Before you leave for distant lands and untold adventures, it’s essential to run through a pre-trip to-do list. Failure to do so will result in that nagging feeling you’ve forgotten something. (And that nagging feeling is usually right.) Achieve peace of mind at the very start of your journey by ticking off the following crucial tasks ahead of your departure.
Check the Weather
Look at the most recent weather predictions for your home. This will help you know what to expect on the way to the airport and whether or not to be on the lookout for flight delays. Check the weather at your destination, too. Because weather forecasts change frequently, this is a must-do on the day you depart. It’s your last chance to adjust your suitcase contents in accordance with the latest predictions. Throw an umbrella or a sweater into your bag as needed.
Check Your Flight Status
It’s important to know your flight status before you leave your home. This way, you can avoid a long wait at the airport in the event of a flight delay. Download your airline’s app to get flight-status alerts on your phone. Visit your airline’s website and make sure your departure is happening as scheduled. Or use this clever trick to check your flight status while logged into a Google account.
Charge All of Your Devices
It’s best to start charging any devices you’re bringing on your trip a day or two before departure. But if you’ve been active on your phone or computer, reload that power bar before heading out the door. That extra hour or so of juice could be crucial. Another tip? Download any movies or TVs show may want to watch in transit while you still have a good Wi-Fi connection at home. You don’t want to be doing this someplace where the Internet speeds are dial-up-level slow.
Unplug Home Electronics
While you’re plugging in your phone and tablet, unplug your television, computer, and other large appliances. There are two reasons you should do this: to protect them in the event of an electrical surge and to keep energy costs down. Appliances that are plugged in use low levels of energy even when not in use.
Make Sure You Have Your Documents
The process of getting your travel documents in order—from checking the expiration date on your passport to applying for visas, if necessary—must be done well in advance. (Some destinations require passports with six months’ or three months’ validity; read more here.) On the day of departure, your most important job is making sure your necessary documents are on hand. Depending on your personal level of obsessiveness, double, triple, or quadruple check that your passport, ID, and any other necessary documents are in your carry-on bag. Never pack essential documents in checked luggage.
Check Your Email
Important last-second changes to travel plans, from modifications to your hotel reservations to car-rental upgrades, will likely come with email notifications. Did the B&B at which you’re staying send a last-minute update on check-in times? Do your travel companions have itinerary updates to share? Did the owner of your rental property email instructions for picking up the key? Don’t wait until you’re at the airport before taking a look at that in-box. Airport Wi-Fi is unreliable at best, and you’ll want to be at home in case you need to pack something extra or make a phone call.
Check the Wait Time at Your Airport
The TSA posts regularly updated airport-security wait time estimates. There are apps that do this, too, like the crowd-sourced MiFlight. Airport-security wait time estimates are never exact —especially when you have hours to go before heading out the door—but they could help you to make a more informed call when determining how early you need to be at the airport.
Check the Traffic
Construction, accidents, jams, and other delay-causing events could easily snowball into a missed flight. Local news providers are reliable sources of up-to-the-minute traffic information. A host of apps offer useful updates, too. Waze is a great one that offers real-time feedback, crowdsourced from other drivers. The same advice applies if you’re taking public transportation. Make sure your route to the airport is delay-free.
Pack a Snack
Make yourself a sandwich for the long journey. Or up your snack game and make one of these awesome flight-friendly, healthy recipes for the road.
Make Sure You Have Your Medications
The medications you plan to take on your trip are something you absolutely want to think about ahead of time. If your prescription needs a refill, it’s best to know this well before your departure date, for obvious reasons. When it’s time to leave, just make sure you truly have packed the medications that you refilled a month ago, as they’re some of the most important belongings you’ll carry with you. Check that your prescriptions are safely packed in your carry-on bag before you depart.
Take Some Pictures
Use your phone to snap some pictures of your packed bag and your travel documents. Pictures of both the outside of your suitcase and the contents of your baggage will come in handy if the airline loses your luggage. (A photo will help officials identify your bag, and a snapshot of bag contents will aid in claiming losses if your luggage never returns.) Take pictures of your itinerary, your identification, your reservations, and basically any piece of paper with important information on it. (Make sure your phone is password protected and can be shut off remotely if lost.)
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