Following two years of pandemic lockdowns and isolation, people have begun packing their bags for much-needed vacation time. According to a recent survey by The Vacationer, 208 million Americans plan to travel this summer, an increase of 35 million American travelers in 2021.
However, before you head out the door to catch a flight, you should do a few things to vacation-proof your home. Here are nine tips for leaving your home in good shape for your summer travels.
Unplug Appliances and Electronic Devices
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) blamed electrical malfunctions and failures for nearly 46,700 home fires annually between 2015 and 2019.
Avoid potential fire hazards while you’re away by unplugging electronic devices, printers, televisions, and appliances. Doing so will also save you money on utilities. A plugged-in charger that isn’t actively charging a device might add $6 to your yearly electric bill – and that’s just for a single cord.
Set Your Water Heater to Vacation Mode
Many water heaters allow you to turn the meter to “vacation mode” while traveling, conserving more energy and preventing the unit from wasting hot water.
Similarly, turning the dial to vacation mode during colder months lowers the temperature just enough to prevent your pipes from freezing. Just remember to turn the gauge back on when you get home, or you won’t have hot water to use.
Adjust the Thermostat
Turning the heat and air conditioner off before your vacation may be tempting, but extreme temperatures aren’t suitable for your home. Excessive heat could ruin the sheetrock in your walls and cause your refrigerator to work overtime.
However, you can usually raise or lower your electric thermostat settings by 5 degrees from your standard settings. For example, if you typically keep the temperature set to 72°F, you can raise it to 77°F in the summer and 67°F in the winter. For gas, raise or lower the temperature by 1-2 degrees.
Throw Out Perishable Foods
Unless you’re bringing fruits and vegetables as snacks on your road trip, throw away any leftovers and other perishable items in your refrigerator and pantry. They’ll likely go bad well before you return from vacation, leaving you with mold and terrible smells.
You’ll also want to throw away the trash before you leave. If your scheduled garbage pick-up is during vacation, ask a neighbor if you can toss your trash in their bins or if they can roll your garbage bins up the driveway for you.
Pause Mail and Package Deliveries
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) can hold your mail at a local post office for up to 30 days if you fill out the hold mail service request form on the USPS website.
If you have an Amazon account, you can sign up for Amazon Garage Delivery, which allows shipping personnel to drop off packages inside your garage using a scanner. With this service, you can also watch the delivery remotely and receive a notification upon its arrival.
Otherwise, you might want to ask a neighbor if they can collect your mail for you until you return.
Deter burglars by programming outdoor lights to come on after a particular evening hour. You might also add walkway lights and motion-sensor spotlights to spook intruders.
Many lights come with smartphone features that allow you to remotely turn them on and off. You can also do this for indoor lights, such as a lamp or fan lighting.
A potential burglar will assume someone is home if they see the lights on and think twice before breaking in.
Make a Landscaping Care Plan
Hire a landscaper to mow your lawn and water your plants if you plan to travel for a long time. You could also pay a neighborhood kid looking to make a few extra bucks to take care of your basic landscaping needs while you’re away.
Overgrown lawns might entice bugs and snakes to your yard, or you might get fined by the town or a homeowners association.
Inform Your Neighbors
Let your closest neighbors know you’ll be away and kindly ask them to keep an eye on your property for you.
Some neighbors may offer to collect your mail, water your flowers, or even care for your pets while you’re away.
Just make sure to give them your phone number and other vital contact information so they can reach out if anything goes wrong.
Set Your Home Security System
You may be surprised to know that burglaries climb by 10% during the summer and have a higher occurrence during daytime hours. In 2020, there were 247,238 daytime residential break-ins – 52,914 more than at night.
Before leaving the house, check all the doors and windows to ensure they’re locked and set your home security alarm. Even if you live in a very safe community, you don’t want to risk a potential burglary while you’re away.
Your house alarm will arm all entrances and activate motion detectors if a window breaks or if it senses movement.
Protect Your Home for a Stress-Free Vacation
The last thing you want is to go away on vacation and worry that something might happen back at home. Taking the necessary precautions will keep your property and precious possessions safe until you get back.