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Many Americans plan getaways to escape their hectic daily schedules, but isn't it ironic that in the process of planning your vacation the stress level is at an all-time high? If this is something you can relate to, you are not alone. There have been studies that have shown the stress of planning a trip can often leave you worse off than if you didn't take one in the first place!

Experts say that in order to enjoy your trip before, during and after it is crucial that you do a bit of pre-vacation planning. Otherwise, you may find yourself in another stressful getaway situation.

There are several areas to focus on in order to relieve some of your stress:

  1. Financial - watch for good deals on airline flights; compare costs for renting a car versus driving your own vehicle; many vacation spots offer discounts during off-peak seasons, which just may be the best time for your get-a-way.
  2. Itinerary - make reservations ahead of time to lessen the chance of any last minute scramble to get the hotel reservations you really want or to know that your seat will be waiting for you on that fishing excursion you've been dreaming of.
  3. Security - you can now reap the rewards of the vacation you were hoping for because you took care of all the details that could possibly stand in the way of the best vacation ever.

To help ensure that "security" factor, we've provided a few tips and tricks to ensure a safe trip. Some of these tips include:

Make sure your home is secure: Check all door and window locks to make sure they're in good working order; replace any that are faulty or weak. Don't forget your basement and garage windows and doors.

Test your home alarm system: Don't wonder if it needs a new battery while you're supposed to be relaxing in that oh-so comfortable lounge char on the beach. Replace the battery before you even begin to pack your bags.

Arrange to have your home look like it's occupied: How? Stop the delivery of your mail and newspaper. Piled up mail or paper on your front porch is a sure sign no one is home. Ask or hire neighbor to shovel your driveway and/or sidewalk or mow your lawn.

Take an actual, hard-copy list of important phone numbers with you: Don't rely on the list stored in your cell phone in the event it's stolen. And what are important numbers? You bank, insurance agent, healthcare provider, neighbors, family...just to name a few.

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