The whole purpose of going on a vacation is to relax, but preparing for a trip can be really stressful. I've never been one to just throw a few items in a bag and leave my house at the last minute. I also like to safeguard my home so it doesn't look like we are away and we don't come home to spoiled food in the fridge and extra dirty laundry. For that reason, I have a whole list of things to do before going out of town. I've found it's easier to divide up the tasks you'll need to accomplish over the course of a week to make them more manageable, and to reduce the stress of getting all of the important things done before you leave.
One Week Before
1. Place the newspaper subscription on hold to save money and not alert burglars you are gone.
2. Submit a hold mail request at the post office to keep the mailbox from overflowing and packages from getting damaged.
3. Confirm any details with your dog walker or neighbor who might be coming over to water plants. It doesn't hurt to leave a key with someone in the event your home needs to be checked after a bad storm or another emergency.
4. Pick up any special items, such as sunscreen or dollar store toys for the airplane, that you might need for the trip.
5. Get money out of the bank so you have small bills handy for tipping, parking, and other unanticipated expenses that require cash.
Three Days Before
6. Locate important documents, such as passports and birth certificates, which will be needed for security. It doesn't hurt to make two photocopies (one to leave with family and the other to pack with you).
7. Begin to gather items you know you will need, such as bathing suits, in a laundry basket or put them all in the guest room.
8. Send a note into school if your children will be missing class, so they can be alerted to any work they'll need to do on vacation.
9. Freeze a meal or stock up on pantry items that can quickly be turned into a meal on your return home.
10. Download new books, movies, and apps to your tablet in case WiFi or your network isn't working at your destination.
Two Days Before
11. Wash all the laundry, so you have clothes to pack and something clean to wear when you arrive back home.
12. Place a light or two on an automatic timer so your house doesn't appear vacant.
13. Refill prescriptions at your pharmacy.
14. Pick up and drop off any dry cleaning.
15. Refill your car with gas so it is fueled to start your journey or get you to the airport.
One Day Before
16. Clean out the refrigerator of any perishables.
17. Secure valuables, such as extra house keys, checkbooks, and lost credit cards so they don't get misplaced or stolen while you are away.
18. Confirm that windows are locked and closed.
19. Double check your itinerary, including rental car reservations, hotel confirmations, and flight status. We've almost missed a few planes when we rely on our recollection of the flight time, instead of the actual scheduled time.
20. Make a list of any items you need to pack at the last minute or to- do's you have to accomplish before you leave.
On Departure Day
21. Adjust thermostat so the HVAC system won't be running overtime in your absence. It's best to keep it running at modified temperatures in both winter and summer to protect your home.
22. Run the dishwasher with any final dishes.
23. Take out the trash and recycling.
24. Turn computers and major electronic equipment off -- it will save energy.
25. Set the house alarm and remember to lock the door (and bring a key with you) when you leave.
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