Packing light is another key to travel pleasure … Resolve to be a carefree traveler and not a harried clothes horse. You will cease being a prisoner of porters and taxicabs, forced to stay at the first hotel you see, unable to "shop around". If you have taken too little, you can always remedy the deficiency at the destination. But meantime, you will know a kind of travel ease that only light packing can bring about.

Arthur Frommer


Before You Leave

This site is mostly about what to pack (and what not to). I would be remiss, though, if I did not include mention of those important but easily forgotten tasks that people often neglect to take care of before setting off on their grand adventures. If it's been a while since you last refreshed your memory about how to survive a hotel fire or how to survive a plane crash, this would be an excellent time to do so; few agglomerations of knowledge offer such potential benefit!

And here's the other important list on items you might want to take care of before leaving (depending on the duration of your trip):

  • Make sure that someone knows your travel plans, and can deal with emergencies (do they have a key?) in your absence.
  • Suspend your mail delivery, or have it forwarded appropriately (to a rented P.O. box if a long trip makes it necessary).
  • Suspend or cancel your newspaper delivery and other services (like magazines, gym membership, …).
  • Inform your credit card issuer(s) of your travel dates & locations, else they might suspend your account(s) when unexpected charges appear from far afield.
  • Ensure that nothing important (passport, ATM & credit cards, etc.) will expire while you're away.
  • Confirm accommodation reservations, especially any with smaller B&Bs, etc. … people who may be as concerned about your arrival as you are about having a place to sleep.
  • Make arrangements for the care of any pets or plants in your charge.
  • Clean your toilets, and anything else prone to "growing" stuff when you're not around.
  • Empty your refrigerator & other storage locations of food that could spoil.
  • Wash your dishes, do your laundry, put fresh linens on your bed, and dispose of your garbage/compost/etc. (including any lurking in a disposal unit): nobody enjoys coming back to a grungy house.
  • Turn off taps, on washing machines and anything else that could leak or freeze while unattended. As it's not always possible to anticipate these (the icemaker line in your refrigerator?), consider shutting off the house water supply.
  • Schedule the payment of any bills that might come due during your trip; switching to on-line payment options can facilitate this. If using a cellular telephone with a prepaid plan, ensure that it has sufficient remaining time.
  • Adjust your thermostat settings & check/replace any batteries it may use.
  • Inspect all your doors and windows to ensure that they are secure; garage doors can be "locked" by inserting a large bolt through one of the tracks in which the door rides (there are usually holes for this; if not, drill one). If you use an alarm service, notify them of your plans, and let them know who to contact for emergencies.
  • If you live in snow country, consider how a virgin snowfall (or drift) makes it obvious that your house is unoccupied. When appropriate, arrange with a neighbour to create car and foot tracks into the house. Or even shovel/plow.
  • Unplug things (don't just turn them off); your gadgets will be safer and more rested, and why pay for electricity to keep remote controls functional while you're away? Don't forget!That said, leaving a couple of lights on when you're away gives your house an "occupied" look; use energy-saving bulbs, ideally on a timer. For an even more crafty/elaborate approach, consider using a fake TV.
  • Clean the gutters; water is not always your friend.

A final thought: it is unwise to advertise your travel plans — even if you'll just be out for the afternoon — on answering machines, voicemail, e-mail auto-responders, or social media status updates (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al). For that matter, you should omit any physical address information more specific than a city from social media profiles. Don't make it easy for opportunists to discover where you live, or that you're not at home.

After You Return

coming homeYou might want to quickly review the above list to ensure that any adjustments you have made (suspended mail, cancelled newspapers, altered thermostat settings, unplugged devices, etc.) are appropriately returned to normal.