Traveling can be a lot of fun. Or it can be a complete nightmare. Whether you love your trip and remember it fondly or loathe every minute of it depends largely on how you prepare for it. Indeed, a well-orchestrated vacation can lift your spirits and improve your mood for weeks after, while a shoddily planned holiday can spoil even the most amazing locales. Fortunately, we’re here to help. Here’s the definitive pre-travel checklist every prospective vacationer should complete –– before they hit the road:

Cover the Big Expenses Early

It may sound like a no-brainer to experienced travelers, but booking your flight, hotel, and other big expenses as early as possible will help you establish firm parameters for your trip –– and save you money too! The last thing you’ll want to do is have to scramble to find a flight or a place to lay your head at night in a new city.

Check the Schedule

While cities, museums, and monuments won’t change much over time, other elements of a trip are less stable. Traveling festivals, concerts, and limited engagements are just that –– limited. Make sure to look at the calendar for special events and opportunities to explore while you’re vacationing.

Pack the Night Before

Trying to pack everything you need for a week’s stay in a new city while rushing against the clock is an activity that’s going to end in catastrophe for you. Start from the bottom up when packing, and give yourself plenty of time to go over the essentials. Running out of clean underwear or socks on vacation will wreck even the most enjoyable trips!

Have the Right Papers

If you’re traveling out of the country, you’re going to need a passport, or visa depending on the length of your stay. Ensure that you secure either (or both) before you go splashing the cash on non-refundable tickets and reservations. Getting approved isn’t a sure thing, and it could take weeks or months to receive proper travel certification. In addition, it’s not a bad idea to have a extra copies of important documents on you should trouble arise.

Cards and Currency

Designating a credit card strictly for traveling purposes is a splendid way to budget your vacation –– and rack up frequent-flyer miles at the same time. In addition, you should seek to change over currency at the most advantageous time. Even if that means monitoring market fluctuations for a few weeks, it could end up saving you a significant amount of money on exchange rates.

Physical Well-Being

Perhaps more than anything else on this list, you should absolutely make sure you’re healthy enough to travel before making plans to do so. Going to see your doctor or getting tested for a range of maladies is a smart idea –– regardless of your travel plans. And it’s vital that you ensure your physical well-being before you leave for a long trip. Traveling is an amazing and rewarding experience, but you shouldn’t compromise your health for a vacation.