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Important Things to Do BEFORE Leaving for Vacation
If you have ever gone on vacation, whether long or short in duration, you know that there is a good deal of prep work involved. Once you do the deal scouting and review reading and actually book your trip, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Yes, much of that is packing (though deciding what to pack usually takes me longer than the actual packing!). If you are camping you will most likely also be menu planning and grocery shopping for many of your meals before you leave.
Since we are fresh off a string of short and long trips so far this year, we put together a list of important things to do before you leave home on vacation. Some of them might be obvious to you, others perhaps not so much. In any case, it’s always good to glance at the list before you leave, just in case.
1. Arrange for pet and/or house sitters. Need someone to pop in and feed the cat or water the veggie garden? Will your dog be staying with your aunt or will you be boarding him? Is there anything else alive in your house that needs someone to check on while you’re away? For shorter trips, automatic pet feeders work great.
2. Put your mail delivery on hold. Depending on how long we’re going to be away, we usually either ask our pet sitter to empty the mail box each evening or we have our post office hold the mail. I recently discovered that many areas can now request a USPS mail hold online instead of having to go to the post office! They will even drop off the held mail after you return, on the date of your choosing!
3. Get some cash out of the bank before you leave home. Yes, credit cards offer us the option to be cashless during many of our everyday comings and goings. But I always advise traveling with at least some petty cash on hand. You never know when you might be at a concession stand or parking lot or some other distant locale that only accepts cash. Don’t forget about cash tips you might need for room service, maid service, baggage handlers, etc.
4. Fill any medicine prescriptions you might need while you’re away – and pack EXTRA. Make sure that you have enough required medication for you and everyone in your travel party before you leave home. Always anticipate the unexpected like a flight delay due weather, etc and plan for a few extra days’ worth of medicine doses.
5. Clean out your refrigerator before you leave. Take a quick look at any perishable foods in your fridge that have or will have expired by the time you return. Throw them out and get the garbage bag out of your house.
6. Go through your wallet and purse and remove any credit cards and store cards that you will not be using on your trip. We typically only use one, MAYBE two, cards when we travel so the rest can stay home and in the safe. That way if we misplace our wallet or if God forbid, it’s stolen, we know exactly what was in there that needs to be canceled and replaced.
7. Make a photocopy of your passport and tuck it in a piece of your luggage. This was a tip that I learned many years ago. You can really be in a bind if you lose your passport while traveling. While a photocopy will not be sufficient for every type of security check, it CAN be helpful to at least have some sort of proof of identity. Before you leave home, make a photocopy of the identification page on everyone’s passport. Store the photocopies in a separate location than your passports (for example in your checked luggage if your original passports will be in your carry-on bag). We like using a handy passport wallet when traveling to keep our original passport and other important documents close-at-hand.
8. Take a final walk-through of your home and yard before you leave. Unplug anything that doesn’t need to be plugged in while you’re away. Even though your electronics are turned off, just having them plugged in draws a small amount of electricity. We always unplug any non-critical surge bars and other plugs before we leave for an extended period of time. Computers, televisions, etc all get unplugged. Security lights and the pool pump run on a timer. Critical items like the sump pump always remain plugged in when we are away. You can pick up a smart plug that allows you to control lights and other electronics from an app on your phone while you travel.
9. Keep a checklist handy for last minute things to pack the day of your departure. No matter how prepared I try to be before we leave for a trip, there are always those certain items that can’t be packed until last minute. They could range from my flat iron for my hair to Lily’s most special stuffed animal that she needs to sleep. There is always a handful of very very VERY last minute things to pack and I usually keep this list in my kitchen or on the notepad on my phone. I give this list a last glance as we are heading out the door.
10. Double-check that doors and windows are locked. Before you leave home, give the windows and doors a check to make sure things are locked up tight.
11. Ask a trusted friend or neighbor to check on your house a couple times while you are away. We are not only lucky to have great neighbors who keep an eye on things for us while we’re away, but we have many other trusted eyes on the place as well. We have friends and family right down the road who drive by in our absence, one of whom is also a local cop. We have security cameras in place for extra peace of mind. For added home security, check out the Canary and Cloud Cam products for easy-to-install security cameras that you can monitor from your smartphone.
12. Make sure someone at home has a copy of your travel itinerary and phone numbers where you might be reached. We always leave our pet sitters and our close family members with a way to get in touch with us in case of an emergency. Remember that you can’t always rely on cell service when traveling to more remote areas, so think beyond that. If you are going on a cruise, most cruise lines will give you the “Shore to Ship” phone number before you sail to give to friends and family. If you are sticking to land travel, names and phone numbers for hotels and campgrounds that you might stay at would be helpful to leave with people you trust.
Hopefully this list gives you some good things to keep in mind as you prepare for your future travels. Do you have any suggestions to add to our list? If so, we’d love to hear them!
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Important Things to Do BEFORE Leaving for Vacation