Whether you’re going out of town for two days or a few weeks, there are things you can do to prepare your home for your absence and for your smooth return.
“It’s hard to remember from trip to trip everything you need to do to get your house in order,” says Laura Leist, certified professional organizer and owner of Eliminate Chaos, in Seattle. “Have a checklist of what needs to be done, and start planning a week or two in advance.”
The below departure checklist will make it easier to get your home shipshape so you can enjoy a vacation free from worries. The return checklist will ease your transition back to the real world.
Prepare for Your Departure
- Ready your pets: Give the pet sitter or boarding facility detailed care instructions. Make sure the one you choose has plenty of your pet’s favorite foods, treats, toys, medicines and other supplies on hand.
- Clean out the fridge: Throw away food that will expire while you’re gone. Quickly wipe away any spills that are still fresh.
- Tackle the laundry: Wash and put away laundry before you leave.
- Prep your plants: Ask a friend or neighbor to water your plants, and be sure to leave multiple lists of all plants and their locations. Otherwise, invest in self-watering plant stakes.
- Leave a light on: During a short trip, leave a few lamps on throughout the house to make it look occupied. For a longer vacation, invest in inexpensive automatic timers that can turn our lights on and off at staggered intervals, making your house look occupied. Alert your home-security service or a trusted neighbor so one or the other can keep an eye out as well.
- Spray for bugs: Spray an insecticide in key areas so bugs will steer clear while you’re gone.
- Unplug and reset the thermostat: Temporarily adjust the thermostat so the air-conditioner or heater won’t waste energy by running in an empty house. Unplug unnecessary appliances in preparation for your absence.
- Hold mail and newspapers: A call to your post office and news carrier will put your mail and newspapers on hold so they won’t pile up in front of your house while you’re gone.
Prepare for Your Return
- Plan for your breakfast: Before you leave, stock your kitchen with cold cereal, coffee and a container of shelf-stable milk so your first meal back will be hassle free.
- Keep the house smelling fresh: Plug in a Scented Gel warmer in your favorite fragrance, and you’ll be greeted by freshness when you open the door.
- Change the sheets: Make up beds with fresh sheets for a welcoming first night.
- Tidy the house: Sweep or vacuum floors; Do the dishes; Wipe down counters in the bathroom and kitchen with an all-purpose cleaner; Give toilets a quick clean.
Some cleaning products should be kept out of reach of children. Check all labels. Supervise all children as appropriate for their age.