Travel Stress Free With The Complete Travel Checklist In 2024

Travel Checklist

While I love spontaneous adventures, there’s nothing more disappointing than discovering you missed out on something amazing just a couple of miles from where you stayed. I learned this lesson the hard way.

Taking some time to research your destination should be one of the initial steps when getting ready for your trip.

In simple terms: it’s the smartest way to increase your chances of having a great experience. Stay tuned to get your complete travel checklist for a stress free travelling experience.

1. Check for Covid-Related Rules and Restrictions

I don’t like that this is a thing, but it’s essential. Since things can change a lot with hours, closures, and rules that might vary by city or region, it’s important to check Covid precautions and regulations for:

  • Any transportation you’ll be using during your trip.
  • Any accommodation you’ve booked.
  • Any attractions you plan to visit—besides the Covid info, check if they’re open or have changes in hours or admission policies.
  • Any special restaurants you want to try. They might have different hours or reduced availability.

2. Start with The Basics

  • Ask your friends for suggestions and do a simple Google search. After that, go a bit further: use phrases like “Most unusual experiences in [name of place],” “Most Photogenic,” “Must-see,” or “Best,” and you’ll discover posts with great bits of information.
  • If you like visuals, explore National Geographic’s “Your Shot” images, Flickr, or 500px for inspiration on locations, both popular and off the beaten path.

3. Check the Local Tourism Board Website

  • For useful information, visit the local tourism board websites for city or regional details, local apps (see below), and essential facts like the weather during your stay, activities, special events, and more.
  • If you have specific attractions in mind, check their websites first. Besides details on hours and location, you may find transportation options, additional activities, unexpected restrictions, and information on workshops, lectures, or VIP benefits.

4. Use 5-Star Hotels for Guidance

Explore the websites of 4-5 star hotels at your destination. Look under headings like “activities”, “around town” or “Things to do”. Often, you’ll discover excellent suggestions for restaurants, excursions, or unique experiences that aren’t widely known.

5. Use Local Apps

Take advantage of modern technology to enhance your travel experience. Utilize local apps by searching the app store for ones relevant to your itinerary. Whether it’s subway apps, store maps, museum or airport layouts, or travel guides, there’s an app for almost everything.

These apps are often free, easy to download, and having them on your device ensures you have useful information readily available, reducing last-minute stress.

6. Check Hotel Wi-Fi

Before heading out, make sure your hotel has WiFi, especially if work or life demands connectivity. Even in the 21st century, not all accommodations guarantee it, particularly in exotic developing countries. Confirm WiFi availability, as it may have limitations, extra costs, or outdated systems unsuitable for your needs.

Avoid discovering this after check-in for a stress-free travel experience.

7. Check Your Phone Plan Abroad

If you’re traveling internationally, ensure you understand your mobile carrier’s charges. I once returned from Kenya with a $675 phone bill, and it was a shock. Not researching how your carrier calculates data costs can lead to unexpected expenses. Make sure to assess fees upfront to avoid surprises, like my costly 20-minute 3G use at the Nairobi airport, which added up to almost $700.

Each phone carrier has its own charges, so it’s important to understand them from the start. A useful tip to control expenses is to keep your phone in airplane mode all the time. This allows you to use WiFi without worrying about confusing roaming charges.

If you occasionally need to use a data plan, being aware of what you’re getting into will help you stay calm.

8. Prepare Two Weeks Ahead

When I began traveling, I used to pack the day before my trip, only to realize I forgot essential items that I could have easily bought at home. This led to unnecessary spending in a foreign country, assuming the stores even had what I needed. Trust me, that’s not stress-free travel. To avoid such situations, start preparing at least two weeks before your journey. Check your belongings and ensure you have everything you need well in advance. It saves you from last-minute hassles and unnecessary expenses.

After years of stressing myself out, I adopted a new habit. About fourteen days before any big trip, I review my belongings and set aside the items I’ll pack. This two-week window allows me ample time to order anything I might need and have it shipped directly to me. If you have Amazon Prime, shipping is free, so take advantage of it. This simple routine has made my travel preparations much smoother.

Yes, it may take a bit of effort, but when the time comes to leave, everything goes smoothly.

9. Invest in Travel Insurance

Don’t risk losing a significant amount of money or, in extreme cases, going into debt when you don’t have to. Get travel insurance. Let me share a couple of real stories to explain why.

  • My dad and stepmom planned a fancy trip to Russia. A few days before leaving, their close friend got very sick and was in the hospital. They didn’t want to go. Luckily, because they had travel insurance, they got all their money back. Happy days!
  • My friends Dave and Deb, who travel a lot, were on an Amazon cruise when Dave slipped on some stairs and broke his back. If they didn’t have travel insurance, they would have had to pay at least $50,000 for two medevac units to fly him out of that remote location, the week-long stay in a Peru hospital to stabilize him, and the air ambulance back home afterward.
  • At the very least, spend money on a policy that covers medevac expenses. This way, if you’re in a faraway or challenging place, you can be flown out and get proper healthcare.
  • If you’re in the United States, I assure you, if you get hurt or sick in another country, your U.S. policy won’t cover it. However, some high-end credit cards have partnerships with travel insurance. It’s worth looking into.
  • If you’re unsure about which insurance to use, visit to compare policies from top vendors around the world.

