Gearing up for a vacation? Your mind may be focused on your destination, but don’t forget to take care of your home, sweet home, before you leave it behind. I’m on the road, near constantly, since 2011 and over the years I’ve learned to take care of a few things before leaving for a trip. My to-do list, once crafted, has been serving me for many years, and while I allow some room for flexibility, I’m also a creature of habit who likes to keep things easy and simple.
While there a few more things you may have to do before setting off, here I prepared a few that are unavoidable and the majority of us need to take care of.
First things first, shore up your financials. That means paying off any outstanding bills and, if you’ll be gone a long time, possibly arranging for a pause in services. If you have automatic payments scheduled, it’s important to remember this when drafting your vacation budget.
My tip: Don’t leave this until the very last moment. It might happen that it will take a while to cancel a payment you no longer want to extend. Also, some transactions need to be cancelled in person so the sooner you do it, the less stressed you’ll be in your last days at home.
That budget will depend mainly on what kind of trip you’re taking. If it’s no business and all pleasure, feel free to go crazy at that Disney souvenir shop in Orlando, Florida. But maybe you’re a real estate flipper and want to set aside some time while you’re in Wisconsin to scout Milwaukee houses for sale, it might be a good idea to reserve a portion of your funds for possible investments. In either case, don’t forget to factor in non-recreational essentials like food, lodging, and transportation.
Next up, make sure that the people who need to know you’re going away do indeed know. Don’t just assume if you haven’t told someone directly, either. Make sure of it yourself. Take a moment to think about everyone who should be informed, not just friends, family, and employers, but also co-workers, teachers, local police and fire services, and more.
What’s more, don’t just tell those people you’ll be gone and leave it at that. Make sure they have your contact information and the contact information for where you’ll be staying. This is in case of unexpected emergencies that could pop up at any time. It might be a good idea for you to check in with people proactively during your vacation, too. At the very least, check your phone, text, and email messages regularly.
My tip: On a piece of paper, try to make a list of all of the important people you need to contact before leaving. Hang the paper on your fridge door. Next to their names, write down their contact number. Each time you look at your list, try to make a phone call to one person and inform her/him about your departure day. In this way, not only you will never forget a single person to reach out to but you also might enjoy smaller chats here and there throughout the week rather than spending a day or two on your phone feeling overwhelmed with phone calls.
127 Hours, a Hollywood movie based on a true story, is an example of what could happen if you don’t let anyone know where you’re going. While it’s almost the worst-case scenario possible, it could and did happen. Let’s take this as a lesson and try not to repeat history.
For shorter trips, this may not be necessary, but if you’re going to be gone a while it’s generally a good idea to contact your local post office and request they put a temporary hold on delivering mail to your address. This will prevent your mail from piling up in your mailbox, possibly to the point of overflowing, and as a result getting lost or stolen.
Alternatively, you can ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up and hold onto your mail while you’re gone. This has the added advantage of allowing you to call them to ask what kind of mail you received. If you’ve been anxiously awaiting a particular letter, they can open it at your request and either read it to you over the phone or send you a picture.
For me, it’s extremely important to double-check if my travel insurance is valid and if so, if it provides me with all the necessary coverage for my trip. If not, I either get a new one or simply change a plan on my current insurance for the one that fully covers my needs. When it comes to health, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Whether it’s a short or long trip, I make sure I have copies of the following: my passport, Polish ID, visa if I need one as well as my credit and debit cards. Again, it’s better to be safe than sorry and I’ve witnessed a lot of cases in which people I met lost their documents and didn’t have any copies with them. It created a lot of stress and problems that can be easily avoided by making a hard or electronic copy of all of your valuable documents.
If your fridge is always full as mine is, this tip can be very helpful for you. Imagine coming back home after your lovely trip and being exposed to unpleasant smells and waste. You don’t want that, trust me, so make sure to get rid of any foods that will expire soon and eat up your leftovers as I do.
This can be very helpful if you live in a big house. Think about how much money and energy you can save just by doing this one simple thing. Please don’t forget to unplug your electronics and turn them off before locking the door.
Last but not least, before you finally leave the house, do one last check-up to make sure everything is in order. Then do a second one, just because. That doesn’t mean only double-checking everything mentioned above, but also making sure your luggage is packed, your pets are taken care of, the oven is off, your windows are shut, your doors are locked, and so much more.
You can never be too careful. Having someone house-sit for you is always helpful, but it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. In other words, know that your house-sitter may not be there 24/7. They might leave for food or other personal reasons. That’s why it’s better to take matters into your own hands as much as possible. Make a list of everything you need to take care of before you leave, then run through it at least twice.
Is there anything on my to-do list that you do and I didn’t include? 🙂 Please share your recommendation/-s in the comment section below. It’s never too late for me to update mine. Thanks!