Things to do before leaving on vacation

17 Super Smart Things To Do Before Leaving on Vacation

Beyond the packing lists and travel check lists, you also need a list of the last-minute things to do right before leaving on vacation. I mean, right before you walk out the door and drive away.

Those last-minute things.

Why Do You Need a List of Things to Do Before Leaving on Vacation?

I’m a list keeper and a list maker, so it only seems reasonable that I made a list of all the last-minute things I do before leaving on vacation.

Why? Because I have a tendency to forget important things.

These are definitely travel tips that help you to be a confident traveler.

Packing Lists are Essential Too!

Have you ever driven away from your house, whether driving to the airport or to a vacation destination, and wondered, Have I forgotten anything?” That thought is always present in my mind as I drive away from my house for a vacation.

And sometimes those thoughts bother me with persistence.

In fact, there have been numerous times over the years when I reach my destination and realized that, yes, indeed, I had forgotten something! One time it was pajamas for my daughter and another time it was another daughter’s Sunday dress.

That’s when I started making packing lists of all the things I needed to remember. And when I was on vacation, I would add to that list additional items that would be convenient, handy, and easy to pack for the next trip.

Packing lists are awesome and just so you don’t forget to pack an essential item, I have created packing lists for you too.

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Travel Planners

The International Travel Planner Includes:

  • International Packing List – Women
  • International Packing List – Men
  • Travel Bag Packing List
  • Travel Check List
  • Last-Minute Things To Do Before Leaving on Vacation List
Subscribe Below 👇 for your FREE International Travel Planner

Tip * The Travel Check List in the Travel Planner is a detailed list that starts with creating a vacation fund and applying for passports (if necessary) and includes all of the travel-related tasks you need to consider before you reach the final list of things to do before leaving on vacation.

It is a great list if you are new to travel, if you haven’t traveled in awhile, or if you are like me and just need reminders.

The Domestic Travel Planner Includes:

  • Packing List – Women
  • Packing List – Men
  • Travel Bag Packing List
  • Travel Check List
  • Last-Minute Things To Do Before Leaving on Vacation List

There is a bit of an overlap with both planners, but there are some things I am sure to pack for an international trip (ie., international adapters) that are not needed when traveling closer to home.

And if this is your first time traveling (or you haven’t traveled in a while), you may need some guidance. Such as, what are the essential toiletries for travel?

Subscribe Below 👇 for your FREE Travel Planner

Please note that when you add your email address and download these lists, you are being added to my mailing list. I will not spam you and usually only send out a monthly newsletter with updates, recent posts, and travel information.

17 Super Smart Last-Minute Things To Do Before Leaving on Vacation

1. Set the Thermostat

Things to do before leaving on vacation set thermostat

There are so many thermostats today that allow you to have a “Smart Home”. You can set your thermostat to vacation temps to cut down on utility costs while you are away. And with handy Apps that allow you to control the temps while you are away, you can still accomplish this task after leaving if you forget.

Also, set a reminder to turn on the air conditioner or the furnace (depending on the time of year) so that your home is at a nice temperature when you arrive home.

I did learn the hard way that keeping our air conditioner at a higher temperature while we were away for a longer period of time was not good for my house plants (even when I had someone come and water them while I was gone). So keep that in mind if you have lots of plants in your home.

2. Leave Your House Tidy

This may not be your style and that’s ok. But if you like to have a tidy house, and more importantly come home to a tidy house, this isn’t too hard to accomplish before you leave if you plan time for it.

Make beds, pick up clothes, and put kitchen items away. I am not suggesting you undertake an extensive Spring cleaning project, just tidy up. For me, it is so much nicer to come home to a tidy house when I know I will have lots of vacation unpacking and laundry to do once I return.

While it may not be one of the “essential” things to do before leaving on vacation, it sure is nice. CNET recommends that you should prep your house before you leave.

3. Empty the Fridge of Perishables

Things to do before leaving on vacation is clean out perishables

You won’t forget to do this a second time if you have ever left something in the fridge that has gone bad during your absence. Ohhh, the smell! Definitely among the important things to do before leaving on vacation.

Sometimes it is hard to “guesstimate” how long a gallon of milk will last and time the emptying of that jug to your departure date.

You may need to freeze some items to use when you return, give unused groceries to a neighbor, family member close by or a friend, or simply toss unused items.

If those tossed items will stink up your garage, you may wish to get permission to dump the garbage in a neighbor’s bin or at a garbage site that you know will be serviced in your absence.

4. Take Out the Garbage

If you set your garbage bins out to be emptied after you leave, make sure you have a close friend or trusted neighbor put the bins back in the garage or where you store them so the outside of your house doesn’t shout, “These people are on vacation!”

I would not recommend putting the garbage bins out if they are going to sit on the street for a lot of time before being picked up though. Again, if you have a good relationship with your neighbors, families that live close by, or a friend, ask if they will put your full garbages out and then put them away again while you are away.

5. Remind Everyone to Use the Bathroom

This seems pretty logical, but if you are traveling with young children and teens, they may be so excited to go on vacation that they forget some of the “necessities” before claiming their seat in your vehicle.

