How to Prepare Your Home for a Long Vacation

Whether you're planning a month-long summer getaway to the beach or a tour of the country's best ski resorts, prepping your home for your extended vacation will help ensure you remain anxiety-free throughout your excursion. After all who wants thoughts of burst pipes and cockroaches ruining their poolside margaritas or cozy après ski?

Here are a few steps you can take before your escape to make sure everything stays ship-shape on the home front.

1. Recruit Volunteers

Don’t go advertising your long-term vacation to strangers on social media or anything, but do contact one or two of your closest nearby friends. Give them a set of keys to your home in case a problem arises, and ask them to tend to houseplants, pets and any mail or newspapers, if need be. If your car will be left un-garaged, ask them to periodically knock off the dust, leaves or snow. Make sure to thank these helpful volunteers with a gift from your vacation destination!

2. Adjust Your Thermostat

You won’t be needing chilly air conditioning or high heat while you’re away, but don't shut off either entirely. A home left too hot and steamy for too long can wreak havoc on wood and wallpaper, not to mention houseplants. Allowing your home to get too cold in winter can lead to burst pipes and broken appliances. In the summer, setting your thermostat to 85 degrees should keep things temperate, while keeping your energy bills to a minimum. During your winter getaway, setting your thermostat at 50 degrees will keep pipes and water-bearing appliances from freezing. Lastly, switch your water heater to vacation mode, if it has one. One word of caution: If there will be small animals staying behind, be sure to adjust these settings to their needs.

3. Stop Home Deliveries

Piles of mail, delivery menus and newspapers are a sure sign to potential thieves that your home is unoccupied. Use the US Postal Service's Hold Mail Service to keep mail from stacking up, contact your newspaper delivery person to halt service and ask a friend or neighbor to do a clean sweep of your stoop while you’re away.

4. Leave a Light On

Another method for keeping undesirable characters away from your home is to keep lights, and even a radio, on, giving off the appearance that your home is occupied. Timers capable of switching lights and electronics on and off run the gamut from inexpensive to high-end, smart home devices that can be controlled from your phone. If you subscribe to a home security service, alert them of your extended departure, noting any timer-controlled light settings, so that any alarm or activity will be treated seriously.

5. Clear the Cabinets

Unless you want to return to new roommates in the form of insects and vermin, be sure to consume, store or throw out any foods that are likely to attract them. Transfer attractive food like cereals, crackers and cookies from cardboard boxes or plastic bags into sturdy, sealed plastic containers and move them from accessible pantries and shelves to upper cabinet spaces. And while your refrigerator probably won't attract pests, do a pass there as well, unless you want to play "What's that black thing?" upon your return.

6. Keep Up with Yard Duty

Keep your usual gardening and snow removal services in place during your vacation. This not only keeps your home safe for passersby, but also keeps up the appearance that you're home. If there's especially wet weather expected, you may also want to check that gutters and drains are clear prior to your departure.

7. Lock it Up and Stow it Away

Spend the last hour or so before you leave double-checking locks and valuables. This may seem like a no-brainer, but be diligent about checking all possible modes of ingress and storage areas, including the tiniest upstairs bathroom window, outdoor storage sheds and gates. Make sure pools and Jacuzzis are tightly covered. Place any jewelry or valuables in a safe or other secure location. Lastly, pick up any hidden keys you have stashed in the yard or entry.

By attending to these easy matters before you leave, you'll be adding to the pleasure and relaxation of vacation, and ensuring that your home sweet home is still sweet upon your return.


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