Things To Do Before Going On A Vacation (The Complete List)

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How do you get ready for a vacation without forgetting anything? That is the big question! Of course, you may have a lot more questions like this in the days leading up to your vacation, including how to make your holiday preparations as stress-free as possible.

If you’re counting down the days to your vacation, you’ve come to the right place. We've put together a complete list of everything you need to do before going on vacation, whether you're traveling alone, as a couple, with friends, or with your family. As you attempt to keep your enthusiasm in check, read our list of things to do at home, at work, and in general before your vacation to ensure you're well-prepared to soak up all the fun moments ahead!

Expert tip: If you’ll be traveling as a family, destinations like the Turks & Caicos and Jamaica can be a great choice. In Jamaica, kid-friendly accommodation options include Negril resorts and Ocho Rios resorts. You can also find family-friendly Turks & Caicos resorts.

Things to do at the office before you go on vacation:

Work is probably the last thing you want to worry about in the week leading up to your vacation, but there are a few work-related things you should take care of before you go. The most significant are listed below:

Office Ready Vacation

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1. Confirm vacation approval

You may have filled out your vacation forms months in advance, but it is still important to confirm these have been approved in the weeks leading up to your trip. You should check with the appropriate team members or management to prevent any last-minute snags or disappointments.

2. Wrap up any projects you need to finish

Once your trip is confirmed, you should set aside time to complete any outstanding work. A useful approach to get this done is to make a list the week before your trip so that you can sign off on anything important before you go. If possible, avoid starting any new projects in the days ahead of your vacation that you won't be able to finish before you go. Hold off on starting things that can’t wait until your return as well.

3. Let others know if they’ll need to handle things in your absence

Other colleagues will most likely be required to cover your work while you are gone. If this is the case, make sure they are informed ahead of time. This will give them ample time to plan how to include these activities in their calendars. In some cases, it can be helpful to go through the assignments and any deadlines with them.

4. Make a list of what to tackle upon your return

It's just as important to list what needs to be done before you go on vacation as it is to list what projects you'll need to start once you get back. As you'll almost certainly be returning to work with the residual effects of a fantastic vacation, having a list like this to greet you can help you set the wheels in motion. Your checklist should cover the most crucial items you'll need to perform in your first few days back. This is essential as it keeps you from forgetting anything vital.

5. Tidy up your desk

You might want to tidy up your work area before leaving on vacation. Making the time to organize your workspace is important since you probably won't feel like returning to a cluttered workstation after a relaxing vacation. Make sure everything has a proper place and is organized. To ensure you have enough time, start cleaning up early in the week leading up to your trip.

6. Set up your away email message

Setting an out-of-office email message is one of the last things you’ll need to do ahead of a vacation. The best day to do this is on your last day at the office. Your out-of-office message can be configured either by you or with the assistance of the IT department. Your away email should basically state that you'll be out of the office for a while and give the date when you will be back. In case someone has an immediate question or concern, it might be helpful to provide a list of people who can be reached in your absence. After activating your out-of-office message, you can officially get into vacation mode!

Things to do at home in the week before you go on vacation:

Even though you’re probably itching to go away as soon as possible, you definitely need to take care of a few things around the house before you jet out. Plan to get the house in order throughout the week leading up to your trip. Start early so you aren't rushing to get everything done at the last minute. Here are some of the things you’ll want to take care of ahead of your vacation:

7. Put in your request to have your mail held

If possible, put a hold on your mail until you return. You can contact your local post office to arrange this. Putting your mail on hold can be useful if you will be traveling for more than a few days. Another option is asking a friend or a neighbor you trust and get along with to collect your mail until you return home.

8. Put groceries, milk, or newspaper deliveries on hold

Deliveries, especially if they include milk and other perishable items, are another thing you should probably put on hold if you’ll be traveling. You might want to put newspaper deliveries on pause as well. Check on any delivery services you may have signed up for and put them on hold if necessary.

9. Don’t order anything online that might not come in time

Prior to your vacation, you should pay close attention to the items you order online. If you plan to go shopping in the week leading up to your vacation, check the delivery window to make sure these items will be delivered before you leave. Hold off on ordering anything that is unlikely to arrive before you set off on your vacation.

10. Start eating up perishable foods

To avoid wastage, try to use up any items in your refrigerator or cupboards that are likely to expire before your return. While shopping in the days ahead of your vacation, keep this in mind as well. Pay attention to expiry dates, especially on perishable items, and be guided accordingly on what to purchase before heading off.

