When traveling over the holidays, there are many things that must be taken into account...home security, home office paperwork, transporting presents, packing clothes, house winterizing, boarding pets, and the list goes on.

With many years of being on the go over the Christmas holidays under my belt, I have finally put together a fairly extensive list of to-dos that will ensure happy travels.

I hope they help you as well.

1 - Home Security:

* Mail - Go to the post office a week before travel and set the stop/resume mail dates. You will have to fill out a form and provide identification.
* Timers - Add timers to lamps in rooms at the front of the house as well as the master bedroom.
* Home alarm - Make sure the alarm is monitored by a security company (call insurance for a discount) beforehand and set at departure. Put a home security sign on the window closest to your front door or in the front flowerbed.
* Neighbors - Tell your two most trustworthy neighbors (that will be home) your dates of travel and give them your house key, alarm code and contact numbers for both you and your closest relative. Also ask that they pick up any packages or newspapers delivered while you are out. Get their contact numbers, as well.
* Windows and doors - Make sure all windows and doors are locked.
* Sensitive documents - Make sure all valuable items and important papers are in a home safe or safe deposit box.
* Electronics boxes - Any boxes that contained valuable merchandise, such as TVs, Blu-Ray players, and computers, need to be broken down and placed in dark bags for recycling. Burglars scout homes before they break in and these boxes tell them just what you have worth going after.
* Trash cans - After being emptied, put trash cans and recycling bins away.
* Cars - Put as many cars as possible in the garage to avoid break-ins. Switch the garage door opener receiver to the locked position. Leave an older car in the driveway to give the illusion that someone is home. Make sure that there is nothing of value visible that would invite a break-in, though.
* House-sitter - Have someone check in on your home a couple of times a day, opening blinds in the morning and closing them again in the evening. If there is a car in the driveway, have them move it around, to make it look like someone is always there.
* Insurance - Make sure insurance is up-to-date and includes any new, expensive purchases (jewelry, electronics, ATVs) that are on your property.

2 - Home Winterizing:

* Pipes - Insulate all exterior water pipes with foam/rubber wrapping and domes that cover hose bibs.
* Trees - Wrap trees with burlap, blankets or even Christmas lights that produce heat to keep them warm when they are on. Any tree branches that threaten your roof or power lines should be removed to avoid damage to your house during winter storms.
* Flowerbeds - Mulch flowerbeds to provide a thick layer of insulation that protects their root system.
* Faucets - Turn on interior faucets that are on exterior walls and let slowly drip.
* Cabinets - Open cabinet doors that contain exterior pipes, so that the heat inside the house can circulate throughout them.
* Thermostat - Set the thermostat to conserve energy while keeping the pipes on exterior walls warm.
* Sprinkler system - Turn the water off at the "backflow preventer" to keep the internal components of the system from freezing and causing a break in the line.

3 - Car Maintenance and Travel Memberships:

* Routine maintenance - Make sure the car has had routine maintenance performed such as an oil change, air added to the tires, water added to the windshield wiper system and the anti-freeze levels are where they should be. Also make sure windshield wipers are in good shape and the wheels are aligned.
* Registration and Inspection - All window stickers need to be up-to-date.
* Driver's license - All car riders of driving age need to have valid driver's license in case they need to help with the driving responsibilities.
* AAA membership - In addition to receiving discounts on hotels, retail stores and insurance rates, AAA is best known for their road-side assistance. This is a very worthwhile membership to have while traveling.
* OnStar Membership - If your vehicle offers this feature or one similar to it, it would be highly recommended to have for travel, especially during the winter. With the push of a button, an OnStar representative can help you with directions, emergencies, or even being locked out of the car.
* Insurance - Make sure that insurance is up-to-date for people of driving age and that you have a healthy amount of coverage.

4 - Home Preparations:

* Trash - Empty all trash cans from inside the home.
Perishable items - Empty the refrigerator and pantry of perishable items, giving neighbors first dibs before you throw anything away.
* Hot water heaters - To conserve energy, turn hot water heaters down.
* Home office work - Take care of personal responsibilities such as bills, rebates, annual benefits elections and the like. Read more at 12 End-of-Year Personal Finance Must Do's for a more complete listing of items that should be addressed by year's end.
* Errands - Pick up dry cleaning, return rented movies, deliver gifts, mail holiday cards, return rented formal wear, make planned purchases with discounts that expire at year-end, complete Christmas returns, purchase items needed for the trip, and go to the bank for cash.
* Christmas tree - If you leave after Christmas, go ahead and take the tree down and put holiday decorations away. Give your house a thorough cleaning so that when you return, you are off to a fresh start.
* Ghost electricity - Minimize the waste of electricity by unplugging electronics that are still drawing power while not in use and making sure all lights are off before you leave.
* Surge protectors - To protect electronics from power surges that result from lighting strikes, plug them into surge protectors and then plug the surge protectors into the outlets.

