We’d gone for a week away. The smell, when we opened the front door, was horrifying. The number of flies was enough to blacken the sight. We were sure something or someone broke into the house, messed everything up, left the fridge opened, scattered trash around the house and died there.
We nearly turned our backs to leave again.
But, well, kids had school on Monday, Angelo had to work, and the dog was really happy to be home. So we braved it. We told the kids to wait on the porch while the grown-ups searched the house. It didn’t take long, maybe 3 minutes, to find the source of the smell: the dishwasher, slightly opened, loaded, unwashed, full of mold and whatever else there, rotten, disgusting, smelly, nearly alive.
Luckily, with 3 full cycles on heavy and a good clean up of the rubber parts, it was all as good as new.
If you like or plan on going on vacation, here’s a list of things you NEED to do before you leave.
1 – Do your dishes
If you read the story above, you know what I’m talking about. Wash every last cup or knife you have in your sink, or leave the dishwater running – MAKE SURE it’s running, though, or face the consequences. *evil laugh here
2 – Do your laundry
If you’re only going away for a weekend, you can probably skip it, but if you’re staying away for longer, do your laundry. That tiny food stain can become a permanent thing, or worse, the source of some kind of fungus life inside your house. Not fun.
3 – Clean your mailbox and find someone to collect your mail for you
Collect everything you received, put a ‘No Junk Mail’ sign, and ask someone to collect your mail every couple of days or so. If you have one nice neighbor, that’s enough and they won’t mind. You can even return the favor when they leave on vacation!
Nothing says ‘Empty house! Burglars welcome’ than a mailbox full to the brim.
4 – Close the windows, but not the curtains
It surely depends on where you live. In NZ, we closed our windows to stop bugs and rodents from entering the house but left the curtains open so sunlight came in every day. If you live in a more dangerous place, maybe closing the curtains is better. Your shot, but keep the windows closed and locked, for sure.
5 – Turn off boiler, electricity, whatever else have you
We used to have a boiler, which was a water tank that keeps water heated for when we want to use it. By keeping the water hot, it wasted loads of energy, so by turning this one thing off while we left for holidays, we saved huge dollars. If you can, turn everything off, take everything that can be taken out of the wall plugs, and save even more – all the while, helping the environment. Just make sure the fridge is on or empty! You really don’t want to get back to find all your stuff wasted.
6 – Find a way to keep your plants watered
You can ask a neighbor, pay a neighborhood kid to do it for you, hire a gardener, or even DIY with some plastic bottles, or a timed sprinkler. Just find a way to do it and come back to your lush garden. It was always sad to come back to find a lot of dead plants until we found a solution. Plus, it’s a clear sign that the house is empty.
7 – Dispose of any rubbish
This one is super important, the organic rubbish mostly but all rubbish counts. Take it to your city collection center if you must, but do it. Fly larvae roaming in your house and garden isn’t fun. Yuck!
8 – Activate roaming plans
If you’re going abroad, activate your roaming plan, know how much it charges, make sure you check your stuff. It’s not fun to realize that you can’t even check the map on your phone or let people know you’ve arrived because you can’t use data. Some mobile companies require that you activate your roaming plan while in your country of origin, so check it beforehand!
9 – Give your number to neighbors
Neighbors are such a blessing, you know? Find a few you can talk to a bit, you don’t really need to befriend them if you don’t want to. Ask them to watch your house while you’re away, and hand them your number so they can contact you in the case of something. We had an alarm that went off every time the power came back after a blackout. In case it went off, the closest neighbors had our number so they could reach us – and we could tell them the code if needed. One of our neighbors did everything for us, from collecting mail, watering the garden, taking our rubbish bags out, watching out for us, everything. It was amazing having good people around us. We also did the same for them when they were away.
10 – Lock up!
Obvious, of course. We used to lock everything and keep a hidden key somewhere, so someone could enter the house safely if needed. We never really needed it, but it was nice knowing that we had that. We used to change the hiding spot every now and then, so it went from the roof of inside the dog house, to under the back porch deck to the fence by the berry bush, to the shed. Easy places, but well hidden. Make sure all valuables are out of sight and go enjoy your holidays!
It may seem like a lot, but it’s really not. Most of this stuff people already do without realizing anyway. It’s just good to make sure everything is really done.
Just remember: the cleaner and tidier your house is when you leave, the cleaner and tidier it’ll be when you get back.
One extra thing for those going abroad: download maps, print screen them, draw them but have them on hand. That and all the passports, tickets, names, numbers, addresses, everything. Have all of them in a folder on your phone. It’ll be easier to find, even without any data or in case your phone goes wild.
Hope it helps! Do you have a ritual for when you’re going on a holiday? Tell us in the comments!