With only a few days before I venture off on my solo 2 week trip to Portugal, I thought I’d put together a quick blog post on the steps I take before I travel and some pre-departure tips I like to keep in the back of my mind before flying out. Whether you’re taking a mini weekend roadtrip or flying off on a major international adventure, I hope these tips and reminders will come in handy!

Seal Up Those Toiletries!

We have all been there at one point in our lives. We’ve all had that sinking feeling in our stomach when we unzip our suitcase….and see all of our shampoo and sunscreen cover our clothes. Not the best feeling, right? I’ve been there too many times, friends! Save yourself the heartache, and seal up all your leaky toiletries before you leave! It’s real simple: simply…

  1. put a small piece of plastic wrap over the tops of bottles

  2. screw the caps on over the top

  3. secure all your liquids in a snap lock bag

Just that little action will be so worth the effort and tears, I can assure you!

Bring a Pack of Cards or Rummikub

Whether I’m traveling solo or with my husband, I always bring a deck of cards and my mini travel-versioned size of Rummikub (any other Rummikub-obsessed people out there?) Not only is it fun to reconnect with my partner on the road in this playful, and very competitive, way but it also is an easier opportunity to make new friends! I’ve made so many friends over the years on my travels by simply asking if a group would love to join in and play a game of Palace. It’s also great to play in transit!

Confirm Your Check-In

Always, double and triple check to make sure your flight hasn’t changed, cancelled or been rescheduled. A few weeks ago, the night before I flew out to Amsterdam, I looked at my flight status and the flight was cancelled! And this was a mere 8 hours before takeoff! Air France, a usually very reliable airline, never contacted me via phone or email, and in a very panicked moment I had to call the airline and get on another flight for the next day. Of course, it was a free service for them to swap my flights, but still – had I not checked the status online, I would never have known.

Make Copies

One of the main to-dos on my pre-departure checklist is have all of my important documents printed. This includes a copt of my passport, insurance information, plane tickets, address to my Airbnb, itinerary and contact numbers.And I often make two copies – one to put in my luggage and one that I carry with me. I also recommend taking photos of all your travel documents and store them on your phone. If you want to feel extra prepared, give a copy of your passport and insurance to your family member at home.

Download those Apps Beforehand

If you plan to use any travel-related apps, including my must-have apps to have while on the road, make sure you download them on your phone BEFORE you leave home. Don’t forget to load up with the all the useful travel apps. This includes a language translator, currency converter, and Google Maps. 

For a list of my top favorite travel apps that help me during my travels, click here.

8 pre-departure tips you can't live without! Helena Woods

Bring your Own Water Bottle

Not only is having a reusable water bottle better for the planet but it’s helpful for your wallet! When you’re up in the air, it’s common to get dehydrated, so I always recommend packing a reusable water bottle that you can fill on the go. I always bring a bottle with me – make sure it’s empty before you go through security check! – and then fill it up a water fountain before my flight. In some cases, when you travel to places like China, Egypt or Indonesia, drinking the tap water may make you sick, but some countries have special water fountains (like in Shanghai) where they are clean, drinkable and used for refills. Do some research ahead of time and make sure the water is clean before you fill up your water bottle.

Quick Tip

Make sure the reusable water bottle you buy has a suction or sturdy lid so water doesn’t leak! Also, water bottles with a clip are great to attach to your backpack or suitcase, making it one less thing to carry while on the road.

Schedule That Phone Bill

If you have a service plan, make sure you call and let your service provider know before you travel. Most phone companies will let you suspend paying off your plan for up to 3 months, so you can save yourself from paying for calls you aren’t making. I recommend not accepting any incoming calls and only using Wi-Fi in cafes, hotels and public areas. In terms of calling family, I always plug into WiFi and call family either with WhatsApp, Skype or my personal favorite Facebook Messenger.

Unlocking your phone in your home country before you leave and picking up SIM cards abroad is my personal favorite way to stay connected without always having to search for WiFi. You can find shops that sell SIM cards at the airport or in the city center of the country you’re visiting, and it’s usually pretty affordable for many gigabytes. For more tips on your phone plan, I have some great tips in this post!

Quick Tip

Turn off mobile data the minute you leave the country or you might have an ugly phone bill waiting for you at home.

HelenaWoods 8 predeparture Tips for Travel

Create a Just in Case Doc

Believe it or not but this chick gets super nervous before traveling alone! As much as I love some introvert time on my travels, I always get very anxious the day leading up to flying out. I find the best thing that calms my nerves is creating a spreadsheet or simple document with ALL of the information I may need on my travels, including a list of emergency contact numbers, bus and train schedules and any advice for the country I’m visiting, especially if it’s a country I’ve never been to. Having this little document puts me at ease, and I recommend creating one for your travels as well!

helena Woods 8 pre-departure tips before traveling

I hope these quick pre-departure tips help you before you travel off! Godspeed and enjoy the adventure.

Your Turn!

Have these tips helped you plan and prepare for your upcoming trip? I’d love to know how it helped! Let me know in the comments below. 🙂

Pin this for Later!

8 Pre-Departure Tips You Can't Do Without!


8 Pre-Departure Tips You Can’t Do Without

October 9, 2018


Comments Off on 8 Pre-Departure Tips You Can’t Do Without


Receive my latest blog posts via email

Get access to the latest Simple Joys blog posts as soon as they're posted!

I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical moments through my lens and my pen. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I'm inspired to share the light around me. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

Hey there!

meet the blogger



Check out all my favorite photography gear, travel must-haves, resources, books I love, business hacks and so much more!

let's read 'em!

Studio Updates

from helena

Sign up for my personal newsletter where I share writings and photographs of what I've been learning lately and the simple joys of daily life. Think of this as a personal letter from me to you - but in email format! 

keep my posted!

Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.