How to Prepare Your Home for an Extended Vacation

Prepare Your Home for an Extended Vacation

Are you preparing for an extended vacation? If so, there are a variety of steps you must take to ensure the safety of your apartment while you’re gone. Just like a homeowner, you don’t want to skimp when it comes to these steps and precautions.

But what if you don’t know where to start? You’re far from alone. Many of us know we need to do a few things before stepping out for awhile, but we may draw a blank when it comes to prepping for a long-term departure.

That’s where we’re here to help. Keep reading for a comprehensive guide to preparing a home for extended vacation. 

Preparing House for Extended Vacation Guidelines

Getting ready to go on vacation comes with many steps. For this reason, you should create a list of all the tasks you need to prepare your apartment for a trip. This list-making process proves the most essential travel preparation tip you’ll get from this article.

As for how to create a list, there are some best practices to keep in mind. For starters, you’ll need more than pen and paper to make this list. Instead, create a master copy that you can store on your computer and print out multiple times.

That way, the work you put in today can be utilized any time you go on a trip. You’ll save plenty of time without duplicating the same process and effort. That way, you can keep a master list handy for future excursions, too. 

Once you’ve created a list and printed it, check off items as you complete them. If you’re not a huge fan of printing out documents, you can also keep the master list on your phone. No matter where you choose to store it, this list will help you prepare before heading off on your next adventure.

What Should Be on Your Pre-Trip List?

What are some of the tasks that you need to add to your pre-trip list? To begin with, empty your dishwasher, and leave it cracked open. That way, any standing water in the system will evaporate.

You should also clean out your refrigerator, being particularly mindful of expiration dates. That way, you’ll avoid bad smells when you return. While you’re culling out-of-date items from your fridge, give it a good wipe down. 

There’s nothing better than returning from a vacation to find your fridge clean, uncluttered, and free from old food. What else do you need to do to ensure your house is clean and smells great when you get home? You need to tackle the garbage disposal.

How do you do this? Run a solution of water and vinegar through the disposal. This process will purge the system of any food particles that could get stinky while you’re luxuriating on a paradisiacal beach halfway around the world. 

More Household Tasks to Complete Before an Extended Vacation

You should also empty all of the trash cans in your home and wash them out carefully. Remember to set your thermostat to a reasonable temperature. Just remember not to go so low that it allows your pipes to freeze. Sensors that monitor water leaks are also available and an excellent idea. 

By the same token, set your apartment’s thermostat to a higher setting during the summer. Why? To avoid having the air conditioning blazing the whole time you’re gone. 

There are other ways you should also prepare for weather-related issues. Take a careful look at your patio and yard, assessing potential vulnerabilities in freezing temperatures, high wind, and more. Secure anything that could get caught up or destroyed in a strong wind gust. 

You should also tidy up your patio, balcony, or backyard. Otherwise, you run the risk of an apartment that might look uninhabited. 

Make sure you set your water heater to the “vacation mode” or “away” setting. You should also turn the water valves to the “off” setting on your washer and dryer. This precaution will prevent your apartment from getting flooded in your absence. 

What do you need to do for your car? If your trip is especially long, remember to put a trickle charge on your battery. 

What if you have concerns about rodents getting into your vehicle’s wiring? Place dryer sheets around your car to deter these critters from chewing on the wires in your vehicle. 

Home Safety Measures to Practice

Besides the housekeeping items above, which precautions should you take when it comes to going on vacation?

Start by getting rid of all hidden spare keys you may have near your apartment. No matter how clever your hiding spot, assume an experienced burglar will know about it. 

You may wish to place a motion-activated floodlight on your patio or balcony to deter burglars as well. These lights are affordable and easy to install, but they’ll keep those lurking in the shadows at bay. 

Consider a Home Automation System

What are some other best practices you should consider before packing your bags? Place your apartment’s interior lights on timers. That way, they’ll go on and off at regular intervals, giving the impression of occupation. 

Or better yet, consider installing a home automation system. This system lets you set timers to make your house come to life at random intervals, sure to fool any criminal. For example, like lights, you can also program television sets or radios to come on at different times of the day. 

For the most “lived in” appearance, make sure that you set these timers to come on randomly. That way, your apartment will appear active and busy no matter where you’re adventuring. 

But there’s a caveat to this. You should consider which home appliances you choose to automate with care. Unplugging high-electricity-consuming appliances will save energy costs in your absence. 

