Before Leaving Home

Walking through the Chicago airport

A Pre-Trip Checklist


Travel is not really about leaving our homes, but leaving our habits.Pico Lyer

This is the moment you have been working toward for months — maybe even years! Your exit date is looming, and you’re wondering what to do before leaving home for an extended time to travel.

Don’t spend the long flight second guessing yourself about what you forgot to do before leaving home. Most likely, you did forget some things — but that’s not be the end of the world; it will all work out fine. Enjoy your adventure, and let the rest sort itself.

Get a Haircut

True, haircuts will be much cheaper on the road, sometimes only $3 in Asia, but you get what you pay for. You make the call.

Prep Your Vehicle

That is, assuming you’ll be leaving a car behind. Fill your tank. A full tank is less likely to gather condensation if your car is parked for a long time, especially through season changes. Also, you’ll have a lot to sort out upon return; don’t make paying for a tank of gas another to-do item.

If you will be gone over 30 days, add fuel stabilizer to the tank, and have someone start your car every couple of weeks to keep your battery from dying. This is especially important in cold weather.

If your car is parked outside, you may want to get a sun visor / reflector to keep the inside temperatures from reaching meltdown.

Deactivate Your Car Insurance

Once your car is parked, call your auto insurance provider and tell them to put your plan into “park” mode, which covers it only for theft. Doing so will greatly reduce your rates while gone. Only do this if no one else will be driving it!

Note: It is illegal in some U.S. states to own a car — even if it is not being driven — and not have active insurance. Your provider will be able to tell you.

Call Everyone Before Leaving Home

Depending on where you are going, this may be your last chance to make calls on a good connection for free. Making calls from abroad later may be more challenging.

Confirm Your Flights and Check in

If you bought your tickets months in advance, it is a good idea to confirm your itinerary for any flight changes. Go ahead and check in electronically if possible to do so.

Don’t Add Stuff to Your Pack

As you sit around the final day at home and second guess yourself, it is tempting to stuff little extras into your pack and negate the hard work of packing light. Don’t do it!

Take a “Before” Picture Before Leaving Home

Just for fun, have someone take a picture of you wearing your pack just before your big life adventure. I could visibly see a difference in myself when I returned. No joke.

Suspend Your Phone

If you are not carrying a smartphone with you, contact your mobile phone provider and see if they will suspend your service or change your plan to the lowest possible rate to save money while gone. Sometimes these are called “emergency modes” and lower your bill to only US $9.99 a month.


All your work and effort is about to pay off. Getting ready to leave behind everything that you know to jump into the unknown can obviously be stressful. All first-time international travelers go through the doubt, culture shock, and homesickness. All those challenges will seem so insignificant in the years to come.

Happy travels!

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