The mother of all checklists

imagesCA1RG92QThe do list before heading overseas

I have to admit, I love check lists. I love writing them mainly because  I like to see all those ‘things to do’  summed up in a few practical words and partly because I’m a procrastinator.  Having made a check list I feel like I’m halfway there to getting the jobs done….!  However, what I find the most satisfying is  drawing a big bold line through each one – mission accomplished….(until the next one..)

Check lists seem to become even more important once you have kids.  Being able to remember what it is your meant to be doing  (did preggie brain ever go?) and  getting to finish what it is you started  doing can take days, months or even a lifetime.

Check lists make multi tasking easier   e.g. …I need to go  to the shops to get some milk..let me see if there’s anything else I need while I’m there… yes of course… I can   book some plane tickets, organise my banking, sort out travel insurance and get a couple of jabs…… now there’s efficiency for you…!!

So you can imagine my check list of things to do before leaving on an extended and indefinite time overseas… My life was one huge check list made up of several smaller ones…  such as:

  • Preparing our home for rent
  • Packing up our life and belongings –organising and spreading our stuff to be stored   amongst helpful family and friends, and getting rid of lots of stuff – garage sale, charity donations and  passing on some good stuff  to our family and friends
  • Travel related; insurance, tickets, vaccinations, international drivers licence, passports for kids, buying any items needed for our travels, research
  • Tax and other paperwork: wills,  redirection of mail (organised mostly e-statements), closing/opening accounts, power of attorneys etc
  • Miscellaneous… anything and everything else..including getting a vasectomyI have to admit that even with a check list, I forgot a couple of very important things…


My husband and I hold accounts with two different banks.  When I went to talk to my bank about going overseas not much happened..  They  were too busy oohing and ahhing about the trip to  offer me any real advice or assistance.  And I was too busy  telling them all about it that I didn’t do enough asking…  I’m sure they noted a few things like – so and so is going overseas so don’t put a stop on her account when she uses an ATM somewhere in South America, and they probably highlighted our account as a possible  mortgage default risk.

However, I wasn’t offered any thing useful to potential problems like.. ..what can I do when my SMS security code fails because Chile is NOT one of the 200 countries my phone network offers  international roaming  to.  My husband would like to think I was multi tasking on my “bank visit” day appointment due to my lack of success…  See scenario.

HIS Bank                                   vs                                         My Bank

Gave him a security key tag                                                I was still on mobile phone sms setting  to provide him with a security                          I couldn’t change anything online with code accessed anywhere in the world                   contacting the bank first

Bank offered travel card  for reduced fees                My bank didn’t have such a thing

So my trip so far has been spent telephoning or  skyping the bank every time I need to make a change online, e.g. add a payee, change my transfer limit, change my withdrawal limit, do an overseas transfer etc… it has been so frustrating and an immense pain in the butt, especially as my account had most of the initial funds…

Some things to check: usability of your cards overseas, expiry dates, bank charges/fees, any minimum balances on accounts, travel cards on offer, set up of overseas bank transfers, security codes for online banking.

example of bank fees (in Santiago):

travel card: $2

$16.95 (from one bank – didn’t tell you beforehand)

$6.00 (santander – confirms with you first)


I didn’t really want to take my phone as the whole exercise of going overseas is to leave the consuming consumables behind, but I did, and I even organised international roaming… Unfortunately not even the customer service person checked to see whether the countries we were travelling in was on their provider’s list…so my phone became pretty useless quickly.


Don’t be shy about bringing bank cards.    Between my husband and I, we brought several different  cards: mainly debit cards including a travel card each and credit card each for emergency’s.   Always useful  in case one card may not work, you lose your purse or there is a delay in transfer of funds.


Sounds like a gimmick or an advertising line… but I wouldn’t travel without it…we organised medical cover only, everything else is replaceable..


The list is endless.  You will be recommended lots of   vaccinations.  Your doctor will probably make a schedule that’s longer than your own check list determining which vaccine goes with what  and how many doses are needed and how far apart these need to be.  In some countries they may offer a vaccination service on arrival but I wouldn’t rely on this!   Give yourself time to get these vaccinations done (not in the last week of departure!) especially with kids as you may not know if there is a delay reaction/fever etc for the younger ones..

Its your choice (hopefully an informed one) about which ones you chose to have. Some are essential in terms of re-entering  your home country or another country (e.g yellow fever) others are worth researching what the  risk factors are.. e.g. pneumonia and rabies..  We discovered that anti rabies vaccinations are readily available in some of the countries we would be travelling in.   Most vaccinations are available to infants, although our son was too young to receive the  typhoid injection (need to be over two years).


Organising a farewell or goodbye is probably the nicest thing you can do for yourself, friends and family, and is the most important of all the above… and even more importantly its the easiest… choose a location, send a text to everyone with a BYO picnic message and turn up!  I’m not so great with group farewells and it may seem like another thing to organise but its well worth it and lots of fun for you and your kids to have one last play and RELAX…. Instead of running around for one more afternoon with check list in hand, do some sitting around and socialising instead… and if it hasn’t been crossed off the check list yet – RUB it out!!!!