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Travel season is starting again. I’m getting ready to go back to Italy for some book research and a Venice, Florence, Rome tour for Rick Steves. I’ve got a week until departure, my mind is full of pre-travel tasks to get ready for a big four weeks of exploration and adventure. I’m trying to get organized, so I thought I’d create a pre-travel checklist to keep me on task. I’m notoriously right-brained, so getting my ducks in a row is a bit more like herding cats.

If you follow my blog for packing advice, you know that I suggest packing a full week or two in advance. I really should walk the talk, so today I’m pulling out my favorite clothes and trying to decide what stays, what goes, and what is headed to Goodwill. I’ve got a stack of packages with new travel goodies that I need to go through.Here’s a list of tasks that you should be thinking about a week away from your departure.

1-Pack your bags.

It’s ok that this point to overpack a bit. Write down what is in your bag as you pack it and revisit the list. You still have time to order missing things you need, but unless you’ve got Amazon Prime, you’d better order ASAP. Be honest with yourself and take a few things out. You really don’t need that sequin gown, do you?-

2-Get down to business.

Pay bills, get finances in order, no matter how icky it is. Call banks to let them know you’ll be gone and make sure you have a high enough withdrawal limit for taking out spending money abroad. Most banks have an automated system these days where you just punch in your dates and countries. Stop the mail and newspaper (yes, I am that old). Double check that your calendar is clear. Having your life in some kind of relative order makes a trip much more enjoyable.

3-Make a calendar spreadsheet.

Share your plans with family and friends. I like to make a simple spreadsheet that lists where I’ll be, where I’m staying and any reservations or activity information. It’s a good exercise just to double check that you haven’t made any mistakes in your reservations.

4-Check on your airplane reservations.

Go to your airline’s website and open your reservation. choose your seats if you haven’t already. I like to check back a week in advance to see if any better seats are open and to add my name to the upgrade list.-

5. Think of the House and Pets.

Make arrangements for housesitting and pet sitting, if you haven’t already. If you don’t want to hire a house sitter, consider buying smartphone controlled outlets for lamps in your home and setting timers. Alternately, consider Home Alone-style traps to set at each door. I’m sure my kids can give you some ideas. No smartphone app for feeding the cat…yet.

6-Arrange your ride to the airport.

If you don’t have a family member or friend that can take you, consider your options. Uber and Lyft can be arranged at the last minute, but you need to watch out for price surges. Wingz is a new service that let’s you arrange your ride in advance, for a set price. If you’re new to these services, my dad, who drives for them, has given me these codes for you for discounts on your first rides… code:uber4865ray code:raymondmh

7-Confirm your hotel at your arrival destination.

Even if I’m staying at a big, impersonal hotel, I like to send them an email alerting them to my arrival time. This helps them prioritize room cleaning schedules so that I have a room ready when I get there so I can immediately crash. Most hotels appreciate it, especially for late arrivals.

8-Break in those shoes.

If you’ve got new shoes in your bag, go for a couple of nice, long walks and be sure they will work for you. Walk over different terrain to check that they will be stable on your feet. If they bother you even a little bit, choose something else. Little annoyances become blisters and bloody feet. Trust me.

9-Check prescriptions and medications.

Make copies of prescriptions, also for glasses and contacts, even a photograph on your phone is good. Be sure you have enough of everything. Do this now, so you have time to refill if you’re low.

10-Take your bags for a walk.

Go around the block and see how you feel. Is the bag too heavy? If it’s a rolling bag, can you maneuver it easily and lift it over your head and into the overhead compartment? Please don’t assume that the really tall girl on the plane will do it for you. Tall people have back problems too.

Ok, enough blogging for now. Looks like I’ve got some things to do! T-minus 7 days to adventure!

AWS Staff

This post was published by the Adventures with Sarah team. Click here to find out more about the people that make everything at AWS happen.


  • Colleen Gentry says:

    Great list for reducing stress and staying organized. Now, what are those shoes you are wearing in the picture?

  • Sarah says:

    You mentioned getting on a list to upgrade . How does one go about that. I assume there might be something on the airlines website however I have not found it. Thank you . The blog is great. We are headed to England soon and have implemented some of your ideas.Thanks Sarah H.

  • Andi Cody says:

    I thought that was your Dad and good for him! Love those shoes in the photo. Were they among the “favorites” you posted about yesterday (day before?)….they are cute and look very comfy! To add…nevermind-should have read other comments before posting…..will hunt them down! Great (and very useful) list, by the way. Thank you, Sarah.

  • Megan David says:

    Thanks Sarah! I’m taking a trip next month and your ideas are helpful! Love those shoes!

  • Allison says:

    This is a very timely and helpful blog post as I am leaving for Europe next Sunday, 3/26 for 25 days. Thank you!

  • Barbara says:

    Thanks Sarah. I’ve been working on my to-do list and I think I’m in good shape except the transport to the airport, still working on that but have an emergency option if all else fails. Uber here hasn’t proved reliable or safe, and lyft, which is brand new here, seems hesitant committing for a 4:15AM pickup.I’m on the 4/28 VFR, any chance that’s the tour you’re referring to following your research?!

    • Unfortunately not. I’m on VFR 4/20

      • Barbara says:

        Oh, I’m so disappointed. I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed that I would be on one of your trips. Wish I’d known, I would have selected 4/20. Regardless, have a great season of research and travel!

        • Sorry about that. I don’t get my schedule until about two months before. I’m sure you’ll have a great time no matter who the guide is 🙂

          • Barbara says:

            Absolutely! I’ve spent the last 4-5 months reading, watching movies (thanks for your recommendations) and some light research on these 3 cities and some general Italy, along with all of RS audio/video. I’m excited to see and experience up close. Going in 4 days early and staying 4 after just to soak it all in.

  • Theresa S. says:

    I was secretly hoping you would be leading my mid April Sicily RST as much for me as for my adult daughter. We loved our South Italy tour with Ann L. and having another female at the helm in the sometimes chaotic world in the ‘wilds’ of southern Italy (tongue-in-cheek, that) is really something to behold and inspiring. I appreciate your blog for all of the great information, tips, movies, etc., etc. Was curious, did no one mention footwear by Born? I have a terrific super light leather pair Mary Jane-style with athletic sole and criss-cross across the arch wide elastic bands I picked up at the Rack. I find them most often at Macy’s but Freddies carry ’em too. Happy travels!!

  • Kathleene says:

    Hi Sarah – great tips, thanks for sharing. 2 questions: is the bag in the #1 photo the backpack you spoke about a couple of weeks ago (super light weight) that you purchased from Amazon? And can you please tell me what kind of shoes you are wearing in #8, they look comfortable and stylish. Thanks!

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