With record-breaking high temperatures all across the U.S. you would think we’re in the middle of summer. But the season really doesn’t begin until June 21st. The hot weather sure makes me think of getting away to the mountains or the beach.

If you’re getting ready to head out on a vacation there are things you need to add to your “to do” list before leaving home. Here are 11 things you should always do.

  • First, ask a friend or trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your house and stop by occasionally. We always prepare a note for neighbors telling them where we will be, how long we will be away, how to contact us while we’re traveling, and who, if anyone has access to our house while we’re gone. For us, that person is a trusted nephew who does an occasional security check inside the house. In addition, one neighbor has a key and the alarm codes for our house if access is ever needed during an emergency.
  • There are others who need to know you are traveling. Contact your bank and credit card companies and let them know when and where you are traveling. It’s especially important if you are going out of the country. This simple task could save you the embarrassment of having your card declined. Lately, banks have been telling me I no longer have to report travel. I ask them to make a notation on my account anyway and then they are always willing to do so.
  • Next, use the camera on your phone to take a picture of your passport identification page and any prescriptions you will have with you. You’ll need the passport information in case of an emergency and having the picture of the personal information page will make it much easier to get a replacement. Showing your prescription will make it much more likely that you can get a refill should you run out or lose your medication.
  • While you have your phone in hand, program the customer service number of the airline you’ll be using. In case of a flight cancelation or missing bag, you’ll have their number at your fingertips. In the event of a cancelation after you get to the airport having that direct phone number sure beats standing in the long line at the customer service desk hoping they’ll be able to book you on the next flight to your destination.
  • Another thing to do before leaving home is to put your mail and newspaper subscriptions on hold. Nothing like a stack of mail or newspapers to advertise no one is home.
  • Don’t overheat or over cool your house while away. Adjust the thermostat before you leave. If you’re fortunate to have a programmable thermostat make sure you set it to let your home be at a more comfortable when you return.
  • Paying bills may be the last thing on your mind as you get ready to head out on holiday, but finding a stack of late penalty notices when you get back is no way to end a vacation. So pay any bills that will be due while you’re away before you leave. Many accounts will let you schedule the date you want the payment to be applied to your account.
  • Lighten your load while you travel. At least thin out your purse or billfold. Most of us lug around way more than we need, so ditch the excess. There’s no need to travel with your library card and gym ID.
  • Likewise, there’s no need to burn electricity for all of the appliances you have in your home. Unplug any toasters, computers, and fans among other items. You’ll protect them from power surges and save on energy costs.
  • All good trips must come to an end. We’ve found a way to treat ourselves when we get home from travels. Before we leave we make our bed with fresh sheets. This is optional, but it’s nice to come home to a clean bed. 
  • Finally set the home security system and as you pull away from the house look back one more time to make certain the garage door has closed

Now relax and enjoy your vacation free from worry about what’s going on back home.