Every year it's been the same routine, I'm running around getting everything ready to go on a summer vacation. This time I decided to put together a 'Preparing for Summer Vacation' checklist. I'm always forgetting something, my razor, an mp3 recorder, sunglasses, camera, medicines and even a spare tire (yes, a spare tire). Several years ago I took my spare tire in to have it checked prior to vacation. I forgot to go pick it up before leaving town, can you guess what happened on I-45 just outside of Houston? Four hours and several hundred dollars later we were back on the road again. So here's my list I hope it helps.

This is not just a car-care and toiletries check-list, it includes making sure you have everything you'll need to have a worry free vacation. Here goes.

1) Vacation Planning

Start with where are you going and when are you leaving? If your trip includes flying make sure you don't wear things that will hold you up at the airport metal detectors. If you're leaving the country gather your passports, visas and/or notarized birth certificates. Check your shot records to see if any inoculations are needed for the country you're traveling to. If you are a divorced single parent and your child is going with you, (and I know this from experience) you will need to get court approved and/or a notarized authorization letter from the other parent.

2) Transportation

Have your car completely checked out. From belts to tires to oil and gas get it ready for a road trip should your vacation call for it. If you're flying, arrange for transportation to and from the airport (cab, family or friend). If you're traveling with kids, I've found that a couple of coloring books and crayons keeps kids busy.

3) Picking and Packing

If you're picking out new clothes, shoes or accessories, wear them a couple times before you leave to insure comfort and fit. New shoes should be broken in long before the vacation. Make sure hiking gear is comfortable and operable. When you know what you're taking on your trip, pack it and forget it till you need it.

4) Get in Shape

If you're planning a nature adventure, get fit. I always walk around the new Credit Union on Buffalo Gap Road. I make 5 to 10 laps around it every evening for several weeks before any vacation, trust me it really helps. Even on a cruise there's a lot of walking. It's funny, but the JAMA (Journal of American Medical Assoc.) says more and more Americans end up in emergency rooms during their vacations, simply because vacationing is very strenuous.

5) Medicines

Get prescriptions filled making sure you have the proper labels on them. If you travel outside the United States, a pill bottle without a label and several of your prescriptions you take daily will not make it back into the USA should customs decide to search. Make a list of all the medicines you take and make a copy of the list, keeping one on you and the other with your important papers/passports.

6) Cards and Papers

Double check you limits on credit and debit cards. Locate and secure your insurance cards for car, health and life. If you can afford it, I recommend travel insurance because they cover the unexpected. Clean out your wallet to the basic cards, carry some cash but remember even other countries have adequate ATM machines.

7) House and Pets

You'll need a sitter or two depending on if you have pets, or arrange to have your pets boarded. I always use a house sitter that way my pets are always in their familiar surroundings and someone is always in my house. The house sitter also waters the plants, feeds the pets, brings in the mail and picks up the paper from the lawn. Let a trusted neighbor know of your travel plans and contact numbers in the event of an emergency.

8)  Prepare Your House

Before leaving on you vacation empty all trash cans, clear out the fridge and throw out food that will go bad. Do the laundry so the smells of an unattended home don't knock you out when you get back. Adjust the thermostat to your central air conditioning to 79 degrees. If you have automatic timers on lights set them. Take several walks through the house with this list at least two to three days prior to your departure. Finally pay your utility bills that will come due while you're away. There is nothing worse than coming home from a vacation and the water and electricity are cut off.

Did I miss something? If you have any tips or ideas please share and have a safe and happy vacation.

Photo by: Rudy Fernandez