We travel a lot as a little family of four – a whole lot. We schlep somewhere around the country at least once a month, mini carry-ons and comfort blankets for the kids in tow. At least once a year we make a major pilgrimage to someplace really outside our comfort zone, like this past summer when we traveled by train across Eastern Europe for a month. It took us a handful of years to really get the process of packing the kids just right, and it’s only now that they’re both a tiny bit older I don’t have to remember to pack seven kinds of snacks for an airplane ride. But the most important thing I can do is make a contingency plan.
Before the luggage gets packed and the plants get watered one last time, my husband and I do something far less glamorous: call a brother-in-law to make sure he knows where all the important papers are in case of an emergency. While my husband and I don’t travel together without the children very often, we still travel like we do just so we’re safe. We update our beneficiary list, and make sure the executor of our will knows where it’s located and how to get to it should something go wrong. Just in case. Heaven forbid something should happen to one of us in the middle of Europe where we need to get to important documents and no one back home knows what we’re talking about.
Here’s a basic checklist of things to take care of before you leave home:
- Draft a will: it doesn’t have to be the most detailed will you’ll ever leave, but something is better than nothing. Date it, have it notarized, and put it somewhere very safe.
- In said will, list the beneficiaries of your assets. My husband and I don’t have the largest collection of wealth, but we don’t want to leave it up to the state to decide who gets what when we die.
- Also list what will happen to your kids in the will. If you haven’t had this awful conversation, now is the time. There really isn’t a great way to do it, just sit down and decide who goes where before you step foot out your door; nothing else is as important as deciding what will happen to your children should something terrible happen to you and your spouse.
- Get a safety deposit box at the bank: even if you buy the cheapest box available, you want somewhere safe and outside your home for really important papers to live. Put the key somewhere even safer.
- Put a copy of all insurance policies in your safety deposit box. Make sure a trusted friend or family member knows about the deposit box and its contents in case of emergency.
- Make copies of passports, birth certificates, insurance policies, mortgage statements, and medical records to store in the deposit box.
- Put someone in charge of watching your house. Whether or not they stay on the property and babysit, make sure someone is on your property at least twice a day taking papers off the front porch, checking mail, retrieving packages, and turning lights on and off.
- Set up auto-pay for your bills or take care of them through the period of time you’ll be away. No one wants to come home from a lovely vacation to a termination notice on the front door.
Now have a great time on your holiday vacation! No need to worry about anything at home, you’ve already taken care of everything.