11 Things to Do Around the House Before You Go on Vacation

Colorful trash and recycling bins outside. Photo courtesy of GettyImages/PakinSongmor.

Be sure to clear out all trash before you leave for vacation - it feels great to return to a clean and fresh home.

Whether you’re going out of town for the weekend, or leaving for a week or two, there are a few essential things you should do around your home before you embark! We break down the 11 must-do tasks you should complete before you leave, so you can have that peace of mind while you’re gone, and you can come back home to your house the way you left it!

1. Arrange for a friend to keep tabs on your house

While it’s not completely necessary to have someone house-sit your empty home, it is nice to have someone you trust watch over your house while you’re gone. This can mean having someone make a quick drive through the neighborhood, or giving them the key so they can walk in and make sure nothing has happened inside your house.

2. Clean out fridge/freezer of perishables

There’s nothing worse than coming home and asking, “What’s that smell?” Make sure to clean out your fridge and freezer of anything that will go bad while you’re gone. Go through your pantry, too, and toss out anything that will expire by the time you get back. Throw out any fruits and vegetables that will go bad, make sure all open containers are shut and the tops to all your jars are screwed on tightly so ants and other vermin don’t make dinner out of your leftover food.

3. Clear garbage disposal

After you clean out your perishables, take out all your trash, including any from your kitchen, bathroom, and any other waste bin you have around your home.

4. Put mail on hold

If you’re leaving for more than a few days, or are expecting a package, ask USPS to hold your mail so you can pick it up when you’re back. Alternatively, have a trusted friend or neighbor pick up your mail while they’re swinging by to check on the house.

5. Arrange for grass cutting, garden watering

Cut your grass the day before you leave and water it right afterwards so your grass stays hydrated. If you’re going to be gone less than a week, you shouldn’t worry about your grass. If you’re gone longer than a week, cut your grass a little bit shorter than normal and then give it a deep watering. If you have a sprinkler system, have it set to water for about an hour every 2-3 days, if your city allows it. During the summer months, make sure to check the drought conditions and water restrictions in your area before doing this, as breaking these rules can result in a fine. Regarding your plants, make sure to arrange for your plants to be watered, either by a neighbor or by a professional gardener.

6. Light rooms/outside lights with timers

Make your house look occupied while you’re gone by setting various lights with timers. Set your porch lights or front hallway lights on a timer, so it appears someone is home. This is a cheap way to make burglars turn away from your house.

7. Turn off main water supply

Right before you leave, turn off the water supply so there isn’t a chance for a leak, as a major water leak can be thousands of dollars in damage to your home. By closing the main water supply, you will cut off the supply line to the house, but your outdoor sprinklers will still work if you have the intention to water your grass.

8. Set thermostat for away temperature

To avoid wasting energy, set your thermostat to a higher temperature during the summer, and a cooler temperature during the winter. Experts recommend turning your thermostat up to 85 degrees during the summer, and between 50 and 60 degrees during the winter. Turning off your furnace completely, or setting your thermostat too low, can cause your pipes to freeze while you’re gone.

9. Unplug electronics

Another energy saving and cost effective tactic is to turn off your electronics and unplug them before you leave. It’s not like you plan on using your TV while you’re gone, right?

10. Lock all doors and windows

Make a final walkthrough of your home and make sure all of your doors are locked, your windows are latched shut, and close your curtains so potential thieves can’t see in. How many times have you gotten on the road and thought, “Did I lock the back door?” This final walkthrough will give you peace of mind as you leave.

11. Set alarms

As you leave, set the alarm on your home security system, and alert your alarm company that you’ve left on vacation. If you have someone watching over your home, make sure to give them the code so they don’t have any awkward encounters with your alarm company.


Now sit back and enjoy your vacation away from home! Rest assured, these steps will allow you to relax knowing your home will be safe and sound when you return.

Shannon Wilson is a Digital Content Associate for Builders Digital Experience (BDX). Her main role is to create video content, write and edit articles for NewHomeSource.com and HomLuv.com. Shannon graduated from Texas Tech University in May 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Electronic Media and Communications. 

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