It has happened to us. One response you might have is, “Seriously? Why didn’t you go before we left?”

It is easier to make a general announcement before everyone leaves to solve that problem.

6. Make Sure Toilets are Flushed

Things to do before leaving on vacation is flush toilets

And it only stands to reason, that after reminding everyone to use the bathroom before you leave on vacation that you may need to walk around to all of your bathrooms and make sure they have all been flushed as well. This is one of those things to do before leaving on vacation that you don’t want to skip!

Much the same as emptying your fridge of perishables, un-flushed toilets are NOT something you want to come home to find (or smell!).

7. Water All of Your Plants

Things to do before leaving on vacation water plants

Be sure to water all of your plants right before you leave on vacation. That is, if you want them to be alive when you return home.

If you are gone for any time longer than a week, you will likely need to have someone come in and water your plants. If you have only one or two indoor plants, you may even find someone who can “plant sit” for you while you are gone where you take your plants to their house.

If you have lots of plants (like me), then making arrangements for a family member, trusted neighbor or friend to come in and water your plants will help to ensure the plants are still alive when you return.

8. Turn Off Lights as You Make one Final Sweep of the House

You may choose to leave a light or two “on” while you are away. If you are set up with timers or “smart fixtures”, you can have lights come on with a timer to give your home that lived-in look. Do a quick sweep through the house as one of the final things to do before leaving on vacation and turn off lights.

9. Turn Off the Water to the Washing Machine

Things to do before leaving on vacation is turn off water to washer

Turning off the water to your washing machine is just a precautionary measure. 99 times out of 100, nothing would ever happen. But in this case (in my opinion), it is better to be safe than sorry.

Popular Mechanics lists turning off your washing machine as one of their 10 home prep tips before you leave on vacation.

10. Ensure All Windows and Exterior Doors are Locked

As you are doing that sweep of the house and turning off lights and flushing toilets, be sure to check that all windows are closed and secured and that all exterior doors are locked.

If you have someone coming to water plants, mow the lawn, pick up the newspaper, put garbage bins away, and check for packages delivered to the front door is to be sure that your neighbor, friend, or family member has the codes and keys necessary to access your home. See also #15 Set the House Alarm.

11. Close Blinds and Curtains

Things to do before leaving on vacation close curtains

And while you’re closing windows, doors, and turning off lights, be sure to close blinds or curtains throughout your home. You may wish to keep some open if you normally don’t close them or if you have plants that will benefit from the sunlight during the day.

12. Make Sure You Have ALL Luggage Packed in the Car

This seems like a n0-brainer, but I have forgotten toiletry bags and my travel backpack before. Fortunately, as I was running through the list in my head while driving down the driveway, I remembered the forgotten items. But in your final sweep of the house, check to make sure everything is loaded into your car.

If your children are responsible for their own packing, just a quick check of their rooms will let you know that all items are accounted for. As you prepare to leave, a quick question with a run-down of items needed can be helpful, “Does everyone have their sunglasses, shoes, jackets, backpack and suitcase in the vehicle?

Having a staging area in your living room or by the back door where you can do a quick count can also be helpful. Or simply count the luggage as you load it.

13. Check to Make Sure You Have Your Phone, Wallet, and Keys

There are some Genius Gadgets for Travel that you will surely want to pack. There’s a reason why I have packing lists as well as a list for last-minute things to do before leaving on vacation: I don’t want to forget anything.

YOU don’t want to forget anything!

A weekend without my iPad because I left in on the counter for a quick recharge helped reinforce the need to make sure I have grabbed my phone or iPad off the charger, my wallet, and my keys (though you won’t get too far without your keys!)

14. Do One Last Check to Make Sure all Passports are Packed

Use LastPass to store travel documents securely

It doesn’t hurt to check and double check that passports are in one central location and that all are accounted for.

If you are traveling with children, I would advise that one parent or adult carry all passports and keep track of them as you use them at the airport and throughout your trip.

15. Set the House Alarm

Things to do before leaving on vacation is turn on house alarm

If you have a house alarm, set it as you walk out the door.

If you have arranged for someone to come to your house while you are away, make sure they have all codes necessary for entering the garage as well as instructions and codes on how to disarm the alarm when they enter the house and then reset it again when they leave.

Alternatively, if you know when they will be at your house, you may be able to disable and then reset the alarm with an App.

16. Get in the Car and Say a Prayer

Make sure everyone is in the car. This seems like a no-brainer as well, but if it can happen in “Home Alone” perhaps it could happen in real life. Just count heads.

If you are inclined to say a prayer, a little extra heavenly care for safety in your travels might just add a little peace of mind.

17. Make Sure the Garage Door Closes

Watch to ensure that the garage door is closed as you leave. Again, if you have an App for the garage door opener, you can close this while you are away from the house, but peace of mind that you have left everything buttoned up goes a long way. This should be one of the very last things to do before leaving on vacation.

Have a great trip!

