A Few Days Before
Figure Out Your Mail
If you are going to be gone for an extended amount of time, you need to figure out what you’re going to do with your mail. Do you have a trusted neighbor that you can ask to get your mail every day and hold it for you? If not, you will have to go to your local post office and submit PS FORM 8076 to the clerk so that the post office will hold your mail for you.
Get Your Car Inspected
If you are going on a long road trip, you’d better make sure that your car is up for the task! Many mechanics have a “road trip check” that you can get before you go. They will check things such as lights, brakes, fluids, tires, suspension, cooling system, etc. Or if you’re not sure your car will make it, you might just want to rent a car for the trip. This site will let you calculate your fuel savings, in case you’re curious (unfortunately, it does only calculate it per year, but it’s fun to know anyway)!
Install Light Timers
When you are gone, you don’t want to leave all of your lights off, making it look like no one’s home, but you also don’t want to leave a light on the whole time (burglars will see right through that one). An easy way to make it look like you are still home but without using too much energy is to install timers on your lights so that they turn on and off around your home at different times. This will make it look like you are still home and deter burglars. Also remember to wait to post vacation plans and photos until after you return home — or your posts will scream “We’re on vacation! Rob us!”
Don’t leave packing to the last minute, as that is when you are more prone to forget things. A few days before you leave, make a packing list of everything that you want to take with you, and as you place them in your suitcase, check them off. Make sure that everything that you will need is on your list, including medicines, chargers, clothing, etc. Another reason to keep a list is so that you don’t pack too many things — without a list you will just throw things in your bag willy nilly, and end up with 12 shirts and no pants!
The Big Day
Go Through the Fridge, Empty Trash Cans, and Flush Toilets
Do a quick clean up around the house to make sure that nothing will rot or ferment when you are away. Start with your fridge. Throw out or eat any food that will go bad when you are away. Next, go through the house and take out your trash cans. Finally, as you are about to leave, do one last run through the house and make sure that all the toilets are flushed (especially if you have small children). Nothing is worse than being greeted as you come home from your vacation with the smell of fermenting urine or moldy food.
Ensure You Have Necessary Documents
Do a quick check to make sure that you have all of the necessary documents for your vacation. If you are taking a road trip, do you have directions printed out as well as a map in case you get lost? Do you have your license and registration? If you are flying, do you have your itinerary as well as necessary identification? If you are going out of the country, do you have everyone’s passports and visas? If you staying at a hotel do you have your printed reservation? It may also be a wise idea to carry some cash in case your card doesn’t work.
Re-check that You Locked Up
You would be amazed at how many people go on vacation without properly securing their home. The last thing that you should do before you leave is to run through the house (as you are checking your toilets) to make sure that all doors are locked and all windows are closed. We even suggest that you take your hide-a-key with you or leave it with a trusted neighbor. As you drive away, watch to make sure that your garage door closes all the way as well.
Make Sure That You Have Everyone
You wouldn’t want your kids to experience a remake of “Home Alone.” Right as you are pulling out, name off your family members one by one, and have them say “here,” including your spouse. While you can buy a tube of toothpaste at the store wherever in the world you are going, you cannot replace a child.
Let's discuss: What other items can you think of to add to our checklist?