Going on vacation is something to look forward to. However, when it comes to vacations, especially longer trips, there is a lot to prepare for both the vacation and leaving your home.

Having a good plan means things will be less hectic when you leave and also when you return. I start planning for a long vacation many weeks to even months in advance. There is a lot to get ready for a long trip. In addition to things like planning and packing, I do a lot to prepare our home for our extended absence. In part, I like to come home to a clean and organized home!

Here are some tips for preparing your home when you are going on a long vacation.

Fridge and food

When you are gone for more than a week or two, you want to make sure any food that could spoil is taken care of.

You can actually start cleaning out your fridge weeks in advance, making plans to use up things so that you don’t have to throw away food that is still good (e.g. hummus or yogurt that is perfectly good up until your trip, but would expire a week into your vacation).

Make sure to give or throw away anything that will spoil or rot, including fruits and vegetables. If there are still good fruits and veggies we don’t have time to eat, we give them to our housesitter.

Garbage & Compost

Before leaving, I make sure all of our trash cans, recycling, and kitchen compost crock are all emptied.

Make plans to have someone take out any remaining trash that still needs to be picked up during your trip. I also try to do some cleaning projects in advance of the trip so that I don’t come back to a messy home, and in doing so, it means I take out a lot of garbage that makes the trash pickup the week before we leave.

Mail & Packages

You can have your mail held, or have someone pick it up. I am careful to make sure that packages are taken care of, so that packages aren’t sitting on our porch. I don’t want to have items sitting out that could result in theft or making it obvious that no one is home.

Stock up

While it can be a busy time when preparing for a trip, I also know that I don’t want to come home and have to do a bunch of shopping when I am tired and have plenty else to do (such as unpacking and laundry). As it is, I have to do a big grocery shopping trip for fresh foods when we arrive home.

Therefore, I like to make sure our home is stocked up on basic essentials before we leave – cat litter, toilet paper, laundry detergent (especially since I do lot of laundry upon returning home), etc.

Jenny Cat

Pets & Plants

There are a lot of things you can do to prepare your pets for being gone. You may be boarding your pets or having a pet sitter, but in either case, you will want to make sure they are all set for your absence.

For our cats, who stay at home, I stock up on all their essentials (food and litter). I also have our cat carriers prepared for our pet sitter in case of emergency, as well as emergency information (vet’s office). I have thorough instructions typed up for our housesitter, and extra supplies (like paper towels and cleaning supplies for accidents, cat brushes, etc).

For plants, you will also likely need someone to come to water. Prepare specific directions and make sure they know how to care for your plants (e.g. plants shouldn’t sit in water).

Yard & Outdoors

We neaten up the outdoors so that we don’t have to worry about anything, like loose items blowing away. I check for any clutter around the yard so that it doesn’t look like we are gone, and of course so that it isn’t something I have to worry about when we get home.

We check the sprinkler system to make sure it is working correctly, and also check the automatic schedule.

A Clean Home

I don’t like to leave a messy home, knowing I’m going to come home to a mess when I return! Plan well in advance to get caught up on cleaning projects so that are out of the way by the time you leave for your trip.

Security

We make sure our security cameras and Ring doorbell are in working condition before we leave. Make sure that your home is secure – windows are locked, blinds are pulled shut if desired.

Lights on timers

We keep our lights on timers, so that it always appears that someone is home in the evenings. There are lots of timers you can choose from, including ones you can control from a smartphone.

Emergency Preparedness

Before leaving, we made sure to leave all of our emergency contact information behind, with a detailed itinerary. Make sure valuables are kept in a safe location. We keep paperwork in a safe, and valuables hidden in an unlikely location in case of burglary. We do a video walkthrough of our home in case it is needed for insurance purposes.

Vehicles, Snow blower, etc.

Before I leave for a trip, I make sure our cars are filled up. I like knowing I can come home and not have to fill up the car right away.

If it is winter, I make sure the snow blower is working and I have enough gas for it. I can’t tell you how many times we came home to snow and had to scramble to get snow cleared.

Overall

I feel like the more I prepare my home for being gone, the more I can relax on vacation, knowing that everything is taken care of and that I don’t have to worry about things. And by getting everything in order, I can rest easy knowing I am coming back to a clean home! My goal by being so prepared is that I can come home rested, and not have to worry about gassing up the car and running all over for chores or clean up things that weren’t tended to before I left.