Tackle these 6 to-dos before you leave and
your great escape will be truly great
Some people call me paranoid. I've backtracked home more than
once to make sure I didn't leave the oven on-even though I hadn't
cooked in days. And while such detours have made me late for work
on more than one occasion, at least as I sat in front of my
computer, I had peace of mind that my house wasn't going to burn
My paranoia only worsens when I go on vacation. Incessant
questions plague my mind: Did I leave instructions for the dog
walker? Did I remember to stop the newspaper? Did I leave the
garage door open?
Chances are you've experienced thoughts like these, too; it's
natural to worry. But even one niggling "Did I …?" can haunt your
vacation and prevent you from really relaxing.
The good news is there are steps you can take to help ensure a
paranoia-free vacation. Here's how.
List It Out
OK, so making a to-do list is nothing new, but it's too
important not to mention. Lists are imperative for making sure
everything gets done before you go away. Instead of just jotting
down the "what," also include "who" and "when." So rather than
simply "Give neighbor a house key," write "John to give neighbor a
house key Friday." Once complete, give copies of the list to your
fellow travelers and let them take responsibility for their duties.
Don't shoulder all of the going-away action items.
Make a Call-or Three
If you're going away for more than a couple of days, consider
having your mail and newspaper deliveries stopped. Contact the
paper's automated line and let them know you'd like your services
suspended. You can temporarily halt your mail online at usps.com-just click
the "Household" tab at the top of the home page. It's still a good
idea to have a friend or neighbor check in, in case special
deliveries arrive and to pick up any solicitations.
Also, give your local security patrol or neighborhood
block-watch program a heads-up you'll be out of town so they can
help keep an eye on your place.
Wrap Up at Work
Minimize the impulse to check your e-mail while away by making
arrangements for backup. "Figure a way to shut things off, stall
them or pass them along to someone else while you're not there,"
suggests Michael MacNair, president and CEO of MacNair Travel
Management and author of The Power of Dream Trips
(2009). "Establish procedures and cross-train other employees so
that work can continue while you're gone, and you don't come back
to a mess."
Your house will likely get in a state of disarray while you're
packing for a trip, but straighten it up before you leave. Coming
back to an orderly home can help reentry seem more manageable. You
don't have to polish the silver and scrub the floors before you go,
just do some spot cleaning. Make the bed, put dishes away and clear
off the countertops.
Also, consider scheduling regular cleaning, landscaping or home
maintenance services for the day before you return. That way,
everything will look nice when you get back.
Leave Information Behind
Give your house-sitter and a trusted friend or family member a
copy of your itinerary and contact information in case they need to
reach you. Make copies of your important travel documents, such as
your driver's license, passport, flight information and hotel
reservations. Take one copy with you and leave the other copy at
home. If you should lose any of these items, you can call your
house-sitter for the information.
Turn It Off
More than 80 percent of home water damage is caused by plumbing
or appliance leaks, reports State Farm Insurance. Even a minor leak
that starts while you're away can cause a big, wet problem. Turn
off the water to your house, or switch off the flow at each supply
line (near all the water fixtures). Don't forget the ones running
to your washer and dryer.
-By Shelley Flannery