Last-Minute Travel Checklist: Your Quick Departure Guide

Use this last-minute travel checklist to turn pre-trip chaos into calm. You know the drill: you’re about to dash out the door when the question pops into your head — ”Did I forget something?” I’ll help you remember everything from passports to phone chargers. With this checklist, you can leave knowing you’ve packed and taken care of all the essentials.

Plan the perfect trip with this free printable travel planner.

Overhead view of a woman looking at a paper map on a wooden table. Also on the table is a passport, camera, credit cards, coins, compass, glasses, a notepad, and a wallet.

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Give your itinerary to a friend or family member

When you’re leaving for a trip, it’s a really good idea to let someone know where you’ll be. And I don’t mean just a general “I’m going to Italy.” Give them your day-by-day itinerary. By sharing your travel itinerary with a trusted friend or family member, you’re making sure that someone always knows your whereabouts. This can be crucial in case of emergencies, whether at home or on your trip.

If you don’t want to hand them a full copy of your travel plans, give a basic outline plus some additional key information.

  • Flight details: Include your flight numbers, departure, and arrival times. If you’re using multiple airlines or have layovers, list those details too.
  • Accommodation information: Share the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the hotels or other places you’ll be staying.
  • Planned activities: Outline your outings or tours. This is especially important for long day trips or those in remote areas. For example, if you’re doing a hike through the Grand Canyon, someone knowing your plans can help in the event a search is needed.
  • Local contacts: If possible, provide local emergency numbers or the contact information of your country’s embassy or consulate in your destination.
  • Personal emergency contacts: List your emergency contacts, including their relationship to you and the best way to reach them.

Remember to keep your designated person updated if your plans change. A simple text, call, or email can go a long way in maintaining your safety and providing peace of mind to your loved ones. 

If you use a travel planning Google sheet like this one, you can share it with your trusted friend or family member who also has a Google account.

woman planning trip with a map and notebook

Confirm pet care

When planning a trip, making sure your fur babies are well taken care of in your absence is important. Whether a friend, family member, or professional pet sitter will be responsible for your pet, make it a point to provide them with detailed care instructions.

Essentials to provide the caregiver:

  • Contact information while you’re away
  • Name, location, and phone number of the veterinarian, including for emergency care.
  • Your pet’s carrier for transportation to the vet if needed. For comfort, put a recently worn T-shirt in your pet’s carrier. Your scent may help calm them.
  • Food and treats
  • Feeding and exercise schedule along with other details about their routine
  • Favorite toys and comfort items

If you opt for a pet-sitting service or boarding facility, confirm your reservation well in advance, especially during busy travel seasons.

Double-check the weather report for your destination

Before you zip up your suitcase, take a moment to check the weather forecast for your destination. A quick glance at the predictions can help you pack most appropriately for the weather.

Remember, the weather can change. Pack layers to be ready for a variety of situations. For example, a midweight, waterproof rain jacket with a zipout fleece liner can be three jackets in one.

Be careful to avoid the temptation to overpack.

Double-check that you’ve packed everything

Check your packing list one last time to prevent problems later. Your essentials should be at the top of your list—ID, wallet, and travel documents. It’s easy to forget these in the rush.

For help with creating the perfect packing list check out these articles:

Red soft side suitcase sitting on a bed overfilled with items for a warm and beach-y vacation.

Confirm you have your ID and important travel documents

Before you dash out the door, make sure you have all your travel documents organized and where they should be. It’s easy to overlook something in a rush.

Things you might be taking with you:

  • Driver’s License or state ID
  • Passport
  • Visa or other travel authorization (e.g., NZeta, FMMd)
  • Your travel insurance documentation
  • If applicable, bring proof of any required vaccinations.
  • If applicable, bring needed documentation regarding any prescription medications you’re traveling with.

More tips

  • Scan or take clear photos of your documents and store them on your phone. I like to take color photocopies of my ID and medical insurance cards and travel with these hard copies in a safe place.
  • Jot down the address of your country’s embassy or consulate at your destination and keep it with you.
  • Consider bringing physical copies of reservation confirmations with you (hotel or vacation rental, rental car, guided tours, etc.).

Confirm your boarding passes are saved to your phone’s wallet

Make sure your boarding pass is just a tap away. Your phone’s wallet app is a convenient place to store your boarding passes so you can get at them quickly without needing any kind of network connection. Having your boarding pass saved on your phone helps streamline your airport experience.

Hands holding a phone tapping on a generic app to check in for a flight.

