Any tips before leaving on a long trip?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by OverThereTooMuch, Aug 30, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. OverThereTooMuch

    OverThereTooMuch Silver Member

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    I'm going to be away from home for about a month. Sadly, I picked this decade to give my household staff some time off ;)

    I know some of the obvious things, like cleaning out the fridge/freezer (in case there's a lengthy power outage; I'll likely turn them off) & taking out the trash so nothing ferments, leaving the heat on at least a little in the winter, filling any prescriptions that I might need during that time.

    I'm sure many folks here are regularly away from home for even longer stretches. Any other tips you can offer a noob?

    Thanks!
     
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  2. Sunshine7

    Sunshine7 Silver Member

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    Stop your newspaper / don't order anything that will be delivered in your absence
    Overwater your plants a bit and move them to a cool, dark location if it's still warm outside
    See if you can put a vacation stop on your mail
    Some credit card companies like to know when you're traveling out of the country
    Get a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your house
    Type up an itinerary of flights, hotels, etc. along with phone numbers and send to a few family members and give a copy to your neighbor. This is also handy to have while traveling.
    Confirm all reservations before you leave
     
  3. viguera
    Original Member

    viguera Gold Member

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    You can grab a cheap webcam and set up a DIY home security system that you can access from the internet or even your smartphone.

    That's what I always do, especially if I'm traveling in the winter and need to know if it's snowing back home. :)
     
  4. joejones
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    joejones Silver Member

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    You might want to consider letting a family member or trusted friend visit, or even stay at, your place while you are away. That way you don't have to worry so much about plants dying, pets starving, mail piling up, etc.

    We let our mother-in-law use our apartment while we are away on lengthy trips. She appreciates having a bit more personal space than she has at home, and she even leaves beer in the fridge for me.
     
  5. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

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    Turn off the water to your washing machine (some people turn the whole house water off) leave the cabinet doors open under sinks if it gets really cold where you live in the winter to keep the pipes from freezing. Pour a little bleach into toilet bowls to keep them sorta clean. Have someone move your car around in the drive way if you park outside so it looks like your home. Use a lamp timer (they are really cheap). Unplug electrical appliances like TV's computers, etc. Maybe as simple as just turning off the power strip. This can protect them from lightning and saves on the electric bill. I've also heard of people putting a small bag of ice cubes or something like that in deep freezes so you know if it got hot and then refroze but I've never done that. Watch Home Alone before you go to see what can happen when you are away :)
     
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  6. SC Flier
    Original Member

    SC Flier Gold Member

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    At home:
    • Turning off the washer valves is a good recommendation. Turning off the main valve is sometimes better. Personal experience: The day after we left for a two-week trip to Europe, the water service line to our house burst. It was several hours before a neighbor called the utility company and someone turned off the main valve. Fortunately, the break was outside of our house, and we had no damage. The cause was an improperly welded pipe joint from when the house was built.
    • Leave a key with a trusted family, friend, or neighbor. Make sure that neighbors know who to call if a key is needed for an emergency.
    • Let the police know that you will be out of town and request that they send a patrolman by to watch it.
    • Loan houseplants to someone else so that they get cared for. (If the plants die, don't hold it against them. ;) )
    • Turn down the temperature on the water heater. Make note of what the normal setting is so that you know what to set it back to upon return.
    • If you have a home security service, notify the company of your plans.
    • Clean the shower/tub/toilet.
    • Don't leave any wet towels in the laundry hamper.
    • Turn on/off or adjust your sprinkler system. (If you turn off the main valve, then turn off the sprinkler system.)
    • Arrange for (or suspend) lawn service.
    • Does someone need to take your trashcan to the curb and bring it back in?
    • If your freezer has an on-the-door ice container, empty it.
    • Turn off the ice maker.
    • Don't leave dirty or wet dishes in the dishwasher.
    • Make sure that there is no garbage in the sink's disposal unit. Upon return, do not be alarmed if it has seized up; there's probably an easy fix.
    • Backup your computers.
    • Turn off alarm clocks and things with annoying power-failure alarms.
    • Do your smoke alarms need new batteries?
    • Do your air filters need to be replaced?
    • In winter, put insulating covers over exterior spigots.
    • Put valuables in a safe.
    For travel:
    • Scan or make a photocopy of both sides of every card in your wallet and your passport. Keep this secure but accessible to you and/or someone you trust. When my father's wallet was stolen in Barcelona many years ago, he called me to contact all of his credit card companies to notify them of the theft and block the cards.
    • Memorize at least one of your credit card's number, expiration date, and security code.
    • Set up automatic bill payment for all bills.
    • Print out all reservation confirmations.
    • Get some cash in small bills and/or coins for tips, public transportation, luggage carts, etc. Wherever I go, I like to have at least enough cash for a meal and a taxi.
    • Know your ATM card's PIN.
    • Know your credit card's PIN. Get a PIN if you don't already have one.
    • Know your cards' credit limits. Have the limits adjusted, if necessary.
    • Carry a copy of prescriptions such as for eyeglasses or contacts.

    Especially for foreign travel:

    • Determine which card(s) is best for avoiding foreign exchange fees.
    • Set up automatic email alerts for credit card charges. CapitalOne has a feature that sends me an email whenever there is a transaction from a foreign country.*
    • Know the exchange rates.
    • Check your passport's expiration date.
    • Take some local currency with you, if you can. Take some coins, if you have them.
    *I love this CapitalOne feature for multiple reasons. It's nice for keeping track of expenses in my home currency and certainly for monitoring for theft/fraud. One unique use: My wife has a card in her name on my account, so when she uses it in another country, I immediately get an email alert with the amount and business name. When she was coming to meet me in another country recently, I knew that she had landed safely when I got an alert that she had used it to purchase her train ticket from the airport.
     
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  7. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    We used to have a live in and it was never a problem. Now that we no longer have one, I hire someone to stay at the house when we are gone. I would rather have someone there in case of an emergency and I don't like to board the pets. While a webcam is great for viewing it won't take care of an emergency quickly while you are gone. If you have a pool, the water needs to be added occasionally or you run the risk of plaster damage. There are many good house and pet sitting services to choose from and the cost is not a great expense.
     
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  8. OverThereTooMuch

    OverThereTooMuch Silver Member

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    Thank you all for the advice!! No offense to others here, but SC Flier - your list is simply brilliant! The beeping alarm thing is something that's annoyed me when previous neighbors went on vacation, yet I never considered adding it to my own checklist.


    There's one that I don't understand though - clean the shower/tub/toilet - I rarely do that when I'm here, why "waste" it on a time when I won't be around? :)
     
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  9. SC Flier
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    SC Flier Gold Member

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    Just don't leave it in a condition that is likely to get worse.
     
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  10. dhammer53
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    dhammer53 Gold Member

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    I'm surprised no one has asked where are you going? :D
     
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  11. misman
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    misman Gold Member

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    We alternate between two locations every four to six weeks; this is some of the stuff on our list (that you may have already covered.)
    • Turn off/down the water heater
    • Lock down the garage & gates
    • Take out the garbage
    • Stow extra keys and valuables
    • Set up vacation watch with police department
    • Ensure windows are closed; adjust blinds
    • Adjust the thermostat
    • Place lights on timers
    • Open cabinets in winter
    • Turn off the water
    • Unplug all things
    • Forward or Hold all Mail
    • Notify neighbor
     
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  12. OverThereTooMuch

    OverThereTooMuch Silver Member

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    Ah, so it's like the dirty dishes/wet towels thing...don't want something to grow while I'm away. Got it.
    France/UK. So you might see me post over in the Kiva lending forum looking for a loan when I return :p
     
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