how to plan a family vacation
Life Organization Travel & Vacation

5 Must-Do’s At Home Before Leaving For Vacation

Finish these five quick wins before you leave home for maximum peace of mind during a vacation.

We go on vacation to enjoy ourselves. No work, no responsibilities, just living our best life. That is the perfect trip, and it’s one everyone should have, but how in the world do you claim that bliss? Just as you did for yourself, prepare your home for a vacation. I’ve got five mom-tested tips to put your mind at ease, so all you have to do is head out the door and hear that cocktail at the hotel bar calling your name.

1. Clean The House

This is something that has been stuck in my brain since I was a child. Before we would leave for any kind of trip, my mom would clean the entire house. To the point that it looked like someone important was coming over for dinner. I never really understood why we had to clean the house just for it to sit empty, but now that I’m grown, I totally get it.

When you come back home from vacation, you’re tired. Like really really tired. You have clothes to wash and suitcases to unpack and things to prepare for work on Monday, and the last thing you want to do is the chores leftover from before you left. Honestly, nothing feels better than walking into a nice clean house after a long drive back home and being able to just kick your feet up for a couple of hours with absolutely nothing to do.

Do yourself a huge favor and make your house spotless before you roll those suitcases out the door. You’ll thank yourself over and over when you get back. Bonus points if you have a bottle of wine chilling in the fridge for your arrival, too!

2. Adjust The Thermostat

This is another one from my childhood that carried over into adulthood. We always took our pets with us on vacations, so there weren’t any animals hanging out in the house while we were gone. So in the winter my parents always dropped the thermostat so it wouldn’t kick on unless it got really cold inside, and raised it in the summer to cut down on AC usage.

Of course, if you have cats or small caged pets like a hamster, you’ve got to keep the temps comfortable for them, but if your house is going to be empty, you can adjust the thermostat quite a bit to save on your electric bill. Another option is a Smart-Thermostat system like Nest, where you can check and adjust the temperature of your home from your phone.

3. Enlist A “Watchdog”

I am so fortunate to have fantabulous neighbors that I can trust to keep an eye on my house when I’m gone, but if you don’t have that kind of luxury, don’t rule out a home “watchdog” altogether. First choice, of course, is a next-door neighbor because they’re literally right next door, but you can also enlist a close friend or family member. Or maybe a coworker who drives by your house on his or her way to and from work every day. No matter who it is, it’s so important to have an extra set of eyes keeping tabs on your place.

I also highly suggest some kind of video security system like Ring. If someone were to ring your doorbell, you can answer with your phone and tell them you’re busy and can’t come to the door. They’ll have no idea no one is home. Systems like this also have add-ons like motion sensored spotlights and even those have cameras built in. We have these at our own home and I love the added sense of security.

4. Leave A Light On

One more security measure, and this one is by far the most affordable. Nothing makes your house look like it’s occupied like a light on inside. But don’t go grabbing one of those timers that comes on and off at the same time every day. Haven’t you seen Home Alone??? (ha!) Instead, opt for either a timer that has multiple settings to cycle through, or you can do it manually with a smart plug like this one.

I initially started using these plugs so I didn’t have to climb in behind my Christmas Tree to turn it on and off, but now they’re all over my house. I can turn on and off lamps in any room in my house from my cell phone, no matter where I am. [As an added bonus, it’s a fun way to prank your kids.]

5. Check The Weather

I learned this one from first-hand experience… Check the weather for your town, not just your destination. Why? Because if you don’t, you’ll come home to back porch covered in shattered glass. Okay, maybe that’s dramatic, but it really did happen to me.

If storms are in the forecast, make sure you remove any outdoor umbrellas and secure your patio furniture. Take down any hanging plants and door wreaths, and do any other prep-work you do for storms when you’re at home. 

And if it looks like it’s going to be a scorcher of a week, make sure your flower beds and vegetable gardens have an automatic irrigation system like this easy-install in-ground sprinkler option or this timer that connects to your hose and sprinkler. You can also hire a friendly neighbor that doesn’t mind giving them a quick shower with your water hose. Older kids in the neighborhood are perfect for this job, and you can offer them a few dollars in exchange for a good lesson on responsibility.

vacation planning tips by Lela Burris

Bonus Tip

When you get back home from your trip, before you roll your suitcases into the house, take a few minutes to give the wheels a quick swipe with a disinfectant wipe. More than likely, those wheels have been all over dirty airports and hotel floors. Avoid bringing those germs into your house by getting rid of the wheel-ickies before they come inside. And if your luggage is hard-shelled, go ahead and wipe down the whole thing.

This is something I do every single time, and it’s become a habit I don’t even think about anymore. I’ve gotten into the habit of leaving the Clorox wipes in the garage by the door so they’re already there and waiting when we arrive. It’s such a quick little habit, but makes a huge impact on the cleanliness and germ reduction in your house.

Read More: How To Become A Shoes-Off Household

Ready To Plan Your Ultimate Vacation?

Grab my printable Vacation Planner from the official Organized-ish shop. It’s loaded with pages to cover everything from pack lists to accommodation info to attraction plans, and even where to eat while you’re there. I use this exact planner every time I take a trip and I feel more organized and less stressed, even when I’m traveling with a pre-teen and a 70 pound dog. You can get my Vacation Planner here!

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