How to Prepare for Vacation Checklist!

How to Prepare for Vacation Countdown Checklist!

Packing up your family to leave for vacation is a crazy and chaotic project, which often leaves me wondering if going away is worth the effort involved!  In order to simplify your departure, here’s a day by day vacation preparation checklist to insure your peace of mind!

Three days before departure

  • Suspend your mail and newspapers.  Both of these tasks can be accomplished online.  For the mail, go to, and for the paper, check out your local paper’s website.
  • Stop other delivery services.
  • Depending on how long you’ll be gone, you may need to arrange to have your lawn mowed.  An overgrown lawn is a big giveaway that the homeowners are not at home!
  • Take a quick look at your personal and/or business calendar.  Do you need to cancel any appointments or RSVP to any meetings or social events that will occur while you are away?  Or which will occur during the first few days that you are back at home?  Similarly, will your children be missing any days at school during this vacation?  Call in their absences in advance.  Get these phone calls done!
  • Pick up dry cleaning, especially if there’s something you’d like to pack that is at the cleaners or at the tailors.
  • If you are going for an extended vacation, arrange for your trash or recycle cans to be set out for collection and then returned to your garage.  If you’re lucky, you have a neighbor’s child who can help with this!  Kids are also great for watering plants and flowers while you’re away.
  • Confirm pet care if needed.
  • If driving, check air pressure in tires, coolant, oil and wiper fluid.
  • Pick up any needed refills of prescriptions.
  • Pay bills.
  • Confirm reservations.
  • Begin packing! I find that if I put an empty laundry basket in everyone’s room, I can fill the baskets gradually with the travel clothing and then just pack the suitcases right before leaving!  (Check out my Perfect Packing Tips for more suggestions!)
  • Purchase timers to be set on a few lamps around your house.  Lights timed to turn on and off at appropriate hours will give your home a lived in look while you are away.

One Day Before Departure

  • Take a minute to set up those timers you bought three days ago! Set the timers to go on and off at different times.
  • Clean out your refrigerator and discard all perishables.  Make sure that your refrigerator isn’t set to a “super cool” temperature.  Since it won’t be opened and closed while you’re away, you can drop the temperature a little!
  • Get cash and fill up your gas tank if you’re driving.
  • Charge rechargeables.
  • Set DVR/VCR.
  • Leave a copy of your itinerary, cell phone numbers and a house key with a trust worthy relative or neighbor.  This way you can be reached if something goes awry during your vacation.  We were enjoying sunny Florida when a blizzard dumped two feet of snow at home.  Our neighbor let us know how bad it was, and we were able to make arrangements for snow removal before we got back!
  • Check the weather forecast for your destination.

Three Hours Before Departure

  • Turn up your air conditioning temperature (summer) or turn down your heating temperature (winter).   But in either case, don’t turn the heat or air completely off!  Without heat, pipes could burst and without air, mold and mildew will grow, not to mention your favorite candles may melt!
  • Adjust window shades and blinds to a semi-open position and park a car in your driveway, again trying to maintain the feel that someone is at home.
  • Empty your trash cans.
  • Water your plants.
  • Load the car with all necessary luggage.
  • Unplug your washer and dryer, coffee maker, the iron if you were doing some last minute touch ups, toaster, hair dryer, phones without answering machines, radios and TV’s.  This will save electricity and reduce damage should there be a power surge.
  • If you use gas, turn off the pilot light and shut down the water heater.  Turn off the water to the dishwasher and clothes washer – again, a pressure surge could burst a water pipe!

Fifteen Minutes Before Departure

  • Double check that you have the most essential items:  wallet with funds, driver’s license/photo ID, health insurance card, proof of car insurance, auto registration, AAA card, cell phone/pda/laptop and chargers,  iPod, airline tickets and itinerary/confirmations, credit cards and passports if needed, camera, date book, emergency contact information/important phone numbers,  medical history, list of medications, prescriptions, travel insurance, and if traveling by car, maps and directions.
  • If you are traveling by plane, you may also want to take along chewing gum, snacks and bottled water, earphones, earplugs, sleeping mask, and travel pillow.
  • Lock all doors and windows, including the garage door into the house if your garage is attached to your home.  Make sure you take the keys with you!!!

Following this vacation checklist should make your departure as pleasurable and easy as your impending vacation!  Enjoy your trip with confidence! 

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8 responses to “How to Prepare for Vacation Checklist!”

  1. Allison says:

    This is a great list! It’s nice to be able to double check yourself when leaving home!

  2. Jill says:

    Does everyone really turn off their water and gas before leaving for a vacation?

  3. Host Bee says:

    Probably not! – but this is a standard recommendation! I imagine that taking this action is influenced by prior experiences, the time of year, and the length of the vacation.

  4. Bill Timson says:

    Thanks for the list. My family always miss out on something when we go on a vacation

  5. Garage Door Guru says:

    The newspaper advice is big. You would not beleive how many people forget to put their newspaper subscription on hold. This is one of the biggest givaways that someone is on vaction, more than the grass not being cut. I do door to door sales so I know. When I see 5 plus newspapers in the driveway I keep walking b/c I know nobody is home.

  6. mike says:

    There are many signs / stickers that you can buy online that will make a would be burglur keep walking by. for instance… security cameras in use live/recorded 24 hrs. there are also dummy cameras. We personally have a great security camera system that is real. It’s called WILIFE/LOGITECH. It’s affordable,there are mo fees. Excellent quality. For a person that has been burglurized several times, I can leave for any length of time and have a peace of mind. I can view my hm. from any where in the world via my P.C. Hope this helps someone.

  7. Bob Yeaman says:

    good idea to unplug your garage doors, lightning or other remotes can accidentally open your doors.

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