Snowbirds: 13 things to do before heading off on an extended trip

As you get set to head off to warmer climates, be sure to get everything in order so that months from now, "home sweet home" will be all that much sweeter.

We know you have a lot to think of before you go, so we've prepared this handy checklist to make you don't forget anything. 

Make sure your home is well taken care of 

1. If you don't have an alarm system, it may be time to think about getting one. You might get a discount from your insurer. If you already have one, make sure you turn it on before you leave. You can never be too careful. 

2. Get a family member, neighbour or someone reliable to check up on your home at least once a week.* Don't forget to give them your insurer's contact information, just in case. 

3. Hire someone to clear snow to show that your home is being well maintained and monitored. 

4. Redirect mail, have it held or ask someone you trust to pick it up for you so you're not advertising the fact that no one's home. 

5. Program a timer for your lights to create the illusion you're home. Do the same with the radio. 

6. Turn off the water valve in your sinks and washer to prevent water damage. 

7. Invite your friends and family over to clear out the fridge before the big day. They'll be helping you out, and you'll get a chance to see them before you head off for awhile. 

Get your finances in order

8. Set up automatic bill payments and make sure there's enough money in your accounts for all your payments. These days it's easy to manage accounts online. 

9. Notify the financial institution that issued your credit card of your travel dates. They'll be able to let you know of any irregular transactions. 

Check on your insurance and other essentials

10. Think about your travel insurance and make sure you're covered for the whole trip. Read the contract and keep telephone numbers on hand. 

11. If you're taking your vehicle with you, it's a good idea to get a tune-up and check that your insurance coverages are valid and how long your registration is good for. Contact your auto and home insurer to let them know your plans and get any useful information on your policy. 

12. Find out from your financial institution if you should open a foreign-currency account to make it easier to access funds. 

13. Make sure you have a valid passport for your whole trip, and even beyond, depending on your destination. Find out more  

*For Desjardins Insurance clients. Frequency may vary depending on the insurer. Contact yours to find out what they require.