Having just returned to NYC after a week home in Indiana for my childhood friend’s wedding, my brain is full of unpacking to-dos. I need to do my laundry this weekend, buy groceries for the upcoming week, make sure I have everything I need for my return to the office, and the list goes on.
Before I studied abroad, I always got a bit nervous about leaving home. Not because I ever got homesick, but because I was always afraid I’d forget to do something before I left. Did I remember my keys? Did I turn down the heat? I’d better text the roomie about the fruit I left in the fridge. All of my travels since my time in Germany have helped me hone my list of things to do before going on vacation. I’ve written previously about what you should do before leaving the country, but this list is more for getting your personal life in order before leaving than it is about planning the trip itself.
Hopefully these travel tips prevent you from stressing about leaving the house. If you do all of these things, there’s a 99% chance everything will be as it should when you return.
Prep some snacks for your return
There’s nothing worse than coming home after a long travel day, only to realize you have nothing to eat. To avoid hangry grocery runs, I make sure I have enough food for at least a generous-sized snack when I get home. Before my two-week trip to Scotland, I baked some muffins and froze them so I’d have something in the house to munch on when I got back. If you’re not a fan of meal prep, granola bars or canned soup will do the trick, too.
Turn down the A/C or heat
Always remember to turn the air conditioning down before you leave, otherwise you’ll be spending more money on your energy bill than you need to. I don’t mind turning my air conditioning completely off in the summer if I’ll be gone more than a day or two, but I never turn off my heat in the winter. If you shut off your heat, you might wind up with a few burst pipes, which will cost you a decent chunk of change to get them fixed (not to mention you might wind up flooding part of your house and ruining the carpet).
Clean up your room
I get a bit stressed before leaving for long trips, but I always make time to tidy up my room. Returning to a messy room puts me on edge and means I have to pick crap up off the floor on top of unpacking my suitcase. The less time I have to spend putting things away, the quicker I can pass out on my bed.
Put out clean towels
Much like tidying up my room helps me relax when I get home, putting out a clean bath towel saves me the hassle of digging one out from under my bed (I store them in a container that fits under my mattress). I typically hop in the shower as soon as I’m home to wash the plane smell off my skin, so having a fresh bath towel waiting for me is a major plus.
Wipe down your kitchen counters
We had to be super careful about cleaning the kitchen counters when I was a kid because we had a major ant problem in the summers. One time I walked in and the white countertops looked black from all the ants crawling around on them. If you’d seen that, you’d be as careful as I am about wiping down the counters before leaving the house on vacation. Moral of the story: don’t give critters an excuse to invade your house while you’re out.
Take care of any food in your fridge
Food waste aside, leaving food in your fridge for a week or more can really stink up the place. Freeze what you can for later (breads, muffins, pizza, casseroles, etc. can all be frozen), or pass some food to your friends to avoid having to throw it all out later.
Empty all the garbage cans
Again, you don’t want to come home to a smelly house or unwanted ants.
Run the dishwasher
Dirty dishes can also attract bugs, so run the dishwasher even if it’s not completely full.
Clean the litter box
If you have a neighbor checking on your cats while you’re away, clean the litter box before you leave. If your neighbors are like mine, they’ll be totally grossed out by cat poop and will let it all pile up while you’re gone. Cats hate using dirty litter boxes, so unless you want them spraying where they shouldn’t, clean up before you leave.
Check into your flight online
My mom’s taught me a lot of important life lessons, but one I’m most thankful for is her insistence that we always check into our flight 24 hours before it’s set to take off. If airlines have overbooked a flight, they’ll boot off the people who checked in last. Checking in early also saves you time at the airport, especially if you’re only taking carry-on luggage and print your ticket ahead of time.
Unplug any charging electronics
Leaving your computer hooked to the charging dock for long periods of time can actually hurt the battery over time. Unplug anything that’s charging before you leave to save energy and keep your electronics in good condition.
Have I forgotten anything major? If so, please let me know! I’d hate to think I’ve been forgetting a key to-do every time I’ve traveled.
Tell me: What stresses you out the most about traveling?