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How to Prepare for Going on Vacation

How to Prepare for Going on Vacation

We’re leaving on a road trip family vacation in a few days. In addition to finalizing our packing list and doing laundry, I’m also preparing my work and home for my absence. For me, there is nothing like shutting down the computer or closing the front door knowing that things are “generally” organized and set for me to be away from it all for a week. So here are a few of my tips for how to prepare for going on vacation.

Tips for Preparing Your Home for Vacation

  • Clean and organize your home. I don’t go crazy cleaning my house before a vacation but I like to give my house a quick clean-up before I leave so I don’t return to both a messy house and bags to unpack. This usually means putting away toys, light vacuuming and dusting, wiping down counters, washing and putting away dishes, and storing any extra laundry. I never hesitate to include the kids in a few of these household chores.
  • Empty fridge and put out trash. I generally make it a weekly habit to clean out my fridge so this one is not much of an extra chore. Before we leave on vacation, I do a quick refrigerator sweep to get rid of perishables with expiration dates that fall during our vacation and any produce or leftovers that won’t survive. I like to keep a few items with an extended fridge life – carrots, apples, etc. – in case I don’t make it to the grocery store right away upon our return home.
  • Stop mail delivery. I leave this pre-vacation task for my husband. We typically suspend the mail at the post office but, if you have someone coming regularly to your house while you’re away, you could have her bring in the mail.
  • Secure care and instructions for pets and plants. This year we decided not to bring our dog with us on vacation so we reserved our vet/kennel for our vacation well in advance. To save time during drop-off when things can be a bit hectic, we ask the kennel to give us the information form ahead of time so we can get it done before dropping her off. For Olivia’s fish and our outdoor plants, we’re leaning on family and neighbors to help out.
  • Schedule or pay bills. The week before leaving on vacation, I always reconcile our checking and credit card accounts and schedule payment for all bills to ensure I have a firm handle on our balance and available “fun day” funds.

Little boy and his dog

Tips for Preparing Your Work for Vacation

  • Make a plan for critical work tasks. Up to two weeks before going out on vacation, list critical work tasks or projects that need to be completed prior to vacation. I like to block out time on my calendar to work on these “have to get done” tasks to ensure they are addressed and completed. It also helps to set expectations with co-workers and clients about last-minute requests leading up to your vacation.
  • Find coverage and set aside time for training. If your work requires coverage while you are on vacation, be sure to identify the right person and set aside time to properly train your colleague for taking on the additional responsibilities. If possible, it’s always helpful to set realistic expectations with your clients or colleagues who rely on your work to minimize requests during your absence.
  • Put on your “out of office” email message. In Outlook, you can pre-schedule a timeframe for displaying your out of office message and create different messages based on emails from internal employees or external. Great, right?! I love these features because not only can I send custom messages based on who is emailing me but I can set it up ahead of time so it’s one less last-minute task to do.
  • Shut down your computer and lock it away. My vacation philosophy is that there is a reason for vacations and it’s not to work. I’m in front of my computer up to 10-12 hours per day both professionally and personally. By the time vacation rolls around, I am definitely ready to shut down and tune out (or rather, tune back into myself).

Work laptop

I’m sure there are a few things that I’ve left off the list – like getting a pedicure and a new pair of shoes – but these are the big things I like to do to prepare for going on vacation. Am I crazy for adding to my vacation “to do” or are there others out there who have a pre-vacation checklist?


One comment

  1. Profile photo of Media Mom

    Media Mom July 31, 2014 at 11:59 am

    I LOVE these tips and follow most of them myself. I was so glad to see you recommend cleaning the fridge but leaving a few ‘fridge hearty foods for your routine. We’ve learned that the hard way after coming home from a long weekend to an empty fridge and nothing to make for school/camp lunch on Monday.
    I will add that if your garbage collection day doesn’t coincide with well with your vacation schedule and you have food that might spoil and smell while you’re aware, try putting it in a plastic grocery bag in the freezer (if you have room) or a your fridge (if you don’t) instead of leaving it spoiling in your outdoor trash cans where animals might get into it. You’ll be able to throw it away when you get home without facing yucky moldy bits. On the other hand, double bag dirty diapers and put them in your outdoor trash cans with the LIDS OFF. Animals aren’t much interested in your diapers and you’ll help prevent your trash cans from permanently smelling of poop, especially in hot weather months.
    Also, LOVE the tips about cleaning up a bit so you don’t come home to a messy house. One of my tricks (and I don’t have many), is to save up the laundry and do a few loads the day or two before we leave for vacation. Then I pack, starting (and hopefully ending) by selecting from among the cleanly folded laundry instead of rifling through the dresser drawers. Then I put the rest of the laundry away, ideally.
    Hope you have a great vacation.

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