You planned your trip to Europe months ago, ticking off things to do before you travel. Now, it’s almost time to go.
You've made your final list and checked it twice.
You’re feeling pretty good about being travel ready - everything's organized and under control.
But before you go, there’s a most important step to take to be sure your home, pets, possessions, and especially your kids, are safe and well cared for while you’re away.
Talk about lists...this may be the most important part of planning your trip to Europe.
It’s time to make sure everything you value is going to be as safe and secure when you return home, as it is before you travel.
There are simple things you can do prior to traveling to make sure both the inside and outside of your home are protected while you're away.
The last thing you want to do for would-be intruders is advertise the fact that you’re out of town.
You want to make sure your house [or condo or apartment] looks lived in, and everything in it remains safe and secure.
Use these suggestions as a guide to make sure your home remains safe during your travel time away.
You'll return to your familiar surroundings with memories of a good time. Not to the hassle of your life turned upside down by a burglary, break-in, or other dis-ruption to your home and life.
The following suggestions are primarily for owners of single family homes, as an empty stand-alone house is generally a bigger target for would be thieves than condos or apartments, where people come and go in closer proximity.
Use these ideas before you travel - adjusting them to your particular situation. The goal is to insure your home doesn't look empty or unlived in while you're traveling overseas.
Go to the US Post Office website.
Select 'Hold Mail'.
Fill out your address information.
Scroll down to select your 'hold dates' and delivery information.
Request your mail be held by the post office while you're traveling.
Choose to have your mail delivered or to pick it up when you return.
That's it! It’s simple to do, and it works.
Harder to stop are 'throw-offs' or free local papers.
This is a quick alert to would-be thieves that there's nobody home.
Have a friend collect these and dispose of them.
If burglars 'case' a neighborhood, they look for homes with no activity.
A car parked occasionally in your drive will thwart their idea you're away.
This will keep the battery charged, especially in cold weather.
Have them watch for packages, vehicles, or people on your property.
Make sure a neighbor can reach you or your emergency contact.
If containers are not in view, no one will notice they’re not being used.
At dusk, the photo-sensor turns the lights on automatically.
Remember to turn the switch on!
Before you travel, walk the perimeter of your home, checking to see if there are other things you can do to make your home appear maintained and lived in while you're away.
For gardeners and plant lovers, the longer the time you'll be traveling overseas, the more your landscape and outdoor plants will suffer.
If you have pots, patio containers, or gardens you water by hand, over and above normal rain-fall amounts, do your plants a favor and enlist the help of a gardening neighbor to watch for rain.
If it doesn't - ask them to water for you.
They'll need to monitor water levels for annuals and vegetable gardens, watering them as mois-ture conditions dictate, especially in the hottest months of summer.
You can protect plants in pots and containers by moving them out of direct sun-light and grouping them close together in the dappled shade of a tree. This will prevent the daily drying heat of direct sun exposure.
By placing them close together in shade, you also make it easier on your watering friends - not having to drag a water hose all around your yard.
If there's a chance your lawn will need watering while you're away, make sure hoses, sprinklers, and anything for that job are assembled, working, and easily accessible.
And most importantly, offer to reciprocate when your watering buddies go on vacation. Then buy them a nice dinner when you return home.
Before you travel make sure your grass is cut and planting beds look neat and cared for.
If you’ll be traveling for more than two weeks during the height of the growing season, arrange for and prepay a lawn service, a good neighbor, or a neighbor-hood teen to mow your yard. And ask them to pick up any wind-blown debris.
Especially during the growing season, tidy your entire yard before time to travel to make it look as if normal lawn maintenance is taking place.
It takes a little more work beforehand to prepare your house, yard, and plants for the time you'll be traveling overseas.
But coming home to everything just as you left it - in good, healthy condition - is more than worth the trouble.
For more ideas on how to protect your home, valuables, possessions, pets, and plants before you travel overseas, check the following articles: