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Managing A Long Trip Abroad And At Home

If the stars align and Covid willing, we will depart for Frankfurt 3 months from today to begin a 6 week trip. We have traveled that long before, but there has always been someone at our house to take care of things. That is no longer the case. I have some thoughts and questions, and others may chime in with something I haven’t thought of. I hope this topic will be informative for everyone.

At home:

Mail - The post office will only hold it for 4 weeks. Even then I don’t really trust this system. We were gone for less than 3 weeks in November and I had our mail held at the post office. We decided to come home a day early, so 2 days before our mail was supposed to be delivered to us. When we arrived home there was several days worth of mail in our box. Two days later they delivered a bundle of mail to us. We have a community mailbox where the entire block has a box and there are 2 large boxes for packages. What do you do with your mail if you’re on a long trip?

Bills - I have everything set up to pay automatically, but if you don’t, how do you manage your payments?

Prescription Medications - If you travel for any extended period how do you take enough meds for your trip if you can’t get a refill before you leave to give you enough? I always refill mine as soon as I’m allowed so I’m way ahead of what I need. How do you manage medications that need to be refrigerated?

While traveling:

Packing - Covering both cold and warm weather. I know this has been discussed from time to time. Layers are discussed and I think it’s a good strategy. The exception for me is if I know it will be cold the entire trip. In that case I want a warm coat. For the upcoming trip I’ll take a fleece, packable down jacket and packable waterproof raincoat. What about shoes to span both conditions?

Grooming - If you’re on an extended trip do you get haircuts while you travel? For the ladies who color their hair, get manicures, etc., how do you manage these things?

Purchases - Do you buy things while traveling? Souvenirs, other items for yourself or others? If you pack with only a carryon bag, what do you do with those things? Do you ship things home or bring another packable bag with you?

Are there other things to consider while traveling for an extended time?

Posted by
1307 posts

When we are away from home for an extended period I always (now) shut off the water supply to the house. We came home quite a few years ago from a month long trip to Germany and found a caved in kitchen ceiling from a slow leak in the bathroom above it. Besides the ceiling, the kitchen flooring and cabinets had to be replaced. Yes, our household insurance covered it but do not want to do that again.

Posted by
59 posts

Water shut off is a good one. Check your water heater manual because I think if you shut off your water, the hot water heater needs to be shut off also. Note if you have Gas Water Heater: Do not shut the water off if you have not turned the gas going into your gas hot water heater off. If the water continues to heat inside the water heater after the water is shut off the heater will build up too much pressure. If you are sure the water is off, you can turn off the cold water supply.

Also, anything that needs to be reset that is of importance in case there is a power failure while you are out - Some homes have thermostats , house timers, camera's, water sprinklers, etc. that do not reset properly when there is a power hit. So you might ask a neighbor to come by if they know there was a power failure.

Posted by
5769 posts

Really, for peace of mind, you probably need to find someone that can stop by periodically, maybe once or twice a week even, to just do a once over, put in any mail or other items,

Bills, any that you may need to pay likely have an online option, I will go on check statements, pay bills, look at checking balances, etc. Most can be done from a phone, a tablet or chromebook type pc is also nice to bring along, and easier to work on.

Luckily, neither of us take critical medications, but for most prescriptions you can work with your Doctor to get up to a 90 day supply, or at least an early dispensing of "next months" supply. Will not work for controlled meds (opiates, pain relievers), but work with your Doctor to assure you have what you need. Do take copies of prescriptions with you, in case you lose, ruin, or run out for some reason. You would still need to go to a Doctor there, but having all the information will show what you need. As for refrigerated meds, find a good cold bag, one of these small superinsulated things like a "Yeti". A reusable ice pack will keep it cold for a few days, hotels are good about storing meds for you, and refreezing the ice pack.
My wife has gotten a cut or style while traveling, I get by. From her perspective, it can be interesting, language is an issue, a picture of you with your preferred style/length is a good idea, but be willing to live with what you get. She actually really liked one style, and has never been able to have someone recreate it. Manicures are everywhere, Colors might be more of an issue, my wife skips it on travel.

We pack an extra soft sided bag (actually an old Rick Steves backpack bag) and break it out when we collect too much. We then check all bags on the way back, just for ease of travel. Of course we find we buy less and less for ourselves as we get older, but still get the grandkids stuff.

Posted by
16 posts

Just a few thoughts:
Mail -
I'm always overly optimistic and say we don't get much mail . . . For longer trips I've had a friend/neighbour with a key stop by a few times to collect things from the mailbox and drop them in the house. I also sign on for any notifications possible when there are bigger things than I'm expecting so I know to ask them to check for a parcel. But by and large I just make it a point to get as little paper mail as possible.

Bills - I reeeeeeeeeeeeally trust the friend who gets the mail. My partner had a payment she couldn't do online - friend was great and took charge of sending the bill/cheque back, even sent us a pic of her dropping it in the mail (though we hadn't asked!). Undoubtedly a little annoying for the friend, but we had as much prepped in advance as possible.

Packing - Rather than worrying about shoes that can span both, I worry about socks that can be used in both! Unless I'm travelling somewhere truly freezing and intending to be outside trekking about in the snow, I bring leather slightly-taller-than-ankle- boots (good for shoulder seasons, winter, and one only slightly regrettable warm summer trip) and merino/technical socks - Smartwool, Wigwam, Wrightsock, Darn Tough all have at least some ability to be used in warm and cold weather or can be layered with only some annoyance. My family lives in a very cold area of Canada, and even when visiting them I just go by this method. I've found very few places where the snow isn't cleared/compact enough that this doesn't suffice - at least for my mostly-urban travel.

Grooming - I always made my hair colour as "grow-out-able" as possible before a long trip, but that's really because I get research-obsessed and didn't want to get caught up obsessing over a stylist wherever I'm going. In terms of manicures/hair cuts/waxing - people in other countries do this too! Finding a random place is all part of the adventure.

Purchases - After years of buying books from each country (specifically by an author from there) as a souvenir, and shoving them into my carry-on, I had to admit defeat. Now my partner and I have a "you buy it you ship it" policy. Helps us be sure we really really want the item. Of course, most of the time smaller purchases can be crammed into our carry-on, but we try to go into each purchase assuming we might have to pay to ship it back. Shipping is so expensive in Canada that shipping gifts for people from where we are in the world directly to them is rarely that big a jump up, really.

Posted by
1517 posts

Here are my hints:
Bills: I don't have bills paid automatically. Call me overly cautious but had problems with the system in the past. Since my husband is a real geezer as in flip-phone and no-online bill paying, we write checks. He seldom travels but when we are gone long enough for a new billing cycle to hit, we mail check payments to cover 2 to 3 months' payments. I learned that from my step-brother and his wife who travelled between houses in multiple states pre-covid and do nothing online.

