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Pre-vacation checklist: everything you need to do before you leave home

Pre-vacation checklist: everything you need to do before you leave home

If you’ve ever been sitting in an airport or driving down the highway wondering if in the stress of getting ready for a trip you remembered to do something important before you left, then this list is for you.

Those last couple weeks before you leave can be hectic, but we have a handy pre-vacation checklist for you that will definitely help make sure you don’t forget any of the little (and not so little) things you should do before you even leave home for Walt Disney World – or any vacation!

Check it out!

How to use our pre-vacation checklist

If you’ve checked out our Ultimate Packing List you’ll know that we try our best to think of everything you could possibly ever want or need on a Walt Disney World vacation.

Seriously. We cover it all.

You’ll also notice we tell you up-front that we do not expect you to pack everything we have on it (and considering we’ve had people tell us they tried and it required 4 giant bags and a caravan of pack mules to get it to Orlando, it’s seriously not advised).

We know that list is long, but we include everything under the sun so that you can customize it to fit your family’s needs.

The same holds true for this pre-travel checklist. Not everything on this list will apply to you, so please don’t feel like you have to do it all.

Instead, pick out the things that do apply and work your way through those.

And, like our Ultimate Packing List, we have found this checklist to be helpful whenever and wherever we travel, not just when we are going to Disney World.

Trust us: it is a lot easier to relax and enjoy your vacation when you can be confident that everything is in order before you go!

Looking for printable versions? You’ll find those at the end of the post.

Pre-vacation checklist timeline

6+ months out

General travel

Disney World travel

Exactly 6 months out

Between 1-4 months out

General travel

Disney World travel

Exactly 60 days out

Disney World travel

  • If staying on-site, make FastPass+ reservations for your whole trip

Exactly 30 days out

Disney World travel

  • If staying off-site, make your Fastpass+ reservations 30 days before each day you’ll be in the parks

1 week to 2 days before you leave

General travel

  • Refill any necessary prescriptions
  • Put a hold on your mail and newspaper delivery
  • Schedule bills that might need to be paid while you are gone
  • Share your itinerary and contact information with friends and/or family
  • Arrange transportation to the airport. Driving to the airport and parking? Check to see if you can reserve your spot ahead of time. Some offsite parking locations even offer a discount if you pre-book it.
  • If you have a security system, notify the monitoring service to them know you’ll be gone
  • Notify your police department (lots of departments now offer forms online to let them know you’ll be gone on vacation)
  • Use the Ultimate Packing List to help you pack your bags

Disney World travel

  • If you plan to drive around Walt Disney World, review how parking works and what other things you can expect when using a car there

The day before you leave

  • Charge all your devices, including your external battery
  • Prep your phone for the trip, including downloading any travel apps you might need
  • Download any movies, podcasts (like our favorite, WDW Prep to Go), or music you’ll need for the trip
  • Clean out the fridge and get rid of anything that might spoil while you are gone
  • Check-in for your flight and print your boarding passes
  • Notify your bank(s) and credit card companies that you will be traveling
  • Get any necessary cash for the trip (including small bills if you will need to tip anybody)
  • Confirm all reservations (hotel, rental car, etc.) and print off or save reservation information to your phone
  • If you’re a first-time flyer, review the TSA guidelines
  • If you’re leaving your house empty, consider getting some timers for both indoor and exterior lights
  • Water plants
  • Set up and turn on your email auto-response
  • Run the dishwasher one last time and wash any dishes
  • Plan ahead for the first couple of meals after you return so you don’t have to run to the store as soon as you get back (freezer meals are great for this!)
  • Consider turning off the water, especially to your washing machine
  • Photograph any important travel documents, prescription information, etc., and save it to your phone or even better, to a cloud-based service
  • Put clean sheets on your bed so that it is ready for your return

Morning of departure

  • Take out the trash
  • Set or program your thermostat
  • Double check that all doors and windows are locked
  • Unplug any electronics that won’t be used (saves money and keeps any electronics not plugged into surge protectors safe from power surges or lightning storms)

Final check items – make sure you have these in-hand before you walk out the door

Except for the list below, in nearly every case, you can easily replace anything you forget to pack. It may cost you some money, but you could replace most things if you needed to.

These items, however, can be difficult or time consuming to replace when traveling.

Make sure you double (and maybe even triple) check that everybody in your group has these items before you walk out the door:

  • Identification (drivers license or passport)
  • Cash and debit credit cards
  • Phone and phone charger
  • Prescription meds

Printable pre-vacation checklist versions


Monday 11th of June 2018

Buy travel insurance!

I hope you don't need it...but just in case you have to cancel your trip, or you have an accident there etc.