Transportation and accommodation will be the major considerations when planning for a vacation. But there’s another critical aspect of the holiday that you must not overlook: preparing your home for when you’ll be away.
There’s more to prepping your home for a vacation than trying all locks to ensure they are working. From a flooded basement to burglary and a frozen toilet tank, a lot could happen to your home while you’re away for an extended period.
Ahead, find a list of six steps for preparing your home for long-term travel so you can worry less and enjoy your vacation to the fullest!
Consider Renting It
It’s understandable to be concerned about leaving your home empty for extended periods. This is serious, especially if you’ll be away for long and more so if your neighborhood is notorious for break-ins.
However, there are several possible solutions for this, including renting it out. Whether you’ll be away for a month or several months, the revenue from renting your place can actually help pay for some of your travel costs.
Of course, this is not an idea for everyone. But if you live in a vacation spot and are easy-going about having someone else enjoy your home while away, definitely go for it.
There will be a few things to keep in mind if you consider this option. For instance, what’s the insurance implication? Your standard homeowner’s insurance may cover your home when renting it out for a short period. However, if you plan on renting it out occasionally for extended periods, your provider may require you to purchase a landlord insurance policy.
The terms vary across different insurance cover providers, though. Contact your provider and inquire whether you need to obtain a special cover.
Plan About Your Mails and Deliveries
Nothing screams you’re away than a full mailbox and a pile of packages in front of your door. That said, one thing you can do to make your home more secure during an extended vacation is to make arrangements for your deliveries.
If you’re a regular traveler, it may be more sensible to go paperless where possible. Another great solution is to have your mails and packages forwarded to a friend’s house. US citizens can also take advantage of Mailbox Forwarding Services. These are USPS-registered businesses that receive mails on your behalf. You can direct them to open and scan the content, forward the mail to another address or even shred what you consider junk.
For most people, the easiest way to deal with mail or packages when traveling for a vacation would be to hold them temporarily. USPS and FedEx have a vacation hold policy, but with UPS and Amazon, it’s best to change the delivery date or ask your neighbor to pick up and store the packages until you get back.
Make Your Home Look Occupied
Making it appear as if there’s someone home is another clever way of deterring would-be thieves. And there are plenty of ways to achieve this:
- Ask your neighbor to park one of their cars in your driveway to help maintain a driveway presence.
- Put several lights around your home on timers to go ON and OFF at particular times. Analog timers should work just fine. But a smart timer that allows you to play around with the lights remotely is a much better option.
- Use the Logitech Harmony hub to turn ON your TV and radio remotely.
- Make plans with a friend or neighbor to have them open and close your curtains to simulate an occupied home further.
Shut Off the Main Water Supply
Another crucial tip for preparing your home for an extended absence is to shut off the water supply to the interior of your house.
The reason for this is pretty obvious. Coming back to a flooded home is massive stress and inconvenience, and it almost always means enormous damage and repair costs. A flooded lawn is another concern. While it’s not as stressful, it could mean an unusually high water bill.
If you’ve installed a vacation valve, simply turn it to the off position. If you don’t have one installed, you’ll want to go for the gate valve. This way, a broken faucet, pipe or toilet won’t result in expensive repairs.
While you’re still at it, remember to turn off the water heater. Depending on how long you plan to be away, you can shut off the water supply to the heater entirely or set the heater on vacation mode.
Empty Your Refrigerator
You don’t need to empty the fridge for a weekend out. But if you won’t be around for several weeks or months, you’ll want to empty the fridge of all perishable foods and clean it. You don’t want to come to a kitchen that smells like a rotten animal. On this note, it makes sense not to buy more groceries or store a lot of food on the days before your departure.
When preparing your refrigerator for a long vacation, get rid of all perishable food by consuming it, giving it to your neighbors or donating it to a local food bank. You’ll also want to turn off the ice maker and empty the reservoir if your fridge has a water dispenser. Lastly, clean the fridge interior, the shelves and all the removable parts with water and vinegar solution to get rid of fungi.
Finally, place and leave an open box inside the fridge to absorb all odors. Remember to leave the refrigerator door open to prevent mold from growing.
Leave a Clean Home
At first, it might not make sense to clean a house that will remain empty for several weeks or months. But getting home to a dusty and cluttered living room, a smelly toilet and a dirty kitchen sink can easily ruin your vacation vibe.
In addition to cleaning your refrigerator:
- Load and run the dishwasher. Make sure there are no dirty dishes lying around the kitchen.
- Clean your kitchen surfaces of food residues, so they don’t become a breeding zone for roaches, rats and other unwanted housemates.
- Empty, clean and dry the trash.
- Clean and disinfect your garbage disposal.
- Replace your bedsheets and pillows and do your laundry.
- Dust and vacuum your floors to lessen dust and dirt buildup.