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Checklist things to do before leaving on vacation

Final Thoughts on Last-Minute Things to do Before Leaving on Vacation

You have so many things to think about when you are planning your travel, packing, and making sure you don’t forget anything. Let me take the stress out of one or two things with my TRAVEL Planners.

Note * I don’t have pets, but if you do, you will also need to make arrangements for your pets if you are not taking them with you on vacation.

You might also enjoy these posts related to travel planning…

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9 months ago

There is nothing better than coming home to a tidy house after a trip!! Great list!

9 months ago

A great list and so practical LOVE it I always do a double check on doors, windows and utilities as I can never remember…A list is perfect for this… thank you

9 months ago

These are great tips. I always make a list of last minute things I need to do in the morning before we leave. It’s so hard to keep track of all the little things in my head, but so helpful to actually check them off during the chaos!

Leah Tierney
9 months ago

A really great list and I wish I listened to all of these before leaving!

9 months ago

this is all super helpful! Big fan of coming back to a tidy home, especially after tiring travels!

Erin from Pina Travels
Erin from Pina Travels
8 months ago

‘Get in the car and say a prayer’ made me laugh out loud haha. You never ever know how smoothly a trip will go, that’s for sure. These tips are super helpful, thanks for sharing!

Vi Ho
Vi Ho
8 months ago

Whenever we go on vacation, we’re always scrambling with packing and making sure that everything is in place. This is a great checklist to help with those last minute checks!

Oindrila Bose
8 months ago

That is a great list!! Will definitely keep in mind next time before leaving for A vacation!

Linda (LD Holland)
8 months ago

We too have a list of things to do before leaving on vacation. It was good to check your list and add a few things to my list. We bought combination air purifiers / humidifiers this year and we had to make sure to add that to our prep list. The last vacation the machine kept sending me messages that it was out of water!

Travel A-Broads
8 months ago

I’m quite the planner and list keeper myself :). I do all of these steps (at least those that are applicable for apartments) before I leave for any trip. I had some friends once that left their patio door unlocked while on vacation, and of course, that did not end well. I always double and triple check everything before I leave just in case. P.S. thank you for the Travel Planner – I downloaded my free copy last week! Xx Sara

8 months ago

Thanks for sharing!

8 months ago

Great tips! I’ve definitely been thinking more and more about a home alarm system so that I can worry less while I’m gone!

Lisa | Waves and Cobblestones

If you are a paranoid person that always asks yourself ‘did I turn off the oven?’ — take a picture of the oven console with your iPhone. Even if you don’t look at the photo later, just the act of taking the picture makes that stick in your brain!

8 months ago

These are all great tips especially cleaning the house before you leave and checking to make sure you have all of your documents. The last thing you want is to arrive to the airport without those!

A Capone Connection
8 months ago

Super helpful list. It’s always better to have a checklist so you don’t forget, especially when you have so many things going on. Thanks!

8 months ago

Thanks. This is a good little list to run down on your way out the door. I usually have a handwritten list that I tick off in addition to my own packing list. It makes my life so much easier.

8 months ago

Totally agree with all of these! We once forgot to take out garbage before a trip. I can’t begin to tell you how disgusting the place smelled when we were back.

8 months ago

I absolutely agree with all your point! One of the most important for me is to empty fridge and freezer. I was sharing a flat with other people’s years ago and one of my flatmates had a fridge in his room. His fridge broke while he eas on holiday and when he came back and he opened it the smell was disgusting. His freezer was full of meat and fish so you can imagine the smell. From that time, I always stop buying any food at least 2 weeks before my travel and I eat every single thing inside my fridge/freezer. It is a great way to save money and avoid wasting everything if the fridge break.

8 months ago

This is a very thorough checklist. I’ve never thought to turn off the water to the washing machine. Every time I travel I just think of the essentials like phone, camera, laptop, chargers for all of them, passport. Anything else I figure I can find when I get there if need be.

8 months ago
Reply to  Timpani

I turn off the water to the entire HOUSE!! LOL!!

8 months ago

These are all awesome tips! Since we live in a small apartment, I always turn off our AC before we leave for vacation, and it saves us a ton of money, especially during the summer in Phoenix. I also always clean before leaving, it’s so nice to come home to a clean house. Thanks for sharing these great tips! 🙂

8 months ago

I love your suggestion to empty out the refrigerator before you leave! Lol I always forget this part. Great tip! 🙂

sammi swinton
8 months ago

Such great tips, I love coming home to a clean house!

8 months ago

This is a very useful list! We also turn off the water to our toilets. Came home to a leak through the dining room ceiling once.

8 months ago

These are some great tips, and reminders that not always are readily handy when getting ready to leave for vacation. But are necessary.

8 months ago

Such a great list of tips! You thought of everything! We also give a spare key to our trusted neighbour especially when we leave on really long trips.

6 months ago

This is a super handy checklist to have by your side when actually packing. Thanks, very interesting approach here !

6 months ago

This is such a super useful list of things to do. Somehow I always leave things for the last minute (tend to overestimate how much I can get done in that time) so I really appreciate this guide.