No matter how wonderful your summer vacation, leaving the familiar conveniences of home can be a hassle. And coming home can be worse, as contradictory as that may seem.
So aside from making lengthy lists and sublists to make sure you take everything with you that you need, or might conceivably need — before reducing all that back to something you can actually get into the car or onto the plane — what can you do to lessen the stress of getting away? Not only for yourself, but for the beloved home you’re leaving behind?
We went Googling for advice on this. Most of what we found was about how to deal with coming back to work upon return, but let’s not even think about that. There’s stress, and then there’s stress. But we did find a couple of sites where thought was given to looking out for your poor, lonely home.
Some of them, naturally enough, came from insurance companies. They were mostly concerned about discouraging burglars or preventing a fire. But those considerations are nothing to scoff at, so let’s list a few:
- Mow the Lawn and Shovel the Driveway — If you don’t do that, you might as well be putting out a sign that says, “Break into this house!”
- Don’t Neglect Trash Day — A neighbor or friend can help.
- Have the Post Office Hold Your Mail — Same deal as above — don’t leave telltale signs of absence.
- Turn Out the Lights — Sure, having a light on at 8 p.m. might say, “Someone’s home!” But having the same light on 24 hours a day is worse than having them off. Better yet, put one or two lights on a timer.
- Scatter Your Valuables — We’d heard of a lot of these tips, but not this one. The site suggests putting your valuables “in unconventional locations like kitchen cupboards, pantries, children’s rooms or the laundry room.” Make the burglars’ job inconvenient.
- Unplug Appliances and Electronics — This isn’t about thieves. It’s about power surges.
- Avoid Posting About Your Trip on Social Media — Social media is a great way of communicating to everyone — including burglars — that you’re away.
- Purge Perishable Foods — This is simply about not returning to a big stink.
But what about the return home? There are few buzz-killers worse than returning exhausted from a trip and finding mountains of problems to deal with. So consider these ways to prepare for a comfortable return before you leave:
- Clean the house — You really don’t want to return to a mess — having to wash all those dirty clothes in your bag is enough.
- Plan for meals upon return — And make sure you leave the nonperishable ingredients ready in the kitchen.
- Apply for a TSA Precheck — Because, duh. It doesn’t help your house, maybe. But it helps you.
Then, to prepare for your return:
- Keep dirty laundry separate — Otherwise, it’s all dirty when you get home. So, you know, more hassle.
- Deal with leftover currency — If you can’t spend it at home, you don’t need it.
- Take an extra day before returning to work — Because there will be stuff to deal with no matter how well you plan. So give yourself the time.
There’s no place like home. So make sure it will be OK while you’re gone.