By Greg Illes
Every RVer’s dream is to wander off, leaving home and hearth behind, on a weeks- or months-long meander through far unknown lands. Usually, a lot more attention is paid to RV preparation and where the trip will lead than to how well the old homestead might fare without daily supervision.
After years of business and personal travel, including unpleasant surprises upon arriving back home, we have a departure checklist to help avoid the avoidable.
- All trash out — Empty everything in the house, especially rotten or stinky stuff.
- Thermostats set or off — You may need to keep a winter house above freezing; otherwise, turn everything off to save $$.
- Sprinklers set or off — You’ll have to decide about watering, or letting the yard go fallow. Make settings accordingly, but don’t forget that any active sprinkler can break and create a small flood. House plants will need a sitter, or a funeral.
- Garbage disposals run/empty — Residual food can make big stinks and molds.
- Toilets cleaned and flushed — Did little Johnnie use the john just before you left? Make sure there’s only water in those bowls.
- Laundry hamper empty — Dirty clothes become throwaway clothes after awhile.
- Windows and doors locked — Of course, but put it on your checklist to make sure you do it.
- Small ventilation — Leave a little ventilation somewhere to prevent a houseful of stale air.
- Electronic items off or unplugged — TVs and other appliances may use background power consumption and need to be unplugged.
- Mail on hold at USPS — You can do this on the Internet. They’ll hold mail until a date, or notification, and then deliver the whole bundle to you at once.
- Bills on autopay — The best way to deal with scheduled payments, using transfers or email.
- Notifications — Let folks you trust know that you’re gone, and to be aware of what’s going on at your address. Let your yard care and house care services have a break. Suspend your satellite TV service, Internet, etc.
- Emergency credit card — A lost or scammed card is useless. Keep a spare (that you never use).
- Emergency cash — A few stashed $50 bills can save the day when that gas pump or RV park won’t take cards or checks.
You don’t need to ask me how I know about all these “gotchas” — each and every one has been (sometimes painfully) experienced. I keep my list on my cell phone so I can read it as I walk around the house. As you can see, a little preparation will make sure your home is still happy when you get back. Good travels (and returns)!