Don’t Leave for Vacation Without Doing These 13 Things

You’ve packed your bags and double-checked your reservations. But before you walk out the door for your next vacation, follow our home-safety checklist for peace of mind.

Family walking out the front door of their home with bags in hand

by NEA Member Benefits

Vacations are a great way to de-stress and take a break from the everyday routine. Planning the actual vacation—where to stay, what to do when you get there—is the fun part. Planning how to keep your home safe and well-maintained during your much-awaited vacation can be the stressful part. Use these tips to get your house ready and keep your peace of mind intact.

Inside your home

Set up a few lights on timers. Security is among the top concerns when a house will be unoccupied for days at a time. If you don’t have a home security system, putting your lights on timers is an easy way to create the illusion you are home. Pick a few lights that you would normally turn on and off at night.

If you have an alarm system, let the company know you are going to be away. Provide the days you will be away long with your contact information.

Remove food that will spoil. Eat, freeze or give away anything that can spoil in your fridge or out on your counters. You don’t want to come home to a smelly fridge or a kitchen full of fruit flies! Take out all trash for the same reasons.

Consider purchasing an automatic plant watering system if you have a lot of plants and can’t find a friend or neighbor to tend to them. These are available through retailers like, and some can water up to 14 indoor plants while you are away.

Make sure your windows are locked and bolted. It may sound obvious, but double check. Windows are popular entry points for burglars, according to the Building Institute Association. Leave blinds in their normal positions so your house still looks occupied.

Unplug all non-essential appliances before you leave. This includes the coffee pot, the toaster oven, the television and the computer.

Check faucets to make sure none are dripping. If you are going to be away for an extended period, consider shutting off the water supply to your house to prevent flooding.

Outside your home

Avoid hiding keys outside your home, especially in obvious areas like underneath a welcome mat or on top of the door frame. Leave a key with a trusted friend.

If you are leaving one or more cars behind, leave them in the driveway instead of the garage. A house with cars in the driveway might repel a burglar who thinks you’re home.

Consider hiring a local landscaping company (or your local teenager) to take care of your lawn. While yards do not have to be maintained daily, they do need to be attended to about every week during warmer weather.

Have the local post office hold your mail. You could have a friend pick it up every day, if it’s convenient for them, but the surefire way is to make it official with the mailman. That way, all of your packages and bills will be waiting for you in one place, safe and sound.

Put a stop on any newspapers or ask a neighbor to pick them up for you. A pile of newspapers at the end of the driveway lets everyone, including burglars, know that you’re not home.

Tell a trusted neighbor the dates you will be away so they can watch for anything suspicious.

Leaving a secure home behind is the best way to begin your vacation. If you take the proper precautions and safeguard against worst-case scenarios, you’ll be more likely to return to your home and find it exactly as you left it.

Plan your next getaway today