a person leaving for vacation

Things To Do Before a Trip: Home Checklist

Updated June 3, 2021 . AmFam Team

Preparing for vacation can be stressful, and that can include preparing your home for your time away. Check out our home vacation checklist to make sure your home is protected.

You’ve booked your trip and packed your bags. You and your family may be ready for your big vacation, but is your home? Anything can happen while you’re away. That’s why it’s important to make sure your home is safe and secure before you leave for vacation. Here is a checklist with 18 ways to prepare your house for vacation so you can have peace of mind while you’re away.

a car parked in a driveway

Protecting Your Home While You’re On Vacation

Vacations provide a much-needed break from the work life. Often, you’re so excited about your vacation that all you can think about is what you’re going to do once you’re gone. Nothing wrong with that, but far too many vacationers overlook one key detail: who’s looking after their home while they’re gone? And on the heels of that notion, here are some things to consider to ensure your home will be safe while you’re away.

How long will you be gone? If you’re going to be gone just a few days, you won’t have to take the same protective measures as you would if you’re going to be gone for weeks on end. But, it only takes a burglar a few minutes to wreak havoc on your homestead. Here are a few ideas you can use to make sure your home is safe while you’re gone.

  • Recruit a neighbor to help. Arrange a trusted neighbor to stop by your home at least once a day.
  • Have your mail brought in. An overstuffed mailbox is a telltale sign that nobody’s home. Same goes for newspaper deliveries.
  • Make it look like someone is home. This can be accomplished by parking a car in the driveway, having a friend or neighbor turn on and off your interior lights, etc.

8 General Tips to Prepare Your Home for Vacation

Preparing your home for vacation looks a little different than your normal home maintenance checklist. After you pack your bags and tidy up, take a few steps to reduce your risks while you're away. Steps like removing any clues that you aren't home or limiting the number of cards you bring along. To help you get started, we’ve put together a vacation house checklist before you head out. Start prepping your home for vacation with these tips:

  1. Have the post office hold your mail while you’re gone, or ask a neighbor to pick it up
  2. If you aren't using your car for the trip, store it in the garage, lock everything up and ask a neighbor to use your driveway to make it look like someone is home
  3. Pare down any cards you won't need on your trip and secure them in a safe
  4. Set your thermostat at weather-appropriate temperatures so air conditioning or heating aren’t unexpectedly turned on
  5. Turn on your water heater’s “vacation mode” feature or reduce the temperature to 50 degrees Fahrenheit to save on your energy bill
  6. Leave an emergency contact number with a trusted neighbor in case the unexpected happens to your home
  7. Unplug your nonessential electronics
  8. Turn off your home’s main water supply if possible

an open dishwasher full of dishes

5 Tips for Preparing Your Kitchen for Vacation

One of the last things you want when coming home from vacation is a stinky fridge or sink. By keeping these tips in mind, your kitchen should stay — and smell — exactly the way you left it before vacation.

  1. Take out the trash so it doesn’t create an unpleasant odor in your home
  2. Run a mixture of water and vinegar through your sink garbage disposal so any rancid smells don’t build or linger
  3. Clean your refrigerator and throw out or freeze food that may go bad
  4. After clearing out your dish washer, leave it open so standing water can evaporate
  5. Wipe down all surfaces to prevent the spread of bacteria

5 Tips to Secure Your Home for Summer Vacation

If you’re planning some R&R this summer, make sure your home is secure and protected from potential burglars. Keep these safety tips in mind before you leave for vacation:

  1. Use smart home devices and security systems to protect your home while away
  2. Wait to post vacation photos to social media until after your trip
  3. Make it look like you’re still home; ask a friend to mow your lawn or put out your trash bins
  4. Ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your house
  5. Set timers for your outdoor lights

Infographic showing seven tips to prep your home for a summer vacation

Looking for more ways to secure your home when you’re away? Explore even more tips for keeping your home safe while traveling.

Protect Your Home with Homeowners Insurance

Your vacation should focus on fun and relaxation. Let us take care of protecting your things while you're away. Talk your American Family Insurance agent today to review your homeowners insurance coverage. Make sure you and your family have all the coverage you need for total peace of mind all year round.

But before you go, there are a few things you’ll want to do to improve the security of you home and make sure you’re prepared for any mishaps on your travels, too.

This article is for informational purposes only and based on information that is widely available.

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