Here's a comprehensive pre-vacation checklist to smooth the path to paradise and save you time and money:
Document dossier. As soon as you begin to plan your vacation, put together a travel document file for itineraries, tickets, reservations, important numbers, guides, maps, contact numbers and copies of important documents you may need before and during your trip. Keep it in an easy-to-find place.
Policy matters. Make sure your home warranty, auto, fire and health insurance policies are correct and up-to-date. Bring copies in your travel dossier, just in case.
Pack and stow. If packing space is an issue, try using vacuum storage bags to condense items and make packing easier. If you’re going to be gone for a long period of time or you're traveling to a remote region, take laundry supplies with you so you can re-wear clothes and travel lighter. Also, be sure to buy and pack necessary electrical adapters before leaving home.
Money minded. If you’ll need to exchange currency, do it before you leave for a more favorable rate. Make sure to buy traveler’s checks if you need them and make any necessary arrangements with your credit card companies. Securing the home front. Most home security systems come with back-up batteries meant to secure your home, even during a power outage. Before you leave, check the status of your back-up battery to make sure that it is fully charged in case there’s an outage while you’re gone.
Light it up. It's never a good idea to leave your home dark for an extended period of time—it can make you a target for burglars. Take the time to make sure you have a few timed lights around the house, and set them to create a pattern that suggests you are home at night. Leave window shades and draperies in their usual positions, but do not close them all the way on the street side of the house.
Unplugged. Be sure to unplug all non-essential appliances like toasters and coffee makers. You can also turn your fridge and freezer down a notch to save a little energy without letting food go to waste. Finally, lower air conditioning/heating units to energy-saving levels.
Good neighbor. Leave a house key and itinerary with a neighbor, friend or relative. Be sure someone knows how to operate your alarm system, if you have one. You can also have someone bring in the mail and collect newspapers at regular intervals while you are away.
The grass is greener. Arrange to have the yard and/or pool taken care of while you are away. If you have a regular service, make sure to call them before you leave to ensure they take care of things when you are gone. If you’re a DIYer, arrange to have a friend or neighbor take care of basic maintenance, at a minimum.
Pets on board. If you have pets that need boarding, don't wait until the last minute to make those arrangements. It’s good idea to board your pets a day or two prior to departure and pick them up a day or two after your arrival home.
Lock and load. Make sure to lock all doors and windows, including those in the garage, the basement and the attic. Be sure that all valuables are in a safe place, whether at home in a safe or in bank safety deposit box.
Follow this simple pre-vacation checklist, and not only will you be more organized and less stressed before you leave, but you'll also enjoy your vacation more once you get there.