11 Things You Must Do Before Leaving for Vacation

You're headed out of town. Tickets are ready, reservations are made, and bags are packed. But before you go on vacation, here are 11 things to take care of around the house.

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Set Up Security

Make sure all windows and doors are locked and that the locks are in good condition. If you have an alarm system, make sure it’s set before you head on out on vacation. Install a deadbolt to make it harder for bad guys to break-in to your home.

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Turn Water Off

The last thing you want when you come home from vacation is to find water damage. Before you go, shut off the water supply to your entire home to prevent catastrophes such as frozen pipes, a leaking water heater or a burst supply line. Prevent water damage while you are away with these six easy tips.

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Adjust Heat and Cooling Levels

There’s no need to keep your home at your ideal comfort level when you’re not there. Set your thermostat to a temperature that will give your furnace or central air a bit of a break, depending on the season.

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Stop Mail and Newspaper Deliveries

The U.S. Postal Services makes it easy to put a hold on your mail while you’re on vacation. You can fill out this form online or a card at the post office. If you have newspapers delivered, contact the paper to put a hold on your delivery as well.

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Have Plants Watered

If you have flowers or a garden, have a friend or neighbor swing by to water your plants while you’re gone. And don’t forget your indoor plants—depending on the plant and how long you plan to be gone, your indoor plants may need to be watered as well. Check out this clever way to water indoor plants.

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Clean House

It may seem kind of silly to clean your house before you leave for vacation, but it will be one less thing you’ll have to do when you get home. At the very least, clean the bathrooms, do the dishes and wipe down kitchen counters and vacuum. Try these 13 tips to clean your house quickly.

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Make Pet Arrangements

Make arrangements for your furry family members. If you’re planning on boarding your dog, make reservations a few weeks in advance of your vacation. Have a friend or neighbor check on and feed other pets while you’re away. Here are 40 perfect pet projects to show your pet some love.

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Notify Your Bank

It’s a good idea to notify your bank before heading out on vacation, especially if you plan on using your bank-linked debit or credit card. This will help reduce the chance of having your card flagged for suspicious activity and getting stuck with frozen finances.

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Unplug Electronics

Many electronics draw power even when they are switched in the “off” position. Unplug electronics such as toasters, coffee pots, computers, the stereo and television before leaving on vacation.

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Pay Bills

Pay any bills that will come due while you’re on vacation or immediately after. This will help give you some peace-of-mind while you’re gone. Better yet, set up auto pay, if it’s available. Lower your water bill by conserving water.

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Clean Out the Refrigerator

The last thing you want to come home to is rotten food in the refrigerator. Take a few minutes and toss anything that will spoil or rot while you’re gone and give the shelves and drawers a quick wipe down. Clean a stinky fridge with these simple tricks.

Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.