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13 Simple Ways to Prepare for a Trip & Worry Less While Away

Updated: Jul 26

It's the night before your big trip, and you can hardly contain your excitement. But hold up! Before you go full vacation or business travel mode, there are a few universal things to take care of first.

Preparing for a trip requires proper planning and organization. However, that doesn't mean it has to be overwhelming or stressful. It's all about having a system to ensure you've got everything in order before setting off on your journey. Before you get on the road or head for the airport, here are thirteen things you need to do for a stress-free trip.

From packing the right items and making copies of important documents to informing friends and family of your plans, we will cover several essential steps that should be completed before any big trip.

Taking the time to get all these details sorted out will ensure that your trip goes smoothly and help keep away the Sunday scaries upon your return. Keep reading for all you need to do pre-departure so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy every moment of your trip, no matter the occasion - happy travels!

Before you leave work:

The days leading up to vacation or business travel can be equal parts stressful and exciting. It can be tough to keep your mind focused on work when all you want is some long-awaited R&R or to close that big deal you've been working on. Before you head out of the office for any trip, set yourself up for success by checking all the boxes on the checklist below.

1. Check in with your team and recap where you've left off on projects

In Slack, Dropbox, Asana, or whatever project management tool your team uses, make sure everyone is aware ahead of your trip that you will be away and where they can find any pieces of the project you've been working on exclusively. The key here is to anticipate any potential hiccups and address them before a situation has time to develop.

The same goes for more client-focused work. There is no better opportunity to win customer loyalty than to impress them with the seamlessness of their service in your absence. It shows them your thoughtfulness, dedication, and appreciation of their business.

So set your team up for success by giving them all the necessary information and tools to do a fantastic job.

2. Set your out-of-office message with a point of contact

Setting an out-of-office message may vary by email platform, but the features are getting better and better all the time. Want to send one message to colleagues but not potential customers or vendors outside your company? Easy. Know exactly when you want your out-of-office message to start; you can probably schedule it ahead of time.

Sometimes it is tough to write your auto-responder message on the spot, but fortunately, Grammarly has some great suggestions here.

If you're not familiar with Grammarly, then I applaud your working knowledge and use of the English language! For those who get a little stumped on the ever-looming question comma or no comma, Grammarly is there to help with that and so much more with advanced features like tone detection or clarity suggestions. Check it out, it will change your writing for the better.

Now back to preparing for our trip out of the office.

3. Write a to-do list for your return

Some people love them some people haven't been exposed to the power of a well-written to-do list that saved you from forgetting that one really important but small task your boss asked you to complete. All kidding aside, prepping a to-do list for your return while you're still in full work mode is a game changer.

You'll be able to pick right back up where you left off and eliminate the time needed to switch gears from vacation or travel to work mode. This method also helps when it comes to tackling a jam-packed inbox the morning of your return.

Quickly look for the emails pertaining to your to-do list items first to get caught up to speed, then look for the notes on things you've missed and then any outside communications or new business that has come in.

4. Clean & tidy your workspace physically and digitally

By now, it's pretty widely accepted that keeping your digital space clean consistently extends the life of your devices and maintains their optimal functionality. But there are times when we let these priorities slip. Taking a little time before you head out to clear your browser data, clean up your downloads folder, and empty your computer's recycle bin is another way to fend off the overwhelm often felt before returning to work. You may also spend a few minutes cleaning up your inbox or setting a couple of rules in place to filter messages accordingly while you're away.

Next, it's time to look at your physical workspace. When was the last time you wiped down your desktop or saw it, for that matter? Getting your loose papers filed, stacked, or trashed and tidying the odds and ends on your desk will make it a pleasure to resume work when you're back. Last but not least, remember to empty your physical trash and recycling bins before you head home and start the next phase of your pre-trip routine.

Before leaving home:

Who knows what excitement you may encounter on the road. I am a big fan of stacking the odds in favor of a happy return home. When a flight gets delayed or you arrive home late, it's always lovely to return to a clean house. This way, you have time to unpack and rest before returning to the usual work, sleep, and eat routine.

