It is important to prep our home for a long term trip away. Below are steps we find important to keep our home in great shape.
Marcy and I are not full time RVers. … at this time. Our plan is to be away from home approximately six months out of each year. That means our base (home) is vacant for the other six months or so. When planning for an extended trip out of town, most of us concentrate on getting our RV packed and ready for our time away on the adventure. But it’s equally important to prepare our “bricks & sticks” home before we leave. We did a bit of research and talked to our fellow RVers. What we found sounded overwhelming but necessary. Here are some tips we found to prep home for a long term trip ready our home before going away on vacation. We live in Florida and as such, our tips will be tilted towards the “reverse snowbird” or the Florida Go Away Bird.
Prep Our Home for a Long TErm Trip
First, we had to figure out a way to pay our bills while away from the mailbox for a long term trip. With today’s online technology that task is fairly simple. Many of the businesses that bill you now have secure online payment options. We also use bill pay options provided by our banks. With bill pay you can pay anyone that has an address. We also use Zelle® to pay and receive money. Zelle® is a fast way to send and receive money with the people you know and trust.
That brings us to that mailbox thing again. A mailbox is an antiquated means of receiving correspondence, bills, magazines and such (we don’t know anyone who writes letters nowadays). It is kinda like its name; some sort of box or container on or near our home that someone, usually a person called a mailman puts mail. Some people actually have a mailbox, called a Post Office Box, located miles from their homes. We wonder why they do that, hmmm? Who would have thought? I digress. Anyway our prediction is that this means of mail delivery will go the way of the pony express very soon. We no longer get newspaper delivery and opt for online access for that too. We could go on more about this, but we won’t get on our soapbox. … at least not right now.
To circumvent this outdated way of receiving bills and other paper things we use online resources if available. We know that does not work for everything, so we volunteered our son to become our mail service. We presently use temporary USPS Mail Forwardingand forward our mail to him. The minimum length for filing a temporary change-of-address is 15 days. The initial forwarding period is restricted to 6 months but can be extended up to 1 year. Our son gets our mail and peruses for important stuff and then copies or scans and sends to us at some secret outpost somewhere. There are other services available so just search the internet for RV mail forwarding and you see 58,400,000 opportunities to view.
Provide an “RV float plan” *. When we used to boat, it was imperative to let folks know our plan and contact information. We do the same for our long term journey. We also keep in touch with family and friends regularly. We use www.RVTripWizzard.com which allows us to download a spreadsheet of our planned route and campgrounds. This spreadsheet is easy to update with additional information.
* An RV float plan is an overview of an RV journey that can give family and friends a head start in looking for an RVer if he or she fails to reach his or her destination.
A float plan document should include:
- Description of the RV
- Number of persons and pets traveling
- Destination, including the general route to be taken
- Contact information
- Timeframe of the outing
Preparing the Home
We have a relative or friend check our home periodically. They can check for any abnormalities and alert us (remember the “float plan”?). Everyone has a mobile phone these days so contacting us is easy. They can text photos of any issues too.
We live in a community with an active monitored entry gate. We think it would be wise to alert the guards that you’ll be away and provide a list of folks allowed at our residence.
Some folks turn off the main water supply to their home to ward off possible flooding caused by a burst pipe or other plumbing failure. We don’t turn off the main but turn off the hot-and-cold water valves on the washing machine hoses. That’ll prevent flooding should the hoses burst while away. Our insurance company really gets peeved when we turn our home into a swimming pool. We like to keep our timer-controlled sprinkler system operating while were gone so we don’t return to a wasteland.
We make our home appear occupied while were gone by using smart WIFI bulbs and WIFI electric shades on timers. These too can be controlled from anywhere.
We have WIFI security cameras that we can monitor from, you guessed it, anywhere. Again, as long as we have internet access.
We have an on-demand water heater so there is no need to turn it off. I can turn the heat down, however. That would be a deterrent when the party goers in our home jump in the shower. We can hear the screaming now.
