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10 Things to Do the Day Before Your Trip

SmarterTravel

It’s the eve of departure for your next great getaway, but don’t rest easy just yet—you’ve still got some important things to do. On the day before your trip, it’s essential to take care of key tasks before rushing out the door to catch your plane, from making sure you’ll have what you need while traveling to accomplishing essential to-dos around the house. Check off the following 10 tasks the day before your trip to ensure a smooth, worry-free journey.

Charge Everything

Your phone, your computer, your GPS, your e-reader, your kid’s Nintendo DS, your electric shaver, and all other electronic devices you’re planning to pack should be charged the day before your trip. Make sure everything has plenty of juice.

If you’re traveling overseas, confirm that you have the correct adaptors and converters for your electronic devices. There’s still time to purchase these key items if you realize you’ve forgotten them.

Don’t have time to go to the store? Hotels often keep spare adaptors and converters for guest use; contact your hotel to ask.

Visit the Bank

Visit your local bank to obtain small bills for tipping, as well as any extra cash you might need. By doing this the day before your trip, you’re avoiding surprise ATM fees on the road—and saving time by not having to seek out an ATM in an unfamiliar destination.

Download

At home, while you still have dependable access to Wi-Fi, it’s a good idea to download whatever e-books, TV shows, music, or movies you might want to have on your handheld devices. Check your airline’s website to see what kind of entertainment options are available on your flight and choose your downloads accordingly. Despite our arrival in the 21st century, not all planes offer on-demand seatback entertainment.

Another thing you might want to download pre-departure: travel apps. See our lists of 10 New Travel Apps You Need Right Now and Five Apps the Airlines Don’t Want You to Use for ideas.

Confirm, Confirm, Confirm

Fend off unpleasant surprises—like no room at the inn or a canceled flight—during your trip. Confirm anything and everything that you’ve booked in advance: your hotel reservation, vacation rental, flight, rental car, airport shuttle, train ticket, pet-sitting, house-sitting, etc.

Bonus tip: When confirming your hotel reservations, ask if there are any available room upgrades. It doesn’t hurt to see if your property has any better rooms available for the same price.

Pay Your Bills

Take care of any bills that will come due while you’re abroad. Make advance payments on accounts that have due dates during or even shortly after your trip. If for any reason you get stuck abroad and can’t make it back home in time (think about that disruptive Icelandic volcano or, more recently, Hurricane Sandy), at least you’ll be covered when it comes to your payments.

Additionally, return any library books with approaching due dates before you leave.

Check the Weather

It’s smart to keep an eye on the weather the week before you depart. But, since weather predictions so often change, the most important time to check the weather is the day before your trip. Knowledge of weather conditions in your departure and arrival destinations will give you an idea of any possible flight delays. Plus, it’ll help you make any necessary adjustments to your (hopefully) already packed bag. (It’s unseasonably warm in Dublin? Return a few of your packed sweaters to your closet.)

Pack

We advise against packing the day before your trip. It’s best to plan ahead and start getting your suitcase organized a few days or even a week prior to departure, allowing plenty of time to do laundry or purchase new items if necessary. But if you haven’t done it yet, do it now!

If you’ve already packed, use a packing list to go through your luggage and confirm that you have all the essentials. If you need to buy something, you still have time to run to the store the day before you depart.

Weigh your luggage, too. A luggage scale or even a bathroom scale will do. Consult your airline’s baggage policies to see if your bag fits the requirements. (If not, you could face fees as high as hundreds of dollars for overweight checked bags.) See our Ultimate Guide to Airline Fees for more information.

Call Your Bank and Credit-Card Company

If you plan to use your debit card abroad, call your bank to declare your travel plans. Also call your credit-card company and do the same; this can be done a few days before your trip. (But if you’ve waited until the day before—well, better late than never.) If you don’t notify your bank and credit-card company of your travel plans in advance, an international transaction on your card could get flagged as suspicious activity, leaving you (temporarily) without access to your funds.

Stop Mail and Newspaper Delivery

You have until 2 a.m. on the day you depart to put a stop order on your mail. Visit USPS.com to use its Hold Mail Service. They’ll hold your mail for a minimum of three and a maximum of 30 consecutive days.

You may also want to suspend your newspaper subscription while away. (Subscribers to the New York Times have the option to donate their suspended papers for use in schools.)

Prepare Your House

Take out the garbage, do some laundry, clean out the fridge, water the plants, lock your windows, and adjust the heat or air-conditioning. Notify your home-security-system administrator that you’ll be leaving. Set up your personal-email away message. You get the idea. For more tips on what to do at home before departing on a getaway, consult our Essential Pre-Trip Checklist.

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