How to Prep Your Home Before Leaving on Vacation

I’m going to bet there’s one super important factor that tends to slip your mind when you’re planning a trip: how to prep your home before leaving on vacation! I get it… with transportation and accommodations to book, and activities to plan, the last thing you’re thinking about is how to get your home ready before a trip. But prepping your home for vacation will save you time and energy in the long run—and may even protect you from potential break-ins.

Read on to find out the three key steps for what to do before leaving on vacation, plus one bonus tip! I’ve also included a link to my customizable + printable checklist doc at the end of the post.

How to Prep Your Home Before Leaving on Vacation

How to Prep Your Home Before Leaving on Vacation

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Step 1: Tidy & Clean Your Home

While cleaning your house may not be at the top of your list when you’re busy getting ready for an upcoming vacation, you don’t want to skip this first step. Not only is a clean house that much nicer to return to, you could also save yourself the hassle of dealing with funky smells from rotting food, forgotten loads of laundry, and more. 

Clean House - Prep Your Home Before Leaving on Vacation

Here’s how to get your home ready before leaving on vacation by cleaning and tidying…

  • Clean out the fridge: Last week’s leftovers? Toss ‘em or eat ‘em, because they’re not going to look so good when you get back from the beach in two weeks.
  • Clear off kitchen counters: While you’re at it, handle any produce or snacks that are sitting out on your counters. Lingering apples invite fruit flies, and pantry crumbs attract rodents—no thank you!
  • Rinse the garbage disposal: mix equal parts water and vinegar before running it through your garbage disposal to eliminate odor buildup. Or get these specific garbage disposal drops to ensure its clean!
  • Check the laundry: remember that last load you threw in the wash before your departure? Don’t forget to advance it to the dryer so you don’t come back to moldy clothes!
  • Empty the dishwasher: same thing here—get all those dishes out of the dishwasher and on the shelves where they belong. Then leave the empty dishwasher cracked open, so any standing water can evaporate.
  • Take out the trash: none of this is worth it if you don’t take every scrap of garbage out the door with you before you go!
  • Schedule Roomba/Vacuum Cleaner (optional): I personally like to schedule our Roomba to vacuum the house the day before we get back so it’s nice and clean!

Step 2: Prep Your Plumbing & Electricity

You don’t need everything plugged in and running when you’re away for more than a few days. When you set your plumbing and electricity up for your vacation, you not only protect yourself from potentially disastrous appliance malfunctions while you’re away… you can also save a little money as well!

Set thermostat before leaving on vacation

Here’s what to do before leaving on vacation when it comes to your plumbing and electricity… 

  • Unplug electronics: toasters, lamps, phone chargers… none of these need to stay plugged into outlets while you’re away! Lower the risk of an electrical fire and save a little money on electricity by unplugging every nonessential item before you go.
  • Take care of your water: turn your water heater on “vacation mode” and consider turning off the water valves while you’re away.
  • Check smoke detectors: make sure all your smoke detectors are in working order in case of a fire while you’re gone.
  • Set the thermostat: if you’re traveling in the summer, set the temp higher than you’d keep it when at home, but at a safe temperature for any plants, pets, or household goods. If you’re traveling in winter, set it warm enough so your pipes don’t freeze. BONUS: Invest in a Nest Thermostat and be able to control it from anywhere!

Step 3: Keep Your Home Safe

Your electrical appliances aren’t the only threat to your house’s safety: when you leave for an extended period of time, there’s always the small risk of a break-in. The good news? With a few handy home prep tricks, you can fool any potential robbers into thinking you’re still in the house and effectively protect all your valuables even while you’re on vacation.

pausing mail while on vacation

Here’s how to get your home ready before a trip and make it look lived-in…

  • Handle your mail: You don’t want your mailbox to look like the photo above, that just screams “I’m not home!” Either pause your mail and newspaper services or have a trusted neighbor or friend pick them up while you’re away.
  • Put lights on timers: bamboozle robbers by putting your lights (or even your TV!) on a timer so that it looks like someone’s at home even when you’re not. This pack of two costs less than $13 on Amazon!
  • Check all entrances: when you’re ready to leave, do one last sweep by all the doors and windows to make sure they’re totally secure and locked.
  • Set the Alarm: If your home has a security system, be sure to set the alarm before you leave! This one can be controlled from your phone!

(Bonus) Step 4: Get A Little Help

That’s right: I’m talking about house sitters! While hiring a house sitter isn’t necessary for everyone, it could be the perfect last step to keeping everything at home happy, healthy, and safe while you’re away.

house sitter while on vacay

Here are a few things your house sitter can help you to do:

  • Pet care: don’t want to bring or board Fido? No need, just hire a house and/or pet sitter!
  • Plant care: if you’re a plant mama (or dad), leaving your babies behind when you go on vacation can be scary. A housesitter can make sure they get plenty of water and sun! Read more on How to Keep Your Plants Alive While Traveling!
  • Landscaping: having your yard maintained while you’re away also helps to fool potential break-ins into thinking you’re at home.
  • Safety: if you’re particularly worried about a break-in, you can hire a full time house sitter. Instead of just popping by every day or two, a full time house sitter will live out of your house while you’re away.

And even if you can’t (or don’t want to) hire a house sitter, it’s always worth asking a friend or neighbor to check in on your house every once in a while when you’re gone. They can park in your driveway to deter robbers, pick up your mail, and make sure that everything looks good!

Prep Your Home Before Leaving on Vacation Printable Checklist

Use this customizable/printable checklist doc to help you prep your home before leaving! Make a copy and customize it to your specific needs:

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4 thoughts on “How to Prep Your Home Before Leaving on Vacation

  1. “This article highlights the importance of cleaning the house before the holidays, and I completely agree with it. A clean and organized home will not only make returning home more enjoyable, but will also prevent any unwanted surprises such as bad odors and forgotten laundry. At the same time, cleaning the house can be a time-consuming and overwhelming task, especially when you are already busy with other preparations. That’s why I recommend using the services of this company. Not only does it free up your time, it also provides a thorough cleaning that you might not be able to do on your own.”

  2. Thank you for explaining that you should be sure to set your alarm for the home security before you leave. We’re renting a timeshare for our little vacation next week. I’m sure I would have forgotten to set our alarm without your advice.

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