How to Prepare your Home for Vacation
You've seen the commercial – there's a couple on a beach and she asks if he locked the door and turned off the tv and he can rest easy because he has a fancy home monitoring system... but he left all the windows open! Rest easy on your vacation by taking these steps to prep your home so that you won't wonder whether or not your house is in order and ready for your return.
1. MAKE A CHECKLIST.
Know what you need to do. Do it. Check it off the list. You won't forget. You won't be left wondering whether you did it or not. Make sure it covers both departure and your return. The last thing you'll want to do when you return from vacation is run around stressing out to take care of everything you left behind.
2. TAKE CARE OF YOUR PETS.
Get the sitter or boarder all the info and supplies they will need. Food, treats, toys, medicine – get it packed up. Special instructions for Fido? Write them down clearly and concisely.
3. HOLD THE MAIL.
Notify the post office if you'll be out-of-town for awhile so that your mail doesn't pile up and is safe, sound and secure. Or ask your pet sitter, plant waterer, or trusted neighbor if they can collect it for you.
4. CLEAN OUT THE FRIDGE.
Throw away food that will expire while you are gone. While it's looking empty, give the shelves and drawers a wipe.
5. TACKLE YOUR LAUNDRY.
Don't leave a pile waiting for you. Wash and put away your laundry before you leave. Chances are you're going to want to take items you've recently worn, anyways. If your washer has a shutoff, it wouldn't hurt to cut the water to it after you finish your last load.
6. CHANGE YOUR SHEETS.
Nothing beats sleeping in your own bed, except sleeping in clean sheets in your own bed! Make up the beds with fresh sheets so they will be waiting for you when you get home.
7. TIDY UP.
Do a final cleaning. Sweep the floors. Vacuum the carpets. Fill, run, and empty the dishwasher. Wipe down counters. Clean the toilets. If you have a garbage disposal, run it with half a cup of vinegar and some water. Don't forget to take out the trash!
8. WATER YOUR PLANTS.
Water your plants. Invest in self-watering stakes or line up a neighbor or friend to come take care of your flowers and house plants. If you don't want any to get missed, make a list for them with locations and instructions.
9. LEAVE A LIGHT ON.
If you don't already have a lamp on a timer, now is a good time to get one. It makes your house look occupied. It wouldn't hurt to notify your home-security service or a trusted neighbor of your plans either.
10. SPRAY FOR BUGS.
A good last-minute task is to spray for bugs. With both you and your pets gone, now is the perfect time to use a home fogger and hit key areas to keep the insects away.
11. ADJUST YOUR THERMOSTAT AND SET YOUR WATER HEATER.
Don't waste energy. Set your thermostat so that your home heating and cooling system won't do extra work. 80ºF in the summer and 65ºF in the winter are good benchmarks. If you have a hot water tank, set it to vacation mode. Just don't forget about it when you return!
12. UNPLUG UNNECESSARY ELECTRONICS.
Kill power strips, or better yet, unplug it! Don't take a chance leaving your desktop computer or TV plugged in in the event of a power surge. It also wouldn't hurt to unplug toasters, coffee makers and other small kitchen appliances.
13. TURN OFF THE WATER.
Consider turning off the main water valve in the summer. In the winter, you want to avoid pipes from freezing and bursting, so it may be good to leave a faucet dripping and keep the thermostat up a little higher. No matter what time of year, it's a good idea to turn off water to the toilets and washing machine to avoid chance of the hoses rupturing.