A carefree holiday is a wonderful idea, but in reality it takes a lot of preparation beforehand to ensure you can enjoy yourself and rest easy in the knowledge that your home and transport are as safe as they can possibly be.
With a packing list as long as your arm, you might find yourself leaving the overall safety of your car and home to the last minute because you simply ran out of time. However, you don’t want to spend your holiday worrying about whether your home is vulnerable, or if your car is going to conk out en route. Prepare in advance with our ultimate vacation checklist for your home and car.
Preparing your vehicle for the journey
You are travelling long distance with precious cargo, so what can you do to ensure your vehicle is in tip-top shape for the trip? Here are a few vital checks:
Lights and electrical checklist
- Are all bulbs working? You need to see and be seen at all times.
- Are headlamps adjusted correctly? Beams should provide adequate viewing without causing visibility problems for oncoming motorists.
- Are instruments providing correct readings of speed and fluid levels?
- Are all windows in good condition? Repair any cracks or chips before you leave.
- Check wiper blades to ensure they make a clean sweep every time.
Wheels and tyres checklist
- Are all wheels securely tightened?
- Check each tyre has an adequate tread depth. The South African legal minimum is 1.6mm, but anything below 3mm limits the tyre’s ability.
- Does your vehicle have a spare in good condition, and the correct tools needed to change a tyre?
Brakes and suspension checklist
- Has the brake fluid been filled up?
- Is the handbrake working?
- Are all brake discs, drums and pads in good condition?
- Check any uneven wear, strange noises or vibrations from the braking system.
- Are shock absorbers and other suspension systems in working order?
Battery, filters and fluids checklist
- Is the battery delivering the correct output?
- Are all major filters – oil, air and fuel – clean and functioning?
- Ensure all fuel and oil caps are securely fastened.
Exhaust system checklist
- A damaged exhaust system will affect vehicle performance and fuel consumption and could also present a serious health risk, so give it a good once over to check for any leaks.
Safety equipment checklist
- Are all seat belts and airbags working?
- Do you have a reflective triangle and flashlight in the car to warn other motorists if you break down?
Preparing your home for your absence:
Before you head out the door on annual leave, it’s wise to ensure the house is prepped for your vacation. You want to return to find it in the same shape as you left it.
- Pick up post: Cancel regular deliveries. Nothing attracts unwanted attention like newspapers and post piling up outside a door or postbox. Alternatively ask a friend or neighbour to pick up any visible post until you return.
- Open curtains: Blinds, drapes and curtains that are closed during the day are suspicious and make it obvious that the home is unoccupied. Reduce unwanted attention by ensuring curtains and blinds are open and lights are turned off.
- Switch off: Save money and the environment by switching off plugs at the wall as well as the geyser. This will not only help you save electricity and unexpected costs, but it’ll also minimise the risk of fire, a burst geyser and leaks.
- Call on friends and neighbours: There is nothing more depressing than coming home from holiday to be faced with dead pot plants, spiderwebs and a sink full of mouldy, unwashed plates that you left as you hurried out the door. Ask someone to come in and check every now and then. You can reward them with a small gift from your holiday.
- Contact your insurance company: When you’re going away it’s wise to let your insurance company know that you’ll be out of town. Check your home insurance is up to date.
- Contact your bank: Let them know that your credit card or debit card will be in use. Give them the exact dates of your departure and arrival.