The Complete Pre-Vacation Checklist – What Needs to be Done Before the Fun

Do you want to know what happened at our home one week before we left on our Florida vacation?  We had one child come down with a stomach virus, our carpenter decided to do our small remodelling project before we left, and we had a snowstorm that required a lot of shovelling.  Yes, I couldn’t wait to leave town!  But the main thing was that none of these events stressed me out too much, because everyone was already packed for vacation and we were ready to go!  Plans were confirmed, suitcases were full and we were keeping up with our pre-vacation checklist.  Are you ready for a relaxing start to your vacation too?  Here is the complete pre-vacation checklist of what needs to be done before you walk out that door and start having fun.

Click here for a printable version of the checklist.

Pre-Vacation Checklist – One Month Before You Leave

  • Research your destination.  What activities are available?  What restaurant has the best breakfast?  Where is the closest ice cream shop?  Making some plans will get your family excited about the trip.
travel info for pre-vacation checklist

Just a little research…

  • Check for YouTube videos about your hotel, the attractions you’re going to visit, or your destination.  It’s helpful to get ideas of how nice the pool at the resort really is, what the beach looks like, or how scary that theme park ride really is.
  • Make your car rental reservation.  Compare prices, and don’t forget any additional discounts that may be available to you (AAA, professional organizations, etc.)
  • Check your auto insurance policies for what kind of coverage you get on rentals.  You may have a credit card that offers rental car coverage too.
  • Sign up for the loyalty programs of the hotels you’re staying at, the airline you’re flying, and the rental car company.  You might as well earn some points for the price you pay.  There may be discounted rates available or other benefits too.
  • If you’re going somewhere new, ask friends and family for recommendations.  Where should you eat and what do you absolutely have to see?
  • Set up a travel folder for the trip.  This is where you should keep your confirmations, menus, receipts, and notes.
  • Spend some time over dinner and ask each family member what they want to do and see on vacation.  Remember, the trip is for everyone, even though your kids will probably just say that they want to go swimming.
  • Estimate your budget for the trip, if you haven’t already.  You shouldn’t go into debt for a vacation.
  • Schedule any haircuts or nail appointments.  Refill any prescriptions that you need to bring along too.

Pre-Vacation Checklist – Two Weeks Before You Leave

  • Start planning what clothes you are going to pack.  Put together some outfits and try on your clothes and shoes.  Now is the time to wash anything that needs it, and get rid of the wrinkles in your summer clothes that have been put away for months.  Take pictures of your outfits, if you need to, for reference when your are on your trip.
  • Make a list of the items you need to bring on your trip.  Chargers for electronics, sunglasses, sunscreen, hiking boots, etc.  Leave your list on the counter and have your family add to it as they think of things.
  • Taking your car on a road trip?  Now is the time for any maintenance that it needs.  Oil change, interior cleaning, tire pressure check, etc.
  • Roughly plan your schedule.  Check the hours of where you are going and considering going to the busier attractions during the week.
  • Do a little restaurant research for where you are going.  Check out the top spots to eat, read some menus, and make any reservations.  This will also help you plan your food budget for the trip.
Menu for restaurant

Do we eat here or not?

  • Check out Groupon, Travelzoo, or any local websites for deals.  You may find discounted museum and attraction admissions, food coupons, and other deals that will save you some bucks.
  • Get out the suitcases that you are going to be using.  Check the zippers, secure your luggage tags, and make sure the bags are good to go.
  • Download any music, games, and apps that everyone needs to make the trip go a little better.  Update your travel apps too.  If you are downloading some new travel apps, take the time to familiarize yourself with them before you leave.
  • If you use your phone as your primary camera, check your storage.  This is the time to delete any old photos and videos to clear up some space.

Pre-Vacation Checklist – One Week Before You Leave

  • Well, this isn’t a fun one, but you need to pay all of your bills that will be due while you’re gone.  Or set up auto pay.  Might as well pay them now, while you still have some money.
  • Have the post office hold your mail or arrange for a neighbor to pick up your mail each day
  • Print out or save in one folder all of your travel confirmations.  Double check the dates.
  • Log into your airline account.  Check your trip details and note the seat assignment and departure times.  Also check that everyone’s mileage account number has been added to their ticket.
  • Reserve the airport parking.  If using an offsite parking lot, check for discounts first in your email or thru an online shopping portal.  Any free days to redeem through their loyalty program?
  • Pack your suitcases.  Finish any laundry for items that you need to bring along.
pack one week before you leave

Packed and ready! Let’s go!

