Your Go-To Travel Check List

My family and I moved from Italy to the US when I was 11 years old. Every August, we would return home for our summer break. I lived for those summers. I still live for my trips to Italy! It’s no surprise I made traveling to Italy the focus of my business and my life! During those summers in Italy, my packing included bathing suits, a few beach dresses, and flip-flops. Realistically, I could have packed the night before for any trip! Needless to say, I had no need for a travel check list.

Gone are those days! Not only is packing a lot more thoughtful (a detailed packing list will be published soon), but my preparation list of things to do before leaving for any trip has become a mile long! Even if I wanted to, I could no longer fly on standby because I need at least a good week of preparation before stepping foot in the airport!

In this travel check-list, I want to highlight some things you should consider doing before leaving the US. While some of these things might not apply to you, I am sure many will!


Buy Traveler’s Insurance

Let’s face it: traveling is a financial investment. Protect that investment with insurance! I didn’t even consider travel insurance in my younger years, but now, it’s a must. Many credit card companies have their version of insurance, or there are a bunch of other carriers. I usually refer folks to You plug in your trip info, and it will populate quotes from several agencies. This is easier, rather than going to those carriers individually. It saves you time. Based on your risk threshold, you can purchase insurance that allows cancellation for just health reasons, or opt for a policy that will enable you to cancel for any reason. A “cancel for any reason” policy is always the most expensive, but as it says, it allows cancellations for any reason, not just health reasons.

Check Your Passport

This sounds obvious. But we’re all human and can often overlook this step because, well, life happens. Some countries, including Italy, require at least six months of validity left on your passport after you return home. So don’t assume you’ll be fine traveling next week if your passport expires next month.

Grab Your Visa

You may have heard that starting in 2024, Italy will require a VISA for all visitors entering Italy for vacation purposes. I’ll have more info on this towards the end of the year, as it becomes available to share, but no matter where you’re going, Italy or otherwise, check if your destination requires a VISA.

Book Everything, Then Confirm Everything

If you’re not joining me on a planned tour and are DIY’ing your trip, ensure you have everything that needs pre-booking booked, then confirm everything. Get your accommodations in order, book your dinner reservations to those exceptional restaurants, purchase your “skip the line” museum tickets, and get all your transfers in order, too. Purchase your train tickets well ahead of time. Confirm your airport transfers well in advance, too. There is nothing like arriving at the airport after a long flight and realizing your driver isn’t there.

Call Your Credit Card Company

You will undoubtedly use your credit card while you’re in Italy. Put a travel notification on your cards so you can safely use the cards in Italy without any interruptions. Take pictures of your cards on your phone camera, and print paper copies of the front and back of your cards as well. In the event of loss, you’ll have the card number and company phone numbers handy, making replacement much more straightforward. Also, if you have a payment due while you’re away, schedule that payment beforehand.

Alert Your Bank

Like the above, alert the bank of your travels so you can use your debit card without any issues. Most banks have international fees for using your cards in Italy, so something to be aware of.

Grab Some Euros

Using ATMs and banks has become very costly in Italy! I used to tell folks to grab their Euros while in Italy, but I have recently changed my strategy and will buy them in the US from now on. Doing so is more cost-effective. Of course, most US-issued cards will work at any ATM in Italy if needed. It just won’t be the cheapest option. You can buy Euros at many banks and AAA offices. Call ahead, as some will require a few days’ notice to get them. The airport in the US or Italy is probably the worst (most expensive) place to get your Euros.

Call Your Cell Phone Provider

I like using my phone in Italy, just like in the US, so I do not buy a new SIM card. A new SIM card means I will have a new phone number while I am in Italy. What if the bank or credit card, needs to reach me? So I keep the same number while in Italy, but I add an International Travel Plan on my phone that allows me to make and receive calls just as if I were in the US. You may be thinking: What if I have to call someone in Italy? Like the hotel, my driver, a restaurant? Won’t that be expensive? No, because I call them via WhatsApp, an app you can use freely in Italy even to make video calls!

Make Copies of Important Documents

Print copies of all essential documents such as passports, credit and bank cards, plane tickets, and your trip itinerary. Also, take pictures of the same documents as a backup. God forbid you drop your phone in the ocean while enjoying a boat ride, forget it on a table at some café, or sadly, it gets stolen. You will have paper copies of all your essential leaflets.

Obtain Your International Driver’s License

Do you plan on driving during your vacation? Don’t forget you must visit your local AAA office and obtain an International Driver’s Permit. I admit, I have rented cars in Italy many times without one, and I have never been asked for one, but more and more car rental agencies are now requesting this, even though it’s always been the law, so do get one. I know I will from now on.

