How to Prepare Your House for a Long-Term Trip

Thursday, April 7, 2022

When you leave for a weekend trip somewhere, you lock the doors, jump in your car, and head on your way. You’ll only be gone 48 hours, which means you don’t have to do much prepping. But when you leave town for several weeks or months, you have to be a little more detail-oriented. 

In this article, we’ll give you some specific steps you should take to prepare your house for an extended vacation.

7 House Prep Tips

When leaving your house for an extended trip, you need to keep your home safe and free from emergencies. The goal is to return to a house that’s exactly how you left it. 

Here are some helpful tips:

1. Turn Off These Systems

Before leaving your house, there are a couple of key systems that you’re going to want to turn off to prevent emergencies from happening.

The first thing to do is turn off the main water supply valve. This can usually be found in a utility closet or in your crawlspace. (If you can’t locate it, you can always open up the utility box in your front yard and turn off the valve at the street.)

The second step is to turn off the gas to your house. You should have a main gas line inside of your crawl space or utility closet, as well as an exterior shut-off valve on the outside of your house where the gas meter is located. If you have any outdoor appliances that use propane – such as a gas grill or propane fire pit – go ahead and turn these off as well.

2. Set Up Smart/Programmable Lighting

You want to give off the appearance that someone is living in the property while you’re gone. It’s okay if a couple of neighbors know you’re gone (and you should definitely let at least one trusted neighbor know you’re away), but you don’t want the average person walking down the street to know the home is vacant. 

One way to make your house look lived in is by using smart or programmable lighting to have different rooms in the home light up at different times during the day. If you already have programmable light timers that plug directly into your wall outlets, these work just fine. Plug them into a couple of main lamps in your home and have them turn on for several hours in the early morning and evening.

Another option is to use smart light bulbs that you can control remotely via your phone. This allows you to set up daily lighting schedules. You can also manually turn them on and off via the application. 

3. Close Your Windows and Blinds

You don’t want people to have clear sightlines into your home while you’re away. If you have blinds, it’s a good idea to close them. You don’t have to close them entirely, but you should angle them at least 75 percent shut. This allows a little light to come in/out, but doesn’t give people clear visibility into your house. 

4. Throw Away Perishable Food

Clear out your refrigerator by throwing away any perishable food that will go bad while you’re on vacation. If you have unopened food that will go bad, consider giving it to a neighbor or friend. You can also donate unopened food to local soup kitchens or shelters.

5. Use Self-Watering Planters/Bulbs

Do you have a lot of houseplants in your home? There are several things you can do to keep them alive and well while you’re gone. For starters, move them to shady areas so that the soil doesn’t dry out as fast. Secondly, use some self-watering bulbs or planters to help keep the soil damp.

6. Hire a Landscaper

In the spring and summer months, you may want to hire a landscaper to come once per week to mow the lawn, pull weeds, and make sure everything around your property is looking fine. You don’t need to win “Yard of the Month” while you’re out of town, but you do want to keep your property looking kempt. 

7. Pause Your Mail

Did you know that you can put a hold on your mail while you’re out of town? This signals to the post office that you’d like your mail held for a period of time (rather than delivered to your mailbox). This guide shows you how.

Travel With Confidence

When you take the time to prepare your house for an extended trip, you’re able to travel with confidence. You don’t have to worry about someone breaking into your home, a neighbor calling the HOA about an overgrown lawn, your favorite houseplant dying, or a water leak ruining your hardwood floors. Instead, you can enjoy your travels and return to a home that’s exactly how you left it.