The Ultimate Pre-Flight Checklist! The Only Plane Checklist You Need!

Packing everything you need for a trip could be finicky, which a pre-flight checklist might help tremendously. Check with us to see the ultimate pre-flight list!

When arranging a trip, it's tempting to get caught up in the buzz. Daydreams of resting on a beach or skiing down snowy slopes can readily occupy your mind, whether you're travelling internationally or locally. Of course, you'll remember the essentials like booking your trip and obtaining your travel visas. Meanwhile, packing lists, housework, reservations, and travel plans take a back seat to the more fun activities. But like with everything vital, you don't realise you don't have it until you need it. Which is why you need to have a detailed checklist.

Checklists are vital for travelling. Image from Unsplash

A detailed flight preparation checklist not only helps you prepare everything you need to do, but also allows you to check the priority and necessity of those things. Some may take precedence over the others, while some may not be as necessary as you might think in the first place. Going through everything on a list once will help you finalise the things you absolutely need, while guaranteeing that you don’t forget any.

But there are tons of things you must bring, that even with careful deliberation, it’d still be possible that you forget a few essential items. At times like this, having a point of reference to see what you have had and haven’t had is quite a life saver. That’s why we are here today, offering you the best aeroplane checklist with everything you may need. Even better, we’ve arranged the preparation process chronologically, to help you prepare your stuff more easily.

So, proceed to see how to pack your stuff in our ultimate pre-flight checklist.

The Ultimate Pre-flight Checklist - A Pre-Flight Checklist Example

One month before travelling

Things to do

  • Book the travelling ticket
  • Come up with a packing list
  • Book the accommodation
  • Check the requirements at your destination
  • Get medication or prescription
  • Buy travel insurance

Why you should do so

One month might sound like you’re preparing too far in advance, but preparations can never be abundant. In fact, preparing a pre-flight checklist template way early in advance might help you identify problems that require some time to deal with, which you’d can handle easily.

One month before going is when you should start thinking about the things that you should be doing. Hence, this is when you should start your flying checklist.

Let’s start first with booking your tickets. We’ve made a guide on when is the best time to book your flight ticket, and honestly if you’re waiting till one month before your trip, it’s quite risky. Nonetheless, if you haven’t got the tickets, make it your absolute priority and do everything you can as your entire trip depends on this.

Next up, you should book your accommodation. This will also have a big impact on what you have to bring. Depending on when you’re travelling, the accommodation price will correlate. Regardless, you should book your hotel as soon as possible to get the best deal while it is still on the market. Another reason to consider is the facilities that the hotel offers. If there are tons of facilities like pool, gym, billiard room, etc, you might tweak your itinerary a bit to spend time in those places, and thus having to bring stuff that accommodate such activities.

Then come the things that you will be bringing along, i.e. creating a packing list. Shortlisting things to bring depends on a variety of elements, such as your destination, its culture, its climate, your duration, personal and professional needs, etc. There are also nuances that you must consider. Say you’re going to a tropical country, or you’re travelling in monsoon season, it’s a great idea to pack along a raincoat, or use a waterproof backpack instead of a regular one. Or say if you’re going to visit a religious establishment, it’d be a great idea to pack formal clothes to show respect.

Amongst the plethora of things to consider, you should always keep the accoutrements of travelling in mind, like clothes, toiletries, travel documents, and medication. Prep these items first, then proceed to other necessities such as electronics, cosmetics, etc. Medication deserves its own mention, as you don’t want the entire trip to be spoiled simply because you come down with an untimely cold.

Once you have a pretty good idea of what you’d need to bring, then it’s time to start, it’s time to think about what insurance you should buy, if you haven’t had one already. Travel insurances are vital, especially considering the current pandemic situation. We’ve had a dedicated article on travel insurance, so check it all for everything you need to know.

pre flight checklist example

It never hurts to plan early, Image from Unsplash

One week before travelling

Things to Do

  • Check the weather forecast
  • Pack all your stuff
  • Have somebody to check your house
  • Confirm your reservations
  • Arrange your work

Why you should do so

One week before your day of departure is a great time to check the weather forecast, as it’d be accurate, and you’d have some time to adjust. Weather is often one of the most unpredictable elements of a trip. Sunny days can switch to rainy downpour in the blink of an eye. That’s said, the best we could do is to prepare, and checking the forecast as well as making some adaptations to our packing list is the best way.

Now let’s pack your stuff. Coming up with the things that you need to pack and actually packing are two completely different ordeals. Begin by setting out everything you believe you'll need, then try cutting the quantity in half. It's never too late to drop some stuff (that’s why we recommend you do it early), and who knows—maybe the extra room will allow you to bring something you couldn't bring before.

Toiletries, chargers, and house keys are among the stuff that should be packed last because you'll be needing them right up until you leave the house—save a small sleeve in your luggage for them.

Keep track of the total weight of your bag (or bags) once everything is packed. Airlines have varying weight and size limits if you're going with just a carry-on, so make sure you're well inside them. You may determine the weight of your bag by weighing yourself with and without the bag on a bathroom scale, then subtracting the difference.

flight checklist packing

Organise your stuff early. Image from Unsplash

Once you’re done with your stuff, now is about the right time to ask around and have someone look after your house, especially if you have a dog or plants. Look among close relatives or friends who you trust, and don’t forget to hand them a small note in which you detail the things you’d need them to do (water the plants, feed the pet. Make sure to buy some souvenirs for them when you get back from the trip.

It isn’t a bad idea to reconfirm your reservations when you're still a week away from your trip. This applies not only to your lodgings, but also to meal reservations and any specific activities you intend to attend. Last-minute changes to events are not uncommon, so double-check.

