You're about to embark on the trip of a lifetime! Whether it's an epic road trip across the country, a voyage by ship to an exotic destination, or a yoga retreat in iceland, you're in for an adventure that will create lasting memories for you and your travel companions.
However, being away from home for weeks or months at a time can come with a few challenges that need to be addressed prior to your departure. When you're leaving on a long vacation, it's important to make sure that your home is prepared for your long absence. Here are some helpful hints for making sure your house stays safe from plumbing issues, appliance malfunctions, security problems and more while you are away.
Set Your Thermostat
If you will be leaving your house unattended during the winter months, ensure that your thermostat is set to 55 degrees. This will keep your house warm enough to prevent freezing and bursting water pipes, which can cause severe flooding and water damage. If you're taking a trip during warmer weather, you should leave the AC unit on in order to prevent mold, mildew, and other conditions caused by heat and humidity. Set your thermostat to 85 degrees or less to control usage of the air conditioning. If you can, invest in a smart thermostat, which can be remotely controlled via a handy smartphone app no matter where you are. This is an easy, convenient way to make sure your home is always protected from weather-related plumbing and HVAC issues while you're gone.
Turn Water Off
When you are going to be away for a long period of time, turn off your main water line. This can prevent plumbing leaks from occurring in your absence, which can result in significant water damage and costly repairs. After shutting off the main water valve, let your kitchen and bathroom faucets run dry, ensuring that no water is left in the pipes.
If you have a sprinkler system that needs to run while you are away, or if your heating system operates with steam radiators or hot water, it is not a good idea to shut your water off at the main valve. However, anyone who doesn't have these unique considerations may turn it off to avoid unforeseen plumbing problems upon your return. By shutting off the water before you leave, you are potentially saving yourself a major headache when you get back!
Wrap Toilet Bowls With Plastic Wrap
No, this isn't an elaborate prank for your family and friends! By wrapping your toilet bowls, you are preventing stinky sewer fumes from entering your home. Leaving your toilets unwrapped can result in a less-than-pleasant "welcome home" when you walk in the door. Just be sure to mark the cling wrap with a big black "X" or other warning symbol to prevent anyone from accidentally using the toilet with the wrap in place.
Empty the Fridge
Apart from the main reason of not wanting the food in your refrigerator to turn into a moldy, stinky science experiment while you're away, it's also a good idea to rid the fridge of all perishables so you can completely defrost and unplug it if you're going to be gone for a very long time. This will conserve energy as the fridge won't need to keep running when it's not in use.
Stop Your Mail and Newspaper Delivery
Don't forget to call your post office branch and ask them to hold your mail until you return. This will allow your mail carrier to avoid cramming your daily mail into an overflowing mailbox.
If you're one of the few people who still gets the paper delivered to your doorstep each morning, you'll want to contact the subscriptions department and halt delivery for the time you're gone. Otherwise, you'll be coming home to a porch full of unread newspapers! Not only does this waste resources for the newspaper company, but it also can tip off would-be burglars that your house is unoccupied.
Keep a Few Lights On
While it's usually a good idea to save energy by keeping the lights in your home turned off when they are not in use, an extended period of travel is one exception to the rule. Keeping one or two lights on in your home while you are away can deter thieves from attempting a break-in. If you're concerned about the added expense to your energy bill, good news! Many automated lighting systems and timers are available on the market to help you turn lights off and on in your home, no matter where you are! You can set light timers to turn on at a certain time each evening, and can vary the lights you turn on and off for a more realistic look that keeps the bad guys at bay.
Arrange for Pet (and Plant) Sitters
One of the drawbacks to embarking on a long vacation is having to say goodbye to your pet for weeks or even months. It's important to find the right pet sitter to make your dog or cat's experience pleasant so they don't miss you too much when you're away. A trusted friend or relative who loves your kitty or pup as much as you do is always the best choice; however, if you don't have a family member or friend you can leave your furry companion with, plenty of reputable pet-sitting services and boarding kennels exist. Make sure to meet with the sitter in advance of your trip, so both you and your pet can feel comfortable and completely at ease.
For smaller pets, such as fish, hamsters, and turtles, it's fine to enlist the help of a neighbor to come feed them once or twice a day. If you have a lot of plants or a garden, it's essential to line up someone who can come and handle the watering on a regular basis so they continue to grow and thrive in your absence.
Travel is one of the most exciting ways to meet new people, share new experiences, and learn about different cultures and traditions. By making a plan for taking care of your home during a long absence, you can concentrate on expanding your horizons and enjoying fantastic adventures without having to worry about what will be waiting for you when you get back!