Returning home after a long vacation can be a little jarring. In addition to checking the condition of your home, turning back on utilities and other services, and simply restocking your fridge, there are a lot of other steps that need to be taken in order to get your life back on track. Here are some of the essential tasks to attend to after returning from a long vacation.
Turning on Your Mail
Unless this is your first time returning from a long vacation (think several weeks to a few months), you will probably already know that retrieving your mail is one of the first things you should do.
If your mail was being held by USPS, your letter-carrier will deliver your mail, assuming you specified an end date when you first instated the hold, be sure to be home when the delivery comes. If some of the mail can’t fit in your mailbox, it’ll end up back at the post office for pickup.
If you do need to pick up your mail it should be waiting for you at your hometown’s post office. Don’t be surprised if the total weight of the parcels is heavier than a punching bag. For this reason, you should bring two or three large plastic tote bags to help you carry the mail across multiple trips and avoid injury. This is also good advice if a family member or friend was picking up your mail for you and you need to collect it from their home.
If your vacation ended sooner than planned, notify the post office that you want to lift the hold from your mail delivery. You can do this by stopping in at your town’s post office and providing identification (e.g., a driver’s license), or by visiting holdmail.usps.com/holdmail and lifting the hold electronically.
Turning on Other Services
Mail delivery is only one of the many services you will need to restart when you return home from a long vacation. Here is a list of other services and memberships you should contact after returning home:
- Your alarm company (if you have one) to notify them that you’ve returned
- Privately owned delivery services such as UPS and FedEx
- Gym and other club memberships whose dues you may have put a hold on
- Utility services such as phone and cable
If you also turned off your water to avoid potential leakage problems, you’ll probably want to have a plumber turn it back on. They’ll be able to check for pipe or hose damage that could have occurred while you were away.
Checking Your Home’s Condition
If you spent your vacation enjoying the warmth of a more tropical location, it can be easy to forget that your home may have had to endure the bitter cold of winter. Therefore, you should inspect your home for weather-related damage.
And if your home has been vacant for more than a few weeks, you should take care of some household maintenance once you return. Be sure to check:
- The AC and heating vents. The screens and filters on these vents can become incredibly dirty and hazardous to your health if they’re not cleaned. Be sure to check the screens and filters and clean or replace them as necessary.
- The ceiling fans. The tops of ceiling fans can collect a serious amount of dust that will go unseen—that is, until you turn them on. At that point, this dust will be spread throughout the room and can cause respiratory issues and allergic reactions. Clean those blades before the weather starts to get to warm.
- That strange smell. Chances are that your home will smell much different than you remember. Remember, it’s been locked up for weeks or months, so you shouldn’t be surprised if it’s a little musty. Baking cookies or making one of your favorite meals will help to get your house smelling like your home again.
Checking Your Home for Unwanted Entry
It may be unnerving to think about, but burglars will target homes that they know are unoccupied. As soon as possible, check your home for:
- unlocked entry doors and windows
- markings on your door frame around the lock
- window screens that have been tampered with
- missing spare keys
If you notice any of these signs you should leave your house and contact the police immediately.
In addition to getting your home in working order, you’ll also need to check your automobile if it hasn’t been used in some time. Getting a car up and running after it’s been idle can be a challenge. One of the first places to check for trouble is the battery. If the car isn’t starting, you may need to charge the battery, or possibly replace it.
In addition to getting your car road-ready again, you’ll want to make sure it’s fully insured for its first drive out. If you’re a Hartford customer, go online to update your mailing address if it was changed to your temporary vacation location, add any potential drivers back on to your policy and pay your bill. And be sure to restart coverages that you may have suspended. Finally, check out The Hartford’s iPhone or Android app for up-to-date policy documents.
If you have seasonal vehicles such as RVs and golf carts, there are steps you should take before you store or use these vehicles.
Storing Your RV
If you’re storing your RV for the summer, you’ll need to determine where it will be garaged. Personal property, RV parks and storage lots are all great options. Storage lots tend to be the least expensive option but vary in the protection that they offer. Regardless of where you store your RV, you will want to make sure that it is protected from rodents by:
- removing all food from the RV
- placing mothballs in areas where rodents can enter
- blocking off any small entranceways with expanding foam
You will also want to add a stabilizer to the fuel and to close all window shades to prevent sun damage to the interior fabrics. Lastly, make sure to update your RV insurance. This might mean suspending certain coverages while the RV is stored.
Using Your Golf Cart
If you have a golf cart that you use in the warmer months, there are a few items you should inspect before teeing off. Here’s a quick list to help you get started:
- Make sure that the tire pressure is correct as fluctuations in temperature can drastically alter it.
- Inspect the engine and wiring for signs of rodents, which could cause damage to fuel lines and electronics.
- Clean out any fuel and fluids that were left in engine without a stabilizing agent over the winter months.
- Contact your insurance provider to make sure that the insurance policy for your golf cart is activated.
Returning home after a vacation should be relaxing experience. Even though you may not be lounging on the beach at your favorite travel spot, you should feel a great amount of relief and comfort when you return to your home. Follow these tips to help ensure that your transition from vacation spot to homestead is a smooth one.