If you’re reading this post it must mean that you’re headed out on a trip! I’m sure it’s going to be filled with fun adventures and new memories, so let’s make sure you come back to a safe and cozy home. This is my personal vacation prep checklist of all the things I do when preparing for vacation. These tips should help deter thieves and give you some peace of mind while you’re gone. Find the printable checklist at the bottom of this post.
Thank you to Schlage for partnering with me on this post. All thoughts and opinions are based on my own experience.
Hold Mail and Deliveries
It’s easy to have your mail held, and it can make a big difference towards keeping your home from screaming, “I’m empty”. USPS, UPS, and FedEx all offer vacation hold programs that you can sign up for online while preparing for vacation.
In addition to mail, be sure to arrange for any other deliveries (food subscriptions, etc.) to be held.
Notify Banks / Credit Cards
Some banks have helpful fraud settings that will lock your account if you start making purchases that don’t fit your standard pattern. This is great unless you’re traveling and need to access your money/spending limit. Some banks allow you to add travel plans to your account online, others might require a phone call to customer service. I mainly do this if we’re traveling internationally.
Clear Away Outdoor Garbage & Equipment
The exterior of your home should look well cared for and maintained. You don’t want to have any ladders or equipment laying around that might help a thief get into your home while you’re away.
Rake Leaves / Mow Grass
Another part of helping your home look lived in is to make sure you’ve recently cleaned up leaves and mowed the grass. If it’s winter, be sure to shovel the pathways. You might consider hiring a local company or teen to shovel while you’re away.
Check Your Door & Window Locks
We have a new Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt and love it for traveling. How many of us have driven away from home and asked ourselves, “did I lock the door?” Now we’re able to pull up the Schlage Home app and check to see if the door is locked, and we can even lock it from our phone if we did accidentally leave it unlocked!
I also love that our smart deadbolt lets us see when the door has been unlocked. It’s great for peace of mind when we’re away. Plus, we can give our house sitter or neighbor a temporary lock code that allows them into the house during a certain timeframe, i.e. while we’re traveling. It also works perfectly for our girls since they can come home from school and use their own code to get into the house, and then we can see that they came home safely.
Also, make sure to do a walk-through of all the rooms and check your window locks. We’ve occasionally found a window that was opened and not latched back to lock.
Notify Neighbor or Friend of Departure
Hopefully, you have a close friend or neighbor you can share your travel plans with. You can ask them to drive by your house occasionally to make sure nothing looks out of place. If it has snowed, they can also walk to your door or park in your driveway to make your home look lived in. They can also check for any packages that might have been delivered without your knowledge.
Add Exterior Lighting
It’s easy to turn your exterior lights on and leave them on while you’re away. However, if you want to make your home look more lived in, I recommend installing a timer switch on your patio lights while preparing your home for vacation. You can also install a motion detector light.
Program Interior Lights on Timers
Setting your interior lights on timers can be a great way of helping it look as if people are home. There are a lot of smart devices now that will allow you to program your lights from your phone. If you don’t have a smart home light system, you can always buy a plug timer that offers time variance.
Some people also like to have a radio or tv on while they’re away so that there is sound in the house. It’s not something we’ve done but could be a good idea if you have the right set up.
Notify Security System of Contact Info
If you have a security system in place on your home, be sure to notify them of any vacation plans. You should also notify them of how they can reach you in case of an alarm.
Install Security Cameras
For true peace of mind, we love our security cameras. We have one camera that looks outside our home and another that shows us the interior. While traveling we’re able to see if things look normal. We also have a Ring Doorbell so we can see when people come to our door and talk to them via the app.
Program Your Thermostat
If you don’t have any animals at home that you’re leaving, consider programming your thermostat for a lower (or higher) temperature to save electricity while you’re away from home.
Empty the Garbage
Don’t miss doing this or else you risk coming home to a stinky house!
Throw Out Perishable Foods
This is another step that can help prevent a stinky house and a stinky fridge. You also don’t want to come home to a fruit fly issue if you forgot to get rid of fresh fruit.
Be sure to allow yourself enough time to wash your dishes before you leave. You don’t want smelly dishes or stuck-on food. Plus, you’ll feel better coming home to a clean kitchen sink.
Unplug Unnecessary Appliances
Many appliances, like your tv and cable box, can actually use electricity even when they’re “turned off”. Just be sure to leave your router (WiFi) plugged in if you’re using smart home devices since they’ll need the WiFi access.
Lower Water Heater Temperature
Another energy-saving idea we do before leaving on vacation is turning down our water heater temperature. No need to keep that water heated for hot showers while you’re gone.
Winterize Pipes (if needed)
Lastly, if you live in a freezing weather location, be sure to do what’s needed to winterize pipes while you’re gone. You don’t want to come home and find a busted pipe.
A bonus idea I’ve heard before is to place a frozen cup of water (ice block) in the freezer and place a penny on top of the ice. If you come home and the penny is still on top of the ice, then all is good. If it’s sunk, you lost electricity at some point and probably need to throw out your food.
Preparing for Vacation Prep Checklist:
I hope these ideas will help you get your home ready for vacation. It’s always nice to know your home safe while you’re away!