One of the important parts of heading out on a trip is preparing your home for vacation. Of course, the best thing to do would be to hire a house-sitter to stay at your home while you’re gone. In my college days, I made quite a nice side income watching houses and pets for people when they were gone. I didn’t include pet care in this article, but it’s assumed that if you have a pet you’ll arrange to have it cared for while your traveling. Here are 12 things you should do to prepare your home for vacation (free printable checklist at the end):
Place Mail & Deliveries on Hold: USPS has a very easy to use online mail hold form that is available for most addresses. If you don’t have the online option, you can fill out a form at your post office or ask your postal carrier for a form. If you’re expecting a UPS or FedEx delivery, contact them with your tracking number and they should be able to hold your packages for a limited time at one of their facilities. Also place other deliveries like newpapers, milk, or food on hold.
Outside Your Home: Do a cleanup of the outside of your home. Such as storing your garbage cans, putting away ladders, raking leaves and mowing the grass. You want it to look lived in, not abandoned. See if you can set up your exterior lights on timers. Especially if you have holiday lights. If you might get snow while you’re gone, ask a neighbor to walk around your door and property so they leave footprints. You can even ask a neighbor to park in your driveway while you’re gone.
Tell a Trusted Neighbor: If you have a neighbor who you know and trust, let them know when you’ll be gone and ask them to keep an eye on your property. Leave your contact information so they can reach you if there are any problems.
Interior Lighting: Place light timers on some lamps. I like the ones that have a random setting so that it’s more realistic when you’re gone. The one we have will use my set time and then vary it by a random 1-30 minute amount so that it’s not coming on at the same time every day/night. I purchased mine at Home Depot, but you can buy them at Amazon too like this GE 15154 Random On/Off 7-Day Digital Timer.
House Alarm: If you have an alarm system set up in your home, be sure to notify your security company of your vacation and how to reach you in case of emergency.
Notify Local Police: Call your local police station to ask if they accept vacation notifications. Some will let you leave your contact information so they can contact you if there are any problems. They might even drive by your home to check things out.
Dishes: Don’t leave any dirty dishes sitting around while you’re gone. You don’t want to come home to any mold or stink!
Food & Garbage: Empty out your fridge of any perishables that could rot while you’re gone. Also get rid of any fruits or vegetables that may be on your counter. It’s a good idea to take your garbage out just before you leave too.
Unplug Electronics: Go ahead and unplug most of your basic electronics and appliances (tv, toaster, computer, etc).
Thermostat: Adjust your thermostat so you can save money on heating or cooling when you’re gone. Take into account that you don’t want to go too extreme on your settings. We like to set our heater to 50-55 degrees when we’re gone. We don’t have air conditioning, but I would suppose you could set it to 90 degrees in the summer. Keep in mind that if you have any pets, you’ll have to keep your thermostat at a more moderate temperature for them.
Water Heater: Here’s another opportunity to save some money. Turn your water heater temp way down since you won’t need to keep a tank heated at the ready. Just remember to turn it back up when you get home.
Check All Your Windows: Make sure they’re all locked and close the blinds/curtains.
I’ve created a Prepare Your Home for Vacation checklist that you can print out and use to make sure you’re ready to leave. Let me know if you have any tips or ideas that I didn’t include. Be sure that you’ve taken care of backing up your computer files before you leave too!disclosure: affiliate links included – this has no impact on your purchase or cost, but allows me to earn a small referral credit which helps support this blog and my family.