My husband and I love to travel. I’ve made it a goal to visit all 50 states in the US (38 and counting), and all seven continents (four so far). We’ve seen a lot of the world, but there’s so much more to see. We haven’t been on a “big” trip in a while, because in recent years we sold our house, moved half way across the U.S., built a house, and moved again. Discretionary income was diverted to the house project. But we expect to take another big trip this fall, a European river cruise through Prague and Budapest.
Our trips tend to be at least two weeks long, and we’ve taken several three-week and even four-week trips. To be gone that long takes some planning beyond arranging the trip itself.
Here’s my pre-travel task list:
- Arrange to pay bills. For a week long trip, nothing really needs to be done. But for a month? Bills have to paid. Now that I have electronic bill paying, I can schedule payments in advance. Before I had electronic bill paying, I used to double the previous month’s payment.
- Pet care. For a week, I can leave our cat Hannah alone with a supersized litter box and food and water dispensers. Longer than a week, I have someone check on her every few days to scoop the poop and freshen her water. I used to have two cats specifically so one wouldn’t be lonely when we traveled, but Mikey died last year.
- Clean the house. The house can easily get that ransacked look when we’re getting ready to leave, but I don’t like to come home to a messy house. So a couple of days before we leave, I clean, and we take care to keep the clutter corralled. When I’ve had a housekeeper that I felt comfortable to leave alone in house, that was the best! We’d leave the house in a whirlwind and come home to a clean one. It was like magic!
- Do whatever laundry exists. There will be a huge mound when we return so I want to minimize what I can.
- Mow the lawn. (Husband does this). If it’s summer and we’re gone a long time, we might arrange for a lawn service to mow it while we’re gone.
- Plan for the first meal. When coming home from a trip, we’re tired and don’t feel like stopping at the store, so I’ll plan that first dinner at home in advance. In the weeks before a trip, I’ll usually cook a big pot of something and freeze some to have for that first meal. I also make sure that we have milk for my coffee and cereal the next morning. Milk (at least the 1% stuff) freezes well.
- Grocery planning. I adjust my grocery shopping schedule so that we run out of food about the time we’re ready to leave. I also have a grocery list prepared for when I get back because after two to four weeks, I’ll never remember that we need eggs or potatoes or light bulbs.
- Contact the bank and credit card companies. If we’re traveling out of the country, I notify our credit card companies and the bank so our credit/ATM cards aren’t frozen due to “unusual activity.”
- Make a “to do” list for when we get home. I leave myself a reminder of things that will need to be done upon return (appointments, phone calls to make, upcoming events, etc),
- Holding & rescheduling the mail and newspaper. If it’s a short trip (one week), I’ll have the mail delivered so that it’s there when we get home. If it’s been a long trip, I’ll often delay delivery by a day to give me a chance to get other stuff done before tackling the mail. I note on the calendar when I have the mail and newspaper are scheduled to resume, because I forget. Dealing with the mail is my least favorite task.
- We put lights on a timer and arrange for neighbors to put out and bring in our trash can. If it’s winter, we set the thermostat low, but high enough to prevent pipes from freezing.
I think that’s it! What sorts of things do you do to plan for vacation?
As for the fun part, the actual traveling, today I’m talking a little bit about that on SJ Maylee’s blog—including the one trip that changed the way I think about travel. You can check out the interview here.