How to Prepare for Vacation – Travel Checklist for Busy Moms

In order to eliminate some stress before traveling you need to take a few steps to prepare for vacation. 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 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 will help you enjoy your time off and not dread coming back to a messy and disorganized house when it’s over. .

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Benefits of Planning and Preparing for Vacation

Planning and preparing for vacation might seem like you are not spontaneous enough and might even cause you to feel overwhelmed. Why should you plan for having fun and relaxing, right?

But a little planning and preparation for your time away has many benefits!

  • you are less likely to forget something
  • you will have the tools to keep your kids entertained during travel time
  • there will be no need to stress over finding attractions once you get there
  • you will have a piece of mind that you took care of everything at the house
  • your family will return to a tidy house after the vacation

Travel Preparation Checklist

One of the best tools that will help you prepare for your vacation is travel preparation checklist. It’s basically a list of things that you need to do in order to get ready for vacation.

Have a template

Create a template for your vacation prep checklist and you can re-use it over and over again.

The template should include both the things you need to complete at home before you leave, tasks that need to be done at work, and things that you need to plan ahead for the actual trip.

If you need one, check out the Vacation Prep and Packing Checklist.

Vacation Packing Checklist

And the final critical part of the travel preparation checklist is the vacation packing checklist. It will definitely help you stay organized and track what you have already packed and what you still need to prepare.

Having a written list of things to pack will help you avoid the constant thoughts of ‘what did I forget?’ Because you don’t want to start your vacation worrying that you have forgotten something.

The vacation planning checklist will help you make sure that you pack anything that you need. This is particularly important if you are traveling internationally or to a location where buying items you forgot is less convenient.

How do You Prepare for a Trip?

As a busy working mom, preparing for the trip consist of four main categories: planning your trip, house related tasks, work related tasks, and packing for your travel.

Planning your trip

This is the very first stage of preparation for vacation is 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.

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.

House preparation before going on vacation

You will be leaving your house for an extended period of time, and that requires preparing your house for you not being there.

Arrange for pet care

First, let’s talk about pets. Make arrangements for pet care when you are out. If you have a dog or a cat, find a good dog/cat sitter or a boarding place. We have started using Rover for our dogs 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.

House visit 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.

RELATED: Practical Time Management Tips for Working Moms

Mail delivery stoppage

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.

Thermostat set-up

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 🙂 So set the temperature a little higher than normal during summer and during winter months, it can be a bit colder then you would normally like.

Fridge clean out

As you will be getting closer to your vacation, make sure you are using up all the items in the fridge. Anything left over, either give to a friend or neighbor or throw away if it will expire by the time you get back.

House cleaning

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.

Coming back from vacation to a clean house makes a huge difference. When you come back to chaos, you will automatically start feeling overwhelmed. The day you come back from vacation is usually made up of unpacking and getting things back in order so we can return to your normal routines. But the last thing you want is to spend the first day back cleaning your house. Take this opportunity tidy up the house before you leave so you can continue to relax when you get back.


Work related tasks

As a working mom, you also have to prepare for your vacation at work. The level of preparation will definitely depend on the type of job you have. With some jobs, it’s as simple as requesting the time off to go on vacation. With other jobs, it is more complex. Some of those tasks might include:

  • completing your priority tasks
  • deciding who will be doing some of your tasks while you are gone
  • setting up your ‘out of the office’ message
  • informing your major customers of your absence
  • discussing the timeframe for your vacation plans with your manager ahead of time

Packing for travel with kids

Making sure that you take everything you need can make or break your vacation. Here are some things to keep in mind as you are working your way through the travel preparation checklist.

Decide on how you will help preoccupy kids while traveling

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.

Some of the things that my kids enjoy (they are 5 and 8) are brain teasers, coloring books, magic marker books, kanoodle, and car games.

Outfits check

Before you start packing, take a look at your wardrobes and decide what kinds 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.

Designate staging area for packing

Throughout the week leading up to the vacation, start gathering things like clothes, toys, games, and snacks that you want to take with you in a single staging area. This will also helps you quickly realize if you need to buy something. Sometimes you may think that you have an item in your house only to realize that it is broken or just simply not there 🙂

Snacks and food

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 🙂

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 bad quickly.

And remember about reusable water bottles!

First aid

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, my husband and me. It will take a lot of stress away if you need it when you are away from home.

Grab a book

And lastly, 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.

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Wife, mom, full-time employee, blogger. Love to travel, read mysteries, and everything chocolate. Learning to embrace the imperfections and helping others embrace theirs.

2 thoughts on “How to Prepare for Vacation – Travel Checklist for Busy Moms

    1. I love coming back to a clean house! And a fridge that is almost empty gives us a fresh start 🙂

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