How to Prepare your Home for Travel (Plus Printable Checklist!)

Heading away on vacation and need to prepare your home for travel?

There are a number of things you should do at home before you leave for a vacation.

One of the last things anyone is probably thinking about as they dash out the door for the airport is the state of their house, but it’s one thing we should all be mindful of when we’re away travelling.

Preparing your home before travelling will ensure you come home to a house that’s neat and in order, without risking any break-ins, water leaks, or foul odours! 

Get your home travel-ready with these simple tips!

things to do at home before vacation

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1. Replace your smoke detector and CO2 monitor batteries

We learned this one the hard way. This didn’t happen to us while we were on a trip, but we had just bought our house and hadn’t moved in yet. 

The very first night after we got our keys, one of the smoke detectors failed in the middle of the night and it prompted our neighbours to call the fire department. 

They ended up having to break in through our garage (and we ended up needing to buy a new glass panel for our door). 

We don’t want this to happen while we’re away, so now we always replace all of our smoke detector batteries before we leave (and at the minimum, we replace our batteries twice a year).

2. Empty your garbage

I’ve checked in on some stinky places while house-sitting. Collect all of your garbage and leave it outside in your secured can (think of raccoons!) or have a friend toss it on collection day.

3. Clean out your fridge

What’s that smell? Oh, it’s just leftover fish fermenting in the fridge.

YES. That happened to me when I was housesitting. Don’t forget to go through your fridge before travelling!

 Toss any perishable foods to avoid any unpleasant odours.

Tip: Leave an open box of baking soda in your fridge to absorb any smells.

4. Empty your dishwasher

Coming home to an empty dishwasher is best – you wouldn’t want dirty dishes sitting there stagnating for an extended period of time! Run a final cycle or do your dishes by hand.

5. Vacuum and wash floors

I know. Doing chores while you’re packing at the last minute isn’t always a priority. 

However, coming home from a trip is sad, but having a clean space to welcome you home makes it a little less painful. It also leaves a good impression on anyone looking after your house (like your in-laws)!

6. Turn off your water

This is important for winter months, so your pipes don’t freeze, but can also be useful to prevent any drips or leaks. Water damage isn’t fun to deal with.

There are many people who have a different opinion on whether or not you should turn your water off before travelling, but a simple task of shutting the water off is much better than coming home to water damage if any leaks occur while you’re away!

7. Set your thermostat to a reasonable temperature

Don’t shut off your furnace or air conditioning – you want some air circulating throughout your home and if you’re travelling in the winter, you don’t want any pipes to freeze, either!

During summer months, set your thermostat to a higher temperature so your air conditioning unit won’t be running unnecessarily.

8. Do any last bits of laundry and your bedding

Come home to fresh sheets to help you rest peacefully after your day of travel. Having clean clothes can help you avoid unpacking your suitcase for a little longer 😉.

9. Notify your neighbours you will be away

We let our neighbours know when we’ll be away and let them park their car in our driveway so it looks like someone is home. 

It’s a good idea to let your neighbours know your house will be vacant, and if anyone will be checking in on your home, give your neighbours their contact info in case anything happens.

10. Arrange for lawn care and snow removal

If you’re away for an extended period of time, an unruly lawn or snowy driveway is a telltale sign the homeowner is away.

Ask a friend or neighbour, or hire a local service to keep your property in check.

11. Check all doors and windows are locked

Check your windows and doors to ensure they’re closed and locked. It’s easy to forget to lock a garage door or close a bedroom window.

12. Invest in some timers

Having some of your lights come on sporadically will make it appear as though someone is home. Plug in some programmable timers throughout your home.

I have some on different levels of our house that come on at various points throughout the morning and evening.

13. Alert your alarm company (if you have one)

Leave the number of your house sitter, neighbour, or family/friend with your alarm company and notify them of your travel dates.

14. Arrange for mail collection

Leave your mail key with a trusted family member, friend or neighbour to collect your mail. 

If you have a small mailbox like ours, it doesn’t take much to fill. You can always opt for mail to be held at the post office (for a fee) if it’s not possible to have someone collect it for you.

15. Pay any upcoming bills

If you don’t have autopay, remember to stay ahead of any bills due (car, water, hydro, cell, home taxes, credit card, etc.) when you’re on vacation.

16. Leave a list of contact numbers in your home

We leave our phone numbers, email addresses, and name of place(s) and any associated phone numbers for those places in the event of an emergency. Leave them organized in a place that is easily noticed.

17. Make copies of your travel documents

Take a photocopy of your passports and travel itineraries, flight information, and where you’ll be staying and leave them tucked away in a drawer in the event something happens. Tell someone close to you where these documents are kept in case of emergencies.

18. Ensure valuables and kept away

Do you have a safe at home? 

We keep all of our important documents and valuables locked away in a fire-proof safe.

This is a good day-to-day habit to get into regardless, but especially while you’re away from home.

Do you have a house sitter?

If you have someone coming in to periodically check your home, leave clear instructions written down on plant care, who to call in case of home emergency, as well as any other miscellaneous tasks. 

Leaving a pet at home?

If you’re leaving a furry friend behind, ensure there are clear instructions on feeding, cleaning litter boxes, dog walking, etc. Be sure to leave ample pet food behind for your pet sitter – you wouldn’t want them to be responsible for replenishing their food!

Leave your vet’s number somewhere visible in the event of emergencies.

Pre-Travel Home Checklist

Having a checklist of these items can be useful to help you prepare while you’re having a million other things go through your head before you leave.

Be sure to grab a printable copy of your pre-vacation home checklist!

Pin it for later!

home checklist for travel
pre vacation checklist

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1 Comment

  1. Greg Werks
    August 21, 2023 / 9:53 am

    I really appreciate this article! It’s so true that preparing your home before leaving for a vacation can save you from so many headaches later. I never thought about leaving a list of contact numbers in my home – that’s a smart idea. Question: What other tips do you have for ensuring home security while traveling?

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