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Don't Leave Home Without It: The Essential Pre-Trip Travel Checklist

mother and child packing for a trip
Allianz - mother and child packing for a trip

Let’s fast-forward to those fleeting few minutes before you walk out the door for your next big trip. Maybe you’re running late, multi-tasking, and scatter-brained. Or perhaps you’re as cool as a cucumber, having already packed and prepared everything you need the night before.

Either way, it’s always a good idea in this critical pre-trip moment to run through a travel checklist — checking off all the essentials in your head, or even better, on a piece of paper. Because you may have picked up the wrong medicine — and your destination’s pharmacies may not offer the same drug. Or perhaps you grabbed the electric converter that works in China, but you’re heading to Chile. Stuff happens, and a travel checklist can save a promising getaway from becoming a red-lined itinerary and flight change fee.

This is a good time to bring up travel insurance. You might be aware that a travel insurance plan from Allianz Global Assistance can provide benefits ranging from trip cancellation to lost or damaged baggage protection. But did you know that these plans may also provide a concierge benefit, meaning that if you’re past the point of return, and realize you forgot an essential item form your travel checklist, we can help you chase it down at your destination via 24/7 telephone assistance?

Take a moment to find the travel insurance plan that best fits your next trip

Of course, once you choose your travel insurance plan, you’ll want to pack our TravelSmart app as well — it makes life easier than wheels and a telescoping handle on a suitcase.

Below you’ll find a travel checklist built for that last-minute once-over of your baggage, pockets, and even your smartphone. We’re leaving off clothes, because we trust in your ability to remember to pack sweaters if you’re going where it’s cold and tank tops where it’s hot. Just check the weather forecast first; no need to pack a thermometer. 

Gather up your Documents

We live in a digital age, but there are still some very important paperwork, IDs, and other tangible items we need to slip in our wallet, purse or bag before leaving on our next trip. These include the following…

  • License: Remember, beginning on Oct. 1, 2021, every traveler 18 or over will need a REAL ID (or another ID that’s accepted) to fly on a commercial plane. And why wait until the last minute when you can make it happen today?1
  • Passport & Visas: Travelling internationally? Be sure your passport is up to snuff and any necessary travel visas are accounted for. (Questions? Check out our comprehensive guide to U.S. passports and travel visas.)
  • Photocopies of license, passport, and visas: OK, this is the first travel checklist item that may not be common sense. A copy (or even photo snapped with your smartphone) of a missing passport may go further than you think in a pinch.
  • Physical tickets: It’s 2020, but not all tickets are created virtually. You might have a physical ticket to that playoff game, movie premiere, or art gala. And it won’t do you any good sitting atop your dresser, hundreds of miles away.
  • Travel insurance print-out: Wait, what? Yes, savvy travelers pack travel insurance. But when they buy it from Allianz Global Assistance, they download the TravelSmart app to glean critical plan information in the blink of an eye And you know what that puts back in your pocket? Not a folded up print-out — time.
  • Others:
    • Public transit passes or cards for your destination
    • Loyalty cards for stores, restaurants, or attractions
    • Physicians notes for prescription drugs (see more details below)

Pack Your Smartphone (And TravelSmart)

No, we don’t mean bring your smartphone. Instead, we want you to consider your phone to be a digital suitcase that’s ready to be packed with all the apps you need for your big trip. Here are types of apps to consider putting on your travel checklist:

  • TravelSmart: We’ve already introduced it, but now it’s time to get to know each other. Meet the savvy travel partner to your Allianz Global Assistance travel insurance plan. With TravelSmart, there’s no need to print out your plan and stow it in your pocket. Instead, you can manage your plan at a glance with a few quick swipes. And with one-touch access to 24-Hour Assistance and local emergency personnel, the app can help you handle any travel mishap, big or small. It’s easier than buckling your belt on the plane — and we don’t even need a live demonstration to prove it.
  • Airline app: For flight status updates, managing flights, choosing seats, tracking bags, and to serve as your digital ticket.
  • Hotel / accommodation app: Depending on where you’re staying, you might be able to pick your room, order room service, and even use your phone as your key.
  • Others:

Looking for some recommendations for apps to include on your travel checklist? We’ve got you covered.

Take (Self) Care

In accordance with TSA guidelines, be sure that liquids, aerosols, gels, and creams bound for your carry-on are 3.4 oz or less — and sealed in a 1-qt. plastic bag. That said, here are some essentials to consider for your travel checklist:2

  • Trusty water bottle
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, etc.
  • Eyecare, from glasses to contacts and solution
  • Everything you need to make you feel fresh. Yes, everything, from deodorant to foot spray and shaving supplies.
  • Medicine for “surprise” ailments encountered by land, air, and sea — from Tums to Tylenol and Dramamine.
  • Protection from the Great Outdoors: Think sunglasses, sunscreen, and bug repellent.
  • Prescription medicine: Make sure they’re legal in your destination country. Also, bring enough for your itinerary, and a little extra in the event you’re delayed. See more tips for traveling with medicine.3
  • First-Aid kit: Plan for the worse, expect the best. (Find suggestions on what to pack here.)

Accessorize Appropriately

Sometimes it’s those little extras that truly make or break a trip. Here are some accessories to include on your travel checklist:

  • Travel money belt and / or travel wallet: Consider one with
    RFID-blocking technology to prevent crooks from accessing your credit and debit cards. (Here are more tips to help pick out the right travel wallet).
  • Charger and power bank: To keep your phone powered up for the long haul.
  • SIM Card: Because your phone “as is” might work abroad. Or it might just be a paperweight.
  • Converter equipment: Traveling abroad? There are more than 15 types of outlet plugs that could be waiting in your hotel room. We’ll help you find the right converter for your destination.4
  • Poncho: For storms and waterparks.
  • Wet wipes: Needed for bad messes (read: sitting on a messy park bench) and good messes (read: enjoying Mongolian BBQ).
  • Wireless and noise canceling, preferably.

This travel checklist list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a starting point you can customize and make your own. And simply by having it beside your suitcase, you’ll gain the peace of mind that can only be matched by, well, travel insurance and TravelSmart.

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