1. What to do with US mail?
If you are traveling for less than 30 days, a simple step is to stop mail delivery. This can be done for a length of up to 30 days. It’s simple to do, just follow the steps found in this link.
We travel for periods longer than 30 days, but are not full time. We do the following:
- Convert all incoming bills to paperless. Most companies now prefer paperless billing, especially utilities, credit cards, insurance, and various other services. Adding the convenience of online banking, we are able to pay all of our recurring bills easily from the RV and a smart phone.
- We have a few bills that don’t offer paperless billing. Some provide a website where we can access as needed and pay online. We add the due dates to our calendar as a reminder to check for payment. For that rare paper bill, we know the recurring amount and quarter due setting date payment reminder on our calendar.
2. Home Security
This is the biggest concern for most RV travelers wanting to ensure their home has some level of protection. This also is the longest topic that can go from simple to very elaborate and expensive adding the various forms of security. Here are a few tips that we’ve found works well and are affordable:
- Adding a security system to you home can be a deterrent. These systems can be all encompassing and expensive, or cost effective with ample coverage. SimpliSafe Wireless Home Security Systems offers affordable and easy to install systems that can be scaled to provide the desired coverage. Systems can be assembled with a couple strategically placed motion detectors or expanded to every door and window along with integrated smoke and water sensor alarms.
- We are big fans of wireless cameras. We’ve tried multiple brands over the years with various forms of reliability and settled on Blink cameras. Blink cameras are available in a number of forms from indoor and outdoor, wired and wireless, and with and without security light options. The wireless outdoor cameras are very reliable with batteries lasting two years and very simple to install. Blink also provides a phone app to monitor and receive motion alerts. Purchasing the Blink Cloud service allows video captured from motion detects.
- We were a very earlier adopter of the Ring door bell. Similar to the how blink cameras perform, we are able to monitor both motion at the door as well as alerts to to our smart phones when someone pushes the Ring button. We can record and see the person at the door and speak with them as though we are inside the home.
- Home automation is another strong deterrent to ward off unwanted intruders. We have purchased a number of Kasa smart plugs and light switches. These are WiFi enable devices that allow us to create lighting groups and schedules to mimic activity when we are traveling.
- Here’s a tip. Don’t set all devices to turn on and off at the same time each day. A one time setting of a schedule for each device turning on and off at different times of the day and night will create an environment as though you are at home.
- We also have several Echo Dot smart speakers placed in several rooms. We use the Echo two ways. First it’s an inexpensive additions for home automation. Using the previously mentioned Kasa devices, we can easily set up schedules and routines to mimic home attendance with our indoor and outdoor lighting. Lastly, Echo has a Guard function that will monitor glass breakage, smoke alarms, and activate smart home switches and plugs based on usage behavior.
3. Yard Maintenance
Aside from being a good neighbor, keeping the yard groomed also makes the home appear lived in. Most yard services offer a short term service that can be scheduled to cut grass and pick up any trash accumulating along the side of the road.
4. Home Check
If we are traveling for several months in a row, we have a family member or a trusted neighbor perform a walk around the house and step inside several times a month just to make sure there are no issues. We have our Blink cameras that we look in and outside, but that personal view can discover issues outside of a cameras view. This is also a good time to check the mailbox for any correspondence that may need immediate attention such as a jury duty notice.
5. Turn Off What Isn’t Need.
We don’t leave lights on. It’s a waste of energy and it does little to deter an intruder. We find automation is a better approach. We turn our water off at the meter. A water break can cause substantial damage especially on those long multiple month trips. We had an instance where we returned home and a the main water pipe entering our home started leaking while away only to rupture the day after returning home flooding our craw space. If this had occurred at the beginning of our trip, the damage would have been substantial. If you have a well, turn of as for the same reasons mentioned.
If you have an electric water heater, turn off the breaker. If gas, set to the lowest setting. No one is home so don’t waste the energy.
We also have a smart Nest thermostat. During the hot months we set a schedule not to bake the inside of the house, but to maintain a higher temperature than normal. The same goes for winter with higher settings protecting the house from freezing, but much lower than what would be comfortable. This has reduced our energy costs substantially and paid for the thermostat in the first few months of RV travel.
6. Secure Expensive And Important Items
It’s very important to secure jewelry, firearms, and other high value items along with important documents such as wills, insurance papers, etc. If you have firearms, best practice is to own a quality firearm safe secured to the floor and wall to house all items. If firearms aren’t a factor, acquire a safety deposit box at your local bank.
7. Empty Refrigerator And Dispose of Perishable Fruits And Vegetables
No one wants to return home and find items left in the refrigerator that have turned into a bad high school biology experiment. Or worse, fruits or vegetables that were left in cupboards or on counters and have spoiled leaving a putrid odor throughout the house. Take time to pack or dispose of perishable items. We missed packing potatoes and onions on a long RV trip only to return home to a stinky mess. Only took this to happen once and never to repeat again.
8. Your Pets
This one is easy. Take them with you. If your pets have never traveled, they will adapt. We travel with our Mink and Molly kitties since day one. They are good travelers. The same with your dogs. Make that periodic leg stretch along with the pups after a few hours of travel. If you have to leave your pet behind, find a friend or neighbor to take care of your furry loved one before you consider a kennel.
9. Do A Walk Around Before You Leave
I can’t stress this task enough. The day before you leave, check the outside of the home to make sure nothing needs immediate attention. And the morning of travel, after everyone has entered the RV or tow vehicle, just stop. Catch your breath. It’s been a busy morning. Walk around to make sure doors and windows are locked. Make sure everyone has their electronic devices. Was the kitchen garbage taken out? Glad I checked! And as you walk out the door, tell Alexa your leaving and she’ll report back that she will guard the home.
Now go have fun and enjoy RV life!
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