5 - Pet Boarding:

* Facility - Find a reputable pet-boarding facility well in advance of the holidays, as they have a tendency to fill up quick. Your veterinarian is the best person to make recommendations.
* Shots - Make sure your pet's shots are up-to-date and have a copy of the shot record for the boarding facility.
* Medicine - Give your pet their medicine before they go in, since some of the other animals could have fleas, ticks or even worse.
* Bedding - Give the boarder your pet's bed and blanket to ensure that they are comfortable during their stay.
* Toys - A couple of your pet's favorite toys should also accompany them as long as the toys can be washed on high temperatures in the washing machine or are hard rubber.
* Food and bowls - Many pets are on a special diet so don't forget to take their food to the facility, too. They will also appreciate having their own food and water bowls.
* Special instructions - Do not hesitate to leave special instructions for your pet. You are paying the boarding facility to properly look after your family member, so ensure that they have the proper tools to do so.

6 - Taking Presents:

* Shipping - If you know where you will be for Christmas, gifts ordered online can be shipped to your destination so that you do not have to transport them.
* Unwrapped presents - While transporting unwrapped presents, put them in locked suitcases using the handy lock that came with the suitcase, but has never been used until now. If that is not an option, thick black trash bags from your local hardware store will keep the gifts anonymous.
* Wrapped presents - Beautifully wrapped presents pose a challenge for transportation, as the packing often gets torn and the bows get flattened. Make sure to put these gifts on top of the suitcases or strategically wedge them next to windows.
* Extra supplies - Whether you are wrapping at your final destination or fixing mishaps, take extra wrapping paper, to/from stickers, bows, ribbon, scissors, and tape to finish the job right.

7 - Prepping for the Trip:

* Treats - Take remaining baked goodies and snacks on the road with you. Be sure to include non-sugary items for children who might need a bit of calming while in the car.
* Power chargers - Don't forget chargers for your electronics, such as cell phones, iPods, laptop computers, tablets, and DVD players. Make sure your car charger works with your laptop, tablet, and DVD player ahead of time, as these electronics pull more electricity than a cell phone does.
* Batteries - Take batteries for not only the electronics that accompany you on the trip, but for any gifts that might be opened while away (including shipped items).
* Headphones - These are handy for listening to music, watching movies or just trying to cancel out noise.
* Entertainment - Be sure to take a variety of entertainment options for long car or plane rides. DVDs (or Blu-Rays, depending on what your device plays), downloaded music and movies, a list of road games (finding license plates from each of the 50 states, i-spy, and the VW "slug-bug" game, are a few).
* Medicine - Before you leave, take any medications that are required. Also, take a bag that includes a variety of health-related products such as allergy medicine, cold medicine, pain medicine, multi-vitamins, prescriptions, band-aids, antibiotic cream, and gauze bandages.
* Miscellaneous - Other items that come in handy on a road trip include: sunglasses, kitchen trash bags, grocery store plastic bags, napkins, baby wipes, paper towels, water bottles, hand sanitizer, blankets, pillows, comfy socks, hand-held electronic games, crossword puzzles, Suduko puzzles, word searches, pencils, pens, window ice scrapers and tire chains, if needed.
* Traveling with pets - To ensure that your pets have a nice trip, too, be sure to take their: crate, bed, blanket, toys, food, water bottles, food/water bowls, medicine, leash, and rawhide bones. If they are traveling in the car, make a pallet where they can rest comfortably. Potty breaks for pets should be planned, as well.
* Identification - Do not forget proper identification such as driver's licenses, passports, passport ID cards and school ID cards (for movie discounts and the like).
* Online research - To ensure a hassle-free vacation, print out reservations, research online for things to do at your final destination, plan stops, print coupons, pre-arrange activities such as skiing and theater productions, and find recommended restaurants.
* Before you leave - Make sure to complete these final tasks - pack minimally, but appropriately, set rules for the kids, go to the bathroom before walking out the door, leave at night for a roadtrip so that the kids will sleep through much of it, take a host gift, and plan for coming home (clothes for when you get back and food in the refrigerator that won't spoil).

There are many things to consider while planning a trip during the holidays. This is a list of the things that we do before we leave. I hope that it helps make your trip a more stress-free experience.

Here's to another Inspired Minute!

Author's Bio: 

Hi there! My name is Tracey and I’m on a mission to turn average days at home into meaningful minutes. I’m a wife, mother of 3 and an Inspired Life Blogger. This is my journey to create ways to save time, maximize money, creatively organize, craft, gift, and decorate and humbly volunteer. Please visit my blog at InspiredMinute.com for ideas and tips that I hope will inspire you!