When heading to Disney for a *MAGICAL* vacation the last thing you want to worry about is your house while you are gone. Getting your house ready for a Disney vacation is just as important as booking flights and buying park tickets. No one wants the added stress of thinking you forgot something. By following these steps you won’t forget anything and your vacation will be stress free… at least when it comes to your house.
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As soon as you have settled on a date for your vacation, it’s time to set your plan in motion to ready your house for your absence. The initial time up to the 180th day is great for research. There are a couple areas which you might focus some well-placed attention to make sure you get the best deal and the best service.
The first area of research is animal kennels. Animals are just like a member of your family so you will want them in the safest and cleanest environment possible. I mean seriously, look at that face. How could you not want the best possible kennel for this cutie? However, you also don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for a “hoity-toity” kennel when it’s possible there are other kennels in your area with the same services charging half the price. This is the case in my town.
There are three kennels in the town I live in. One is run by the local vet. Needless to say, this one is pretty expensive. (Some areas of the country might find their $21.50 per day charge for VIP treatment cheap but for our area that’s pretty expensive.) However, it’s obviously the safest place kennel of the three. Another advantage of boarding with your local vet is they likely have the ability to take multiple types of animals beyond cats and dogs, such as rabbits, birds, ferrets and other “pocket pets”.
The other two kennels in town are run by individuals. The kennel we use is run by a wonderful retired couple. They have the same outside runs, private kennels and personal attention the vet has, yet they only charge $12 per day. This is a $66 savings for a week-long stay.
Another area of research, or at least checking, is a house sitter. The best case scenario is a family member or trusted neighbor who can pop in a few times while you are gone to make sure things are hunky-dory. If you don’t have neighbor or family member, you will have to seek out a paid house sitter. Paying for house sitters usually comes from two places: you can either pay a neighborhood teen to watch your house or you can consult service websites such as Angie’s List and Care.com.
Once your research is done, you are ready to start putting your plan into action. Breaking the plan down by time will make it much easier to digest.
- It’s time for all that research you did to pay off. The first order of business is to make a reservation for any pets needing to be kenneled. It is especially important to make the reservation early if you are vacationing during a busy time of year such as the holidays or spring break.
- Also using your recently acquired research you will either reserve or contact whoever will watch your house while you are gone. Don’t worry if you think this is too early to tell your neighbor or family member. We will be reminding them later.
- Make appointments for any necessary haircuts, doctors’ visits etc. prior to trip. These appointments should take place around 30 days prior to your trip. Ladies, a quick hint from someone who’s been there. DO NOT get your hair cut the day, or even a couple days, before your trip. You might have the most amazing stylist in the world but now you have to remember how to style your shorter hair again and we don’t want bad hair days will on vacation.
- If a friend or family member will be watching your house while you are gone, remind them of your exact travel dates.
- A great way to thwart potential thieves from stealing either your mail or robbing your home is by having your mail held at the post office. You can see if that service is available for your zip code and make your request by heading to the US Post Office website. Mail can be held for anywhere from 3 – 30 days so any Disney vacation should be covered.
- Similar to having your mail held, if you have newspaper delivery you should have that service stopped as well.
- If you have an alarm company call then to tell them, you will be on vacation.
- Over the next few days, pick a few rooms a night to clean. There is nothing better than returning to a clean house. This should include getting all your laundry done.
- Check your upcoming bills to find those bills due while you are gone and maybe even those due within the first few days after you return. Nobody wants to pay bills immediately after returning home from vacation.
- Remind neighbor/family member who is watching your house. This is also a good time to go over any special instructions for your house or instructions for animals which will be remaining in your home.
- Make sure to return any rented/borrowed items such as RedBox movies and library books.
- As you continue cleaning your house to prepare for your departure, make sure to clean out the refrigerator of non-perishable food which will expire before you return. This includes items like meats, fruits and vegetables, sauces and leftovers.
- Just like inside your home, make sure the outside of your home is neat and tidy as well. These duties differ depending on the time of year. You might need to mow the lawn, rake leaves or even secure outdoor furniture.
Day Before Departure
- More cleaning duties, YUCK! This time you need to take out all trash from the house and take trash can to curb. If trash day has recently passed, add taking the trash to the curb to the list for whoever if watching your house.
- Along the lines of protecting your house from thieves, put a few lights in your home on timers.
- Give neighbor/family member who is watching your house the key. Also give them your vacation contact info and any additional instructions.
- Wash any dishes and pans used for dinner and put them away. Also make sure the dishwasher is emptied.
- Give your pets a big hug and a kiss then take them to the kennel if you are leaving early.
Morning of Departure
- • If you made breakfast, hand wash the dishes you used and put them away.
- Adjust your thermostat. The prevailing wisdom is to set the thermostat to 80° during the summer months and 50° during the winter months. If you have any animal which will be remaining in the home such as a cat, you can adjust these temps for their comfort.
- Lock all windows and doors around the home including basement and second story windows. (Yes, thieves do know how to use a ladder and love that most people don’t lock second story windows.)
- Turn all the lights off except those you plugged into timers last night.
- Unplug unnecessary appliances and electronics. Even when some appliances and electronics are off they are still pulling electricity. By unplugging them you are not only reducing your electric bill you could also be saving it from a power surge. If there are any electronics which must stay plugged in, make sure they are plugged into surge protectors.
- Set water heater to its vacation setting.
- Close all drapes.
- Set any in-home security device you have.
- Lock your doors as you leave.
- If you have room in your garage bring in any cars you typically park outside.
- Close your garage door.
If you have done all these things, you will have the *MAGICAL* Disney vacation you have always dreamed of with no worry about how things are going at home.
Sue Nowicki is an alumna of the Disney Parks Moms Panel. She is a recovering team mom who is used to splitting her time between planning her next Walt Disney World vacation and being team mom to ten high-energy volleyball players where she fills the roles of secretary, navigator, head cheerleader, treasurer, athletic trainer and team psychologist. You can follow her on Twitter @MQPodcast.
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