1. Laundry

Likely the first thing you think of before a trip, laundry and some packing can often take place days before your departure. This allows tasks to be spaced out and makes them more manageable. But if you're hurrying to get caught up, get your laundry started first so it can run while you take care of other items on the list.

So your clothes are clean, and your bags are pretty much packed, but what about your bedsheets and linens? If time allows, I highly recommend doing an extra load or two with sheets and linens. Clean bedsheets are a little luxury in and of themselves, but after a long journey, that first night's sleep in our own bed is magic. Make it the best it can be by having nice smelling clean sheets on a well-made bed.

2. Tidy up

Declutter, dust, vacuum, and then take out the trash. In that order. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish in just fifteen minutes. We're not aiming to win a Good Housekeeping award here but rather make sure the chaos of this week doesn't spill over into the week we return.

3. Wash Dishes

Load and run the dishwasher or hand wash what you have. The goal is to have your dishes clean and put away before you leave. Bring yourself a little joy by coming home to an open expanse of clean countertops ready for you to get cooking or prep your next meal.

4. Return To-do List

Groceries, errands, or odd jobs around the house. Doing a brain dump of all your todo's will keep you from worrying about needing to remember while you're away. I am especially a fan of making my return grocery list ahead of time. This helps me jump-start my at-home routine and keeps me from grabbing convenient, less nutritious food items when I'm probably tired and in a rush. By writing everything down, you can dedicate more of your mental capacity to the road ahead.

5. Thermostat

In the age of smart thermostats, you may be able to accomplish this task from your Uber on the way to the airport, which is awesome. Adjusting your thermostat by 10-15 degrees when away for periods longer than eight hours can save up to 10% annually on your energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

For trips longer than two weeks

Every once in a while, we may have the privilege to get away for an extended period of time. No matter if you own a home or rent, there are a few extra items to add to the list that will help prevent any accidents while you're away and may also help you save a little on utilities while you're away.

1. Turn off the water

If you rent, it may be a little trickier to turn the water off as there isn't usually a cut-off in each unit. However, you can always turn off the water below each sink or behind the toilet if you have any concerns about leaky faucets.

Homeowners typically have a main shut-off near their main utilities like the water heater and air handler.

2. Unplug non-essential gadgets & appliances

Lamps, charging docks, toasters, and more. Even while not in use, these items are drawing a little power, so it's good to unplug them on longer stays. Unplugging also helps keep devices safe in the event of an unexpected power surge or outage.

3. Forward or hold mail

These days we're far less dependent on mail, but if you know something important is on the way, you may want to have your mail temporarily forwarded to you if you're staying domestically.

Another option is to put a hold on your mail for the duration of your trip so it is not left in your mailbox. This means the post office will remove your mail from the usual delivery route until the specified date. Then there is typically a nice bundle dropped off when you're back.

4. Talk to a trusted neighbor or friend.

So there's a good chance you have security cameras or something that allows you to keep tabs on your home remotely. But it never hurts to have someone who can keep an eye on things, especially when you're traveling a great distance or going to be away longer than a weekend.

Sometimes the weather can change unexpectedly, and things you would typically do to prepare you wouldn't be able to when you're away. Or maybe you receive an unexpected delivery you'd rather not have sitting on the porch the whole time. The list goes on. The point is, it's nice to have some backup.

Closing Thoughts

Traveling is an exciting and rewarding experience, but it can also be a source of stress if you don't take the necessary steps to ensure everything is in order before you go. Taking the time to check off a few tasks before you leave for your travels will open up more opportunities for fun and much-needed rest.

Coming back home only to find a pile of dishes, an overflowing mailbox, and no air conditioning can be enough to put a damper on any good trip. Do yourself a favor and take the extra steps now so when you come back home, you're ready to jump right in with less stress. Enjoy your travels!

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