It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new holiday, with the sea, the sun or the sightseeing beckoning you and luring you away from your 9 to 5 and your greyscale life, but before you rush off into the sunset there are some things that need to be taken into consideration to make sure that your holiday is a good one and that your home and your belongings are still there when you get back.
In this article we look at the various aspects of preparing for an extended holiday.
These days, with the advent of social media, modern holidayers are advised to keep quiet about any long-term holidays so that potential thieves don’t use the information to target you. This is a very impractical way to live and to spend your holiday. It means you’ll have to avoid posting pictures from your chosen destination and will be keeping everything a secret, and holidays are not something that need to be kept a secret. Just make sure that if you do tell all of your Facebook friends, and if you do keep them updated, you profile isn’t public. It is advisable not to include too much personal information on your social media pages anyway.
Some people worry about telling anyone that they are leaving, scared that if their neighbors find out then others will and if others find out then opportunists will take advantage of it. The truth is that they’ll find out anyway, the fact that your curtains are not opening and closing and your car is not parked in the driveway will give that away, and if that doesn’t then the fact that they haven’t seen you since the day you loaded all those bags inside your trunk and headed for the highway wearing summer clothes and expectant smiles will certainly give you away.
You should make sure you have an alarm which can essentially guard your house when you’re gone, and you should also let someone close to you know that you are going on holiday, that way if anything does happen, and if anyone does break in and is chased away by the alarm, that person can lock up, reset the alarm and make sure your house is secured again. Alternatively, make sure that your alarm system is one that automatically contacts a security team or the police themselves, who will alert you to any problems. You should also let the person know where you are staying and what you intend to do, along with any contact numbers so that they can reach you in the event of an emergency.
Before you set the alarm and leave your house you should make sure that you turn off appliances that you won’t be using. You won’t be there to enjoy them so you might as well switch them off completely, don’t just put them in standby. As well as reducing the risk of fire or electrical damage you will also save a few pennies on your electricity bill. If you are leaving for a few weeks, particularly in the summer, you might also want to make sure that you cut your lawn just before you leave. Not only will a poorly maintained and ”untouched” lawn tell potential burglaries that no one is home, but it’ll stop your garden from turning into a rainforest by the time you get back.
If possible, you should try and get a lift to the airport and leave your car in the garage. You can rent a taxi or ask a friend, but whatever you do make sure that the same arrangements are made for when you return, so that you aren’t left waiting at the airport. If you don’t have a garage then you might as well take your car with you, leaving it on you driveway or parked outside your empty house will make it more of a target for thieves than if you left it at the airport.
The airport fees can be very expensive, but there are plenty of companies that will take your car from the airport and the take it to their base in the surrounding areas. They will look after it for you and many of them will pick you up when you land. These are fairly cheap and heavily recommended, but you should do your research in advance, as if anything happens to your car whilst it is in their possession then there may be nothing you can do. You will be covered in the event of an accident, but if they make a mess of the insides, getting mud on your carpets, or if they scratch the bodywork then it is your word against theirs as to whose fault it was. There are also countless cases of cowboy companies who don’t secure your car, and even those who treat it as their own whilst you are away, parking it outside their house. This is not what you want and defeats the purpose entirely, so make sure you check all references and reviews of any company that you intend to use.
You can take your pets on holiday with you, and many pet owners choose to do this, particularly with dogs. Cats can also go along for the ride, although it is not advised to take an animal on an extended flight. They don’t understand the process like you do and even with you there it might be a terrifying ordeal for them. Make sure the hotel you will be staying at accepts pets and make sure that they will have everything that your furry friend needs when they get there. You should also insure you pet with insurance that covers travel and foreign vet visitations, the only thing worse than being hit with a large doctor’s bill on holiday is being hit with a vet’s bill.
If you don’t want to take your pet away with you and can’t leave it with a friend or a family member, then look for an animal hotel. These places cater exclusively for dogs or cats and although they provide everything that you animal needs they are often very cheap. In the United Kingdom, for instance, even the most lavish cat hotel only costs around £10 a day for a cat, and this price can sometimes be £5. In the United States the prices are similar, depending on which state you’re in, and cost on average around $10 a day for a cat and more for a dog.
After you ensure that your pets are okay you’ll want to ensure that you’re prepared incase anything happens to you as well. The precautions you take depend on where you live, but regardless of where in the world you are you can buy travel insurance that will help you in the case of any eventuality. Obviously, this only applies if you actually leave the country, otherwise your regular insurance (or the hospitals themselves if you live in a country with free healthcare) will provide for you.
In Europe you may be better off than most as you can pick up a European Health Insurance Card. This entitles you to free healthcare wherever you are in Europe. So, if you are in the United Kingdom and travel to France, Spain, Greece or any other country within the EU, then you will be covered providing that you have this card. It does not work outside of the EU.
Travel insurance is usually very cheap and if you shop around you can find some for less than $10 a day. This will not only cover you in the eventuality of any health issues, but also if the flight is delayed, if your wallet is stolen and a number of other issues that may arise. It is simply not worth taking the risk and if you can’t afford to add travel insurance to your trip and are leaving for an extended time, then you should consider whether the trip is worth it at all. Something as simple as a lost passport or a minor injury could cost you a small fortune if you are not insured.
It goes without saying that you should book a hotel well in advance. If you live within driving distance of your destination, and are in the same country, then you can probably get away with leaving it late, because if your efforts fail you can just go home. If you’re travelling abroad though, book early. It is true that you can get a cheaper hotel the longer you leave it, but you take a big risk by doing so. One of the main things to consider that many people neglect is the location of the hotel. If you’re heading on a city break then you’ll want a hotel that is near the biggest and best destinations, and not one stuck on the outskirts or in the suburbs, requiring a long trek to get to where you want to go. Make sure you read up on the location, check the maps, plan your activities and you could save yourself a lot of money in travel expenses.
You should also read up how to get around the city, and whether they have effective bus, tram and train routes, or if they have an underground system. Wiki Travel is a good site to find all of this information.
And that’s it. It might sound like a lot, but once it’s done then you can kick back and relax, they’ll be no need to worry about anything when you’re away and you can be assured that when you return everything can go back to normal, as you return to your life and prepare for your next big getaway.