There are some things to do before leaving for vacation in order to fully enjoy the time away. I don’t know about you but I always look forward to my vacation time. Whether that is a road trip to another state or an international travel destination. It’s all fun and a great way to recharge. But I have noticed over the years that I need to do a few things before I leave to be less stressed out about because of fear of forgetting something, or coming back to a big chaos that was left behind as we were rushing out the door.
So let’s talk about some things to do before leaving for vacation. Those are the things that help me enjoy my time off and not dread coming back to reality when it’s over.
This is the very first stage of preparation for vacation – planning. You are basically planning things to do before leaving for vacation. There are some things that you might repeat every trip but there will be other things that are specific for an individual trip. For example, if you are going on a road trip within the US you will not need to worry about the expiration date of your passport. But that planning would look totally different if you were traveling internationally.
1. GET A CHECKLIST GOING
When you are getting ready for your vacation, the best way to stay organized with the things to do before leaving for vacation is to create a checklist. Because there are a lot of things to think about. Now, let me say this. Very few of those are absolutely critical – like making sure your passport did not expire. But for the most part, you will be able to make other arrangements if you forget about something. However, when I don’t have things written down, I just keep thinking ‘what did I forget?’ And the last thing I want when leaving on my vacation is to worry that i have forgotten something.
Which is why creating a checklist is so helpful. You will know exactly what you did and did not do. The checklist can be as detailed as you want it to be. And you can use the items in here to get one started. List things that you want to get done in the house before you leave, things to pack, things to buy, and things to research.
2. DESIGNATE STAGING AREA
Before I had kids, packing was easy. But kids add a whole another dimension to the way we travel. Which means that we also pack things differently. For me that means that I start the packing process about a week in advance. And in order to do that I need to have what I call a staging area. An area of the house where I can put things that I want to take with me on the trip.
Throughout the week I will add things like clothes, toys, games, and snacks that I want to take with us. This also helps me realize much quicker if I need to buy something. Sometimes I may think that I have an item in my house only to realize that it is broken or just simply not there 🙂
3. DECIDE ON HOW YOU WILL HELP PREOCCUPY KIDS
Like I already said, traveling with kids is an adventure in itself. For me, it’s important to make sure that we take some things with us to keep our kiddos pre-occupied. The amount of things you should take will depend on the length of travel time, whether you are driving or flying, and where you will be staying.
For example, if you are staying with relatives who also have kids, you will not need to take many toys as they will have toys in their house. Similarly, if you are flying you will not take as many books as when you are going on a road trip. So pack accordingly.
Here are some of the tried activities that we take on our trips that my kids love (they are 4 and 7).
4. OUTFITS CHECK
Before you start packing, take a look at your wardrobes and decide what kids of outfits you will need. Are you traveling for a special occasion where part of the trip will be a wedding or a family celebration? Will you need a special outfit for it? Or perhaps you are going to the national park and you will need comfortable hiking shoes?
This is also something that is very important with kids. They grow out of their clothes and shoes so quickly that you need to check whether things still fit them before you throw them into the suitcase. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of your hiking trip when your child starts to complain that their shoes are not comfortable.
5. TRIP PLANNING
One of the things to do before leaving on vacation is to think about what you will do when you get there. You basically want to have a general idea of the types of activities that are available at your destination.
It’s best to plan for a good balance between sightseeing and fun attractions for the kids. If you only concentrate on sightseeing and visiting local attractions that are more geared towards adults you might have a lot of meltdowns on your hands. And if you only focus on attractions for kids, you might find yourself feeling totally unfulfilled at that trip. So find a balance between the two
6. PANDEMIC PREP
The way the world looks right now means that we have to take one additional step. And that is to see if our trip is affected by the pandemic. Check out any restrictions at your destination. Are the places you plan to visit fully open or do they have limited hours of operations? Do you need masks to enter?
WHILE YOU ARE OUT
Now, let’s think about things to do before leaving on vacation that are related to the fact that nobody will be home when you are out.
7. PET ARRANGEMENTS
First, let’s talk about pets. Make any arrangements for pet care when you are out. If you have a do, find a good dog sitter or a boarding place. We have started using Rover for our dog and it’s absolutely amazing! If you have pets that will be able to stay home in your absence, like fish, make sure ask someone to come into your house to feed them.
8. HOUSE VISITS ARRANGEMENTS
Besides pets, think about your house in general. Do you have house plants that someone needs to water for you? If you are traveling for an extended period of time, someone should come into the house to make sure that everything is still the way it should be. So have a trusted person check in once in a while.
