Planning a trip away from home can feel overwhelming. You’re taking a step beyond simply dreaming of serene beaches, wild mountains and fantastic meals to really experience the world. If you want to make your getaway a reality, all you have to do is make a plan. One thing that might fall to the wayside in your initial plans is how you’ll get your home vacation ready.
While traveling, you want to make sure you’ve taken precautions to ensure your home’s safety and care. Consider how long you’ll be traveling, the type of home you have, and what resources are available. To help define your process, here’s a chronological list of house prepping to-do’s –– remember to check back periodically as the day of your trip approaches!
1-2 MONTHS BEFORE DEPARTURE
Gather and Organize a Trustworthy Crew: Contact dependable, trustworthy people to keep an eye on your home. Be aware of who you tell, keep that number low and keep track of who knows your travel plans. Organize and delegate tasks to your crew as needed.
- Mail collection. A full mailbox can be an indicator of an empty home, increasing the risk of a break-in. Note: if you don’t have someone to grab the mail, the USPS can hold your mail while you’re away. Simply go online and request a hold for the dates you’re traveling.
- Save the greens. Ask your house sitter to water the plants and inform them of any timers you may have on lights, televisions, or the thermostat. Your plants need to be vacation ready too!
- A spare key. Whether you’ve decided to enlist the help of your friends or neighbors, leave a spare key with someone just in case. You never know when your keys will go missing or your luggage delayed (with your keys inside!).
- Your automobile. If it’s not coming with you, figure out where to leave your car. An ideal location is either inside a garage or at the home of someone you trust.
Get Your Pets Set: If your beloved pet is staying home, ensure they have the best care before you go. Whether you have a pet-loving friend or you hire a pet sitter, take a few extra steps to ease your pet’s anxiety and get them vacation ready too.
- Invite your friend or new pet sitter over to meet your fur baby ahead of time.
- Show them how you portion meals and explain your pet’s daily schedule.
- Alert them to any health needs and make sure they have your vet’s contact information in the event of an emergency.
- Don’t forget to give them a key!
Create Activity Within Your Home 24/7: While having someone check on your home will create activity and discourage break-ins, here are a few tips to keep the house secure throughout the day and night.
- Buy timers from a store like Home Depot or Lowes to make your house look lived-in while you’re gone. Timers are easy to install and will turn on lights, TVs, and other electronics at specific times throughout the day.
- While you’re there, if you have any arcadia or sliding glass doors and don’t have a security bar, go ahead and purchase one. A secure home is a vacation ready home!
1-2 WEEKS BEFORE DEPARTURE
- If you are concerned about any possessions of sentimental value, you can open a safety deposit box at your bank.
- Not keen on the bank? Then purchase a fireproof and waterproof document bag or home safety box to store important documents like birth certificates, social security cards and your marriage license. Small valuables can also be thrown in for safekeeping while you’re away.
Send Reminders: Check in with any house/pet sitters to remind them of your travel plans.
Clean Up: Clean your home to discourage pests and dirt accumulation. No one wants to come home to a dirty house!
THE DAY BEFORE DEPARTURE
Take out the trash: bathrooms, office, bedroom, kitchen, and especially any food that won’t be preserved.
Secure Vehicle: Move your car to its designated location.
Alright, you’re heading out the door! Here’s your final checklist:
- Lock all windows, doors, and put a bar across any arcadia doors.
- Shut your interior doors to create barriers in case of a fire.
- Shut off the water to your house. Pipe bursts happen and some insurance companies won’t cover damages if the house has been unoccupied for more than four days while you’re on vacation.
- Pre-program your thermostat to conserve energy. You can have it turn on shortly before you get home, or come on once in a while to make it look like someone’s home.
- Consider turning off your hot water heater to conserve even more energy.
- If you’re gone for two weeks or more, leave curtains open to discourage mold growth.
- Unplug everything: coffee maker, clocks, microwave, televisions (unless they’re on the timer), DVD players, surround sound speakers, and if you want to go the extra mile, unplug your washer and dryer.
Without this crucial planning, your mind may be stuck at home, wondering if everything is okay. Follow this comprehensive list and you’ll get to fully relax during your wonderful adventure away. You’ll be care and worry-free knowing your home and beloved pets are safe!
This article originally appeared in our Spring 2020 issue, The HOME Issue.