11. Pay any bills that will be due while you’re gone

Keep a close eye on bills that might come up while you’re on vacation. You’ll want to make sure to pay any bills that will be due while you’re on vacation in advance. This will help you to avoid late penalties. Check the due dates for credit cards, housing expenditures (such as rent and utilities), and any other monthly payments to verify that they are paid on time. While online payments are possible with most services, it's better to pay bills in advance just in case you don't have the time to do so while you're away.

12. Make arrangements for your pets

As much as you might want to bring your pets on vacation, this isn't always possible. If you have pets at home, you'll almost certainly need to make plans for their care while you're away. You can either enlist the assistance of a friend, neighbor or relative or hire a kennel or pet sitter to care for your pets until you return.

13. Check your prescription medications

Medication is one thing you don't want to be without when on vacation in a foreign location. Fill out any prescriptions in advance so that you have enough medication to last the duration of your vacation. If you're traveling with your family, make sure everyone has all of the medication they'll need (if any). If you need a new prescription, make sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor as early as possible before your trip.

14. Let your bank and credit card company know you’re leaving the country

To prevent having your cards blocked at the most inopportune time, plan ahead by notifying your bank or credit card provider that you will be away. There are usually online forms you can fill out for this purpose, and you can include travel dates and locations. If you take this precaution, your financial institution will be less concerned about any foreign charges to your accounts.

15. Let your cell phone company know too

It can be useful to get a travel plan set up with your local phone company ahead of your trip, that is, if you don't already have one. Once you let them know that you will be out of the country, your cell phone service provider can outline the travel plans that they have available. You might also want to ask about any charges that may be incurred, and how to avoid them if possible. You don’t need a pricey phone travel plan, just one that will enable you to continue using your cell phone while on vacation.

16. Load up on entertainment

If you're traveling abroad, it's a good idea to carry some entertainment to keep you occupied along the journey. Top selections include ebooks, audiobooks, movies, and music — all of these can be downloaded in advance. Some airlines offer in-flight entertainment, although it varies depending on your destination. You may also want entertainment when lounging poolside or on the beach, savoring the breathtaking views. If tablets and reading devices aren't your thing, bring along a few magazines or a book.

Expert tip: Having entertainment for your tip becomes especially important when you’re traveling with kids. Keep your little ones occupied with these great games for the plane.

17. Research your packing list

Packing is certainly not the most fun aspect of a vacation, but the good news is that there are methods to make it a lot simpler. Ahead of your trip, you have the option of creating your own packing list or finding a pre-made one that'll serve as a guide. Most pre-made packing lists include everything you're likely to need during your vacation. Having this saves you time and ensures you won't leave anything important behind. Online, you can find packing lists for solo travelers, couples, and families with children depending on the occasion. Some packing lists are also location specific, such as our Turks & Caicos packing list and Jamaica packing list.

Check out some of our other handy packing lists:
● The family beach vacation packing list
● The ultimate honeymoon packing list
● Packing list for a beach vacation with a toddler

18. Check your supply of toiletries

Toiletries are among the items you're always going to need at hand. Ahead of your vacation, ensure that you include these on your packing list. Make it a point to stock up on whatever items you need so you'll be all set for your vacation. Keep in mind that you may not be able to find some of your regular items in your destination of choice. You can always try to check before you get there to see what's available, but it is probably a better option to just bring what you need with you. Ensure you have a good supply that will take you comfortably through your vacation.

Expert tip: If you'll be staying at an all-inclusive resort, you can call in advance to find out what items are available on the property, or even what convenience stores are near the resort.

19. Double-check the time of your flight and accommodation check-in

As you would likely have booked your vacation weeks or months in advance, it is important to double-check your flight and accommodation details as your day of travel nears. You’ll want to pay particular attention to the times and dates you’ll be flying, both ways. You should also check the times for check-in and check-out at your resort. Verify the time that you will arrive back home as well so that you can organize your travel from the airport to home with no unnecessarily long waiting times in between.

20. Find a few things you’ll want to do while you’re at your destination

If you've already decided on a destination, one of the next steps will be to find fun activities to do while you're there. There are numerous lists of things to do at popular locations like the Turks and Caicos and Jamaica. Even if you do not intend to arrange tours or excursions right away, it is still useful to know what will be available once you arrive. You can make a list of your favorite attractions and tours, so you have an idea of what you want to do when you get there.

