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Bxianesq

Logistics for Longer Cruises

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We have always been limited to taking shorter cruises for work reasons.  Since I will be scaling back my work hours next year and mostly working remotely (if at all), we just booked a 27 day Holland America cruise in Asia.  I am hoping to add at least a week pre-cruise in Singapore,  at least a week post-cruise in Japan, and perhaps a few days in Hawaii or California on the way home.  This means we will be gone from 6 to 9 weeks.  I am a pretty seasoned travel hacker with elite status (and free breakfast/lounge access ) with several chains, and also have timeshare points to use, so I don't think that extending the trip will extend our costs very much except for the cost of food/attraction admission/local transit.

 

We have never been away for more than 13 days at a time.  I am trying to get a handle on how to plan for the logistics of being away for so long.  I am sure that we can pay bills online-but what about the logistics of security? Snow removal? Toilets needing to be flushed so that the water does not evaporate?  I am sure that there are a lot of you out there that are either snowbirds or long term travelers that have dealt with these issues.  I am looking for ideas/checklists so we can plan for being away for a while.  Any suggestions appreciated!

 

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Have been gone up to 25 days (and next year it will be 30 days), never had the water in the toilet evaporate. Is that a thing? We turn our toilet water supply off, as a leak in that plumbing could, at bare minimum, be a very expensive water bill, or a severely damaging leak. We turn off our washing machine water for the same reason.

 

We don't live in a freezing climate, but when others have asked this question, and from our friends and relatives who do live in freezing locations, leaving your heater set for 55 or 58 degrees helps with that. Also mentioned here frequently is separating your exterior water system from your interior water system to possibly isolate leaks or prevent damage. That is on our agenda. We would need to leave our exterior water system on in summer, and interior off. In winter we could turn both off.

 

We unplug virtually everything...typically cuts our power bill by close to half...maybe a little over half for long trips. Fridge and a few built in appliances stay plugged in. A delay in discovering an electrical fire could result in significant damage. We close every possible door for the reason a small fire could actually burn itself out if the door can contain it to a single room. Limited benefit there as our downstairs is open floor plan, but we do what we can. (Retired firefighter here...electrical fires are always a problem, another reason to unplug everything.

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We leave home for 4 months at a time.  I have installed a convenient water shutoff which I turn off, but as our time away is in the summer, I do not drain the pipes completely.  Over the years, we have used a couple of different methods for keeping track of our mail and making sure the house is OK.  For the past couple of years, we have had our cleaning woman put our mail in Priority Mail boxes and ship it to us -- not something you are likely to be able to do -- and we have had her turn on the water every month or so, flush the toilets, run water to fill the traps in all sinks, tubs, etc.  Hopefully you can find a family member, friend, or someone who can come in infrequently and check things, etc.

 

Our summer home is in a cold area in winter, so when we leave, we have the water shut off completely and the pipes drained,  They (plumber) does put some kind of anti-freeze in the drains. And then we even shut off the electricity.  If you cannot do that, I would turn off the refrigerator and leave the doors ajar.  The house is left alone from late October until March, and everything has always been fine.

 

Hope this helps.

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21 minutes ago, Bxianesq said:

We have never been away for more than 13 days at a time.  I am trying to get a handle on how to plan for the logistics of being away for so long.  I am sure that we can pay bills online-but what about the logistics of security? Snow removal? Toilets needing to be flushed so that the water does not evaporate?

 

Our several cruises annually, including any pre/post land visits, usually exceed 7 weeks each.

 

Most importantly: Don't broadcast your travel plans.

Secure a house watcher/trusted neighbor to water plants, collect mail (also have a backup person with duplicate keys as well), check things out after any neighborhood power failures, etc. Pay them or return the favor.

Note: Holding mail/newspaper really depends on where you live and your familiarity with the carriers.

We also have a Ring Doorbell for live, motion activated audio/video.

Toilets: we have never experienced "evaporating water." (?)

Snow Removal? - Move to California (below 4K feet).

