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Nov 25, 2021

5 min. read

If you’re a first-time snowbird heading south of the Canadian border this winter or you're planning on taking an extra-long vacation, you’ll want to savour the experience and ensure you haven’t forgotten or overlooked anything, or need to worry about your home thousands of kilometres away. Here is a pre-travel checklist of 10 things you can do before you go to ensure a successful trip.

Stock up on prescriptions

Ask your doctor to prescribe enough medication so your supply will extend beyond the time you plan on being away. CAA Insurance recommends an extra month’s worth in case your return is delayed for any reason.

Let your pharmacist know you will be travelling. Be prepared to show documentation—such as a travel insurance policy or a doctor’s letter—as some provinces have restricted the amount of medication being dispensed at a time to protect against drug shortages during the pandemic.

When packing your medication, remember to bring a copy of the prescription and keep everything in its original containers.

Forward your mail

An overflowing mailbox is an easy target for thieves. Have your mail forwarded to a temporary location using Canada Post’s mail forwarding service. For under $100, your mail can be sent anywhere in the world for three months. This doesn’t include parcels or newspapers though, so pause any physical magazine or newspaper subscriptions.

Ask a friend or a neighbour to collect any flyers or other items that may be left on your front porch.

Create the illusion that someone is home

To deter intruders, set light timers to turn on during the evening and turn phone ringers off. Consider trading your answering machine for voicemail, which allows messages to be checked remotely.

Switch to online billing

Changing your billing from paper to online ensures you don’t miss a single invoice—and helps protect the environment too.

Prepare for the weather

Hire a snow removal service or ask a neighbour to shovel your driveway and sidewalk. Ask them to salt the sidewalk as well to ensure the safety of pedestrians.

Inspect your home’s interior

If you have a fireplace, have the chimney swept. Do an outside check for broken bricks and replay any loose shingles. Turn off your water supply to avoid freezing or burst pipes.

Check the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they’re working.

To keep cold drafts outside, check doors and windows for leaks, and reseal as required.

Unplug appliances

Unplug appliances like the fridge, dishwasher, washer and dryer—but leave the door open to air them out. Unplug smaller appliances, like your microwave, toaster oven or coffeemaker. This not only helps to save energy, but also prevents fire in case of a faulty switch or other electrical issue while you’re away.

Set the thermostat

Keep the temperature around 16°C to prevent your pipes from freezing.

Before you leave, install a new furnace filter to ensure the system runs as efficiently as possible. Consider a programmable thermostat, which allows you to check and adjust the temperature of your home remotely.

Let others know you’re away

Let neighbours you trust know you’ll be away and for how long so that they can keep an eye on your home for you. Provide them with your contact details so that they can reach you in case of an emergency. Advise your local neighbourhood watch group and the community police community officer assigned to your area of your upcoming absence, and leave an emergency contact. Enlist a family member, friend, or neighbour to check in periodically.

Speak with your home insurance provider

If you plan to be away from your home for an extended period of time, it’s a good idea to speak with your home insurance provider. Although it varies from one company to another, across Canada there is a general rule that if a home is left unoccupied for about 30 days or more, it is considered vacant. This means that your home insurance policy could be considered void. Speak with your insurance provider to go over your options. Having someone check in on your home on a regular basis is often sufficient to ensure that the terms and conditions of your home insurance policy are met.

Protect your trip

Ensure you’re prepared for any unexpected situations that might arise by purchasing travel insurance. A licensed CAA Insurance expert can provide you with options for complete coverage including medical and trip cancellation. Visit CAA online to learn more.

Image credit: Andrii Iemelyanenko/iStock

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