Expert tip: Not sure what activities to plan for your vacation? Here are some of the most exciting things to do in Negril, things to do in Ocho Rios, and things to do in Turks & Caicos during your stay. These lists include some of the best beaches, waterfalls, and tours available in Jamaica and the Turks & Caicos.

21. Do any before-travel grooming or beauty activities

Although you might be going on vacation to relax and have fun, it is absolutely worth it to fit travel grooming into your schedule before your trip. For example, you’re not going to want to skip out on getting a pedicure, especially if you'll be going somewhere where sandals or flip-flops will be the order of the day. You’ll also want to get your hair done or trimmed, as well as anything else that will make you feel vacation ready. Schedule any cosmetic treatments you require a week before your vacation. Your holiday photographs will appreciate your efforts!

22. Make a copy of your passport, ID and the front and back of your credit cards

It won't hurt to make a copy or take photos of important documents you will be bringing with you on your trip. This includes things like your passport, ID, and your credit cards. For debit or credit cards, you’ll want to make copies of the front and back - this will come in handy in the event that these items go missing. Keep the copies of your important documents separately from the actual items and perhaps even in a separate bag altogether as a precaution.

23. Take a picture of your prescription labels

Just as it is important to have copies or photos of your important documents, it is useful to take a picture of your prescription labels as well. This goes for medication that needs to be taken, if any, for every member of your family. Doing this helps ensure that you have all the information you need just in case anything goes missing.

24. Ask someone to keep an eye on your home while you’re gone

To be on the safe side, you might want to ask a friend who lives in your area or a neighbor to check in on your property while you're away. This is especially useful if you'll be away for a few days or weeks. Things that they can look out for include whether or not the mail and newspapers are still being delivered, or whether there is a burst pipe anywhere on your property.

25. Give a friend or family member a basic itinerary

It can be useful to give a copy of your travel plans and itinerary to an emergency contact, whether that be a friend or a family member. This helps so that at least someone back home knows of your travel plans and has an idea of where you're expected to be, and when. This contact can be the person who will be picking you up from the airport once you return home or someone else entirely.

26. Check the weather for when you get home

Not only is it necessary to check the weather at your vacation destination in advance, but it might also be good to check what the weather in your hometown will be like when you get back. If there is a chance of rain when you return, you should take a raincoat or at the very least some warmer clothes, so you don't get too chilly in the event of cold weather. This information can be useful as no one really wants to return from a sunny island vacation unprepared for the weather.

27. Bring in any outdoor furniture

If you are going to be gone for a few days or weeks, you should carefully store any outside furniture. This includes patio furniture, cushions, and pool equipment. If you don't take the time to safeguard these items, they can easily get stolen or even blown away in the event that the winds pick up while you're away. Be cautious, especially with lightweight items.

28. Pack your suitcase(s)

When it comes to packing, you'll want to factor in things like who you’ll be traveling with. This can influence how far in advance of departure you should start getting your things together. You may want to get a head start on packing if you'll be traveling with kids, especially those who are younger or may need assistance.

In most cases, packing a few days before your trip is ideal. You can either pack in a single session or take a pack-as-you-go approach as your vacation nears. Keep in mind that items you won't need until the day of your vacation should be packed last. If you've made a packing list, you should be able to grab everything you need quickly and without a hassle.

Expert tip: There are lots of things you need to know ahead of heading off on a vacation, and that list includes how to pack a suitcase. We’ve got everything you need to know about packing for vacation compiled in a single post!

Things to do the day before you go on vacation

While we don't recommend leaving vacation preparations until the last minute, there are some things that are best left until the day before you travel. Here’s a list of a few of these.

Couple Ready Vacation Pre Check Online

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29. Clean or tidy your house

Returning home to a clean house after vacation will feel like a dream. Coming home to anything contrary will probably make you want to just pack your bags and take off again. Make things easier for yourself and possibly your entire family by having everyone play a part in tidying things up ahead of your trip. Doing this can mean the difference between coming home and being able to relax and coming home and getting stressed out all over again. If there is any deeper cleaning to be done, you’ll want to allot more time for this.

30. Throw away any food that will spoil

Getting your home ready for your getaway can help ensure that you can come back to a stress-free environment. One of the ways you can do this is by going through your refrigerator to get rid of any food that is likely to spoil. Throw out anything with a short shelf life that you're not going to eat before you leave to avoid returning home to bad smells or even bugs.

