Travel Checklist

In my Traveling Light post, I spoke of the need to take only the essentials with you to ensure that you have a more enjoyable travel experience. One of the ways that I do that is to use a travel checklist that I created.

Keep in mind that I’m a single guy and that this list works for me. You can use it as starting point to create your own checklist. Of course, what I choose to bring depends on the type of trip that I’m going on. Back in my corporate employee days, a sport coat and tie may have been appropriate for some work trips; if I’m just hitting the road, those things stay at home.

I really do use only one suitcase when flying or going by rail, but I’ll carry along a backpack or my camera bag as a place to keep important documents and other items. If I’m traveling by car, I still stick to the one-bag rule, but I can be a bit more flexible with it.

Here are a few helpful hints:

Clothing/Accessories

  • To make it easier to get dressed out of a suitcase, I take a pair of socks and a pair of underwear and roll them in an undershirt so that all I have to do is grab a bundle and head to the shower.
  • I learned the hard way not to pack my umbrella inside the suitcase; rather, keep it in one of the easily accessible outside pockets.

Documents

  • I print all of my reservation confirmations for flights, trains, rental cars, and hotels, and place them in a flexible plastic-covered report folder (see photo below) in the sequence that they’ll be used. That way, they’re all in one place, protected from being folded (important for boarding passes with bar codes), and you just pull them out as you go, starting at the top working your way down as you progress through your trip.
  • I also put my sheet of pre-printed address labels (see Postcards Made Easy) in the report folder so they’re at the ready when it comes time for postcards.
  • If I’m traveling overseas, I’ll typically put a copy of my itinerary in an unlocked pocket of my suitcase so that if it gets lost enroute, someone has a chance of figuring out how to get it to me.

Electronics

  • Ziploc bags are right up there with Post-it notes when it comes to great inventions. I use the more sturdy quart-sized freezer bags with the area to write on to store the accessories for my electronics separately. I’ll have one bag for my GPS unit; another for my cell phone chargers (wall and car); and another for my laptop or tablet. It keeps the cables from getting tangled, plus you keep the right accessories separated for each device.
  • I always verify that my electronics can be charged on 220V systems using an appropriate adapter, and without the need of a separate transformer. Some appliances such as a hair dryer may require a separate transformer.

Home

  • I always make sure my home is protected from accidental damage while I’m gone. I turn off the water to the toilets and washing machine, and set the hot water heater to “Vacation” mode.
  • Set your thermostat so that you aren’t paying to heat or cool your house or apartment while you’re away. But don’t completely turn off your heat in the winter, lest you may come back to frozen pipes. Not good.

Have I entered a new level of geekdom with this checklist? Perhaps. But it works for me. I know that when I leave, my house is in order and I’ll be bringing everything I need. If I forget something, or something breaks, there are stores where you can buy what you need. (I had a fun time finding shoelaces in Vienna when one of mine broke and I didn’t have a replacement with me.)

Happy travels!

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