Travel Check List – Before Deciding What Clothes to Bring

When preparing for a trip, most people think about the clothes they will wear and what shampoo they are going to bring. Before you pack your suitcase, however, there are MANY things you need to arrange before you can get out of town. Here are some you don’t want to forget, or wait until the last minute to get done.

Have enough Foreign Currency in hand to get you to where you are going!


Foreign Currency – If you are going to a foreign country you need to get some of the local currency. When you first arrive at your destination you may need to buy something to eat or drink, or pay a porter who helped you with your luggage, or to hail you a cab. You can get more cash locally, at ATM’s (preferably bank ATM’s during the day), but you will want to have enough pocket money in local currency, to get you to your hotel and possibly eat first.

Tip – in some countries there are small fees to use the public toilet, so be sure to keep some coins to pay with when needed.

If you get your foreign currency from your local bank it can take two days to a week (best to ask). If you are near a Travelex you can exchange your US Dollars for Foreign Currency – for most countries. If you are going somewhere off the beaten path you may want to call ahead of time to make sure you can get what you will need.

Credit Cards – Few realize the importance of calling credit card companies early, to alert them to the dates you will be out of the country.  This will save you a great deal of time when you try to use your cards, as many will block charges from foreign countries, until you confirm your identity and location. You may also want to bring a spare visa and a master card, to help cover your bases. Debit cards should work at ATM’s and are a good way to get cash, as the machine will dispense money in the local currency.

US State Department – It you are traveling out of the country you may want to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). If you enroll (which is free) you will also receive updates on Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts and other information for a particular country. When we went to China we did this. Just one of those things that is nice to know about.

Pets – Dogs, Cats, Fish, Birds, Reptiles.

When you leave pets behind for somebody else to watch for you, be sure to write down their routines. For example, my dogs get a milk bone in the morning, then they have a small amount of food when I eat breakfast… there is a “bedtime” treat they get when they go to bed. When planning for your pet sitter, don’t count on your memory to remember all the details for their care. Take the time to write a day’s log to reference; then write out detailed instructions for each animal. Also be sure they have at least a weeks worth of extra food in case you are delayed in returning.

Tip – for dog/cat food…you will want to have a cup or scoop, in order to accurately measure their food, so they are fed the correct portions. If you have an outdoor pond you may want to pre-measure the pond pet food into zip lock baggies, making individual daily feedings. That way you know that your fish/turtles will not be underfed or overfed. This works much better then saying just throw in a handful of food in the pond.

Pond – do you have a pond? I actually have friends who do not go on vacation because they have a koi pond and they worry about something going wrong while they are away. You need to have somebody responsible for its care so you don’t have to worry. Be sure they know how the pump works, and how to clean the skimmer or filter if you are going to be gone more then the weekend.

Is there a local pond contractor that can come over if the pond sitter has a problem? How do they add water and dechlorinate it? Adding water is one the biggest causes of fish loss in a pond, because tap water with chlorine kills fish. Be sure you have dechlor on hand, with instructions on how much to add if they have to add water. I would also suggest putting a hose timer on your spigot, and test it before you leave. That way if the hose gets left on by mistake, it will turn off automatically. Bottom line is – if you have a pond you will most likely want to have a house/pet sitter. Don’t let having a pond, stop you from taking a vacation.

Pet/House sitter –I always feel better knowing a friend/acquaintance is staying at my house while I am gone. I have MANY pets, two ponds and an aquarium. So there are a lot of things to take care of.

Agree on money! This is important. You want to know the person is happy to be there and that you know what you are expected to pay before you leave – you don’t want any surprises here. I usually leave extra money in case the person needs to buy more food for the animals for whatever reason. I have had house sitters sit for free and up – as much as $35 a day. So shop around and be sure you feel comfortable with that person living in your home. I highly recommend this if you have more then one pet.

Make a list of emergency phone numbers for your house sitter and keep a copy with you – Doctor, Vet, Alarm Company, and at least one Neighbor. With cell phones we often don’t know our friends number any more, so make a list and even take your kids numbers if they are not going with you.