Prescription Meds: It was suggested on the forum in the past to start withholding 10 or so doses when your prescription is refilled. i.e. if you have 90 day refill, refill at 80 days, putting aside the other 10 days. In two refills you will have 20 days of pills., etc. I doubt if this will work with auto-mail pharmacies, but my local pharmacy will work with me on dates.

Purchases: My suitcase is expandable, plus I have a tote and a packable backpack. Flying home from Italy a few years ago, I checked the suitcase after filling it, stuffed the tote with breakables to put in the overhead and filled the backpack for under the seat. My sister-in-law did the same, but also shipped home Christmas ornaments. Most of what I bought was flat so packed easily. I wrapped everything in clothes and stuffed shoes with little gifts.

I'll also add: Even if we go away for less than a week, we have neighbors on each side of us keep an eye on the house. One picks up our mail. Make sure several neighbors have your phone number. We give them our itinerary when we're on the road.
On our first night out on a month long road trip we got a call from a neighbor telling us that a windstorm just went through and took off part of our roof.

We turn off water to the house at the meter. Turn off the hot water tank. Turn off the stove at the breaker box, since we had one stove a few years ago that turned itself on and two friends had the same thing happen. Turn up the a/c or down the heat. Lock the garage door opener so it can't open the door. Lock all the doors. Set the light timers. Final steps out the door are to be sure all the toilets are flushed, that wasn't done once and I haven't let my husband forget it.

Posted by
1500 posts

I also refill medication as soon as I can and have enough for at least three months. As far as meds requiring refrigeration, call the pharmaceutical company. Sometimes meds can be out for a period of time and be therapeutic. I have that problem with the injection I take monthly and it’s good for seven days. My issue with this medication is that it will be ready to pick up while I’m away for a month next fall in Spain and Portugal.

I guess you could visit a clinic in Europe and get meds that way. Take a letter from your doctor with you.
Our bills are on auto pay except for a few that require monthly mailed payments but can be done online.
Do you have a trusted neighbor who would be willing to empty your mail box?

Posted by
20802 posts

I live in a high-rise condo and pay someone in the building (between $100 and $150) to corral my mail while I'm gone for up to 4-1/2 months. I haven't tried to have my mail held for a long time and don't know how reliable that is. However, I think there's a mail-forwarding service you can pay for that scoops up your First-Class Mail and ships to an address of your own choosing. Perhaps a relative would be willing to receive your mail if you don't have someone local you can trust. You might also consider using a pet-sitter to do this. If your mailbox is locked, they'd probably only need to check it a couple of times a week, so the cost wouldn't be crazy expensive. You could have the Postal Service hold your mail for the maximum amount of time it allows and then use one of the other options for the last 2-3 weeks.

All my regular bills are auto-charged to a credit card. All my credit cards are auto-paid from my credit union account. I try not to access financial websites while I'm traveling. I sometimes have to deal with my semi-annual property tax payment, but that's something I can pay online ahead of time.

I think most insurance companies allow for vacation overrides. Call your insurance company now; you may be pleasantly surprised. But take careful notes on the precise steps you'll need to take, and when. In a pinch you can get your doctor to write an extra prescription and pay for it out of pocket (highly undesirable for expensive medications, I know).

I've never had to take refrigerated medication to Europe, but I've heard of cold packs available for that purpose (maybe for insulin?). I bet someone else can give you the details. If not, ask your pharmacist.

I don't travel in the winter but on my 2019 trip, which included Scotland, I took two pairs of long johns. I didn't need to double up in Scotland (it was wet but reasonably warm everywhere), but I think I did double up on one or two wet, chilly days in Spain in early April. As for shoes, I take a single pair of reliable, lace-up shoes. For trips involving significant time in potentially wet climates (which would include any winter trip to Europe), I wear waterproof shoes. I'd need more than that for a winter trip, and I probably would need to take two pairs, one being some sort of insulated low boot. I can't help you here because I am neither a shoe person nor a winter-in-Europe person.

I always need to get my hair cut unless I'm gone for just three months (and even then, I should get it cut). So far I've had haircuts in northern Italy, Bulgaria, Poland and France. I don't color my hair, so that's not an issue. I wear a sun hat 100% of the time outdoors, so I'd don't worry much about how my hair looks; it's going to be dreadful once I remove the hat, anyway. I tend to go to a random place outside the tourist zone (no, I'm not vain; why do you ask?), and I'm prepared to accept whatever happens. Since I don't speak any European language well enough to have a real conversation with a hairdresser, I use Google Translate to figure out how to say "please cut 3 centimeters", or whatever I want; if in doubt, write down the instructions. (You could also ask a hotel desk clerk to do that.) I also employ charades as necessary. A prudent person would take a picture of her hair shortly after a haircut at home and use it to illustrate what is desired; I've never bothered to do that. There have been no disasters. Te foreign hairdressers tend to be visibly nervous about serving a customer with whom they can't freely communicate. It takes them a bit of extra time to do my hair, so I do tip even in cultures where it isn't expected.

I generally don't do much shopping in Europe, but I take a packable bag with me. It serves as a bus/train bag when I'm changing hotels. Mailing purchases home is costly unless they are expensive items and you get a VAT refund for shipping them home.

Posted by
218 posts

Like grocery and clothing shopping, attending church services, and participating in a local volunteer or service project, getting your hair cut is one of those back-door experiences to treasure in a foreign culture and different language.

Also, don't be afraid to buy new clothing and gear on location. Consider to leave behind something that you think you no longer need. To find and then donate clothing or gear to a local charity or organization is usually a rewarding and worthwhile experience.

Posted by
6513 posts

Yes we take an extra empty duffle bag to fill up as we're going along. Checked on the way home.

We still take a newspaper (yes we are old school) and even though we schedule vacation holds, sometimes the carrier forgets, or there are flyers on the door, or other unpredictable things left at the door. So we rely on neighbor or family to check periodically for anything unexpected.
Depending on the time of year and your local conditions, consider lawn mowing, snow removal, leaf removal, etc. An un-mown lawn or a snow covered driveway are good signs that people are not home.

From your list, with the right product selection, fleece+parka = down jacket. Note that you can buy anything else you decide you need there.

Medications: it seems like your insurance company is the biggest obstacle.

Posted by
5221 posts

When our neighbors went on a multi-month cruise, they sent the post office a mail hold request (yellow card, good for 30 days), then gave us a key to their mailbox and a couple more request cards, dated to cover the following months. A few days before each 30-day period ended, we dropped the next month's card in the mail and then, at the end of the month, picked up the month's accumulation after the PO dropped it off. (We have a cluster of boxes on our street with a couple of big extra ones for parcels and monthlong accumulations.) We left each month's mail inside their house, but we could have kept it at our house if they hadn't given us a house key.

