14 essential things to do before you leave on vacation

Whether you are a first-time cruiser or a seasoned pro, our cruise checklist will ensure that you remember the essential things to do before you leave on vacation. Use our tips to plan for a trouble-free cruising holiday, so you can just focus on having fun!

1. Check your data roaming charges

Avoid nasty charges from your mobile phone company and ensure you have the correct package before you travel.

2. Call your bank before your leave home

Ensure that your credit card won’t be blocked whilst using it on holiday. Tell them when and where you are going. Otherwise unusual activity and use of your card abroad can result in the bank blocking purchases.

Ask your bank if you can set up a maximum agreed credit limit, so that if you card is stolen any purchases over that amount can be flagged and the bank can contact you. We also recommend taking a second credit card from a different bank with you, as back up in case of emergencies. Ensure that your bank has your up-to-date contact information.

3. Book any specialist medical equipment you need on board or at your hotel

For example do you need a shower stool? Just call your cruise line’s customer service number before you travel or your hotel and they will help you. Don’t leave it too late to call – they need more than a few days notice to ensure your requests can be confirmed!

4. Take photos of your luggage

In the unlikely event that it gets lost you can show a photo may hasten the speed it which it is identified and found.

5. Contact information on your luggage

Ensure you bagage is labelled and turn the luggage tag inwards out of sight. Lost luggage at the cruise port can happen, although rarely, and untagged luggage cannot find it’s owner. Remember to wait until you get to check in at the port to fix your cruise tag to your luggage. You can find handy little cruise tag holders in our Resources.

6. Photograph your passport number

Take a photo of your passport number and important inner pages with your smartphone just in case your passport goes missing whilst travelling. Store the phone number of your embassy that handles lost passport in your smart phone before you leave home. Just in case.

7. Check your passport validity

Double check that your passport is valid for the whole duration of your trip and even beyond. Many destinations want your passport to be valid at least 6 months after your return date. Check with the embassy, your airline or your cruise line.

8. Embassy contact details

Write down the address and telephone number of your country’s embassy in each of the destinations you are visiting. This may seem rather paranoid to include on your travel check list, but, you never know. We list this as one of the essential things to do before you leave on vacation. Things can happen far from home and it’s always a good idea to know where to turn to if you need urgent help.

9. Doctor’s letter or certificate

Bring a letter from your doctor for all your prescription drugs and pack these in original packing. Always check with your cruise line that you are able to bring these with you, rules vary depending on destinations too. One of the essential things to do before you leave on vacation is to ensure that you have all you need to stay in good health whilst away from home.

10. Check-in for your flight online

We strongly recommend that you check-in for your flight before you leave home. Online check-in opens 24 hours prior to departure and sometimes earlier, depending upon your airline.

Check-in via the airline’s own website with your booking reference or number that is on your booking confirmation. You should have received a booking confirmation when you booked your flights.

Have all passenger passports to hand when you checkin as you will need to fill in passport information. Online checkin has 4 advantages:

  1. You can double check all passengers details are correct on your booking and double check your booking details such as flight number, connections, time of departure etc. If you spot any errors you will have time to call the airline helpdesk before you leave home.
  2. You can choose your seat numbers if you haven’t already done this earlier when making the booking. Choosing your seats at time of checkin is most often free of charge.
  3. You can print out your boarding passes at home or have them sent to your phone where you can access them using email, text or via the airline’s app. Download the airline app on your smart phone before you leave home and upload your booking number so you can see your ticket details at all times.
  4. Online checkin may save you some time at the airport. But remember to show up with plenty of time to spare. Airlines often recommend that you are at the airport 2-3 hours prior to departure time but check the airline website for information.

11. Baggage hazards

These items will not be allowed on board a cruise ship, so don’t be tempted to pack any of the following:

  • Balloons – do not take balloons of any kind with you – even if you are celebrating a special occasion. They are not allowed as they pose an environmental hazard if released on a cruise ship.
  • Drones – leave your drones at home. Most cruise lines will ban you bringing a drone on board. If you try, it will most likely be confiscated. You have to be happy with your camera and video recorder at ground/sea level!
  • Sneakers with wheels – these are not allowed on board most cruise ships, so if the kids love those sneakers sorry, they need to stay at home (the sneakers, not the kids.)
  • Candles, incense burners and fireworks – all of these are completely banned from bringing on board a cruise ship.
  • Tavel irons, kettles, coffee makers are not allowed in your luggage if you are boarding a cruise ship! Even sterilizing bottle warmers are not allowed – pretty much anything with a heating element. Your bags will be scanned and checked.
  • Anything that is or is perceived to be a weapon is a no-no. No replica toy guns, self defense equipment, pepper spray, baseball bats, knives and sharp objects.

Do not pack alcohol in your luggage before checking with your cruise line. If you are allowed to bring it in your suitcase, there are limits.

And leave your speakers at home. Small musical devices are allowed but no loud music is allowed on your balcony of your cruise ship.

12. Clothing for special nights on board

Don’t forget those formal nights on board your cruise ship. You may not be allowed to participate in the party if you do not have the correct dress code! This applies if you are going on a more formal cruise. Check with your cruise operator what kind of formal nights are on board during your chosen cruise.

13. Valuable should go in your hand baggage

Pack valuables such as passports, jewelry and camera gear in your hand baggage, not your check-in baggage.

14. Your insurance policy

And last but not least, one of the essential things to do before you leave on vacation is to check your travel insurance policy. Ensure it’s up-to-date, lists all the travelers from your household and gives you comprehensive cover in everything from lost luggage, flight delays, emergency medical costs and all other unforeseen events that can happen on your vacation.

Meet the author: Sarah has created and booked hundreds of travel itineraries for thousands of customers during a career in the travel industry that spans 20 years. Having worked hand in hand with cruise lines, hotels, airlines and tour operators worldwide, she offers inspiring & detailed insights in the world of travel and tourism.

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