My friend Anum is guest posting today with some excellent tips for home maintenance before your next vacation. Summer is one of the most popular times for travel. Whether you’re visiting family across the country or taking a four-country European tour, chances are you’re going to be vacationing at some point this season. She’s created 13 tips to prepare your home before your next trip so that your home will be cleaner and safer while you’re gone.
Along with printing your travel tickets and packing, one of the essential items on your pre-trip to-do list should be to prepare your home for your absence. Neglecting to go through a home maintenance checklist before you leave could mean coming back to rotting food in your refrigerator or your electricity being cut off.
13 Tips to Prepare Your Home Before Your Next Trip
Before you start dreaming of sandy beaches, ice cold margaritas, and beautiful sunsets, here are the 13 tips to prepare your home before your next trip:
1. Clean Out the Refrigerator
Nothing is more of a buzzkill than coming home to a fridge full of food that has gone bad. Be sure to throw out perishables like fruits, vegetables and milk. Let expiration dates be your guides for questionable refrigerated food, such as juice and salad dressings.
2. Empty the Garbage
Be sure that all your garbage bags are empty. You don’t want the contents turning to even older, smellier garage while you’re gone. Food that’s gone bad can also attract insects or even rodents. Also, if you have special garbage pick-up, remember to call the company to suspend the service for the duration of your trip.
3. Make Arrangements for Your Mail
Nothing says “nobody’s home” like mail spilling out of the mailbox. Making arrangements for your mail is not only orderly, but it’s also a necessary safety precaution. You don’t want people figuring out it’s okay to break in because no one will be around. Either have the post office hold it or a recruit a trusted friend pick it up for you.
4. Hire a Pet Sitter
If you have a pet, you need to plan for them as well. If you’re boarding them, call the kennel well in advance to make sure they’ll have room — summer is their busiest season, too.
If you’re going to have someone drop in to feed and walk them, it’s a good idea to have the pet sitter meet your pet while you’re around so Fifi doesn’t perceive the sitter as a stranger.
5. Turn Off Heating and Cooling Systems
If you don’t have a pet who will be holding down the fort, be sure that all your heating and cooling systems are set to zero. The last thing you want is your air-conditioner or heat kicking on to regulate the temperature of a house no one is in. It’s a waste of energy that negatively affects your wallet and the environment.
Pro Tip: Consider keeping your air/heating on at reasonable temperatures if you live in a part of the country that gets really hot or cold. Yes, it will cost a little bit, but you don’t want something breaking because it was 100* in your home or a pipe bursting because it froze while you were gone.
6. Disable Any Lighting or Other Timers
If you have programmed your lights to switch on at a certain time during the day, turn off the programming for the duration of your trip. The only exception would be to keep one light turned on in the evening so the house doesn’t look deserted to potential burglars.
Editor’s Note from Lee: This is the one item on the list that I completely disagree with. I would keep lights programmed and even consider programming other lights that you normally manually turn on and off so that your house looks lived in while you’re gone.
7. Unplug Your Appliances
Early on the day you take off, go through your house and methodically unplug all appliances except the refrigerator. This move can save on your electricity bill, especially if your trip is lengthy, and protects your appliances from power surges while you’re gone.
8. Fix Leaky Faucets
If you have a leaky faucet, you’ll be losing money during your vacation as the water drips down the drain. To put this in perspective, a leaky faucet can waste 3,000 gallons of water per year. Fixing leaking faucets is the number one way to save money and water through your plumbing system.
9. Clean Your Kitchen
Kitchens need to be especially clean during vacations because crumbs and spilled food can be a magnet for insects and rodents. Try to leave it as spotless as possible by wiping down counters and sweeping. It will also be refreshing to come home to a clean house.
10. Make Plans for Paying Your Bills
While you want heating and cooling and appliances turned off during your vacation, you don’t want them turned off for nonpayment of your bills. It can be a drag to pay attention to paying bills during a holiday. If you don’t already have e-payment set up, look into setting up automatic bill paying during your vacation.
Pro Tip: I automate my finances so that I can travel without worry and sign up for the minimum payment to be automatically made whenever I get a new credit card.
11. Meal Plan for Your Return
While you don’t want a lot of food in your kitchen during a holiday, it’s also a drag to come home and have nothing to eat. Plan to have enough food in the freezer or cupboards that you can eat until you get back in the swing of grocery shopping by prudent meal planning.
12. Change Your Sheets
It’s great to be able to sink into fresh, clean sheets on your own bed after a trip. Plan for that peaceful, relaxing feeling by making your bed and putting on new sheets the morning of your journey.
13. Leave a Spare Key With a Friend
If you typically leave a spare key somewhere near your house, leave it with a friend instead for the duration of your trip. You don’t want an opportunity break-in, as neighborhood kids or career criminals could find your key and make off with your stuff.
Vacations are exciting times. If you take a long-term one, be sure to follow these 13 tips to make sure your house is welcoming, safe and secure when you come back.
The Bald Thoughts
I really enjoyed Anum’s list of 13 tips to prepare your home before your next trip. However, I travel so much, all I would be doing is chores between trips if I followed all of these. HAHA In all seriousness, though, you should really consider these tips before your next vacation to avoid problems while you’re gone. You need a vacation and should be focused on having a good time and relaxing, not worrying about whether everything is OK at home.
Anum Yoon is a millennial money expert who is also obsessed with traveling. She’s visited 26 countries so far, and is always on the lookout for the next travel budget hack to share with her readers. Check out her blog, Current on Currency for updates.