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Pre-travel things

Drakecula

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I've been overseas a few times, but never for as long as we're about to embark upon (7 weeks and a bit). Other more seasoned travellers - what do you do before you go away?

I've got friends lined up to collect our mail and take bins in/out so that's one thing sorted. I was also planning on giving the house a good clean before we went so we don't come home to mess. I'm also making sure to print out copies of confirmations and things, and I'll make sure our credit cards are sorted for overseas travel.

Should I take this opportunity to completely empty out the fridge and freezer and turn it off?
Do you set automatic lights to come on so it looks like people are still home?

I like to think I'm pretty organised, but I'm sure there's a tip out there that I can incorporate into my preparations.
 

get me outta here

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Freezer should be fine, I leave it on with something precooked to eat on return. (Anything fresh gets taken off site and put in a bin elsewhere). Set up a couple of timer lights that show activity without it being obvious that no one is home if people try to peer in. Good idea to tidy up and clean it’s a bit depressing to come back to a disheveled house. Maybe turn the water heater down to something not so energy using.
 

vetrade

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Check which bills like gas, electricity, water rates & car rego will fall due while you are away and pre-pay as many you can so that you can forget about them.
Take a copy of your travel insurance details, passports, driver lience etc. because printing them while OS is never convenient. You can have these on your laptop / phone but I like to have hard copies too.
If you're on prescription meds, get a letter from your GP.
Cancel paper delivery.
Download any apps you might want OS to iPhone
Lodge your itinerary with Smarttraveller (DFAT)
Although some credit cards companies don't require it, I like to notify banks of which countries we will be visiting to minimise the risk of transactions being deemed suspicious and the card blocked. Be aware that some banks send one time pins via phone to confirm transactions, so if you don't have readily available phone reception while you're OS they might deny legitimate payments.
Pre-load debit card/s and road test your ATM pins
Double/triple check that you have charge cables for each one of your electricals and power point adapters
Switch your iPhone to international roaming before you leave Oz.
Email a copy of your itinerary (dates, places, hotels etc) to your next of kin
 

tdimdad

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I usually put the mail on hold. That service, in fact, works surprisingly well.

Having a photo of the passport name page stored on a cloud drive and then synced on my phone has once kept me going when I was not able to produce the physical passport on spot.

Offline maps on the phone are also great. My favourite is OSMand app which allows you to download maps specific to the country or area you are visiting. Plus those maps are often more detailed than Google Maps (OSM has many walk paths / trails, etc marked, too).

In many bigger cities, Google Maps navigation with 'transport' as the selected mode works beautifully but will require data, i.e. roaming or a local data plan.
 

Denali

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I make things and put them in the freezer for when we return, like lasagna ect, so for the first few nights I dont have to think about cooking.

If time allows on the day of departure, I strip the bed, wash/dry bedding so its fresh for when we get home.
 

get me outta here

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If you are in an area of an attack or natual disaster of any sort, they know you are there and they keep an eye out for you. If you have been blown to smitheerens, but yr p/p is intact that will help too. ;) And, the Embassy will easily be able to liaise with the distraught relos if you go missing, thrown into jail or go offline for some length of time. Smartraveller.gov.au - I want to register my travel plans

What's the benefit of doing this? thanks
 

Fergo747

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Turn your water off at the main - in the event that an internal pipe / connection gives way, there will be no / minimal water damage. Unfortunately for my parents they did not do this and came home to a flooded house. Luckily they were only away for a weekend and not seven weeks. Still, not an inexpensive repair.
 

Antoallison

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Going away in winter... clear out gutters, put away garden furniture or objects that could cause damage in a storm.

Going away in summer... group any pot plants so that they are watered by the reticulation or ask a neighbour to water them.

Buy carton of long life milk and freeze some fresh bread so you can at least have tea and toast before you are able to get to go grocery shopping after a late night arrival back home.

maybe...Check that your home insurance covers the building being unoccupied for long lengths of time ?
 

