10 Essential Things to Do Before Leaving for Vacation

You’ve booked your trip, researched the must-see attractions, recharged your electronics, packed your bags — and now you’re ready to lock the door and take off on your big vacation. (Ahhhh!)

But traveling smart starts with what you do before leaving for vacation. I always check these 10 things off my to-do list. They help ensure that I come home to find my place just as I left it.

1. Turn off your main water supply

Leaks happen. And they can happen while you’re away. Since nothing ruins the glow of a good vacation like returning to a flooded home, turn off your main water supply if you’re going to be gone for a week or more. (Heck, turn it off even if you’ll only be gone for a few days.)

If you forget and a leak does happen, your homeowners or renters insurance should cover that type of water damage.

2. Unplug all electronics

Yep, even if they’re not on, your electronics are energy vampires. Unplug your TV, microwave, toaster oven — anything that needs to be juiced — to save on your electricity bill.

As a plus, you’ll also help prevent an electrical fire.

3. Invest in a timer

Nothing screams “Come rob me!” like a house or apartment with its lights continually off.

Deter would-be burglars by putting timers on lights in different rooms. Set them to go on and off at various times throughout the night and no one will know you’re not actually there.

4. Stop mail service

Why let everyone (including prowlers) know that you’re not home?

If you don’t have a friend or friendly neighbor willing to pick up your mail, ask the USPS to hold it. They’ll keep all of your correspondences safe until you return, and the service is free.

5. Adjust your thermostat

If you live in a place where AC is a must during the summer months, adjust the thermostat a bit to save on your electricity bill. A good rule of thumb is to keep it a few degrees higher than normal. (So if you usually keep it at 70, change it to 75.)

By not turning off the AC completely, you’ll keep enough air circulating to control humidity and mold.

6. Pour baking soda down your drains and toilet

Baking soda is amazingly useful. And, when you combine it with vinegar, it freshens your drain (and helps clear clogs too). Pour about a cup down your drain and toilet to avoid playing “What’s that smell?” when you get home.

7. Seal open boxes of food and dried goods

You know the saying: When the cat’s away, the mice will play. But that doesn’t mean they need to play in your pantry.

By putting your dried goods (pasta, rice, nuts) and other foods in airtight containers, you’ll deter any critters from having a field day.

8. Clean your home

I know, I know. But your post-vacation self with thank you for taking care of the nitty-gritty.

At the very least, wipe down the surfaces, take out the garbage, and vacuum to prevent a critter invasion. And, if you want to be extra nice to Future You, put fresh sheets on your bed.

9. Freeze a simple, hearty meal

Chances are you’ve had a lot of dinners and lunches out while on vacation. And you’re probably not going to want to hit up the store and make dinner the moment you get back.

By freezing something easy and tasty — Bolognese sauce, soup, etc. — you’ll have a delicious dinner waiting for you when you return. And you’ll save yourself time, hassle, and money. (Hey, kinda like what we do for you at Esurance.)

10. Check up on your insurance

You knew this one was coming. Honestly, though, knowing what your insurance policies (car, home, renters) cover could save you both time and money if something does happen while you’re away

Did you know, for instance, that your U.S. car insurance policy is valid in Canada? Yep, your liability and medical expenses are covered if an accident happens up north. Also good to know: the stuff you take with you on vacation is covered by your homeowners or renters policy.

Bon voyage

Once you’ve checked these items off your list, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve done your part to keep your home safe and sound. Which means you can get out there, have a great time, and enjoy your adventures.

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Must-Read Safety Tips for Wildfire Season

As the East Coast braces itself for hurricanes and the Midwest hunkers down against tornadoes, the West is facing its biggest summer threat — wildfires. This season is predicted to be an especially busy one due to high spring temperatures and low rainfall. Major fires have already happened in San Diego County, Napa County, Washington, western New Mexico, and eastern Arizona.

Firefighters in California are responding to the threat with “super choppers,” combat helicopters equipped with massive water tanks and a snorkel that can slurp up to 1,000 gallons a minute. While it would be awesome if we all had a super chopper at our immediate disposal, there are many other ways to protect yourself, your family, and your property against wildfires.

Remember, the tips below are general suggestions. To best keep yourself and your home safe, consult with an expert in order to create a plan made specifically for your home.

Preparing for wildfire season

Protect your home

Though wildfires themselves can be hard to control, there’s a lot you can do to help make your home wildfire safe. Because houses usually ignite due to windborne embers, rather than the heat from the flames themselves, it’s important to create a defensible space around your house and select your building materials carefully.

