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Preparing for Vacation: What to Do Before You Leave

Whether one is a frequent flyer or a once-a-year vacationer, everyone has to prepare for a trip much the same way. There are certain things that have to be taken care of before we leave so we can have a worry-free time. Here is my “preparing to vacation checklist” that I carry out before every trip so I can travel with ease.  

Weeks Leading Up to Trip 

  • Make sure that your beloved pets have someone to care for them. This might need to be done several months in advance depending on your area.  
  • Make sure any prescriptions you need are filled so you don’t run out mid-vacation. You don’t want to leave this to the last minute, as some prescriptions may be restricted and your doctor will need to prescribe them specially to cover your vacation and call in a “gap” prescription. You may also need to haggle with your insurer to get coverage. 
  • Create a packing list. I like to start this early, because I find that invariably as I’m going about my business over time I will think of things I will need that I won’t necessarily think of if I’m just sitting down and trying to plan. You will want to keep an eye on the weather forecast so try to finish last-minute details just before. Here is my one of packing blogs that includes my printable packing list: https://roaminghistorian.com/2018/01/21/travel-tips-packing-light/
  • Check your phone plan. This is especially important if you are leaving the country. Using your phone abroad can result in an astronomical phone bill. Check out the plans your carrier has for leaving the country. If they’re too costly, consider buying a SIM card from the country to which you’re traveling or use Whatsapp via wi-fi. Just make sure that you have turned off your data and roaming, so that there are no nasty surprises. 
  • Have the postal service hold your mail. This also serves as a security measure as potential thieves won’t see your mailbox overflowing. Consider pausing subscription services or other deliveries that may occur while you’re gone. Depending on your circumstances (length of vacation, etc.), some delivery companies will hold your packages free of charge (like USPS), but some charge. It might be easier to just ensure you’re not getting deliveries or have a neighbor/friend pick up. 
  • You may want to let a trusted neighbor know you will be gone. We let the police department know we’re out of town. When patrolling they keep an eye out for suspicious activity (basically any activity since our house should be vacant) and if there was a fire they would be able to alert the fire department that our home was vacant.  
  • Call your credit card companies and bank. Even if you’re staying within your home country, financial institutions may freeze your card if they see a bunch of charges coming from a location they don’t normally originate from. Ward off this impending problem that can put a huge wrench in your fun by calling the financial institutions whose cards you will be using and let them know what dates you will be traveling and to where. 

Day Before You Leave 

  • Set your “out of office” email message.  
  • Make sure you have all your travel documents and that you’ve emailed yourself a copy of them. I send myself a copy of my passport and a list of all important numbers, including my credit card companies, bank, hotels, airlines, frequent flier mileage number, etc. Although I generally have a printed copy of my airline ticket information, hotel reservations, train tickets, etc., I also email myself these copies so that I have all my travel confirmations in one place. If your wallet is stolen, you will be happy that you have the information you need. 
  • Re-confirm all travel reservations.  
  • Pay bills and make sure you have banking apps on your phoneso that you can monitor bills, expenditures, and your finances. You don’t want to come home from a fun vacation to find an overdue notice on a bill and a late fee.  
  • Pack your bags—it’s almost go-time!  
  • Make sure your phone is uploaded with all the travel apps you will need and bookmark any pertinent travel websites. Before I leave (and when I still have steady wi-fi), I upload all the travel apps I need (airline, lodging, sightseeing) and download any podcasts I plan to play, maps I want to access, and any other data I want to use when offline. I also bookmark any cool websites I’ve found detailing sites to see, places to shop, restaurants at which to eat, or adventures to have. 
  • Check in for your flight; make a screen shot of boarding pass so you’re not dependent on internet for it to load. 

Day of Travel 

  • Prep your home: unplug appliances, lower water heater temperature, set thermostat to reasonable level, turn off lights, close windows, take out trash, etc.; try to make your home as energy efficient as possible while you’re gone and make it a place that will be nice to come home to. 
  • Take pictures of things you may worry about later, i.e. unplugged iron, stove turned off, locked door, closed garage door, etc. You can ward off the dreaded “did I turn it off or did I lock it?” fears that happen when traveling by taking pictures of the things that you worry about most. Whenever you wake up in a panic, just look at the picture of your iron’s cord hanging off the ironing board and you’ll be able to fall right back to sleep. 

I hope this list helps you prepare for your next vacation. One more little tip that I always do is to keep a copy of my packing list saved to my phone. One reason is that if my luggage is lost it will help me tell the airline what the contents were and another is that it helps me at the end of the trip when I’m packing to go home to know I’m leaving with everything I came with.  Have fun on your next trip and happy travels! Amy

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