Anticipating the Worst: My Travel Checklist

If you are anything like me then you obsessively like to make lists. I’m serious- I make lists for absolutely everything. But my favourite type of list to make? My Travel Checklist! What follows is a comprehensive checklist for how to pack and prepare for traveling safely and efficiently. Be warned…

It involves preparing for seedy situations and anticipating awful occurrences! I’ve created this list with a mixture of fear and paranoia. I’ve tried hard to anticipate what awful things might happen on my travels in order to be as prepared as possible if they do, unfortunately, occur. I don’t necessarily recommend my line of thought but I do recommend my checklist!


1.)       Get Travel Insurance and make sure you have the information readily available. Also- read it!  Make sure you know what you are covered for and don’t partake in activities for which you don’t have coverage

2.)      Take out gadget insurance, and make sure to add all phones, cameras and laptops to it before you go

Backing up your Documents

3.)    Create a folder in your email inbox which contains all the information you might need abroad. This information should include: The local Embassy numbers of the countries you are visiting, The international number for your bank in case you need to cancel your card, addresses of family and friends, and, if you have a plethora of social media accounts like me, your various online account usernames and passwords. Label this folder as something inconspicuous

4.)   Have photocopies of both your passport and drivers license while traveling. Store these copies in separate locations in your backpack. Carry around your photocopy of your passport, rather than your actual passport, as a means of id. Also be sure to give photocopies to your family back at home  in case you lose your id abroad


5.)      Take out a small amount of local currency of whatever country you are going to ahead of time in case you arrive late at night, can’t find a debit machine, and don’t want to wander off on your own to find one. (It should be enough to last you for at least a day so you can then go off in search of one when you are settled in your hostel)

6.)      If possible, get a backup laser/debit card before you leave  (Before I left to go traveling, I got a non-activated spare debit card from my bank, BMO, in case my current card was lost or stolen. I was going to be relying heavily on it while away so I wanted another option in case something happened to it. In case of loss or theft, all I have to do is call my bank and they will activate my spare card)

7.)     Notify your banks that you will be traveling. Let them know the specific countries you will be going to. This is necessary as otherwise the banks might assume theft or fraudulent activity and lock your card

8.)     Ask your bank if they charge transaction fees abroad. If so, discuss your alternate options with them, whether it’s getting a special travel card or setting up a certain amount of free withdrawals

9.)     Dont change a huge amount of money over before you go ( apart from that little bit if arriving at night) – its best to withdraw it from atms in the country to avoid large exchange fees


10.)      Buy a small lock for your large backpack in case you have to keep it in the hostel unattended. Also useful while on trains/buses etc

11.)      Buy a small backpack for day use to keep your valuables in if your hostel doesn’t have a safe

12.)    Keep a tag with your name and address on your large backpack. That way, if lost by your airline, it will be easier to track down

13.)     If traveling with an iphone/ipad, make sure you have applied a security code in your settings. That way, if stolen, thieves will not be able to log on and access your personal accounts. Also I would recommend downloading the ‘Find your iphone/ipad app’  to be able to a) track it down or b) wipe out all information. Backup your data ahead of time through icloud so you won’t actually lose anything apart from the actual gadget. Which, if you have gadget insurance, is no big deal!

14.)    Use a money belt when traveling in airports/train stations etc. Put your money, id and passport in it. You won’t be sorry!

Health & Safety

15.)    Travel with a small first aid kit

16.)    If going to a non-english speaking country, write down the chemical names of popular pharmaceutical drugs (eg tylenol, asprin etc) you might need when abroad (store this information in your inbox folder)

17.)    Make sure you buy all your medications before you go. These include vaccinations, prescriptions and vitamins. Keep a spare copy of your prescriptions on you in case you run out

18.)    Keep the hostel’s number on you when you arrive into the country in case you need to phone for directions

19.)     If possible, travel with pepper spray on you, especially when going out at night, camping, or when traveling alone


20.)    Get your phone unlocked before you leave so you can buy local sim cards abroad.  This will save you a lot of money in long distance calling/roaming fees but still allow you to use your phone

21.)     Set up an online account to upload your photos to while traveling

22.)    Look into what adapters/transformers you will need while traveling. Before you go, write down the specific voltage your device (s) requires. Then, when you get to your destination, buy it there! They are usually much cheaper and more readily available abroad than at home

Have fun!

23.)    Research where you are going to get the most out of your trip! Lonely Planet obviously comes highly recommended as the Premier Travel Guide but also read as many travel blogs as possible on your specific destination to get more personal recommendations

24.)   Remember that no matter how much you anticipate and plan what will happen, the majority of this is out of your control. Shit will go down but if you are flexible and adopt a good attitude you can get through anything!

Categories: Pre-Departure | Tags: | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Anticipating the Worst: My Travel Checklist

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