So we thought Natalie would be the perfect resource to tap into to help us figure out how we can keep it all together at home when we travel. So whether you’re headed out for a week to a nearby island or a taking a journey halfway around, this guide will help you head to the airport with peace of mind.
The last thing anyone wants to do when they are in the middle of packing is clean up. Why do you recommend it?
Think about it at the other end too. When you’re jet-lagged and tired, the last thing you want is to return to a home and fridge that looks like an incubator for a science experiment. I always recommend taking a few hours out of your pre-travel schedule and using that time to tidy up your place. When I walk into my home after a month away, the very last thing I want to feel is stressed by an untidy home.
Is there a specific checklist you go through?
I keep a checklist for almost everything when I travel and home care is no different. In this case it’s pretty simple:
Empty the washing machine and dryer
Take out the garbage
Wash the dishes and empty the dishwasher
Change the sheets
Check around the yard for anything that could collect stagnant water
Pour vinegar and baking soda down the drain and in the toilet bowl, to keep smells at bay
Rid the fridge of any perishables.
What did you have to learn the hard way about the importance of list making and checking it twice before heading for the airport?
I once came home to a dark house because I forgot to pay my utility bills. That was no fun. If you’re gone for long I think it’s obvious that all utilities should be paid in full before you leave. But sometimes the obvious is not so obvious. One other point, if you’re looking to save, ask your telecom and cable operators if you can temporarily disconnect their services for the duration of your holiday.
Anything else you do religiously?
I prepare and freeze simple meals to avoid picking up greasy foods on the way back home from the airport. After having a more relaxed diet when I’m away, I like to be disciplined with my meals as soon as I get back.
Do the neighbours need to know about your travel plans?
As long as they are trustworthy and your trip is not a covert operation, I recommend it. It’s actually a key safety tip. That way, they can be alerted to any unusual activity in or around your home and can contact you in case of an emergency.
How about apps? Any favourites?
I love how technology plays such an intrinsic role in keeping our homes safe when we travel. These are my top ranked:
Bsafe – I use this to privately alert friends of arrival to my destination. It also sends GPS info about where you are.
Kitestring – Checks in with you and sends a message to a pre-selected contact should you fail to respond.
ICE (In Case of Emergency) – this app allows your smartphone to be searched for emergency contacts.
STEP (The Smart Traveller Enrollment Program) – Allows you to be updated by the embassy in your travel destination should an unsafe condition arise.
And social media?
I personally think that while staying in touch with friends back home is key, advertising all your travel plans on social media is foolhardy. Less is more when it comes to publicising your adventures, I recommend keeping tabs on those daily Instagram posts and tweets until you return home.
Is there anything we can do to make our homes look lived in when we travel?
Here is where keeping up with appearances matter. Your home must look lived-in everyday to deter any unwanted attention or intruders. You really should keep the lawn and the front of your home as well maintained as you do when you’re around. Don’t forget to put at least one light in your house on a timer and you should go ahead and apply security company stickers to your windows/doors to advertise that your home is professionally protected, even if it’s not. Install motion sensors and keep the perimeter well-lit. You can also place valuables in old food cans and boxes, in kitchen cupboards, under the sink, and in your bathroom.
What should I unplug?
I usually leave too many things plugged in on a daily basis. For both safety and economic reasons though, unplugging appliances and electronics before leaving on vacation is a good idea.
Similarly, turning off the water supply main to your home can save you big time and prevent any regrettable leaks.
And my pets?
For those who can afford it, pet cameras, monitors, and automatic feeders are great but the best option would be to have someone pet sit or drop in frequently to ensure all is well. Your pets can become really stressed without human companionship.
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