A Pre-Vacation Checklist

I tend to spend most of my time planning for a vacation and not actually getting organized, but with a little thought ahead of time, you can take care of all your loose ends so you don’t stress out when you return home!
One Month Before Your Vacation

Two Weeks Before Your Vacation

  • Confirm all travel arrangements.  Look out for any schedule changes on flights or other transportation and make sure it still works with your intended itinerary (call the airlines to check on your other options if the changes are significant and no longer work for you!).  While you’re at it, check with the hotels to make sure your reservation wasn’t accidentally lost and double check you booked everything for the correct day(s).
  • Make arrangements with someone to watch your home while you’re gone.  Having a neighbor or friend keep an eye on your home is just a smart idea, so make sure to leave your contact information with them in case they need to get ahold of you.  If you’re traveling without your furry friend, make arrangements for pet care while you’re at it.

One Week Before Your Vacation

  •  Have print-outs of all confirmations packed to bring along with you.  By this point, you’ve probably sorted out any issues with your confirmations, and are ready to get organized.  I prefer paper copies to everything, since they’re easier to share with front desk associates if necessary, but if you prefer electronic versions, keep everything sorted in a way that makes sense to you, in email folders, saved copies, or other options.
  • Gather maps and other essentials.  Don’t wait for the night before a trip to frantically download maps to your GPS.  I’ve done that, and the results either leave you stressed or end up costing twice as much as expected.  And yes, atlases and other maps are still handy in a digital age.

Three Days Before Your Vacation

  • Stop at the Bank to Get Small Change.  In a world that’s becoming increasingly cashless, it’s still nice to have cash on hand for tips.  Don’t find yourself at the airport needing to tip $1-2 when you only have twenty-dollar bills from the ATM.  A few loose bills can go a long way.
  • Empty your wallet and bring only what’s necessary.  Do you really need a dozen cards in your wallet?  I like to bring two different types of cards (i.e. a Visa and MasterCard) in case a merchant doesn’t accept all card types, but chances are you don’t need a ton of other options beyond the first two or three cards.
  • Call your credit card company and notify them you will be using their card abroad so they don’t put a hold on your account for fraudulent use.
  • Pay the rent and other necessary bills so you don’t miss any deadlines.  Vacation is expensive enough without late fees!

Day Before Your Vacation

  • Recharge any batteries you are bringing along – you’ll want that digital camera ready to go in case there’s a great photo opportunity right off the bat.
  • Have your mail and newspapers placed on hold until you get home, at least when you’ll be gone longer than a few days.

Right Before You Leave

  • Clean the house.  Trust me, I’ve forgotten to throw out perishables in the fridge, wash the dishes, and empty the garbage before a trip and it’s not a pleasant smell when you return.  Do it ahead of time; it’s twenty minutes well spent!
  • Be Energy Efficient.  Vacation is expensive enough as it is, so save a few bucks at home by turning off the air conditioning/heating, unplugging electrical devices, and turning your water heater down/off.  There’s no reason to keep everything running when you’re not at home to use it!

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Editor and Lead Author at The Girl and Globe
Becky loves hiking and the outdoors, reading a good book on a rainy day, practicing yoga with friends, cooking with Sinatra in the background, relaxing with her husband and a good glass of wine, and above all: travel. Read more about Becky.

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  1. says

    For 2 weeks before, I’d also add to check the expiration date on your credit cards. I once traveled with an expired card having put the new card in my checkbook — which, naturally, I’d left at home. Oops!

    • says

      @Deirdre, oops! That’s a great point – often the cards I bring with me when traveling internationally are not the same as my everyday cards at home (since avoiding foreign transaction fees ends up being more important than rewards), so it’s possible those cards have gotten dusty enough to expire! Thanks for the tip!

  2. FEV says

    I also turn off water to sinks/toilets on the day that I leave after a friend of mine had a bathroom pipe burst while on vacation, causing extensive water damage.

  3. List-Maker says

    When traveling during winter months (I reside in USA-MN)I make arrangements to keep the drive snowplowed and sidewalks shoveled; also,I ask a few friends to drive up the driveway occasionally, so there are always car tracks visible from the street…I also place several indoor & outdoor lights on automatic timers, so it always appears as if I am present/on schedule.

  4. Ileen Breslow says

    I thought this was a great idea for anybody that is going to out of town for any reason great great idea!!!!!!

  5. pat says

    If you are going out of the country, don’t forget to let your credit card company know!! We were in the middle of France and denied because they were suspicious!!!

  6. says

    IF you use debit card as your cc…..Notify your bank in advance Where you are traveling and up the daily limit of debits permitted or amount they will allow you to withdraw.

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