Travelling is fun and all, but work still has to be taken care of until the day of travelling comes. Until that day, you should still have work daily that you should be taking care of. Finish your daily tasks, and arrange your work for the following days that you’ll be away. Remember, whether you’re travelling or not, you always have to be responsible not only to yourself but also to people around you.

2-3 Days before Travelling

Things to Do

  • Sort your travel document
  • Share your itinerary and travelling details
  • Double check your bag
  • Adjust to time zone
  • Clean up

 Why you should do it

By this point, you should be overzealous about the impending trip. But remember that you still have a few crucial checks-up you need to go through.

It's time to get your travel documents in order. There is no voyage without these, except to the terminal or station. Your passport, itinerary, insurance, visas, and tickets are all important paperwork to keep track of. If your usual wallet can accommodate all of these, that's fantastic. If not, passport wallets are available, and some bags have specific security pockets for them.

By this point, you should have already informed your friends and relatives about your upcoming trip, but now it's time to disclose your itinerary, lodging address, and contact information. You're not doing this to brag, but to ensure that they know where you are and how to contact you in an emergency. Do not forget to check in with your family often when you’re away so they know you’re safe and sound.

Now it's time to double-check your bag. It's not like anything has magically fled since you packed it a few days ago—this is simply to make sure your carelessness hasn’t gotten the better of you. Plus, it provides you the opportunity to adjust what you've packed and cram in or drop out a few.

One thing you should think about now is the time zone difference. It might not be such a bad idea to adjust now to avoid jet lag. If you're travelling to a foreign time zone, you can adjust your habits to prepare for the transition. This means eating dinner an hour earlier or later (depending on the time difference) and sleeping an hour earlier or later.

Obviously the least favourable suggestion on the list, but cleaning your house is a hygienic mandate before any trip. Imagine it a few days or weeks later, when no one has been home to clean up. After you've returned from your trip, fatigued from all the travelling you just did, piled-up laundry and dishes become even more of a nuisance. Do them right now.

A day before travelling

Things to Do

  • Take out the trash
  • Get some snacks
  • Check in to your flight early
  • Download your digital health pass
  • Book / Plan your transportation
  • Turn off your notifications
  • Plan your outfit for tomorrow

Why you should do it

By this time, any experienced travellers would tell you that you should have been done with all the prepping. If you haven’t, get it done immediately. If you have, great! There’s only a handful of stuff left you need to get done before D-day comes.

I know we’ve talked about cleaning and how nobody likes it, but there’s still a bit left to do. You've already cleaned the house, removing any dirt from plates, clothes, and any other surfaces that might be reached. But, since it's the day before the main event, there's one more thing (or combination of things) to get rid of. It's time to take out the garbage and any perishables from the kitchen and pantry. We encourage you to eat as much perishable food as you want because wasting food is, well, wasteful. Besides, you don’t want your house to stink when you come back because some stuff was left neglectfully, do you?

Do get yourself some snacks if you like something to munch on while travelling. Sure, you can get snacks in the airport, but they will get pricey, and you don’t want to buy it on the day as there will be lots of stuff to attend with and you may just miss out; therefore, buying snacks now is just the right thing to do. Also remember to pack dry food that is easy to eat and digest, you don’t want a bad belly on a plane. Do check with TSA’s 3-1-1 rule if you plan to bring it past custom.

This is something that you may not have known, but you can actually check in to your flights 24 hours in advance. Many airlines have their own app now that allows premature check-in to streamline the in-airport process. Oftentimes you can even choose your seat, so there’s that.

Do not forget to download (or print out) your digital health pass. A health pass of some sort is almost mandatory now. While you can easily access it on your phone, usually it will require internet connection, and we all know what that is like at airports, so download or screenshot it in advance to save yourself from the hassle.

This next thing will depend heavily on how you plan on getting to the airport. If public transportation is your style, book your ticket early on. Much like plane tickets, it’s never a bad idea to pick up a ticket in advance. Additionally, do check the route to the airport. Check where you will get on and get off. Airport isn’t a daily destination so be wary. If you’re taking a taxi, or an Uber, best to schedule your ride in advance so as not to waste time waiting on the day. However, if possible, have a family member or a friend to give you a lift to the airport. Taxi and airport fares are hefty. Your wallet will thank you!

Also, set aside some time to lay out your outfit for D-day. Shouldn’t take too much time but it’s nice to have everything ready on the go. Also, if you’re a person of work, turn off your work notifications, including email or Trello, etc. You don’t want your journey to be marred with a work email.

The day or travelling

Things to do

  • Charge your battery
  • Fill yourself up
  • Take out any remaining trash
  • Pack up your toiletries
  • Triple check all baggage and document
  • Let’s go!

Why you should do it

preflight check

The day has come. Get ready! Image from Unsplash

Finally comes the day you have been waiting for. Early in the day you should have all of your essential devices charged fully as it’s very hard to get any charger spot in the airport. Remember to pack your devices once they’re charged. Also don’t forget to pack them up, including the chargers after you’re done.

Like the electronic devices, some items need to be packed on the last day (but not at the last minute). Toiletries are among those. You’d still have to use them at least up until the morning of the last day but pack them neatly as soon as you’re finished. Do remember that whatever you pack, they should comply with the TSA’s 3-1-1 rules. Additionally

While we understand that you’re filled with excitement, excitement doesn’t fill up your stomach. Therefore, treat yourself with some filling food for the day ahead. Remember not to overeat, however. Don’t forget to clean up and take any of the remaining trash out.

It never hurts to check your stuff again, so now triple-check your everything, from travel documents to baggage. At this point, there shouldn’t be anything left unpacked, but just in case you are among those forgetful people, a bit of cautiousness can’t ever be too much.

Now, if your ride is in front of your house already, you can be done with this flight packing list. What are you waiting for, let’s go!

Khoa Pham


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