Leaving for vacation is an exciting time for many of you. It means a break from the daily grind and at least some of your ongoing responsibilities.

It’s a time when you set aside the things keeping you up at night. A time to step outside of yourself and your obligations and experience something new.

But it also can bring with it a new batch of stressors, particularly as your home and belongings are concerned. In the following article, we’ll be discussing the seven home prep strategies to ensure worry doesn’t get the better of you. Let’s begin!

1. Fix Your Thermostat in the Optimal Position

Search “what temperature to leave the house while on vacation,” and you’ll run into some differing opinions. Truth is, it’s not an exact science. But as long as you stick to a safe range, there’s nothing to worry about.

What is that range? In the winter time, your main concern is freezing pipes. Setting the thermostat to between 50 and 60 degrees — try the mid-range to be safe — will keep them out of danger.

During the summer, you may be tempted to turn it off altogether. But that’s a mistake. If temperatures get too high, your refrigerator could freeze up and lead to a nasty welcome-back surprise.

Keep your thermostat up, in this case, to 80-85 degrees. This will ensure nothing gets too hot while keeping energy usage low.

2. Turn Off Water When on Vacation

Water is another big concern for soon-to-be-vacationers. One of two popular searches you’ll find online is: “should I turn off the water when on vacation?” (We’ll get to the other search in a moment.)

The answer to this question is a resounding yes. This especially is true if you’re going to be gone a week or longer.

The two main reasons to do so are cost savings and water conservation. You may not notice the savings if all is working as it should be. But if you have an undetected runny toilet or dripping faucet, you’ll be coming home to some shockingly high utility bills.

By the same token, those undetected leaks will not consume unused water if they’re turned off. Turning the water off in your home is easy. Just go to a water source (i.e., sink, toilet, etc.) and tighten up the main valve.

Give it one last check before leaving, too. Do this by simply turning the faucet. If nothing comes out, you’re good to go!

3. Keep the Water Heater On

A second search — “turning off gas water heater while on vacation” — may seem like a great idea. But we would caution against actually doing it.

The reasons: you won’t experience any notable savings and that first shower on your return will be B-R-U-T-A-L. Older units may require a water heater repair technician as well since more can go wrong on the reboot.

4. Clean Fridge and Freezer

It may not be “home, sweet home” you come back to if you forget to give your fridge a check before you leave on vacation. Bacteria can grow in cold conditions the same way they can warm, and that can leave leftovers and other perishables rank by the time you return.

Once you clean out both fridge and freezer, don’t just leave them in your garage trash bin. Schedule a pickup ahead of time. (It’s worth the extra money.)

If you can’t make that work, wheel it to the side of your home or backyard. This keeps odors from being confined.

5. Pause Mail and Package Delivery

This may not be as big of a concern to some of you. Particularly, if you:

  • Have ditched paper billing
  • Stay off mailing lists
  • Do not have any outstanding deliveries you’re expecting to come in while away

If at least one of those do not apply, however, you’ll want to head to your post office and pause service. They’ll have you fill out a form detailing the length of your vacation so they’ll know when to pause and when to resume service.

This step ensures the mail doesn’t build up and spill out of your mailbox. It also signals to potential burglars that you’re still in the neighborhood, making them less likely to target your home.

6. Open Doors and Cabinets

Of all the suggestions presented here, this one is probably the most overlooked. That’s because we don’t think about the smells and internal temperatures from enclosed areas inside the home where food isn’t a factor.

Two unpleasantries can happen if you don’t follow this advice. Those are musty odors and freezing pipes.

Opening doors and cabinets will keep your closet smelling fresh and your pipes at the temperature inside the home. That can make a big difference when temperatures drop.

7. Unplug Unnecessary Appliances

The main concern here is the weather. Leaving appliances plugged in sans surge protector — or with a cheaper or faulty surge protector — can put expensive electronics at risk should there be a lightning storm. Unplugging also can guard against unexpected power surges.

Bonus Tip: Invest in Your Home Security

There are two ways you can do this. Incorporating both isn’t a bad idea.

The first: hire a housesitter. Make sure it’s someone you can trust. And as a failsafe, consider going to one of your (preferably nosy) neighbors and asking them to keep an eye on the place as well.

The second: invest in home security software and equipment. We recently examined the 9 best on the market. Give it a look before leaving.

Do Not Let Leaving for Vacation Stress You Out

Whatever you do, don’t allow leaving for vacation to ruin your vacation. Keep this checklist of to-dos in mind. Start working on what you can a week or so before the departure date.

By taking the necessary steps and putting those steps in your mind right now, you’ll feel a lot more at ease. And from there, you can focus on what you should be focused on: having fun.

Also, make sure you check out our Travel and Entertainment section. There, you’ll find more great tips for traveling abroad and avoiding any major issues. Happy trails!

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