Simplifying Trip Prep: The Reusable Checklist

Photo by teatimer

We recently completed a car trip across the country. Every extended trip requires preparation, but the time between trips practically guarantees that I will forget something necessary.

Like the time we left the garbage in the house…and came home to a home smelling of decaying fish.

I have made things easier by using a reusable checklist. Since I do this in my task list favorite, Remember The Milk, I will show you how to do it there, but you could easily do this in any task manager that supports lists or tags, or even on paper. Here is my method:

Decide Your Tasks

The first thing to do is list all the tasks that need to be done, along with how long before you leave they must be done in with weeks or days.

Here is my list:

  • Adjust heat/air (day of)
  • Clean out cat poop (day before)
  • Empty compost (day before)
  • Empty fridge (day before)
  • Hold mail (the week before)
  • Lock garage (day of)
  • Pack lunch (day of)
  • Put out cat supplies (day before)
  • Put timer on tv (day before)
  • Schedule cat sitter (6 weeks before)
  • Schedule dog boarding (6 weeks before)
  • Set up light timers (day before)
  • Set up radios (day before)
  • Take out garbage (day of)
  • Turn down hot water heater (day of)
  • Turn off ice maker (day of)
  • Turn washer water off (day of)
  • Unplug appliances (day of)
  • Update cat sitter notes (day before)
  • Water plants (day of)

Enter The List In The Software

The trick to making this re-usable is to enter the tasks into the list in a way that when the task should be done appears in the name. I use the following convention:

  • d = day of travel
  • -1d = date before travel
  • -1w = week before
  • -6w = 6 weeks before

I enter all the tasks in a list called “Trip Prep”. The tasks end up looking like this, as I enter them:

  • (-1d)Clean out cat poop
  • (-1d)Empty compost
  • (-1d)Empty fridge
  • (-1d)Put out cat supplies
  • (-1d)Put timer on tv
  • (-1d)Set up light timers
  • (-1d)Set up radios
  • (-1d)Update cat sitter notes
  • (-1w)Hold mail
  • (-6w)Schedule cat sitter
  • (-6w)Schedule dog boarding
  • (d)Adjust heat/air
  • (d)Lock garage
  • (d)Pack lunch
  • (d)Take out garbage
  • (d)Turn down hot water heater
  • (d)Turn off ice maker
  • (d)Turn washer water off
  • (d)Unplug appliances
  • (d)Water plants

Set The Due Dates

When I need to use the list, I select all the tasks with the same prefix, and set the due date. So if I were leaving on 12/5, (-1d) tasks would be set due at 12/4.

By having the time prefix in front of the task, I can quickly select all of the tasks that need to be done on the same day.

Re-Using The List

Once I have done everything on the list, the tasks appear as completed. All I have to do to re-use the list is select all the tasks in the list Trip Prep and un-complete them. I then remove all the due dates, and set the due dates based on the day I leave.

Since I have been using this method, I no longer forget to do important things before I leave the house.

Do you have any trip preparation tips? Please share below!

Photo by teatimer