Prepare for your next trip with a pre-travel checklist

Last updated on Dec 20, 2016

Preparing for a trip is often stressful, especially when you are traveling with kids. But you can make this process much smoother by using a pre-travel checklist.

Last year, I went on a business trip to Wolfsburg, Germany and when I arrived and opened unpacked my suitcase, I realized that I had forgotten my dress shirts at home. Fortunately, the nearby mall was still open, and I could buy two shirts that happened to fit perfectly and that are still among my favorites.

Avoid the hassle

I could have avoided that mishap by just looking at the packing checklist my wife created. I learned my lesson, and I have been using her checklist for every trip since. Our packing checklist is split into three broad categories: Summer, Winter, Kids and House On each sheet we have various subcategories, including Clothing, Toiletries, Electronics, Medical, Personal Items, and Other Items.

Packing checklist

In the past, we would print the checklist and then manually check off items as we put them in the suitcase. But lately, we have started doing that digitally. For every trip, I duplicate the checklist using Numbers.App (Apple’s version of Excel) on my iPad and then check off items directly on the iPad.

You can download my Numbers document (Excel version) here and make changes as you see fit. If you don’t have Numbers, you can download a print version as PDF here.

Pre-travel checklist

Besides our packing list, we also have a very basic checklist for the house, revolving mostly around the cat. A couple of days ago, I heard that SimpliSafe was sharing some insight on what to do before traveling this time of year. Their infographic below is really cool too and you can even print it out to stick on your fridge.

SimpliSafe Winter Travel Checklist

It’s much more comprehensive that our “House” checklist and includes the following categories:

Outside Your Home

  • Keep your driveway, and front porch shoveled
  • Move any outdoor spare keys to a safe location
  • Park your car in the garage

Inside Your Home

  • Turn off and unplug electronic devices
  • Set some lights to timers
  • Close your shades
  • Turn off water and gas

Clean Your Home

  • Clean out refrigerator
  • Raise the temperature in your refrigerator
  • Wash dishes, and clean out the sink
  • Clean out garbage disposal

ProtectYour Home

  • Move valuables to a safety deposit box
  • Update home security alarm with correct contact number
  • Check all windows and doors to ensure they are closed and locked
  • Set alarm system

With Your Community

  • Ask a neighbor to pick up anything left at door
  • Ask the post office to hold mail
  • Suspend newspaper subscription
  • Leave a key with trusted neighbor
  • Ask a neighbor to shovel your porch/sidewalks if gone for an extended period
  • Ask a neighbor to take out/put back trash bins for garbage day
  • Make sure you have a plan for your pets, if they’re not coming


As with any other checklist, adapt it to fit your needs and travel plans. I highly recommend making those adjustments ahead of time and not on the day of the trip. Safe holiday travels!

Michael Kummer

Atlanta | Austrian | Blogger | Father of a preemie | Paleo fan | Traveler | Amateur photographer | CrossFit
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