  • Make sure your roof and home exterior — including decks and fences — are built using fire-resistant materials or treated with flame retardants
  • Cover your attic and foundation vents with 1/8-inch mesh metal screens or install ember-resistant vents
  • Create a safety zone at least 30 feet wide around your house (100 feet, if your home is in a pine forest). Within this safety zone you should:
    • Remove all dead leaves, twigs, and combustible vegetation
    • Plant shrubs and trees that are resistant to fire
    • Keep your roof, deck/patio, and gutters free of debris and remove vines from walls
    • Trim branches that extend over your roof or near chimney outlets
    • Keep lawns trimmed and remove tree branches within 6 to 10 feet of the ground
    • Move any flammable items such as lawn furniture away from your home
    • Keep propane tanks and firewood at least 30 feet from any structures
    • Clear a 10-foot space around your grill
    • Create spaces between trees (clusters of 2 to 3 should be 30 feet apart, and individual trees 20 feet apart)
    • Buy a garden hose long enough to reach every part of your property
    • Make sure emergency vehicles can readily access your home, and mark all driveways clearly

Make a plan

Map out a strategy beforehand and share it with your family and neighbors, so you can proceed calmly if a wildfire is approaching.

  • Put together an emergency kit containing first-aid supplies and enough water and non-perishable food for at least 3 days
  • Map out several escape routes (in case some are blocked) both by vehicle and on foot
  • Decide on a safe gathering place outside the hazard area
  • Keep your car’s gas tank filled at all times
  • Make sure pets have ID tags and/or microchips, and keep a sturdy carrier on hand
  • Know which items you’ll want to take in an evacuation (irreplaceable photos, important documents, prescriptions, etc.) and be ready to gather them quickly

What to do in a wildfire

Here’s what to do if a wildfire is encroaching.

If you’re advised to evacuate:

Gather your family members and pets, grab your emergency kit and mobile phone, and leave immediately (by car, if possible). Choose a route away from the fire and keep an eye on the fire’s movement.

If you haven’t been ordered to evacuate:

Provided the fire isn’t dangerously close yet, here are a few additional steps you can take to prepare.

  • Close all vents, windows, outside doors (including pet doors), and shutters
  • Shut interior doors to avoid draft
  • Take down flammable curtains and window shades
  • Turn on exterior and interior lights to make your home more visible
  • Shut off your gas at the meter
  • Attach garden hoses to spigots and place a tall ladder at the corner of your house for firefighters to use
  • Round up your pets and place them in their carriers
  • Put your emergency kit in your car along with any vitally important papers or valuables

The most important thing to do in any natural disaster is to stay calm and be prepared.

And of course, whether it’s fire season or not, the best way to protect your home and belongings is to make sure you have the right homeowners or renters insurance. We’ll be glad to help you out.

Related links

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Are you living in a natural disaster zone?

Summer Driving: Your Glove Box Survival Kit

Out-of-state family reunion? Road trip with friends? Weekend at the beach or lake? Whatever your plans this summer, there’s a good chance you’ll be spending a lot of it cooped up in your car. So, to help you get by (and as an addition to our standard year-round car safety must-haves), we’ve put together the ultimate glove box survival kit for the summertime road warrior.

Here are 10 things you need to have in your glove box this summer.

1.  Spare sunglasses

It can be hard enough to keep your focus on the road during long trips, and the blazing sun doesn’t help. Don’t be the driver who leaves their sunnies on the diner table at breakfast and has to squint for the rest of the journey. Instead, keep a back-up pair in the glove box, ideally with polarized lenses to help reduce glare. Check out this expert advice on selecting the right sunglasses.

2.   Quarters

Always, always have a roll of quarters in your glove box for unexpected road tolls, quick ice cream pit stops, and, of course, the parking meter outside said ice cream shop. And make sure to replace used quarters when you return home.

3.   Hand wipes

These will come in handy when dealing with the aftermath of the aforementioned ice cream run. Have some kind of wipes at the ready to ensure you’re equipped to deal with any sticky messes, especially if you’re traveling with kids.

4.   Sunscreen and lip balm

This one almost goes without saying. If there’s something you don’t want to be without during the hot summer months, it’s sunscreen. Keeping spare sunscreen and lip balm with SPF in the car will prevent you from having to pay expensive gas station prices in a pinch. And you should probably slather some on before you jump in the driver’s seat because UV rays are powerful enough to do damage through your car windows.

5.   Headlamp

Having a flashlight in your car is a must all year round, but a headlamp can come in extra handy during the summer months. Want to perfect those campfire s’mores in the dark? A headlamp will be your best friend.

6.   Multi-purpose tool

So you parked the car and are ready to crack open a drink and settle in for the night … only to realize you forgot to pack the bottle opener. No worries! You have your handy multi-purpose tool in the glove box. As well as a bottle opener and corkscrew, you also have scissors to cut rogue threads, a nail file to smooth down a rogue nail, and a toothpick for rogue foodstuffs after a BBQ. Never go on a road trip without one.

7.   Bug spray

Don’t let mosquitoes get the best of you when traveling during hot summer months, especially in overgrown terrain or near standing water. A small can of insect repellent in your glove box can come to the rescue.

8.   Spare toothbrush and toothpaste

If you’ve ever left your toothbrush in a motel bathroom, then you’ll agree. Don’t put a damper on your journey by detouring to find a gas station that sells toothbrushes — just keep one in your glove box instead.

