I love vacations – who doesn’t? Getting away from the usual life, the phone calls, seeing new sites and having new experiences – its great! What is NOT great is spending two weeks wondering if I’ve left a door unlocked or a tap running. (Never have, but has that stopped me wondering? Nope.) So I created a checklist to give me peace of mind for my vacations. These are my MUST-DO’S – not the nice-to-do’s.
- Take care of all pets. This doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Pets will be most comfortable staying at home so there are two fairly inexpensive ways I’ve used to care for my furry family members: one is to have a local teenager that is trustworthy take them on as a part-time job. They can also take in the mail /paper too if you want. Remind them that if they do a good job they can list you as a reference when they go job hunting for real. Another arrangement is to find another pet owner close by and offer to swap pet care. Assuming you both take similar trip times per year (they don’t travel two times a month to your two times a year, for example) this can work out nicely for both of you.
- Take out the garbage. I list this as #2 for a reason. I forgot once, and we came home to a HORRIBLY stinky home. It was awful! If you forget to clean out your refrigerator, it’s contained and you can quickly fix it. If you forget your garbage, well — live with the consequences.
- If you take meds, be sure you have enough for your entire vacation, and PACK THEM FIRST. Chances are you aren’t taking them because they taste good so forgetting them would be a nightmare. Imagine trying to get hold of your doctor for an emergency prescription that your insurance will approve for whatever pharmacy you are close to. And if you are on five meds? Yikes!
- Make sure any bills are paid that will hit while you are gone. Late payments are one of the things that drag your credit score down the most. It would be a shame to get dinged because your bill was forgotten in the rush to leave.
- Unplug appliances and electronics in case of a power surge while you are gone. Make sure nothing else is running – dishwasher, washing machine, etc.
- Make sure that you have ALL bags, ID’s, credit cards, insurance cards, cash, travelers checks, boarding passes, reservations, emergency contacts with you before you lock up.
- Lock all windows and doors. Arrange for a neighbor to have a key and check on your home periodically – just walk by and keep an eye out for anything suspicious. They don’t need to go in unless they are getting your mail, watering your plants, feeding your pets or something.
- Do NOT post ANYTHING about leaving ANYWHERE. Not on your cell phone, answering machine, Facebook, Twitter, nowhere except your security neighbor (and your alarm company if you have one). Thieves regularly troll all of these places looking for these kinds of posts. If they see you aren’t at home, they know your home is vulnerable. Don’t make yourself an easy target.
- Make sure you have your electronics and chargers, and that electronics are fully charged before you leave. Chances are you are going to be in a car or an airport/plane for a while, so a fully charged phone/e-book/laptop/tablet is a very good idea. When they run out of juice you will need to recharge them. Did you bring your charger? Yes, you can probably buy a new one, but it’s a lot easier to just remember to pack the one you have.
- Keep the things you have to have close by: Keep a bottle of water, your phone, a printout of travel arrangements and emergency numbers, your wallet, meds and if possible, a change of clothing (or at least a change of underwear) with you. Toss in a snack if there is room. This will save you if you get stranded under any conditions — and I’ve been stranded at: airports, in the Rocky mountains when snow has closed the interstate, by the side of the road when my car has died, in the middle of South Dakota during a thunderstorm, (amazing thunderstorm but nowhere to stay!) and at a motel when I got strep and couldn’t travel until I got well.
So, there are my “Top Ten Things to Do Before you Leave on Vacation”. There are tons of lists out there, and I’m sure many of you have lists of your own. What is on your “must do” before YOU leave?