We all know it is important to take steps to get ready for vacation and make sure everything is covered while you are away. In the days leading up to departure I often find myself overwhelmed by the number of tasks that need to be completed. Not only are there animals to tend to, phone calls to make, and bills to pay, there are clothes to be washed and packed as well. Here are some steps you can take to prepare for vacation, so once you reach your destination you can sit back, relax, and know that everything is safe back home.
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How to Get Your Home Ready for Vacation
I’ve tried to make this list as extensive and comprehensive as possible and hope you’ll enjoy the printable checklist I’ve included at the end of the post to make planning easier the next time you head out of town.
Travel prep inside your house
- Put a few indoor lights on an automatic timer throughout your house.
- Park your cars in the garage. Leave the keys with a friend or tell the friend where to find them in your house in case of an emergency.
- Leave a spare key with a trusted friend or neighbor.
- Pay all bills that will be due while traveling.
- Empty all trash cans and run the dishwasher the night before you leave. **Don’t wait until you leave in case the dishwasher leaks.
- Empty all clothes from the washer and dryer.
- Clear out the refrigerator and throw out any food that will spoil while you are away. Place a box of baking soda inside the fridge to absorb any odors.
- Turn off the thermostat or turn it down to a temperature that is comfortable.
- Turn off the water to avoid flooding from frozen pipes bursting or leaks in general.
- Unplug any electronics that don’t need to run while you’re gone. The tv and computers are the important ones in case there is a power surge while you are traveling.
- Check to make sure smoke detectors are working.
- Put valuables in a fireproof safe.
- Make sure all doors and windows are locked.
- Set your house alarm when you leave.
Travel prep outside your home
- Use outdoor lights that run on an automatic timer or have motion sensors if possible.
- Ask for a vacation hold on newspaper delivery or any other scheduled deliveries.
- Fill out a request to hold mail via USPS (CLICK HERE) or have someone else pick up your mail
- If you plan to be away for an extended period of time, arrange for someone to mow your yard so it looks like someone is at home. If you are traveling during the winter, arrange for someone to shovel your walkways and/or plow your driveway.
- Set sprinklers to water the grass and plants or arrange for someone to come by and take care of this.
- If you have a swimming pool, have someone that will check on the pool periodically.
Arrange for pet sitting
- Connect with the kennel/pet sitter in advance to make sure they have availability. If you don’t feel comfortable taking your pet to the kennel, use community Facebook groups to find people who offer dog home boarding or cat sitting.
- Pack your pet’s favorite bedding, toys, and food to last for the duration of their time at the kennel/pet sitter
- Find a time to take your pet to their “vacation destination” when you have time to devote to their drop off.
- Leave the contact information of a local friend (and veterinarian) with the pet sitter in case of an emergency.
Companies to notify when you travel
- Call your credit card company and let them know your travel plans. This will prevent any “suspicious activity alerts” on your account preventing you from using your cards when you travel.
- Notify your local police department and let them know you will be traveling. In some towns the police department will even do a “drive by” to check on your house while you are away.
- Notify your alarm company so they know not to treat alarms as “false alarms”.
What else to do before going on vacation
- Give a family member and/or friend a copy of your itinerary and emergency contact numbers. If they live nearby, ask them to check on the house while you are away.
- Check the expiration dates on your drivers license, credit cards, and passport. Some countries will not allow entry if your passport expires within 6 months of your arrival date.
- -If you have a service that comes to your house regularly (cleaning crew, dry cleaner, etc.), give them notice they do not need to come while you are away.
*This article originally appeared in March 2016, but was updated in March 2020.