Unplugging these appliances will also safeguard them against electrical surges. So, be strategic about the appliances you choose to automate and unplug the rest. When it’s all said and done, a small radio and/or TV does the trick, so disconnect those 70″ plasma TVs!

Besides home automation, you can also purchase smart home devices that permit you to check whether windows and doors are closed and locked. You can even double-check to make sure your iron or coffee maker is unplugged. 

Double Check Smoke Detectors

You should also make sure that the smoke detectors are working well throughout your home. After all, you never know when a fire might start, so test all of your units before leaving. 

You may even wish to go the extra step and get a device to test the life of your batteries. After all, you’ll be gone for an extended period, so you don’t want batteries running low or your detectors chirping incessantly while you’re gone. 

Place a Hold on Mail and Newspapers

Don’t forget to have a stop put on your mail and newspaper deliveries. Why? Because a buildup of mail and newspapers is a telltale sign that you’re not around, which could prove too tempting for burglars to pass up.

Fortunately, it’s easy to contact your local newspaper and request they put a hold on deliveries until you return.

As for the post office? The internet makes it a cinch to interrupt regular delivery. They can hold your mail for up to 30 days, and you can place the hold up to 30 days in advance. Click here to request a mail hold online. 

For your online safety, you’ll have to create an account with the United States Postal Service (USPS) before getting started. Once you verify your identity, you can place the hold, specifying both start and finish dates. 

Of course, you should still have a trusted friend or family member stop by to confirm no mail or newspapers get delivered.

You’ll also need to make arrangements beyond a mail hold if your vacation surpasses one month. For this reason, many extended vacationers enlist the help of a house sitter.

Consider a House Sitter

There are circumstances where it makes sense to have a home sitter look after your apartment. Many people rely on a trusted friend or family member. 

But you may also wish to hire a house sitter. Fortunately, you can now find sites that carefully vet individuals before recommending them for house sitting assignments. That way, you can locate a provider using their directory. 

This individual will stop by regularly to complete a handful of tasks that you can leave for them on your fridge or counter. What might be on this list? Items might include:

  • Confirming a mail hold or collecting your mail for you
  • Ensuring that all indoor and outdoor plants get watered regularly
  • Flushing all toilets to prevent sewer gasses from building up
  • Adjusting the thermostat to a more comfortable setting 24 hours before your return

Having a trusted person who can regularly check in with your apartment is a fantastic way to avoid many issues involved with prolonged vacations, from dead houseplants to break-ins. 

Keep Up Appearances

Should you leave your curtains closed and blinds down when you go on vacation? Many people assume the answer’s “yes.” But buttoning up your house and closing all of the window treatments is another telltale sign that nobody’s around.

What’s more, blocking views into your apartment can actually work to the advantage of a burglar. How? By providing savvy criminals with the privacy they need to ransack your place for many hours or even days.

Instead, keep up appearances by aiming for an air of normalcy. That means leaving some draperies and blinds open. 

You also need to “keep up appearances” when it comes to the safety precautions you take. In other words, DO put out signs warning burglars that you take home security seriously.

There’s a caveat to this, though. Genuine signs from your security company are an excellent idea. But fake ones could backfire on you.

Don’t underestimate the expertise and knowledge of some thieves. They can spot a fake sign a mile away, making these displays crime magnets rather than burglary deterrents. 

Place Video Cameras in Prominent Locations

There’s nothing a burglar detests more than video cameras at the site of a potential robbery. Many don’t want to risk breaking in when such devices are involved. So, consider installing fixed or pan and tilt video cameras. 

These devices let you live stream video to a mobile device, permitting you to check in regularly with your house even when you’re one thousand miles away. You can also go back through previously recorded footage to ensure that everything’s on the up and up. 

It’s also to your advantage to live in an apartment community that places a premium on the safety and security of its residents. Features such as controlled access, on-site management, and 24-hour emergency maintenance will provide you with peace of mind when you’re traveling. 

Checklist to Prepare Your Home for an Extended Vacation

Whether you’re headed out for an extended summer vacation or an extended family vacation, you need to prepare your apartment in advance. Start by creating a checklist on your computer that you can print out any time you’re preparing to head out long-term. 

From placing a stop on your mail to hiring a house sitter and installing a home automation system, there are many ways to gain peace of mind while traveling. So, make an extended vacation list to prep your home before packing your bags.

Then, it’s as simple as ticking off the items on the list. Are you interested in more travel hacks? Browse our blog for more hacks to make your next vacation unforgettable.


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