Taking a vacation is an exciting event. You get to escape your normal routine for a new or relaxing experience. Perhaps it’s for a week or more, or maybe you are just getting away for the weekend. Regardless of the time you may be gone, it is still important to mind a couple things at your home before you leave. By taking some steps to prevent issues from arising while you are gone, you’ll have a much happier return.
In addition to preventing theft and making the coming-home process easier, preparing your home for vacation ensures your belongings, plants, and surfaces will all fare well while you’re gone.
Whether you’re heading across the state or across the country, these eight essential checklist items will provide you peace-of-mind so you can fully enjoy your vacation.
Burglars target homes with certain criteria. For one, an optimal home is concealed in darkness. Secondly, burglars generally prefer to strike while you are away. Kill two birds with one stone by investing in automatic lighting.
Start by installing at least one interior light on a timer, so it turns on in the evening and early mornings. As a result, it appears as if someone is home. Additionally, it’s a good idea to install motion-activated sensors on outdoor floodlights. It will be convenient for you when you come home full-handed from vacation while remaining inconvenient for someone who wants to stay in the dark.
Above all, if you can’t complete an install before your trip, utilize the automatic timers on your television or radio alarm clock to provide a little noise throughout the day.
It is important to point out, however, that automatic lights and electronics are only half of the recipe to fool burglars about your whereabouts. Conversely, some other details might give your absence away.
First, you’ll want to make arrangements for your mail and newspapers. A pile of papers on your driveway signals that you are not home and a quick peek in your mailbox confirms it. Ask a neighbor to swing by or schedule a stop of delivery at the post office. Also, while your neighbors are grabbing the mail, have them look out for packages and things like advertisements left on your door. Burglars stick items like a restaurant coupon in your door to test if you are actually coming home.
Second, you’ll want to park your car in the garage. Not only is it safer from vandalism, but it is more ambiguous to a burglar than a car that has not moved (even slightly) for days.
A third step you can take is to ensure your lawn and landscaping are kept up while you are away. Arrange for a trim in the middle of your vacation. Don’t forget to arrange care for your indoor plants too.
Pro-Tip: If you are tech savvy, check out the latest in doorbell cameras. This way, you’ll see everyone who sets foot on your doorstep, which is convenient anytime you are away from home. Furthermore, a camera on premises is burglar kryptonite.
If you’re going to be gone for more than just a few days, make sure you’re not running appliances and plumbing that you don’t need.
In addition to being an added expense, running these things places your home at risk of fire and other damage.
It is also important to set your thermostat closer to outside temperatures (warmer in the summer, cooler in the winter) – this will protect your plants, pets, furniture, and more.
To avoid the possibility of a disaster while you’re out, take the following precautions:
- Unplug all small appliances and electronics
- Put available utilities (such as your water heater) on “vacation” mode
- Turn off water valves to your washing machine, sinks, and dishwasher
If you have a home security company, be sure to let them know that you’ll be out of town before you go. That way, they can keep an extra eye on your property and pay close attention to anything that seems suspicious or odd.
Don’t forget to set the system before you leave the house. Also, it’s important to designate a trustworthy local person whom your security company can call in case an emergency arises while you are away.
Locking up is so simple, and yet people continue to forget to check before they leave. Here are several scenarios that could cause you to forget to lock up tight before vacation.
Distraction: When you have a vacation on the brain, you are juggling a list of tasks. This list is what gets in the way of some people doing a final walk around before setting off for the trip.
Locking Too Soon: For others, they may lock up too early, and then another house member opens a window or door after the fact.
Rarely-Used Doors/Windows: People assume they are locked as usual. However, they forget to account for that one time the garlic bread burned or when they swept a mouse out the back door with a broom.
Assuming the Other Person Locked Up: Homes are sometimes breached when one party (or both,) assume the house has been locked by the other.
The Home Alone Scenario:
It’s happened to everyone at some point. You have slept in, wake up in a panic and now you are scrambling to catch your flight.
(Source: Home Alone GIF)
After considering these instances, it is best to get everything and everyone situated in the car, and then have the driver go back in for one last security check.
It’s hard enough to be pried away from your vacation once it’s over. However, you’ll add insult to injury to come home to a stinky house. Prevent this added grief by getting rid of any waste in all areas of your home:
- Kitchen, bathroom and bedroom trash
- Food that will spoil
- Diaper Hamper
In addition to removing all trash from your home, be sure to run your garbage disposal with a half-cup of vinegar and some water. Not only will it prevent odors from forming, but it will also kill bacteria. On that same point, it is wise to complete your loads of dirty laundry prior to your vacation because they can become musty in no time.
Pro-tip: If you’re planning to freeze anything before you go, place it in a freezer bag and squeeze all the air out to prevent freezer burn
Check your home’s smoke detectors before you leave, and replace any batteries if needed. Don’t forget to check your smoke detectors’ expiration dates, as well. While most people don’t look for these, an expired smoke detector is unlikely to provide the full functionality to protect your home.
Be sure to keep a few extra smoke detector batteries on hand, in case the person checking on your home while you’re gone happens to notice that one is not working.
These little invaders shouldn’t get to vacation in your home while you are away. Keep bugs out of your home by spraying an insecticide in key areas. It’s also a good idea to remove foods you may keep on countertops such as bread or fruit. Take another step by ensuring all countertops are wiped down too.
These simple moves will eliminate some of the factors that lead to infestation while you aren’t home to monitor it.
If you have a recurring pest issue, you can also hire an exterminator to come while you’re gone.
You’ve earned your vacation, and you deserve to enjoy it worry-free. Don’t forget to check off these eight must-do tasks before you go. In addition to keeping your home safe and secure, these simple tasks will also prevent damage to your home and grounds. Above all, taking the time to make these preparations will allow you more peace of mind to relax or be more present during your trip.