20 things to do at home before leaving on summer vacation

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(3TV/CBS 5) -

OK, your flights are booked, your rooms are reserved, and your rental car is set. Think you're ready to leave on your summer vacation? 

Not so fast. There are quite a few things you should put on your to-do list before you hit the road. 

Here's a checklist of 20 items to set your mind at ease and make sure you're totally prepared for a great vacation.

1. Make sure pet care is in place.
Whether you're boarding a dog or cat or having someone come to your home, make sure your furry friend or friends will be well cared for.

2. Make a copy of your passport.
Even if you have a digital copy of your passport, it's worth it to have a paper copy with you as well. It wouldn't hurt to also have more than one copy of other important paperwork.

3. Turn on your email auto-response.
Do this even if you are planning to check email. It will relieve you of the pressure to answer quickly and reduce the number of emails you get.

4. Put important numbers on your cell phone speed dial.
That includes the number of the airline, the hotel and any friends and relatives you're planning to see. Also put in the number of your pet sitter, house sitter or neighbor who might be keeping an eye on your house.

5. Notify your credit card company.
Tell your credit card company (or companies)  you are going to be using the card away from home, so they won’t assume the card was stolen and refuse the charge.

6. Program your home thermostat.
Set your thermostat to a temperature closer to outside temps (warmer in the summer, cooler in the winter) but which still protects your plants, pets and furniture. 

[MOBILE USERS: Click/tap here to see photo of a programmable thermostat]

7. Tell a neighbor about your plans.
It can't hurt to have a neighbor eyeball your home each day. Also, give that neighbor the numbers where you can be reached in case of emergency. Otherwise, everybody (including burglars) will know you are not home.

8. Take care of your lawn.
If have you have a lawn and are going to be away for a long time, arrange to have somebody cut it or keep up the landscaping. Again, a yard full of weeds shows the bad guys no one is home.

9. Remove your spare key.
If you’ve got a spare key hidden somewhere outside your house, you may want to remove it. Give it to a trusted friend or neighbor to keep while you're gone.

10. Curtains
Close 'em. Also close blinds. You don't want anyone to look in and see an empty house. Also, closing the blinds and shutters will keep the heat from coming in while you're gone.

11. Lamps
Leave a lamp or two burning, or look into timers so a lamp or two turns on at night — and off during the day. 

12. Unplug
Save some energy and unplug appliances like toasters, computers etc.  

13. Clean out your wallet.
Remove anything from your wallet that you won’t want or need when traveling. You probably don't need your rewards cards or library cards.

14. Eat up and clean out the fridge.
Finish off any of your perishables and milk; anything that might spoil. If you have extra food, give it to a friend so it doesn't go to waste.

[MOBILE USERS: Click here to see a Vacation Don't: A full mailbox]

15. Put your mail on hold
You don't want mail piling up in the mailbox or packages sitting on your porch. You can also arrange for a neighbor or a pet sitter to bring in the mail every day. Newspapers and mail piling up are clear signs to burglars that no one is home

16. Take out the trash.
De-stink your kitchen ahead of time and empty the trash. You don't want old food or anything smelly sitting in the kitchen trash can while you're away. You can also run your garbage disposal with a half-cup of vinegar and some water.

17. Water your plants.
Make sure your plants have plenty of water before you go. If you are going to be away for a long time arrange to have them watered periodically.

18. Put liquid items in plastic baggies
As you're packing, make sure to put your liquid items, such as cosmetics, into plastic baggies so they won't get confiscated by customs. Check with the airlines to find out the specific restrictions.

19. Pack reading materials.
If you don't bring your own books and magazines, you'll end up overspending at airport gift shops and hotel boutiques.

20. Check the weather.
The weather is the single factor most likely to affect your trip positively or negatively, and one of the things many people most take for granted. So double check that forecast before you go.

[MOBILE USERS: Click here to see some beautiful beach weather]

Other quick tips for smooth travels?

  • If you left your car in an airport parking lot, write down exactly where you parked it so you can easily find it when you get back.
  • Load up your tablet or iPad with some binge-worthy TV shows and movies.
  •  Do a web search of your hobbies at your destination. This will help you plan ahead for some activities.
  • Park your car in the garage, if you have one.
  • Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway occasionally so there’s activity at your house.
  • Make your bed! There's nothing like coming home from a long trip and falling into a freshly made bed with clean sheets. 
  • Insurance! Do you need to buy travel insurance?
  • Check luggage requirements for your airline. (Weight allowed, charge per bag, number of carry-ons, etc.)
  • Don't forget to pack your chargers!

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