10 Things to Do Before You Leave on Vacation

Getting ready for your vacation means booking your flight, making hotel reservations and planning your itinerary – but you should also make arrangements on the home side to make sure that things continue to run smoothly in your absence. These 10 things to do before you leave on vacation can ensure that your home and work will keep on keeping on while you enjoy your well-deserved time off.

1. Make arrangements for plant- and pet-sitting.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have made a pet-friendly vacation, make arrangements for a pet sitter well in advance. If you’ll be boarding your pet at a kennel, you’ll need to make reservations at least a few weeks ahead – and for more popular vacation weeks, you may need to book kennel space up to three months ahead of your departure date. Don’t forget to schedule time into the busy days before your departure to drop off your pet.

Most vets agree that it’s far less traumatic for your pet if you can get a neighbor or friend to come by daily to feed your animals, give them fresh water and walk them as needed. It’s also a good idea to ask your pet sitter to schedule in some social time for your animals, who will be missing you and the interaction they’re used to getting.

Aqua Globes or some other self-watering device may be the best option for your plants even if you have a pet sitter coming in. If you’d rather have someone water and tend your plants, make sure you leave them detailed instructions or a watering schedule to avoid coming home to dead or dying plants.

2. Stop Your Mail Delivery
If you’ve got a plant or pet sitter coming by, ask them to take the mail in each day, or ask a neighbor to grab your mail when he picks up his own. If you’ve got no one to pick up your mail for you, you can have your mail held by contacting your local post office, or going to the USPS website to enter a stop order online.

3. Deal with Family Needs
If you’re leaving behind your children or spouse, make arrangements to make sure they have all they need in your absence. Cook up several casseroles and dinners in advance and leave them in the freezer to be heated up. Draw up detailed instructions for caregivers with bedtime routines, snack preferences and any other routines that will help minimize the impact of your absence on small children. If you’re leaving your children in the care of someone other than your spouse, write up a note allowing them to seek medical treatment for your children in an emergency. If any of your children regularly take prescription medications or are under routine care for any medical condition, let your medical provider know what’s going on and ask what arrangements have to be made in order for their office to dispense advice to your child’s care provider in an emergency. In short, if someone will be caring for your children or other family members, make sure they have the tools they need to access any care your kids might need while you’re away.

10 Things to Do Before You Leave on Vacation

4. Get Vacation Meds
If, on the other hand, you’re taking your children along on vacation, make sure that you have up-to-date health insurance cards for each of them, along with a brief medical history and a list of any medications or conditions for which they’re being treated. If any of them take prescription medication, make arrangements with their medical provider to have a “vacation prescription” filled – a bottle labeled with the prescription medication so that you can keep a few days’ supply in carry-on luggage or your purse in case you and your luggage get separated.

5. Take Care of Work Loose Ends
Set up an away message for your email and voice mail at work, letting people know when you expect to return, names of co-workers who can be contacted in your absence and how you can be contacted in an emergency. Make sure that someone in your department can access important files and information, and place important information in easy-to-find, organized file folders so that coworkers don’t blunder through all of your belongings looking for it.

6. Put Together an Itinerary to Leave with Family
Make sure that someone in your family or among your friends know your flight numbers, hotel names and addresses, and telephone numbers to reach you if necessary. If you’ll be hiking or camping, especially in remote areas, arrange check-in times to let them know everything is fine – or so that they’ll know when to send out a search party if they’re not.

7. Set Up Bill Payments in Your Absence
If you don’t have automatic bill payments scheduled as a matter of course, make arrangements to pay your bill on the appropriate day online. No one wants to come home to no electricity because they forgot to pay a bill before leaving on vacation.

8. Clean Out Your Refrigerator
If you’ll be gone for more than a few days, clear your refrigerator of perishables and things that will go bad before your return. There’s very little that’s worse than coming home to a refrigerator full of spoiled food. If it’s summer and there’s a chance of power outages in your area, strip your freezer contents to bare essentials as well, or ask a neighbor if you can borrow some freezer space for the duration.

9. Automate Your House
Set several of your lights on randomly-set timers to make it look as if someone is home. If you have any home automation devices, set them up to play music or turn your television on and off at typical times to further the impression. If you’ll be gone for more than a week or two, arrange to have a neighbor mow your lawn or schedule a lawn care appointment to keep your yard and house from looking unattended and attracting burglars.

10. Arrange to Have Your Home “Re-opened” on the Day You Return
If you’ll be gone for more than a week, arrange with your pet- or plant-sitter or with a neighbor to “open” your house for you on the day you return. Even a few empty days can leave your home smelling and feeling “stale”. Ask a family member or neighbor to drop by on the day you plan to return, open a few windows to air out the house and turn up the heat or air conditioner to bring your home to comfortable temperatures. If they grab a few perishables – milk or cream for coffee, a loaf of bread and some fresh fruit or snacks – you’ll be able to settle in comfortably on your return rather than running around to make your home comfortable again.

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