Money at 30: How I’m Preparing for an Extended Trip
Starting tomorrow, my wife and I will be embarked on a trip that will last for upwards of two weeks. While I’m in Orlando, attending the FinCon expo and hanging out at Walt Disney World, she’ll be off in Paris, France to cover events at Disneyland Paris. Eventually we’ll get to reunite just ahead of our fifth wedding anniversary and enjoy a few days together in the city where we first met and fell in love.
With all that aside, what’s interesting about this trip is the sheer length of it. Not since our 12 day honeymoon have we spent this long away from home. Because of this, we’re finding the process of preparing for this outing to be a bit different from our previous travels. How so? Here are some of the ways we’re getting ready for our extended trip(s):
Having our mail held
This was actually something I was very much on the fence about. After all, it’s not often my wife and I receive more than a few pieces of mail in any given week — and, if the mailbox does get full, it seems the carrier will institute a hold for you. However I ultimately elected to arrange a hold ahead of time mainly because it seemed like the smart thing to do and because it was super simple to arrange.
According to the USPS site, you can have them hold your mail for as few as three days and as many as 30. This being the 21st century, you don’t even have to worry about heading to the post office and filling out one of those little forms either. Instead you can easily sign up online and even have your held mail delivered upon your return. Meanwhile, if you do choose to just let your mailbox fill up until the carrier can’t stuff anything else in it you run the risk of some items being returned to their sender if you wait too long to retrieve them. For that reason, I’m very much inclined to recommend just putting a hold in place.
While I’m suggesting Postal Service products, I also want to briefly mention the wonder that is USPS Informed Delivery. Once you sign up for this free service, you’ll receive e-mails showing you what items you can expect to find in your box that day and even let you know if you have any packages scheduled to arrive. These e-mails won’t exactly include everything that gets mailed to you but they are still helpful nonetheless. With this being my first time putting a hold on my mail, I’m actually not sure if Informed Delivery Daily Digest e-mails will still be sent while I’m away, but I’ll be sure to let you know either way.
Whenever we leave our apartment for more than a day or two, I make sure to shut down my computer, unplug the TV, and — most importantly — turn off the HVAC. With this trip being longer in nature, I started to realize that I should probably take these efforts a bit further. For example this Lifehack article suggests unplugging everything from your modem and router to small appliances like our toaster oven and microwave (I guess that means I’ll be resetting the clock when we return…). Not only will following this advice prevent us from wasting energy and, thus money, but will also protect our electronics from power surges and outages that might hit while we’re away.
Something I hadn’t really considered until just a couple of days ago is that my extended trip means I’ll be away from home as the calendar flips from September to October. That means that I won’t be around to pay rent on the 1st. Luckily, now that I’ve realized this issue, I’ve been able to pre-write a check for my landlord to cash at the appropriate time.
I suppose if I did happen to forget this step I could just mail a check after the fact, but this is undoubtedly a better (and less-stressful) option. I’m just glad I remembered to think of it, lest I return home to late fees and threatening notices.
Finally, perhaps the strangest part of leaving home for multiple weeks is determining what to pack. Sure I could bring my ‘B’ and ‘C’ team clothes along and stuff two-weeks worth of outfits into a giant suitcase, but that sounds like a pain. Instead my wife and I have each selected a little over a week’s worth of items and are bringing along some detergent so we can do laundry while away.
In terms of where we’ll actually do laundry, I have it a bit easier than she does. Since I’ll be staying in an excessively-large timeshare unit in Orlando, there will actually be a washer and dryer at my disposal. While it may not be quite as convenient, it seems her Parisian hotel does feature a laundromat. Granted, we’ve stayed at this hotel before and never noticed a laundry room but, worse comes to worst, there is always a bathtub and a heated drying rack #JustSaying. Either way, I think that this strategy of packing less and washing along the way beats lugging around everything and having to bring all that dirty laundry home.
This time tomorrow, my wife and I will be on the road toward Orlando, not to return for more than two weeks. Given the length of this trip, we’ve suddenly discovered that our normal pack and prep checklist isn’t quite sufficient. From holding our mail and ensuring we pay rent to unplugging the electronics and bringing along the laundry supplies, hopefully these extra preparations will ensure that our extended trips are also great ones.