We have autopay on all our utility bills, but an alternative would be to send a big enough check to cover future months, creating a credit that's drawn down while you're gone. This won't work as well with credit cards or other less predictable charges, but you could still prepay enough to cover any foreseeable need. If you underestimate you'll be stuck with humongous interest payments, but that's not the end of the world.

As for grooming, we've never been away long enough to need haircuts, but if we did that would just be part of the adventure! ;-)

Posted by
12794 posts

6 weeks is not that long.

Mail:
Mail Hold works only up to 30 days. But for longer stays you can enroll in the USPS Mail Forwarding service. Mail will be delivered to a temporary address of your choice. Since you will be traveling around, you may want to have your mail delivered to a friend or relative during your absence. You could also have it delivered to a commercial PO Box or a mailbox service at UPS or MailBox store.
https://www.usps.com/manage/forward.htm

Bills.
Everything paperless and automatic. If for whatever reason you receive a paper bill, just pay it when you return.

Packing.
I like to take old stuff with me (which sometime I toss away along the way) and buy while I'm on the road in Europe. They have stores too, and their stuff is often better than what I can find Stateside.

Grooming.
My wife gets her hair done in Florence everytime we go. You can find salons anywhere in Europe.

Purchases.
If you buy a lot of stuff along the way, mailing it home is a good idea. I don't buy a lot, so I was always able to carry myself. But one thing we do, is do the buying only at the end of our trip, so that we don't have to haul it along the entire trip.

Other Things to consider:
Unplug the car battery. Set up timers for lights. Turn off water. Have someone check your house while away (a neighbor, or relative or friend)

Posted by
3575 posts

I have never turned off the water heater when the water is turned off for a trip, and am puzzled at the need? Turning off the gas then means relighting the pilot upon return.

Not a Sacramento thing but it is possible to set up a webcam with a livestream of a thermometer to check on whether the house is approaching freezing inside (and the furnace broke). There are smart thermostats that allow one to monitor temperature online.

I wrap houseplants in clear plastic bags (and move them out of the sun) so they don't need watering.

Checking a plumbing website: "if you have a full water tank, and you need to turn off the water for an issue unrelated to your water heater, then it really doesn’t matter if you turn the water heater on or off."

Was the airline selected for this Frankfurt trip Condor?

Posted by
499 posts

Hubby and I were gone a bit over five weeks this past September/October. I got my haircut in Lucca and highlights done in Avignon. Both places were recommended by someone at our hotel. Neither stylist spoke English, so I used google translate. Gotta say both turned out great. I joke about having to go back to Lucca to get my hair cut.

My hubby takes a few prescription medications. We call our insurance company and tell them we will be traveling out of the country for more than 30 days. They always approve him getting an extra refill before we go.

Holding our mail is always a crap shoot. We have a large mailbox with a lock, so we keep the mail coming for the first two weeks or so, then start the hold mail request.

Happy travels

Posted by
3053 posts

Here are some of our strategies based on 4, 4 month trips, one 6 month trip and many 4 week trips.

Mail: we learned the hard way not to trust the USPS system with its 30 day hold service. Came home from one trip and all of our mail was lost never to be found again. Another time the PO advised me to put a rubber band around our mailbox handle and personally speak to our long time mail carrier. When we came home from that trip the rubber band was gone and there was some mail in the box. Since that totally lost the mail experience, we’ve had a neighbor collect our mail. Where we currently live there is a teen on our street whom I pay $100-150 to collect our mail every few days and keep it his house.

Bills: we pay 99% of our bills automatically through bill pay. We have to pay property taxes by check and our insurances by check or cc so we work by paying ahead of time or call from Europe to pay by phone with a cc. There was only one time I mailed a property tax to the US from Europe by mail a month before it was due and it didn’t make it in time. We had to pay the penalty.

Clothing: we’re pretty good at packing and using layers, heaviest layer worn on both flight days no matter what the weather is at our destination.

Purchases: I have travelled with the same foldable, light weight bag for 40 years for purchases made along the way. Sometimes I have to use it to bring home, sometimes I don’t need to, we can get the few light weight flat things we tend to buy in our carryon luggage. I have twice gotten German or Austrian down comforters or big pillows into the collapsible bag by sitting on it to get it zipped for the flight home. I’ve shipped home smallish PO supplied boxes of souvenirs, clothes and books a few times but not recently.

House things: we often have someone staying at our house when we are away but if we don’t, we turn the AC/heat to off or energy save mode, set a couple of light timers with smart plugs, lock the doors and go. I notify 2 close neighbors about our trips and they will notify us and get a key code from us if they need to get into our house for any reason.

It takes a bit of work to just walk away for weeks at a time but it’s been really rewarding!

EDIT: we’ve both gotten our hair cut several times in various countries about 3/4 of the way through a trip. Lots of hand motions and smiles helps. I learned the word for cowlick in Germany. It is the same word for guinea pig swirls— don’t remember the exact word but it was a conversation starter with the hairdresser many years ago.

Posted by
567 posts

We use online bill paying now, but in the past when we would be gone for about 6-8 weeks at a time, I would write out the checks and have the bills all ready toe mailed. Then I put stickies on each one with the date out was to be mailed and the friends looking after our home would mail them accordingly.

We never have our mail stopped. We have friends/neighbors that will collect it for us.

As for prescriptions, I get mine through Express Scripts so get a 90 day supply at a time.

As for groooming, I get my hair done the day before we leave and then an appointment the day after we return. You could take the Loreal spray on hair color though. That worked wonders when our salons were shut down early on in Covid.

As for purchases, I am a shopper, but do carryon only. That means I often will ship a box or two home. So far I have never had an issue.

For weather and clothing, layers are key for me. I can go 3 weeks in the winter in Europe with a carryon bag and not have it stuffed. Sometimes I will do laundry, but often times I don't need to. Now my clothing is small, so that makes a difference.

Posted by
8674 posts

Wow, so many responses so quickly! Not all of these questions apply to me specifically, but I thought would be helpful for others. My personal biggest concern is the mail. We do have a friend who has a key to our mailbox because he picked up our mail another time, who might be willing to travel the few blocks from his house to ours every few days. Or maybe we could forward our mail to him? Are you reading this dpl?

Our trip in a few months is 6 weeks long, but we also have a 10 week trip from late summer - fall. I don’t color my hair and can go that long without cutting it, but my hubby will definitely need a trim on the second trip. The first 6 weeks are in English speaking countries so maybe he can get a cut in London before we head to France.

Turning the water off is a concern for me. Our irrigation system is on a timer and if our yard isn’t watered during either of those trips the grass and plants will die. Hubby always mows our next door neighbor’s lawn when he does ours, so the neighbor can do it while we’re gone. We have a tankless water heater. We always turn the thermostat off at any time of year. Even during our very hot summers it doesn’t take long to cool the house down after we return home. I’ve never heard of covering houseplants with plastic. Interesting…

Keep these great suggestions coming!

