Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Ready - Set - Go

So, you’ve just booked your fantastic holiday or family vacation, now what?  Getting ready to leave is much more complicated than just packing.  There are so many arrangements that need to be made before leaving home.  It doesn’t matter if it is for a few days or a few weeks, there are some things you need to remember to do.

Years ago, I would wait until the last minute to begin planning for an upcoming trip.  It caused so much stress, I couldn’t really enjoy the experience and ended up exhausted before I ever left.  I already had a great packing list that helped me remember what I wanted to take on the trip so I began to add other things I needed to do before I left.  Now, I don’t worry if I’ve forgotten something because it’s all on the list so I can just relax and enjoy getting ready for my new adventure.

Personal:  I like to have my hair cut and nails done before I leave on my trip so I book that and any other personal appointments a couple of weeks before my departure. 

Documentation and Communication:  I make a copy of my essential information (passport, itinerary, credit cards) and email to myself as well as to an emergency contact.  That way someone always knows where I am and can help me if my documents get lost or stolen.

I contact my phone service provider and check what coverage I will have at my destination.  I always switch my phone to manual updates while I’m traveling to save on data charges.  Also, if I am going to an expensive coverage area I will put my phone on airplane mode and just check when I’m in a free Wi-Fi area.  I also notify my bank and credit card company of my travel plans so my cards stay active while I’m away. 

Shopping:  I make a list of any special clothing items and travel supplies that I might need (bathing suit, sunscreen, toothpaste, shampoo, lotion, medications, clear plastic bags for airport screening, etc.), snacks and some type of frozen or non-perishable food to eat when I return home so I don’t have to shop right away.

Household:  Stop mail, newspaper or any other home deliveries and set light timers.  You can also have a friend come in to water plants, take any flyers off your door and open and close blinds occasionally. 

I always keep a few ice cubes in a plastic dish or baggie in my freezer, that way if the power should go out for any length of time you’ll know if the food you have frozen will be safe to eat after you return.

Just before I leave the house I turn off all the water, set my thermostat to an appropriate temperature (warm during winter, cool during summer), unplug all small appliances (coffee maker, toaster etc.), clean the refrigerator and take out the trash.

 International:  If my trip will be out of the country I add some additional items to my list.  I verify that my passport is valid for at least 6 months past the end of my trip, check any visa or immunization requirements and purchase an electrical adapter for the country I’ll be visiting.  I take paper copies of any maps/guide/translation information that I need as phones don’t always work in all areas.  I also double check that my credit/debit cards will be accepted and purchase a small amount of the local currency before I go. 

I used to arrange my lists by the type of trip I was taking but I realized that it is much simpler if I stick to one basic list and just modify it for whatever clothes or special items that I need.  I also purchase duplicate travel supplies and keep them separate from those that I use at home so I’m not stuck if I happen to forget my hairbrush or toothbrush after getting ready the morning that I leave.

It doesn’t matter if I’m traveling by car, train or plane for a weekend getaway or an extended trip, I use the same list and just modify it for whatever I need.  I love knowing that I can easily plan my trips and don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time I want to go away. 

What are some other things that you do before leaving on a trip?  Do you use a travel or packing list to help you prepare?  Do you enjoy planning for your time away?  Share your experiences and join the conversation!