Start a file of important papers (with copies of confirmation numbers) and keep it in a safe place (and one place only).
Set up an e-mail account accessible anywhere in the world.
Check with your bank to see whether your ATM card will work abroad.
Check out your luggage: Is it appropriate for your destination? Figure out a way to distinguish it from all the other black suitcases on the baggage claim belts.
If going abroad, check with your cellphone service to see whether you can make/receive calls abroad.
Make kennel reservations for Fluffy and Fido or arrange for pet-, house-sitting service, earlier if it's a peak travel time.
Finalize air, rental car reservations and hotel.
If this is a driving trip, have the mechanic check your car and get maps from the auto club or a bookstore.
Consider your wardrobe. Do you have appropriate clothing for your destination? If not, go shopping or plan to shop at your destination.
One week ahead
Put a vacation stop on your newspaper, (800) LATIMES (528-4637) or myaccount.latimes.com/login.do.
Request a hold on mail delivery.
Give copies of your itineraries to two or three trusted relatives or friends who will help if there's an emergency. Also give a copy to a neighbor so you can be reached if there's an emergency at your house.
Check your prescriptions. Refill if needed. Make copies and put them in your important papers file.
Verify again hotel, car rental and airline reservations.
Ask a neighbor to put out your trash and take trash tubs back in.
Call for shuttle service (or go online) or arrange a ride to the airport.
Make sure all your trip documentation is in one folder. (Use a brightly colored plastic closable file folder so that you can easily spot it in your