Posted by
298 posts

6 weeks isn't that long TBH. Planning on a 4 month trip next year.

We have a good relationship with our neighbour and watch out for each other's houses when we know the other is away. I hold mail but yes have had the system fail too. Its got better the last few years.

I have no bills that come on paper in the mailbox - they all come via email and I deal with them as normal - the world has internet. I do tell my banks I'm travelling too. I also sometimes use a VPN which shows my location is in NZ - it can make things simpler when dealing with banks and similar.

My hair is long and can go months and is not coloured. My partners is short , thick and gets coloured. Its hard to get a man's hair cut that does a colour as well in some places - not sure what we'll do on the next trip - but it will be an adventure!

Prescriptions - we can can prescriptions filled in advance with proof of travel. Also get a list of generic names so that if we do need to get some overseas we know what to ask for.

We plan to see regular health appointments e.g. dentist, podiatrist - just before travel

Warm and cold isn't that hard - takes some planning - on occasion I've mailed clothes home once I'm done with the cold weather. We normally leave in cold weather for warm climate and have left a jacket with a friend if we have a lift to the airport - with instructions to return with the jacket when we get picked up at the end of the trip! Merino layers and packable down and waterproofs have resolved lots oft this issue.

We buy very little along the way- I have shipped stuff home in the past - or waited to the end to buy things. But generally don't bother anymore.

The big thing is that going for 6 weeks is NOT the same as going for 7 days - you need to pace yourself. I like to take a day "off" each week which has nothing scheduled, does not involve moving hotels and basically we mooch around, catch up on laundry and sleep/eat/drink/swim/ whatever you want to do. You will burn out if you plan a long trip the same as a short trip. For example I'm currently planning the first 8 days of our 4 month trip - its hectic - 2 locations we've never been to (Hawaii and San Francisco) and involves making bookings in advance because things sell out (Alcatraz, Pearl Harbour, reasonable hotels in Waikiki). I've got a full on itinerary planned - which involves long days, early starts and an overnight flight. But then I know we get on a cruise ship and go with the flow for 36 days until we get to Europe. By then we'll be up for some faster paced travel.

Posted by
298 posts

@Andrea - hair cuts in foreign languages - particularly for men are hilarious! I was with my brother (who is blond) in Turkey when he decided he wanted a hair cut (the Turkish men take great pride in the their hair). You need no language because you don't walk into a barbers for a pedicure - and the miming is easy. But when I came back he had almost caused a traffic jam in the street because everyone wanted to see his blonde hair being cut! Similar thing happened to a red-headed boyfriend in Egypt.

Posted by
8674 posts

“Was the airline selected for this Frankfurt trip Condor?”

Ha! No, we are flying United.

Posted by
8674 posts

Lizzie, I love your haircut story.

Posted by
761 posts

We're fortunate to have great neighbors and nearby close friends (including a retired Sheriffs Deputy), who routinely check on our house, mail, plants, etc. When we were unexpectedly gone for 4 months in late winter and early spring my friends arranged a work party that did all the winter yard clean up including pruning and edging the grass.

One new thing I learned about the mail is "Informed Delivery". You get a daily email with images of the mail you should be receiving. It's not foolproof; you occasionally get a "no image available" message, but it does provide some peace of mind concerning what you should be getting.

I have also pre-paid bills or written out the checks for things like car tabs and property tax and asked friends to mail at the appropriate time.

Posted by
8674 posts

Thanks for mentioning the USPS ‘informed delivery’ service. We’ve had that for a few years. You are correct that it doesn’t always include everything, but it’s still informative to get those daily emails.

Posted by
10953 posts

I'm a full time traveler so let me tell you what I do...

Mail.....I have a private mail box and all my mail is sent to that. Some of these places offer virtual mail where you are sent a photo of each piece of mail that comes in. It's also a good thing to have if you get packages delivered when you're not home.

Bills--all of my bills are paid automatically. They are sent to me or made available online, and then paid. I can monitor them online. (I don't have any "home" bills because I don't have a home."

Prescriptions--I had my doctors write 90 day prescriptions. This means I can take an extended trip up to 90 days without a problem. For longer trips, talk to your doctor and your insurance company about getting more pills. (Theoretically, if your doctor gives you a 90 day prescription with 3 refills, they are giving you a year's supply of that medication. You can get it all filled at once as long as your insurance company is okay with it. )

Grooming--I get a haircut when I need it. So far, I've been able to time it to be in places where they speak English but if not ask at your hotel. They may know some who speak some English.

One last tip......taking a multi month trip is not like taking a two week trip. You need to pace yourself. You can't run at the same speed you would on a 10 week trip as you would a 2 week trip. Plan some leisurely days.

Posted by
4633 posts

Andrea, I always have my mail held (have been doing this for 20 years or so). Every once in a while something slips through, but for the most part it has been reliable. I still have a neighbor stop by once a weel to walk through house, water plants, pick up any flyers left at the door, and check the mailbox. Since you can only hold for 30 days, you could just start the hold 2 weeks into your trip (so that you get the bundle on your return) and have the friend pick up once a week (assuming your mailbox can hold a week’s worth of mail).

Also, most insurance companies will allow a ”vacation override” for an early refill due to vacation. Contact them in advance.

Posted by
8195 posts

Andrea, if there’s no one nearby who can easily check on your house once or twice a week, you can always hire a petsitter to do that - you don’t have to have pets. They can also turn lights on/off, water plants, bring in mail, etc.

On our months long trips, we do much of what’s been suggested. In addition, I also cancel my cable tv service. If you get a newspaper delivered, cancel it.

Posted by
27 posts

@Andrea - When we turn off the water it is to the house not the exterior lines. Our sprinkler system still works. I do have a friend who stops by once a week to water plants. We have our mail held at our post office but I will probably have it picked up next time. We also turn down the furnace and set our lights on a timer. For our next trip, I want to get a few exterior cameras. We also have great neighbors who keep their eye on everything. I love the idea of getting my haircut somewhere else.

Posted by
1028 posts

I am so happy these are things I don't have to worry about. Currently, our younger, adult child is living with us. My husband will only travel for about 6 days only. When we do that, our son has to stay home. We have too many living things to care for to leave a (non) empty house behind. We have a greenhouse for rare and tropical plants that needs to be thermoregulated on a twice a day basis (except for spring and fall). We have an African Grey parrot that not only needs fed, watered, and covered up at night, she needs a lot of company and mental stimulation. Then of course are the 4 felines and one canine. And I can't forget about the half dozen tortoises....and the Koi pond.
So any consternation I had toward my husband for not wanting to travel is gone.

