Whether you're traveling for work or pleasure, it is good to prepare your home for your absence. Every situation can vary greatly by length of travel, season, and where you live but I've compiled my top 10 general tips below.
1. Clean: This one may seem obvious to some and unnecessary to others. Travel, no matter how exciting it can be, is also exhausting. Coming home to a dirty house can be so disappointing. On another note, the cleaner your house is, the less likely it'll be to have pesky smells when you return. I'd say the most important part of this would be to empty your fridge of things that will expire before you return and take out the trash!
2. Baking Soda: Baking soda is great for neutralizing odors. If you have a garbage disposal, sprinkle some baking soda into it, run it, then sprinkle some more. Adding lemon essential oil is also great for deodorizing. Sprinkle baking soda in all of your sinks, toilets, and shower drains as well to help prevent stagnant water smell.
3. Unplug everything: Okay, don't uplug EVERYTHING but anything unecessary. Toasters, TVs, computers, chargers, and anything that you don't need to be running while you're gone should be unplugged. Even when things aren't turned on, they can still be drawing a small amount of power. You also reduce the risk of damage in the event of an electrical surge by unpluging. Also, flip the breaker for your hot water heater!
4. Disconnect water: Leaks can happen even while you're gone and things aren't being used. Disconnecting your main water supply will not only decrease the amount of water damage in the event of a leak, but your water bill will also be less. If you are traveling in winter time and expect temperatures to get below freezing, let your faucets run after cutting off the main water supply so there is no water present in the pipes that will potentially freeze and cause damage.
5. Adjust thermostat: I like my house to be very cool so we generally keep the thermostat set pretty low. Consider adjusting your thermostat so that your heat or AC comes on less to save some money while you're gone. 5-10 degrees warmer or cooler than what you usually have your thermostat set at is usually a good range.
6. Hold your mail: An overflowing mailbox can be a sign for potential robbers that your house is unoccupied. You may also get something important or personal in the mail that you don't want to get into the wrong hands or to get damaged. According to the USPS website, you can schedule for mail to be held 1-30 days before your travel date. Not all addresses are eligible for mail to be held. Check if your address is eligible here. If you are ineligible and will be traveling frequently, a watertight mailbox with a lock may be an option for you. When I was a kid and my parents were on the road often, we used something like this.
7. Put internet service on hold: If you will be gone for several months, it may be financially beneficial to put your internet, and cable if you have it, on hold. Keep in mind that if you have a security system that runs on Wi-Fi, this would not work for you. Most service providers allow you to suspend services once each year. Find more on Spectrum's policy here and AT&T's policy here. If you have a different provider, try searching their website for "seasonal status," "suspend service," or "vacation hold."
8. Secure your house: This is a multi-faceted tip. First, of course, lock your doors. If you have a sliding glass door, wedge a 2x2 cut to size in tract of door so it cannot be opened. If you have a key hidden outside of your home, consider moving it to a new and more secure location, giving it to someone you trust, or taking it with you. If you are traveling during summer months and your grass will need to be mowed, hire someone to do so. Uncut grass can be an indicator to potential robbers that a house is vacant. I know I said unplug everything, but a timer for a lamp or two could be a good idea. Consider scheduling for a lamp or light to come on and off at different times so it creates the appearance that someone is home.
9. Find a friend or neighbor to look after things: If you have someone nearby that you can trust, it's great to have someone to check in on your house periodically while you're gone. A little movement in the house is good to keep dust from settling and get the air moving. It's also really nice to have your thermostat adjusted to your comfort level the day before you get home.
10. Don't stress: I am notorious for stressing before a trip but just because we don't follow our own advice, doesn't mean it may not help someone else to hear it. Do all that you can to prepare but what doesn't get done just doesn't get done. Don't ruin your mood right before sitting in a car or on a plane for hours! Enjoy your journey and your destination whatever the reason for your travel, find that silver lining!
As I'm writing this, we are on our first road trip from North Carolina to Michigan. I wish I had been able to take my own advice on tip #1 but the week leading up to our travel date was a busy week. My house is not as clean as I wanted it to be but I'm going to take my advice on tip #10 and not stress. What will be will be! Feel free to share any additional tips you have in the comments section below and enjoy your trip!!