  • Refill your travel size bottles of shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, hairspray, lotion, etc.
  • Check out any library books that you and the kids will be bringing along.  Save any magazines that come in the mail to bring on your trip.
  • Head to the grocery store and buy some snacks for your travels.  Take requests, because you really don’t want to hear any complaining.
  • Plan your meals for the last week at home to use up the food that’s in your fridge.
  • Make any house sitting arrangements.
  • Check the level of heating fuel if you are traveling during the winter.  Call now for any refills needed before you return.
  • Have your kids get out what they want to pack in their travel backpacks.  This is the stuff that will keep them occupied while traveling, and will probably be electronic.
  • Start checking the weather forecast for your destination.  Plan any rainy day activities, and pack accordingly for the predicted forecast.
  • Is there a restaurant that you can’t wait to try?  Make a reservation now, if you know your plans.  You don’t want to waste your vacation time waiting.
  • Make sure you have enough cash along for your trip.  Get some one dollar bills for tip money.  Contact your bank (if you will use your atm card) and credit card companies if leaving the country.
  • Review your calendar for what’s happening the week after you get back.  Can you prepare for anything now?
  • Send notes to school to request any homework.
  • Make a list of all of those last minute items that you need to pack on the morning of your departure.
  • Plan the first day and evening at your destination.  We like to know where are we eating, where can we stop for some groceries, when will the kids get to jump in the pool, and where are we going to explore first!

Almost Vacation Time! One Day Before You Leave

  • Bring your pet to the kennel or sitters.
  • If you are flying, check in for your flight and print your boarding passes.
  • Fill the car with gas and air up the tires.
  • Pack snacks for your travels.  We use small plastic pencil cases so the snacks don’t get crushed.
  • Water all of the plants, indoors and out.
  • Charge all of the electronics that you will be bringing along.
  • If you are taking a road trip, clean out the car one more time.  Put a small bucket or bag in there for garbage while on the trip.  Empty it at every stop for fuel.
  • Now that the car is clean, starting loading your bags and gear into it.
  • Get out the traveling clothes that everyone will be wearing tomorrow.
  • Check the weather one more time.  Check the weather in any city’s that you have connecting flights in.
  • If the weather doesn’t look good for any flights, make a backup plan.  Options are to leave on an earlier flight, re-route your travels, or give in too the fact that you may be hanging out at the airport for a while.  Pack accordingly.

It’s Time to Go!  Last Minute Things to Do Before You Leave

  • Adjust the temperature in your home.  Turn down that heat in the winter, and turn off the a/c in the summer.  You can also turn down the temperature in your hot water heater.
  • Unplug unnecessary appliances, nightlights, and computers.
  • Shut off your water pump.
  • Lock all of the doors, and check them twice.
  • Pack any last minute items (check the list you made last week).
  • Give your phone one last charge, and pack the charger in a bag that you can easily access during your travels.
  • Take one last look around the house for any items that you may have forgotten to pack.
  • Dump any perishable food items and take out the garbage.
  • Make sure there isn’t water running anywhere.
  • Turn off your alarm clocks.
  • Relax, it’s time to leave and start your vacation.
pre-vacation checklist

What a way to start the trip!

Wow!  What a list right?!  I guarantee that if you stay on top of the tasks to be done, you’ll walk out the door without any stress.  And that’s how you really want your vacation to begin, isn’t it.

Click here for my complete pre-vacation checklist! No more waiting until the last minute to get everything done!


  • Nicole A January 4, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    Booking your vacation is the easy part! Planning is usually the most stressful thing in the entire world. What do I pack? What do I need? What do I bring? What can I leave home? I honestly pack then repack at least 3 or 4 times before I finally settle on the things I am going to take. I always want to be prepared. Thanks for this awesome post!

    • Vicki January 4, 2018 at 9:28 pm

      Thanks for reading Nicole! I’ve started to remove one or two items once I’m packed, because we were always bringing too many clothes!

  • sharon zarcia January 4, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    All right know we need just a money to tast this checklist
    thanks you for sharing ♥

  • Vanessa / FashionAveMom January 4, 2018 at 7:28 am

    Awesome read and great tips! Im they type of person that plans and leaves everything for the last day and packs the night before. Sooooo stressful doing it that way so Ill have to give this a try. Packing cubes are my favorite for staying organized and makes packing so much easier!

    • Vicki January 4, 2018 at 8:29 pm

      Thanks Vanessa!

  • Lacy Ngo January 4, 2018 at 6:44 am

    eeeeeh!!! I am so excited about our upcoming vacation! We are doing a road trip to several Cedar Fair owned amusement parks. These are legit great tips! I love the idea of looking at youtube hotel videos.

    • Vicki January 4, 2018 at 8:30 pm

      Your vacation sounds so fun! Have a great trip!


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