Travel Tips

1. Find out where you are going

Perhaps this trip is a once in a lifetime vacation. Or, it could be a simple getaway. Whatever your reasons for leaving it is important to find out what your destination has to offer. Are there any good shows or events? What tours are available and do you need to book them in advance? What is the weather like? Can you eat the local food and drink the tap water? Knowing these details beforehand can help make the most of your vacation.

2. Passports and Travel Insurance

Ensure your passports are up to date and that each member of your family has one. This includes Jr. Also, if you have recently changed your name you will need to ensure your passport has the most current info. Should you need to apply or renew it is best to do this as early as possible. Waiting for them to come can be nerve wracking if on a tight deadline. It is also a lot more costly. Regarding travel insurance – don’t chance it. You get insurance because of things you can’t foresee. Research various agencies and see which ones can offer you the best rate as well as the best services.

3. Cash, credit and debit cards

Choosing what method of payment to take along on a trip requires careful planning. Here is where your research will come in handy though. Is your destination credit card and ATM friendly? If not, traveler’s checks or local currency might be your best option. If your destination does accept credit cards and ATMs, what will your bank/credit card charge you? Whatever you decide it is always a good idea to spread the wealth. What we mean is don’t hide it all in one place.

4. Home sitter and timers

It is always a good idea to have someone check on your home if you are gone longer than a weekend. However, timers can play an important part if they are set up appropriately. You aren’t fooling anyone if the same lights turn on at exactly the same time every day. If you are comfortable with it, having someone stay at your home provides great peace of mind. They will be there in case the furnace or air conditioner shuts off, the water tank bursts or a storm hits the area. Plus, more and more insurance agencies are requiring that at a minimum someone must walk through your home every few days. Double check with yours to see what the expectations are.

5. Cancel magazines and newspapers

Even though we live in an electronic age where we can pay bills and shop online, the amount of mail that stuffs our mailboxes is incredible. Don’t attract attention to your home with one that is piled high with flyers and magazines that are dated from last week. Plus, why would you pay for a subscription you aren’t even going to read? However, if you do have a home sitter, you can keep your subscriptions coming and catch up on the news and that week’s fashion trends when you return.

6. Medications and vitamins

Most people who have prescriptions won’t forget to pack enough for their trip. However, it is always a good idea to bring a little extra. Your flight might be delayed, a storm may hit and you need to stay a while longer or there’s just one more stop you decided to make. Play it safe – not having what your body needs is a stress you can avoid. It is also important to buy enough vitamin C, Tylenol and Imodium. Purchasing these abroad can be quite expensive.

7. Avoid smells

It only has to happen once and you will never forget to empty all the garbage before you leave again. What a horribly potent smell. Carve out some time the day you leave to empty all the garbage cans. Another must do – empty the fridge of items that may spoil. This can include fruit, meat, eggs, milk and those leftovers from last week. There’s no need to grow penicillin while you are away. Something you might not think of is to clean and flush your toilets before you go, especially if you are potty training the kids. Remembering to flush is a hard thing to do for the little ones so make an extra round just to make sure.

8. Freeze a meal for when you get back

One of the saddest parts of a vacation ending isn’t that you have to go back to work. It’s figuring out what to make for dinner again. You’re cooking before you go in any case so make a little extra and freeze it. Sometimes getting to the grocery store takes a back seat to all the other must-do’s that are eagerly awaiting your return.

9. Double check those documents

It just happened to a friend of mine. She woke up with a feeling to double-check those airline tickets. Good thing she did because her flight was leaving in four hours, not in three days like she originally thought. Also ensure that you have your car rental slip, airline tickets, hotel confirmation numbers, passports and travel insurance. It is best to not do this the day of. You may have forgotten to do something and having more than a day to do it will make it feel less stressful. If you haven’t already, purchase an organizer that can hold all of your documents. Saves you the hassle of checking, and rechecking, those suitcase pockets when you need to have them ready.

10. Lock up

Make sure all your windows and doors are locked. This includes basement windows, that side door you rarely use and your garage. Be careful to not make it look like your house is sitting empty though. For example, it is a good idea to leave your blinds the way you normally would. Keep in mind if all your blinds are closed it is easier for an unwanted visitor to take what they want – no one from the outside will be able to see what they are doing.