Vacation Checklist: 19 Things to do Before Leaving on Vacation

Heading out of town? This helpful vacation checklist shares 19 things you should do before you leave on vacation – to protect your home and make your trip run a little more smoothly. 

One of the perks of being self-employed is that our schedule is pretty flexible.

Sure, we often have deadlines to meet, and my evenings are typically filled with working, but overall, it leads to a pretty flexible lifestyle.

However, leaving town can get a bit stressful – making sure you have everything squared away can feel like a job in and of itself!

Since I’m sure a lot of our readers leave town every now and then, I thought I’d share a list of all the things you should do before you leave on vacation (some of which I learned the hard way!).

Let me know if I missed anything!

Put your mail (and newspaper) on hold

Once upon a time, we left town for about a month. We were living in Utah at the time, and I thought I had put our mail on hold.

Well, I didn’t. And we came home to a notice in our mailbox saying that the house was vacant and all mail had been sent back to the sender.

I just about cried, as we had several checks that had come during the time, as well as Christmas cards. I was so devastated, and I felt so silly for not holding my mail!

You can always have someone come pick up your mail, but if you will be gone for longer than a few days, I do recommend putting a hold on your mail through USPS, as well as pausing your newspaper (if you get one). Nothing screams, “I’m not home!” more than a pile of newspapers on your front porch.

Still, I would recommend having someone keep an eye out for packages from places like USPS or FedEx! You can have a security camera monitor this as well, so you can send someone over if something arrives.

Make a Checklist

I always forget something unless I make a checklist. No matter how on top of things I am, I will always leave something important behind if I don’t make a list.

My mom would always put a list on the door before we left, and we wouldn’t leave until every item was checked off. I’ve started doing the same!

Consider Home Security

When we bought our home, we were bombarded with offers for home security. And to be honest, it was pretty tempting.

While we live in a pretty safe neighborhood, I’d be lying if I said I was 100% confident when we left town that our house was totally safe. However, I’ve always been wary about signing up for an expensive home security plan.

Fortunately, we live in a time where there are many affordable home security options (and no, I’m not talking about building a moat around your house ;-).

Put Lights on Timers

I think it’s important to give the illusion that someone is home, even when you are gone. While I don’t recommend keeping your light on at all hours, I think it’s a good idea to have your lights on some of the time.

There are different smart switches you can buy or smart lightbulbs that make putting your lights on a schedule even easier. We use the GE Smart plug, which is great and compatible with the LG Smart Security app.

Find Someone to Check In

Whether you are having someone get your mail, water your plants, or just keep an eye on things, I think it’s good just to let someone know you are going out of town.

For instance, whenever our neighbor leaves, he lets us know, just so we can be aware of any funny business that might go on. I think it’s just helpful to have someone paying a little extra attention.

Put a car in the driveway

This obviously won’t always be a possibility (for instance, if you just have one car), but if you can, move a car into your driveway. My parents always did this when we would leave town when I was growing up. Again, just back to the idea of giving the illusion that you are home.

Call your bank and check your bank account

It’s always good to call your bank when you are leaving town. We’ve had a few instances where we’ve been out of town, and they put a hold on our account for a bit for “suspicious” activity. Super grateful that they are so vigilant, but it can be inconvenient having to verify your purchases with them!

My bank has a place in their mobile app where you can conveniently tell them you are traveling!

You should also make sure you have enough money in your bank account, and also withdraw some cash. Traveling without cash is not a good idea!

Paper Copies of Itinerary

There has been a time or two where our phones have died before we had a chance to look up where we were staying. While we usually have a charger, it doesn’t always happen. It’s good to not always just rely on technology.

Have Copies of Important Documents

Birth certificates (if you are flying with a lap child), passports, etc.

Cut the grass

Turn down the thermostat

There is no reason to pay for heating or air conditioning while you are gone. We have forgotten a time or two, and it’s never fun to pay a huge heating bill during the winter when you were gone for three weeks!

Of course, make sure that you don’t turn it down too low. No one wants to deal with frozen pipes! But turning it down a bit is a great idea. There are smart thermostats nowadays that you can use to control the temperature from your smartphone while you are away, so that’s another thing to consider.

Unplug Appliances, etc.

Unplug anything that doesn’t need to be plugged in! It decreases the risk of fires happening while you are away, and it helps you conserve energy.

Check the dishwasher and washing machine

You do not want to come home to a smelly house or mildewy clothes. Make sure everything is out and put away.

Pay your bills

Do you want to worry about paying bills while you are on vacation? Of course not! If your bills aren’t on autopay, just pay them before you go.

Clean Out Fridge

Same thing as the dishwasher and washing machine thing – if there is any food that will spoil or rot while you are away, throw it out.

Take out the Trash

Tidy Up and Make Bed

Coming home to a messy house is never fun. You don’t have to deep clean everything before you leave, but I think it’s a good idea to at least make things feel comfortable. I don’t think anyone wants to come home – probably exhausted from traveling – to a huge mess.

And really, there’s nothing better than the first night back in your own bed!

Charge Electronics

Turn email to auto response

If you don’t get a lot of emails, this isn’t a big deal. But if you do (especially if you work), it’s just common courtesy to put up an away message!

vacation checklist / vacation / vacation tips / home security / summer vacation / holidays / family / family trips / family vacations

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  1. I always park my cars in the garage so leaving one of them out would be an indication of something different.
    I would not put my email on auto response. Again a clear indicator that you are away.
    Not a good idea to put pictures/stories of your vacation trip on social media until after you return. Difficult, yes.
    Don’t spend extra money of RFID blocking wallets, backpacks etc. Very very few, if any, reported RFID crimes (search for this). If you are very paranoid about this wrap your passport and/or credit cards in aluminum foil. Works just as good. Also, most passports already have RFID protection built in.
    Turn off the breakers to Stove, Microwave, Dishwasher, Clothes Washer, Dryer.
    Turn off all the water at the in-house shutoff unless you have something that requires it be on. In that case turn off the water at the clothes washer, dish washer, etc.
    Unless you are taking whole bottles for your meds have copies of the labels or copies of the actual prescription.
    Bring along a prepaid Visa or MasterCard. Almost as good as cash.
    There are any number of app controlled smart plugs and switches. Search for them to find the kind you’d prefer.

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