Preparation – what needs to be done before leaving?
- Yard – I have a fairly maintenance-free yard only requiring major clean-up a few times annually, which I take care of before leaving. I also check my sprinkler systems (hoses and timers), and outside lighting.
- House – I unplug everything from receptacles except a few lamp timers, turn hot water heater to vacation mode, turn off inside water (I had a toilet malfunction during my last trip), and adjust thermostats. Consider emptying and unplugging refrigerator/freezer. Place valuables/documents/external hard drive in a safe deposit box or safe. If you live in a flood or fire prone area, create a box your neighbor could quickly grab (i.e. photos).
- Paperwork/Bills – Electronic access has made possible managing this portion of our lives from anywhere in the world. It’s important to create a system to manage deadlines. All my credit cards and bank accounts are set to alert me with any transaction. As much as possible, bills and fund transfers are set to auto. Consider creating a secure online resource to help with passwords, deadlines, web links, etc. Don’t depend 100% on your phone. To save money, you may be able to place your internet and cable/satellite on vacation hold (they may only offer once per year).
- Urgent/Emergent Issues – Leave a list of phone numbers of who to contact should there be an emergency, such as a water leak.
Maintenance – what needs to be done while traveling?
- Yard – It’s helpful if you have friends or neighbors who can check on things while your gone. Be sure to include detailed instructions such as how to adjust sprinklers as the weather changes. Have replacement parts available if applicable.
- House – Once again, it’s most beneficial if you can have friends or neighbors do a walk-thru at least weekly. I give my keys to two people so they can coordinate visits. If I need something from home while traveling, I’m able to send them on a scavenger hunt. Leave money and boxes for shipping.
- Paperwork/Bills – There are a few organizations that still don’t allow for electronic communication. The best solution is having a neighbor collect your mail daily and alert you to any second notices or urgent communications (i.e. jury duty summons). If you maintain a deadline list, you can alert your neighbor to watch for the notice (i.e. car registration). Leave money if a bill needs to be paid while your gone.
- Urgent/Emergent Issues – Check in with your neighbors and friends to ensure all is good at your house. Thank them profusely for helping.
Aftermath- what needs to be done between trips?
- Yard – This is always a priority when I get home. Thus far, nearly each time I’ve been gone, something goes awry with the sprinklers and I have crispy plants.
- House – Although the house is closed up, it’s pretty dusty and musty by the time I get home, and usually something needs my attention when I get home.
- Paperwork/Bills – I always come home to a huge bag of mail. Thankfully most of it is junk. The most time-consuming is dealing with changes that require research such as insurance.
- Thank Yous – Be sure to reward your friends and neighbors for taking care of things on the home front while you were away.
Tip: Create a checklist. It’ll keep you focused and help to minimize the pain of the process. Improve efficiency by continuously updating the list. Set deadlines, otherwise, you might find yourself procrastinating on chores and errands, thereby loosing precious travel time.
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