Here are 15 steps you need to take in and around your home when preparing for a trip, to ensure safety, comfort and less stress when you return from your travels.
When you're planning your next vacation there is more to it than just booking a hotel. You've also got to make sure you get everything ready at home before you can leave, with peace of mind.
These 15 steps are important for your safety, security, and a happy return. From avoiding (to the extent possible) theft in your home, to simply making sure your pets are fed, this is what you need to do before you take a trip with your family each and every time.
When you're not staying in your home you don't need it to be optimally heated, or cooled, within reason.
You don't want things to get extremely hot or cold inside your temporarily vacant house, but a moderate temperature adjustment can save you cash by lowering your energy costs.
In the winter you'd allow the temperature to get cooler in your home, and in the summer you'd allow it to get warmer. If you already have a programmable thermostat in your home you'll want to set it to vacation mode, and if not you can adjust it manually.
To help with the appearance of someone being home make sure to put things like a lamp or porch lights on timers, so they go on and off at appropriate times each day while you are away.
This helps deter potential theft, but in addition it makes it easier for you if you happen to arrive home at a later time of day. Then, you can see what you're doing more easily when carrying in all that luggage.
If you have pets that won't be going with you on your trip make sure you have a quality pet sitter, or other pet care arranged to take care of your animals.
A trusted individual should be available to feed your animals, clean up after them, take them for a walk and play with them throughout your trip.
You may also look into boarding them at a local trusted vet or groomer.
Similarly, if you've got house plants you may need someone to come in to water them, depending on how long you'll be away, or to thoroughly water them ahead of time if you won't be gone too long.
Stop by the post office (or use the online request form) to request your mail be held until your return, or ask a trusted friend or family member to grab the mail and hold onto it, or put it in your house each day if you prefer.
Leaving mail in your mailbox or packages on your porch can alert a thief you are not home.
Depending on how long you'll be gone you may also need to make arrangements to pay certain bills ahead of time so you don't get a nasty surprise when you return, such as late fees.
This is much simpler if you've switched to online bill payment for most or all of your bills.
You can always consult your monthly bill organizer to see when normally occurring bills typically come due within the monthly cycles, so nothing is overlooked or forgotten.
Fraud detection on credit cards or debit cards is a great thing, in general, but it can also cause you a lot of temporary grief if your bank or credit card company denies a transaction, or temporarily stops providing credit because you've tried to make a purchase in an unusual area.
If you call ahead of time, and follow their procedures for notification, you won't experience any of these inconveniences.
If you take a regular prescription, confirm in plenty of time that you've got enough medication to last throughout your trip without needing a refill.
If you realize in plenty of time that you'll need more you can make the necessary arrangements for the extra doses, or can have more time to find a pharmacy within your planned destination where you could get your refill.
Before you leave for a trip make sure to check that all windows are secure and locked, as well as all doors.
Double check locks and deadbolts to make sure they are staying locked properly and replace or repair as needed.
In addition, unplug unnecessary appliances. For example, in our house some of my younger kids still use a nightlight, so I make sure to unplug these, not just have them turned off, before we leave.
Also confirm, for your own peace of mind, that things like the oven or stove are not still on (although you don't necessarily need to unplug these types of items).
Make sure your home monitoring company, if you have a home alarm system, has not only your correct contact information but the knowledge that you will be out of town and away from home.
You will also want to give them a local person that can be trusted to check your home with them should an alarm go off in your absence.
If you live in a gated subdivision or an area with a HOA (Home Owner's Association), let them know the dates you will be gone. Many times security will be happy to stop by and check your windows and doors while you are away.
In addition, or in the alternative, you can also alert trusted neighbors to watch for any suspicious activity. You may want to give them a key, so they can go inside if needed to check on things. Further, give your neighbors an itinerary for your travels, or other way they know where you are within your . travels, so they can get into contact with you if it's needed.
It never is a good time to have your purse or wallet lost or stolen, but when travelling it's even worse.
First, make sure you remove excess stuff and information from your purse and wallet, to lessen the negative impact if something were to happen to these things. You can check out my articles on how to declutter your purse and how to declutter your wallet here.
Second, make sure you've got your wallet inventory up to date, so that if something does happen, and your purse or wallet are lost or stolen, you can calmly and quickly deal with it, mitigating the possible damage.
To keep any unpleasant odors from developing make sure to remove any food from your refrigerator or freezer that will go bad before your return.
If you plan well in advance you can work at using items up before you leave, or providing additional food to friends and family so nothing goes to waste.
In addition, also get rid of any food in your pantry or fresh produce that is sitting out on counters that could spoil while you are away.
Treat it like a mini-Eat From The Pantry & Freezer Challenge, which you can get more information on at the link.
Just like you don't want food to spoil and rot in your home while you're gone, you don't want trash and garbage to sit in your home either.
So (after you've cleaned out the fridge) make sure to empty trash cans throughout your home before you leave, especially in areas where food could be in the trash, like in the kitchen.
Finally, we all look forward to a good vacation or trip, but after a while we also look forward to getting back home.
When returning from a long trip you're often exhausted, from the traveling as well as the activities you did while you were gone. So before you leave think ahead and consider what would make you feel more comfortable when you return.
For me, I know I appreciate climbing into my old familiar bed after sleeping in strange beds during a trip, so I really like putting fresh sheets on my bed before a trip. Then, when you get home and are busy trying to unpack, start laundry, and getting fresh food into your home, you don't have to worry about some of these things.
Some people like to get their whole house clean before they leave. I'm normally too busy doing all my other preparations for the trip to do that, but ahhhh, the clean sheets are great.
So you decide what will help you feel more comfortable when you return, since your comfort is worth preparing for too!
What steps do you take to get your home ready before you go on a trip? Did I miss one you do? I'd love to hear so tell me your own tips and ideas below in the comments.
In addition, check out this article about what to do when you're staying home, and friends and family come to visit you. Here's what you need to do to prepare for guests in your home.
I would love to hear from you, sharing your thoughts, questions, or ideas about this topic, so leave me a comment below. I try to always respond back!