Long tours ... mail, bills, etc.
This is another "How do you do it" question.
For those of you who have taken long tours, maybe a month or longer, how do you handle your mail and bills and other household logistics while you're gone? If you have a family member staying behind then it should be easy, but what if you don't?
Does someone collect your mail daily and sort it for important items? Do you use on-line bill pay where there is public internet? Do you leave a house sitting empty? Do you park your car in the garage and forget it?
I'm considering a cross-country tour for next summer, and am trying to figure out some of these logistics. I'd appreciate any experience, ideas, or suggestions. Thanks.
I rode cross country about seven years ago and being single I had to face most of those problems. For some bills like electric and telephone I found that you can pay in advance, so if you know your bill will run about $100 while you are gone then just prepay that bill by that amount.
I also only brought one credit card with me and that was one that was set up to automatically deduct full payment from a savings account I had, so I could use it as much as I needed and not worry about the bill not being paid. I also brought along a debit card for cash withdrawls.
If you have an on-line bill paying account set up that would also be very easy to do, you probably won't have too much trouble finding public computer terminals, especially in libraries.
And how do you handle your mail ... WHEN you're gone?
Originally Posted by SeS
(edit: in order not to be misunderstood: is it really so bad not to be attainable for a while? I like my 3 weeks of "out of the world" in summer. What did they do before emailing came up? When I was young my father tried to find a telephone in the second vacation week, just to find out what happened in his office. They never wanted him to come back)
Last edited by marmotte; 01-14-06 at 03:17 AM.
Long Distance Cyclist
When I went to Australia for 3 months, I packed everything up and put it into storage, and gave up my apartment ... so there was no issue about leaving my house empty etc.
However, about the mail, bills, and house:
Bills: If you go to your bank, you can set things up so that your bills are paid automatically at certain times of the month. Actually ... you can set that up yourself if you're doing on-line banking, which I would strongly recommend. It was nice to be able to check on how things were going with my finances now and then.
Mail: Here in Canada, I could just go to my post-office, and fill out a little form to have my mail forwarded somewhere ... and that's good for 6 months, I believe. In my case, I had my mail forwarded to my parent's place, but you could also forward it to a post-office box. Of course, you could let them know that you'll be away a while so that they don't get concerned by the build-up of mail.
House: If you are concerned about leaving your house empty, check through your local yellow pages for house-sitting services (get one were the people are bonded - a reputable place). I've used one who also looks after pets on quite a few occasions. For example, when I went to Europe for the PBP and tour, I was gone 3 weeks ... and I've got 2 cats. I arranged for the house/pet sitter, and she came in checked on the place, and fed and took care of my cats. She would have also watered the plants (if mine weren't all fake), and would have collected the mail, newspapers, etc, if I'd wanted. She also did things like opening and closing curtains, turning lights on and off, and moving things around a bit to give the impression that the place wasn't completely vacant. If you haven't got pets, so it isn't important to have someone come in every day, you might arrange to have them drop by a couple times a week or something.
Thanks for the suggestions.
I've been worrying about mail items that are non-standard and important. For example, my bank recently sold my mortgage. I had to change the automatic payments I had set up. They sent me a letter while I was out of town. I was only gone for two weeks, but when I arrived home and received the letter, I only had 2 weeks to verify that the sale was legitimate and change my payments. What would have happened if I was gone for a month?
The post office here in the US will hold mail for up to 4 weeks. I use that option fairly frequently. For a 3 month trip, I might rent a post office box and ask a friend to pick up the mail once a week.
Long Distance Cyclist
If you are expecting an important piece of mail, or suspect that perhaps one might arrive while you are away, you might consider having your mail sent to a place somewhere on your route, so that you can collect it. I could be wrong, but it might be possible, if you are a Hostelling International member, you might be able to get your mail, or certain pieces of your mail, sent to a hostel somewhere along the way. It might be worth checking into.
Originally Posted by SeS
I'm made of earth!
Rent and phone and such are taken out of my account automatically (standing-order). WHile on tour, I pay for things either in cash, debit card, or credit card. Then I pay off the credit card at the end of the month via the internet. I suppose I could use phone banking if I wanted, but I prefer to see the data on a screen.
Flying and Riding
If you've got someone that you REALLY trust, you can get a Special or Limited Power of Attorney and specify what actions the person is authorized to take in your name. These can also be set up to expire on a certain date. I've used these with relatives who handle my "business" while I'm gone.