Getting your home ready for a road trip is something that is often forgotten in the whirlwind of pre-trip organisation. This whirlwind is intensified if you are going on a road trip and have a vehicle to prepare and children or pets to organise. How many times have you got half a mile down the road and started wondering if you have turned the gas hob off or thrown the pint of milk out that was on the turn.
If you are like me, nothing beats coming home from a holiday to a clean and organised home. A clean home also makes it easier to pack and see what is missing from your plans. And as my children always point out leaving a clean home means we know if we have been burgled on our return (unlike normal!)…
In the run up to your trip start to keep your home organised. Collect items that may be forgotten at the last minute and as laundry is finished start to take out the things you will need from normal circulation. This means you won’t have a mountain of laundry to do before you can begin to pack.
READ MORE: HOW TO PACK FOR A ROAD TRIP WITH KIDS
The day before departure get rid of everyone from the house and do a deep clean, working towards the front door and shutting down each room, unplugging appliances and locking windows as you go. Remove rubbish, food and dirty plates and mugs from kids bedrooms so they don’t grow while you are away and empty perishable food from the fridge and as a last step put the bins out as you leave.
Get your post opened and sorted and any last minute payments that are needed before you leave should be scheduled or made. If you are away for an extended period make sure you have payments scheduled for the entire time you are away. You may also want to turn the central heating down so it only takes the chill off the house rather than heating water and radiators for an empty house.
I also make sure that a supermarket home delivery slot is booked for the morning after our return. Being tired and cranky after a holiday is not the time to be thinking about food shopping.
Keeping Mail Safe and Plants Happy
Lots of things just tick along when you are at home but you will need to make sure they are sorted while you are away. These include grass cutting, watering plants or picking up mail.
The post office in the UK will hold mail for you but you need to book this in advance and there is a fee to be paid. However if you are away for a long period of time it is a worthwhile investment if you don’t have a friendly neighbour.
Plants will need to be watered or you will come home to a very sorry state of affairs. Either find a neighbour who can come in and water for you (and pick up post!) or investigate a drip irrigation system. You can even make one from a plastic bottle!
If you are away for more than a week you will also need to think about grass cutting, especially if your lawns are usually well kept and tidy. Most gardening companies do grass cutting or find a neighbouring teenager who would love some extra cash for a few weeks. You can usually stretch the cuttin for a few days more than usual, but it is a clear sign that you are away if left for too long.
Appliances and Utilities
However long you plan to be away for your should unplug all non-essential appliances. As well as using unnecessary energy, electrical faults are one of the biggest causes of fires today. TVs, phones, game consoles, clocks and chargers all need to be unplugged at the socket.
If your are away for more than a month then it may be worth considering cancelling utilities if your contract allows you to. There is no point in paying for services that are not going to be used.
In your planning you need to think about your bins as well. Can someone put them out and bring them in on the right day for you. Nothing signals an empty house than strategically positioned bins on the incorrect day.
Road Trips and Your Pets
Leaving pets for a road trip needs forward planning as pet sitters and kennels book months in advance. As soon as I have my dates for a trip finalised I will book the cattery and kennels. You need to make sure that you keep vaccinations up to date as most kennels and catteries require your pet to be vaccinated before they are allowed to stay. They will also want them treated for fleas and worms so make sure you have the correct medication.
For older dogs and cats as well as larger animals a pet sitter or house sitter may be an option. There are lots of people who are professional house sitters and you can usually find someone willing to come and look after your home and pets.
READ MORE: HOW TO FIND A PET OR HOUSE SITTER
Fish can be left for a few weeks with feeding blocks. These will dissolve releasing food into the aquarium slowly over time. You do need to ensure that you clean the tank and filters before you leave, ensure the room is not too bright and leave the doors open so the tank doesn’t become too warm. If there is not good air circulation within the room the oxygen levels can become unstable and alter the pH of the water. Believe me, this is not a good situation when you return home.
Small fluffies can be sent to stay with willing friends (and less than willing parents) for your time away. Just make sure you have the ‘what if’ conversation before you go.
Many dogs love a road trip. You do need to make sure that they are comfortable and safe for the entire trip. Think about where you are planning to go, what you will be doing each day and the limitations that they may put on your plans. Dogs are not allowed into many restaurants, attractions and in the summer months many UK beaches are dog free. This can limit your options and change your plans significantly.
READ MORE: ROAD TRIPPING WITH PETS
Quite a few of the ideas so far feed into the security of your home, but these are a few more specific things. Many homes have alarm systems but these can be expensive to install. There are more things that can be put in place as technology moves forward that can help to secure your home.
Lights on timers, especially if they are random times can act as a simple deterrant as can outdoor sensor lights. They may not stop a determined burglar but it will stop opportunist passing and seeing a dark house. A smart doorbell can also be a worthwhile investment to reduce the risk of opportunist thieves.
Also think about what you are posting on social media. Depending on your settings you may think it is nice to share your trip with friends but their friends may be less than trustworthy and can see everything you are posting. This shares the fact that your home is empty. If you have a break-in and the insurance company can prove you posted your trip details online then you may not be covered.
Finally whatever your plans, make sure someone knows your house is empty, has a key and your contact details in case there is a problem. Just having a friend who can drive by once a week and check all is secure will mean you can relax and forget about home.
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