I love to travel. I’ve been to more places than I can count. Traveling at the last minute is a fun and spontaneous thing to do, but I definitely prefer having at least a week to get my bag packed and my affairs in order before I head out the door to parts known or unknown.
If you’re planning a trip soon and totally overwhelmed by trip preparation, I’m here to help. Here’s a list of the things that I do before I travel, so I’m prepared for anything and my house is ready and waiting to receive me when I return home.
Make Sure Your Plants Aren’t Thirsty
There’s nothing worse than coming home to dead plants after a lovely trip abroad. Most plants can survive for a while without constant watering, but if they’re not well-maintained to begin with, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
I love blown-glass self-watering stems for my plants. Fill them with water, stick them in the soil and they water the plant as needed until the water runs out. No muss, no fuss — and you don’t come home to dead plants.
If self-watering isn’t an option, make sure your plants are well watered before you leave, and again once you return.
Grocery Shop — Wisely
I can’t tell you how much I hate coming home from a trip just to have to order a pizza because my fridge and pantry are empty. It may seem counter-intuitive to stock up on edibles before you go out of town, but it’s actually strategic.
If you’re planning to be gone longer than a week, skip the produce and dairy aisles — anything you pick up there will be spoiled by the time you return. Instead, stock up on tasty non-perishables like dried pasta, jarred pasta sauce, canned vegetables, rice and other favorites so you have plenty of food to enjoy when you get home without having to order out as soon as you walk in the door.
Check Your Accommodations at Least Twice
There’s nothing worse than showing up to your hotel, only to find that they’ve double-booked your room and you have nowhere to stay. This can be a total nightmare if you’re in a foreign country, especially if you don’t speak the language well.
One week before I leave for a trip, I always double-check my accommodations. I do it again the day before I leave, just to reassure myself I have somewhere to stay when I arrive. I also suggest downloading a translation app for your phone — it’s not perfect, but you won’t be left trying to page through a phrase book if you need to find last-minute accommodations.
Be Aware of Local Weather Patterns
Should you be packing for warm weather, or cold? Do you need to pack your umbrella? Weather is tricky, but a week before you head out, start checking the weather reports for your destination. The weather app might not tell you exactly what the weather is going to be like while you’re visiting, but it can give you an idea of the general weather conditions you might encounter while you’re there.
It’s always a good idea to pack an umbrella anyway. They’re tiny and don’t add much weight to your luggage, and you never know when you’re going to get caught in a rainstorm.
Update Your Cell Phone Plan or Sim Card
If getting stuck in a foreign country without a place to stay is bad, getting stuck there without cell service is even worse. I’m not suggesting you rack up a huge phone bill calling all your friends to say hello from Paris or Tokyo, but being able to search for a restaurant or call your Airbnb host is an invaluable tool.
If your cell service offers it, add an international plan. You may have to switch your sim card once you get off the plane. Another option is to pick up a prepaid phone in whatever country you’re visiting so you’ve at least got local coverage while you’re there.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again to anyone who asks — I love to travel. While spontaneous travel might have appealed in the past, now I like to know where I’m going and that there will be a warm bed for me when I get there. Taking the time to prepare a few things in the week before your trip can make it much less stressful and more enjoyable.