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Get Out of Town! Tips for Vacation-Proofing Your Home



Are you heading out of town on a vacation? Will you leave your house vacant during the time you’ll be away? If you don’t plan on having a house sitter, you may want to think about creating a checklist to ensure that your home will remain safe and secure in your absence and in optimal condition upon your return.

The Interior of Your Home

Locks and Security

Though this might seem obvious, don’t forget to close and lock all windows and doors securely. If you have a sliding door or sliding windows, put a metal bar or wooden rod on the track. Safety.com recommends that you advertise (display signs) that a security system is in place. “Especially when you’re away, it can be a great idea to advertise your security measures,” it says.

If you have a smart home, like one equipped with Nest Labs products, you can adjust your home-security and environment system settings via your mobile phone while you are away. Nest even offers video-based face-recognition equipment, which can discern the difference between pets’ movements and humans’ movements. And if you connect your water heater to Nest, and it notices you’re gone, it will turn your water heater down to save energy. In fact, you can connect a myriad of products to your Nest system, including lights, indoor sprinkler systems, fans, appliances, and others. Read more at “Works with Nest.”


If you will be gone for more than a few days, it’s a good idea to turn off the water at the main shutoff valve. This assumes that you don’t have appliances or systems, like an ice maker or an automatic sprinkler system, that require water to remain turned on. Pour a half a cup of chlorine into your toilet bowl, and if you are going to be gone for an extended amount of time, have someone flush your toilet periodically. Set your water heater to the lowest setting, or put it on “vacation” mode if that is an option.


“Unplug all unnecessary appliances (except those on timers, of course) to protect your home from an electrical fire or power surge,” according to Safety.com. “This goes for the big stuff, like TVs, but also for your toaster, your coffee maker, and other small appliances.”


Whether you prefer to leave certain lights on or use a timer probably depends on the length of time you will be away. Lights left on for an extended period of time can draw attention to the fact that nobody is home. Besides putting lights on a timer, you can set a radio or a television on a timer to further provide the illusion that someone is home. Mike Holmes, from Holmes on Homes and Holmes Makes It Right, suggests using a smartphone app to control the lights remotely. “This lets you switch up the times, which is important,” he says. “All it takes is watching your home for a couple of nights for someone to notice the lights always come on at seven and turn off at 10.”


Water your house plants thoroughly before you leave, and they should be OK on their own for about a week. Invest in self-watering containers if you will be gone for an extended amount of time and if you travel frequently. HouseLogic has some great ideas on how to care for plants while on vacation, including information about how to set up a drip-water irrigation system and a string-watering system. USA Today offers a step-by-step list, which includes this advice: “Set your watered plants in the bathtub and cover them with a sheet of plastic.”  


Make sure you don’t leave perishable goods in your refrigerator. You might be surprised at the variety of foods you can freeze. “You CAN freeze lettuce, onions, cucumbers, celery and tomatoes," says Green Talk “Just realize that you have to use them in a different way than how they were before they were frozen.”

The Exterior of Your Home


Before you leave, water the lawn deeply for a few days. Eradicate any weeds and prune your plants. These steps will ensure healthy growth continues in your absence. “If you’ll be away for more than a week, ask a friend or neighbor to check on your garden periodically, water plants as needed, and notify you about any problems,” suggests Tower Garden. Visit its website for more tips surrounding plant care prior to a vacation. And don’t forget to disconnect any hoses.

Pest Control

If you currently have garden pests, try to take care of any problems before you leave. You would not want to come home to an army of ants in your kitchen. A side note: A clean home is less likely to attract unwelcome visitors, so a thorough cleaning before you leave is recommended.

A few additional tips for the vacationer-to-be: Don’t share your exact travel plans on social media, have someone collect your mail and newspaper (or stop service in your absence), leave a key with your neighbor, and leave a car in your driveway. And now that your home is fully prepared for your absence, have a fantastic time on your adventure! 

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