Posted by
2330 posts

I pay a neighborhood teen to keep an eye on the house: he picks up any stray flyers, newspapers (unsolicited variety) and any mail that slips through. In warmer months, he does some hand watering where the sprinklers don't quite do their jobs.

Bills: The bills arrive online and are all automatically paid.

Mail: if I'll be gone longer than 30 days, I'll either have it forwarded or have the neighbor teen pick up any mail at first and start the mail hold later. I do it that way so that the teen doesn't have to deal with the mail dump when the hold ends.... I'm back to do it.

Shoes: "What about shoes to span both conditions?"
On my recent climate spanning trip, I had to bring an extra pair of shoes. Fortunately sandals are small. I could have just bought some during the trip, but since I had a rental car instead of trains, I decided to just bring them along with the multi climate clothes and layers. It wasn't a carryon only trip.

Posted by
8195 posts

Forgot to say… I have a great hair stylist in Paris for you! Got my hair cut by her in Oct.

Posted by
159 posts

I will pick up and hold the mail but I get 50% of any money received and will read any magazines received. The rest goes into a box waiting your return.

Posted by
387 posts

We can't turn off our water because the pet sitter needs it for our dogs and parrot. The bathroom may also be needed considering she spends at least 90 minutes in total here each day. We turn off the shut off valves on the washing machine's heavy duty inlet hoses. The pet sitter knows how to turn them on if anything needs immediate washing. She makes the house look "lived in" by turning lights on and off, raising/lowering blinds and parking several times a day for approx. 30 minutes each time. She also waters my indoor plants and contacts my brother, sister and/or neighbor should anything seem amiss. We can't turn off the gas either because temperature swings may require heat. We've discovered that our dogs and parrot thrive better in our home with 3 visits from the pet sitter that they love compared to boarding them. The pet sitter does not cost more either. In a pinch she is available in an emergency too and has backup because the company has sufficient staff. It's worked out well for years. The pets are so calm when we get home.

All of my meds have a 90-day mail order option. My doctor will provide 90-day prescriptions even for Ambien.

I may be a senior but not I'm balding so I need to have my hair cut as short as possible before leaving which will last me for 6 weeks or so. It's much easier to deal with wash and go hair! It will need some combing after a month though.

I take care of the snow at my senior neighbor's home every winter and her daughter takes care of our front lawn when we travel. She loves doing yard work so we make a good tag team. This way my neighbor doesn't have to maintain a snow thrower. We don't ask her to deal with the back yard because the privacy fence hides it but I will have some work when I get home.

I doubt that carry on will work for me if I travel longer than 3 weeks. That's going to be an issue for me when we do our first back-to-back tours.

Posted by
8674 posts

Wow, these are all great tips! I’m going to be making a list of those that apply to our situation.

I knew you would be reading this, dpl. You’re welcome to read all the magazines and I hate to disappoint you but receiving money in the mail would be a miracle. But we would bring you a very nice gift. ;-)

Posted by
2330 posts

I'll add a variation on the question .... things that I've changed so as not to have to manage them while traveling.

Plants: a few years ago, I demoted all of my houseplants to be outdoor plants. Fortunately, in California, that's an option. They are all in protected areas, watered on drip. So I don't need anyone to come in to water them.

Conversely, then, I got a dog: she travels with me on some domestic road trips. For international travels, I take her to my Mom in Denver and fly from there. The dog has the best baby sitter everywhere; Mom gets a grand-dog; and I get a slightly shorter flight to Europe - amazing how much that 2.5 hour difference makes! Often the cost of flights is the same as if I had flown from home, and in any case the extra cost is justified by visits with my parents both before and after my trips.

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1307 posts

"I doubt that carry on will work for me if I travel longer than 3 weeks. That's going to be an issue for me when we do our first back-to-back tours."

For back-to-back tours just find a laundromat to use between tours. We did and it worked great.

Posted by
387 posts

For back-to-back tours just find a laundromat to use between tours. We did and it worked great.

Of course but I myself dislike spending time in laundromats. I'd rather be elsewhere after investing so much money and time on travel. I once dropped clothes off at a cleaners recommended by our tour guide. I liked the convenience but was rather disappointed with the results. Obviously I will need to do laundry myself because I can't imagine dealing with larger luggage.

Posted by
1307 posts

In the subject case of doing back-to-back tours you need a down day of low activity. We found a nice cafe near the laundromat where we could just sit back and enjoy a quiet hour.

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387 posts

For international travels, I take her to my Mom in Denver

We dog sit for our best friend during her overseas travel. She's got a gigantic wolfhound/standard poodle mix who is an absolutely perfect house guest. His only quirk is that he likes to put his paw on top of my hand while using the mouse. We have to dog proof the kitchen counters because he once ate a stick of butter at his own home :) .

Unfortunately she really can't return the favor because we have 3 20-lb. balls of energy (a miniature poodle, a Westie and a miniature long-haired dachshund). And....the severe macaw is a terror - her bite is crippling and her screams are deafening.

Posted by
3659 posts

You've gotten lots of good suggestions, but I can't resist adding my $.02.

Mail: This seems to be the hardest thing to manage for a lengthy trip due to the USPS's silly 4-week rule. We've done all the options people have mentioned. We live in an area with 2 groups of rural mailboxes and 2 of the "community" kind of mailboxes you describe. When I fill out the form, I always mark the box that says I'll pick up the mail when I get back. Note that you have 10 days to pick it up before they say they'll return everything to sender. That can effectively extend your hold from 4 to 5 weeks. And if you get stuck for some reason and can't get back on time, you can call the PO that's holding the mail and extend the hold. That happened to us in 2014. It helps that the guy who delivers our mail is the same one who's delivered it since we moved to our house in 2008. For a 6-week trip in 2016, he told me to get a hardcopy form, leave the return date blank and he'd handle the rest. I did and he did.

Bills: Everything is paid by auto-pay -- directly from my checking account, by debit card from the same account or by credit card. So far, there have never been any problems when I've been traveling.

Meds: We get all our recurring meds via mail in 90 day quantities. I'm always a little ahead on those. Our current provider is AllianceRX Walgreens Prime. So far I haven't had any issues with not having enough.

Packing: Your packing strategy sounds good. As for shoes, I wear the same kind no matter the weather, lace-up waterproof ankle boots. Being a life-long klutz, and being older, I can't afford a fall. Those kinds of boots are very comfortable and supportive for me and they've kept me from turning an ankle on many occasions. My current favorites are Keen Terradoras like these. I have 3 pairs in different colors, but I only take one which I wear all day, everyday. I wear Sockwell medium compression socks with them to help with circulation and stamina. I usually take 3 pair.

