writing_handChecklists are a traveling mom’s (and dad’s) best friend. Not only do they keep you to pack everything you need, but they can also include free family travel activities and what to do if your beach vacation gets rained out.

As my family and I travel more, we make a number of our own lists, including the essential packing lists and activities we want to do at our destination. But before we leave the house, we check off items on another list: the list of things to do before leaving. Here’s what’s on our list:

  • Arrange for yard/sidewalk maintenance (shoveling snow in winter or watering plants in summer).
  • Arrange for indoor plants to be watered.
  • Arrange for pet sitters or take animals to be boarded.
  • Stop/hold newspaper, mail, etc., or ask someone to pick it up while we’re away.
  • Reschedule deliveries or arrange for someone to come and get them.
  • Set lights on a timer.
  • Make sure all windows and doors are locked securely.
  • Tell neighbors or a trusted friend when we’ll be gone and to please keep an eye on the house.
  • Make sure electronics and nonessential appliances are turned off and/or unplugged.
  • Turn up, down or off the thermostat, depending on season.
  • Clean out the refrigerator of foods that will expire while we’re away.
  • Empty the dishwasher.

I also like to clean the house before we leave and wash any dirty dishes in the sink; while it’s not always easy, it’s nice to come home to a clean house.

What items are on your pre-vacation list?

Teresa Shaw writes about family travels in and around Southeast Michigan. Follow her on Twitter at @Teresashaw or visit her website at teresajshaw.com