People tend to be forgetful, especially leading up to something they’re looking forward to, like a vacation. Regardless of whether you’re going on your first trip or your thousandth, a lot of work goes into trip-planning. The last thing anybody wants is to arrive at the airport only to discover they’ve forgotten their passport or similarly crucial item. The best way to stay organized is to follow a traveling checklist, so you know exactly what you need to do and when. A good list should cover everything from the bare necessities to things you might not normally consider.

  • Get Shots: If you’re traveling abroad, you might need a vaccination. Some clinics require you to schedule appointments four to six weeks ahead of time, so get on it!
  • Stay in Touch: Your phone plan might not work at your destination, so make sure to plan another way to get in touch with friends or family in case you need to contact them.
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  • Your Home: Depending on how long you plan on being gone, you may need to arrange a house, pet, or plant sitter.
  • Stop Services: While you’re away, you don’t want newspapers or deliveries piling up on your doorstep. Make sure to temporarily halt any services that may be active while you’re gone.
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  • Figure Out Bills: If you’re going to be gone when a bill is due, you might want to pay it ahead of time. Alternatively, you may not want an unexpected bill payment to go through while you’re gone, so it may be worth it to pause auto-withdrawals.
  • Call Your Bank or Credit Card Company: You might not think anything of it, but many financial institutions find charges in a new location to be suspicious, and will automatically trigger a freeze on the associated credit card or bank account. Calling ahead can help you avoid the inconvenience of having to call long-distance later.
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  • Travel Insurance: There’s a large variety of travel insurance plans that cover everything from lost luggage to a medical emergency. The right plan can be a life-saver in unexpected situations.
  • Get a Permit: A lot of travelers plan to rent a car to drive around when they’re abroad. However, some countries require you to have an international driving permit to do so.
  • Correct Visas: A visa is the most important thing to arrange when entering a new country, even more so than a ticket. Without the correct one, you won’t even be able to leave the airport.
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  • Gather the Essentials: Find everything essential to your trip and keep them together. This includes your boarding pass, passport, hotel confirmation, and travel insurance documentation.
  • Make a Copy: Some places in other countries require a copy of your passport. While many may have a copier available, it’s better to be on the safe side.
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  • Call Ahead: Never assume that a hotel will have space for you. Even if you don’t plan on staying in an area for long, you may find it helpful to have a guaranteed place where you can rest or work out an issue.
  • Double Check the Dates: As the day of your journey gets closer, call and make sure that any reservations you’ve made are still valid to prevent an unwanted surprise.
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  • Vehicle Checkup: If you’re planning on driving to your destination, you don’t want your car breaking down halfway there.
  • Gas in the Tank: You may find it helpful to plan stops at specific gas stations along your route to ensure that you will not run out of gas between stations.
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  • Check Prices: Different airlines have different baggage charges, so it’s important to know how much you’ll be spending and how to keep your costs low.
  • Pick the Right Bag: You’ll need to make sure your luggage is the ideal type for your destination. For example, wheeled luggage is great in places with lots of pavement, but not suitable for anywhere that requires a lot of trekking.
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  • Check the Weather: Before you think about packing your bag, look up a weather forecast from your destination, so you know what kind of clothes to bring.
  • How Many Days: Figure out how many days and nights you’ll be gone so you know exactly how much clothing you need to bring.
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  • Plan Your Trip's First Day: You may find it helpful to know precisely what you’ll need to do on your first day, so you feel prepared when the day comes.
  • Plan Your Last Day: Just as planning your first day is important, so is knowing what you’ll need to do to end your trip without any worries.
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  • Make a Packing List: Before you start packing, plan out what you’ll need to pack and build a list.
  • Clean Up the List: Look through and eliminate things off the packing list that you think you won’t end up using on your trip. It may be worth it to travel light and pick up some necessities (toothpaste, deodorant, etc) at your destination.
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  • Prohibited Items: Check with your traveling company for any items that you can’t bring with you and make sure you comply with their list of prohibited items.
  • The Right Sizes: Remember that you can’t have more than a few ounces of fluid in a container on a plane. Take the time to purchase or fill your own travel-sized toiletry bottles.
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  • The Survival Kit: Pack yourself a survival kit of emergency items that you might need. Include things like bandages, earplugs, hand sanitizer, and a backup supply of any medications you take.
  • The Toiletry Bag: Think about your immediate hygiene needs. Things such as toothbrushes, deodorant, sunscreen, and feminine hygiene products are not worth going without.
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  • Don’t Pack It: The days of having to carry maps, tickets, and itineraries are long gone. You can download all of these ahead of time to save a little bit of space and time.
  • Download It: When traveling, you might not have access to cell data. Download entertainment like music or movies to stave off boredom while traveling.
  • Loss Prevention: Apps can help you locate devices like tablets or phones in case something happens to them, so you may want to download those before you leave.
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  • Pack a Travel Adapter: A handy travel adapter will let you power every electronic you have even if your destination has different power outlets.
  • Charge It Up: Make sure to charge all your electronics before you start your journey; otherwise, you might end up with a dead battery when it’s least convenient.
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  • Carry-On Clothes: Always pack a change of clothes and some emergency supplies in your carry-on. You never know when the airline might lose your luggage.
  • Bring Comfort: Whether you’re traveling by bus, car, or plane, keep some comfort items in an easily accessible bag. This can include a blanket, a small pillow, or an eye mask.
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  • Organization: If you have difficulty organizing your bags, packing cubes and similar products are extremely helpful for saving on space and staying orderly.
  • Roll Your Clothes: Your instinct when packing is probably to fold all your clothes neatly, but it’s better to roll your clothes. This will make them fit better in a bag, and also saves time on packing.
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  • Extra Undies: This one goes without saying. Bring more underwear than you think you need. While you're at it, bring more socks, too.
  • Utilize the Shoes: When bringing extra shoes in your bag, don’t lose out on that space: place socks, watches, ties, or other items in them. If the smell is a concern, you can place said items in a plastic bag first.
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  • Get Money: If you plan to stay in the country, make sure to have cash on hand before your trip. You never know when you might not be able to use a credit card.
  • Find ATMs: Whether you’re traveling abroad or domestically, it can be helpful to know where the nearest ATM is in case you need cash when you get there.