How to Prepare Your Home for a Long Trip

by Martin Banks
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prepare your home

If you’re planning a long trip, you’ve got a lot of preparation to complete before you’re ready to head out the door. To make sure things go off without a hitch, here are 10 things you need to do to prepare your home before your next journey and provide you with peace of mind.

Don’t Boast About Your Trip

It’s tempting to tell everyone on your social media about your upcoming vacation, but it comes with a downside. Criminals often monitor social media to determine when you won’t be home, so they can break in and make off with your belongings at their leisure. If you have to organize travel details on social media, stick to private messages, and don’t post about your adventures until you’re safe at home again.

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Shut Off Your Water

There’s nothing worse than coming back home after a long trip only to find that a pipe broke and has been dumping water into your home the entire time. Water damage is expensive to repair and can leave all sorts of lasting damage in the form of mold and mildew. If you don’t have someone coming over to house-sit, make it a point to shut off your water at the main valve before you pull out of the driveway.

Adjust Your Thermostat

Don’t shut off your home’s HVAC system entirely, regardless of how long you’re going to be gone. If you live in a hot or humid location, shutting off the AC could potentially damage anything stored in the home. If you live in a cold climate, your pipes could freeze. You don’t need to keep things cold in the summer or warm in the winter, though. Adjust your thermostat so you’re not spending a ton of money on climate control when you’re not even there to enjoy it.

Manage Your Mail

A mailbox full of letters or newspapers piling up on the porch are tell-tale signs that there’s no one home. They’re like beacons for thieves. If you’re going to be gone for long periods, you have a few options. You can either ask someone to pick up your mail and newspapers every day or put a stop-order on both services until you return. Either way, the goal is to prepare your home by keeping things from piling up and signaling to thieves that you’re away.

Secure Your Home

Make sure your home is secured before you leave. All it takes is one forgotten window or unlocked door to give entrance to the less scrupulous members of society. Check all your doors and windows to prepare your home before your trip. If you have a security system, it helps to have someone else on the call list in case there’s an emergency and you can’t be reached. You may also want to have your garage door inspected by a professional to ensure it’s in good working order. It’s vital to prevent thieves from gaining entrance to your home while you’re away.

Get Your Paperwork in Order

Whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, you’re going to need all sorts of paperwork, from driver’s licenses and insurance to passports and airline tickets. Make sure you’ve got everything in order before you leave. Another good idea is to create digital copies of your important paperwork. It will be easier to get replacements if something goes missing while you’re abroad.

Hire Pet- or Plant-Sitters

If you’re not bringing your furry friends with you on your trip, but you don’t want to sequester them in a local kennel, your other option is to hire a pet-sitter. This should be someone you trust since they’ll need access to your home while you’re away. If you don’t have any pets but have houseplants that you care for, a plant-sitter might be the best solution to keep your green babies alive while you travel.

Empty Your Fridge

Depending on the length of your trip, you may wish to empty your fridge and discard any perishable food that might spoil while you’re away. It doesn’t take much for some spoiled milk or moldy fruit to stink up your entire house, especially if you have the thermostat turned up. The night before you leave, empty your fridge of anything that won’t keep until you return, and make sure you take the trash out.

Contact Your Bank

There’s nothing worse than trying to get a meal at an airport or buy a souvenir, only to have your credit card refused. The same “inconvenience” results if you try to get cash using your debit card and have that card refused. If you use these cards without alerting the bank of your travel plans, your bank will assume something fraudulent is going on and prevent you from buying things until you call them and verify.

Skip this annoying step by calling them first or using their online site to let them know when you’re traveling and where. It only takes a few minutes, and it can save you a world of headache, especially if placing a call overseas will cost you an arm and a leg in roaming charges.

Don’t Forget Your Chargers

Finally, don’t forget to pack your chargers! Sure, you can buy another one if you happen to forget yours at home, but what about laptops? If you’re bringing electronic devices with you on your travels, make sure you can keep them charged.

On that note, if you’re heading overseas, make sure you have plug adapters. Chances are high that the plugs in your hotel room won’t be compatible without them.

Enjoy Your Trip

A lot of planning and preparation goes into creating the perfect long trip — and if you’re not careful, many things can go wrong. Most of these tips are common sense, so we often end up forgetting them in the flurry of packing. Don’t let the excitement of an upcoming trip make you forget something important, like securing your home or shutting off the water. Protect yourself and your property so it’s still standing when you finish travel and are ready to come home.

Taking care of all these little things to prepare your home before you leave makes it that much easier to enjoy your trip. When you have peace of mind, you can make the most of your journey and return to a safe and secure home.

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