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Summer Vacation: What You Need to do Before You Leave

Pre-Vacation To-Do List - GOOD HANDS Blog

After braving frigid temperatures and long, dark, winter days, your thoughts are probably deep in summer moments. While you’re bound to have fun close by, hopefully you’ll get a chance to head out on a vacation (or two)!

But before you race out the door, make sure your home is in tip-top shape and you have all you need for your trip. My family gets a chuckle from my over-planning and to-do lists (and the list of to-do lists), but we always end up having everything we need.

Here’s what your pre-vacation check list should cover:

Keep Burglars at Bay

There are lots of tell-tale signs that could tip burglars off to the fact that you’re not at home, like junk mail piling up or your house in complete darkness.

  • Call your insurer to find out if there are any arrangements you need to make while you’ll be away.
  • Ask a family member or friend to:
    • pick up mail
    • cut the grass
    • take out the garbage and recycling bins
    • take a quick look around the home to ensure everything looks okay
  • Leave indoor and outdoor lights on timers.
  • Lock up your valuables.
  • Clean outside your home so it looks like it is being maintained.
  • Lock gates and make sure tool sheds are secure and ladders are put away.

Avoid Returning to Property Damage

Imagine returning from a relaxing beach vacation to find that the tree branch you’ve been meaning to cut down has shattered your window. Take some time to:

  • Check walls, floors, windows and foundations for cracks or leaks; ensure downspouts drain away from your home; and cut down any tree branches too close to your home.
  • Arrange for snow removal or lawn maintenance while you are away in case the weather brings the unexpected.
  • Shut off the main water valve, unplug appliances and turn off your computer when you leave.
  • Ask a competent and responsible person to go into your home and check on things while you’re away. This person should visit frequently to ensure your home is secure, and conduct checks to make sure there are no leaks in the plumbing or that other damage hasn’t occurred.

Take an Inventory

Fill out a homeowner’s checklist to itemize your valuable possessions in one handy list. You could even take a few “home selfies” of each room. This is what I do and then I clip the receipts for the items to their corresponding photo and put them in a safe place.

Don’t Forget the Not so Small Stuff

  • Locate passports ahead of time in case they need to be updated.
  • Don’t forget Fido. If you’re reserving a spot at a kennel or hiring a pet sitter, they need to be booked in advance.
  • Take a copy of important information with you and leave a copy with a family member: passport, credit card, emergency numbers, health insurance information, hotel contact information, etc. Make sure this information is always kept in a safe place and destroyed when it is no longer needed.
  • Pay off bills.
  • Make sure immunizations are up-to-date and that you have consulted a travel medical specialist if there is any concern that you might have to get special immunizations for your travel destination.
  • Create a list (sorry, yet another list) of what to pack for all family members.
  • If you need foreign currency, check what the current conversion rates are and find a currency conversion provider to help get you funds that you might need upon immediate arrival at your destination.

Make a Few Calls

  • Call your insurance company to let them know you’ll be away as there may be provisions in your policy that you should be aware of. Find out if there are any arrangements to be made while you will be away, including confirming the frequently you’ll need someone to stop by your home to check on things. This can vary based on your insurer and policy, and other circumstances surrounding the state of your home.
  • Contact your credit card company to let them know you’ll be travelling so that you’ll be less likely to have your credit card frozen.
  • Call a few days ahead to stop mail and newspaper delivery.
  • Make arrangements for transportation to the airport (if needed).
  • Refill any prescriptions for medication you need while you will be away.

Extra, Extra, Don’t Read All About It!

Sure, it’s exciting to share photos of you and your family posing with the latest Disney Princess du jour, but wait until you’re back to post information on social media sites so it doesn’t creep into the wrong hands.

The Day Before

Your bags are almost packed, but hang on, you’ve got a few last minute things to take care of:

  • Get rid of perishable food items.
  • Charge cameras, phones, laptops, etc.
  • Withdraw extra cash you might need from the ABM.

Finally — Departure Day!

Woo-hoo! You’re grinning from ear to ear and have an extra spring in your step. Not so fast! Just a few more things to check:

  • Check that the stove and oven are off and that any other heating devices (like curling irons, hair straighteners, toasters and kettles) are unplugged.
  • Lock all doors and windows.
  • Set your house alarm.

Now, you’re set to go. Head out and let the relaxation begin. Have a safe trip!