Dr Ralph

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I took some long service leave in 2017 and spent 3 months in the US. I was surprised at the number of things that needed to be taken care of before I left.

Unless you have some auto debit arrangement in place, bills will be something you will need to deal with.

Also, despite what the bank may claim to the contrary, inform your banks of your intended travel.

If it was me I'd definitely turn the freezer off. Unless you have some other way of definitely knowing, there is a possibility that whist you are away your power may have been disabled for such a period of time that everything in your freezer defrosts and then refreezes. Sound unlikely I know, but I've known of it happening with myself and others multiple times.
 

Hvr

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Re the freezer, freeze some water in a plastic cup and then put a coin on top of the ice. If the coin isn't on top when you return you know you've had a power cut and the contents have been compromised.

Make sure your will and travel insurance can be accessed by a trusted person.

Instruct people to ignore email/SMS requests for money from you.

Have a code word/phrase that you can use with a trusted person in case you do need emergency money.
 

Denali

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I will also add that now we have decluttered the house so much, when away from home for a period of time, we rent a unit at a secure facility and move a number of treasured items into it for just in case. We advise insurer, still covered under our policy. Unit is 24/7 cameras/alarms/sprinklers ect.

Not the royal jewels or a rare ferrari but if Marie Kondo asked, Yes. They bring us joy.
 

VPS

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Just check your house insurance because sometimes it is void if the house is empty for more than 4 or 6 weeks. You may need someone just to come and stay a night. Have you got good neighbours that will keep an eye on things because I had Mr Neighbourhood watch next door and he was fantastic
 

RooFlyer

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In addition ...

I turn the hot water off at the meter box for extended trips and turn my home wi-fi off - no point having either on in an empty house. Also make sure everything on 'stand-by' (eg TVs) are switched off.

Turn toilet cistern water off at the wall tap (done this ever since I came back to a burst, flooding hose after a weekend away!) also dishwasher inlet water tap off.

Basically put the house into suspension (except alarm) :)

Use the maps.me phone application and download country maps for everywhere you are going (very detailed maps with GPS that can be used off-line).

Think of what happens if you lose your phone or passport and make plans for should that happen (ie hard copy accessible record of contact details of Australian consulates / embassies covering your areas of travel; hard copy of passport photo page, all tickets, reservations etc - take an old, spare phone?? )
 

get me outta here

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Is it safe to turn off all varieties of water heaters e.g. evacuated tubes or photovoltaics?
 

Captain Halliday

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I love this idea...
Re the freezer, freeze some water in a plastic cup and then put a coin on top of the ice. If the coin isn't on top when you return you know you've had a power cut and the contents have been compromised.
My current approach is to half fill a bottle with water and let it freeze. Then lay it down while away. If the water is still frozen at the bottom on your return the freezer is good. If it’s refrozen sideways, throw the lot.

But I like the coin thing - much simpler.
 

Drakecula

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Just check your house insurance because sometimes it is void if the house is empty for more than 4 or 6 weeks. You may need someone just to come and stay a night. Have you got good neighbours that will keep an eye on things because I had Mr Neighbourhood watch next door and he was fantastic
Good tip! I just checked and yes, there's a bit about that. Thankfully it won't be void, but more excess fees.
And yes, we have good neighbours and we'll let them know of our absence. Plus a good friend is 2 mins around the corner so I'm sorted there. :)

There are a lot of good tips in this thread - thank you all very much. Keep them coming! I'm definitely going to make use of these :)
 

Matt_01

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You lot are so organised. We once did the whole turn off everything prior to going away, we left the electricity on for the alarm. Returned to Melb in the middle of winter turned on reverse cycle A/C, unpacked etc. Then MrsM got into the shower we had forgot to turn the gas back on so no hot water and the electric igniter was not working. After that I now write a list and leave it in plain sight for our return for everything for all things I turn off/change when away so I can turn back on/ change when I return.
 

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