Summer is definitely here in beautiful Sarasota, and, that means it’s time to take a little time off and go on vacation. No matter where your destination might be, it’s a good idea to have your trip planned-out, and, the more detail, the better. It’s a dream for many just to take off and go somewhere, nowhere in particular, but that lack of planning and spontaneity can be very costly, which is why we devise a plan. Without knowing where you’re going and what’s available, it’s quite likely you’ll spend (read: waste) money and wind-up regretting rather than cherishing your trip.
We take time to research places to stay, find the best airfare, rental car rates, and great accommodations for our vacations, no matter how long or short the trip. We spend time carefully deciding what to pack and double-up on certain things, for those just-in-case moments. Then, we check off a list, packing clothing and toiletries with care, and, to get the most in our suitcases so as not to have too many cases to carry.
What we don’t put a lot of time and attention into is actually one of the most important aspects of our trips. That is, the home you’re leaving behind for a brief period. Sure, we remember to turn on a few lights and to leave plenty of food and water for our pets, but that’s about it. Then, not long after departing out the door, we all begin to wonder what it is that we forgot, and, that includes what we did and didn’t do about our homes.
TIPS FOR FINDING A RELIABLE HOUSE-SITTER
Some homeowners opt to hire a house-sitter to take care of their property and pets when away, and, this is a very good alternative. If you are going to be taking a vacation and this sounds like a good idea, you can begin to search for a house-sitter. When you have found some names, either online, through co-workers or friends, even family, it’s time to exchange information and speak with one another briefly for a cursory introduction.
“Did you remember to lock that patio door? And who was in charge of getting the newspaper and mail delivery stopped? Don’t let nagging doubts about the security of your home ruin your vacation.” —Better Homes and Gardens
Next, have him or her over for dinner, and give a tour of your home. Let them meet your family and pets, and get to know each other a bit more. If you’re comfortable with him or her, take a test run, and go away for a weekend. Should it work out, you can then have him or her stay while you’re on your vacation. Remember to clear some space for the house-sitter to unpack, and, be sure to let your neighbors know who will be staying in your home while you’re away.
SUMMER VACATION CHECKLIST FOR HOMEOWNERS
If you aren’t comfortable with hiring a house-sitter, you can have peace of mind about your home being safe and secure in other ways. Here are some helpful tips on what to do before you go on vacation:
- Have someone pickup your mail and newspapers. A mailbox stuffed full and a pile of newspapers by the front door is a big telltale sign that no one is home, and, hasn’t been for days. Have a neighbor, family member, or friend retrieve your mail and pickup your newspapers.
- Give someone a spare key. Don’t hide a spare key under the doormat or under a fake rock. Instead, give a spare key to someone and let them go into to walk and feed your pets. Ask if he or she can vary their routine a bit, just for added security.
- Turn off the water heater. You don’t have to turn off the water to your home, but, you should shut off the water heater. This will save a little bit of money, and besides, an empty home doesn’t need hot water.
- Clean out the refrigerator. You don’t want to come home to a smelly pseudo science experiment in your refrigerator, so, give it a thorough cleaning and throw out perishable food items a day or two before you leave.
- Use baking soda in sinks and toilets. Pour baking soda down sinks and into toilet bowls. This will keep water from becoming stagnant and smelly. When you return, just run the water and flush.
- Unplug practically everything. Don’t waste money on electronics and small appliances that aren’t being used. So, unplug computers, charging stations, televisions, microwaves, toasters, coffee makers, and basically everything besides the refrigerator and security system. The goal is to save on utility costs and energy.
- Take out all of the garbage. You should empty the kitchen trash, that’s for sure, but other wastebaskets in bathrooms and elsewhere should also be emptied.
Last but certainly not least, adjust the thermostat. You shouldn’t turn off the air conditioner completely, but, it ought to be adjusted to run less.