Most people approaches preparations for a trip with both excitement and trepidation. The excite comes from looking forward to your vacation as well as the fear that you may overlook something in your preparation. It is natural for some people to feel overwhelmed by the thought that they have to prepare for the trip. They hate packing, and often put aside the activity until the last minute. Forgetting to bring along an essential item can cause a lot of inconvenience, comfort and expense. While the whole exercise may seem cumbersome, if you approach it systematically, you will leave for your trip relaxed and will enjoy your holiday much more.
To help you in your preparation, I have prepared a Packing List which you can print out and use. This check list covers the essential items that general travelers will be bringing along. If you are going on a specialized trip, you may have to create a second packing list with items which are specific to your needs. For example:
When to start packingPack your bags as early as possible. Items which you will not be using on a daily basis should be packed and checked off from your packing list. Many travelers have a set of "travel toiletries", so they do not have to empty their bathroom of items they use daily. This helps in ensuring that you don't have to wait till the last day to do the packing.
Segregate and pack the clothes that you will be bringing on the trip from those you still intend to wear until the day. Read my accompanying article, How to Pack Your Luggage.
Delegating Home ResponsibilitiesMake sure everything at home is in order during your absence. If you leaving behind dependents (children, the elderly, the invalid, pets), make sure you have assigned someone to look after them while you are away. If you have plants at home, assign someone to water them or ensure they are watered by drip tray. Expensive jewelry are put away in a safe deposit box at the bank.
Leave a set of house keys with someone you can trust - a family member, relative, friend, colleague or neighbor, and ask the person to check on your home from time to time. Give the person a copy of your itinerary and your contact numbers so that you can be reached if necessary.
Cancel your newspaper delivery for the duration of your trip. A stack of newspapers on your front door is not a good a tell-tale sign of your absence. Have someone pick up your mail regularly.
The night beforeSelect the clothes you will be wearing on the trip. This should not have been packed into your luggage, as rummaging may mess things up. If you need a second set of clothes to change into upon arrival (you are going for a dinner, the beach, a seminar), where your travel clothes won't do, pack that second set of clothes above the rest of your luggage. That way, you don't have to rummage deep to find them.
Preparing to leave for the tripGo through your Packing List once more, ensuring all items needed have been packed. Keep your Packing List handy at all times.
Close all windows. Do not however "advertise" your absence. If you do not usually draw the curtains, leave them as they are, or draw them half way, to avoid arousing unnecessary suspicion. Put away valuables and expensive items that are usually on display or leave them under the care of someone until your return.
As you prepare to leave your home, ensure all electrical appliances are switched off. If you have a security system installed at your home, ensure it is switched on. Make sure timers for lights are working properly. Make sure all faucets are turned off as well as the mains.
You are ready to leave. It's time to carry your luggage out of your home. Lock the door. Count your suitcase once. Did you forget anything? Take five steps, look back. Is everything in order. If yes, you are ready for a pleasant trip. It's time to relax and enjoy yourself. Have a nice time.
More Travelers' ToolsHere's a whole list of tools to help you prepare for your trip.