I had fully intended to arrange for posts to be published while I was globe trotting over the past twelve days, but the best laid plans, as they say…
I’m currently on the final flight of my journey for this trip – flight eight of eight in twelve days. And yes, that’s as exhausting as it sounds. We have been to England, Austria, Italy, Dubai (just the airport) and Malaysia, and I can’t wait to sleep in my own bed…for all of five minutes before I am off again.
It’s a busy month.
With only about 5 days home the entire month of March (yes, I’m serious), there isn’t much handy homeownering going on. But I can share with you a few photos from my recent travels, and you may want to know some of my tips for settling your house for a long trip away.
It’s gotten to the point now that I get so anxious and crazy about getting ready for a trip that when I recently was getting my house in shape for a guest and rushing about, Barney believed that we were going to be going in the car, and actually willingly put his leash on every day.
Boy, was he disappointed when we went for a walk instead.
But finally, all that rushing about did mean travel. And this was a big trip. 12 days, three destinations, three different climates.
I had picked up a new light suitcase, with four rolling wheels (my dream suitcase, by the way) using airline miles – same place I got my Keurig. I used Ollie’s crate as my suitcase tray, and started my packing early. Even when I give packing an extra day, I always find that it takes me a long time, stresses me out, and results in more running around and laundry, which means I don’t get the chance to relax and snuggle my boys before having to leave on a trip.
So this time, I was determined to give myself extra time. That’s my first tip – start preparing early. There is always something that will crop up when you’re getting ready to leave (like my washing machine difficulties, which I’m dreading coming home to) so you want to be prepared, so you have at least one night to veg out on the couch before you’re off.
The other thing I do, which may seem silly to a lot of people, is give the house a good cleaning. There’s nothing nicer than coming home to a clean house – it’s like coming to a freshly cleaned hotel room, but it’s your own home, which never feels so good than when you’ve been away for a long time.
This trip, I’d arranged to put my boys in their new puppy day camp for the day, and to get baths, before picking them up to drive up to my parents’ where they’d be staying with my mom while I was away. (This is another great tip by the way – the money spent to get them out of my hair while I packed up the car, did the final once over, and cleaned up a bit, as well as got them cleaned up, was well worth it!).
This gave me the chance to do a few last minute “tidies” – I used my swiffer mop to clean the doggie footprints from the floor (they are ALWAYS there!), put their toys away and made sure everything was straightened up. It makes me happy to think about coming home to my nice clean house.
The other two must-do’s before a long trip are running the dishwasher and taking out the garbage. I do a once-over of the refrigerator to make sure that anything that will expire while I’m away gets thrown out. Nothing like coming home to two week old milk when you’ve been away.
Along those lines, I also take out the recycling – the house will smell if you leave even a little bit of milk in the container (and there always is, no matter how well you rinse it), so it’s important to get that outside too. If you’re lucky like me, you might also have neighbors who put your trash and recycling out for you while you’re away, so you’re not coming home to overflowing garbage.
As for the dishwasher, as long as you’re comfortable that it’s not going to suddenly spring a leak, stick it on to come on once you’ve left. I ran mine the night before leaving because it was full, and then again with the dishes from that day – not exactly the most eco-friendly, but again, it cuts down on any food smells you may come home to if you left your dirty dishes for a couple of weeks.
Security is another concern. I lock my house up tight, shut the shades, and put on the alarm before I go, but it can look as if no one is home. I have lights set to come on using timers, and I keep these on even when I am home, so it’s not obvious that I’m not there (minus the always closed shades, of course). I also get help from my neighbors – my next door neighbor takes in my mail (if you don’t trust your neighbors to do this, you can put a hold on your mail through the post office) and parks his car in the driveway. This way, it looks like someone is home. My other neighbors of course know that it’s not my car, but anyone coming into the neighborhood who is unfamiliar with it wouldn’t.
Another tip is to turn down your heating or air conditioning, depending on the season. Although I have a programmable thermostat set up, it doesn’t make much sense to be heating the house when I’m not there. So I turn it down fairly low (above freezing to keep the pipes from freezing – that’s why you never just turn it off when you’re going away). Ideally, I would be able to control my heating and air conditioning from my phone, as you see in the commercials, so that I could get the house warm and toasty for our arrival, but that’s not in the budget right now!
And finally, sometimes, I’ll also stick in some new air fresheners before I leave. I tend to become de-sensitized to the existing ones, and leaving the house with new ones means I’ll come home to a lovely smelling house.
One final tip – online grocery shopping. When you get home from a long trip, the last thing you want to do is stop by the grocery store. But it can be rather depressing to eat yet another take-out/non-home-cooked meal the first night back, or even just looking in a bare fridge. I can order groceries and arrange delivery from my cell phone through Peapod the day before I come home, so that the food will arrive just after I do – convenient, worth the fee, and a nice way to stock up the house.
Since I’m gone a LOT this month, I may or may not order groceries for this return. Most likely, I’ll stop at the convenience store up the street to pick up milk and call it a day. I should warn my mom about that, since she’ll be staying at my house during my next business trip to watch my pumpkins.
What are your tips for what to do with your house when you’re traveling?