Finishing a Checklist of Things to Do Before Leaving Can Make Your Trip More Enjoyable
Here’s the scenario. You’ve planned this wonderful extended travel vacation, and you plan to be gone for at least a couple of weeks, maybe longer. Well, there’s certainly more to this than just packing a few bags and buying a plane ticket. We often forget about all of the little details that we tend to on a daily basis around the house. Who wants to be worrying about all of those things when we are supposed to be on vacation? A vacation is supposed to be about relaxation. Taking an organized, systematic approach to dealing with those housekeeping details will help you to forget about them while you are reading a book on the beach or cruising along on the Caribbean.
Everyone will have a slightly different list, but here are some typical things to address before leaving on an extended vacation.
- Newspapers and mail. Temporarily stop the delivery of your mail and the newspaper. If any “bad guys” are casing your neighborhood, those eight unwrapped papers thrown in the driveway might be their first clue that your house is unattended. Both the U.S. Mail and the newspaper folks are accustomed to such requests. They will just need to know when you want everything stopped, and what the new turn-on date will be.
- Flowers. Depending on what season it is, you may need to have someone come every other day and soak the flower bed, if the rain hasn’t already done it. Don’t forget those inside house plants want water, as well.
- Pets. Obviously, the dogs, cats, birds, fish, hamsters, and all of those other wonderful members of your family will require feeding and watering while you are away on vacation. Hopefully, you can depend on a faithful neighbor, relative, or friend to come over each day and give Spot his daily ration of food. Otherwise, you may need to find a kennel that will house him while you are gone.
- Bills that are due. If you have household bills that will come due while you are away on vacation, make sure that you have made arrangements for some type of payment. Having a utility company turn off your gas or electric during your vacation can have some terrible consequences, when a little communication on your part before leaving could have helped avoid the conflict. When the value of the bill is already known, perhaps a post-dated check is the easiest answer.
- Space on your answering machine. Many consumer-type answering machines have a limited amount of recording space. If you plan to be on vacation for an extended time, you may want to clear off as much space on the machine as possible, such that you collect all of the messages that are left while you are away.
- Furnace registers. If you are planning to vacation during a time of year when the weather is already cold or has a chance to turn cold while you are away, make sure before you leave that nothing is blocking any of the furnace registers throughout the house. Many a house fire has begun when a throw rug, newspaper, or some other combustible material was near a furnace when the weather changed and no one was home to remedy the situation. On a similar note, make sure that you didn’t leave any candles burning in the house on the day of departure for your vacation.
- Unplug computers. If your vacation will be extended, you may want to unplug your home computer from the electrical outlets and the phone wiring, so there is no chance they will get zapped during a lightning storm. This same rule applies for stereos, televisions, and any other electronic gizmo that may be susceptible to surges. It will only take a few minutes after you return from vacation to plug it all in again, and the extra caution may save you hundreds of dollars in repairs or replacement costs.
- Unplug and move the iron. Ah, yes…here is the famous “Did I remember to turn off the iron” question that is so frequently asked by some member of the family about 100 miles from home. Every American family taking a vacation has had to deal with this doubt at one time or another, even though most irons today have a timed shut-off mechanism. Just to be sure, unplug your iron, allow it to cool down completely, and then set it someplace that you would never plan to use it. For example, set the cooled iron out on the floor of the garage. The action of moving it to some strange location will stick in your mind, and keep you from wondering whether you made it safe before leaving on vacation.
- Taking care of the trash. Make sure that all of the trash cans in the house are emptied into the outside containers. The remains of that taco salad you threw out yesterday may not smell too bad now, but after two weeks, it can leave a stench so bad that you may be burning scented candles for a week after you get back from vacation.
- Others. Keep the above-mentioned tips in mind, but most importantly, take a little time before leaving on vacation to put together your own personal list. It may surprise you how many details that may come to mind, and your use of a written checklist will ensure that each item is addressed before you head out the door.