My Top-10 pre-holiday checklist

I was lucky to be able to take a two-week holiday over Christmas and New Year this year; between ending one job and beginning the new one but it was just the right length of time to be able to enjoy being together as a family both at home as well as squeezing in two mini-breaks out of Auckland, exploring, exploring and exploring some more.

It got me thinking about all the things to consider taking care of in preparation of being away from home, so although some of the points I share below may be more relevant if going on a longer vacation, it’s a great place to start to avoid last minute panic or completely forgetting all-important tasks.

  1. Re-direct your mail:
    New Zealand Post offers a great service where you can redirect your mail, or they can hold onto your mail until you return. There is a fee for the service and you have to schedule it with them in advance, supplying “from” and “to” dates, i.e. the last date for mail delivery and the first date you want the service to be re-instated, but it’s well worth it, knowing that your mail box won’t be overflowing, which is one of the most obvious clues to would-be thieves that there isn’t anyone at home.
  2. Junk mail and newspapers:
    Sadly, many of us can’t avoid receiving junk mail. It mysteriously materialises in the mail box. In our home, once cleared, it goes straight into the recycle bin. Can’t begin to imagine the number of trees used in this useless cycle of trash, but I’ve given up fighting it and now accept that I’m doing my bit to recycle. Ask a neighbour to clear the junk mail while you’re away. Besides the obvious point of notifying would-be thieves you’re not at home, it often ends up blowing around the neighbourhood creating a mess.
  3. Garden services:
    Arrange with your garden service to continue taking care of your property while you are away, or if you normally mow the lawns yourself, perhaps enlist the help of a garden service if you’re going to be away for a while. That way it keeps everything neat and tidy so you don’t get back to a jungle.
  4. DON’T blab on Social Media:
    OK, so we’ve all done it. We’re excited to be planning a trip and we’ve all seen the family selfies taken in the car as we set off to the airport or on our road-trip. But think about it. Honestly? It’s a really silly thing to do notifying everyone and anyone that you will be away. Even though you trust your friends, people you don’t know very well or even at all might get ideas about visiting your home. Just use common sense. Share your memories once you’re back or a random photo now and then, but take care who you tell and how that you will be away for any extended periods of time. Unless of course you have arranged a house-sitter so there will still be someone coming and going at home while you aren’t there.
  5. Place subscriptions on hold where possible:
    Subscribed services, like satellite, cable, newspaper deliveries, etc. can often be placed on hold if you plan to be away for a few weeks or more. Money saved on these services can be enjoyed during your holiday instead of paying for something you won’t be using.
  6. Insurance:
    A MUST for any traveler. Update your insurance before you travel as well as take out specific travel insurance. I find that letting our insurance provider know that we may be leaving a car at the airport is also a good idea as sometimes your policy fine print doesn’t cover the vehicle unless it is locked up in your garage and by notifying them, you ensure continuous coverage. Travel Insurance came in very handy for us a number of years ago when we went overseas and my little man, who was 3 at the time, was bitten in the face by a friend’s pet Jack Russell. As traumatic as it all was, our travel insurance took care of everything, even continuous care for his ongoing treatment once we returned home. Invaluable!
  7. Travel wallets:
    By this I mean a folder or plastic envelope that either clips or zips closed. I always travel overseas with one of these. That way I know our passports, itineraries, tickets, copies of travel insurance, emergency contacts, etc. are all together in one place. One person is tasked with carrying it, or the bag with it inside so we know where it is at all times. The feeling of arriving at the airport and being about to check-in and having to do the pat-your-pockets-dance to find each of your travel documents is not only a panic-filled waste of time, but annoying for other travelers waiting in the queue behind you who might have been more organised.
  8. Preparing the car for a road-trip:
    As a child, we did many road trips around South Africa and my Dad always filled the fuel tank up the day/evening before our scheduled departure. My husband is exactly the same. He prepares the car the day before by checking tyre pressure, filling the fuel tank, checking engine oil, etc. In the week’s prior to the trip, he always has it serviced or checked over so he is confident that we won’t have any unexpected issues along the way. Look, problems may still arise, but at least we aren’t driving on a wing and a prayer.
  9. Pet sitters or kitty/doggy hotels:
    You know your pets best. If you think keeping them at home and having someone come in daily to walk, feed and play with them for a while will work, then save yourself some money and make the necessary arrangements with a family friend or kind neighbour. If you can afford it and your pets are sociable and don’t mind being in new environments, book them into a Cattery or kennel. If you aren’t sure of how to go about selecting one, I suggest the following:
    – Check with your vet to see if they have a preferred cattery/kennel.
    – The vet may offer these services themselves.
    – Make a list of local sites and take the time to visit them.
    – Ask questions, don’t be shy. You wouldn’t palm your child off on a stranger so why do it to your pets?
    – Most places will want your pet’s injections to be up to date so allow time and money to schedule this so it isn’t a last minute issue.You don’t want to have saved up for a trip of a lifetime only to spend it worrying about your pets.
  10. Tell a trusted friend or family member your travel plans:
    Someone should know where your are and how to contact you if there is a problem with a loved one or your home. Give them a copy of your itinerary and contact numbers, as well as details about your travel insurance in the event that they need to do something for you in the event that you can’t.

With the above 10 items all taken care of, you have every reason to kick up your heels, relax and enjoy your holiday.


New Year, New Beginnings

What will you do differently this year? Do you set New Year Resolutions? No? Me neither, because with as much enthusiasm as one can muster, they normally last a couple of weeks if that and peter out once the year gets going. But there are a few things I want to focus on this year and I’d like to share them with you. Perhaps you’ll have your own to add or some of these might help you, but I plan on coming back to read through these suggestions often to remind me of my goals for 2017.

Yesterday was a quiet day. Being the first day of the year and after having a relatively late night watching the fireworks in the local village from our front deck, even the neighbourhood was quiet. We decided to use the time to begin sprucing up a few of the rooms in our home that weren’t included in the renovation of 2015. So out came the paint brushes, ladders and ground sheets. I realise we could have given ourselves a day to relax and welcome in the new year, but not known for sitting still for too long, we were off to a flying start. Continue reading