Even though all the planning is done, and our brains are already at the resort pool, the day before we travel is always the most hectic. Not so much the packing, but rather all the little things that typically can’t be done too far ahead. It’s not like we can charge our cell phone a month in advanced.
To help with your travel planning, this is the last in a series of guides and checklists. Whether you’re planning a big international trip or just a long weekend away, these checklists will keep you organized as you get ready.
This guide focuses specifically on the 18 last minute things to do the day before you travel. However, if you’re still a couple of weeks or months out, our other guides will help you remember everything that goes into planning a smooth trip.
Double Check Your Plans
Save yourself a lot of grief and double check everything, from your flight details to your accommodation, to your pet sitter, and anything else you booked. It’s so much easier to sort out issues the day before you travel than while you’re traveling.
Check In Online
Typically, airlines let you check-in up to 24 hours before your flight. Save yourself some time at the airport and get your seat assignment sorted. You may still have to wait to drop off baggage, but hopefully you’ll be able to skip the dreaded check-in line.
Dehydration is not a traveler’s friend, and air travel is super dehydrating. A comfortable indoor humidity is around 30 – 65%, while airplanes only have 10 – 20% humidity. The longer the flight, the more you’ll feel the effects. Not only can dehydration make your skin feel horrible, but it can also exacerbate jet lag, give headaches, even cause more serious health issues.
Start hydrating early. Drink lots of water, and snack on some fresh fruit the day before you travel.
Travel Tip: Many airports have water bottle refilling stations. You can’t go through security with water, but you can go through with an empty bottle. We love our refillable Contigo water bottles, we take them on every trip.
Get anything with batteries that you are taking with you charged up. Don’t rely on charging things at the airport or on the plane. Sometimes outlets are hard to find, or already being used; though, we mostly find, they just don’t work. I hate airport outlets. Have things already fully charged and you won’t have to worry.
Back-up your devices
Before bringing your laptop or cell phone away on a trip, make sure you’ve backed up your devices. It’s even good planning to back up your home computer and other devices you’re not taking with you.
Clear Out Space for Photos
While you’re backing up your devices, it’s a good time to clear some space for travel photos. Make sure you’ve got plenty of space on your phone storage. Plus, clear out or buy new memory cards for your camera.
Get Some Cash
Even when we are traveling domestically, we always make sure to get some small bills before traveling. This helps if we need to leave a tip or buy something small from a vendor. Ideally, try not to exchange money at the airport where fees are the highest.
Clean Out Your Wallet
Cleaning out my wallet and purse the day before I travel has become a ritual. If you’re anything like me, it doesn’t take long for your wallet to become a filing cabinet of receipts, business cards, and coupons. Now is a great time to clean out everything you won’t need.
For security reasons, have a real think about what cards you actually need while you are gone. We only keep our IDs, an international ATM card, and no more than three credit cards between us. Everything else gets left behind.
Print Important Documentation
Yes, we know some of you are thinking we are old school on this one, and maybe we are, but hear us out.
Anything that can happen when you’re traveling, usually does happen. Is it really so farfetched that your phone won’t work when you need it most? To mitigate this concern, we just print out our key documents, like tickets. If we don’t need them, great.
Prepare Your Pets
Whether you’re bringing your fluffy family with you, or leaving them behind, travel is stressful for pets. Shower them with affection the day before you travel so they are as relaxed as possible.
When we are leaving our cats in boarding, we typically book them in the day before our travel. This allows us to drop them off in the morning, so we have the whole day to get our packing and preparations done without upsetting them. Just seeing the suitcases tends to stress them, so it’s easier this way.
Prepare the House
Preparing your home for your absence is how you’ll spend most of your day. Some tasks are small and only take seconds, like setting the thermostat. Others take a bit longer, or need to be sorted in advance, like mowing the lawn or hiring a service to manage it while you’re away.
As there are so many little tasks, we’ve broken this out into a separate checklist specifically for preparing your home before you travel.
Pay Your Bills
There’s nothing worse than coming home and finding out you’ve missed a payment. With so much going on, it’s easy to forget the mundane things that need to get done. Before you leave for your fantastic trip, set up auto payments on your upcoming bills.
Check the Weather
Before you finalize your packing list and carry-on bag, do a last-minute check of the weather at your destination. Do you need a rain jacket, or umbrella? Is there a big storm on its way? A cold-snap or heat wave? Knowing what to expect will help you make any last-minute changes to your packing list.
Check the News
We also quickly check the headlines for our destination, just to make sure there isn’t anything obvious to worry about, like protests or airport issues.
Hopefully, you’ve done most of your packing already, or at least have a really good idea of what you’re bringing with you. The day before you travel is the best time to get as much as you can packed away.
If you’re taking a road trip, start packing your vehicle, or at least put the bulk of your gear by the garage door.
For items we can’t pack ahead of time, like my glasses, we make a short list on a post-it note. We then stick the post-it note on our phone, or a place we can’t miss it. This way, when we are running around trying to pack these last minute items, we don’t forget anything.
Ah, and don’t forget to weigh your bags. Airlines have become very strict on size and weight limits, don’t get caught out at the airport.
Lay Out Your Clothes
As you’re packing up your last items, pick out what you are going to wear for your travel day. The more you can take care of the day before you travel, the smoother your travel day will go. Laying out your clothes is an easy one to sort out ahead of time.
Run Through Your Checklists
Before the end of the day, run through all your checklists one last time. Did you forget anything?
Our other travel planning checklists:
Rest or Reset Your Body Clock
This one depends on where you’re traveling. For the most part, general advice is to get a good night sleep before you travel. However, I’m also going to offer an alternative.
Obviously, rest is important and if you’re too tired to travel it can be a miserable experience. However, starting 24-48 hours before I’m due to travel, I start resetting my body clock for my destination.
I work out the time difference, my flight time, and the time I’ll arrive, then I tweak my sleep schedule to start shifting my body clock to the new time zone.
If I’m traveling somewhere with a considerable time difference, say 10-14 hours, I often stay up for 24 hours before my flight. This means I’m super tired for my flight, which makes it easier for me to sleep on the airplane.
These long-haul flights usually coordinate with nighttime in my destination. So, when I sleep on the plane, my body clock is already adjusting. This may not work for everyone, but it is what I use to minimize jet lag on long hauls.