31. Do your laundry

Lighten the load for yourself by doing all your laundry ahead of your trip. Not only does this help ensure you return home to a clean house, but you’re also likely to find some clothes you might have left behind that would really serve your vacation. You’re also probably going to want to wash and change bed sheets as well, preferably the day before you take off. This will help ensure that everyone can return home to a comfortable and relaxing space.

32. Check-in online for your flight

This probably goes without saying but checking in online can be worth it. You can do this at home the night before, or even on your way to the airport. We recommend the night before because that way you’ll be a little less stressed on the day. Checking in online will help you skip a bit of the wait time that comes with being in long lines at the airport. Once you check into your flight, you will receive your mobile boarding passes on your phone. Screenshot the QR code and your passenger details just in case you don't have any service, or there isn't a WiFi connection at the airport.

33. Check the weather report for your destination

While you probably checked what the weather would be like in your destination at a particular time of year ahead of your trip, you might want to do this again in the days leading up to your vacation. The ideal time to do this is the day before your getaway. This last-minute check can inform you of any changes, so you’ll know whether you need to bring anything extra along, like more sunscreen, or maybe even a jacket that’s a bit thicker.

Expert tip: Our guides on the weather in Negril and the weather in Ocho Rios will help you get a better idea of what to expect at your destination depending on the time of year.

34. Fully charge all the electronics you’re bringing

As it will probably take a couple of hours to get to your destination, it’s a good idea to ensure your devices are all fully charged before leaving home. This includes phones, tablets, laptops, Bluetooth headphones, and any other electronics. You can turn off the devices you don't need right away to preserve battery life. Pack the chargers into your luggage and all necessary adapters.

35. Stop at the bank for cash

Before your vacation comes around, it can be useful to stop at a local bank to pick up some cash. Even if you’ll be traveling with your credit cards, you may still need cash for things like tipping shuttle drivers and baggage carriers. Also, depending on the destination you're going to, there are some things that will more conveniently be paid for with cash. Get some small bills just in case.

36. Write yourself a note for last-minute things to pack or do in the morning

A to-do list can help simplify things when you’re headed on vacation. You can also just write a note (or a few) the night before you travel with last-minute things that you don’t want to forget. Put these notes in places where you won't miss them on the day of your trip. This can set your mind at ease and help ensure you have a restful night's sleep ahead of your travels.

37. Get your pets ready for the vacation

Just as much as you need to get ready for your vacation, if you have pets, you’ll need to get them ready too. If your pets will be spending the time somewhere else, you’ll need to pack all the things they’ll need. If they will be staying home alone, you’ll want to leave out extra food and water. If you’ve already spoken to someone about checking in on your pets, it's a good idea to write a few notes to leave around the house with anything you want them to know.

38. Clean out your wallet

Before your vacation date, go through your wallet or purse to remove anything you won’t need to bring on your trip. This includes loyalty cards, gift cards, extra credit cards, and any other unnecessary content. Not only will this lighten your load, but it can also make things a whole lot easier if you wind up misplacing your wallet during your vacation.

39. Label or personalize your luggage if flying

Trying to spot your luggage from a sea of similar bags on the conveyor belt can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. This can be frustrating and, not to mention, time-consuming. You can save yourself from this hassle by putting a ribbon, sticker, or another easily identifiable personalization item on your suitcase. Do this for everyone in your travel party if you’ll be flying with family. This can help you find your things sooner so that you can quickly leave the airport. Avoid putting your number or address on your luggage.

40. Hide your spare key or make sure your neighbors have one

Having a spare key handy and hidden somewhere back home is essential when heading on vacation. This key can literally mean the difference between you accessing your home and having to spend the night at another hotel when you get back if your keys disappeared during your getaway. You can leave a spare key with a friend or neighbor or even just hide it somewhere safe in your yard. If you have someone who will be coming in while you're away to water your plants, feed your pets or collect mail, then you'll want to make sure they know where to find this key as well.

41. Cook a meal for when you get back

It can be a bit of a bummer to come home from a vacation where everything you need including room service was available and be without these conveniences again. Although this is expected, it's never very fun. One of the ways you can help yourself through this is by preparing a nice meal and storing it in the freezer for when you get back. If you do this, all you’ll need to do is reheat your meal once you get back and you can still relax for the rest of the day. This is especially useful if you’ll be returning home late, and very likely hungry!

Things to do a few hours before you go on vacation:

Just before you leave home, there are a few things you'll want to check around the house for the sake of safety and peace of mind. Here’s what we recommend:

Weighing Luggage Vacation

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42. Empty trash cans in your house

The last thing you’ll want after a vacation is to come back home to find an infestation of bugs, or a stinky home. To avoid this, take all the trash out before you leave your home for a getaway. Go through all the rooms of your house and make sure there isn’t any trash lying around anywhere that could cause problems later.

