Wouldn’t you LOVE to live in this apartment in Buenos Aires? We thought we would, too, and in the first blush of arriving in that far-away city we were so thrilled that the guy holding the “Martin” sign was waiting for us at the airport, that he knew how to get us to our apartment, and that the beautiful, charming young manager was waiting for us outside the building that we completely let our adult selves nod off and our teenaged excited, worry-free selves take over.
This is how the CHECK IN list was born. After the delightful manager skipped happily down the hallway and disappeared into the sometimes-fretful elevator we began to discover all the things we failed to ask about and try out while we still had her in our clutches. She left town almost immediately on urgent business and we were left with no working coffee pot, an air conditioner whose on/off switch became a grail-like quest, a telephone we did’t know how to use, and no idea how to ask anyone for help.
She was not the last manager to leave the country immediately following our arrival. The same thing happened in the apartment where we are now living in Paris. Doesn’t it look terrific? Look at that Parisian view, the antique chest, the leather chairs, the kitchen, which is large by big-city standards. But don’t let photos fool you. We are adding to our check-in list every time we move. This time we learned to: turn on the kitchen faucet to be sure that it doesn’t spray the entire room each time it’s on (it has been replaced), that it has an actual oven (which it does NOT), and that the arms of all furniture stay firmly in position and do not fall on the floor when they are leaned on (that’s been fixed, too).
This leads me to the point of this entry. I have mentioned our check list several times on this site and since so many of our friends have asked about it, I’m going to share it with you. Obviously, we still need all the help we can get, so if you have suggestions or additions, please add them in the comment section.
In the meantime, happy travels and remember to throw your body in front of the manager if necessary if he/she tries to scamper away without giving you the information you need! Really, you’ve paid for this person’s time, so you have the right to ask all the questions and get all the help you need!
CHECK IN LIST
Reader Jere Brown, from Traverse City, Michigan, sent this photo of her kitchen things she takes along to rentals. This way, after a stay of a month or more, she can remember which items are hers and which belong to the rental. BRILLIANT!
- Keys – make sure you understand them. Try them all until you understand them. Ask for two sets if you are a couple. As reader Karen pointed out, if you’re on your own it’s a great idea to have an extra set somewhere handy in case you leave one set in the house!
- Intercom to allow your guests to enter. Try this out to be sure it works and you know how to use it.
- Where is the fuse box?
- How do you turn off water and gas in case of emergency?
Reader Beverly reminded me to mention that you should turn on every light and lamp to be sure you know how the switches work and that there are working bulbs. Coming home to a new place when the porch light doesn’t work is a real problem, and light switches can be located in strange places.
- Faucet – run the water. Be sure the hot and cold work correctly.
- Refrigerator – see that it’s clean and turned on.
- Dishwasher – ask for a demonstration. Where does the soap go? Which is the right stuff? How do the settings work?
- Burners – ask for a demonstration. They are all different!
- Oven – ditto.
- Pots and pans – check to see if non-stick covering is still intact. If cookware is not okay, ask for it to be replaced immediately!
- Coffee pot – make sure it works if you like coffee.
- Dishes and cutlery – take a look to be sure you have enough.
- Cooking utensils – if there’s not a spatula or an opener or any of the essentials, mention it and ask for what you will need.
- Washing machine – Again, ask for a demonstration and double-check where the detergent goes. The spinning part is always tricky, so be sure you understand that setting.
- Test the microwave. Erin, one of our wonderful readers, says to put a damp paper towel into the microwave and turn it on for 15 seconds. If it steams, you’re in business!
- Try hot/cold water.
- Ask for shower/bath demonstration.
- If there is mold or anything unpleasant, point it out and ask for it to be taken care of.
- Check to see if there are sufficient towels and bathmats. There will NOT be a washcloth, so just fugeddaboudit.
- Flush the toilet to be sure it’s working right.
- Ask where extra linens are kept.
- Be sure you have enough blankets or duvets.
ELECTRONICS and COMMUNICATIONS
- Ask for a demonstration of the TV/DVD/Satellite/Cable, whatever is on offer. Do not be rushed through this. Continue until you really get it!
- Haul out your computer and connect to the internet. If your signal is not strong enough for your needs, start the conversation about it immediately.
- Ask for a phone demonstration. This is really important in a place where you don’t speak the language in the first place!
- Be sure you know how to reach the manager or someone who can help you if you are really in need of assistance.
DIRECTIONS and LOCAL INFORMATION
- Take a look at the instruction book the owner should provide. Be sure you know where to find the nearest grocery stores, subway stations, bus stops and drug stores. Ask about how to get a taxi if you need one. Do NOT forget to ask where to find the best wine/liquor store is located.