When I was younger, my mom always gave us a list of chores to do before we left town for an extended weekend. At the time, I didn't fully understand why my clothes needed to be put away or why all the dishes needed to be washed if we weren't going to be home, I just wanted to get to the hotel so I could jump in the pool. Luckily for me, my older brother is an absolute neat freak and he would get up early and finish most of the tasks on the checklist before I even got out of bed. Fast forward 20+ years, and I completely understand why my mom always made us complete that list of chores before we left town. Being older and slightly wiser than my 8-year old self, now I make sure to always do these 11 things before departing for my next adventure:
1. Hold all your mail: This takes less than 5 minutes to do and it’s an easy security measure. If you have mail from the last five days overflowing in your mailbox, that’s a good indication for potential burglars that you’re not home.
2. Mow your lawn/shovel your driveway: When you return home from a long trip, you’ll be glad your lawn doesn't look like a jungle. If it’s during the winter months and you have worry about snow, the same rule should apply. If there’s snow in the forecast, line up a neighborhood kid to shovel for you while you’re gone.
3. Do your laundry: When you get home from your trip, you will already have enough dirty laundry to wash. Don’t compound that work with a pile of dirty clothes that’s been sitting in the clothes basket for a week. Also, make sure you don’t leave wet clothes in your washer or dryer in order to avoid mildew and stinky clothes.
4. Clean your dirty dishes: You don’t want dirty dishes sitting in your sink or dishwasher that can grow mold, bacteria or just stink up your house while you’re gone. Run the dishwasher before you leave and put away all the dishes. Clean any dirty dishes by hand the morning you leave or have a breakfast bar instead of dirtying more dishes.
5. Get rid of your perishables: If you have leftovers in the refrigerator or milk that is about to spoil, get rid of them. Anything that can quickly grow mold while you're away, you'll want to remove and throw in the garbage.
6. Take out the garbage: It’s easy for your trash to create a pungent stench if you’re away for an extended period of time so make sure you take it to an outside trash bin.
7. Use the power of baking soda: Stagnant water can create a powerful odor. Avoid that problem by sprinkling baking soda in the toilet bowl and sink. You can also sprinkle some baking soda in the bottom of your trash bin to help with any unwanted smells.
8. Water your plants: This seems like a no brainer but if you have a black thumb like me, it can often slip your mind and your plants will be dead when you get home.
9. Turn out the lights: Before you leave, you can save a little money on your monthly electric bill by turning off the lights and unplugging any unnecessary electronics (toaster, coffee taker, computers, etc.) If you have timed lights to give the impression that you’re still home, make sure those devices are plugged in and working correctly.
10. Set your thermostat to an away temperature: This will also save you a little money on your electric bill. I usually like to set my thermostat in the upper 70s in the summer and the upper 50s in the winter. Many thermostats are now Wi-Fi enabled so you can change the temperature back to a comfortable setting before you return home.
11. Download podcasts/tv shows/movies: I’m not a huge reader so I like to down podcasts, tv shows or movies to my phone or tablet. Airport Wi-Fi is often unreliable and can take forever to download while draining your battery life. Downloading your items at home while charging your device alleviates all those issues.
After those 11 tasks are completed, you’re ready to pack and head out for your big adventure!