Picture this, you and your family have been planning a vacation for a while now. You’ve purchased new suitcases, perhaps some new clothes, and of course travel and hotel arrangements have been made. But, before you prepare to fly off into the sunset I need to ask one thing…is your home ready for your vacation?
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Before you say “yes”, I encourage you to really read through this list. Print it if you have to. Going through every step on list will save you some time, money and sanity. These are the 10 things you need to do before your next vacation.
Get a Pet Sitter
Hold the Mail
Adjust the Thermostat
Mow the Lawn
Water the Plants
Get Someone to Watch the House
Use up the Food in Your Fridge
Alert the Bank and Credit Card Companies
Make Copies of your Passport, Identification
Set the Alarm
If you have pets, I don’t need to tell you why this is an important task on the “to do” list. If taking your pet with you is not an option, ask a reliable friend or family member to check on your pet or pet sit while you are away. Automatic pet feeders and self-cleaning litter boxes can make one or two nights away less of a headache for cat owners.
Anything more than that is really not a good idea. If you own a fish tank, consider purchasing an automatic feeder that can adjusted on a timer. Of course, dogs need to be taken on walks so make those arrangements before your vacation.
Places like Pet Smart also offer pet boarding and overnight stays for your furry guests. But if you want to take you pet with you, Pet Hotels of America lets you plan your entire trip based on the availability of a pet friendly hotel.
Even if you are only leaving for a few days, I highly recommend putting a hold on the mail. USPS allows residents to “hold the mail” up to 30 days in advance. It’s rather easy to do and you have up to 2am CST on the day of to get it started.
Adjusting the thermostat is one of the smartest things you can do before your next trip. During the cool months like fall and winter, push the thermostat down so that warm air is not being pumped into an empty house while you are away. During the summer months, push the thermostat up and you’ll save on cooling costs. This comes in extra handy if your electric company has energy efficient days during the summer. You can save money with almost no additional effort on your part.
If you’re thinking about skipping out on mowing the lawn before you leave on your next vacation then you better think again. First of all, homes with overgrown grass are a prime target for thieves for two reasons. The first reason is, a lawn that has not been mowed gives the impression that the home is unsupervised.
Secondly, overgrown grass is a great cover for would be trespassers. In addition, even if you mow the lawn before your trip, consider scheduling a lawn service to cut the grass while you’re away if the trip is going to be longer than two weeks. Of course, how often you need the grass cut will depend on how fast the grass grows and how much it rains while you are away.
Keeping the lawn mowed is not only a legitimate concern for home safety but, if you are part of a home owner’s association keeping the grass cut is often a part of home owner’s guidelines. It’s just not a good feeling returning home from a trip to find a note taped to your door telling you that you are out of compliance. Trust me, I know.
Just like pets, plants are living things that need to be taken care of. Arrange to have gardens and houseplants watered while you are away. Automatic sprinklers and water timers are also an option but, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan just in case.
Even if you don’t have plants that need gardening or pets that need “sitting”, it’s just a good idea to tell a trusted neighbor that you will be away on vacation. You just never know what could come up. Once while on a trip to London, a friend that had a key to our home called and told us that the basement got flooded during a storm.
He was kind enough to get several old towels and fans to start the drying until we returned the next day.
Don’t let food (especially produce), go to waste while you’re away. Use up perishable foods in things like soups and smoothies before you leave. I’ve got a berry banana kale smoothie recipe that is worth a blend.
Did you know your credit card company can put a freeze on your credit card while you’re away? It’s true. Picture basking in the sun, on a beautiful beach and about to order your next frosty glass of pina colada.
The problem is, you hand over your credit card only to have the server quietly whisper that your card has been declined. What happened? Most likely, you traveled to a foreign country and started your vacation spending without alerting the bank/credit card companies what was going on. Now, they’ve put a fraud alert on your account and things get really embarrassing from there.
So call the bank and the credit companies that you’ll be using before the trip and save yourself from any headache.
I know, no one wants to think about it. Having your identification lost or stolen while on vacation has to be the pits. Imagine losing your passport in a foreign country and things just got ten times worse. Do yourself a favor and make two copies of your passport and I.D before your next trip. Leave one copy at home for safe keeping and place another copy in your suitcase. “I regret that I made extra copies of my of passport and ID’s”, said no one ever.
Oddly enough, some people have home security systems that they don’t use. Here’s the thing, you don’t need me to tell you why you need to set your alarm before leaving the house. And if you’re leaving your home to go on vacation, it just makes sense. Just consider it part of your insurance policy. Hopefully, you’ll never need it but, at least you have it.