The actual packing for the trip is a last minute activity, and that makes perfect sense, of course: you really don’t want to pack things a week in advance that you might still need in the meantime. However, most of us are taking a lot of things with us that we do not use at home, and those things could really be packed ahead of time, or at the very least placed somewhere ready to be joined by the last-minute items before stacking them in bags, suitcases and backpacks.
Those of us who travel often have a check list for packing in our head, but if you are not travelling twice a month it is a good idea to have a definitive check list that includes not the specific items, but rather the type of things you need to pack. We don’t usually forget to take the toothbrush with us, but what about all the power connections you might need? What about spare batteries? How about tissue paper?
Having a detailed list containing numbers of items per time unit is pretty useful and saves a lot of thought when you pack: “4 t-shirts per week” and “3 pairs of socks per week” are good ways to get it done quickly and without too much worry.
When we are at home, we take it for granted that specific practical items are around somewhere. Things like a pair of scissors to open plastic packaging or cut a string is easy to find at home, but you might be hard put when at your destination. Things like these scissors, a good pocket knife, some matches, a small package of washing powder, a piece of string and a couple of pegs, some pens, a pack of post-its, … Personally, I usually have a washing powder, a length of string and scissors with me - you probably have other things you use all the time, so maybe think about taking some of them with you.
Apart from this more practical side, don’t forget to think about a medical kit, as small as it may need to be. If you take medication regularly, that is a good place to start, of course. However, there are other things you might want to think about: something to put on small cuts to sanitise, a selection of plasters, pain killers, something for the tummy, but also don’t forget stuff for sunburn and the such.
If you have pets, planning your absence is something that could be simple, but also could be very involved, depending on your personal situation. If you can usually leave your pet with family or friends, you are one of the lucky ones. Even so, you will want to think about some kind of present ahead of time.
If you leave your little friends at a pet hotel, you will want to plan ahead and make sure that a spot is available when you need it. These places fill up quickly, especially around the school vacation times. Furthermore, if it’s one of the places that allow personal items for your pets, you need to make decisions at the right time.
If you are taking your pets with you, you will need to do some research to find out if you actually CAN do that. Some places require inoculations, certificates, or proof of insurance, etc. for certain types of animals. You do not want to learn about these things when you pull up to the border control or arrive at an airport somewhere abroad. Your vacation will be ruined, at the very least.
The look of things
When you are away, you want to make sure that it’s not obvious you are not home. Having somebody house-sit is probably best. That friend could take care of your pets and plants and anything that needs doing in your home while you are away. Consider asking someone to stay at your place (at least temporarily) while you are gone.
If house-sitting is not something you’d consider or feel is necessary, you should ensure that at the very least there is some kind of movement in the house: that could be lights being turned on and off using some form of timer, or that could be simply making sure that someone comes and takes care of the mail and things that might be visible from the outside. The main thing is that you do not want a surprise visit while you are away and that your home is safe and sound until you come back home.
If you have regular orders coming to your door, you could actually stall delivery for certain things: food stuffs will be useless while you are gone (I’m thinking dairy or frozen goods here), newspapers are not needed (and outdated when you return), etc.
Think about stopping deliveries, it could also save you some money in the interim.
Turning off devices
Contrary to all the step you can take to make your house look occupied, you could actually turn off quite a lot of electrical devices: unplugging anything your don’t need while you are gone can save you some money. It’s amazing just how much electricity devices use in standby mode, so turn off electricity for your entertainment unit, pull out the plugs for device chargers that you do not take with you. If you are gone for a while, even the fridge might be turned off. Think outside the box and you’ll see a lot of things that do not need to run while you are gone.
As you can see, a lot of things need to be considered, but the best advice I can give you is to have a standard list to prepare your absence. Obviously, you would need slightly different check lists for summer or winter vacations, or you could just have a full list and indicate which bits only apply to certain types of vacations. All this being said, your next vacation is coming up sometime soon-ish. Get prepared now, you’ll thank yourself for it soon enough.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.