It’s almost time! I’ve hinted here, here, and here that the hubby and I have been preparing to embark on quite the adventure in the Middle East. We’ll be spending a week in the UAE touring Abu Dhabi and Dubai, followed by a week in Turkey exploring Istanbul and Cappadocia. This trip has been months and months in the making, and for the longest time we felt like it was forever away. Then in the last 2 weeks I’ve felt like we’ve been scrambling to get ready. There is so much to do before leaving home half a world away, and it feels like that even more now that we’re homeowners! It is almost summer, a busy time for jet-setting and exploring, so in case any of you are also planning to be away from home for more then just a couple days, here’s a checklist of sorts to help you prepare for your own adventure.
Secure a Pet / House Sitter
We are super lucky in this department. A dear friend will be in LA for the summer and needs a place to stay at the very same time we will be away. I can’t tell you the relief it is to know someone will be watching out for our kitties and our house, especially since fire season seems to have hit Southern California earlier than usual this year! But I know we won’t always find such a perfect scenario. If you’re looking for a house sitter, try asking a friend with a roommate they might need a break from to stay in your house. If you have pets, sometimes just a pet sitter checking in on the little guys once or twice a day is enough to double for someone checking in on the house too. If there’s a fire or flood, they’ll surely notice. Plus, it will be good for your pets to have a little love every now and then while you’re away. Try asking your veterinarian’s office if they have a pet sitter they can recommend. They won’t recommend someone who other people have complained about, or who they don’t know themselves, so if you’re friends don’t have one already this is a great place to start.
Make an Emergency Contact List
This can be the list you hope no one needs to use while you’re gone. Include numbers like a friend in your home town who can help your house sitter or out-of-town family in an emergency situation. And of course include a family member’s phone number as well. We always try to include a next door neighbor, our primary veterinarian, our preferred emergency animal care facility, and of course an emergency contact phone number in our vacation destination. You may also want to include your flight itinerary for whoever will be watching your house or taking you to/from the airport.
Make a Copy of Your Passport
This was actually a recommendation from a friend. I’d never done this before now. but it makes so much sense if you’re travelling internationally. Make two photocopies of your passport, driver license, and health insurance card. Leave one at home with your house sitter or with a friend, and take the other copy with you on your travels but keep it in a separate place than your real ID’s. This way if your purse gets stolen or you leave your passport somewhere by accident, your extra copies will help you when talking with your embassy or other authorities overseas.
Pre-Pay Your Bills
Most banks offer online bill pay, and most of the time you can set up your bills to be paid at a later date. Think about setting them up to go out right after your next automatic deposit from work. Even though you could also pay them online from your vacation spot, wouldn’t it be better to really get away from those kind of life responsibilities for a little bit? Paying ahead means you don’t have to fit chores in among your sight-seeing schedule.
Come Up With a Cash or Credit Card Plan
There are lots of different opinions about whether to carry cash, traveler’s checks, or credit cards while traveling. I learned that all of our credit cards have a 3% fee for international transactions (which is pretty infuriating, to say the least) so it will cost us a lot of extra money for any charges we make over seas. We chose to carry cash, but I try to really budget out exactly what we will need so as to not bring anything extra. We also each carry a portion of it so that if one of us loses ours the other still has theirs, minimizing the risk of loss. Some things will unavoidably need to be charged to a credit card and others are pre-paid for, so those things will also help in keeping your cash budget as low as possible. It’s a bit of a balancing act, but with some smart planning and consideration you should be able to find the right balance for your own trip
Prepare Your House, Plants, and Pets
Here’s where the home ownership part of our current equation comes into play. We do our own gardening and yard maintenance. And because of the timing of our flights, we had to do all our usual yard maintenance knowing that there will be close to 4 weeks before we can get to it again. That means thinking ahead about what happens over the course of 4 week in the average yard. I did a marathon hedge and rose trimming session the other day, and the hubby cut the lawn extra short, but I know we’ll have to do it all over again once we get back and recover from the jet lag. Another helpful prep tip, house or apartment, is to remember to unplug unnecessary appliances and shut down your computer if no one will be in the house using them. Preset your air conditioner or heater to save energy when no one is home. And finally, don’t forget to feed your pets, cut their claws back (especially if you have cats that like to try to destroy your sofa…), and make sure their collars are secure in case they try to escape while you’re gone.
Buy Your Travel Supplies
Your shopping list will of course vary depending on where you’re going. Think about getting travel sized toiletries or reusable travel-sized bottles, especially if you are planning to carry your bag on the plane. Make sure you have the appropriate clothes for the climate you’re going to, sunblock if you need it, hiking and camping gear if those activities are on your itinerary, and supportive, comfortable shoes for all the walking you will surely do whether in a museum, forest, city, countryside, or ocean side. Don’t forget sunblock and sun glasses if you plan to be outside a lot. And if you’ll be attempting to speak an unfamiliar language or going to a place you’ve never been before, pick up a couple pocket sized guides to keep with you as you navigate through you’re new surroundings.
Prepare Your Camera
Make sure your SD card is big enough for all the photos you plan to take, that you have an extra battery for those long outtings when you may not have time during the day to recharge, and don’t forget to pack your charger. (If you’re traveling internationally, make sure you have the proper power adapter handy.)
And of course, Pack Your Bags and Print Your Plane Ticket! (And don’t forget to pack a book for the plane ride… I will be bringing three, since we will be on planes for a grand total of 38 hours over the course of the next 2 weeks. Ahh!)
What else do you do to prepare for your summer vacations?