1 WEEK Before You Travel

Reduce the amount of fresh items you buy at the grocery, such as milk, fruit and other perishables you'll need to throw out before you leave.

Get out the suitcase and start packing.

Be sure your luggage is marked with identification on the inside and out. Consider putting bright string or a band on your luggage to easily identify it.

Start adjusting your sleeping and eating habits closer to your destination's time zone to help avoid jetlag.

Make at least two lists of travelers check serial numbers.

Make several copies of your passport. Leave one list at home and keep the other with you in case you lose your passport. Do not keep the copies on your person, rather keep a copy in your suitcase and/or give your traveling companion a copy.

Notify your local police and security system company to immediately consider any alarms as real. Leave with them the names of anyone responsible to watch over your house.

Check prescriptions for necessary refills; bring a list with the drug's generic name listed since the brand names available can differ in other areas.

Pick up all your items from the dry cleaners.

1-2 DAYS Before You Travel

Pay bills that will come due while you are away.

Walk around with your packed luggage to evaluate your comfort with the weight of the luggage.

Move houseplants away from direct sunlight, water thoroughly and wrap pots with plastic. Most plants can then live without further watering for two weeks. You can also buy an automatic watering system from your local hardware store.

Empty the refrigerator of items that might spoil.

Cancel or hold your newspaper delivery.

You might want to turn your refrigerator to its lowest setting.

Set automatic light  timers. Check the bulbs to see if they will last for your entire trip.