Preparing Your Home for Vacation
Summertime, glorious Summertime! For the majority of people, that means a vacation away from home. In addition to the usual tasks of arranging pet care, planning your route, and packing the car, it is a good idea to take care of these few items on a “pre-vacation checklist” before you go to prevent any unwelcome surprises when you return!
Turn Off the Water
How many of us have heard the stories of a washer hose or toilet connection failing while the homeowner is away and they return to a flooded home? The recommendation is to turn off the water to your home while you are gone, but that is not always possible due to an irrigation system or someone coming in to care for pets while you are away. In these situations, it would still be a good idea to turn off the water to each toilet and the washing machine.
Unplug Appliances Not In Use
Unplug lamps, TV’s, computers, printers, and any other appliances that won’t be in use. Not only will you save a little money on your energy bills, but you will also prevent any incidental damages to appliances that may occur during a storm. Anything of value that is left plugged in should be used with a surge protector to protect against damage as a result of power surges.
Freezer tip: Before you go on vacation, put a couple of ice cubes in a plastic baggie and put them in any freezers you have. When you return, if the ice cubes have melted and re-frozen, you will know that there was a power outage while you were gone and to be on the lookout for items that may have thawed or spoiled during an outage.
Hold the Mail and Newspapers
One of the most obvious signs that the occupants of a home are away is an accumulation of newspapers and mail. Hold delivery of these items or have a neighbor collect them every day—especially any packages that may be delivered in your absence. Amazon never takes a vacation so make sure your home and purchases aren’t a target for criminals!
Lights On, Doors and Windows Locked
These suggestions may seem obvious, but they are also often overlooked in the excitement of leaving for a big trip—especially if you are not in the habit of locking doors and windows while you are home.
Put a few lights on timers to give the appearance of someone being home. Be sure to close and lock all windows and close blinds or pull curtains to prevent people from seeing in. Sliding glass doors can be reinforced with a piece of wood or old broom handle.
Control the Temperature
If your home is like mine, the thermostat is a constant battle and the opportunity to save a few bucks by turning the air conditioner off while you are gone is oh-so-tempting—especially when the summer electric bills start rolling in! But turning the AC off completely can cause multiple problems due to the high temperatures and high humidity of summer. Wood floors, furniture, and house plants can all be adversely affected and it is recommended to set the thermostat to around 78 degrees to help control humidity.
My Go-to Items
In addition to the above suggestions recommended by professionals, I have a couple of items on my pre-vacation checklist that help me be more organized and less-stressed when planning a vacation.
One of the main things that I do to prep for a trip (and my family thinks I am crazy. . . . ) is to wash all the laundry, fold it, and put it away. Yes, PUT IT AWAY. I find that it is so much easier to pack for a trip and not forget anything when everything is in its usual spot and not scattered throughout several rooms of the house. A bonus of this process is that when you return from vacation with your mounds of dirty laundry, you are starting with a clean slate rather than this:
THIS is what happens in our house when no one has the time to put clean laundry away (ignore the donation pile to the left!)! Can you imagine trying to find what you need to pack for the trip?! Worse yet, you will have additional “vacation laundry” to add to this once you return home!
When you finish the laundry before you leave, you will have clean clothes to wear until you can get to the vacation laundry AND you won’t have to dig through piles of clean laundry to find what you need.
My other go-to task when going on vacation is to make sure the leftovers are cleaned out of the fridge, all the dishes are done and put away, and the dishwasher has been run. It is amazing what can grow in your cold, dark fridge over a week. And since school is out, there is no need for “science experiments”! If you have ever come home to a dishwasher full of week-old dirty dishes, no explanation is needed. . . .
There is nothing more satisfying than coming home to a clean kitchen. Rather than spending time cleaning up so that you can USE the kitchen (not to mention the smells. . . ), all that is needed is a quick trip to the store for a few things to ease you back into the post-vacation reality of this thing we call Life.
Take a few minutes to make a quick list and take care of these items before you leave home. It will provide peace of mind and allow you to relax and enjoy the time that you are away. None of these items will cost you any additional money and it might even save you some!