7 tips when you’re away from home this Christmas

Off to see friends and family this Christmas? Here’s how to avoid a festive disaster…

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Whether you’re staying in the UK or jetting off to warmer climes to celebrate Christmas this year, the last thing you’ll want on your hands is a festive disaster.

Even if you’re just popping to a neighbour for a glass of sherry and a mince pie, it’s worth paying heed to things that might go wrong while you’re out.

So here are seven tips to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible…

1. Get your home winter ready

Staying with relatives over the festive period can be stressful enough, without returning home to discover a pipe’s burst.

So take preventative measures by leaving the heating on low or setting it to come on at least once a day while you’re away, and ensure your pipes and boiler are fully insulated. You might also consider covering your boiler against breakdown during the peak demand periods of the winter.

You can discover more top tips for protecting your home here.

2. Check you’re fully covered

Contents insurance protects your belongings against theft, fire, flood and damage. And it’s particularly important in the run up to Christmas when your home will be crammed full of more expensive goodies than usual.

Keep in mind if you’re going away for longer than 30 days, your contents insurance may not cover you.

The good news is some insurers will automatically increase your contents insurance over the festive season so it pays to check whether yours does.

Keep in mind if you’re going away for longer than 30 days, your contents insurance may not cover you. So again, check your policy and, if necessary, buy additional cover.

3. Lock up

Just as you don’t want to return home to a burst pipe, you also don’t want to discover you’ve been burgled.

So make sure you’ve locked all doors and windows (including those in garages and sheds) before you go. And if you’ve fed a cable through a window for outdoor Christmas lights, make sure the window can’t be pried open – or, preferably, use battery or solar powered lights instead.

Keep keys out of sight and reach of any windows or your letterbox, and leave a spare set with a neighbour or friend so that someone will still be able to get into your home in an emergency.

A word of warning, here, though… Insurance companies will only pay out for a burglary if there has been forced entry into your property, so if they get hold of a spare set of keys and simply let themselves in, you could end up seriously out of pocket.

Finally, if you have a burglar alarm, don’t forget to set it before you leave.

4. Light up

It’s also a good idea to leave a couple of lights on timer switches so they will come on for a few hours in the evening, giving the impression you’re at home. You can get the same kit for curtains.

5. Check the weather forecast and traffic updates

If you’ve got a long drive ahead of you, keep up to date with the weather forecast a few days before you go so you know what driving conditions you’ll be faced with.

Leave plenty of time to get to your destination and check the latest traffic report before you go so you can plan an alternative route if necessary.

6. Pack a car survival kit

It’s also a good idea to pack a survival kit to put in your car so you don’t get caught out if you break down or are held up for any length of time. This should include jump leads, a torch, a first aid kit, a blanket, ice scrapers, warm clothes, bottles of water and non-perishable food.

Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged before you set off too, and check you’ve got breakdown cover.

7. Record your favourite Christmas TV!

Lastly, before you leave home, go through a TV guide and set to record anything you want to watch. After all, if you’re staying with family, it’s unlikely anyone will be able to agree on which films and programmes to watch over Christmas, so at least you can catch up on anything you’ve missed when you return home!

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