Traveling for the Holidays? 7 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Vacation

The holiday season is almost here, which means airline seats and cruise reservations are in high demand. If you’re traveling by car, the roads will be packed with fellow drivers. To make sure you reach your destination, it’s time to secure your travel tickets, service your car and pack your bags. You’ll also need to get your home ready for your absence.

There are many reasons why homeowners are preparing their houses for extended vacations. While certain tasks keep your home and belongings as secure as possible, a pre-travel checklist helps to prevent accidents. Best of all, the right preparations will provide you and your family with more peace of mind. Whether you’re new to holiday travel or just need help to remember everything, we have tips for what to complete before you head out. Once you finish each item, you’ll finally be ready to let go and relax.

  • Put a Pause on Regular Services

If you’re leaving home for longer than a week, hold your mail and newspaper subscription until you return. While you pause these services, think about any other in-home subscriptions you may have. Suspend or reroute weekly meal deliveries and recurring shipments of household essentials.

Call your maid service or pool cleaning company ahead of time so they know you’ll be gone. Hold off on ordering any gifts by mail until you get back. Check your calendar to see if you need to cancel any medical appointments.

  • Leave the Lights On

As you admire the glowing holiday lights and glistening snow, criminals are keeping their eyes open for out-of-town families. Instead of letting your house stay dark, keep it illuminated and lively with a light timer. These gadgets can be placed on anything from your outdoor LED flood lights to the lamps in your living room and bedrooms.

Adjust the timer so the lights go on at different times. This helps it look like there is consistent movement in the house. Outdoor solar lamps also make your exterior look more bright. Add lawn stake lamps to the pathway leading to your front door—or place them around your back patio or pool.

  • Take Out the Trash

When you’re heading out the door for a vacation, it’s easy to overlook the small details, such as a full garbage can. If you leave it for too long, however, the stench of trash will quickly make your entire home smell rotten. Leave a reminder on your smartphone to empty each trash bag before you leave.

If your garbage pickup doesn’t come on the day you travel, consider taking your trash bags to another dumpster. Don’t leave your cans on the side of the road, since they can easily become street hazards during inclement weather. Leave a clean garbage bag inside each can so you don’t have to do it when you get back.

  • Check Your Thermostat

Heating your home during late fall and winter can get very expensive. Help save money on your energy bills by investing in a smart thermostat. A state-of-the-art appliance will make it easier to keep your home at the ideal temperature. Plus, you’ll be able to control your HVAC from the comfort of your travel destination.

If you already have a smart thermostat, make sure it’s in good working order. Don’t have the time or budget to make the investment? Consider calling a local professional for a checkup. They’ll make sure you won’t have any issues when you’re gone. They can also advise you on best practices for your brand of thermostat once you’re out of the home.

  • Make Your Home Secure

Besides your new light timers, there is much you can do to make sure your home is secure, and your belongings are safe. Install or upgrade your home security system so you can watch for visitors while you’re gone. Video doorbells are highly affordable. Other helpful tips include updating your locks and changing your door’s code or combination.

Don’t forget to make sure your windows and doors are locked before you go. Keep all valuables out of sight. If you have a porch or pool, secure all screen doors. It’s also essential to cover your windows with blinds and shades so no one can see inside. Blackout curtains and vertical blinds are effective in shielding your interior while keeping warm air inside. If you’re choosing blinds for large windows, insulative cellular shades and thick faux wood blinds are also excellent choices.

  • Tidy Up Your Home and Yard

There is nothing more uncomfortable than sleeping in a dirty bed after a long trip. Wash your comforters and sheets before you travel so you come home to a clean bed. Other essential activities include vacuuming, picking up toys and finishing excess laundry.

Remove perishable items from your refrigerator and the top of your kitchen counter. Place electronics, such as smartphones and tablets, inside drawers or cupboards. This will prevent burglars from becoming interested in your interior. Take a look outside as well. Make sure sporting goods and loose objects are safely inside your home or garage.

  • Tell Someone You’re Leaving

Tell a friend, family member or neighbor that you’re going on vacation. The request can be as simple as keeping an extra eye on your home. Some families may choose to hire a house sitter to water plants, shovel snow or feed pets. Offer a reward for their efforts, such as holiday cookies, a little bit of cash or a promise that you’ll help them out in the future.

Only communicate your plans to those you trust. Don’t share your itinerary with acquaintances or your entire social media network. You’ll have time to exchange pictures and stories when you get back.

Getting Your Home Vacation Ready

When it comes to preparing for the holidays, readying your home for vacation may not be at the top of mind. However, taking the time to clean up and secure your house can make for a better trip. It’ll also make it that much easier to return home.

While you complete the steps above, don’t forget to prepare your pets—and kids. Reserve a spot at the kennel ahead of time, or make sure your sitter has plenty of toys and kibbles. If your children are going with you, start shopping for travel items early. Help them secure their own rooms and remind them to tell only those they trust about their vacation plans. When you finish each task, you’ll be that much more excited to start your holiday festivities.

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