worth setting up Skype accounts for close family and friends who aren’t sure how to. I cannot explain how frustrating it is to try and explain to your mother how to turn on the webcam via Skype from Bangkok.
13) Sign up for Top Cash Back
Get money back on your travel purchases when booking via Top Cash Back. We have received so much money from this website, which is perfect to withdraw just before the big trip.
14) Make space on your devices
Back up your phone and camera memory cards in order to clear plenty of space for your trip. We always make sure we have several memory cards as well as a portable hard drive to back pictures up.
15) Share your experience
Before heading to Asia, we set up a simple word press blog to share our experience. It was our enjoyment of doing this that led to us creating the Creative Travel Guide. Whether its word press or simply a Facebook group, set something up for you to share those amazing moments with your friends and family. Share your experiences with us too, we would love to hear all about your travels!
16) Learn the language
I am not saying learn the language fluently, but practising the simple hello/thank you/please can go a long way. I have a low spice tolerance so I always make sure I know how to say “spicy?” in the language, just in case!
17) Get some cash
Before you leave, it is always best to exchange some money in advance, so that you don’t end up stranded at an airport or hotel without the local currency.
For each destination; make a note (even if it’s just a mental note) of the top attractions you want to visit. This may change but having a clear idea before getting to a destination can really help with daily planning and budget planning.
19) Organise your direct debits
If you are heading off for a long period of time, then take a moment to look at your direct debits and stop any that you don’t need anymore. This may not always be possible because of contracts etc but cancelling any payments when possible can help you save money.
20) Public Transport
It does sound boring but it is really worth looking ahead at when you arrive at your chosen destination’s airport and seeing which route to your hotel is best. Most airports have trains that can get you to the centre of the city quickly and often a lot cheaper than a taxi. Check for buses, taxi prices and trains, looking at times these are available, which is best for you and cost.
When planning your trip, remember to pack entertainment for long journeys. A gripping book, crossword puzzles, or movies on your phone can make travel time fun and relaxing, turning potential boredom into enjoyment.
21) Check the entertainment listings
No matter where you are heading, it is always a good idea to check show and event listings online. The last thing you want is to end up in Vegas the same weekend as a big convention or in the middle of a city during a big sporting event. That being said, most events, shows and sporting events can be great experiences that you may not necessarily get in your own country. We nabbed some awesome Baseball and American football seats during our trip around America and Titanic exhibition tickets whilst in Macau. Keep an eye out, use this to help plan your trip and pre-book tickets early if you can.
22) Contact your hotel
It never hurts to send a polite and friendly email to your hotel to double-check they have received your booking and make any requests. A friendly email may be the thing that gets you upgraded but also gives you the reassurance that you are definitely booked at that hotel, especially if your hotel often over-books their rooms.
23) Catch up with your GP
Depending on where you are going, you may need vaccinations of tablets before and/or during your trip. Speak to your GP at least 3 months before you are heading off.
24) Learn the conversion rate
Now, this is essential when you’re travelling around the world. It can be tricky but make sure you work out a rule for you to work out the currency quickly; particularly helpful in restaurants, taxis and when haggling. For example, in Thailand I reminded myself that the number in baht should be doubled and then divided by ten to get to English Pounds, so 100 baht = 100 x 2 = 200 ÷ 10 = £2.
25) Save extra cash
The lead-up to your travels is an important time to cut down on little expenses that you could do without. This means you can splurge on extras when you’re away. When we travelled Asia, we said that we wouldn’t buy any fizzy drinks or chocolate in the lead-up to the trip and with money we normally spend was used to book a suite in Marina Bay, Singapore.
26) Checked Luggage
Before your flight, double check your ticket including checked luggage and if it doesn’t, book it online before you get to the airport. Many companies can charge up to double the cost once it’s the day of the flight.
27) Give yourself a budget
Travelling can be as expensive or as cheap as you make it but there will always be an expense when travelling the world. Work out how much you will have to spend by the day of your flight or how much you will need and find a way to make sure you have. Once that is done, then give yourself a clear budget for each day and STICK TO IT.
28) Sign up to travel blogs
There are some great travel blogs out there and signing up for newsletters is the best way to read about any upcoming offers they share, upcoming events or the best places to eat, best attractions and hotels and so on, in your chosen destination. If you love food and your heading to Asia then you’ll love Migrationiology.com whilst youtube creator Hey Nadine shares some great vlogs of her group tours around the world.
29) Get fit
OK, this one sounds random but it really is important. Before we went to Asia we use to go for long walks every day, meaning we could get around SE Asia, through the humidity because of our fitness. Before our second America trip, we had let our fitness slip a bit and didn’t enjoy trekking around the cities of America as much as we normally would have.
Count down those days and enjoy the excitement and anticipation before you head off. I love using TripAdvisor to search for local restaurants, read about different places on travel blogs and indulge in travel photography.
No matter where you decide to go in the world, we hope you have an amazing time and let us know your future travel destinations in the comments below!
Happy travels and STAY CREATIVE!