Beyond that, I travel carry-on only. I pack for a week, no matter how long the trip is or where I go, including where it's cold. I use a variety of methods for washing my clothes, but I prefer DIY in a laundromat. I find it fun to see how people handle this universal chore. My favorite laundromat experience involved the manager in Edinburgh who gave local kids a "wee biscuit" everyday when they got out of the school nearby. She also chastised the bigger kids who tried to sneak in and take a handful and made them put all but one back.

Grooming:
I do my fingers and toes myself, so mani-pedis are not needed. I stopped coloring my hair when it started getting gray. Hair cuts are a different story. I wear my hair shorter than many women. A good cut usually lasts 2 months or more for me. I have had my hair cut twice on trips. The first was in Moreton-in-Marsh. I simply didn't have time to get it cut before I left home. I was lucky that the pub owner where I stayed arranged for me to get a cut at the local salon before it closed the day I arrived. The second time was in Rome and it was planned in advance. The guy who did the cut did a great job, with the assistance of someone on his staff who could speak a little English. Not exactly grooming, but I like to indulge in a massage while on a trip.

Purchases: My major trip purchases are experiences, not things. If I do buy any touristy thing, it will be a refrigerator magnet. I also like to get jewelry and an occasional tee. The earrings, ring or occasional necklace are easy to pack. But, I have to limit myself to one tee only per trip. My most recent favorite is one from the Vasa museum in Stockholm.

Posted by
69 posts

Silas Marner, the mental image of the dog with his paw on your hand has made my day! We had a standard poodle who would have done the same thing if he were tall enough.

Posted by
387 posts

PHJ, I think "Gordy" knows how his "Mom" obtains his weekly box from chewy.com! His paw is bigger than my hand so I've made some rather odd mistakes. Otherwise he's so well behaved in general. We put a flimsy piece of cardboard at the dining room entrance and he waits patiently for us to finish eating. He could easily tap it and knock it over! He does however take the entire living room sofa....and he makes himself right at home. He's learned the hard way not to obey the macaw's command to "come here!"

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2069 posts

I don’t have any tips to add as the longest trip we have taken is one month. We are planning a World Cruise to kick off my husband’s retirement in 3 years, so I am taking notes as the world cruise is 3 1/2 months! I did enjoy reading the responses, especially about the wolfhound and the macaw.

Posted by
8674 posts

Thanks to all who have taken the time to post. This should be helpful to a lot of people.

Laundry - I use a carry on, no matter how long I travel. My spring trip may be an exception because I need to deliver some things to Germany at the beginning of the trip. My own packing won’t be any different than it would be in a carry on. We are past the days of trying to see too much in a short period for the most part. Once we leave Germany after 8 nights, mostly with family, we go to France. We have two I night stops, but other than that we have three 4 night stops one 5 night stop and two 1 week stops. At all except the two 1 night stops and one 4 night stop we will be in apartments with washers. With the exception of jeans, which can be worn multiple times between washes, everything can be sink washed if necessary.

Mail - Great idea to have someone collect the mail for a period of time before starting the 4 week mail hold. Thankfully a friend has agreed to deal with the mail for us. I think we will hire the teenager down the street to check our front porch daily for flyers.

Making the house look lived in - We only have one window on the front of the house. We already have a light on a timer in that seldom used room, because otherwise the house would always look vacant. Maybe we will put another light on a timer in the back of the house, though I don’t think anyone would notice. We have a security alarm system and a Ring doorbell that we can answer from anywhere, but we will also install cameras facing the front, side and backyards. My husband wants to do a wired system so they will still operate even if the wifi goes out. We are not prone to power outages here, though anything can happen. My husband’s pickup truck sits in the driveway, so there’s another sign of someone being home. We will have our next door neighbor mow the grass.

Grooming - I don’t get my nails done or color my hair, so that’s not a concern for me. I am intrigued about the possibility of getting my hair cut in Paris. Susan, we will have to talk about your hairdresser.

Posted by
3575 posts

Repeating something said above, nothing says "This house is empty!" as effectively as a sheet of clean snow in the driveway, or a furrow of snow that has been placed at the end of the driveway by a plow that has not been driven through. The snow doesn't even have to be cleared, just driven thru, to give the appearance that someone is home.

Our neighbors were caught out by this one, cleared the driveway before leaving for a month but a late plow pass to clean up the street left that furrow at the end of the driveway on a Thursday morning and they were robbed Saturday night (aside: they forgot to lock the side door to the house, also). They were adamant that the mail or the newspaper delivery stop orders led to the burglary, but I am sure it was the driveway snow since several houses were hit that weekend. I can picture a car at 3am crawling down every street checking out the driveway snow and then running around each house that looks vacant and trying the doors.

A last note: it shouldn't be a surprise but burglars don't wipe their feet or shut the patio door when leaving, even if it is 5 F / -15C.

Posted by
6513 posts

Two things I've installed that have paid off in peace of mind. One is a "nanny cam" in the main living area (Canary, Simplisafe, etc.,) which lets me know remotely, if someone is in the house. It sends an alert via phone. The other is a garage door opener that connects via wifi, and lets me know by phone app if the garage door is up or down, when, and lets me open and shut it remotely. For foreign travel you would need to have your phone on all the time, and by your bed, to hear the alert. So that may be an obstacle to some.

Posted by
2330 posts

My husband wants to do a wired system so they will still operate even if the wifi goes out.

As an interim solution, my Wyze cameras (and other brands) record to a local SIM card, even when the Wifi goes out. During a wifi outage, I can't view the camera footage through the app, but they continuously record and I can see the complete footage once the Wifi is restored. It doesn't solve every use case, but a very inexpensive solution that covers a lot.

Posted by
1248 posts

Packing Shoes- Take a good pair of booties, those have been my most used shoe in cold weather. I use ones that are water resistant and a good grip on the bottom, think wet cobblestone to slick museum floors. These are the brand I use and similar style and these have lasted me two trips over 5 years and are my daily work shoe (when I used to go to the office):
https://www.zappos.com/p/vionic-lois-black/product/9443603/color/3
Also take a good scarf, one that can be a blanket on the plane, extra warmth at the hotel and just for walking around. I LOVE the Lululemon Vinyasa Scarf , super versatile and packable. Most of my layering clothes come from Old Navy, they just have basic solid colored tops with V or scoop necklines that work really well if you are doing a capsule wardrobe for traveling.

Grooming- I highlight my hair (roots grow out natural and just blend) just 2x a year so I get it done right before a trip. For Nails I always get a set of gel nails, they last at least a month and look great, they can last longer or you can find a salon wherever you are to get them redone. My husband shaves his head and has just popped into a barber or salon to get it done (he does not bring his whole kit) when traveling.

Purchases- We have expandable suitcases to check in on the way home and can fit more stuff in. If needed we purchase a duffle bag, fill that with our dirty clothes to check in and put all our new goodies in our carry on.

