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Extended Trip Prep: What You Need to Do BEFORE You Leave

family leaving home for a trip
Written by Mandy Voisin

While most like to think they are spontaneous people who can leave for a trip on a whim, it’s not always that practical. Especially for extended trips, which are typically a stay of 7 days or more. While away, your house or apartment is vacant, leaving it exposed to potential burglars, the elements, and that rowdy pack of raccoons that have been terrorizing the neighborhood. None of these fears should prevent you from embarking on the trip of a lifetime. But a little effort goes a long way when it comes to vacation prep. And you’ll enjoy your trip more knowing that you’ll return to your home just how you left it.

Read on to learn what you should do before you leave on your next adventure!

Home Security

home security

The majority of home burglaries are performed by someone who lives within 2 miles of the target home. Because they live nearby, they may notice that you are on vacation if you leave evidence of your absence. Here are a few things to do to keep unwanted guests away:

Lock all your doors and windows. This may seem obvious, but it’s easy and common for burglars to enter through an unlocked door or window. Double check all of them before you leave the house. If you have a garage, lock the entrance to the garage as well – since a compromised garage door code or opener could allow easy entry as well. Also don’t hide your house key outside! Under a doormat or a flower pot might seem harmless, but are easy places for thieves to look.

Ask a neighbor to keep an eye on the house. A trusted neighbor can be the best ally you have when embarking on an extended trip. Ask them to pick up any mail, newspaper, or packages from your porch and mailbox. If they’re close enough, ask if they’ll park their car in your driveway to make it appear as though you have company or are home.

Use lights to your advantage.  Programmable light switches are your friends. Program a couple of lamps near windows to come on each night. Motion activated floodlights are also useful tools – especially if you live in a poorly-lit area.

Consider a home security system. Security companies are the first to tell you that homes without security systems are more likely to be burglarized. Some security systems will notify the police if your home is broken into and the code is not entered properly upon entry. Having security cameras installed may also buy you some peace of mind while you’re away so you can check in regularly.

Hide your valuables.  Stow your valuables in an unlikely place like your children’s toy chest for example. Hide anything you would hate to lose – especially jewelry, cash, electronics, and weapons. Leave a note for yourself if you need, to remind you where you hid them.

Inside The Home

woman cleaning glass table

There’s more to prepping your home than preventing burglaries. Other disasters can occur which can be extremely frustrating. Here’s what to do to get your home ready:

Clean out the refrigerator. There is nothing grosser than returning to a home that smells like rotten food. Before you leave, clean out all food with an expiration date – especially produce, meat, and milk. Give it to a friend or to that neighbor you asked to help you out. It’s also nice to return to a clean refrigerator and makes that first grocery shopping experience much more enjoyable.

Set your thermostat. An extended trip might seem like a great time to save money on your electric bill, but leaving your house too warm or too cold can cause serious damage. Frozen pipes in the winter and mold and mildew prevention in the summer can be prevented by moderating the temperature. Also, ask your friendly neighbor to check inside your house occasionally to make sure a leaky pipe or anything else did not occur.

Unplug your electronics. Electrical storms can decimate your expensive electronics. Unplug anything that has a plug – unless of course, it’s the lamps you have hooked up to your programmable light switches.

Turn your water off. This may not be possible all of the time – especially if your home has a sprinkler system. But in many cases, it’s a good idea. Water damage is very common and can be extremely costly if it is not taken care of right away. Turning off your hot water heater is also a good idea. If that isn’t possible, turn it to the lowest setting possible.

Take out the trash. Empty all trash cans in every part of the house. Ideally, your neighbor will help you dispose of it on trash day. But if not, keeping the smell out of your house is vital. It will also keep insects and other creatures at bay. Run a lemon or some vinegar through the garbage disposal too, to keep it fresh.

Pets and Plants

traveling with pets

When it comes to taking care of your pets while you’re away there are a few options: take them with you, leave them with someone or a boarding center. Here are some tips for helping your furry friends thrive while you’re away.

Ask a friend with pets to keep them while you’re away. Asking a friend who has pets of their own may be the best option since they are familiar with their schedules and don’t mind an extra pet running around.

Try out Rover. Rover is a popular site for connecting people with local pet sitters and dog walkers. It’s easy to use, inexpensive, and there are reviews for the sitters so you can read what other pet owners have to say about their experience.

Get an automatic food and water dispenser for your pet. This is obviously not a substitute for hiring care for your pet, but it can help – especially if the pet (usually a cat)  is staying at your house while you’re gone.

Board them at a professional center. This may not be the cheapest option, but it will buy you some peace of mind. A professional kennel or pet hotel is a great place for a pet since they’ll have regular care, and some friends to play with. Some veterinarians even board pets, which is especially ideal if you’re concerned about your pet’s health.

Plant parents need to prepare too. If your plants are your babies, make sure you have a plan for them while you’re gone. This article gives fantastic advice for watering your plants while you’re away. Consider asking the same friend or neighbor to check on your garden or indoor plants as well.


Do you have any other tip to prep your home before you depart for a trip? Tell us in the comments below! 


About the author

Mandy Voisin

Hey I'm Mandy. Writer, traveler, wife, mother, author, woman, over-sharer. I like to talk about the grit of travel, the beautiful, and the people that I meet.