10. Check for Vaccination Requirements or Health Alerts

As a precaution, check if there are any vaccinations or medications required or suggested for your destination. I’ve listed them on my trip-planning resource page for easy access.

11. Check Your Passport’s Expiration Date

  • For international travel, check your passport’s expiration date and make sure you don’t need a new one. Stress-free travel only works if you can enter the country you’re traveling to.
  • Most countries require passports to be valid at least six months before travel, so it’s more about the expiration date lead time you’ll need.
  • Some countries also require two empty facing pages for customs’ stamps. If you’re a frequent traveler and don’t have space, ensure you get a new passport.

12. Confirm If You’ll Need a Visa

No matter where you live, to find out if you’ll need a visa, you can do a quick check on TraVisa (or my resource page). The site will tell you whether your destination country requires a visa based on your destination and citizenship.

For American citizens, another great resource is the U.S. Department of State’s website and Country information. It provides passport requirements, visa needs, and a lot of other useful information.

13. Check Your Prescriptions

Always include prescriptions in your travel preparations. Will you need a refill before your departure date? Will you run out before you get back? Don’t get caught on the wrong side of this scenario.

14. Stock Up on Basic Meds

There’s nothing worse than feeling ill on the road. Don’t make things worse by running around for meds while you’re sick. Pack a small Ziploc bag with the following over-the-counter medications.

  • Products to relieve stomach upset/diarrhea/constipation
  • Aspirin or Ibuprofen for headaches and small aches and pains
  • Antibacterial ointment for scrapes and cuts
  • Antihistamine ointment for insect bites
  • Eye drops for dry, dusty climates (If you chronically suffer from sensitive eyes like me, Systane and Zaditor are a lifesaver.)

As an extra precaution, speak to your doctor about prescribing an antibiotic you can take with you just in case. I spent an awful two days in Lima with a nasty something on my way to Machu Picchu. Thankfully, I cut the plague short by packing antibiotics for just such an emergency.

15. Let Your Bank Know Where You’ll Be

A few years ago, I walked into a store in Cambodia to buy knickknacks and my debit card was declined. I didn’t have another credit card with me (Tip: always bring at least two credit cards with you), and I didn’t have enough cash for the rest of my trip. Ouch.

It turns out that a scarf I’d bought the day before raised a red flag with the bank. Assuming I was at home in New York City, the bank’s computer system marked my purchase as fraudulent and froze my account. It took me three hours I could have used sightseeing to get it sorted out.

Now I notify my bank via my bank’s online portal before every trip outlining the dates, countries, and cities—including any layover city—I plan to visit. I haven’t had a problem since.

16. Stop Mail Delivery

If you don’t have someone to pick up your mail, have it held. Two minutes online with the United States Postal Service and you’re good to go.

17. Organize Your Electronics

I am a technology freak but I can be overwhelmed by the number of adapters and plugs needed to keep all my devices purring on the road. More than once I’ve looked at a pile of cords thinking I had everything only to learn too late, I didn’t.

In an effort to gauge my needs, I lay out all my gadgets—cameras, iPhone, external hard drives, etc on a table with their associated plugs and accessories. Then I figure what I need to take on the plane and what I will check, and place them into two piles. Next, I determine whether I’ll need an adapter my destination or any layover countries I’ll be flying through. I separate cords I will use more often (i.e. my iPhone charger) and place them in a separate bag so they’re easier to find. I carry ALL my cords with me in my carry on bag

(Hint: if you buy a travel power strip, it makes things so much easier. You only need one adapter to charge 3 devices!).

Photography enthusiasts: Bring at least two extra batteries per camera body and a lot of memory cards. Nothing is worse than photographing something wonderful only to have your card run out unexpectedly. Be sure to reformat before each trip.

Pack a see-thru bag for carrying all the essential cords etc. that way during your trip you’ll know whether you’ve left something behind.

18. Leave a Detailed Itinerary with a Friend or Family Member

It’s always a good idea to leave a detailed plan with a friend or family member, especially if you can’t count on cell reception. This is even more important if you’re traveling alone or in a remote location. You want people to know where to find you if, for some reason, you go missing, or if you’re sick or injured and cannot speak for yourself. It’s also crucial in case of a crisis back home when someone needs to contact you.

  • I provide family members with the following information in a chronological order:
  • Flight information
  • Dates at each hotel (in order) with contact numbers and website addresses
  • Local/emergency contacts if applicable
  • Your travel insurance policy number and emergency contact information

19. Set/Schedule Your Out-of-Office Email

People don’t like it when they think you’re around when you’re not. It leads to paranoia and thoughts you might be ghosting them.

I schedule my Out-of-Office messages the minute I confirm my travel dates. I also set a reminder to change my cell’s voicemail on the morning of my departure.

This is particularly important when you’re going to remote destinations like Mongolia where technology is absent. In such cases, I leave instructions on my outgoing message detailing when I’ll return their call.

20. Make Copies of Your Most Important Information

Always take printed copies of your passport, credit card account numbers/emergency call numbers, itinerary, and travel insurance details.

My smartphone’s “Notes” app is my go-to app when I travel, but I always pack a printed backup.

Why? Because why risk being in trouble if you lose your phone or it’s stolen? Or, as I’ve done on several occasions, realized at the worst possible moment that I accidentally let the battery run out.

What’s your favorite pre-trip advice for making your trips easier? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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