We are fortunate (depending on how you look at it) to have adult children that live with us so no need to worry about the house!

Posted by
8195 posts

Silas Marner, love your post about Gordy!

Posted by
2396 posts

" Now my partner and I have a "you buy it you ship it" policy"

My new take on this is, we live in a connected global economy. Anything you see (well OK, most anything) you can buy on the internet when you get home, if you still want it.

We watch a vlogger called Nicki Positano and whenever my wife sees something she likes while Nicki's in a store, I always say "just get it on the internet." She does not like that answer.

Posted by
381 posts

Mail - [snip] What do you do with your mail if you’re on a long trip?

Bills - I have everything set up to pay automatically, but if you don’t, how do you manage your payments?

For trips between three weeks and three months, I pay someone I trust to have our mail forwarded to her. She reports to me on it once per week by email. This person is now retired, but used to work as a "virtual assistant." Such people take on all kinds of miscellaneous tasks for pay, and you can use that term to look up someone near you. I have always made sure to hire someone relatively local to me so that in case there's a problem I can use small claims court against them easily. And although I trust this person, I make sure no bank statements go to her. I don't want her knowing how much money we have or getting access to bank account numbers.

This system is an important backup for me in case we have a problem while traveling, like the time we were robbed and the credit card company would not send replacement cards overseas. Also in case we get something unexpected, like a jury duty notice or IRS audit letter. Ditto in case there's a bill that's wrong or confusing and we need someone back home to call the company about it. And finally, there are a few bills that don't get sent by email or within online banking and it's important to know about them.

As for our house, when we go away in winter we drain the water heater and the pipes, disconnect the washing machine hoses, turn off the water to the house, turn off the electric circuit for the refrigerator, fill the toilets, showers, sinks and dishwasher with RV antifreeze. We leave the heat on at 42 degrees. We have a long list that we use every time so it's a routine. All of our neighbors that we trust are over 65 and we don't dare ask them to check the house in winter because they'd have to get through ice and snow to get in. We just go through our list, go away and hope for the best. The only bad thing that ever happened was one year the propane for the house ran out and when we got home we had to replace a few pipes here and there that had gotten damaged. But since we'd turned off the water, no big deal.

We live in a very low-crime area with a lot of houses that are unoccupied in winter, so not plowing our driveway is not really an invitation to criminals. But that's something else to think about if you live in a higher-crime area where break-ins are common.

The key thing is to set up a system that gives you safety and peace of mind.

Posted by
3575 posts

Marcia: that’s an awfully thorough winterizing
and a pain to come home to. Just heating up the house will take a couple hours. Noting that refrigerators require more warmth to operate than 42 so good that you turn it off also.

Posted by
381 posts

Marcia: that’s an awfully thorough winterizing and a pain to come home to.

Tom, actually what I described is not painful at all to come back to. We have another detailed list of the coming-home steps to take, to turn the water back on, reload the water heater, reconnect the washing machine, clean the toilets of accumulated gunk, etc. The most painful thing to come back to has to do with winterizing the car! We have a terrible problem with mice getting inside the car and making a home there during the winter. They chew up the air filter and who knows what else in the heating system. So we put out mothballs above the dashboard and inside the engine compartment. It does help somewhat, but when we come home it takes weeks to get the mothball smell out by driving around with all the windows open.

Posted by
3053 posts

Marcia we did some reading about mice, wires and cars when our son’s city parked car with the soy based wiring coating (older Toyota Prius) had a major problem with mice. We read that cotton balls soaked with peppermint essential oil put under the hood and sprayed around the car will help deter mice. It might smell better than mothballs too!

Another thing we read, although not their issue, was to always leave the airflow vent in the closed position when the car is parked overnight and longer to keep mice from coming into the car’s interior through the air cabin filter. Sorry to go sideways on your post, Andrea ❤️

Posted by
4761 posts

I know it sounds a bit strange, but if you are thinking of moving to a new residence and taking extended trips, consider that aspect when you are looking for a new home. I moved into a small condo association of 4 ranch style duplexes (8 total units). We are small enough that the neighbors really look out for each other and we know each other. There is no issue in finding someone to "look out" for my place when I am gone.

Posted by
8674 posts

Mona, it’s no problem. I was hoping this post could help people everywhere when it comes to preparing for long trips. Some of these tips make me feel very fortunate to not have to deal with extreme winter weather. Even with the heat we get in the summertime our house is so energy efficient that we can go away without turning the air conditioner on.

Posted by
387 posts

Apartment living taught me long ago that I don't like shared walls or too many noisy neighbors or businesses nearby. I also need to have a certain amount of property for the pets and for gardening to really be happy. I do like having one neighbor who I described already.

We prefer the shoulder season for travel and seldom have any need or desire to travel during winter. In a real emergency our finished basement always maintains a livable if not perfectly comfortable temperature. The whole-house generator automatically kicks in during a power outage so A/C is always available. The generator communicates interactively with my HVAC company. The house is masonry with superb attic insulation and A/C is really not essential but pleasant at times.

The best solution for us has always been our pet nanny service.

Our pet nanny turns on the television in the front room to replicate our normal viewing patterns (Noir Alley, etc. on TCM). Our house appears unchanged to anyone driving or walking by. She also turns on the radio periodically because it's calming for the pets and can be heard from the front porch. As I mentioned before she raises and lowers blinds at the same time we normally would do so. Normally we ask the PO to hold the mail but the pet nanny would handle it as needed if we will be gone beyond 30 days.

Fortunately our normal vet is within a short walking distance. During our time away the nanny will share photos and video clips with us of the pets completely enjoying their time together and she even enjoys the "macaw of terror". The most hospitable pet retreats drive all of our pets to hysteria so I'm very happy when they seem blase upon our return.

She once had to contact my brother that someone knocked our roadside mailbox over and he came over to repair it.

Should the nanny have an emergency the company is able to cover for her. She seems happy to remain working for them and the benefits provided by the company. I'm very comfortable with the owner having been friends with her for over 20 years. I recommend developing a long term relationship with a company that provides pet nanny service. It's worked out so well. It can be essential if you are subject to occasional casual overtime or for any reason you can't be home.

I'd of course prefer that a relative or friend house sit and pet sit but that's not likely to happen.

Posted by
4938 posts

Roberto, thanks for the link about the USPS. We're going to be gone about 7 weeks, and the only thing I'm very concerned about is mail. My trusted neighbors have moved; they're still in the area, as is a trusted family member, but I think renting a post office box and having the mail forwarded there is the best idea.

The only other problem I've thought about is our estimated income tax payments will come due while we're gone, but I can pay those early. I'm pretty sure all our bills are autopay, except car and property insurance. I'll check the dates there.