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Things to consider with mail and having sufficient medicines for the time you will be gone are my top concerns along with having any and all bills due being paid on time.  Online bill paying is done by many, but I prefer to have the bills be paid automatically by debiting my checking account so I don't have that "fun job" to do when I am on vacation.  Security?  Arrange for a friend or neighbor to check your property by giving them a house key and asking that they check the interior every 7-10 days.  If your police department offers a vacation house check service (mine does), use it.  Turn off your water supply before you leave and lower your thermostat to 65 degrees or, maybe, a bit less.  Living in a condo, snow removal is not an issue for me.  Subscribe to a local newspaper?  Stop delivery.  Many consider putting a timer on some lights in a few rooms.  Have more than one active credit card with you in case something goes awry with one.  Please don't laugh:  but I always have a few traveler's checks with me -- just in case.  I also will have a small amount of local currency with me, particularly when I am arriving in a country like Singapore as my first stop.  I don't want to have to find an exchange office on an ATM as soon as possible after arriving, particularly after a long flight. 

 

For Singapore, get as much information on-line that you can before you leave as to its transportation system, hop on/off bus routes, etc.   

 

If I think of any other suggestions, I will return to this thread.

 

Have fun planning for your trip!  Asia is an interesting place to visit.  

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Many, many years ago I set up a special checking account to pay utility bills.  We have arranged with each utility to have our bills automatically that way we did not have to worry about getting on line on the the ship and paying them.  I just make certain that I have enough money in that account to cover the bills for the amount of time we will be gone.

 

Even though we have an alarm system, we have a neighbor who does come into the house and checks to make certain that everything is okay.  He has emergency numbers to call.  We turn off as many electrical appliances as possible.  We are fortunate that our mail goes directly into the garage.  We have known our newspaper man for years -- he keeps our newspapers at his house until we get home.  

 

We had friends that had their house robbed while they were away.  It was tracked to the post office where their name and address was posted on a board where everyone could see it.  BAD!!  

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13 minutes ago, CruiserBruce said:

We unplug virtually everything...typically cuts our power bill by close to half...maybe a little over half for long trips. Fridge and a few built in appliances stay plugged in. 

 

Yes, I do that as well.  Also, I turn off my answering machine and unplug my landline phones.  

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I have a nice neighbour  that will check on the house  & even snowblower the  driveway

She has since moved  a couple of miles away but will still come  & check on things every few days

Our insurance requires  someone to  physically check on the property every 72 hours

We have been away up to 3 mths  during the winter

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Like LHT 28, our homeowner insurance requires that the house be checked every 72 hrs. We have a neighbor who does that for us (we reciprocate). They (and our NOK) have emergency numbers and our contact info/itineraries. We turn off the water to the house, turn down the heat to 16C, and put the water heater on vacation mode. The neighbor takes care of our mail and we stop newspaper delivery. We hire a snow removal service for the whole season. We prefer to pre pay any bills before we leave rather than doing it online on vacation or having automatic withdrawals; but those are both good alternatives. 

 

We also will put a few thousand dollars onto our primary credit card- having a positive balance ensures we will have ample funds if we can't access our bank account for any reason.

 

A couple of our neighbors are snowbirds and are gone for 4 months. They hire a management company who monitor the house and take care of snow removal.

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All of our bills are paid directly to credit card.  I usually pay an extra month or two of credit card payment so I have a large credit.   The post office is a little tricky because mail holds can only be scheduled up to 30 days. You can have your mail forwarded to a neighbor, friend or relative indefinitely.  I just “tip” the mailman and he handles the first one covering the overage days then I request the second one online for the final 30 days.  

 

I handle home security two ways 

1) have a neighbor come by two or three days a week and flush toilets, etc....

 

2) schedule a vacation check with our police department. This may be unique to my town and it is a great service but very restrictive. - no one can come to the house for any reason. I shut the water off.  I only use this if my trusted neighbor can’t watch my house. 

