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The Ultimate Vacation Checklist


I have always found the first step in planning a vacation to be the most difficult. That step is deciding what destination to visit. Once you’ve researched different locations and chosen your destination, the rest of the planning can be accomplished with the help of a comprehensive vacation checklist. Check out FlipKey’s below, organized by the different stages of a vacation – planning, traveling, and returning home.

Planning (3-9 Months Out):

  1. Once you’ve decided where to go, set a budget for your vacation. This sets the tone for the rest of your vacation planning.
  2. Research the location to find out what the best time to visit is, so you can pick your travel dates. Pay attention to the seasons and predicted weather patterns that could affect your vacation.
  3. Make sure that all forms of identification are current.
  4. Research flight prices on different travel sites.
  5. Request the time off from work.
  6. Book your flight. Booking in advance will save you money that you can put toward sightseeing.
  7. Research accommodations that meet your needs. For example, are you looking to stay in a vacation rental or at a hotel?
  8. Book your accommodation and confirm the check-in time.
  9. Arrange transportation from the airport to your accommodation or reserve a rental car.
  10. Schedule tours and excursions and print out tickets ahead of time for these activities.
  11. Print out your itinerary and travel documents and store in a folder for easy reference.
  12. If necessary, make sure to get any required vaccinations or shots before traveling.
  13. Arrange pet care ahead of time in case a visit to the vet is required first.

Planning (2 – 4 Weeks Out):

  1. Ask a friend or neighbor to pick up your mail or ask the post office to hold it while you’re gone.
  2. Email your itinerary to family or friends so people know where you can be reached in an emergency.
  3. Make copies of your ID and credit cards and add to your travel folder.
  4. Call your bank to let them know you’ll be traveling, so you don’t run into any issues using your debit or credit cards on vacation.
  5. Create a travel itinerary that includes an overview of your trip details as well as a daily plan of attack for seeing all the desired sights.

Planning (1 Week Out):

  1. Confirm your reservation and check-in/check-out time at your accommodation. Don’t forget to request early check-in if needed in order to coordinate with your flight arrival time.
  2. Fill any prescriptions needed for the trip, and purchase snacks that you can eat while you’re on-the-go.
  3. Call your cell phone provider to adjust your plan if additional coverage is needed during your trip.
  4. Read up about any baggage fees that the airline charges and decide about checking luggage.
  5. Buy quart-size baggies for liquids and other travel size items.
  6. Check the weather for an idea of what you will need to pack.
  7. Start putting aside outfits that you plan to wear on your trip. If you’re not going to wear it in the next week, it can go in your suitcase.
  8. Arrange return transportation. A smooth return home will eliminate some of the post-vacation blues and stress that can come at the end of a great trip.
  9. Withdraw a small amount of cash or get traveler’s checks to have on hand while you’re traveling.

Planning (1 Day Out):

  1. Set a timer for at least one light in your house. This will give the appearance that your home isn’t empty while you’re gone.
  2. Put on your out of office responder at work.
  3. Finish packing the baggage you plan to check. Don’t forget items, such as chargers, comfortable shoes, Band-Aids, sunscreen, a bag for dirty laundry or an umbrella.
  4. Put together a small carry on with the essentials just in case your baggage were to be lost. Carry on items like your folder with travel documents, medications, and a pair of underwear.
  5. Check in for your flight and print out your boarding pass.
  6. Take out the trash to avoid coming home to a smelly home.
  7. Unplug appliances (except the freezer) so you can be worry-free on vacation.
  8. Adjust the thermostat to keep air circulating, or program it to set and hold at a certain temperature.
  9. Check in for your flight and print out your boarding pass.

Planning (Day Of):

  1. Pack last minute toiletries.
  2. Check the status of your flight.
  3. Turn off all lights, set your alarm and lock the doors.
  4. Arrive at the airport with ample time to check bags and get through security.

While Traveling:

  1. Browse through guidebooks for your destination while you’re in transit.
  2. Keep your camera and phone charged each day to avoid missing out on a great photo-op.
  3. Bring a journal and jot down experiences and key moments as you travel.
  4. If you’ve brought a computer, upload your photos and caption them so you don’t forget the significance of each photo.

Upon Return:

  1. Unpack immediately. Don’t fall into the trap of living out of a suitcase.
  2. Pick up your pet.
  3. Wash all of your dirty laundry.
  4. Grocery shop and use the fresh start to get back into a good routine.
  5. Catch up on sleep.
  6. Print out photos and share your trip while the experiences are fresh in your mind.