Your luggage is standing at the front door and you’re waiting on the Uber to take you to the airport. That’s right, you’re going on vacation – where you’ll hopefully get a chance to unwind and relax.
First things first though – have you made sure your home is secured so that you don’t have to worry about it while you’re away?
Chances are you’ve spent a lot of time planning your vacation, but maybe you haven’t even thought about getting your home in order. Most people don’t spend more than five minutes on this task, but a little diligence can go along way to making sure everything is as you left it when you get back.
We’ve put together a checklist of the important things you need to do before you leave. Hopefully this helps keeps you organized so you don’t forget anything as you rush out the door.
Let your home insurance broker know
This goes hand in hand with setting up travel health insurance or letting your bank know you’ll be travelling so they don’t block your account due to foreign charges. Tell your broker that your home will be empty and ensure that your policy will not be voided due to leaving your property vacant for extended periods of time. Not every insurance policy is the same so it’s better to make sure you’re covered, especially if you’re going on extended travels.
Make it look like somebody’s home
Nothing invites a break-in like a pile of newspapers by the front door and an overflowing mailbox. We recommend putting a hold on your mail subscriptions (newspapers, magazines, flyers etc.) until you get back. It’s also a great idea to invest in some timers that can be set to automatically turn lights on and off at specific times. Installing motion lighting above your garage and in your backyard is also a smart investment. This will help your home look lived in and deter anyone looking for an easy mark.
Get someone to stop by every few days
Ask a friend or family member to check in on your home every few days. This accomplishes a couple of things – first, there will be in and out traffic in your home (that lived in look again) and you’ll be able to relax knowing your house isn’t flooding due to burst pipes (most important during the winter months). Maybe you have some plants that need to be watered as well or pets that need to be fed, in which case your house sitter will need to visit daily.
Take out the garbage
Leaving for a week but not taking out the trash first is a sure-fire way to come back to a smelly, fruit fly infested home. Even if your bins aren’t full, you should still empty them completely before taking off. At the very least it will be one less chore you need to catch up on when you return. It’s also smart to ask your house sitter to take the bins out on collection day and bring them back in again afterwards so it looks like you’re at home.
Lower your thermostat to save money
What’s the point of cooling or heating your home while you’re gone? That is unless it’s winter and your water pipes are at risk of freezing and bursting. In that case, please lower the thermostat but make sure it’s keeping things warm enough to avoid freezing. Air conditioning? Who cares about that when you’re not home, unless you have pets or someone staying over. You’ll save money and help the environment so take the time to unplug.
Unplug your non-essential appliances
Save energy and stop yourself from worrying about a power surge damaging your electronics. Things like your TV, stereo, computer, juicer, espresso machine and lamps (that you haven’t setup with a timer) can all be unplugged until you get back.
Make sure your home is locked up tight
It wouldn’t be the first time that someone has forgotten to lock their patio door or bedroom window before they go on vacation. The day before you leave, go around and check every potential entrance to your home to make sure they are securely locked.
Park your car in the driveway
It makes sense to continue doing things as you would when you’re actually at home. That means if you normally leave a car in the driveway, then you should leave it there when you’re away as well. If you think your car is at risk, then by all means put it in the garage, but a car in the driveway is a great signal that someone is home.
Take your valuables to the bank
While your insurance policy should cover the contents inside your home, you’ll likely have things that can’t be replaced. Pack up your valuables and put them in a safety deposit box at your bank or drop them off with someone you completely trust for safe keeping. This is the best way to make sure nothing irreplaceable goes missing if your home does get broken into while your away.
Are you forgetting anything?
There may be some specific things that we haven’t mentioned that apply to your home. Take some time to think about anything else you might want to take care of before you go.
Lastly, leave a note by the front door as a reminder to check that the stove and water are off, the lights are on a timer and most importantly, that all your doors and windows are locked up tight.
Happy trails, bon voyage – have a great vacation!