A big trip on the horizon can be extremely exciting – but also slightly nerve racking as the last minute “need-to’s” add up. Need to finish packing. Need to try and make it to that one store to snag those super-comfy new walking shoes you’ve been coveting. Need to find that one perfect, fancy outfit (made of that perfect material that won’t wrinkle) for the nice dinner planned. Need to think about all the necessities around the house – who will check in on the house plants while you’re away?

Whether you’re packing up and heading off to your summer home, planning a multi-state road trip, or jet-setting overseas for a few weeks, use the following tips (or print them, here) to take some stress out of the mundane tasks that need to happen so you can focus on the fun your spring and summer 2017 travels have in store.

Things to Do Before Your Next Extended Spring or Summer Vacation

  1. Turn Off Water
    Whether you’re going away for 3 days or 3 months, simply turning off the main water line to your house can save you costly water bills and repairs inside your home in the case of an unexpected leak.
  2. Unplug Appliances
    Another easy home safety tip for any time you leave your home for an extended stay is to unplug all of your appliances. This simple task will save your appliances in case of a power surge, protect against fires and overheating, and may even save you a little bit on your electricity bill.
  3. Stop Mail
    If you’re going on a short trip and don’t want to come home to a stuffed mailbox, consider asking the post office to hold your mail, or have a trusted neighbor in your community swing by to snag mail every few days. (It’s just a bonus if they wade through the junk mail for you!) If you will be gone for an extended period, ask to have your mail forwarded to a new address or P.O. Box. However, be sure to note that some sensitive information mailed to you may have “do not forward” instructions. Check with governmental offices, banks, insurances, and other important offices before leaving to see if all communications can be forwarded or completed online.
  4. Invest in Timed Lights
    Installing a simple light timer is an easy DIY security tip that you can implement whether you have a trip planned soon or not. These timers can be set to turn on different lights in your home at designated times. If you have a typical routine you adhere to, it’s a great idea to set your lights to mimic this routine – whether you’re home or not!  Or, if you have an automated system in your home, be sure to adjust it for the time that you’re away.
  5. Turn Down the Water Heater
    Or, consider turning it completely off. There’s no point in heating your water if no one is home to enjoy a steamy shower. However, when you return, remember to turn the water back on to your home (step 1) before turning your water heater back on, otherwise you may damage your water heater.
  6. Stop or Hold Your Newspaper Service
    If you have a newspaper delivered, ask the service to place your delivery on a hold for the duration of your trip. Consider moving to a mobile service and using a tablet or other device to keep up with the news while you’re away. You may even decide to cancel your service completely to save a little money.
  7. Plan for Prescriptions
    If you plan on being away from home – and your typical medical professionals – be sure to consult with them about the duration of your trip and the need to have daily prescriptions ordered before your departure, or a prescription filled at a different pharmacy. Your normal doctor’s office should be able to help you plan out the prescriptions you’ll need, and can support you in reaching out to any new pharmacies in the area you’re traveling to – so be sure to ask at your next appointment, or give their office a quick call.
  8. Plan for Pet Care
    Travel plans can be stressful on your furry and feathery family members as well, so be sure to prep them for what’s coming! A short trip can easily be handled by close neighbors willing to check in on your pets, or you can invite them over for a pet-cation. For longer trips, find a recommended overnight pet facility. If your pets happen to be coming along for the trip, be sure you’ve acclimated them to their kennel or the car, depending on how they’ll be traveling, and plan out any pet-friendly hotels you may need to stop at. If your pet has issues with motion sickness, consult your veterinarian on options to make the trip more enjoyable for both you and your pet.
  9. Clean Out the Kitchen
    Do a quick inventory of your fridge and pantry and identify anything that may go bad before your return. Plan on freezing anything you can, and maybe invite your friends and neighbors over for a gathering to consume the rest. Who doesn’t love a cheese and cereal party? (It’s just like college!) If you have time, consider prepping and freezing one full meal. It will be nice to come home to an easy home-cooked meal when you’ve been away for a while.
  10. Maintain Water Features
    Whether it’s a pool, spa, or fountain, if you plan on being away for a while, plan for continued maintenance. While this may be another time a neighbor can be handy, a professional may need to be brought in depending on your needs.
  11. Neighbor Check-In
    Nothing beats someone being personally able to swing by your home to look for anything out of the ordinary. Share your travel plans with those who live close to you and ask them to swing by occasionally. A quick drive by on the way home, or updating their typical walking-route will allow your friends to check on your home’s doors and exterior.
  12. Suspend Internet/TV Service
    If you’ll be away from home for a few months, consider suspending your internet and/or television service. Check with your provider first, but if you’re allowed to do this, you may even be treated to a service discount when you come home and reconnect!
  13. Forward Phone Calls
    If you have a home phone, ask your provider about the possibility of forwarding calls to your cell. That way, it seems as if someone is still home picking up the phone. Be sure to ask about any fees first, especially if you plan on traveling internationally.
  14. Plan for Your Return
    No one likes returning to a messy house. Slipping into a clean, made bed is ideal after a long time away. So, plan ahead and tidy up. Or, treat yourself to an early start to your vacation and hire a house cleaner. If you know you’ll want to enjoy certain comforts when you return home, plan for it now! If you want to soak up the sun upon your return, pack a pool bag. If fighting jet lag is likely, set out some comfy throws and your favorite flick.
  15. Schedule a Gardener
    If you don’t have a regular gardener, consider having someone stop in regularly while you are gone. If you already have a contact, set up certain things you’ll need done while you’re out and ask them to email or text you photos when they’ve completed additional tasks.
  16. Protect Your Car
    If you’re heading out of town for a long period, but your car isn’t, consider disconnecting the battery while you’re away. This may help save the battery from being drained as it sits.
  17. Invest in a Security System
    If you’re away for a while, there’s no better piece of mind then having a security system in place. Consider implementing a service with an app integration so you can check in on your home cameras on a tablet or laptop.
  18. Employ a House Sitter
    Depending on the length of your trip, investing in a house sitter may be a good decision. They can take care of pets, keep your yard in-check, and protect your home overall. This is a particularly ideal situation if you have a casita as part of your floorplan where your guest can spend most of their time.
  19. Double Check Doors
    As you’re leaving your home, be sure to double check that all exterior doors are shut and locked. Shutting interior doors within rooms may also decrease the spread of home fires.
  20. Keep A Record
    Snap a few photos of your home and belongings and save them digitally, either to the cloud or email them to yourself to time stamp them. This way, if there is any property damage or a break-in you have the documentation you need to send to your insurance. Likewise, make copies of your passport, prescriptions and any other information. Leave one copy at home in a secure place in case you need to rely on loved ones and take one with you in the case of losing the originals. Prepping for the worst may not be the ideal way to start a fun and exciting adventure, but taking a few minutes to document some of the essentials may save a bigger headache later.

Remember to print these travel tips – and if your next step is packing your bag, check out our 9 Tips for Packing Light.

Do you have any additional tips? Leave them in the comments below.