 

There are are some other issues for beyond 30 days.   Medicare has restrictions as does many homeowner insurance policies.   I keep my mouth shut, not the greatest method admittedly.  

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2 hours ago, Mary229 said:

All of our bills are paid directly to credit card.  I usually pay an extra month or two of credit card payment so I have a large credit.   The post office is a little tricky because mail holds can only be scheduled up to 30 days. You can have your mail forwarded to a neighbor, friend or relative indefinitely.  I just “tip” the mailman and he handles the first one covering the overage days then I request the second one online for the final 30 days.  

 

I handle home security two ways 

1) have a neighbor come by two or three days a week and flush toilets, etc....

 

2) schedule a vacation check with our police department. This may be unique to my town and it is a great service but very restrictive. - no one can come to the house for any reason. I shut the water off.  I only use this if my trusted neighbor can’t watch my house. 

 

There are are some other issues for beyond 30 days.   Medicare has restrictions as does many homeowner insurance policies.   I keep my mouth shut, not the greatest method admittedly.  

I was just going to post that many homeowner policies are voided should the house be vacant over 30 days so have a trusted relative overnight every other week would meet policy requirements.

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3 hours ago, mom says said:

We also will put a few thousand dollars onto our primary credit card- having a positive balance ensures we will have ample funds if we can't access our bank account for any reason.

 

That confuses me.  How do you "put money on a credit card"?  We have a credit limit that far exceeds anything we could ever afford to spend 🙂  After being pickpocketed in Barcelona, we now travel with two credit and two debit cards and about $100 cash.  The extra cards and cash we don't carry around with us.  We can also electronically move funds to different accounts as we need it.

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3 hours ago, Mary229 said:

Medicare has restrictions

Could you explain that please?  I know it doesn't cover out of country but what else.  Thanks.

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1 hour ago, clo said:

That confuses me.  How do you "put money on a credit card"?  We have a credit limit that far exceeds anything we could ever afford to spend 🙂  After being pickpocketed in Barcelona, we now travel with two credit and two debit cards and about $100 cash.  The extra cards and cash we don't carry around with us.  We can also electronically move funds to different accounts as we need it.

What is confusing about putting money into a credit card? You do it the same way you pay the balance owing on the card. The only difference is that you have a positive balance. 

 

You do your travel finances your way. We will do what works for us.

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8 minutes ago, mom says said:

The only difference is that you have a positive balance.

Let's say I have a credit limit of $20k and I owe $2k.  So don't I have a "positive balance" of $18K.  Sincerely I don't understand.  I was and am asking a sincere question.

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The problem w toilets is that if the water evaporates too much, you can get sewer gases in your house.  One way to reduce this is to put mineral oil into your toilets and drains.  It reduces evaporation and thus the possibility of sewer gases.

 

DON

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29 minutes ago, clo said:

Let's say I have a credit limit of $20k and I owe $2k.  So don't I have a "positive balance" of $18K.  Sincerely I don't understand.  I was and am asking a sincere question.

 

No, you have 18K in available credit. What mom says is talking about is owing 2K but paying 3K, thus there would be a 1K positive balance to be applied to any subsequent charges.

 

I have had this happen after receiving a credit of a previous charge (positive balance), but have never done this on purpose, as it seems quite nonsensical, and is kind of missing the point of a credit card.

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Just now, Twickenham said:

but have never done this on purpose, as it seems quite nonsensical, and is kind of missing the point of a credit card.

Well, I totally get what you're saying.  And the "nonsensical" part remains unanswered.  There must be a reason for doing it but, for the life of me, I can't understand it.

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24 minutes ago, clo said:

Well, I totally get what you're saying.  And the "nonsensical" part remains unanswered.  There must be a reason for doing it but, for the life of me, I can't understand it.

