- Mail. Place mail and newspapers on hold or arrange for it to be collected regularly.
- Pets. Arrange for pet care. If you have an indoor cat, consider using an automated dispenser for water and dry food. We use the simple kind, but our neighbors use the fancier type that provide a measured amount at specified times of the day. Some pets require a sitter or kennel.
- Hidden key. If you have a house key hidden outside, remove it. In fact, remove it altogether and use a permanent wall-mount key safe. (Linked to the one we own.) It provides key access "just in case" while securing it in a very sturdy, locked safe.
- Thermostat. Adjust your thermostat. In the winter, consider setting the temperature between 50° and 60°. Consider opening cupboard doors on sinks in the winter to make sure your pipes do not burst. With central air conditioning, set your thermostat to 78° or higher during the warm months.
- Lights. Place at least one light on a timer to provide the appearance that someone is home. This is especially important during winter months when the daylight hours are shorter.
- Support. Inform at least one neighbor you will be out of town in case they need to contact you in an emergency. It's also helpful for them to know in case a surprise package arrives (from a non-USPS service or your basement needs to be checked for flooding. Or just in case.
- Bills. Pay all upcoming bills prior to leaving.
- Refrigerator and Garbage. Clean out your refrigerator and remove all trash from your home to avoid funky smells welcoming you home. Take it a step further and vacuum and sweep floors and clean bathrooms if you have the time.
- Laundry and Dishes. Catch up on laundry before going so you can focus on unpacking upon arrival home. Run the dishwasher before heading out the door.
- Grass and Snow. Mow the grass prior to leaving and arrange for grass cutting if you will be away for more than a week. During winter months, arrange for snow removal so it is not obvious that you are away. No tire tracks in day-old snow is a giveaway.
As a bonus, consider what you might be able to prepare for dinner the evening you return home. Would homemade Hot Pockets or homemade cheeseburger macaroni be fast enough without the fuss? This last time, we just had egg wraps with frozen hash browns.
What else do you do when preparing to leave for vacation?
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