9.   Wireless speakers

From a beach bonfire to camping in the woods, great tunes are a must. Now you can bring the music with you wherever you’re heading, even when you’re on the road. These are CNET’s recommendations for the best wireless speakers.

10.  Stain removal pen

Any chance you’ll be indulging in BBQ ribs, red wine, or s’mores? Trust us, you’ll be happy you brought it.

And don’t forget your insurance ID card

No matter where your car takes you this summer, make sure you’ve got your insurance docs on hand. If you’re an Esurance customer, you can download our app so you’ll always have your ID card with you.

Make road trips even better with Fuelcaster™

Another way to prepare before hitting the road this summer? Get Fuelcaster — the gas price predictor™. This website predicts whether gas prices are expected to rise or fall tomorrow. That way, you can decide whether it’s better to fill up today or wait. If you need gas pronto, it can also help you navigate to the closest gas stations with the cheapest gas.

Related links

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Can Cruise Control Save You Money?

10 Tips for a Successful Car-Camping Road Trip

The Poetic Nature of Maine Car Insurance

Maine native Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote, “All things come round to him who will but wait.”

Well, Mainers, the wait’s finally over. You can now get your Maine car insurance online from Esurance. And it looks like we got there just in time for the summer rush — Maine boasts one of the most visited national parks in the country, the stunning Acadia National Park.

So, what exactly do Maine drivers get with an Esurance car insurance policy? We’re glad you asked.

Esurance offers tools to make your life easier


Okay, strictly speaking, Fuelcaster is a perk for all drivers, not just Esurance policyholders. But, if you’re heading to Acadia National Park (or any other U.S. destination) for the weekend, this is one handy tool you shouldn’t leave home without.

Just visit fuelcaster.com from your desktop or mobile and type in your ZIP Code. Fuelcaster shows you the lowest gas prices in your area and predicts if they’re expected to rise or fall. That way, you can decide whether to buy gas today or wait until tomorrow.

Photo claims and video appraisal

When you have a claim, you just want to get back on the road fast. So we’ve developed 2 innovative tools to help you do just that.

With photo claims, there’s no need to wait for an appraiser to come out and inspect the damage. Just start a claim (online, over the phone, or through our mobile app), upload a few photos, and get your money fast. No appointment necessary!*

And with video appraisal, you can use your smartphone to video chat with an Esurance appraiser in real time and get an estimate and payment on the spot.**

These time-saving tech tools are both available on Esurance Mobile, where you can also see a daily photo of your car’s repairs using our RepairView® tool.

What If® Calculator

After a claim, or any major life event for that matter, you may be left wondering if your car insurance premium could change.

Our What If Calculator can help you determine how your price will be affected by things like:

  • Filing an accident-related claim
  • Adding a new car to your policy
  • Getting a ticket
  • Or moving across the state

Using the What If Calculator won’t affect your actual premium or policy, so go ahead, ask all the hypotheticals you want!

Maine car insurance … and so much more

With the addition of Maine, you can now find Esurance car insurance in 43 states. See if we’re in your state.

But that’s not all. We now offer homeowners insurance in 7 states, including Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Oregon, and Wisconsin.

If you’re a renter, you can add our renters coverage to your Esurance car insurance policy in Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

And if you’re looking for motorcycle insurance, we offer great coverage for all kinds of bikes in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.

This year, we’ll continue to roll out our smarter, more efficient insurance products in other states.

And, in the wise words of Longfellow, “We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.” So judge for yourself. Get a quote from Esurance and find out just how smart, easy, and modern Maine car insurance can be.

Related links

Read up on Maine car insurance

*Not available in all states. Submitting photos for appraisal doesn’t guarantee coverage or payment of a claim.

**Not available in all states. To get a video appraisal, you need at least an iPhone® 5 with iOS 7 or Android™ 4.0 on your smartphone, 4G LTE connection, and an eligible claim.

Why I Ride: A Girl, a Dream, and 883 CCs

“Riding motorcycles has always been seen as a masculine thing.”

Not anymore.

On the back of her flat-black Harley-Davidson® Sportster, in her pink, sparkly helmet, Leslie Padoll isn’t all that concerned with what people think about her and her motorcycle ways.

Raised in a family of motorcycle enthusiasts, it was only natural that she would develop a love for riding. “There’s something really, really romantic about the connection with your motorcycle and the desire to go further.”

Whether she’s cruising around New York City or trekking coast to coast, Leslie knows the experiences she’s collecting make every ride worthwhile.

See where the road takes her (and her bike, Francie) in Episode 2 of the Esurance “Why I Ride” series.

Want more motorcycles?

Get Leslie’s full story at esurance.com/whyiride. Plus check out the first episode of Why I Ride featuring Matt Work, avid rider and owner of San Francisco-based motorcycle club, Piston and Chain.

Share your motorcycle love with #WhyIRide

We want to hear what inspires you to get out and ride. Share your motorcycle stories and connect with other riders using the hashtag #WhyIRide.

And to make sure you (and your bike) are always protected, get your free motorcycle quote today.