Review the first day or two of your itinerary

It’s helpful to go over the itinerary for the beginning of your trip covering your first travel day and the first day or two at your destination. This will help you be set for a smooth start to your trip.

  • Double-check your flight departure time and any connecting transportation details.
  • Double-check your hotel or accommodation reservation for at least the first few nights. Confirm the check-in time and any late-arrival policies they may have. Note the address and contact information.
  • Make sure you know what your plans are for the first day; make note of opening times for any attractions you plan to visit and contact information. This will help you in case of travel delay and you need to adjust your itinerary.

Have the address for your accommodations

Knowing the address is key for a smooth arrival, no matter if you’re at a hotel, bed and breakfast, or vacation rental. This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but often I need to search my emails for the reservation confirmation to find the address or check-in time.

I recommend bringing a physical copy of your reservation confirmation and check-in details along with the address and saving the same information on your phone.

  • Use a mapping service like Google Maps to view the location, understand the area around your accommodations, and get driving directions.
  • If you’re using a taxi ride or share service, have the address easily accessible to give your driver.

Allow extra time when planning your drive, as mapped travel times can be off.

Confirm how to find your ground transportation at your destination airport

Sort out your ground transportation plans before you arrive at the airport. This will save you time and reduce stress upon landing. Before you depart, check on what transportation is available such as taxis, buses, airport shuttles to your hotel or the rental car pick-up, or rideshare services.

Also, find out how to reach the ground transportation area from your arrival gate at the airport.

couple using a map while planning a trip

Download important (and fun) content

It’s wise to have offline content on your devices, as your destinations might not have reliable internet or cell phone service.

Make sure to download offline versions of:

  • Maps for navigation
  • Travel guides for your destination
  • Local language translation apps (if applicable)
  • Entertainment, such as music, shows, podcasts, movies, or e-books

For essential travel documents, consider:

  • Storing digital copies of your passport, ID, and travel insurance on your phone
  • Saving boarding passes, hotel reservations, and car rental details for quick access

Grab your phone and charger

Before you leave for your trip, make sure your phone is fully charged and that you have the charger with you. It’s also a good idea to bring a portable charger or power bank. This will make sure that even if you have to use your phone a lot as you travel, you will be able to bring your phone’s power back up easily.

If you have space, pack a spare charging cable you can use with different devices. Remember, if your trip is abroad, you might need a travel adapter for your charger. Check the plug configuration of your destination beforehand.

Get your house ready for your departure

Here are a few steps to prepare your home for your trip:

Perishable food

Check your refrigerator for any perishable food that might spoil before you return from your vacation. Use or freeze items like fruits, vegetables, or leftovers. Give any food you can’t eat or freeze to a friend or neighbor instead of throwing it away.


Get the contents of all the garbage cans in your house outdoors to prevent odors or attracting pests into your home. If necessary, arrange for someone to put your garbage cans out on trash pick-up day while you’re away.


Unplug non-essential appliances to reduce power usage and the risk of electrical fires. This includes toasters, microwave ovens, coffee makers, etc. For long trips, we often turn off the power to your water heater, dishwasher, washer, dryer, and oven.

Heating or cooling system

Adjust your thermostat to save energy, setting it to a temperature that protects your home but doesn’t waste electricity or gas. In the winter, you’ll want to make sure your house is warm enough for your fur babies (if they stay behind) and to prevent pipes from freezing.

Home security

Before you leave, lock all doors and windows to secure your house. We make sure our next-door neighbor knows when we will be away so that she can collect our mail for us and keep an eye out for anything unusual. 

If we travel over the holidays, we set our Christmas lights, both on the tree and the outdoor lights, on timers so they go off in the morning and on in the evening as usual.

Get the full travel prep checklist

Mockup image showing the Plan, Ready, Go Travel Checklist Spreadsheet displayed on a computer monitor.

This three-tab travel checklist Google sheet will help you remember everything you need to check off before you head out the door, from your prep-trip shopping to a fully editable packing list and, of course, a checklist to help you with every phase of your travel planning. 

The planning timeline checklist guides you from 3+ months before departure to the day you leave. The checklist is fully editable so you can customize it for each trip you take.

Explore the travel checklist spreadsheet here.

Final thoughts on your last-minute trip to-do list

Before you lock the door and head out on your trip, make sure you pause for a moment to consider everything you need to take care of. Spend a few minutes to check doors and windows, adjust the HVAC, confirm you have your phone, and remove trash to be ready to leave. A dead phone or laptop can cause all sorts of problems, so tuck those cables in an easily accessible spot. Safe travels!

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