Whether you’ll be travelling overseas or heading off somewhere in South Africa, it pays to be prepared.


We offer pre-holiday checklists of things to do before going on holiday, for both local and international travel.


For local travel in South Africa

Of course, it’s possible just to jump in your car and go. Things tend get a bit more complicated if you have a home, family and pets to consider.


Either way, a little bit of advance planning sometimes prevents a whole lot of stress later on.


Six or more weeks in advance (ideally)

  • Book a house or pet sitter, if needed

Professional house sitters get booked up fast for the holiday season, so book well in advance.


If you’re putting your animals in a kennel, also add this to your travel checklist. Remember to have pets properly vaccinated and inspect kennels to make sure they’re up to scratch before booking.

  • For a driving holiday, have your car serviced

Breaking down on holiday is no fun! For safety reasons, it’s a good idea to have your vehicle properly serviced.

  • Book accommodation, if needed

Actually, months in advance are best if you plan to stay at a holiday hotspot during peak season. Still, with six or so weeks to spare, you can generally find accommodation somewhere.


A week or two ahead

  • Consider a medical check-up

If you have a chronic condition or take daily medication, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor before you take a long trip. Also make sure you get enough of your chronic medication for the time you’ll be on holiday.

  • Make a packing list

Write up a packing list that includes everything you’ll need for your trip. Then tick things off as you pack them.

  • Meet with the house sitter

Give your house or pet sitter a set of house keys and take them through the house.


It’s best to leave a document with emergency numbers, watering schedules, alarm codes and so on. If you don’t have a sitter, leave a contact number with your neighbour.

  • Put items in storage, if necessary

For security and convenience, you might need to arrange storage of a vehicle for while you’re away.


It’s also worth considering storing items that are sensitive (like tax and investment records), valuable ( like laptops and TVs) ; or irreplaceable.


Having important business and personal items in secure self-storage is good for peace of mind, given South Africa’s high crime rates.


The day before your trip

  • Finish packing your bags

Pack everything that you need and take the time to make sure it’s done properly. Rather don’t be tempted to leave packing to the morning you leave. That’s a recipe for departure delays and stress!


Leave out the toiletries you’ll need for your last night at home and the clothes you’ll be travelling in.

  • Pack your carry-on/essentials bag

Pack a bag that you’ll have with you on the plane or in the car. It should contain important documents, your wallet, cash, phone and charger, snacks and important medications.

  • Clear out the fridge

Try to use up, give away or chuck perishable items so you don’t return home to scary mould and mess in the fridge.

  • Let your alarm company know

If you have a security company, let them know you’ll be away so they can check your premises periodically.


Last-minute tasks

Things to consider as you’re about to walk out the door.

  • Double-check your essentials

Double-check that you’ve packed the absolute essentials, like tickets and your driver’s license. If relevant, let your house sitter know you’re leaving and that he or she is now in charge.

  • Turn off your geyser

If you’ll be away for more than a couple of days, it makes sense to turn off your hot water geyser.

  • Do a quick household check

It’s worth whipping around your home at the last second to check for dripping taps; items you meant to pack (like toothbrushes and your toddler’s favourite toy!); windows accidentally left open; electrical items that have been unintentionally left on; and so on.

  • Make sure the alarm is set

Make sure your alarm is set as you leave.


Extra tasks for international travel

If you’re planning an international holiday, it’s best to get started a bit sooner.


Along with all the tasks listed for local travel, add the following items to your travel checklist.


Two or more months in advance (ideally)

The necessary timeframe will depend on where you’re headed. Some destinations require a lot more advance planning. For example, special health concerns or unusual amounts of red tape might be involved.

  • Book flights

If you’ll be flying, it’s best to book tickets as far in advance as possible.


This increases your chances of getting the cheapest tickets, good seats and flight routes with the shortest layovers.

  • Arrange travel insurance

It’s probably best to sort out travel insurance when you book tickets. Then it won’t get forgotten.

  • Apply for visas, if required

For international travel, visa application times vary. Bear in mind that in some cases, the process can take two months or even longer.

  • Get recommended inoculations

An inoculation can take up to 21 days to take full effect. Also, sometimes more than one booster shot is needed.


The CDC provides a great resource for checking recommended inoculations by country:


Some countries require mandatory inoculations before they allow entry or grant a visa. If this applies, you’ll need to get the required shots 6 to 8 weeks before you’re scheduled to travel.


A few weeks before your trip

Some tasks to fit in a couple weeks before you leave.

  • See your dentist

Along with having a medical check-up, it’s a good idea to book a visit to the dentist. Toothache isn’t something you want to negotiate in a foreign country.


Don’t leave this to the last week though. Dental prodding can “awaken” a tooth problem, so allow time for everything to settle.


A few days before your trip

A couple of tasks for before serious packing gets underway.

  • Confirm flights

Remember to phone your airline and confirm your flight bookings.

  • Confirm accommodation bookings

It’s worth double-checking that hotels or guesthouses haven’t lost your bookings or overbooked.


Follow the rest of the checklist for local holidays and you’ll be all set to go. Last but not least, relax and have a fabulous holiday!


At XtraSpace, we have clean, secure self-storage units in a range of sizes that are ideal for storing personal and business items while you’re away on holiday. Contact us for more information or browse to find a branch near you.

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