What you do before traveling can really ease stress.
There’s a certain amount of paying it forward that I like to do before traveling. It’s always nice to come home to a mostly chaos-free environment after a day in a car or on a plane. Here’s an easy list of pre-trip to-dos that will make your re-entry as stress-free as possible. Some preparations on the checklist may seem overly obvious until of course you forget to do it. Like when I forgot to run the dishwasher so that there was a nice coating of mold on them upon my return.*
Clean the House
Nothing kills a vacation high like a coming home to a dirty house. Take an hour or two and pick up before you leave. Your future self will thank you.
Clean Out the Fridge
Throw the takeout containers away. Get rid of questionable leftovers. Freeze cheeses, meats or veggies that area salvageable and can be used at a later date. Chop fruit and freeze for smoothies. Coming home to a science project is no one’s idea of a good time.
Stock the Pantry or Freezer
The last thing you want to do when you get home is run out to the grocery store. I like to have a few easy, non-perishable meals on hand for my return. Mac and cheese, cereal, frozen pizzas, veggies or dinners—it might not sound that exciting before you leave, but it’ll be a treat when you return.
Take Out the Garbage/Recycling
Unless you like funky garbage smell!
Run the Dishwasher
Unplug the kitchen appliances/bathroom stuff
If you go through the ritual of unplugging everything, there will be no question as to whether or not you left the coffeemaker or your hair straightener on.
Put New Sheets on the Bed & Fresh Towels in the Bathroom
After a long day of travel, climbing into a bed with fresh sheets is heavenly. Same goes with clean towels already read to go in the bathroom.
Leave Note and Key for Caretaker
A quick note with any special requests or explaining the quirks of your home are always a good idea. Be sure you’ve left a key exactly where you said you would. If they can’t get in, they can’t water your plants…or check on your cat.
Tackle Pet Care
Someone taking care of Fluffy or Fido? Make sure they have enough food to last the duration of your trip, plus any medication or favorite toys. If you’re leaving kitty at home, do they have enough food and water? And double-check they have access to their litterbox. A friend of mine once left for a weekend and someone had closed her basement door, aka the cat’s entry to litterbox land. It did not go well.
Water the Plants
Dead plants are the saddest. Give them a drink before you leave (or a note for whatever kind soul has offered to stop by your place while you’re gone).
Give Someone Your Car Keys
Do you live in a city and park on the street? Make sure you leave your keys with a neighbor in case of a snow emergency, surprise street sweeping or some other reason your car might need to be moved while you’re away.
Arrange for Treats
If someone is kind enough to stay at your house, watch your kids or pets, a souvenir from the trip is nice… but I say leave them a treat before you leave. That could mean a six pack of their favorite beer or a bottle of wine, a freezer stocked with a nice frozen pizza and ice cream or bit of their favorite candy or snacks. Something to show your appreciation (and incentivize them to do an extra good job).
Put Your Lights on a Timer
I know people are split on this one. However, if you like the appearance of people being home, set a few lamps on a timer.
Turn Down the Thermostat
Unless you have a house or pet sitter, crank that puppy down. No need to keep the house comfy if nobody is there.
Double Check that the Doors and Windows are Locked
If you make this a part of your leaving ritual, you won’t find yourself halfway across the Atlantic, wondering if you left your bedroom window open. You might want to close some of the curtains or blinds, too.
What tasks do you like to do before traveling? Share in the comments!