Planning a trip away from home takes careful consideration. Besides planning the trip, however, it is also a good idea to get your home ready for your absence. There are several things that need to be done before leaving that will ensure your peace of mind on the trip. The last thing you want to worry about while on vacation is whether or not something in the refrigerator is spoiling. This article, along with the companion article: How to Prepare Your Home for Your Return From a Trip, will help you get your home ready for the trip.
Things You Will Need
Make sure any pets are taken care of. If you are sending Rover to a boarding facility, give detailed care instructions. If you have a pet sitter coming to the house be sure to have an adequate supply of all the pet's food, medication, toys, and treats. Don't forget the fish, birds, turtles or other pets that are not going to a boarding facility.
Clean out the refrigerator. If you are going to be gone more than a few days, do not leave milk or other food that could expire while you are away in the refrigerator. Wipe up any spills so they do not become hard or even sour while you are gone. You do not want to return to a refrigerator filled with rotting food.
Do all the laundry. You will probably have dirty clothes from your trip when you come home so it will be nice to have nice, clean clothes to change into. Do all the laundry, including folding and putting it away so that chore will not be waiting for you.
Get your plants ready for your absence. If you have a friend or neighbor coming over to water the plants, be sure to leave a list of all their locations in the home as well as the watering schedule. As an alternative to having a neighbor come over, you can invest in self-watering stakes or bulbs. They are relatively inexpensive and there are some that look very nice in potted plants.
Leave a light on. If you are going to be gone for a short time (3-5 days) leave a light on somewhere in the interior that will show outside. This gives the appearance that someone is home. If your trip is longer, use automatic timers that will turn lights on and off at staggered times. If you have a home security service, notify them that you will be gone. You can also ask neighbor to watch the house as well.
Spray for bugs. This is a good time to spray for bugs as no one will be there to be affected by the fumes. It is also a good idea to spray key areas like entrances heavily so bugs will stay away and not go in to set up house while you are gone. Use a bug spray that lasts for a few weeks to ensure your home is bug-free the entire time you are gone.
Unplug appliances and set thermostat. Adjust the thermostat so the air conditioner or furnace is not running in an empty house and wasting energy. Unplug all unnecessary appliances (TV, Washer, Dryer, Radios, Computers, etc.). In the event of a power surge you will want these to be unplugged. Also, appliances that are plugged in, even when turned off, use some energy.
Finally, hold all your mail and newspapers. You can file a hold mail notice online by going to the Website listed in the resources below. Call your newspaper carrier or the newspaper circulation department and ask that your paper be stopped while you are gone. Ask a neighbor to be on the lookout for those free papers, flyers, advertising door hangers, etc. that will accumulate.
Tips & Warnings
Do not set the thermostat to high (or low). You will want to return to a comfortable home, not one that is freezing or over heated. Setting it to around 60 is probably fine in winter, and 80 or a bit higher in summer, depending on where you live.