Posted by
3140 posts

We are currently having our mail forwarded and I am not a fan. When I went back to our other address for two weeks, our Pest Control Svc told me that the post office returned our bill to them. We ordinarily have bills paid automatically from our checking account, but this company had recently made some billing changes.

Posted by
20802 posts

One source of potential pet sitters is a veterinarian's office. The vet techs sometimes do pet sitting on the side. In my case (in a rather high-cost area) the vet tech didn't charge more than a pet-sitting agency; an agency's fee will be higher than the amount actually received by its contract sitters. A vet tech can do thing like administer subcutaneous fluids to infirm pets. (Personally, I didn't start taking long trips until my last pet died because I didn't have anyone I could count on to spend an adequate amount of time with my cats.)

Posted by
2330 posts

estimated income tax payments will come due while we're gone, but I can pay those early

Perhaps this is what you meant, but you can also preschedule them to be paid according to your schedule. Even if your bank doesn't allow you to "push" the money to the IRS or your state on predefined dates, the IRS site allows you to preschedule "pulls" from your account. Perhaps your state website allows the same.

Posted by
4341 posts

I just skimmed your response, so this might have been mentioned already. We have the Ring doorbell camera which pings my husband’s phone if someone comes to our door or leaves a flyer, etc. We have the video option, so we can review if they left something at the door. We’ve had to notify a neighbor a couple of times when a package arrived early at our home while we were on vacation.

Also, we have interior cameras to be able to check the main rooms. We also have a couple of room’s lights on systems we can operate remotely. It’s good to change the time lights are going on/off to not be predictable.

If I was traveling for an extended time, I would probably take a small down-filled pillow similar to what Sarah Murdoch packs. I have taken one for work trips - good to be able to sleep well, and it smashes down to nothing to pack.

Posted by
76 posts

I was gone for 2 months when i hiked the Camino de Santiago a few yeas ago. Most of the suggestions are what I did too. But on Grooming--

I color my hair so I had it done the day before i left and brought a box of Miss Clairol type hair color with me for when I needed it--my hairdresser handled the fix-up when I returned. I had a mani-pedi in Logrono--i speak minimal Spanish so hand gestures and google translate helped. i had no room for my electric rollers so I brought those old fashioned pick sponge rollers--yep my friends all laughed at me but they worked. But for a longer visit in future, I'd probably just have a locally recommended hair salon handle all that.

Posted by
918 posts

I would add to have a quick look at your home insurance policy. In Canada at least, there is usually a clause that your home insurance is void if no one has been In the house for x days prior to a claimable event, often as little as 7 days. My neighbour and I always checked each other’s homes at least once a week when the other was away, and sent a photo and a text each time we did, so it would be time-stamped proof.

It’s a very common clause.

Posted by
8674 posts

Thanks Nelly, I never thought about that.

Posted by
387 posts

It appears that 30 days is a common criteria in homeowner's insurance for unoccupied homes but as Nelly advises definitely consult your policy. Note vacant homes are handled differently than unoccupied homes.

Here's some interesting information to read about homeowner's insurance and unoccupied/vacant homes:

https://www.valuepenguin.com/unoccupied-and-vacant-home-insurance

Our pet nanny periodically takes photos and videos with timestamps during her visits. It helps us feel content that the pets are happy and healthy. It's nice to know that I don't have to ask my neighbor or my siblings to bother with verifying occupancy.

Off topic but interesting: Few homeowner's policies cover sinkholes without riders! Homes have been swallowed by sinkholes in southeast MI.

Posted by
69 posts

We drive ourselves to our departing airports, all about 3 hours away. We always disconnect the car battery when we park. We once came back to a dead battery, once was enough.

Posted by
8674 posts

Wow, I’d sure hate to come back to that. We live 20 minutes or so from our airport. If we don’t get rides from someone we will just take Uber or Lyft. We were able to park for free there until my husband retired. Maybe he should find a part time job there, preferably with an airline so we get those perks as well. I suspect he wouldn’t go for that. Lol!

Posted by
8674 posts

I checked my homeowners insurance policy and there wasn’t anything about how long the house could be unlived in, so I called today to verify. The gentleman I spoke with had never heard of any limits for being gone so he checked. He said as long as we live in the house and are just gone traveling the house is still covered. Of course your policy may be different.

Posted by
4 posts

Andrea, I have used a house/pet/sitter many times for trips and that allows me to have a trusted person (read bios and reviews) watching my house for me. If interested, I live in your area and would be happy to provide info ( we are both part of "le Bande").

Posted by
8674 posts

btg95825, thanks for the suggestion. Since our homeowners policy doesn’t require someone to physically be in the house I think we will be fine with having a neighbor check our front porch daily to see if any fliers, etc. have been left. A neighbor has a key to the house and is one of the people on the contact list for our security alarm. We may add another neighbor as well. We have a ring doorbell that allows us to see people at our door. We have ‘answered’ the door from various countries.

Posted by
1043 posts

Bills: Almost every bill I have is either paid online through a bill pay system, automatic credit card or the bill is actually emailed to me. I hardly get any bills in snail mail anymore. Since I take an ipad with me I can pay bills online just like I do at home.

Meds: Most people have stated that almost all insurance plans will allow an additional refill for vacation. A couple rolls of antacids. Tylenol, a few band-aids and blister tape in case you do a lot of hiking. Take a new toothbrush.

Packing: I usually travel in the summer, so I don't have a lot of extra clothing.

Grooming: Shorter haircut just before I leave. Mustache trimmed almost down to nothing and I take a small battery powered trimmer. I am usually gone about 80 days. Nail trimmer.

Purchases: I rarely buy anything on trips. (maybe a couple tiny items) In todays world you can get almost anything shipped to you. Don't want an extra bag to carry around.

Other things: I bring a small device that can transfer my pictures from my camera disk to my ipad. I do this every night as a back up in case my camera gets lost or stolen. Its an older small pocket camera and doesn't have a very good upload feature.

I take extra small toothpaste tubes. I'm not interested in trial and error on items I have never used before.

Copies of all plans, travel documents, itinerary, tickets, driver's licenses, insurance cards, etc. etc. are scanned and emailed to myself and stored in a folder on my email account. This way I can access them from anywhere and do not have to carry a lot of paperwork or it is a backup.

I bring Glad bags, numerous sizes, packed inside each other and rolled up in the bottom of my back pack for taking food on hikes or just out for the day. I also start saving those tiny salt and pepper packages you can get at fast food places.

Make a list of everything you take and edit that list after each trip, adding and deleting items. Quickly you will have a standard list to use when preparing for a trip. I keep a large boot box where I store all "Europe" items like converters, leftover euros or anything that I would only use on a trip to Europe. That way you won't misplace anything when packing for your next trip. Good luck and enjoy your trips.

Posted by
8674 posts

@Susan, we will definitely be taking trips. Let’s get together to talk about our travel plans.