Neil Offen

Your pre-vacation to-do list — Neil Offen

It’s summertime, it’s vacation time. But before you can actually take a vacation and luxuriate in the fact that you’re on vacation and don’t have to plan taking a vacation, there are several things you need to do.

▪  Put a vacation stop on your mail.

We are assuming here that you don’t only communicate via Instagram and still use the U.S. Postal Service on occasion. By putting on a vacation stop, when you return home your mailbox won’t be filled with 17 credit card solicitations, 14 mountain foreclosure sale advertisements, seven clothing catalogues, three cards telling you you’ve won a free trip to Cancun (if you will just call this number) and many coupons for Arby’s.

Tell your credit card companies that you are going on vacation and will be out of town and to keep an eye out for odd transactions from odd places.

This way, when the credit card company gets a transaction for thousands of dollars of jewelry bought in La Paz, Bolivia, you will realize you should have gone to La Paz where there are good buys on jewelry

▪  Decide where you want to go.

For instance, I like the mountains. My wife likes the beach. So of course, we’ll be going to Poughkeepsie, which has neither, but is a great spelling bee word.

▪  Decide how you’re going to get there.

Yes, you could fly. First, you’ll have to make your reservations before the price goes up.

Oops — the price just went up. But if you are willing to travel from a different airport on a different day to a different place and don’t mind that you’ll be sharing a seat with crying triplets, it’s a deal.

However, you also could spend three and a half hours in the airport before your delayed flight is canceled. Fortunately, the airline says they can get you there on Wednesday if you don’t mind standing during the flight, probably between seats 14A and B. And they definitely will ultimately get your bag to you, probably no later than Friday.

Instead, you could drive. This would allow you to take as much stuff as you want, and not pay for your first bag or take off your shoes in the security line when you are wearing very old socks.

But there could be traffic. There could be drivers in the left lane who are going 10 miles below the speed limit even though you are screaming at them to go faster. There could be drivers in the right lane that have had their turn signal on since Indiana. The only place on the road to stop for a bite will be Arby’s, and you left all the coupons at home.

▪  Decide what you want to do when you get to your vacation spot.

Some people like to just relax on their vacations while others like to explore and discover. Still others like to argue with the airline about where their suitcases are.

Neil Offen can be reached at Past columns can be found at