43. Pack any last-minute toiletries and items from the note you wrote yourself

Using your own reminder notes or list, pack any last-minute toiletries ahead of leaving for the airport. Check off items on your note/list as you do a final walk-around to make sure you've packed everything. Last-minute items that are typically packed last can include daily medication that you might have had to take before leaving the house.

44. Pack any snacks you’ll need

Snacks are important when heading on any vacation but especially so if you’ll be going on a family vacation. Pack enough snacks to take you comfortably to the airport, especially if it’s a long drive and children are part of the mix. Snacks can also be useful for the plane. Make a point of packing snacks that you can bring through airport security easily. As children tend to get hungry and cranky on long trips, pack a few of their favorites so that everybody is content.

Insider Tip: Want to make sure your kids have food and snacks they actually like during your vacation? Check out these incredible all-inclusive family vacations with multiple options for dining and any-time snacks.

45. Do a final weighing of your luggage

It's a good idea to weigh your bags right before you leave the house to make sure you haven't packed too much. Having your suitcase scrutinized at check-in because it's too heavy is, to put it mildly, inconvenient. Extra fees may be assessed for bags that are beyond the weight limit. If you're in this situation, you might be tempted to cram whatever you can into your carry-on. This is not the greatest idea because you'll have to lug all that extra weight through the airport. If your bag is too overweight, you could also wind up having to leave some things behind at the airport.

46. Make sure all the doors and windows in your home are locked

If you're going to be gone for an extended period of time, ensure your home is properly secured before you leave. Check that all of the external doors and windows are securely closed and locked. This can provide you with some peace of mind while you're away. If you have a garage and/or shed, make sure these are securely locked too.

47. Water house plants

If you have plants at home, you should water them before you go on vacation. You've probably hired or assigned someone to do this for you, but in most instances, they won't start until the day after you leave. Get a head start on this to show your plants some love.

48. Set timers for your lights

Setting timers for your lights is a security feature that is worth investing in (if you don't already have it) before your vacation. These timers can create the illusion that your home is not vacant while you are gone. All you have to do is set a timer on particular lights so they turn on when it gets dark and turn off when you would normally go to bed.

49. Lower or raise the thermostat

You can also consider adjusting the thermostat while you’re away to cut costs and conserve resources. Depending on the season you're traveling in, you can decide whether it will be more beneficial to raise or lower the temperature in your house.

50. Be sure that you have your ID and passport

IDs and passports are among the items you won't want to leave home without when traveling. It is important to bring these items along as you’ll need them at various checkpoints on your journey. Be sure to store passports and IDs in a safe place. Also ensure that wherever you put them, you have easy access to them while you are traveling. Your carry-on luggage or personal item might be ideal.

51. Double-check all travel info

You might have planned your vacation in advance which means you'll likely be familiar with every detail, from your flight to your lodging. However, it is essential to double-check this information a few days in advance and up until the night before your vacation. Check that you have the correct schedules, airports, and accommodation information. Even if you check in online, make sure you have your boarding passes, airline tickets, and any other documents required for your stay. Keep everything safe, but also in a location that you can quickly access when needed.

52. Unplug any electronics that don’t need to stay on

When you're doing your final checks around the house before your trip, make a point of unplugging everything that doesn't need to be on while you’re on vacation. Search thoroughly throughout your home. This can help you save money on power. It can also reduce the risk of fire.

Get set for the trip of a lifetime

There you have it... everything you should probably do before going on vacation. Before reading this post, we wouldn't be shocked if you found yourself searching online for things like “what three things do you need to prepare for a trip”, “what do you need to do in the week before your vacation,” or even “what you need to do four days before vacation.” Hopefully, this post has answered your most pressing questions, and you're well on your way to a pleasant holiday, preferably in a peaceful and sunny Caribbean destination!

Good to know: If you’ll be traveling to Jamaica for your vacation you might want to take a look at these amazing things to do in Jamaica with kids. Our travel tips do's and don'ts may also be useful as you prepare for what is sure to be an unforgettable vacation!

Kylie Morrow

About Kylie Morrow

Writing for 13 years, Kylie discovered that experiences tell the best stories. As a Caribbean mother who wrote for newspapers, magazines, and blogs, she believes inspiration is even found in our kids!