[Charles Yeamans standing on his head in the lotus position]

Trip Leader Checklist

I use this checklist as a guide in planning my outdoor adventures [1]; it’s intended to be comprehensive, so not all items are applicable on all trips. Note that “all participants” includes you, the leader. ☺

Table of Contents

Planning phase (3-4+ months before trip)

Preparation phase (1-3 months before trip)

Packing phase (<1 month before trip)

Departure phase (before leaving the city)

At trailhead



  1. I'm an American and all my trips have so far been domestic; thus, these may not be appropriate in other situations.
  2. I like to have participants pay shared costs in full before the trip, plus some extra to ensure that after the trip I'll be giving refunds rather than collecting small balances. If necessary, you can collect deposit and balance in two phases. Deposits are generally non-refundable unless someone dropping out doesn't cause logistical or financial hardship for remaining team members.
  3. For all the “collect” and other tasks where participants must do something, set a deadline and follow up if people don't meet it.