- Check visa requirements and get visas - I use Travcour where they offer the country I need. They're really helpful and efficient. Allow plenty of time to do this. Estimated times given by embassies are usually minimum times and some countries require attendance at the embassy. See Planning Your Solo Trip
- Book airline extras such as such as extra leg room seats - travel companies don't always mention optional extras when booking. Some airlines even offer free accommodation on overnight transit flights.
- Check there is good insurance cover in place for the entire journey. Countries or areas of countries not FCO advised will require specialist insurance.
- Check vaccination requirements - take your record card to the nurse at your local clinic if necessary
- Check malaria recommendations - check websites such as Fit for Travel destinations for malaria requirements
- Check personal medication supplies - order in supplies of personal medication/supplements. Make sure you keep the prescriptions alongside for any painkillers/narcotics etc. - some countries are very strict on this
- Download books and manuals to phone and Kindle - fiction and non-fiction - see what's recommended in relation to the countries I'm visiting, guidebooks, camera manuals.
- Sadly, books are much too heavy and bulky to carry far. But I have taken second-hand books and left them in libraries or given them away."
- Looking after my flat - confirm arrangements with Airbnb managers or make sure a friend/neighbour will check while I'm away.
- Check mobile phone contract - Consider buying a cheap handset so you can purchase local SIMS - usually much better value. Europe is usually roam free now. Vodafone currently offer one of the best deals otherwise - 77 countries on roam free if you take their red plan and a lot of others on £6 a day
- Check electricity plugs/sockets in destinations – order the correct adaptor or buy a universal one. I like a universal one as they have USB charging slots too. Very easy.
The Week Before
- Order currency - compare rates online - local shops are usually better than big chains. Check whether the country you're travelling to has ATMs that are likely to be in working order, so you don't have to take too much cash. ATMs are usually the cheapest places to get your cash – and you usually get better rates when you're abroad, than when in the UK.
- Tell your bank/credit cards providers that you are travelling abroad. Europe is usually considered to be non notifiable these days but in other countries your card might get blocked if you don't. And that's not much fun.
- Make travel to airport arrangements - book train/coach/ taxi/car parking. My view is that a taxi fare costs about the same amount as an osteopath’s bill.
- Turn off or set Voicemail on your mobile phone. It's much more complicated to do this when you're abroad. PIN numbers are required. I don't take ordinary voice calls on my mobile when I'm abroad because of the cost. I find free Wi-Fi (where possible) and use WhatsApp
- Confirm Airbnb/home care arrangements – just to make sure!
- Charge batteries for cameras and book reader
The Day Before
- Check in online - ASAP- to avoid those middle seats if you haven't been able to reserve a seat in advance
- Finish packing - use the checklist. It's amazing what I forget to put in sometimes. And you can't always get what you need when you travel. Decide what your own personal essentials are and put them in your carry-on bags.
- Buy some travel food if you don't like airline meals: - maybe some non-perishable snacks/sweets for the rest of the journey. Remember fresh food is often not allowed as an import.
- Confirm travel to airport arrangements - good firms will have done this for you already.