Whether you’re hitting the road for a quick weekend getaway, or are heading out for a family vacation, getting out the door can be pretty overwhelming. Between packing lists and all those last-minute to-do-before-we-leave lists, it’s so easy to get sucked into the chaos that you realize you’ve hardly breathed until you’ve actually walked out the door!
That’s why we’re so thrilled to be teaming up with Leviton, whose award-winning Decora Smart with Wi-Fi Technology lighting control solutions give you one less huge thing to worry about while you’re away, since they let you easily and affordably control your lights, table lamps, appliances and more, all from your smartphone or tablet. They even sync with your Amazon Echo.
Left the coffee machine on? No problem. Want to turn the porch light on and off for your pet sitter? Check. Keep the A/C on during the day for the cat, but keep it off at night? Done! Decora Smart Products really make it so simple for any home to become a smart home.
So on their behalf, we’re sharing 10 things you should do before you leave for vacation.
Well, 11 if you include printing out this list. That way you have one less list to make before you head out. Smart!
1. Do a tech check
With a few people in my family who own phones, plus tablets and a laptop (or two) that often come with us, we always do a tech check before we hit the road.
That means we make sure we’ve packed plenty of charging cables, splitters, headphones, and fully-charged portable batteries in our bags. If you’re driving or will be renting a car at your destination, also be sure drop a mini USB car charger adapter in your bag. Because if your rental car doesn’t have a built-in port, they’ll charge you way too much at the rental counter to buy one.
We also check that each person has downloaded the books, TV shows, apps, and movies that they want on their own gadgets in case we hit a signal dead zone.
2. Unplug your gadgets at home (and use a smart plug)
Watch out for those vampire energy suckers! Take a few minutes and unplug all the gadgets in your home that you won’t be using while you’re gone, to help save yourself some energy and money.
Another smart idea: Use Leviton’s Decora Smart Plug-In Outlets and Dimmers to control gadgets at home that you’ll want to access remotely from your smart phone. Think porch lights, table lamps, lizard or fish tank lamps, the coffee maker you always leave on, your window air conditioner unit…so many gadgets you can control with just a few taps.
3. Give your bank and credit card company a call
These days, credit card companies and banks are pretty vigilant in terms of their customer’s locations, so if you’re headed out of town — even if it’s just across state lines — their fraud department will get a notification with just a couple of charges. Particularly if you go shopping, then hit a gas station. If you’re traveling internationally, even one ATM use can shut down your card. Yikes!
So definitely take a few minutes to give your credit card companies and banks a call to let them know where you’ll be going and for how long.
This way, if something does happen to your cards while you’re away, the banks will have your travel plans on record and will be better equipped to assist you. And hey, if you happen to be making a desperate Nutella crepe purchase (been there), you won’t have to worry about your card being rejected just as you take your first bite.
4. Bring some cash
While it’s definitely a cashless world in a lot of ways, it’s still a smart idea to grab some money from your bank or ATM. And if you’re taking out a larger amount, it often comes out in hundreds, so be sure to get some of it in smaller bills so you’re prepared for tipping drivers, bellhops, wait staff, and other tipped individuals who assist you en route.
On family trips, I also give my kids each a little travel allowance that they need to manage themselves, and we don’t work on credit with them. Cash only!
5. Take out the trash
It’s always smart to take a quick trip through your home and empty all of the trashcans. No one wants to come home to a stinky house because someone tossed a banana peel in the kitchen trash just before you left town! And don’t forget bathrooms, kids rooms, and the nursery diaper pail. This is especially important in the summer, for obvious reasons.
About our sponsor
A simple way to save some sanity and some cash? The extensive line of Leviton Decora Smart Devices, including smart plugs and dimmers, can make your home smarter and safer every single day. Set a schedule for your home lights and appliances from anywhere at all using their free app. You can even dim or adjust the fade of your lighting.
These smart devices work with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Nest, and IFTTT. How cool to just say “Alexa, turn off the lights!” and be done with it.
For traveling families, the collection of Leviton Decora Smart Plug-ins allows you to plug in and control any gadget right from your smart phone or tablet. Simply download the My Leviton app on your phone, then plug the gadget into the smart plug-in. From there, you’ll have the ability to switch it on or off with a simple tap, whether you’re at work or out of town completely. By using the Leviton Decora Smart Plug-ins, you’ll realize you’re saving energy — and money — when your next electricity bill comes around.
6. Stop your mail
You don’t need to stop your mail for a quick weekend trip, but if you’re traveling for a few days or longer, it’s smart to hop online for a moment and set it up with your local post office. This way, you don’t necessarily need to rely on a neighbor to do it for you, and you won’t cue to strangers that you’re out of town by having tons of mail falling out of your mailbox.
7. Set your home temperature
You’ll want to be certain you’ve set your home temperature properly before you leave. Unless you’re making provisions for a pet or a pet sitter, the low 50s are ideal for winter, and the high 70s work well for summer. Because as much as it’s nice to walk into a nice cool home after you’ve been out in the heat on your summer vacation, you’ll save yourself a whole lot of money by pushing up that temperature.
And hey, if you’ve got a window unit and you’re using a Decora Smart Plug, you can even keep your A/C off entirely while you’re away, just turning it on a few hours before you get home. So smart!
8. Clean out your fridge
Even if you’re only leaving home for a couple of days, it’s not a bad idea to cull through your fridge and get rid of the items that will go bad while you’re gone. We always try to give away otherwise good food, like fresh produce, to friends and neighbors before we throw it away,.
Another great trick is moving items from your fridge to your freezer. Even foods like cheese, yogurt, sauces and meats all freeze well, and then they’ll be waiting for you when you get back!
9. Turn off your ice maker
Speaking of your fridge and freezer, it’s a good idea to turn off your ice maker if you have one. We have forgotten to do this many times, and have come home to a freezer full of ice! (Like, way full of ice.) Besides, it’s a waste of water and energy. So, as you’re cleaning out your fridge, take a second and toggle your ice maker switch to off.
10. Manage your email with forwarding and travel folders
Even when I bringing a computer or smartphone on a trip, putting up an automatic vacation auto-reply is a lifesaver. Simply let contacts know that you have limited access to email, and when they can expect you to respond. It’s also smart to give them an option for how to reach someone else if there’s a work or personal emergency. This will buy you a lot of leeway (and a lot of peace of mind!) when you’re not responding to emails promptly because, hey, it’s a vacation after all!
It’s also so helpful to create a special folder (if you haven’t already) so you can find all emails about your itinerary, reservations, and confirmations easily in one place.
If you want to get pro, here’s a great tip: adjust your settings or labels so that all incoming mail goes into a “vacation mail” folder that’s out of your inbox. It makes email management so much less stressful when you return, and less stress is always a good thing when you’re home, wishing you were still on vacation!
Thanks to our sponsor Leviton and their affordable Decora Smart Products for helping families make their homes smarter and safer. Be sure to check out all of the Decora Smart Products, which include smart plugs, dimmers, and a whole lot more.