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Shutting down the house!

Leaving home to travel for a few months or so? This easy checklist will guide you through a few essentials of what to do before you hit the road

Nomad family, Moab, Utah, September 2024.

Planning for your van trip is an exciting time. You can see endless roads and distant horizons unwinding before you, taking you from one magical sunrise or sunset to another. But before leaving home, there is so much to do. It can be stressful and overwhelming. Here are a few tips on getting some essentials done for peace of mind while you travel.


I rent out my fully furnished home for the six months I am out of town and in my van. The money subsidizes my travels. 

Renting your home to strangers can be stressful. I mitigated this by hiring a property management company, which takes the stress out of the game and makes homecoming a pleasure.

Set up a few interviews well ahead of planned departure to meet with different property management companies. It is your home, and this decision should be well-considered. The property manager I work with ensures well-looked-after tenants and, in that way, takes care of my property and expectations. Property management companies typically charge a monthly fee of 8%–12% of the monthly rent, and it is well worth it.

I pack away all valuables, trinkets, precious art pieces, family photos and religious icons and leave a sophisticated but simply appointed home. 

Tenant and home insurance

Don’t forget to include tenant insurance in your home insurance if you are renting. It is expensive. My property manager recommended a broker who came up with a good deal for me, and I could leave home with peace of mind.

Telephone and Wifi

I have two phone accounts: a US account and a Canadian account. Both companies allow me to suspend my account for a certain period each year, so I toggle between the two accounts. 

If this is your first time on the road and you are heading to the States, make this your first stop over the border. Once you have set up your telecommunications, life is much easier, and you can access my best friend, Mrs Google, for directions and other valuable information.

There is much online debate about which WiFi provider to use. I settled for Verizon and have a Verizon WiFi cube that works extremely effectively. Furthermore, it is about half the cost of a Canadian carrier. There have been a few remote places where I cannot hook up to WiFi. But for the most part, I can easily access wifi, do my work, download photos, and watch NetFlix, my other best friend. 

As I work on the road, I always make sure I can get to WiFi by early morning, which can mean an early start and a short drive in my van to a WiFi accessible location, or a good excuse to try out the local diner for breakfast.

Working from home.


Online banking requires two-way verification. Often, this security feature does not send messages across borders. Go online or consult with your bank to ensure that your two-way verification will get to you when you do online banking. It may mean changing your contact information to your US number or getting verification via email. 

Cautionary Tale: It is advisable to call your credit card company to inform them how long and where you will be travelling; otherwise, they may block a payment. Once, when travelling in South Africa, I booked a flight to an expensive destination, and the credit card company declined the payment due to “security reasons.” I had to spend time on an international call, lining up time zones with Toronto banking hours, to get my payment through. 

Vehicle insurance

Vehicle insurance is mandatory, but what about the car you are leaving at home? I take my car off the road and buy storage insurance that covers fire, theft and vandalism. There are many more automobile insurance companies, such as BCAA, Westland Insurance, AMC Insurance and Insure BC. Park it safely off the street in a driveway or garage while you are gone.


Are you a BCAA member? As they say—shit happens. Make sure your BCCA coverage includes your camper van. I have had to use AA in the US, and it was a pleasure to be able to call for help, knowing I can submit my invoices to BCAA and have them reimbursed. As a solo woman, this is an “essential.” 

Sh*t happens—somewhere in the US of A.

Medical Insurance

hop around for what works best for you, but remember to do this before stepping outside Canada. Get competitive quotes. A few reputable companies include but are not limited to, Manulife, BCAA, and Blue Cross.


While you are away, the mailman will keep visiting. If your neighbour is not emptying your mailbox for you, you may want to redirect your mail to somewhere else. Canada Post will forward mailI redirect my mail to my son’s home address. As I trust him, he can also open important or alarming-looking mail and let me know if I have an overdue bill to pay or an important tax rebate. 

Spare keys

Ensure you have multiple sets of spare keys, that include a front and back door key and a garage fob.

My trusted neighbour and long-suffering son have a set of house keys in case of an emergency like an unexpected flood—fingers crossed. My son has a set of keys that includes mailbox and car keys, as well as the house keys and garage access. 

My trusted neighbour and son will only enter the house in an emergency. As laid out in the BC Tenancy Act, tenants are required a certain amount of notice if anyone needs to enter the house. My property manager knows who has what keys, and she makes sure that the tenants get their necessary keys.

Online groups

Before leaving last year, I connected with different forums online. I joined the chatrooms and soon weeded out the good and bad fits for me. My favourite band of nomads is Destination Now Here—a respectful community. There was comfort in knowing your “neighbours.”  Everyone needs company, and solo travel can get lonely. Hanging out with a ready-made community without obligations or pressure was just what I needed to settle down for a while and enjoy the lifestyle of being a nomad.

The rule of three

I have three trusted people in my life. They each have a digital copy of my passport, driver's licence, licence plates and health insurance. 

We stay in touch through a group text on my phone, and I keep them updated on my movements. If I am heading off on a long hike by myself or a long day of driving, I will always let them know where I am going and what time they should hear back from me. 

Vehicle Maintenance

Finally, I always do one big service for both the car engine and the house, and check my tyres. I keep my van spick and span and in good repair as I want to have a safe trip and guarantee my resale value. 


Yes! Check your passport. You don’t want to arrive at the border or get stuck out of the country with an expired document.

Voila! Once all that stress and planning is done, you are ready to pack your van.

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