Planning for a trip can be both exciting and hectic. Whether I’m leaving for two weeks or just a weekend, I do the following around my home:
1. Unplug the electronics
While you’re gone, you never know if your area is going to be hit by a lightning storm. Or, if you’re leaving in the winter, a snow storm may knock out power. Either way, an electric surge could damage your items. Keep your computers, TVs, and other devices safe by unplugging them.
2. Turn off the outdoor water spigots from the inside.
Whether you call them outdoor spigots or outdoor faucets, the concept is the same. I have an outdoor spigot that leaks while in the off position. Before I leave home on a trip, I make sure that the main going out to the faucet/spigot is off.
It’s not only a question about wasting water and increasing your water bill. While on a family road trip, we had a neighborhood delinquent turn on the water spigot in our absence. Our yard was soaked, and water had started getting into our basement.
3. Turn down the hot water tank to vacation mode.
If you’re not going to be home for a while, why have your hot water working hard to heat up water while you’re away? Many tanks have a “vacation mode” option. On this mode, the tank won’t waste as much energy heating up water, but it will also ensure that your water isn’t completely cold when you return. After returning from traveling, you may want to jump in the shower, and this mode ensures that the water will still be warm, or at least warm-ish.
Note: Make sure you turn this down after everyone in your home has taken their shower before leaving on the trip. In my home, we take showers at night, so I make sure I turn down the hot water tank either after the last shower or in the morning before departing.
3. Decide if you’re going to leave any lights on.
Thieves know that a dark house is an empty house. And while your home may usually be dark at night, professional criminals are skilled at scouting out neighborhoods and seeing who’s home.
Leaving a light on disrupts these hooligans’ plans. While not foolproof, leaving a light on can cast a wrench in any neighborhood scouting activity they have.
Other options would be to set up your lights on a timer, or if you’re feeling really fancy, there are now lightbulbs that you can control via an app on your phone. (Although, you need an active internet connection to do this. You have to decide if you want to keep your router plugged in. See #1.)
4. Wash the dishes.
When my wife and I got married, the wedding festivities left us so fatigued that we neglected to do this simple chore. We packed, checked everything else, and left for the airport.
While we were away, my dad checked in on our new home. When he opened the door, he sniffed a horrible, rancid smell emanating from the kitchen.
The culprit? A pan full of turkey juice and meat remnants had been in the process of forming its own ecosystem. He washed the pan for us, but we’ll never live it down.
5. Turn down the heat and the AC.
If you’re traveling during the summer and you have AC in your home, consider either shutting off the AC completely, or setting the thermostat to turn on your unit at a much higher temperature.
There are a couple of things to consider: When you’re away, you won’t be home to enjoy the cooler air. Depending on where you live, however, the temperature in your home may get so warm that your AC will have to work for quite some time before returning your home to a comfortable temperature. Whether or not you shut off the AC completely is something that you’ll have to think about and discuss with others in your household.
Traveling in the winter will have you doing just the opposite: turning down the heat. There is one major difference: you shouldn’t turn off the heat completely. Imagine coming home from a trip and finding out that you have frozen pipes?
An appropriate temperature depends on the type of house or apartment where you live. When I travel during the colder months, I set my heat at 58 degrees. Cold, yes. But not cold enough for the pipes in my home to freeze. You may have to set your heat higher. But one thing is clear: there shouldn’t be a need to keep your home at 85 degrees when you’re not there.
These were just five things to do before leaving on a trip; there are many more. Is there something you do before you leave? Please tell us in the comments below.