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15 Easy Things I Always Do Before Traveling

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

15 Easy Things I Always Do Before Traveling
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

15 Easy Things I Always Do Before Traveling

*see above.

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

15 Easy Things I Always Do Before Traveling
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!

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.

This Post Has 14 Comments
  1. I always turn off the faucets that connect at the washing machine. When they are on and a hose suddenly bursts the water will go everywhere! A family in our neighborhood had this happen while they were out of town for three weeks. Someone walking by noticed water pouring out of the Windows and called the police. The entire two story home had filled with water!

    1. It is a must, everytime you run the washing machine to turn off the faucets when you are finished. I had one burst and thankfully the floor was in the basement slanted toward the drain so I had no flood, but i don’t know how long it ran or how much water was wasted. It’s quick trick to turn off the tap so get in the habit of doing it when you put the last load of clothes into the dryer!!!

  2. I turn off the fridge icemaker – if there is a power outage, I don’t want to come home to a puddle of water on the kitchen floor!

  3. In addition to the previous comment about faucets, which is completely accurate, we also turn off the ice maker. Any water flowing anywhere will try to escape at some point. Also, we have a swimming pool, and in summer heat (TX) I over-fill it because evaporation will lower the pool level fairly quickly.

  4. I always leave my house sitter a bedside basket full of goodies. Special soap and lotion. Snacks and cocoa and tea. Of course the freezer has lots of lasagna, soup and chilli to grab and nuke. I want them to feel like they are on vacation with the cat.

  5. I tell my neighbors when I’ll be gone so that if they see anything odd to question it and/or call the police. Be sure one of them has a key in case the sprinklers go crazy or anything else goes wrong.

  6. Always run your garbage disposal with a couple ice cubes and a little baking powder. The last thing you want to come home to is a kitchen/home that smells like rotting food.

  7. I unplug most electronics, like the toaster, etc., and the TV cable box, which uses a lot of electricity when plugged in. But I do leave a radio on softly, which would give an impression someone is home should an intruder break in. I set the clock radio to come on during the day.

  8. Along with leaving our neighbors a key to our house, I also leave them copies of our passports, family emergency contact info, and our garage door opener, and our flight itinerary.

  9. I never stock the freezer before I travel, but I’ll give a thumbs up to stocking the pantry. If we happen to travel during hurricane season, all it takes is one day of high winds and rain and the electricity goes out.

    The tip on cleaning the house before you go on vacation is a really good one, and one we use before every trip. We also clean the toilets and leave disinfectant in them. There is always a nice, clean scent lingering in the house when we return.

  10. Check all the toilets and make sure they are flushed. Sounds like common sense to do this but if your family is in a rush to catch the plane…well, sometimes someone forgets. You can just imagine what the house smells like when it’s doesn’t happen.

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15 Easy Things I Always Do Before Traveling
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