How to Prepare for a Long Trip

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

So you’re getting ready for a long trip – exciting!! But are you worried about all the details you need to take care of, before you head out? This is often my biggest headache, and one that takes up too much brain space while I should be excited about my trip.

To help with that, I’ve compiled a detailed list of things to do to prepare for your long trip – so that you can quickly finish the work and save your mental energy for dreaming about all the great coffee shops you’ll find on your trip.

How to Prepare for a Long Trip



While you’re gone, you want peace of mind that your home and belongings are safe. Do your research and install a home alarm system. Things to look for in a security company include a home security check, up to date equipment, photo detectors, thorough evaluation and assessment of triggered alarms, and direct connection to the police. 

How to Prepare for a Long Trip

Another important item is to ask your neighbors to keep an eye on the house – to pick up any leaflets left in the door, or any newspapers that get tossed in the driveway. They can also water your plants, or shovel the walk, if you’re traveling in winter.

Hire a lawn service (or a neighborhood kid) to mow your lawn.


Of course, clean up! No one likes to come home to a messy house. As well, try to stock some items you’ll need the morning that you come back – unopened almond or shelf stable milk, good coffee, bread in the freezer, oatmeal and fixings (nuts, dried cranberries, chia seeds), etc. You might not have time to get to the grocery store on the day you arrive.

The day you leave, set your water heater to vacation mode, and your furnace to an ideal not at home temperature. 

Unplug everything that you don’t need plugged in. Who wants to pay for these energy vampires? This includes clocks, printers, computers, and anything that will use electricity while you’re away.

How to Prepare for a Long Trip


Automate your bills

Ah, the dread of figuring out all your bills ahead of time. No need to worry about prepaying bills – just set up automated payment, or create or update your online accounts so that you can pay while you are traveling.


Sign up for the hold mail service at your post office. If you live in the US, you can do that for free here


This is, perhaps, one of the most important things you need to do – and do early. If you’re traveling abroad, be sure that your passport is current and will not expire while you’re traveling. Arrange for any visas you will need. Learn what the rules are for travelers in the areas to which you’re going.

How to Prepare for a Long Trip


If you’re a US citizen, explore utilizing the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Research the areas you’ll be visiting, to stay up to date on safety concerns.


Call your banks and credit card companies, to advise them of your travel locations and dates. This will help prevent fraud (and allow you to use your cards while you are traveling!). No one wants a hold on their bank accounts when they are trying to eat or pay for hotels, whilst on the road.


Get any vaccines, if necessary, for the areas you’ll be visiting. Take sunscreen and bug spray, especially if you require a certain kind (unscented, high spf, etc.).

How to Prepare for a Long Trip

Get in the best shape you can be – travel requires stamina!

Visit your doctor to take care of any lingering health issues, and to get any prescription copies if needed. Also ask for extended refills, if you’ll be gone for a while. Many health insurance companies will cover 3 month prescriptions.


Get travel insurance! I can’t state the importance of this enough. You will want travel insurance that includes medical treatment and hospitalization, medical evacuation and transport, delays or missed flights, for your rental car, etc. See what your credit card covers when you purchase something (flight, rental car), and then buy insurance for the rest. We use World Nomads when we travel.

How to Prepare for a Long Trip


There’s nothing worse than overpacking, and then lugging stuff you don’t need. My best tip? Think through what you’ll need, pack that, and buy whatever else you need during your travels. These can also make for great souvenirs!

How to Prepare for a Long Trip



Where are you traveling to? What will you need to communicate? You might wish to take a language class abroad – you’ll not only meet new people from around the world, but you’ll also gain insight into the local culture. Book this ahead of time, so that you can do your research and find the best class for you.


You might also want to take cooking classes wherever you’re going. Research and schedule these before you go, so that you are sure to be enrolled. One of the best parts of this is learning not only the culture through food, but also shopping at local markets! You’ll take this knowledge with you throughout your journey – and then home.

How to Prepare for a Long Trip


How do you prepare for a long trip?

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How to Prepare for a Long Trip