The definitive pre-trip plan of attack


There’s no disputing that if you’re lucky enough to be going travelling, you’re privileged.


That said, the lead up to a trip away can be downright stressful and not so fun. Trying to tie up loose ends at work and home while packing, attending to last-minute appointments or shopping may make you question if it’s all really worth it?


Let me firstly reassure you that yes, your trip will be entirely worth all the organisation that precedes it. Secondly, see below the pre-trip plan of attack I have created and refined after spending circa three years jumping on a plane every other week. You’re welcome!


The definitive pre-trip plan of attack


  • Pay for your seats and check luggage restrictions in case you need to buy extra baggage capacity.
  • Supply any advance passenger information required.
  • Check in if you can. If not, diarise when check in opens with a reminder so you don’t end up sitting down the back next to the toilets – easily the sh*ttiest seats!
  • Add your flights to your calendar and print any boarding passes as well as saving them to your phone.



  • Book your accommodation and print out the confirmation.
  • Make any requests for early or late check-in or specific room requirements.
  • Make a note of any additional money to be paid and the payment methods accepted.
  • Google how to get to your accommodation from the airport.


  • Decide how you’re going to get to and from the airport in your home city and book/organise it.
  • Print any transfer documentation.
  • Decide the best way to get to your accommodation from the foreign airport and book it.
  • Print any transfer receipts or tickets.
  • Add all transfers to your calendar or itinerary.
  • Make a note of timing of pick ups/transfers and how much time you need to allow prior to them to ensure you don’t miss the car/bus/boat/train.

Travel insurance

  • Research and book travel insurance if you don’t already have it.
  • Print documentation and save electronically where it can be easily accessed including international contact numbers in case of emergency.


  • Research and book any activities/meals etc. 
  • Add to your itinerary. Print documentation and save electronically where it can be easily accessed.


  • Do you have dependents such as small children, animals or plants?
  • No? Please proceed to the packing section.
  • Yes? Now is the time to work out where they will go to be fed and watered while you are away – assuming they are not coming with you.
  • Research and book/organise their accommodation for the time you are away.
  • Decide how they will get there and back and organise or factor this into your pre-departure plan.
  • Print any documentation they may need.
  • Pack the belongings they will need for the time you’re away as well as any notes (i.e. becomes aggressive if not fed) for the temporary caregiver.
  • If the aforementioned caregiver is not a paid person think about an appropriate thank you gift or reimbursement for their troubles and purchase.
  • Organise for a very kind friend to water any plants if needed. Ensure they have instructions to access your property to do so.
  • Reward them accordingly based on how many of said plants are still alive on your return with wine or their preferred form of hydration.

On the home front

  • Advise neighbours (you trust) of your absence and give them a spare key for emergencies (raiding your cellar not included). If you have trust issues, swap neighbour for close friend or hide one somewhere smart – read not a fake rock.
  • Suspend any deliveries such as newspapers – nothing screams rob me like a house with newspapers strewn all over the driveway.
  • Ask neighbour to collect your mail for you. Bribe them with exotic food upon your return and notify them they are free to pay any bills they may wish to.
  • Eat way through remaining food in fridge. Tip: almost everything can be made into a frittata.
  • Dispose of anything you can’t eat, or give to neighbour as a thank you for collecting mail/keeping an eye on your place.
  • Dispose of any flowers around the house.
  • Empty all bins in house.
  • Do a quick vacuum/clean to ensure you don’t come back to dust bunnies galore.
  • Wash and change bed linen so you come back to fresh sheets. Non negotiable…
  • Put away any clean and dry washing.
  • Set lights to timer if possible or decide which ones to have on/off.
  • Ditto for blinds open/closed to make house appear as far from empty as possible.


  • Dust off your chosen suitcase.
  • Find your passport and check it has at least six months left until expiry.
  • If it does not, descend into mad panic and book an emergency fast track appointment to get a new one. Race to chemist and get awful new passport photo.
  • Put passport in front pocket of suitcase so there is no possible way you can forget it.
  • Start packing everything you’d like to take at least a week out.
  • Put half of it back in your wardrobe. Or in a ‘maybe’ pile.
  • Wash anything that isn’t clean and return to relevant pile.
  • Check all levels of toiletries and medications.
  • Make a list of anything you need to buy in the following headings; chemist, supermarket, department store, speciality stores.
  • Slot in time to go and buy all items.
  • Back up any electronics in the unfortunate event they should go walkabout.
  • Don’t forget about underwear, socks, bathers, pyjamas or a towel if necessary.
  • Check the weather at your destination. Make any necessary adjustments to your planned packing.
  • Put your sensible cap on and pack your bag as though you are going away for a weekend rather than moving countries. Opt for items that have the maximum ability to be mixed and matched and that are on high rotation in your wardrobe. Put the sequin jacket you’ve never worn back in your cupboard.
  • Choose your carry-on bag and pack it making sure you have read our helpful guides to what you should always carry on and creating an emergency carry-on beforehand.
  • Charge all devices and don’t forget their cords and an international adapter if appropriate.
  • Decide on travelling attire and put out next to bags.

On the day

  • Check the status of your flight/train/boat and adjust any transfers if necessary.
  • Check for passport/all tickets, documentation etc.
  • Grab any last minute snacks for your journey.
  • Shower and brush your teeth. Travelling is a tiring and dirtying experience.
  • Get dressed. Close and lock bags.
  • Wash any final dishes.
  • Turn on any light timers/radios/alarms.
  • Be ready and waiting for your transfer at least five minutes ahead of time.
  • Get in transfer and immediately banish thought ‘what have I forgotten?’
  • Bon voyage!


Do you have anything to add to the above checklist? If you know someone travelling soon, be sure to share it with them too.

Related articles:
Ten handy carry-on commodities
Eleven travel tips you need to know
How to pack your overnight bag

YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.
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