Wednesday, February 27, 2008

PreTrip Check List

Do you need a pretrip check list?

Here are my suggestions to get you started...

One month ahead

If you don’t have an email account that you can access from anywhere in the world, set one up. I use Yahoo. Word of caution: Use only letters and digits in your email address and password. You might have difficulty finding symbols on a foreign language keyboard. Set up your contacts in the address book so you don’t have to go searching for the @ sign. If you already have an email address that does use symbols, consider setting up a new one to use while traveling.

If you have a scanner, scan your important documents (passport, plane tickets, etc) and email them to yourself. If you need, you can access them through your email account.

Most international ATM machines use a 4 digit PIN. If you don’t have one, check with your bank.

Do you know your PIN by the letters? Learn the numbers. You might find ATM machines that have only digits on the keys.

Check with your bank that your card will work in the countries you are visiting. Give your bank the dates you’ll be away, and where, so you don’t find your request for withdrawal denied by your bank.

Call the banks for your credit cards and have them record the dates you’ll be out of the country. For emergencies, carry more than one credit card, in different pockets, of course.

If you don’t have a money pouch, check out Eagle Creek Undercover Hidden Pocket. I’ve tried over the neck and around the waist and this has been the most comfortable and easily accessible.

Check the condition of your luggage. Does it look like all the other black suitcases coming off the luggage belt? Distinguish it with anything from colored tape to a yarn bow on the handle. I use Magellan's colored luggage straps. Not only can I spot my bag as soon as it hits the luggage belt it even provides a sense of security against the zipper bursting open.

Put a copy of your itinerary inside your luggage tag. Hopefully, if your luggage gets lost, it will catch up to you. (Best way to avoid lost luggage? Don’t check any. Another post on this later.)

Call your cell phone provider about making or receiving calls from abroad. Learn the country codes of the countries you’ll be visiting (and your own country).

Have a pet? Make arrangements whether it’s a kennel or house sitting.

Confirm air, car and hotel reservations. If you’ll be driving your car, give it a check up.

Do you have the right clothes for your destination? If not, time to go shopping.

One week ahead

Call to put your newspaper on vacation stop.

Put your mail on hold. This can be done on the http://www.usps.com/ web site.

Give copies of your itineraries to trusted friends/neighbors. Be sure to leave emergency contact information.

Prepare your medications. Do you have enough for the trip plus extra for emergency?

Confirm, again, hotel, car rental and airline reservations.

Arrange your ride to the airport/train station/etc.

Put all of your documentation into one folder. I use a clear string tie folder that makes it easy to spot things. In the folder should be copies of all of your reservations, passports, maps, emergency telephone numbers, copies of your medicine and eyeglass prescriptions, copy of emergency phone numbers for contacts at home.

Pack up your camera and accessories, including film and/or memory cards. Put the camera manual in your bag and pack extra batteries or rechargeable batteries with a charger. Check the small print on your charger. If traveling internationally it might work fine and not need a converter. Be sure to bring outlet adapters (another item available through Magellan's). Don't forget your power cables.

Two days ahead

Put your house lights on timers.

If driving, have games, books and music to keep yourself and the kids happy plus emergency items (flashlight, spare tire) in case of problems. If flying, you can leave out the spare tire. :-)

Check the weather at your destination. Don’t depend on what you read about how things ‘usually’ are.

The old adage: Take ½ the clothes and twice the money.

Clean out your refrigerator.

Have a carry-on bag with essentials such as medications. I also include a change of underwear and a toothbrush with a travel-size tube of toothpaste. (See Getting ‘Safely’ Through Airport Security)

Get cash for your trip. If traveling domestically, travelers’ checks are OK too. If traveling internationally, don’t bother. In most countries they are a nuisance to change. Take your ATM card instead.

One day ahead

Confirm pet arrangements with house sitter or take pet to kennel.

Adjust your furnace or air conditioner, appropriately, up or down. Water plants. If you are in a climate where, if the power goes off, the house temp could drop below freezing, consider shutting off the water to the house.

If you can, print out your boarding passes.

Put snacks in your carry on. Don’t depend upon getting fed on the airplane.

Set your alarm and get a good night’s sleep.