Since I couldn’t find a friend to rent my house, I placed a listing with the local university’s faculty housing office. They located an instructor who needed a place to live for the length of time I was going to be gone. (I reduced the rent to offset pet-care duties.)
I set up an apartment-sharing agreement instead of a strict sublease, to protect myself in case I needed to return home in an emergency. I prepared detailed house and pet-care instructions, which included a chart of daily, weekly, and monthly activities, and put it up on the refrigerator door. I also left a list of repair people to call just in case, as well as a list of all the things in a state of disrepair.
I prepaid my water bill to create a substantial credit on my account so no payments would need to be made during my absence. I transferred the phone, gas, and electric service into the housesitter’s name. Since that meant I no longer had a phone line, I had no access to my long-distance privileges, so I acquired a nonsubscriber long-distance calling card.
I moved all of my personal belongings to a secure off-site location and hired a housekeeper and a lawn maintenance person on a biweekly basis to help with the upkeep of the house and yard.
I groomed my dog and stocked an ample supply of food, medicine, and flea combatants. I registered my credit card number with my veterinarian so that the caretaker could take him for help without worrying about bills.
I loaned my car to a friend in exchange for her paying the cost of my insurance and maintaining the car on an established schedule. Our written agreement also included information regarding what to do in case of vandalism, an accident, or necessary repair.
Excerpt from “Go Girl! The Black Woman’s Book of Travel & Adventure.”