Expert travelers have their pre-travel routine down to an art. From packing the perfect suitcase to preparing your home for your time away, you can follow the advice of experienced travelers as you prepare for a next-day departure. This fifteen-hour schedule covers everything that you need to do before you leave, and includes enough flexibility to accommodate any last-minute crises. For best results, print off this list and check off each task as you complete it.
Wake up early on the day before you depart. This will give you enough time to deal with any last-minute problems, and when bedtime rolls around you’ll be tired enough to fall asleep right away.
Look through your fridge and pantry, and plan out all of the meals that you’ll eat between now and your departure. Tightly seal up the non-perishable foods that you’ll be leaving behind, and either give any remaining perishable food items to a friend or throw them in the garbage.
Take a shower, and then dry off any personal care items that you plan to bring with you. If you’re packing liquids in your checked baggage, you can reduce the risk of spillage by wrapping them in an old t-shirt and then placing them in a zip-top plastic bag.
If you’ve got a pre-travel personal care routine, now is the time to do it. Pluck, shave, wax, self-tan, clip, trim and paint now, so your skin has time to heal before you depart.
Start packing early. This way, if you realize that something you’d planned to pack is dirty you can wash and dry it in time for your departure. Consider using packing cubes to group similar items together and save space in your luggage. If your route is complex or involves long layovers, pack a separate carry-on bag with a change of clothes and travel-sized toiletry kit. If you’re planning to toss something in your suitcase tomorrow, leave a note on top of your bag so that you don’t forget.
Throw your sheets and towels into the laundry. When you come home from your trip and find a freshly-made bed and fluffy towels, you’ll be glad you did!
Organize your electronics. Make sure your camera is loaded up with a new memory card, double-check that you have all your chargers, and make sure you have any converters or adaptors you’ll need if you’re traveling internationally (make a quick run to your local dollar store if you need to buy a cheap adaptor before you go).
Check in online for your flights as soon as possible. If you’re uncomfortable having airline and security staff handling your electronic devices, print out your boarding passes instead of choosing the digital option. Place your boarding passes, any other tickets, hotel confirmation, directions, travel insurance information and identification documents in a clear plastic bag or a small folder for easy access.
You’ve been working hard today. Take a lunch break!
Drop off your keys with the person who will be looking after your house while you’re away. Make sure they know where your water shut-off valve is located, how often your mail gets delivered, the contact information for your home insurance provider and what they should do if there is an emergency.
Spend an hour or two tidying up your house. This is a nice gesture for the person who will be looking after your place, and, like doing laundry, it’s something you’ll appreciate having done when you get home. As a minimum, clean your bathroom and kitchen, dust, vacuum and water your plants.
If your itinerary includes international destinations, contact your bank and let them know. Some banks freeze debit and credit cards if they detect suspicious activity in other countries.
Plug in your electronic devices so that they have time to fully charge. Many airports will not allow you to pass through with electronics that have no battery charge.
Phone a taxi company and book your transfer to the airport or station for tomorrow.
Have an early dinner tonight. When you’re done, run the dishwasher and throw any remaining perishable food in the garbage.
Take out the trash, recycling and compost.
Prepare your home from your time away. Make sure all of your windows are fully closed and properly locked. Close all of your blinds. Unplug any electronic devices that don’t need to run while you’re away, including your coffee maker, television and lamps.
This is often when the pre-travel jitters really kick in! Review your checked and carry-on baggage to ensure you’ve packed everything that you need. Earlier today you plugged in your electronic devices; now is the time to unplug and pack them. Make sure you’ve got the correct passport, driver’s license, visa, debit card and credit card.
Retreat to bed with some travel-related reading material, like a guidebook or a travelogue, and a mug of herbal tea.
Set your alarm for the next morning. If you have an early departure, consider setting two alarms, just in case.
You’ve had a long day, but you know that you’re ready for the best trip ever! Turn off your lights, get comfortable in bed and know that you’ll be waking up on the very first day of your vacation.