Plane 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.
Advance preparations for your house
Unless you have arranged a house sitter or have a 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?
- 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!
- Cancel any deliveries that might be made during your absence or arrange for someone to take them in for you. See if the post office can hold your mail.
- If you use auto-timers for lights or sprinklers, check these are working and come on at the right times.
- Water plants or arrange a neighbour to help out if possible.
- 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?
- Are any bills due to be paid why you’re away? Set up any direct debits or leave cash in advance.
- 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.
- 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.
- Prepare what you can for your return home. For example, can you have clothes ready to go straight to be; a pre-cooked meal in the freezer; Can someone come in and turn on your cooling / heating in advance?
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.
(For ideas on what to actually pack, don’t forget to check out our packing page we have advice on not only what to pack in both suitcases and hand luggage but how to go about doing this thankless task with kids involved!)
Here are a few things that always go into our packing process;
- Check the weather forecast at your destination for appropriate clothing.
- 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?). Will you have access to washing facilities or laundry service at your destination to minimise the number of outfits needed?
- 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. We recommend taking both a multi-adaptor for the wall and a power board so multiple devices can be charged simultaneously.
- 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. A mix of old and new items works well. You can see our top toddler bag tips here.
- Get snack bag items prepared. Work out bottles, formula, snacks for the journey, snacks for arrival – check current onboard liquid restrictions and avoid any items that can pressurise.
- Check luggage allowances with your airline, including any code-share restrictions or if you are transferring from international to domestic flights even with the same airline allowances can differ. Packing a set of portable scales is always a good idea so you don’t fall foul or the overpack down the track!
- Make sure suitcases are labelled, all baggage tagged and somehow marked or addressed inside as well so you can easily identify them.
- 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 packing checklist? All subscribers to the Globetrotters online community can download this free checklist
Confirm your travel arrangements
- Check online booking or call the airline at least 48 hours in advance to confirm seat bookings (have you decided your seating strategy, selected children’s meals, requested the bulkhead seat?).
- 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!).
- Advise your bank / credit card company there will be overseas transactions to prevent your card from being blocked.
- Leave a travel itinerary with emergency contact numbers with a family member or friend – don’t just rely on having your mobile with you.
- Get photocopies of important travel documents; Keep one with you and one in your checked luggage. Keep your travel insurance hotline number somewhere prominent.
- Arrange transportation to the airport and get any car seats/strollers packed ready.
Last minute jobs before leaving for your vacation
Check you have packed the essentials such as;
- Phone / Camera / Ipads
- House keys
- 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.
- Put on clean clothes and do any nappy changes/toilet stops.
- Turn off and unplug any electronic items that do not need to be left on stand-by.
- Last-minute cleaning! Not a full hospital-grade sanitisation, just make sure surfaces are wiped clean and you haven’t left anything tasty out for the ants or other vermin.
- Take rubbish bins out – especially nappy bins/diaper pails!
- Set your house alarm and 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?
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