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The Ultimate Pre-Vacation Home Checklist

Last updated on November 20, 2019 at 11:25 am

Vacation should be relaxing and stress free. But before you head out the door for your next long trip, you should do more than just pack your bags. To avoid returning to any surprises, be sure to prep your home and make it look uninviting to burglars. Rest assured — this handy checklist has you covered.

  1. Stop the mail and hold newspapers. If you’re going to be gone for more than a week, be sure to put a stop on the mail and newspapers. If you don’t have enough time to do this, ask a neighbor to take in the mail for you while you’re away.
  2. Put your lights on a timer. Put at least one light in your house on a timer so it looks like someone is home. Look for programmable timers so you can randomize the daily on/off times.
  3. Move your car. Move your car into the garage if you have one. That way, it will be less vulnerable to theft and out of harm’s way in case a storm hits while you’re gone.
  4. Set your A/C and heating system. Don’t completely turn off your air conditioning or heating system. If you’re going away when it’s warm out, set your A/C to about 10 degrees below the outside temperature, so big appliances in your home, like your refrigerator, don’t have to work extra hard. If you’re going away in the winter, be sure to set your heat to around 55 degrees to prevent frozen pipes.
  5. Unplug small appliances and electronic devices. To save power, unplug computers, modems, routers, televisions, cable boxes, radios, DVD/Blu-ray players, alarm clocks, cordless phones, coffeemakers, toasters and microwaves. 
  6. Turn off the water. If you’re going to be gone for a week or more, turn off the water to your house. If you don’t want to turn off all the water, then turn off the water supply (if easily accessible) to your to washing machine, dishwasher, ice-maker and toilets to prevent potential leaks.
  7. Empty the trash. Take out the trash before you leave so you don’t come home to ants, flies and a horrible stench.
  8. Discard perishables. Clean out the fridge before you leave so produce doesn’t go bad or start to smell.
  9. Adjust your shades. You don’t want your empty home on display, but you don’t want to shut your shades if you never do that. Partially closed is a happy medium — it helps to block the view and gives your home an “in-use” appearance.
  10. Make sure your windows are locked. Windows can be left unlocked — it happens. Maybe you just plain forgot after you had to air out the house from burning the breakfast bacon. An unlocked window is a perfect opportunity for a burglar to sidle on in.
  11. Are any bills due while you’re away? Sewer, electric, gas, mortgage, car payment … the list could go on and on. You don’t want to ding your credit by missing a payment.
  12. Notify your home alarm company (if you have one). Let them know that you’ll be away and when you’ll be returning and if anyone will be going into your home. This information will be helpful if they need to respond to an alarm.
  13. Arrange for lawn maintenance/snow removal. A snowy driveway or an overgrown lawn is a telltale sign you’re not home. Try contacting a local service, or enlist your neighbor’s help.
  14. Water your plants. You don’t want them to go thirsty while you’re away! Also get rid of any fresh flowers — they might not make it while you’re gone and could start to smell.
  15. Check your oven and stove. You don’t want anything gnawing at you while you’re trying to decompress.
  16. Clean up your kitchen. Get all of those dirty dishes washed, clean out your sink trap and hit your garbage disposal with some vinegar to prevent any yucky smells from brewing while you’re away.
  17. Take care of trash day. Ask a neighbor or friend to take your cans to the curb and bring them back promptly. Again, the goal is to make it look like someone’s home.

Protecting your home before you go on vacation is important, but you should also make sure it’s well-protected year-round. And, don’t forget about preparing your car if you’ll be driving to your destination. Check out our safety tips for a road trip here.

4 thoughts on “The Ultimate Pre-Vacation Home Checklist

  1. I’ve always heard you should not put a stop on mail and newspapers because that is just an announcement to the mail carrier and newspaper deliverer that your home is empty. Rather, always ask a trusted neighbor to collect mail and papers.
    Also, it’s good to turn the water heater temperature down in order to conserve energy while you’re gone.

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