The reservations are made, and you've been looking forward to this vacation for months. But whether you're spending a week at a nearby beach or a month trekking in the Himalayas, there are things you can do in advance to make your trip—and your return home—smoother and more stress-free.
Use this checklist to get yourself ready for a great vacation.
Two Weeks or More Before Your Trip
- Let coworkers, colleagues, and clients know you will be away, and reschedule meetings, appointments, and deadlines.
- Make arrangements for someone to care for your pets while you're gone.
- If you'll be gone more than a week, find someone to take care of the yard and water your plants.
- Check your insurance coverage: If you'll be renting a car, find out if your car insurance covers rentals. If not, you can purchase insurance from the rental car company. If you will be traveling abroad, check whether your health insurance covers medical emergencies in a foreign country. If it doesn't, consider buying travel insurance.
- If you are traveling in another country, find out if your cell phone will work at your destination and what you'll pay for calls, texts, and data. Apps that use WiFi, international calling packages, and phones purchased overseas are all options to reduce your costs.
- If you're flying, check airline baggage size restrictions and measure your luggage. If it's too big, buy or borrow something the right size.
- If you're driving, take care of oil changes, worn tires, wiper blades, and other maintenance.
The Week Before Your Trip
- Pay bills that will be due while you're gone. This may be a good time to set up auto-pay options.
- Get prescription refills to last the entire time you're away.
- Take photos of important documents—your passport, driver's license, car insurance card, and the labels on all prescriptions. If you're traveling overseas, also make two photocopies of your passport—one to take with you and one to leave with someone back home.
- Place holds on newspaper and mail delivery, or ask someone to pick up your mail while you're gone.
- If you're concerned about theft, make the house look occupied by buying some timers and setting them to automatically turn indoor lamps on and off.
- Make sure you have enough pet food and supplies.
- Make a list of things to pack.
- Gather reading material and other entertainment for your trip. If you're traveling with children, assemble a kit of toys, books, and comfort items for each child.
- Organize your travel documents, including airline, hotel, and rental car reservations. You can print hard copies and stick them in a folder, or use a digital app. Print out directions to your destinations, especially if you will be traveling in foreign countries or rural areas where your usual GPS app may not work.
- Let friends, family, and your landlord know you are traveling, and how to reach you in an emergency.
- Leave a key with a friend or neighbor who can check on your home if necessary.
The Day Before Your Trip
- Do laundry early in the day so you won't be up late waiting for your favorite jeans to dry.
- Pack, using your list as a guide.
- Charge your electronics.
- Make a list of last-minute items to pack, such as your toothbrush and phone charger.
- Call your bank and credit card companies and let them know you'll be traveling.
- Set up an auto-response on your email so you won't feel pressured to check and answer emails during your vacation.
Just Before You Leave
- Adjust your thermostat to save energy. If it's cold out, don't set the thermostat any lower than 50 degrees in order to prevent pipes from freezing. In hot weather, set it to between 80 and 85.
- Unplug appliances or turn off power strips to save energy and prevent destructive power surges.
- Wash the dishes. You don't want to come back to a houseful of ants.
- Lock your windows, and close curtains and blinds if you are worried about theft.
- Pack those last-minute items.
- Water the plants.
- Leave extra water out for pets who will be staying behind.
- Lock the door on your way out and enjoy your trip!
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