10 Things to Do Before Leaving on Summer Vacation
June 1, 2018
10-Point Summer Vacation Checklist
Use these top 10 tips as a pre-vacation checklist before you leave on vacation. These recommendations are also applicable for any planned extended stay away from home.
1. Have a Neighbor, Friend, or Family Member Keep an Eye On Things
Asking a trusted someone to check in on the home is a very good idea when you are leaving on vacation. Not only will they be able to pick up the newspapers and mail to make sure you aren’t screaming an empty home to the neighborhood. They will also be able to water your plants, feed the pets, and make sure nothing is amiss.
Even if you’re not asking your neighbor to take care of the home while you’re gone, it’s a good idea to let them know anyway. This way, they won’t be suspicious when your house sitter keeps entering and exiting your home. You don’t want the police to show up on your kind friend.
Try not to leave them anything like taking the garbage out or any other chores. If, however, you are gone for an extended period of time, you may want them to mow the lawn or shovel the driveway. Consider paying them or offering some kind of trade if the chores begin adding up. Make sure they have your contact information in case they need to get a hold of you.
If all of your neighbors and friends are unavailable or planning a vacation g their own, consider hiring a house sitter. Find a friend, or a friend of a friend, to hire as a house sitter. This is a great job for a responsible high school or college student. If you can’t find anyone you know, there are companies and agencies that offer house-sitting services Just do your homework first and make sure there are references and background checks.
2. Install Light Timers on Lights and Electronics
Light and electronic timers are inexpensive and effective home security devices. Instead of a dark home every night you are gone, surely signaling an empty house, the light timers will turn on and off your lights and electronics on and off at certain times of the day and nights.
There are a huge variety of light timers that simply plug into the outlet. While many people just think of lamps, it’s also a good idea to connect the timers to TVs, radios, and other unexpected sources of energy. A would-be burglar won’t want to enter a room where the TV or radio is on.
3. Consider Pausing Newspaper Delivery
If you receive a daily newspaper, you should put it on hold while you are away. If it is a free community newspaper, have a friend or neighbor pick it up for you. Also, if you are expecting any packages, consider changing the address to a local pick-up spot. If you can’t send the package to a local pick-up, again have a friend or neighbor pick it up for you.
4. Leave Some Blinds Open (If That’s Normal)
When would-be burglars look for empty homes, one common giveaway is windows that are fully drawn and covered. Most people don’t leave the blinds down 24 hours a day.
Go outside and take a look at your windows. If they are covered normally than you should be fine leaving them closed while on vacation. If, however, you don’t have all of them closed, make sure to leave the windows in similar shape when you leave.
Consider closing the blinds halfway or strategically so nothing of value is visible. Never leave phones, laptops, jewelry, or other expensive items in clear view from the outside.
If you don’t have a fireproof lockbox, consider purchasing a using one.
5. Refrain from Posting Vacation Plans Online
Wait until after you return home from your trip to begin posting photos. Burglars have social media too and they often scope out potential houses to rob from social media posts.
While it may be tempting, skip the photo sharing until you arrive back home. Never post photos from the airport, check ins, or where you are located while on vacation.
If you have a private profile, it’s much less likely that this information would reach a burglar, but you never know. Many times, it’s the people that are closest to us that end up taking the most advantage.
6. Lock Everything
Some people are in such a rush to leave, that they end up leaving expensive items out in the open for all to see. A MacBook Pro that can be seen clearly through the kitchen window will be hard to resist, even for “good people.”
Before you leave on vacation, go around your home and look for anything that you might want to lock up. We recommend a fireproof safe. This way, if someone does break in, they won’t be able to get to your most valuable possessions.
In addition to locking jewelry and other valuables, double-check all your windows and doors are securely closed and locked. Even second-floor windows should be locked. Don’t forget to lock the garage door!
7. Inspect and Tidy Up Perimeter
Look around the exterior of your home and check for things like ladders, bikes, unlocked sheds/garages, and sports and yard equipment. Make sure everything is put away and locked.
Trim back plants from the foundation and siding so there a minimum 2-foot clearance around the entire home. Be aware of any potential hiding spots for burglars, especially near windows and doors. If you have any large trees or shrubs that obscure a potential entry point for your home, consider trimming it back so any neighbors or passersby can see.
Additionally, make sure your plants are watered and the pool is cleaned. Consider hiring a teenager in the neighborhood to clean up the yard. The less occupied a home looks, the more of a target it becomes.
8. Don’t Leave a Spare
If you are asking a friend or neighbor to housesit while you are away, give them a key to keep on their person. Don’t leave a spare key “hidden” somewhere near the door. By now, pretty much everyone knows to check under the mat, under the flowerpot, or even in one of those fake rocks. You’re not fooling anyone.
Even if you find an obscure place you don’t think anyone will look, you never know if someone saw you put it there in the first place. Also, many thieves will take their time looking for common hiding spots and they have more experience than you do.
While pests may not be on the top of your mind, it’s also a good idea to make sure you don’t have any garbage, leaking faucets, or high grass. So, cut your grass, trim plants away from the siding, and take out the trash.
If garbage day doesn’t line up, ask your house sitter to take the trash out and pull the cans back in afterward. Not only will it begin to smell and attract rodents and pests, but the smell can also signal an empty home to would-be thieves.
9. Be Wary of GPS
If you are leaving your vehicle at the airport or using it as transportation for your trip, make sure you take out the GPS unit (if you have one). If you have a built-in GPS, set “Home” to some other address than your actual home. This way, if someone does steal your car, they won’t be led to your home.
10. Set Your Thermostat
Whatever you do, DO NOT TURN OFF THE THERMOSTAT. Many new homeowners will think they are saving money and making the wise choice to turn off the heating and cooling system when they leave.
But, when they get home, they may come home to frozen pipes or worse in winter and damage from high temperatures and humidity in the summer.
We recommend setting the thermostat to about 80 degrees in the summer and around 60 degrees in winter. The general rule is to set your thermostat about 4-5 degrees up or down from what you set it while at home.
Additionally, consider installing a whole-home humidification system to monitor and control humidity levels in the home. These systems will detect the humidity level and automatically add or remove moisture as needed to get everything to the ideal levels. This is especially important in homes with art and other expensive items affected by humidity levels.
For help getting your plumbing and HVAC systems ready for your extended absence, contact the trained professionals at Fix-It 24/7. Our fast, world-class services are available 24/7.