Other Importnat Things

Yard work – If your yard is regularly maintained by a service, then you are well prepared. If you don’t and you are going to be gone for say three weeks – the lawn will probably need to be mowed, it would be advisable to have someone just do some general care, making sure sprinklers have not broken. Think about how long you are going to be gone, what the weather is likely to be, and what may need to be done. It would be best if you can rely on someone you know, not someone you are using for the first time. Having somebody check will help make sure you don’t come home to dead plants.

Newspaper – It looks bad to have newspapers piling up all over your driveway when you are away – so take the time to put a vacation hold on your paper. It is pretty easy to do online in most cases. Remember also, yellowing newspapers could alert the wrong people that you are away from home.

Tip – I always stop the paper a day before I leave to make sure that they remembered.

Mail – You have a couple of options here. You can have a neighbor retrieve your mail for you (would have to be a really good neighbor), or you can have the post office hold your mail until you return.

Medications – So important. Be sure you have a printed list of everything–include the name of the medication, what the dosage is, how frequently you take it, who the doctor is that prescribe it and their phone number. Print two copies – one to go in your carry on, the other in your checked bag.

Medication Bottles – If you lose a medication or it spills out and you need a replacement you will want to have the phone number of the pharmacy! The phone number is on the bottle.

Tip – Don’t pack medications in your checked luggage – carry them in your carry on bag. If your baggage gets delayed or lost, your health will not be compromised.

Medications should be in their original container at least until you get to your destination. Then you can use the little pill boxes to plan daily doses. If any questions come up it is much easier if your medications are in their containers.

Tip – Take a supply of enough meds to cover you for two to four extra days – in case of delays such as bad weather on your return.

If you see that you will run out of a medication while out of town, you can have your pharmacy fill the prescription early – you just need to ask for a vacation refill. They will contact your insurance company so that you will pay your normal rates and not have to pay full rates from ordering early. Do not wait to the last minute on this one. Be sure to give your pharmacy about a weeks notice.

Tip – stock up on over the counter medications too, like Dramamine; you will save money if you buy it before you get to the airport and you may not be able to find exactly what you want at your destination. (And remember the snacks too.)

Medical Authorization Form are important to have for minor children especially if you are going to be out of the country! You do not want medical care to be delayed because you (their parent) are not there. Do this for dependents staying home, even if they are 16. There are many forms available online, but you may want to check with your doctor and/or insurance company.

Lights – Some people like to use timers on a couple of lamps to make it look like you are home. This is more important in the winter when it gets dark earlier. I have never done this, but I do think it could be a good idea. Timers are pretty inexpensive from many places like Walmart, Target, CVS, Rite Aid….

Check that important papers like wills – can be found if someone needs them.

Addresses to mail post cards – MOST people still enjoy getting mail. It means more to mail it while you are on your vacation, don’t wait till you are home.

If the house will be empty – turn the water heater to “vacation.” Unplug unnecessary things like coffee pots. And make sure there is no coffee in the pot – it will mold! And, why leave those leftovers in the frig to throw out when you get back?

Tip – you should have something in the freezer (or canned) to eat when your get home. It is awful to have nothing in the house to eat after you have been traveling all day.

Did you return that DVD or library book –you don’t want to feel bad about it while away.

Schedule Transportation – your house to airport, then airport to your hotel. Airport transportation services are generally less expensive then a taxi and you will not have to wait in that long taxi line; which always seems to be long when I need one. At the Paris train station we had to wait over an HOUR before we got a cab. And the line was moving quickly; there were just a lot of people arriving at one time. Plus it is fun to arrive in London or Paris with someone holding a sign with your name on it waiting for YOU.

Print out maps, addresses of places you want to go. Have a list of the hotel(s) you are staying at with the name, address and phone number. You can’t count on having Internet access, so be sure to get the travel information you will need before you leave.

Make a copy of your passport and your driver’s license. They are easier to replace if you have a copy of them.

Now that you have all that taken care of, packing those socks, pants, underwear, and …, should be easy, with the piece of mind that you are truly ready to go.

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2 Responses to “Travel Check List – Before Deciding What Clothes to Bring”

  • CAG-Go on March 6, 2013

    This is a great list! Thanks!

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