Pre-Flight Travel Checklist

Updated: 31 july 2011 26 Aug 2020

pre-flight checklist

  • this is my system for pre-flight packing
  • i’ve tried to genericise it for other people
  • use at your own risk, your mileage may vary
  • print out a copy of this document before packing
  • cross off all items once packed, or if unnecessary
  • amendments and updates welcome via e-mail to webmaster at crypticide dot com

day-before pre-flight todo list

  • check for and remove sharps/dubious items from carry-on luggage, in all pockets
  • back-up laptop before leaving home
  • charge bose headphones
  • charge foreign cellphone
  • charge home cellphone
  • charge laptop
  • charge USB aux battery
  • in-car USB charger
  • in-car phone mounting
  • check-in online
  • get foreign money
  • print routes and maps from remote airport to hotel
  • update ipod with latest podcasts, movies to watch, etc **
  • laptop sanitisation: encryption for private data, flush “empty” disk blocks. **

morning of departure checklist

  • cancel beeping alarm clock
  • check fridge properly shut
  • check taps / faucets off
  • empty trash
  • lock doors
  • lock windows
  • switch off oven
  • switch off coffee machine(s)
  • switch off tv/hifi/video
  • switch off boiler if necessary

carry-on bag / on person

  • all valuable electrical items (implicit ipod, bose headphones, laptop, camera…)
  • all paperwork
  • book for flight
  • in-flight neck pillow **
  • one change of underwear
  • one dose of painkillers (aspirin, whatever)
  • pack of mints / gum
  • pack of tissues / wipes
  • small folding umbrella
  • sunglasses
  • foam earplugs (augment headphones, also for noisy hotels)***
  • small handtowel?

checked bags

  • stuff you can afford to be without for a day or two
  • stuff you can afford to have stolen
  • coffee survival kit


  • check-in information / boarding cards
  • driving license
  • data access codes for driving license checks
  • all car rental / hotel loyalty / frequent flyer cards (for lounge access) **
  • foreign wallet
  • hotel address and check-in information
  • maps of destination
  • passports and visas
  • security passes for work


  • comfy shoes
  • enough socks
  • enough t-shirts
  • enough underwear
  • exercise / workout clothes and shoes **
  • flip-flops / shower sandals
  • hat for sun
  • light jacket
  • posh hat
  • posh outfit / business suit
  • posh shoes
  • pyjamas / clothes to sleep in
  • jacket and tie
  • shirts
  • shorts
  • swimming costume / swim goggles
  • trousers / skirts
  • warm jacket


  • appropriate mains converter for general purpose
  • appropriate mains converter for laptop
  • bose noise-cancelling headphones
  • camera
  • camera charger
  • camera connection cable
  • camera storage cards
  • foreign cellphone
  • foreign cellphone charger
  • geek toys –  tablets, kindles
  • home cellphone
  • ipod
  • ipod charger cable
  • laptop
  • laptop ethernet dongle (and cable?)
  • laptop power supply
  • laptop aircraft power cable **
  • laptop video dongles: vga and dvi and HDMI, etc
  • laptop presentation dongles: pointer, clicker **
  • smart watch
  • smart watch charger cable
  • USB charger
  • USB Power Brick
  • voice recorder / work equipment
  • work 2fa / security authentication token


  • cleansers
  • comb
  • contact lenses and cleaner
  • earplugs
  • make-up
  • moisturiser
  • painkillers
  • personal hygiene products
  • shampoo/conditioner
  • shaving kit
  • sunblock
  • toothbrush/paste
  • vitamins


  • detergent for laundry
  • empty plastic bag for damp stuff
  • sleeping bag liner if risk of dubious hotel linen
  • small hank of tough string / washing-line
  • small sewing kit
  • spare bag for expansion
  • towel
  • universal bath plug (everyone should have one, or something to plug a sink/bath)

other people

  • presents for friends

travel tips

robin: One other simple packing tip (which I got from Chris Holloway while we were both at IBM) is ‘have a separate sponge-bag/shaving kit for travel’. This helps avoid those nasty moments when you realise you have forgotten toothpaste/brush, deodorant, cufflinks, etc etc.

robin: For a while, pre-Euro, I used to [steal] a sick-bag off each national carrier and put my small change into it. The resulting ‘envelopes’ lived in a recycled toast-rack by my desk, so it was simply a matter of riffling through them and hoicking out the right one for the trip. :^)

bart: see also

9 Replies to “Pre-Flight Travel Checklist”

  1. I would add:

    Mini looroll, wet wipes, firstaid kit , sterile pack for non eu travel, mosquito repellent, anti bite clicker, water sterilising tabs, sunblock, antibiotic generic prescription for strange lands, mozzie net if relevant, and if any likelihood of non 5 star hotels, a silk sleeping bag liner. And mini travel towel.

    I hear folding slipons are in demand too 🙂

  2. And by the time you’ve finished working through the checklist, it’s already too late to go to the airport and you can stay home. Result!

  3. Karin’s idea of a silk sleeping bag liner is a good one. They pack up small (will usually fit in the mesh side-pockets of a laptop backpack), and keep you warm on long-haul flights, just used like a blanket.

    Two stress-reducers for those who park at the airport:

    – always put the car park ticket in the same place in your wallet/purse (e.g. the driving licence ‘slot’); nothing worse than having to rummage for it when trying to leave the car park.

    – use one of those confence badge lanyards to lash your car keys to some part of your hand luggage; nothing worse than standing by your car in the rain, digging through your bags in search of keys…

  4. One more:

    If you travel into the US from abroad, you may expect your computer and smart phone checked on entry, and some data copied. Sometimes they may even request your passwords, such as for social media.

    Leave at home anything you don’t want the US government to see. This includes SSH keys in your laptop, private files, and in some cases even deleted files (securely wipe them).

    Make sure to set up 2FA on your social media accounts, and leave the verifying device(s) at home. Explain you can’t log on without your other device(s). Also you’d have emptied all your browser caches in advance. Use your imagination.

    You want to appear collaborative so that you’ll be able to fly, but not as cooperative as to reveal all your personal details. Avoid lying though.

    Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. This not only happens to journalists, it can happen to anyone.

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