 

Well then let me try to lighten you. Let's say I have a CC with a 10 K limit. But I'm going to be away from home for 2 months or more. I don't trust unsecured WiFi servers and do not want to have to access my banking if I can avoid it. So I will pay off any outstanding balance and add, let's say $5K. Now I have 15K available credit on that card in case of emergency without having to access my bank account. I could just have my credit limit raised, but I choose not to. Remember, we are talking about extended trips of a couple of months. For shorter trips, we don't bother with this. And yes we also carry other CCs and ATM cards.

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38 minutes ago, clo said:

Well, I totally get what you're saying.  And the "nonsensical" part remains unanswered.  There must be a reason for doing it but, for the life of me, I can't understand it.

 

It's called "give the credit card people your money before you have to".

 

With interest rates on saving in the nil range, it's kind of a wash.  Change it to earning 5+% and they won't get a penny before they have to.

 

Not quite sure how one could "not reach" their financial accounts while away from home, but...

 

What do I know?

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2 minutes ago, mom says said:

I don't trust unsecured WiFi servers and do not want to have to access my banking if I can avoid it.

 

So don't use unsecured WiFi servers.  Get a good solid VPN and don't worry about it.  Plus, if you use good common sense practices (such as changing passwords and storing info in encrypted form) for online banking, you should be fine.

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1 minute ago, mom says said:

 

Well then let me try to lighten you. Let's say I have a CC with a 10 K limit. But I'm going to be away from home for 2 months or more. I don't trust unsecured WiFi servers and do not want to have to access my banking if I can avoid it. So I will pay off any outstanding balance and add, let's say $5K. Now I have 15K available credit on that card in case of emergency without having to access my bank account. I could just have my credit limit raised, but I choose not to. Remember, we are talking about extended trips of a couple of months. For shorter trips, we don't bother with this. And yes we also carry other CCs and ATM cards.

To each her own.  What is an "unsecured WiFi" server? and why don't you want to access you bank accounts?  Why not have your credit limit increased?  We also travel for longer than a couple of weeks and have for years and years.  We do almost 100% of our banking online.  Please educate me.

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4 minutes ago, FlyerTalker said:

Not quite sure how one could "not reach" their financial accounts while away from home, but...

 

As I've mentioned we honestly do, home or away, almost all our banking online. 

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15 hours ago, Bxianesq said:

We have always been limited to taking shorter cruises for work reasons.  Since I will be scaling back my work hours next year and mostly working remotely (if at all), we just booked a 27 day Holland America cruise in Asia.  I am hoping to add at least a week pre-cruise in Singapore,  at least a week post-cruise in Japan, and perhaps a few days in Hawaii or California on the way home.  This means we will be gone from 6 to 9 weeks.  I am a pretty seasoned travel hacker with elite status (and free breakfast/lounge access ) with several chains, and also have timeshare points to use, so I don't think that extending the trip will extend our costs very much except for the cost of food/attraction admission/local transit.

 

We have never been away for more than 13 days at a time.  I am trying to get a handle on how to plan for the logistics of being away for so long.  I am sure that we can pay bills online-but what about the logistics of security? Snow removal? Toilets needing to be flushed so that the water does not evaporate?  I am sure that there are a lot of you out there that are either snowbirds or long term travelers that have dealt with these issues.  I am looking for ideas/checklists so we can plan for being away for a while.  Any suggestions appreciated!

 

Perhaps make a note of all your household duties for 3 months, bills to pay, when you get lawns done and such.Then work out if you need a house sitter or just a neighbour to look after things,.

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7 hours ago, donaldsc said:

The problem w toilets is that if the water evaporates too much, you can get sewer gases in your house.  One way to reduce this is to put mineral oil into your toilets and drains.  It reduces evaporation and thus the possibility of sewer gases.

 

DON

My questions would be, first, in the winter, I doubt there would be much, if any evaporation, particularly in a climate where freezing is possible. Second, in a warmer and low humidity climate, yes, evaporation might happen, but water would then be drawn the tank. But I guess it could fully dry up over a long period of time. I do understand the concern for keeping the valves and gaskets wet.

 

Good idea on the mineral oil.

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