The mistake most people make is thinking that the house needs you there to look after it. This is not the case. A normally-constituted house or apartment can more or less look after itself–except for those rare events such as being hit by lightning, the pipes freezing and bursting, or having a tree go through it or fall on top of it. For these extreme, dramatic events, it is important that you are there. Or not.
As weather and seismic activity are entirely beyond your control, you must never ever worry about them. Burglaries are also an ever-present mental danger and occasionally come true. They can be reduced by normal precautions such as locking all doors and windows.
Leaving is always hard to do, but there are a few simple, subtle tricks that can help to sooth your anguish, reduce your anxiety, and fool the burglar.
- To clean or not to clean. I personally feel that a house feels better if it is not too clean. If you are to be away for a while, you will be surprised at all the help that spiders can bring. They kill a huge assortment of flies, bugs and other spiders, so there is no point in vacuuming for at least 3 weeks before your intended trip.
- Never wash your windows just before leaving. This can lead to unpleasant surprises upon return which include smelly dead birds lying around that have flown into the sudden emptiness, or even broken panes of glass where someone has seen something inside worth stealing. Nor should windows be too filthy as this makes the place look abandoned and derelict. I would suggest washing windows about 6 months before your planned departure.
- A kitchen, especially, should look lived-in. Remember to take out the garbage, and to get rid of all potatoes, but leave dishes on the draining board, and a couple of coffee cups on the counter. Put the kitchen light and the radio on and place half a bottle of wine on the table.
- Leave certain things lying around outside. Along with a parked car (with licence plates) I find old plastic children’s’ toys lying around on the driveway give an impression of un-Swiss un-tidiness and possible household impoverishment. Muddy old boots in front of the door and a collection of animal skulls found in the woods also provide a superstitious, lugubrious air. Top this up with a half-filled dog bowl and leash and collar chains hanging beside the front door and the illusion of red-necked squalor is quite complete and utterly unappealing to any self-respecting Swiss burglar.
Yes, I know. There is the mail and the thousands of fliers that get pushed through the letter box, and to keep this mess to a minimum, you need a trustworthy and accommodating neighbour.
So grab your masks and your hand sanitizer and take a little trip to Away. Try not to worry, and Bon Voyage!