My memory’s not as good as it used to be, so these days I’m writing more lists. I’ve left on enough long trips now to have written one for leaving home – even on a short trip, if it’s out of the country, I run through the check list to make sure I don’t forget something. I hate that “did I leave the oven on” feeling!
Things to do well ahead:
- If traveling outside North America and Europe, call travel clinic to check on inoculations and anti-malarials. Or use wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx and your regular doctor.
- Renew medical and/or medical evacuation insurance if it won’t be valid for the whole trip.
- Check expiration dates on the credit and ATM cards I’ll be taking, and get new ones if they’ll expire during the trip. (Capital One flatly refused – said their system wouldn’t allow them to send me a new card early!)
- Buy international SIM for unlocked quad-band cell phone, or check that the old one is still working. (Or plan to buy country SIM on arrival.) Charge battery.
- Select guidebook(s) and cut out selected sections. (Or buy and download chapters from Lonely Planet and print selected pages.)
- Deal with taxes if I’ll be gone over April 15th.
The last couple of weeks:
- Borrow books on tape from library, load iPod and charge batteries.
- Find camera and flash cards and charge batteries.
- For a trip less than a month, tell post office to hold mail. For longer trips, have mail forwarded to a friend, and write checks so said friend can pay bills not handled by bank draft or on-line. (Can now tell post office on-line, but it costs $1.00.)
- Get nice new $100 and $50 bills from bank for emergency stash and move enough money into checking account to cover expected ATM withdrawals above monthly deposits. For some reason my bank always has a hard time coming up with really new bills.
- Tell bank and credit union I’ll be using my ATM cards abroad, and confirm non 1-800 contact phone nos. Last time I called Capital One they only let you do 60 days at a time.
- Call credit card companies (at least two different cards) to tell them I’ll be using my cards abroad, confirm non 1-800 contact phone nos.
- Make copies of list of important numbers, passport (and any visas), ATM, credit and insurance cards (both sides), airline tickets, rail tickets, etc. and put copies in backup money belt.
The last week:
- Confirm reservation at first hotel – I don’t mind hunting for a hotel once I’m on the road, but I don’t want to do it right off a long flight.
- Check flight reservation and seat selection – sometimes flights get changed or canceled and the airlines “forget” to tell you.
- Suspend newspaper delivery – I still get the Sunday New York Times, although I gave up on the local newspaper because I couldn’t get them to reliably stop delivery while I was gone.
- Return Netflix DVDs and put membership on hold.
- Return library books and put any orders on hold.
- If I’m leaving for more than a couple of months, cancel broadband subscription and return the cable box.
The last day:
- Clean out the fridge and take out the garbage and recycling.
- Set thermostat.
- Throw circuit breaker for electric water heater.
- Turn off water at street meter.
- Give house and car keys to the friend who’s keeping an eye on the house and taking the car out occasionally (to keep the battery charged and the tires from going flat), and driving me to the airport.
On the way to the airport:
- Check I’m carrying passport, airline ticket, ATM and credit cards…