Write Down All Important Names, Numbers, and Email Addresses

Doesn’t it feel like everything is saved on our phones these days? I don’t remember any phone numbers anymore! But that’s a significant disadvantage if I don’t have access to my phone for some reason! I’m old school. I have a small address book with important names, phone numbers, and email addresses in my pocketbook. If my phone battery dies unexpectedly, and I urgently need to reach someone, I can at least borrow a travel companion’s phone or use the hotel phone.


Visit Your Primary Care Doctor

No matter your age or current health status, I always advise all travelers to make a quick appointment with their primary care physician. If you’re in good health, no doubt a quick appointment will do. Have them check your heart, lungs, and the like. Vaccine boosters might also be a good idea. Better be safe than sorry!

Get Your Prescriptions in Order

If you’re on any prescription meds, ensure you have enough for your trip, plus a week from your return. If your return home gets delayed by a few days, you’ll at least have enough meds left. Never remove your meds from the prescription bottles. Having them outside their original containers can get confusing if you’re on many meds. Plus, it might raise suspicion from airport personnel. Never pack your meds in checked luggage.

Send Your Itinerary to a Trusted Friend or Family Member

Let someone know your whereabouts with travel details, flight information, hotel names, and numbers. You’ll both feel better knowing someone knows your whereabouts while traveling. Check-in with each other often.

Tell Trusted Neighbors Your Travel Schedule

Let your neighbors know you will be away and that you are not expecting any visitors or service calls in your absence. They can keep an eye on your property while you’re away.

Clean Out Your Wallet

I’ve been doing this for years, and when I tell people, they think it’s crazy, but then take my advise! Clear out your wallet of all clutter that you will have zero use for while traveling. Remove gift cards, receipts, membership cards, store-specific credit cards, and credit cards you know you will not use on your travels. Even health insurance cards that are not accepted outside the US are useless while in Italy.

Grocery Shopping – Schedule a Delivery for your Return

I now set up a grocery delivery for the evening of my return home. Who wants to go grocery shopping the day you arrive home from an international trip? Not me! I don’t order much, just enough to get me started for a few days. But at the very least, I need my milk for my coffee!

Fill Up Your Car’s Gas Tank

You’ll have plenty to do once you return home; don’t make having to get gas one of them. Fill up before your trip!


Call Your Alarm Company

If you have a house alarm, call the company and tell them you will be traveling, and give them the dates you will be away. They will contact you in case of any alarm activity while traveling.

While on this subject, head to the basement and remove any visible cobwebs. Why? Several years ago, I received a call from the alarm company while I was in Italy. The basement motion detector was going off. Knowing we were away, the company sent the police to the house. Nothing was suspicious, so they left. It’s not the call you want to receive when you’re thousands of miles away. The next night, it happened again. And again. And again. To the point where I deactivated the alarm while I was away. So what was it? You may have guessed it: The motion detector is so sensitive it picked up a few cobwebs.

Put a Hold on Your Mail

Nothing screams, “Hey, I’m on vacation!” like a pile of mail adding up in your mailbox. Put a stop on your mail, or have a trusted neighbor or family member pick it up. Also, put a hold on all newspapers.

Fill Up the Plant Watering Globes

I love having a few plants around the house, but with all the travels, they were dying quickly! Que in the watering globes! I have about a dozen of these globes in various sizes, and they work amazingly well! Amazon has a few options. Click here to see!

Clean Up Your House Before Departure

Isn’t it amazing how quickly the dust accumulates? Deep clean your house (or, better yet, hire someone else to do it) before your trip! I always change my bed sheets the day I fly out because I like the feeling of clean sheets after a long, tiring flight. Vacuum, empty the dishwasher, clear out all laundry, sweep, remove all trash, and do “all the things,” so coming home will be pleasant and not a drag to think you have to clean up!

Unplug Minor Appliances

Go around the house and unplug all minor appliances like toasters, hairdryers, coffee makers, and extra chargers.

Clear Out Your Fridge and Pantry

The week before your trip, plan your meals accordingly to avoid waste. Cook up and freeze anything you will not have time to enjoy before your trip. As a bonus, you’ll have something ready to enjoy when you get back! Trash or donate any food you can’t use up that will expire while you’re away. There is no sense in returning to expired milk, rotten fruit, or smelly and rotten onions!

Set Up a Few Automatic Lights

It doesn’t hurt to set up some automatic lights at home to give the illusion that someone is there.

Keep in Mind Lawn Furniture

Consider securing your lawn furniture, grills, toys, lawn mowers and the like inside a shed. Especially if you are traveling in the summer and you’re in a zone that is prone to summer storms. You don’t want to come back to damage, or realize things have flown off during a storm!

In Conclusion

Looking at this list, you might think, “Is this trip even worth it?!” Perhaps I am biased, but I think Italy is always worth it!


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What to Pack for Italy

Cosa Mettere in Valigia per l'Italia

Everyone is always asking me what they should pack for Italy,
so I’ve created a quick reference guide that you can use for your next trip.

Hint: You don’t need nearly as much as you think you do!

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