How to Prep For a Family Trip: A Pre-Departure Checklist

If only going on vacation was as easy as just leaving town! But alas, we’re families with jobs and homes and responsibilities and schedules and all of those balls we constantly juggle need somewhere to land when we leave for a trip.   Plus, it’s terrible to have your credit card shut off on your international trip because you forgot to notify your credit card company of your travel plans or to come back from vacation and realize you owe hundreds in roaming fees because you didn’t check your cell phone plan.  We’ve definitely overlooked things on past trips and learned from our mistakes. Here’s our checklist we use to avoid some of those headaches. 


  • Pay due bills or those that will be due on your trip (especially bills that are not on auto to avoid late fees)
  • Notify your credit card company of your travel plans


  • Charge electronics (camera batteries, iPad, phones, etc) the night before
  • Load electronics with games/shows
  • If traveling internationally check your phone plan for roaming fees


  • Turn up or down the air/heat depending on time of year
  • Water plants (and get a friend to do it if your trip is extended)
  • Take out the trash
  • Empty the fridge of food that will go bad on your trip
  • Dishes done/loaded (I’d also make sure you run your appliances when you’re at home and not while you’re away in case they malfunction or leak.
  • Arrange Pet Sitter/Kennel
  • Hold your mail or get a neighbor to pick it up for you
  • Hold or suspend recurring deliveries (meal delivery, etc)
  • Turn off water main (It sounds like a strange one but we’ve had friends return to flooded homes post vacation.  It’s easy to turn it off)


  • Make sure everyone has their government ID (including birth certificates if traveling with kids <2)
  • Pack your suitcase and check the weight if you think it’s close
  • Check the weather at your destination to make sure you’ve packed properly
  • Make copies of your credit cards, licenses and passports in case of theft/loss
  • Check in for your flight 
  • Pack your car the night before if you have an earlier departure time.
  • Double check your last minute pack list (things you use the night before or morning of travel)
  • Confirm your reservations (flight, hotels and transfers)
  • Make sure you don’t need an adapter/converter for your international destination

Work & School

  • Create an out of office reply 
  • Notify teachers and coaches of absence and make up work if necessary 

By doing a little leg work on the front end you’ll be able to relax on vacation knowing everything at home is taken care of!