I love traveling:
- Seeing parts of the world, or even the country I live in, that I haven’t seen before;
- Unplugging from my far-too-technological existence;
- Disengaging from my too-many-things-to-do not-enough-time-to-do-them days;
- Escaping reality for days in the sun and sand with a cocktail just a waiter call away
But there are so many things about coming home that can make me hate traveling too:
- chaos that occurred in my absence
- pets that weren’t cared for in the manner that I care for them
- chores or tasks that weren’t tended to
- mail or deliveries that went askew
- perhaps a weather or other catastrophe occurred
- break-in, theft, vandalism or other casualty related property loss
I don’t know about you, but every time I get back into whatever mode of transportation will be returning me to “the real world” I instantly begin feeling less relaxed and begin wondering what “treat” will be awaiting me at home.
Some past coming home mishaps have included:
- Returning from a weekend in Oklahoma to find the entire living room and master bedroom under 2 inches of still running water with my brother sound asleep on the living room couch amid the flood!
- Returning from my 2 1/2 week honeymoon to find that my wine rack had been raped & pillaged (including a bottle we’d saved for our 10th anniversary), my son had spent most of the time next door instead of with the person I’d hired to stay with him at our house, and that my cat had disappeared for 3 days!
- Returning from a 2 week trip to Hawaii to find out that my girlfriend had left my son “on his own” for 3 days during which time power had gone out (unbeknownst to anyone?) and food in the freezer and refrigerator had gone bad.
There have been many more experiences like these (and a few worse) and we’ve certainly learned our lessons on who to call for travel caretaking help. Thankfully I’ve also come across some really handy things we can all do to make coming home to the inevitable post-vacation surprises a little less stressful.
- Fill a cup with water, put it in the freezer until it’s solid, then pop a coin on top. Leave it in there, and when you get back, check. If the coin is on the bottom of a now-frozen cup of ice, the power went out—long enough for the ice to melt back to water in your freezer, the coin to fall through, and then the power came back and the water re-froze. If the coin is where you left it, the power stayed on, or only went out for short periods. Obviously if the coin is at the bottom, you need to throw out all of the perishable food in your freezer and refrigerator. Thanks Lifehacker!
- Let’s face it, our friends and family are well intentioned, but can be flakes! Guarantee that your furry friends won’t be neglected by buying a self cleaning cat box (they have one that self-cleans, uses the toilet to rinse/dispose and you don’t d anything with it except refill bio cartridge every 3 months!) and automatic pet feeders of all kinds that guarantee your furry friends aren’t left to starve in your absence. If they show up and provide companionship, exercise and empty the collection bin/scoop the yard, that’ll just be a bonus!
- Although it’s always nice to have your kids in the comfort of their own beds, but leave them at the grandparents or at the home of the person responsible for them. It makes it much more likely they are being supervised.
- Leave your lights on timers that are set to different times on different days and have radios set to come on loud in rooms near the front door as well. Many home security systems have this option in their user panels.
- Let the newspaper, post office, UPS/Fed Ex and any other routine delivery services know that you will be away. Tell the drivers in the weeks leading up to your vacation so they can note it on their route charts.
- Take a bottle of wine or two to a trusted neighbor and ask them to check your driveway/porch and mailbox daily for any errant deliveries. Ask them to also put your trashcans out on trash day and to return them to your storage spot so things look normal.
- Invest in a RING or other doorbell system that allows you to “answer” your door from your smartphone. I have one at two of my homes and swear by it! I have answered my door in LA from hundreds of miles away as if I was just cooking there in the kitchen and couldn’t get to the door. No one was the wiser and the people left. It does interface if you are an ADT customer, but you do not have to be. Do it for your peace of mind!
- Have your gardener come on the regular schedule and arrange to have your housekeeper come the day you are coming home, have her make sure trash is emptied, plants watered, and dishwasher emptied so you return to a clean house.
Keep a video inventory, as well as a digital camera photo disk inventory of your valuables, what the inside and outside of your home looks like and update it when you make any major purchases, receive any expensive gifts, get a new car, boat, or RV that you may store at home.
- Put both in a fire and waterproof safe/document box. You can get these kind of boxes at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Amazon.com, or other stores of this type.
- Also include in this box irreplaceable jewelry, spare keys to all vehicles, RVs, boats, all properties you own, etc., take pictures of the bottles of all prescriptions your family takes, insurance policies, passports (if you aren’t traveling abroad) photocopies of all credit cards, ID for all family members, social security cards, original birth/death/marriage certificates, military records, etc.
- Put that box in your attic or in the rafters of your garage. The idea is to put it someplace that burglars wouldn’t look. This is not something you are going to access very often at all. Do not put it in a closet. Also put some cash in case banks are temporarily affected by power outages and ATMs are unavailable.
- Engrave your Name and Cell Phone Number on the Box, and that of your emergency contact as well, in the event the box is separated from your home (i.e. flood or hurricane). Do not use ink! Even permanent ink can wash away with high pressure fire hoses and lashing storm waters. Engraved letters and numbers are a much better option.
- In the event of a break-in, catastrophic fire or other home damaging disaster while you are gone, there is every likelihood that the box will survive and you will have proof for insurance adjusters
If these also look like good ideas for things to do in case of a natural disaster where you might have to evacuate, it’s because they are – they’re a great reminder as we enter the stormy winter months.
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