Tickets booked? Hotel reservations made? Travel guides purchased?
In all the excitement to get your suitcases packed and getting out the door, don’t forget about some of the mundane daily life things that need taking care of before you go on a family vacation.
Here are the Globetrotter’s 30 really practical tips for preparing you and your home for holidays.
Preparing the house
Unless you have a house sitter or live in housekeeper, it’s quite likely your property will remain empty for the duration of your trip, so what little steps can you take to keep your household in shape while you’re away?
1. Work out a meal plan in the few days before departure to minimise fresh groceries and use items up so no food is left in the fridge– go on spoil yourself to take away on that last night or try some interesting leftover combinations – see you’re a taste adventurer before even leaving your home country!
2. Cancel any deliveries that might be made during your absence or arrange someone to take them in for you. See if the post office can hold your mail.
3. If you use auto-timers for lights or sprinklers, check these are working and come on at the right times.
4. Water plants or arrange a neighbour to help out if possible.
5. Check temperature control – especially if you live in a location prone to extremes – can thermostats be lowered or air-conditioning increased to minimise wastage while you’re away without needing to turn everything off?
6. Are any bills due to be paid why you’re away? Set up any direct debits or leave cash in advance.
7. If you have a safe lock away any cash and valuables, and check general home security; you may like to inform a door-man/gate guard or trusted neighbour of your absence and to report any suspicious activity while you’re gone.
8. If you are planning a long trip, check your home and contents insurance. Some policies may have an absence exclusion on them such as the property cannot be left unoccupied for more than 60 days.
9. Prepare what you can for your return home, for example clothes ready to go straight to bed, a pre-cooked meal in the freezer, can someone come in and turn your cooling or heating on?
Some people like to pack weeks in advance, some the night before. I am a happy medium packer about 24-48 before departure, mostly because with small children there are so many things I need up to the last-minute.
Here are a few things that always go into our packing process;
10. Check the weather forecast at your destination for appropriate clothing.
11. Work out what must-have outfits need to come with you and get them into the wash cycle a few days before (we’ve all done the wear your daggy old underwear trick before a holiday right?)
12. Get all electronics on to chargers; match up the right charger to the right electronics, check they are all in working order and you have the right adaptor for your destination (for some great ideas on packing electronics and cables check out my Preparing for a Family Flight page).
13. Create your busy-bags for the plane. Try and keep these out of eyesight and avoid including any favourite items that will be desperately missed before the flight.
14. Get snack bag items prepared, work out bottles, formula, snacks for the journey, snacks for arrival – check current on board liquid restrictions.
15. Make sure suitcases are labelled, all checked baggage tagged and somehow marked or addressed inside so you can easily identify them.
16. Try on your baby sling, make any adjustments for you/your babies changing size since your last trip (trust me, much easier at home than when you reach the check in counter).
17. As an extra step you may want to photograph any travel equipment you are taking to prove their condition before the flight in the event of an insurance claim – a hassle but might be worth it for the expensive items, (again been there done that).
Do you love a good checklist? All subscribers to the Globetrotters online community can download this free checklist
18. Check online booking or call the airline at least 48 hours in advance to confirm seat bookings (have you decided your seating strategy, luggage limits, children’s meals.
19. Confirm with your accommodation the set up you would like for bedding and arrival time (there’s about a 50/50 chance they will listen or respond).
20. Advise your bank / credit card company there will be overseas transactions.
21. Leave a travel itinerary with emergency contact numbers with a family member or friend – don’t just rely on having your mobile with you.
22. Get photocopies of important travel documents, take a spare set with you in packed luggage and one in suitcase.
23. Arrange transportation to the airport and get any car seats/strollers packed ready.
Last Minute Jobs
24. Check you have packed the essentials such as;
- Phone /Camera / Ipads
- House keys
25. Depending on your departure time, either look to wear the kids out with a trip to the park, or if flying at night, can you get them in their PJs ready, or even get them down for a few hours rest.
26. Put on clean clothes and do any nappy changes / toilet stops.
27. Turn off and unplug any electronic items that you can.
28. Last minute cleaning! Make sure all surfaces are wiped clean (leave out ant traps or similar if this is a particular problem for you).
29. Take rubbish bins out – especially nappy bins/diaper pails!
30. Lock the doors!!
Phew! Now get on your way and enjoy your travels as you know everything is safe at home.
Are there any pre-leaving rituals you always undertake?
© Our Globetrotters