14 Things to do before going on vacation

Vacation time is finally here! You’ve researched what you want to do and where to stay. Made list upon list of things you need take. But have you really thought of everything?

1. Contact your credit or debit card company

There is nothing worse than being on vacation and having problems with your credit or debit card. Believe me….I’ve had it happen. And in a foreign country too. UGH! Most credit card companies need to know your travel plans. Some are no longer requiring you to do this, but make sure to check before leaving. And make sure you have enough available credit on your credit cards! If you are going to be gone when a payment will be due, be sure to schedule it! Also….make sure to use a card that does not charge a foreign transaction fee if you are going abroad!

2. Contact your cell phone company. 

Are you traveling abroad or going on a ship? Talk to your service provider to find out cheapest plan for making calls, sending text messages and accessing Internet from your smartphone. Many cell phone companies offer affordable day passes to U.S. customers for International talk, text, and data plans. Most cruise lines have internet access, so it is easy to stay in touch with people at home using FaceTime or WhatsAp.

3. Notify your home security system operator. 

This is especially important if you are not going to be available by phone. Give them a secondary phone number if possible, in case they need to contact you.

4. Confirm all reservations. 

Double-check all your reservations: flight, hotel, car rental, restaurants, attractions and any other services or experiences you’ve planned. Flights can change at the last minute….you don’t want any surprises at a check-in counter. Our son once showed up for a hotel reservation, not realizing he made it for the wrong month! Advance preparation helps avoid disaster.

Keep a record of your reservations either in paper form or on your phone. I like to make a master itinerary if going on a longer, more involved vacation. I’ve also been known to take photos of my confirmations. It’s always good to have a backup.

5. Make advance payments on bills that have due dates during your trip. 

Don’t want to get hit with late fees! Make sure all credit cards, housing expenses (e.g., rent, utilities), and other monthly bills will be paid on time. You’re going on vacation…why worry about missing a payment!

6. Check the weather. 

This may seem like an obvious one, but many travelers forget to do it. Check the forecast for your destination and pack appropriately. You can also join a Facebook group if going on a cruise or to a popular location….people love to share their knowledge!

7. Eat, throw out or give away any perishable food. 

Who wants to return home to a stinky fridge! Run the dishwasher, take out the trash and clean the sink. Make sure there’s no food in the drain that could rot or attract bugs while you’re away. Yuck!

8. Leave an itinerary with a friend or family member. 

Your emergency contact should have a copy of your travel plans and locations.

9. Clean out your wallet. 

Remove any items you don’t need while on your trip. Remove loyalty cards, gift cards, extra credit cards, and any other unnecessary contents at home. Only take what you will absolutely use or need while traveling.

10. Place a hold on your mail delivery. 

This is very important if you’re going away for more than a couple days. You could also arrange for a neighbor or family member to collect your mail until you get home.

11. Bring in outdoor furniture, water plants, stop the paper if you get one. 

Don’t leave any outdoor patio chairs, cushions, toys, etc. outside….especially lightweight items that are easy to blow away or be taken. I’ve also heard people say to turn off the water to appliances…like the dishwasher and clothes washer. I don’t recommend this….the one time we did it, it caused our dishwasher to short circuit, resulting in a large repair bill. That was an unwelcome expense to return home to.

12. Close curtains, leave lights on a timer and change your thermostat.

Uncovered windows make it easy for people to look in and see if there is anyone home. Having lights go on and off at different times also provides the illusion that someone is home. Set your thermostat to keep the house cool or warm, depending on when you are traveling. Frozen pipes in the winter is not fun to come home to! And high energy bills to cool the house in the summer aren’t necessary if you’re not home!

13. DON’T….post on social media that you are going to be gone!

This is the NUMBER ONE thing the police tell people not to do before leaving for vacation. Yes, it’s exciting to share your plans, but you never know who is lurking around, looking for an empty home.

14. Arrange for someone to stop by and check on the house.

If possible, have a neighbor, friend or family member check on the house. Leaks happen….we had one that our housekeeper discovered and saved us thousands of dollars in damages by finding it early! Better yet….have someone house sit for you. This is also a great option if you have pets. Saves boarding costs!

Most importantly….relax and enjoy your vacation. You’ve earned it!

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