No matter the reason for travel or the length of a trip, the weeks leading up to vacation are usually stressful. This is bound to happen because there’s so much to get done before your departure. Between packing, making an itinerary, and everything in between, traveling requires a lot of work — but it’s well worth it. By staying organized, being on-task, and planning ahead, you can have a stress-free vacation.

A to-do list can be handy when going on a trip. Here are five items to put on your to-do list (and check off) before traveling.

1. Pack Your Bags

Packing is an important item to check off your to-do list prior to traveling. Planning ahead and staying organized is key here. If you procrastinate, you’ll feel stressed, and you run the risk of forgetting something important. This can ruin a trip and make it less enjoyable, which is not something you want.

Plan ahead as early as you possibly can. Start thinking about the clothing you’ll need for the weather and other miscellaneous items. Then, when you have a good idea of what you’ll need to pack, start making a list. Writing everything down will make the packing process seamless and stress-free. You’ll know exactly what you need, and you can mark things off when you put them in your bag.

To take things a step further, put your to-do on the calendar. This helps you prioritize to-do list items and create a schedule to ensure you finish everything. As you pack, create calendar events for various categories of items that need to go in your bag. For example, devote one entire day to putting together outfits and packing clothes. Dedicate another day to packing toiletries.

2. Gather Travel Documents

It’s imperative that you have your travel documents ready to go in advance whenever you’re planning to travel. Without the proper, up-to-date documents, you may not get very far. Ensure you have all necessary identification and that none of it’s expired or inaccurate. Remember, a passport is often essential if traveling outside the country.

If you need a passport, make sure you apply early. It’s tough to predict how long it will take before you have your physical passport, and you don’t want to cut it too close. Ideally, plan to apply several months in advance, 6-9 months out.

Depending on your destination, you may also need to think about other documents. Consider the need for driving permits, vaccination certificates, and financial documents. You may also need to exchange currency if you are traveling outside of the country. Sometimes, doing things ahead of time can save you some money.

Calendar software can help you stay organized and plan when acquiring travel documents. For example, using software like Calendar, Microsoft Calendar, or Google Calendar can be helpful when getting your passport. Schedule an event over six months before your trip to apply for a passport. Schedule a different event to go to a facility and get your picture taken. You can even add notes with important reminders, addresses, etc.

3. Make a Trip Itinerary

Before your trip, make sure that you research your destination, make accommodations, and book excursions. While you’re busy getting through all the pre-travel checklist to-do’s, don’t forget about the vacation itself. Arriving at your destination should feel great — all your worries should melt away. But without dedicating some time to planning, it won’t feel so stress-free.

First things first, think about where you’ll be staying. Accommodations are essential since you obviously need a place to stay during your visit. After you’ve booked your stay, think about what you’ll do for fun. No matter what your interests are, most destinations have something for everyone. You can book an excursion to sightsee, learn, and enjoy the outdoors. You can also spend your day trying new restaurants and experiencing different cuisines. You can even opt for a relaxing day by a pool or beach.

Since you’ll be out of routine, your calendar can be a great tool when building and following a travel itinerary. Find software that works for you to use as your travel calendar for your next trip; you won’t regret it. Enhance the calendar by adding details to each event, using naming conventions, and making it color-coded.

4. Do Pre-Travel House Chores

Before traveling and taking a break from reality, ensure things are handled at home. Think about what needs to be done while you’re gone. Tell family or friends about your travel plans. Then, ask those free to hold your mail, water your plants, watch your pets, etc. Leaving your house for any period of time might require asking for some help, and that’s perfectly OK! Just make sure you plan ahead for these scenarios. Sharing your calendar can be highly beneficial in these instances because it keeps everyone on the same page.

In addition to making arrangements for your home and pets while you’re away, also make sure to clean. No one likes to come home to a messy house after a long trip. Doing chores before leaving is your best bet if you want to return and return to a routine. It might sound exhausting on top of everything you must do, but your future self will thank you.

Pre-travel house chores include doing dishes, washing and folding laundry, and tidying up in common areas. Just make sure things are in order. Leaving the house in good shape will give you peace of mind for your trip, and coming back from a trip will feel that much better.

5. Book Self-Care Appointments

When you go on vacation, you want to feel your best. This means quite a few self-care activities need to take place prior to leaving. Self-care appointments aren’t just to make you feel good (though it’s a great added benefit). Most self-care activities are likely routine appointments that should happen regularly anyway. Booking them all a week or so before your trip will ensure you’re looking and feeling your best.

Routine self-care activities might include hair appointments, a mani/pedi, or waxing/hair removal. If you really want to treat yourself, enjoy a little self-care while you’re also on vacation. Many resorts have luxurious spas where you can unwind with massages, facials, and more.

Considering a facial or skin treatment before your trip? Make sure to speak with your esthetician or dermatologist about your travel plans. Depending on your plans and the weather you’ll be in, they may advise against specific treatments. If you are in the sun, they’ll probably also recommend that you wear sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher that’s water-resistant

Get Ready to Enjoy an Unforgettable Trip

When you make a to-do list and stick to it before traveling, you’ll have a fun trip filled with memories. It’s easy to get excited for vacation and daydream about all the fun you’ll have, but don’t forget to prepare. Pre-vacation preparation is just as important as the vacation itself. So, make sure to create a to-do list and start checking off the items. If you do, you’ll feel accomplished and excited about your trip.