Here are a few tips on stuff to get out of the way before heading off:
Finish paperwork at work (e.g. time reporting).
Make a booking for the first night if you arrive at an inconvenient hour, have traveled for many hours or you arrive in high season (where finding accommodations may be difficult). There are many on-line services for booking or just use your travel agency.
Get sticky labels and write peoples name on them, then just stick them onto your postcards.
Certificate of Immunizations
Bring your Certificate of Immunizations (health book)
Get necessary visas in your passport. Start this process in time since it can be time consuming. Sometimes you can get visa on arrival. See visa section for details.
If you plan on driving bring your drivers license along. Get an international drivers license if needed.
Bring other relevant cards such as airline bonus cards, phone cards, student cards (e.g. ISIC) to obtain discounts, Hostelling International card etc. If you have an e-ticket and it was registered to a card, make sure that you bring the relevant card along.
Make sure you have a paper which states your insurance cover with policy number and contact details. If you live in the European Union and will visit another country in the E.U. get a European Health Insurance Card which entitles you to receive health care under the same economic conditions as the citizens of the country you will visit.
Ticket and itinerary
Bring your ticket and itinerary along.
Print contact information to:
* Health clinic where you got your immunizations
* Insurance company. Note if there are special emergency contact numbers (sometimes reverse charge)
* Your bank/credit card issuer so that you can report stolen/lost cards
* Travel agent
* Traveler´s cheques issuers local office
* Emergency contacts
* Addresses and phone numbers to friends(for postcards)
Bring passport photos if needed in order to get a visa on arrival or if you lose your passport and need to get a new.
Book to read on the plane
Get it before you go to the airport (where they are usually more expensive).
Make photocopies of all important documents such as:
* Certificate of Immunizations (health book)
* Maps in the guidebook (in order not to have to carry the book along while walking around)
Store the photocopies in a separate location from the originals and protect the copies from rain with a plastic cover.
If you have access to a scanner you can scan the photocopies (see previous bullet) and upload them to the Internet (e.g. send an e-mail to yourself with the files attached). If you do not have a scanner you can take a photo with your digital camera instead of scanning. You can also e-mail them to a friend or your family.
Print information from the Internet
Print the information you have gathered on the Internet about your destination).
Your own checklist
Make a copy of your own checklist (based on this one) and bring along. It may be useful for insurance purposes if your luggage is lost/stolen.
A small list with the most useful phrases in the local language to keep in your wallet/purse for easy access or on your mp3-player.
There are electronic ones you can download to your cell phone or portable computer. You can also get a separate electronic device or a good old paper dictionary 🙂
Apply for a passport well in advance if you do not have one. Check the expiry date of your passport. Some countries require it to be valid for at least six months from your date of entry.
Check the state of your passport, I was once almost refused to board a plane to Japan because the page with my passport photo was almost falling out of my passport (a well know quality problem with some Swedish passports). This can also prevent you from getting a visa.