Friday, December 2, 2011

12 things on my pre-travel to-do list

The last week (or weeks) before a trip, all my travel fever and travel preparations turn into lots and lots of to-do lists and shopping lists. It's the only way I know how to handle the excitement and stress of preparing my family for a trip. Here are 11 things that are always on my to-do list before we go:

  1. Check everyone's passports - I do this to make sure that everyone has a valid passport, and to make sure that I know where the passports are. One of my recurring pre-trip nightmares is that I won't be able to find our passports on the day of travel. Definitely calms the nerves to know that they're good to go.
  2. Print out travel documents - I print hard copies of our e-tickets and itinerary, adding any reservation numbers for accommodation and rental cars. Lately I've also emailed the information to myself so it's accessible that way too if needed. I also make sure I have all the information related to our travel insurance.
  3. Cancel the newspaper - This is important since the newspapers will otherwise start piling up on our doorstep, making it really obvious that no one is home!
  4. Give someone a key to the house - A good friend usually comes over to our house a couple of times per week while we're gone. She waters the plants, grabs any mail that needs grabbing, and removes the free local newspapers that are dropped off on the porch during the week. For me, it gives a big sense of security to know someone will check on our house a few times while we're gone, and also that someone has a key to our place: just in case we remember on the flight that we forgot to turn off a tap, or lock a door.
  5. Make a hard copy of important online information - I usually bring an actual piece of paper with important online log-in information, and keep it somewhere safe (like my pants pocket..). That way, I know I'll be able to access my email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, blog, bank accounts, and so on, even if I have lost my laptop or phone, or if I'm borrowing a computer where I visit.
  6. Pay bills - Before you travel, it's a good idea to pay any bills you know will be sent out while you're away. I either call the companies, or check my accounts online to find out my balance.
  7. Get that pet taken care of - Our kitty is going to be staying at a cat hotel when we travel next time. During previous trips she's stayed at a friend's house, or we've had people come in to take care of her. This does require some planning ahead of time, especially if you're going away during the holiday season when friends and family might be busy or away.
  8. Plan the snack purchases - I try to avoid buying travel snacks at the airport, because they are usually a lot more expensive there. Buying snacks I know my kids like, such as pretzels, granola bars, raisins and crackers, ahead of time and packing them into reusable containers makes things cheaper and easier. On our next trip, I'm also planning to bring some mini-muffins along as snacks. A little more "food-y" than our usual travel snacks, but still easy to eat and bring.
  9. Fill travel sized toiletry containers - I don't have any Go Toobs yet, but I do have my travel-sized bottles that I fill with shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, various hair care products, and hand sanitizer. It makes it a lot easier to pack my suitcase, and the bottles are also small enough to bring in my hand luggage.
  10. Dig out some currency - When we travel somewhere we've been before, like when we go to visit my family in Sweden, I dig out whatever coins and bills we had left over from last time and stick it in a small zip-loc bag that goes into my hand luggage. That way, we have some cash for minor purchases at the airport when we arrive.
  11. Reduce the amount of perishables - Try to eat or use whatever perishables you have on hand, like dairy products, eggs, cold cuts, fresh fruits, vegetables, and so on, before you go. It's no fun to have a lot of stuff go bad while you're away!
  12. Empty the garbage cans - This is one of the last things we do before heading to the airport. Leaving an open bag of kitchen garbage under the sink is not advisable if you're going away for more than a week (it really makes it a lot less wonderful to come back home...). We usually put everything into a big, black garbage bag and tie that up, leaving it in the big garbage bin.

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