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Before You Go

A pre-departure checklist for traveling families

A lot of prep work goes into taking a trip, especially when kids are involved. Sorry to say, it’s not over once you’ve finished packing. How you leave your house is important, too. There are safety and security issues to contend with, plus you’ll need to think ahead to your immediate needs once you return home.

Here’s a handy checklist of things to do before you head out the door.

  • Arrange for mail and newspaper delivery to be suspended – a paper pile up is a sure signal to thieves that you’re away.
  • Arrange for lawn care or snow removal while you’re gone.
  • Pre-pay any bills that will become due before you return.
  • Make sure a friend, relative or neighbor has your keys and contact information, in case of emergency.
  • Leave a copy of everyone’s passport identification pages, your itinerary and your travel insurance policy with a trusted friend or family member.
  • Throw out any perishable foods, take out the garbage and run your garbage disposal, or you’ll be welcomed by some rank smells when you return.
  • Wash the dishes (it’s no fun to come home to a sink full of encrusted plates).
  • Activate timers for lights and radios to make your home seem lived in while you’re away.
  • Lower or raise your thermostat to an efficient level.
  • Water the plants and remove them from direct sunlight (if you’re going away for a long time, arrange for someone to care for them).
  • Stock the freezer with some frozen meals so your family can grab a quick bite when you return without having to run to the store right away.
  • Ensure you have some local currency for where you’re going, preferably in small denominations for tips etc.
  • Make sure you have cash for your departure tax, if relevant.
  • Unplug any appliances that are sensitive to power surges (tv, microwave, computers…)
  • Make sure all windows and doors are locked and blinds and curtains are drawn.
  • Do a final check that you have tickets, passports, cash, credit/debit cards and confirmations on you.


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