Vacation season is upon us! While you're packing your stuff and stocking up on suntan lotion, don't forget these basic tips to ensure a happy trip for your family and a safe outcome for your vehicle and home.
HOW SHOULD I PREPARE MY AUTOMOBILE?
If you're going to be on the road for long periods, make sure your car is in the best possible shape. Check tire pressure verify your tires are properly inflated, and make sure you have enough engine coolant and are up to date on your oil changes. Consider seeking a mechanic for a multi-point inspection that addresses suspension, brakes, air filters, transmission and power steering fluids, coolant, tires, belts and hoses.
Equip your car with an emergency kit that includes first aid supplies, battery jumper cables, shovel, blanket, flashlight, flares, mobile phone battery charger, repair tools, bottled water and high-energy snacks.
HOW CAN I KEEP MY HOME SAFE?
The highest numbers of break-ins occur during summer, and your home is particularly vulnerable when you're away. Take these steps to ensure safety:
– Avoid sharing vacation details on social media until after you're returned.
– Ask a trusted neighbor to collect your mail and newspapers, and to keep an eye on the property.
– Trim brush and landscaping located near your house to minimize the chances of them concealing an intruder.
– Consider timed exterior lights or motion lights to activate when they detect movement nearby. If you're using a house sitter, ask her or him to vary which lights are on inside.
– If you have a security system, make sure the company's call list is up to date. Test any essential systems ahead of time, such as security cameras you can view from your phone.
WHAT SHOULD I DO TO TAKE CARE OF MYSELF?
Details matter when it comes to self-care. If you're on any medications, keep a copy of your prescription and a sufficient supply of medication for the journey.
Review your medical coverage to determine if you need travel insurance. If you're going overseas, check with the website for the Centers for Disease Control for a list of recommended vaccinations for your destination.
Even though you're on vacation, don't take a break from healthy habits. Try to get in 30 minutes of exercise each day, and don't overindulge in food and alcohol.
WHAT KIND OF PROFESSIONALS CAN HELP ME?
If you have pets at home and don't want a full-time house sitter, a pet sitter can check in on them daily for a reasonable fee. Pet sitters can often handle tasks like picking up your mail, turning lights off and on, and generally keeping an eye out once a day for any suspicious activity.
And although you can do a lot of travel planning yourself online, don't underestimate the value of a travel agent. Professional agents possess a lot of useful knowledge about the best deals, and they're experienced about coordinating complicated logistics. And perhaps most importantly of all, they're a valuable resource when things go wrong and you need bailed out of a tight situation.
Paul F.P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie's List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.