Planning a summer vacation can be a juggling act. There are quite a few balls to keep in the air when it comes to mapping out your time away. It’s easy to forget about what you’re leaving behind when a trip is coming up, but it’s important to take time to remember that you’ll need to plan for what happens to your home while you’re gone.
Leaving your property unattended, whether for an extended period of time or just for a weekend, raises a variety of concerns that you need to allow for when it comes to your vacation master plan. But there’s no need to let those concerns haunt you while you’re supposed to be relaxing on your trip. We’ve compiled a useful list of precautions to take before you leave, so you won’t need to stress this part.
What to Prepare For When You’re Away From Home
There are a few different types of issues that can arise at home in your absence. The two main categories of risks your property might face are external threats and environmental threats. We’ll break down those categories right now and offer suggestions as to how to prevent them.
External threats include trespassers and thieves, things every homeowner worries about even when they’re not on vacation. Taking steps to secure your home against these threats in advance will offer you some peace of mind.
Environmental threats include accidents within and out of your control – luckily, you can prepare for either. Certain systems and electronics in your house could act up when you’re not looking, so we suggest following our tips on how to keep that from happening. It’s also smart to consider that severe weather could happen unexpectedly while you’re gone and to do what you can to get ready for potential impact.
What You Can Do
Whatever it is that’s keeping you up at night, there’s a solution for it. Don’t skimp on something that you know are going to haunt you when you’re supposed to be sipping mimosas on the beach. You can set yourself (and your home) up for a worry-free vacation in no time by using the following tips and tricks.
1. Phone a friend. Ask a friend or family member to check on your house every day or so. Hiring a house-sitter may give you extra peace of mind, but if that’s not available to you, having a friend stop in regularly works just as well.
Give your friend a spare key so that they can take a peek inside to make sure everything looks good. Better yet, give them the key you normally hide underneath that flower pot. Leaving a key outside the house is a perfect way to make your house vulnerable while you’re gone, so it’s best to remove that before you leave, whether you give it to your friend or not.
Ask your friend to pick up your mail and your newspaper every day to make it look like you’re still there. If they can’t make it every day, see if a trusted neighbor can grab them (and can keep an eye on the house for suspicious activity while they’re at it). Alternatively, you can suspend delivery of your mail and/or your newspaper until you get back.
2. Invest in a security system. This is a great option if want to monitor what’s going on at home in real time. There are plenty of systems to choose from, ranging from traditional models to “smart” systems that allow you more nuanced control. Some systems even let you view the camera feed from your phone, so you can keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening at home anytime you want.
Additionally, consider investigating a system that has environmental sensors. These will detect and alert you to any changes in air quality, moisture, temperature, carbon monoxide and more. If you’re concerned about environmental damage, a system with these capabilities is the way to go.
3. Set your thermostat. If you’ve got a programmable thermostat, schedule it to accommodate your absence. There’s no need to be cooling or heating the house if nobody’s in it. For a summer vacation, around 85 degrees is acceptable.
If you have pets who are being cared for at home, make sure you take them into account when planning the temperature. Especially if you live in a hot climate, you’ll want to be mindful of their comfort.
Some thermostats are wifi enabled and be controlled directly from your phone, which will allow you to monitor your house’s climate while you’re away.
4. Unplug unneeded electronics. Disconnect anything you won’t be using, as long as it’s safe to unplug. This includes entertainment devices such as TVs and computers, appliances like blenders or microwaves, chargers, etc. Not only will you prevent any unexpected mishaps or damage from power surges, you’ll be saving money on your energy bill, as well.
5. Install motion-sensitive lights. You may be tempted to leave lights on in the house while you’re gone, but that can be a signal to thieves that a homeowner has taken a vacation. Opt to turn those off and look into getting some motion-detecting lights instead.
Set up a few of these at doors and around the yard so that if anyone trespasses, the lights will go on and alert any neighbors that someone is on your property who shouldn’t be. If you’re worried about an ugly light interfering with your home’s aesthetics, there are decorative options available as well.
6. Prevent water damage. It goes without saying that everyone wants to do this. Water damage is costly and destructive, but fortunately for us, it’s also preventable. There are several steps you can take to make sure you don’t return to a soggy house.
First of all, think about switching off your main water supply while you’re away. If nobody’s using the water, it’s an excellent precaution to take in order to make sure you don’t end up with a burst pipe or flooded toilet.
You can also set your water heater to vacation mode, which is less about water damage and more about saving energy and money, but is still a valuable idea. If your water heater doesn’t have a vacation mode, you can always just turn its thermostat down significantly to have a similar effect.
Another smart precaution to take is to clean out the gutters and storm drains on the premises before you head out on your trip. That way your home and yard will be ready for any kind of weather that might blow in.
7. Secure all points of entry. This might seem incredibly basic, but it bears repeating: check to make certain all of your windows and doors are locked. It’s easy to overlook a point of entry only to find yourself regretting it later. Doing an overview of all your locks will also reveal whether or not any are weak or even broken; try to check on this well in advance of your vacation so you can have any replaced before you leave.
8. Resist the urge to post on social media. It’s tempting to brag about your upcoming vacation to your friends on Facebook, but we’d recommend that you save that for when you get back. Posting on social media channels about your upcoming absence is the perfect way to announce that your home will be unattended within that window of time.
If you simply want to let people know where you’re going, stick to letting your friends know individually instead of making a big public post. You can always make your followers jealous with all your pictures once your trip is over!
9. Rent out your home. It’s like hiring a housesitter, only they pay you. You can check how much you can charge renters by checking a rent report, which will tell you the average cost for your home type in your exact area.
The tips on this list may seem simple to you, and that’s the beauty of them: they are simple. You can easily take measures to protect your home while you’re having the time of your life on your summer vacation. All it takes is a little planning and some common sense to ensure that your home is safe and secure from the moment you leave to the second you get back. Our list is designed to help you do just that.
You’ll be glad for all the hard work you put in when vacation is over and you come back to find home sweet home just the way you left it. Set yourself up for success and have an amazing trip!