9. STOP MAIL
One of the things we always like to do before leaving for vacation is to stop our mail. Go to USPS and choose the dates that you want your mail to be kept at the post office instead of being delivered to your mailbox. Then you can choose an option for the mailman to either bring all the mail to you upon your return or you can pick it up yourself directly from the post office.
10. THERMOSTAT SET UP
Lastly, before you leave your house make sure you adjust your thermostat. During summer months your house does not need to be cooled down so you are comfortable – remember you won’t be there 🙂 and during winter months, it can be a bit colder then you would normally like.
Now let’s move on to house preparation before you leave for vacation.
11. LEAVE THE HOUSE CLEAN
One of the things that I highly recommend is that you leave your house clean. Stick to your regular cleaning schedule before your vacation so you can pick up where you left off when you come back.
But from experience, I know that coming back from vacation to a clean house makes a huge difference. When you come back to chaos, you will automatically make the transition to reeling very difficult on yourself. The day you come back from vacation is usually made up of unpacking and getting things back in order so we can return to our normal routines. But the last thing you want is to spend the first day back cleaning your house. Take this opportunity and make leave the house clean before you leave so you can continue to relax when you get back.
12. CLEAN OUT THE FRIDGE
One of the important things to do before you leave for vacation is to make sure you clean out your fridge. Plan your meals the week before you leave based on what is in your fridge that needs to be used up so you don’t end up throwing food away.
13. ORDER GROCERIES FOR WHEN YOU GET BACK
Along the same lines, it is always great to order some groceries to be delivered or picked up the day you come back from vacation. I always make sure we have some staples in the fridge and freezer for when we get back but for things like produce, I like to replenish my fridge as soon as we get back. And instead of doing the planning after I come back, it is so nice to have that done ahead of time. I will usually start putting groceries in my Walmart account before the trip and complete the purchase for pick-up when we are heading back.
And now the final stage of our trip preparation – the packing itself.
14. PLAN OUTFITS
When you are packing for a trip, try to plan specific outfits for each day. Plus have at least two extra ones for each family member. Again, kids get dirty – and make other around them dirty as well 😉 So it’s best to be prepared. I always get inspired by watching Brianna K. My packing is not as detailed but I want to make sure that I have clothes appropriate for the weather and the types of activities we will be doing.
15. PACK A SMALL BACKPACK FOR KIDS WITH ACTIVITIES
Whether you are going on a road trip or flying somewhere, it is always very helpful to have some activities for your kids. I suggest packing a small backpack for each of the kids. It should have a change of clothes and some age appropriate activities. Something that you know will keep them preoccupied. If you are taking tables, make sure you download a few of their favorite shows or movies before the trip. This is especially for those times where Wi-Fi is not available.
If you have kids, you know that one of the things you must do before leaving for vacation is to pack some snacks. Make sure you get their favorites and that you buy them in individual serving sizes. Alternatively, what you might also do is pack their snacks into small zip lock bags. The point being is that you want the snacks to be easily accessible for the kids. And pack a variety! You know that they will be ‘starving’ all the way to your destination 🙂
17. FOOD IF NEEDED
If you are traveling to a place where you cannot get specific foods for your kids – make sure you take it with you. It could be food that you want on hand due to allergies or because (like me) you have a very picky eater. You can also choose to take food with you as you go on a road trip to save some money. Therefore, if you fall into any of those categories make sure you plan ahead and pack some food that will not go back quickly.
And remember about reusable water bottles!
18. FIRST AID
And it goes without saying that you are very unlikely to go through your vacation without a single bruise, scraped knee, or some other need for a first aid kit. So make sure you pack that as well. I also always pack some fever reducing medicine for my kids and my husband and me. It will take a lot of stress away if you need it when you are away from home.
19. GRAB A BOOK
If you enjoy reading books – make sure you grab one with you. I find it that no matter what type of vacation we are going to, reading a book will always bring me joy. It might involve a lot of reading if we are sending time at the beach or a lot of time flying to our destination. Or it might just a few minutes each evening before we go to sleep. But make sure you grab a great read with you.
20. ENJOY – PREPARE BUT DON’T OVERTHINK IT
And lastly, we cannot talk about things to do before leaving for vacation without talking about the fact we need to prepare but we should not overdo it. Vacation time is relaxation time. We want to step out of our everyday lives and routines and enjoy some quality time as family. Make memories. Enjoy being a little spontaneous!
Remember, even if you forget something, 99% of time you will be able to get it at your destination. So don’t stress! And enjoy your vacation.
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