Before You Board: Sanity Saving Strategies for Preparing for Your Flight


Vroom. You’re about to get on a plane. You know the feeling. The jitterbugs that creep up from your stomach. That nagging feeling that you forgot something, but you can’t remember what it is.

What you need is a simple checklist.


You know that you’re going somewhere, and you know where that somewhere is. So, spend some time researching it – like local laws and customs (if you’re traveling out of the country). If it’s domestic travel, you still want to get a lay of the land. Use Google Maps’ street view to see the area where you’ll be staying.

Get familiar with the roads near your hotel. Check out local restaurants and menus so you can get a feel for the food there. Hop on a travel forum or on City-Data and ask locals about the area. What do you need to bring? Where are the local hot spots? Where are the tourist traps?

Plan It Out

Time to buy your travel tickets. Do this at least 3 weeks out. More lead time is better than less. If you can, try to buy a plane ticket on a Tuesday when prices tend to come down a bit.

If you’re driving, prep your vehicle by getting some basic maintenance done. Or, research and book a vehicle for the trip from your favorite rental place.

Have Passport, IDs and Visas at The Ready

You have to get pictures done, fill out an application, and pay the fees for your passport. If you’re leaving the country, you can’t really travel without one. And, make sure you have any visas you need for travel too, along with a government-issued ID.

Get Travel Insurance

Just do it. It’s not a scam. Lots of people won’t buy travel insurance and their trip turns out fine. They then conclude that travel insurance is a scam. It’s not. It’s insurance. If you’re on a trip somewhere and something happens, it will probably be catastrophic because you’re away from home and cut off from your local network of friends and family. This is why people buy travel insurance – so they can get an emergency lift out of a strange country, get traveler’s checks replaced if they’re lost or stolen, and get comped for lost luggage.

Get Immunizations

This is super-duper important if you’re visiting a third-world country or a place where there’s an outbreak of a weird disease that you’ve never been exposed to. In the U.S., and most other western countries, we have clean water and different sanitation standards. Because of that, we’re not exposed to the same kinds of bacteria and viruses that other people in other countries are.

If you’re visiting some places in Africa, for example, there’s a real chance you could get yellow fever – something that’s been eradicated in the west. Or, ebola. You don’t want that.

So, make sure you check out the place you’re traveling to, and get all your immunizations.

Get Prescriptions

Don’t assume the country you’re visiting has the drugs you need. They may not. Fill your prescriptions before you leave so you’ll have them.

Prepare Your Home for a Vacation

Call friends and family and let them know where you’ll be. Either hire someone, or have a trusted friend watch the house, take care of your dogs, or do whatever needs to be done.


Here’s where things get tricky. You want to pack smart, bring luggage bags (get ones that are sturdy, like from Bed Bath & Beyond), or a rolling garment bag if you’re packing suits. Pack the usual – clothes for the trip, toiletries, a wool blanket, and tissues.

Bring some non-perishable food and snacks just in case you’re hungry and can’t find a place to eat.

Bring a basic first-aid kit with you if you can stuff it into your luggage. You’re in a strange place, and won’t know everything about the hospital situation or what’s available at local drug stores. Finally, bring an emergency cell phone with International prepaid minutes.

Molly Powell enjoys writing articles when not running around after her daughters! She writes about all aspects of family life from parenting to decor to travel related articles.

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