1. Research your trip

Before you head to an unknown destination, do a little research and bring along a guidebook and/or map and download travel apps to familiarize yourself with your destination.

Tim Sackton, Vacation Planning [121/366] via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

2. Make plans

Whether you’re planning a spa vacation, golf getaway or just a romantic dinner for two at your destination’s top restaurant, it’s a good idea to make plans and reservations before the trip.

3. Have passport, IDs and visas ready

For domestic air travel, all adult passengers must present some form of government-issued photo identification. A valid driver’s license or passport will work. For international air travel, all passengers (including children) must have a valid passport. Be sure your driver’s license or state ID has not expired.

Don’t forget your passport!

4. Obtain travel insurance

You might already have some insurance coverage and just don’t know about it. Check with your health insurance provider, credit card company or auto club and see what’s covered during travel. Some travel insurance plans include overseas medical coverage; some just cover personal property and transportation expenses. Be sure to check with your current medical insurance provider to see what’s covered out of state and overseas. Travelers can also buy supplementary travel insurance that provides benefits like emergency medical evacuation and repatriation of remains.

5. Get immunizations

For some regions of the world, immunizations are necessary prior to travel. Proof of immunization is a requirement for entering some countries. It’s best to schedule a visit to your doctor to discuss your travel plans and medical conditions. Some immunizations require more than one shot and some prescriptions like anti-malarial medications may have to be started weeks in advance.

6. Fill prescriptions

Nothing will put the brakes on a trip like getting sick or injured. Despite travelers’ best efforts to prepare and prevent common ailments while on-the-go, it’s inevitable that at some point you may need to troubleshoot health issues while traveling. Be sure to fill all prescriptions, stock up on common over-the-counter medications and read up on how to troubleshoot health issues while traveling, which includes advice on what to pack before your trip to be prepared for the most common health issues while traveling, from jet lag, blisters and jellyfish stings to sunburn, traveler’s diarrhea and altitude sickness.

7. Prep your home

Depending on the length of your trip, there are several things you should do around the house.

Place a “stop” or “hold” on mail and deliveries.
Set up pet care.
Get a house sitter.
Make copies.
Make lists (and check them twice).
Arrange travel to the airport

8. Secure your finances

Don’t leave home without several money options, including credit and/or debit cards, an ATM card and cash. While some traveler’s prefer to carry traveler’s checks and get a small amount of local currency ahead of time, travelers will get the best exchange rate via an ATM machine in the country. If you want to take traveler’s checks, be sure to write down the check numbers and keep them in a safe place should your checks be lost or stolen. (Leave a copy of the numbers with a family member or friend at home too.)

notify your credit card companies you’ll be traveling

9. Pack smart

Check your airline’s baggage allowance to confirm the size, weight and number of carry-on bags you are allowed. If you have to check bags, confirm the size, weight and cost, as most airlines now charge for checked baggage (some even charge for carry-on bags). Don’t lock your checked luggage – security will open them.

10. Prep for airport security

You know the drill. Hurry up to get to the airport two hours or more before takeoff only to wait in long, winding security lines at the airport. Fortunately, there are several travel programs that can help you breeze through security and customs lines.