I just got back from a five-day trip. A vacation be relaxing, but at the same time, you need to do a little more prep work ahead of time to ensure that things run as smoothly as possible while you are gone. This is especially important if you are taking an extended vacation of a week or more.
Taking care of your home while you are on vacation
One of the best things you can do is to make a “to-do” list of what needs to be done before you leave town. Think about what is likely to happen while you are gone, and what should be taken care of in your absence. Your to-do list should include some of the following items:
- Put your mail on hold at the post office, or have a trusted friend or relative bring it in the house for you. It is risky to leave your mailbox stuffed full.
- Put your newspapers on hold. You can either get credit for the days the newspapers aren’t delivered, or you can usually donate them to local schools. Newspapers piled up in front of your home are a tip-off to would-be thieves that you are gone.
- Halt other deliveries. We have milk delivery from a local dairy. If you have grocery delivery or some other type of delivery, have it stopped while you are gone.
- Have your plants watered. If you don’t have an automatic timer for your garden, consider paying one of the neighborhood children to take care of it. Have a trusted friend or relative care for plants. (He or she can bring the mail in while being about it.)
- Take care of your pets. If you aren’t taking your pets with you, you will need them cared for. Outside pets usually just need someone to check on them and feed and water them, and maybe take them for a walk. Indoor pets need more care. There are automatic fish feeders that can release food for tank-dwelling animals. You might also consider boarding your pets if other options are not feasible.
- Unplug your appliances. TVs, computers and even cordless phones (provided you have an answering service instead of a machine) can be unplugged while you are gone in order to save money on electricity. Turn off the air conditioner as well.
- Set up automatic bill pay. If you have bills that will be due while you are gone, either pay them early, or set up automatic bill pay so that they will be taken care of while you are gone. Many hotels offer online Internet, and if you bring your laptop, you can keep tabs on your finances online.
- Notify others of where you will be. Let those who need to know where you are going, and how long you expect to be gone. Let those you work for know that you will be leaving, and make sure family knows when you are expected back. That way, if something happens and you are not back, they have something helpful to tell the police.
Take it with you while you are on vacation
It is also useful to make a to-do list of things that you need to take with you while on vacation. Make sure that you think about what you will need. Make your list well ahead of time, so that you are less likely to forget something. Then, as you pack, check items off the list. What you need will vary according to your mode of travel and your personal preferences, but here are some general suggestions for what to include in your luggage:
- Good atlas/map. You need to know where you are going. And, even if you have GPS, it is a good idea to bring a back-up atlas or map. You never know when you might have a technological malfunction.
- Chargers. Take stock of the gadgets you will be bringing — from DVD players for the kids to your cell phone — and make sure that you have the proper chargers for all of your electronics.
- Memory cards for your camera. Buy an extra memory card or two for your camera so that you have plenty of room for pictures.
- Batteries. Some electronics still require batteries (my camera, for one). Check to see what kind of batteries your electronics take, and pack some extra.
- Entertainment for the kids. We have a small backpack that our son fills with books and toys when we go on a trip. This keeps him occupied whether we are in the car or on a plane (or sitting in the airport).
- Prescriptions. Check your prescriptions, and make sure you have what you need. You may need to get special permission from your doctor to refill a little early in some cases. This can usually be arranged, but you should plan for it ahead of time.
- Hand sanitizer. Whether in bottle or wipe form, it is always a good idea to have hand sanitizer along.
If you are going to be gone for a long period of time, you can also plan to do laundry along the way. Many hotels and vacation rentals have laundry facilities that can help you cut down on the amount of clothes that you have to pack. Just make sure to bring enough quarters. Also, realize that if you forget something, it’s not the end of the world. You can usually find a store somewhere that has what you need.