On the first day of Christmas...make travel arrangements:
On the second day of Christmas...have the gifts delivered:
Make sure you know how gifts will get to and from your holiday destination. I suggest ordering as many gifts online and have them shipped so you do not have to worry about packing them up and checking them on the plane, or fitting them in your car.
- Check for free shipping codes on sites like RetailMeNot.com.
- Check for baggage fees with the airline you are flying. Make sure to mention you are military; some have different baggage fees for active duty.
On the third day of Christmas...stop your mail:
Have the post office hold your mail while you are gone. You do not want packages and mail piling up and increasing the chances something will get lost or stolen. Make sure you also put a hold on your newspaper subscriptions (if you are really lucky and have a trustworthy neighbor, have them check your mail and collect newspapers).
On the fourth day of Christmas...take care of your pets:
Book a kennel or pet-sitter early. They tend to be busy and fill up this time of year.
- Here is some great advice to help you choose a kennel.
- If you plan to travel with a pet, ensure that they are up to date on all of the necessary vaccines. For more tips, read my tips for traveling with a pet.
On the fifth day of Christmas...ensure your home is secured:
- Inform the local police office of your absence and ask them to keep an eye on your home.
- Have a trustworthy neighbor check on your house periodically while you are gone.
- Set a timer on a light that can be seen through the front window at night.
- Do not post on social networking sites that you will be gone; you do not want that information in untrustworthy hands.
On the sixth day of Christmas...winter proof your home:
- If your house will be unoccupied for an extended period of time, shut off and drain your water system. For example, turn off the water supply to your washing machine, ice-maker, toilets and sinks to prevent flooding from ruptured hoses.
- Check out some more of USAA's winter-proofing tips here and here.
On the seventh day of Christmas...conserve energy (and save money!):
- Unplug electrical appliances, such as the coffee maker, microwave oven, television and computer. This also ensures if a power outage occurs while you're gone, there will be no damage to your appliances when the power is restored.
- Turn down your heat (no lower than 55 degrees so pipes don't freeze).
On the eighth day of Christmas...don't forget about your plants:
- Ask a neighbor to water your plants or use watering bulbs which release water as the plant needs. (bring them inside if they are in danger of dying in a freeze)
- Here are some great guidelines for keeping plants alive during the winter.
One the ninth Day of Christmas...make sure all of your bills are paid:
- Set up automatic payments while you are gone.
- Ensure your rent, electricity, water, gas, internet and cable bills, etc., are taken care of.
On the tenth day of Christmas...empty the trash:
- You will be truly sorry when you return from your holiday trip and smell the house if you forget this little task.
On the 11th Day of Christmas...lock and bolt:
- Check, and double check, that the doors, windows and gates are locked and secured.
On the twelfth day of Christmas...remember what this season is all about:
Do not get bogged down with the stresses of traveling. Remember that this time of year is about giving and recognizing all of the things you have to be joyful for. Cherish this time with your loved ones and family! Safe travels and very happy holidays!