We will unplug any electrical devices that we don’t want on. For our televisions, computers, sound systems, and other electronics that are plugged directly into the wall, we’ll pull the plugs in case a power surge happens while away. Unplugging electronics can also save you some coin. All of these electronics are drawing power even when they’re not in use. Plus, that vampire voltage adds up. Kinda like Dracula. The Department of Energy estimates that the average U.S. family spends over $100 annually to power devices that are turned off or in standby mode.
Clean! What is the first thing you notice when you return from a long trip? The home smells. In the large majority of cases, the reason for the empty home smell will simply be lack of airflow through the property. Dirty things will stink too.
Clean more! If the home has been left for a number of days, weeks or months, with all the doors and windows locked up, then this will create a stale scent. Older furniture and furnishings (such as carpet) and uncleaned spaces can add to this odor. So, we pay special attention to this.
We’ll clean out the fridge. We’ll put as much useful food on the RV that will fit or give it away. We’ll throw away food that will expire while were gone. We clean up any mess and wipe down the shelves. If we don’t do that, we’ll return to a horrible smell. Remember, when our food’s forgotten, our home smells rotten. But what you might not realize is that some foods can absolutely ruin your refrigerator when they go bad. We’re talking about smells so powerful that they’ll forever foul our fridge, leaving inextricable odors that stick around until the day you finally junk it.
Clean even more! It’s also critical that we wash our dishes, empty our coffee pot, and take out the trash before we leave. Just imagine what our kitchen trash will smell like after a month or six of warm summer air. Whoo-wee! On the topic of garbage, we’ll arrange to have our garbage cans taken to the street. Thank you helpful neighbors!
We’ll clean the garbage disposal by running a half-cup of vinegar and water in it. Some folks also recommend putting a little baking soda in sink drains and toilets to further avoid the stagnant water stink.
We’ll clean and vacuum the home.
We’ll wrap the toilet bowls in saran wrap to prevent sewer fumes from entering our home. We’ll be sure Just to put a big black X on the saran wrap to prevent an accident.
We’ll put drain stoppers on all the sink drains to alleviate dry drain. Dry drain sounds like a physical condition, but it is much worse. When dry drain happens, the sludge, slime and all the other debris inside the drainpipes also dry out. This can cause a clogged sewer line or drain and the smell of sewage wafting out of the drains. Ain’t nothing better, right? Remember we live in Florida, and we don’t want any cockroaches the size of small pets or boa constrictors or gators making our home their home. It’s really inconvenient to have to call Rocky Jim Jr to take care of that horrible situation.
We’ll take pictures to share with our family and friends. Not. Naturally you might think taking pictures is what you do once you’re on the road and exploring new places. While this is certainly true, we also should take pictures of our home and possessions prior to leaving. In case of a fire, flood, or other disaster, these photographs will prove what you had, and in what overall condition it was in. While you will hopefully not need these images, having evidence of this information can make or break travel plans.
June through November is hurricane season in Florida. We put away the
outdoor furniture and anything that can blow away including some plants and some of the yard art away. We don’t want them blowing into the next-door neighbor’s home or into the next county at the speed of a bullet.
Our storage procedure for our vehicle is a bit different. Tesla has a great app that allows us to do multiple functionss while we are away. We have a Tesla Model 3. It is recommended that we keep our car at a 30 to 50 percent state of charge while storing it, that we open the car and letting the interior breathe from time to time (hopefully there’s no old food or anything else suspect inside from the party!), and that we put extra air in our tires to alleviate flat spots. Our other vehicle, Jeep Grand Cherokee will be towed behind the coach so that we have transportation once we arrive to our destinations.
What goes up must go down or in our case, what leaves must come back.
Remember all of our electronic gadgets? A day before we return, we will lower the air conditioner temperature, turn on the Neato vacuum cleaner, set the lights for our arrival. Ah technology! We’ll alert the folks that watched and took care of our home so we could take this fantastic journey.
Since we took the time to prep our home for a long term trip, we feel confident that our home will be taken care of!
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