As the excitement of an upcoming vacation builds, it’s crucial not to overlook the importance of preparing your home for your absence. Taking the time to secure your living space and create a welcoming environment for your return can contribute significantly to a stress-free getaway. This checklist of tasks will help ensure your home is in top shape before you depart.

Don’t share your travel plans on social media

Announcing your upcoming vacation online can be a greenlight for thieves to target your home. Instead, wait until you’ve returned to share the details of your trip, and make sure your children know to follow the same plan.

Arrange care for your living things

If you have pets that won’t be traveling with you or houseplants that need care, make arrangements for them. Automated feeders may be sufficient for some pets, but the safest bet is usually to utilize a kennel or a pet sitter. Watering bulbs are an option to keep plants from going thirsty while you’re gone.

Take care of your mail and bills

If you’ll be gone for a while, you may wish to temporarily stop your mail delivery or arrange for a neighbor to pick it up. Ensure your bills will be paid on time, such as by utilizing autopay features.

Clean house and sort out perishables

No one wants to return from vacation to a fridge full of spoiled food or a hamper full of stinky clothes. Before you leave, eat, freeze, pack or throw away any food that will expire, take care of any necessary cleaning tasks, wash any dirty laundry and empty the trash bins.

Secure valuables

For greater protection from theft and other risks, consider moving vehicles and other valuable outdoor property into a garage, shed or other storage and putting jewelry and other high-value indoor items into a safe or other secure location.

Arrange yard maintenance

If you live in a condo or apartment, this probably doesn’t apply to you. Otherwise, if you have a yard, garden or driveway you’re responsible for, make any necessary arrangements to have grass cut, plants watered, a pool cleaned, snow removed, etc.

Have someone check on your home

Depending on how long you’ll be away and the specifics of your home, you may want to ask a neighbor, friend or family member to check on your home while you’re gone.

Set safety and security features

If you have a home security system or security cameras, double-check that these features are operating properly and will remain functional throughout your absence. Leaving an interior light on in your home and setting a couple others on timers can help discourage would-be thieves, as do night-scheduled or motion-activated exterior lights. Before you leave, check that all your windows and doors are locked.

Prep your appliances and plumbing

To save on energy, you can set your thermostat as high as 85 F in the warmer months and as low as 55 F in the colder months (65 is safer if there’s a risk of pipes freezing). Make sure major appliances like stoves and ovens are turned off, and consider unplugging devices to further reduce the risk of fire. Shutting off your water at the main and draining the lines can help prevent leaks and stagnate water.


With this checklist complete, you’ll be able to relax more while away and return to a home that should be just as you left it. Bon voyage!