Got your travel booked and your presents purchased? There’s just one thing left to do before you roll out for the holidays: Ensure that your home is prepared and protected while you’re on vacation.
The tips we’re sharing below will put money back in your bank account, save energy all year round and safeguard your possessions from wannabe robbers. With this advice, there’s no reason to leave anything up to chance this holiday season. Read on for 12 must-do tasks to button up your home anytime you travel.
The holiday season is a prime time for break-ins and robberies. When you travel, a dark, quiet house can become an easy target. There are different ways to turn your lights on when you’re away from home. The easiest is to purchase an inexpensive wall timer that you can plug a floor or table lamp into. Aim to program a variety of lighting fixtures in multiple rooms during the evening so that it really looks like you’re home, even when you’re a world away.
If your mailbox overflows after a few days of bills and catalog pile-up, imagine what it’ll look like when you’re gone for a week! Instead of frustrating your letter carrier, fill out a hold mail form online. You can tell your post office when you’ll return, and your mail will be delivered the next day. Seriously, it doesn’t get any easier than that.
Indoor heating sucks the humidity out of the air. This can dry out skin—and plants, too. Tweak your watering schedule so that you top up your greenies the day you leave home. This should tide them over for about a week. If you’ll be gone longer, consider investing in self-watering systems or hire a housesitter to swing by.
Pull up the 10-day forecast for your hometown. If the temps are dropping significantly or you’re due for heavy precipitation, prepare accordingly. You might need to clear gutters, drip faucets, insulate exposed pipes or open under-sink cabinets.
If you’re away for longer or you’re expecting a big weather event, it might make more sense to turn off and drain your water, disconnect car batteries and ask a neighbor if they’re willing to pop in if necessary. And if snow is on the forecast and your town requires you to shovel the sidewalk in front of your house, you’ll have to make provisions for that, too.
Looking for a little peace of mind? A smart home security system that you can access from anywhere is perfect for that. Since they’ve become more common over the last few years, they’re also much more affordable now than they were when they first hit the market. Some installations are even speedy DIYs. That means you can upgrade your home to the latest smart tech in a single afternoon—and check in on things while you’re away.
Ceiling fans don’t make your home warmer or cooler. They just move warm or cool air around. There’s no reason to leave them on when you’re out of the room, much less when you’re on vacation. Switch ’em off and save energy.
Devices that are plugged into outlets continually drain small amounts of energy, and that energy adds up on your monthly bill. Before you pack your bags, take a walk from room to room and unplug what you can. While you’re at it, make sure nothing expensive or tempting to potential thieves is in sight of windows or doors.
The easiest way to lose or damage a long-awaited package is to leave it out in the elements for days on end. Most neighbors will be happy to bring boxes inside your house, or to hold onto them for you. If this isn’t possible, add delivery directions for package carriers instructing them to stow items in a more protected area, like a back porch.
Fireplace chimneys are energy thieves. If you leave the damper open, the heat in your home will disappear into the great outdoors. To make your house more energy efficient (and keep your heating costs down, whether you’re in residence or not), consider investing in airtight fireplace doors.
You can save money and conserve energy by lowering your thermostat 10 degrees lower than normal while you’re away during the holidays. The ideal winter setting is 68 degrees while you’re awake and seven to 10 degrees cooler at night, while you’re asleep.
Before you drop it further, consider any plants that might not flourish in the chill or any items that need to be stored within a certain temperature range. If you have pets, you need to keep their comfort and health in mind, too.
Is a clean home a happy home if you’re not there to enjoy it? We’re not so sure. You’ll probably want to cancel housekeeping services along with meal plan deliveries, co-op box deliveries and personal training and wellness appointments.
If you’ll be away for longer than two weeks, consider rescheduling your usual home cleaning service for a day or two before you return home.
The best part of coming home isn’t walking through the door or unpacking your suitcase. The best part of coming home is nestling into your own bed at the end of a long travel day. A hot shower, comfy pajamas and your favorite pillow? Now that’s perfection. Make it even more luxurious with freshly laundered sheets.
Now, who says you can’t go back? Not us! We’re looking forward to hitting the road this holiday season to see family and friends. Still, there really is nothing like a home of your own. Use these vacation-friendly tips to keep it safe and sound no matter where your plans take you.