The Ultimate Pre-Vacation Home Checklist

Suitcase being packed

Vacations are meant to be relaxing and stress free. But before heading out the door, you should do more than just pack your bags. Be sure to prep your home and make it look uninviting to burglars, so you won’t return to any surprises.

Pre-Vacation Home Checklist: 12 Things to do before you go

  1. Hold the mail and newspapers. If you’re going away for longer than a week, put a stop on the mail and newspapers or ask a neighbor to take them in.
  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. Programmable timers let you randomize the daily on/off times.
  3. Move your car. Move your car into the garage so that it’s less vulnerable to theft and out of harm’s way in case of a storm.
  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, set your A/C to about 10 degrees below the outside temperature so big appliances don’t have to work extra hard. If you’re going away in the winter, set your heat to around 55 degrees to prevent frozen pipes.
  5. Turn off the water. If you’re going away for longer than a week, turn off your main water supply. If you don’t want to turn off all the water, then close the valves to your washing machine, dishwasher, ice-maker and toilets to prevent potential leaks.
  6. Adjust your shades and lock up. You don’t want your empty home on display, but you don’t want to shut your shades if you normally never do that. Instead close your shades partially to block the view while giving an “at-home” appearance. Also remember to lock your windows and doors to keep burglars at bay.
  7. Pay your bills. Sewer, electric, gas, mortgage, car payment … the list could go on. Be sure to make any upcoming payments to keep your credit in good standing.
  8. Notify your home alarm company. Let them know that you’ll be away, when you’ll be returning and if anyone will be going into your home. This will be helpful if they need to respond to an alarm.
  9. Arrange for lawn maintenance/snow removal. A snowy driveway or an overgrown lawn is a telltale sign no one is home. Try contacting a local service or enlist a neighbor’s help.
  10. Water your plants. Don’t let them go thirsty while you’re away! Also get rid of fresh-cut flowers, which could start to smell.
  11. Clean your kitchen. Wash your dirty dishes, clean the sink trap and pour vinegar down your garbage disposal. Wipe down the counters and discard perishables from the fridge and pantry. Make sure the oven and stove are turned off.
  12. Empty the trash. Take out the trash so you don’t come home to a horrible stench or unwanted pests. 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.

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