By Emily Long
Your summer vacation is finally here! You've booked flights, reserved hotel rooms, and scoped out the best places to eat along the way, but have you prepared your home for your absence?
Nothing spoils a vacation like returning to smelly trash, sad houseplants, or an unexpected break-in. Whether you plan to be gone for a week or a month, there are a few simple steps you can take to get your home ready so you can relax and enjoy your time away.
Leave your home exactly as you'd like to find it when you return—like new!
- Empty your refrigerator of any perishable foods that will pass their enjoy-by dates while you are away, and toss open pantry items that will mold or go stale.
- Take out the trash and recycling. Don't forget about smaller trash cans in bathrooms and utility rooms.
- Finish, fold and put away laundry. You'll likely have clothes to wash when you return, so get a jumpstart before you go.
- Wash your sheets and towels, and remake your beds. You'll thank your past self when you come home to fresh linens in clean bedrooms and bathrooms.
- Wipe down counters, run your garbage disposal, sanitize toilets, and organize clutter.
Reduce the possibility of surprise maintenance issues, which can be costly to fix, by keeping up with regular home repairs throughout the year.
- Perform routine inspections and weatherize. Make sure your heating and cooling systems, gas and water lines, and roof and windows are in good shape. Clean up your yard, mow the grass, and take care of any dead trees or overhanging limbs that could cause damage in severe weather.
- Unplug all small appliances. This will save power and eliminate the potential for things to short-circuit and cause significant electrical damage.
- Check your smoke detectors. Batteries die, parts wear out, and dust and other pollutants can impede alarm performance. Make sure your home is prepared in case of fire, and consider integrating your detectors into your home security system so the fire department is notified in an emergency.
- Turn off your water at the main shut-off valve to prevent damage in the case of a burst pipe or water heater malfunction. Consider installing a water and flood sensor, which detects moisture where it shouldn't be and notifies your smartphone.
- Leave your closet doors ajar to prevent mold and musty smells from building up.
Protect your home and belongings from thieves. The highest percentage of burglaries occur during the summer months, and homes without security or alarm systems are up to 300 percent more likely to be broken into.
- Set up remote monitoring. You can have a security system professionally installed or start with a wireless security camera that you can view from your smartphone. If you have a security monitoring service, let them know that you are traveling.
- Collect spare keys. If you have house keys hiding under doormats or flower pots, bring them inside so prowlers don't find them. Leave an extra set with a trusted neighbor or friend in case there's an issue that needs to be addressed while you're away.
- Hold your mail and newspapers. Nothing signals that you are out of town like an overflowing mailbox or stack of unread papers on your front porch. Placing a hold with USPS is as easy as completing an online form and will prevent identity thieves from targeting sensitive information found in bills and credit card statements.
- Take advantage of home automation. You can link everything from smart locks that you can triple-check via smartphone app to smart doorbell cameras that sense motion on your front porch and have two-way audio.
- Close blinds into rooms that contain expensive items, and set up smart light timers that mirror your regular habits when you're home.
- Ask for help. Have a neighbor park in your driveway while you're gone, and enlist a friend to water your plants and check up periodically on your property.
A little bit of preparation will go a long way when it comes to leaving your home clean and secure, and enjoying your vacation stress-free!