As I was preparing to leave this past weekend for a couple of days down in Portland, it occurred to me that I have a packing list for all my travels and a to-do list for when I lead a tour. But as I was walking around the house checking to make sure doors were locked and lights were turned off (or strategically left on), I realized it would be good to have a list of things to do to wrap up my home before I take off.
You might want to bookmark this page as a reminder on how to prepare your house when you travel. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments. In no particular order:
1) Check the lights. Are there ones you want to leave on either outdoors and inside? Do you want to leave some on timers to give the impression someone’s at home?
2) Make sure appliances are turned off – especially the stove. Don’t forget to unplug the iron if you’ve just used it to iron your clothes before packing.
3) Check that shades and curtains are left the way you normally have them so as not to tip off a would-be thief.
4) Let your neighbors know you’ll be out of town so they can keep an eye on things when you’re gone. Make sure they have your cell phone or email so they can contact you if something looks out of sorts. If you have a house sitter, make an email introduction to neighbors so they know someone will be in and out of the house.
5) Consider giving a key to a trusted neighbor in case of an emergency or if you need them to get in for any reason, perhaps to water your plants. If you have a security system, consider temporarily changing the code for the time you’re away. And don’t leave a spare key under your doormat or fake rock!
6) If you’re traveling for three days or more, put a hold on your mail (you can’t do it for less than three days). If you’re expecting packages, ask a neighbor to check for these so they aren’t sitting on your porch while you’re away.
7) If you subscribe to a newspaper (remember those?), put a hold on that as well.
8) If you like to burn candles (like me), make sure they’ve all been properly snuffed out. Same goes with your fireplace.
9) If you’ll be gone when there’s a garbage pickup, make sure you put the trash out and ask a neighbor to pull in your bins so that passersby don’t notice and deduce you’re away.
10) If you have pets, make plans well in advance of your travels to either have someone take care of them or find a place to board them.
11) For any valuables that you’d be truly bummed about if they were stolen, hide them, lock them up or put them in a safety deposit box.
12) Adjust your thermostat to “away” or to a low temp that isn’t going to eat into your heating bill when no one is there.
13) If you live in a very cold region, ask a neighbor to occasionally run hot water through your pipes so they don’t freeze.
14) Freeze or give away to your neighbors any items in your fridge that might spoil while you’re gone.
15) Make sure faucets aren’t dripping and toilets aren’t running.
16) It may sound silly, but clean the house and put away all the dishes before you leave. You’ll be so much happier coming home to a clean home.
17) As you leave, don’t forget to check ALL doors and windows (including pet doors) to make sure they are locked.