This Travel Checklist Will Help You Prepare for Your Next Trip Like a Pro

Be fully prepared to take the best vacation ever with this easy-to-follow travel checklist.

You’ve picked your destination, you’ve booked a hotel, and your plane tickets are in hand. Now all that’s left to do is pack. But what exactly do you need to bring along on your adventure? Here’s an easy-to-follow travel checklist to help you prepare for your next vacation, starting with packing tips.

Packing Tips

Think about the weather: Check the weather in your destination in the days leading up to your trip to help determine your packing strategy. 

Check if your accommodation offers laundry: Staying in a vacation rental? See if the home has a washer and dryer. In a hotel? Inquire about laundry services. This could help you cut down on what you need so you can pack half as much and wash throughout your trip. 

Pack in a single color palette: To cut down on your luggage, try packing all your clothes in a single color palette so everything can easily mix and match

Edit before you go: Lay out what you want to pack, then walk away for at least a few hours. Go back and ask yourself, “do I really need this?” about every item. 

Black woman traveling with suitcase down European street

Pavlina Popovska/Getty Images

What to Pack in Checked Luggage

Toiletries: No matter how long you’re gone, odds are you’ll need a few toiletries. In your toiletry bag, don’t forget to pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, face and body soap, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, a hairbrush, sunscreen, and any makeup you may want. Don’t forget hair styling tools and products if you use those too.

First aid and medications: Take prescription medications and any over-the-counter medicines you may need. If you have space, bring along a small bag of first-aid items too, including a few bandaids, hand sanitizer, pain relievers, tweezers, and alcohol wipes. 

Footwear: Before you travel, think about every situation you’ll be in during your trip. This will help you determine your footwear needs. Walking around a city? Pack comfortable sneakers. Heading out on the town? Bring dress shoes. Hiking? Sturdy boots for sure. But only bring what you need, as shoes can take up a ton of valuable space. 

Socks: Bring a pair for every day of your travels. Roll or fold them and place them into your packed shoes to save space. 

Underwear: Try to avoid the temptation to bring too many “just in case” underwear. Pack one pair for every day you’re gone. 

Pants: Again, situation awareness is key. Going somewhere warm? Bring a loose pair of slacks. Cold? Jeans are a great option. Aim to bring one or two pairs that will match several tops.

Shorts: If you’re going somewhere warm (lucky you!) make sure to bring at least one pair of shorts so you don’t overheat. 

Dresses or slacks: If you have a nice dinner or an evening out planned, make sure to pack one fancier item to feel your best. Try packing it in its own garment bag to keep it fresh, or think about bringing a portable steamer to ensure it’s in peak condition when you arrive. 

T-shirts: For warm-weather getaways, t-shirts are king. Bring two or three depending on your vacation length (and don't worry about being an outfit repeater).

Cold-weather clothes: For colder vacations, make sure to bring warm clothes, including long-sleeve tops, sweaters, or sweatshirts. Wear your jacket, gloves, hat, and scarf on the plane to save valuable luggage space. 

Sleepwear: Don’t forget your jammies. A single pair (or two) should suffice. 

Swimwear: If your vacation involves a pool, hot tub, or the ocean, don’t forget swimwear and a coverup. 

Jewelry: Bring along any jewelry you feel you want to pair with your outfits. Not comfortable packing your real engagement or wedding ring? Try swapping it for a cheaper fake that you won’t be afraid to lose. 

What to Pack in Carry-on Luggage

Electronics: Your carry-on bag should include anything you need or want while on a flight. This can include your laptop for work if you're headed on a business trip, a cell phone to stay connected, or an e-reader. Just don’t forget to pack the appropriate chargers. 

Emergency medications: Bring at least two days of your medications with you to ensure you have access to anything you need should your checked baggage get lost. 

Travel documents and identification: Have your ticket information handy (including on your cell phone and a printed copy just in case), along with directions to your accommodation upon landing and any pertinent visa information. Also, bring your passport and another ID for international trips, and a credit card plus a little cash for emergencies. 

Face mask: Face masks may no longer be mandatory on many airlines, but it’s never a bad idea to have one handy just in case you want to add a layer of protection or if it’s required at your destination. 

Sunglasses or reading glasses: Bring your sunglasses and any other eyewear you need to see (including an extra pair of contacts in a to-go case). 

What to Do Before You Leave for a Trip 

Alert your credit card or bank: Most credit card and banking institutions allow you to change your status to “traveling” in their app or on their websites. But if you need to, contact them via phone so they don’t accidentally shut off your access while traveling.  

Check your cell phone plan, too: Make sure you’re set up for travel on your mobile plan without paying hefty roaming fees. 

Confirm your reservations: Double check all your reservations are secure to avoid any on-arrival snafus. 

Take out the trash and give your home a once-over: Take out the trash — including any leftovers in the fridge — and give your home at least a little wipe down and a vacuum. That way, you come home to a fresh space.

Set up your security, or tell a trusted neighbor you’re leaving: Set up your security company’s alerts, and if you don’t have one, at least share your plans with a trusted neighbor so they know to keep an eye out for anything fishy. Bonus if they can pick up your mail, too.

Put your mail on hold: Going for a while? Ask your mail carrier to pause service so things don’t pile up in your absence. 

Lock the door and shut the garage: We don’t want a “Home Alone” situation, do we? 

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