How to Prepare Your Home Before a Long Holiday
Tips and Guides,
Embarking upon a long holiday comes with its fair share of prep work. You will be busy booking tickets, planning day trips, deciding what you will need to bring etc. and so on. But one thing many might not think about, or at least not until the last minute, is how to prepare your home before going on a long holiday.
There is plenty that needs to be done, checked and organised, after all, it’s certainly not advisable to just head out the door for a month without much of a second thought. So, to guide you along, we’ve assembled a list of things to be done to make sure your home is the way you left it once you return.
Get a house sitter
One thing you might want to think about organising after securing your , is whether or not you want to employ a house sitter to look after your home while you are away. By going down this route, you can tick off a fair few of this articles items in the process. There are a number of great services if this appeals to you, two of which are highlighted below.
, who aim to connect home and pet owners with trustworthy individuals who are happy to take care of your house for free, spoke to us about the benefits of this option:
“People who have pets know the immediate need of having a house and pet sitter for when they go on holiday for a long time, but those without pets can benefit too. Owners on our site enjoy the care sitters take, which includes everything from watering plants to cleaning and maintenance. Your home is also more secure with a sitter. Another important reason to choose a sitter, is to avoid burst pipes and other things that can go wrong in the home if no one is regularly there.”
TrustedHousesitters also offered their advice for people going away on a long holiday:
“We advise that at least 30 days before you go away, you list your home on a site like TrustedHousesitters. This will give you plenty of time to select a trusted and verified sitter who will be able to sit for you while you go away. You can choose a sitter that fits the profile of pet experience and home care that you need. In preparation for your sitter, you need to tidy the home and think about making the place as comfortable for your sitter as possible. Many of our members tend to organise a ‘handover’ period at the start and end of the trip to make better acquaintance with each other and make sure all home and pet care instructions are shared.”
is another top house sitting service that matches owners with house sitters across the UK. We asked the team why, in their opinion, acquiring a sitter would be important for those going away for a long time.
“Travelling, especially for a long time can be very worrying for you if you have pets that need to be looked after and cared for while you are away. Engaging a house/pet sitter for the entire time will give you peace of mind that your pets are happy and settled in their own home environment. Their daily routine will not be interrupted. Some of the many benefits involving your pets include:
- Receiving all the cuddles and attention you usually give them and regular human contact.
- They have their usual diet (a copy of which you will give to the sitter).
- You will receive updates and photos from your sitter - if that is what you require.
- They will have their walks and games.
- You don’t need to impose on or inconvenience your friends, neighbours or relatives to step in while you are away.
- You will save a lot of money (and stress for your pet) not needing to use boarding kennels.
Security and home maintenance
“The statistics show that if your home is occupied while you are away there is little chance of it being burgled. Many insurance companies prefer it if you have a house sitter because the home never looks unattended or vacant. A House Sitter can also:
- Water and care for your garden and plants. There is nothing worse than coming home from a holiday to find your favourite plants have died.
- Keeping the garden neat and tidy gives the home a lived in feel.
- Bring in your mail, and forward it to you if that is needed.
- Put out the rubbish each week.
- Provide security for your home and contents just by being there.
- Your home will be clean and tidy ready for your return.
To help compliment the advice already received, we also asked Mindahome what people can do to prepare their homes before leaving on holiday.
“You should go to a reputable House Sitting website and look through their information so that you know how it works and are comfortable that this is the solution for you. Mindahome.co.uk has an excellent available to all members with lots of helpful hints, tips and information for home owners and house sitters.
“If you are away for a long time, it is not unusual to ask the sitter/s to contribute to some of the utility costs. This should be agreed upon before they start.”
Mindahome also suggested some things that should be considered before your sitter arrives:
House sitting agreement or contract
“It is a good idea to use an Agreement as it can spell out the duties and expectations of both parties leaving little room for misunderstandings. There is a sample of one in the Mindahome eBook.”
A local contact
“If you have a friend or relative nearby, it would be good to ask them to be a contact for your House Sitter. They would need to know the local area and if you have pets, be familiar with them. Ideally they should meet your sitter before you leave.”
Secure your fragile items
“Although House Sitters will do their best to take care of all your possessions, they are only human and accidents can occasionally occur. If you do have any fragile or expensive items that you are concerned about, you should pack them away somewhere safe, such as an unused room.”
“Your sitter will need a set of house keys, two sets if it is a couple.”
Use of motor vehicle
“If you decide to let your sitter have use of a vehicle, you will need to check they are licensed and put their name on your insurance.”
Inspect the locks/install security
If not opting for the above, an item that should be at the top of your checklist before heading off is the security of your home. This is one of the many great tips from Cheryl Leung of , a family lifestyle and travel blog.
Cheryl says: “A few weeks before your big trip, make any necessary repairs to all your windows, doors and other entrance points. Your goal is to avoid giving burglars an easy way to get into your house.”
This is important advice from Cheryl, families and individuals will do well to inspect their locks and doors to make sure that everything is as secure as it needs to be.
This is also an excellent excuse to install some home security. There are a number of ways to do so, even smart security systems that can stream a live feed of your home directly to your smartphone, and alert you/the authorities of any activity inside the house. The suit from ADT is one such device that will help protect both the inside and outside of your home.
Inspect the roof
Being one of the more vulnerable parts of your house, the roof is something that should certainly be inspected a good time before you depart for your holiday. The last thing you will want is small leaks forming while you are away – an issue that can easily develop into much larger problems. So make sure to give your roof an inspection and even hire a professional outfit like (who offer a free inspection service) to do so for you, ensuring that you’ve done everything you can to prevent such problems occurring.
Find someone you can trust and secure your post
Another of Cheryl’s top tips is finding a friend or neighbour that you can trust to help you with your post/mail and to help keep your property safe.
“Let them know how long you'll be gone and ask them to keep a lookout for any suspicious activity around your house. If they can, ask them to pick up any mail, package or newspaper deliveries while you're away. Don't forget to leave them a house key, your security alarm code and alarm company contact info (if you have one) and your contact info in case they need to reach you while you're on vacation.”
For those going away for a considerable time, stopping your post at the Post Office is also something that you might want to consider. A large build-up of post can be a huge indicator to burglars that you are away, and a green light to therefore enter your home.
Turn off the water supply and unplug electrical appliances
If you are travelling the world for months on end, and there will be no one using your water-based appliances, you might want to consider turning off your water supply as there is no real reason to have water flowing. This, along with unplugging electrical appliances, will also help stop other issues arising, as Cheryl mentions:
“This prevents plumbing leaks and electrical hazards while you're away - you don't want to come home from vacation and have to deal with these issues.”
Another good reason to turn off and unplug your home’s electrical appliances is to save a little money on electricity bills while you are away. Plugged in devices, even while turned off, can use up electricity, and taking this precaution can also help reduce the risk of electrical fires from starting, which is obviously not something you want to happen when you are not at home to attend to the situation.
Arrange for your grass to be cut/plants watered
Cheryl from Kids on a Plane suggests hiring someone to look after your garden as your absence is not something you want to advertise:
“If you're going to be away for an extended period, consider hiring a lawn cutting or snow shovelling company to maintain the yard and the exterior of your home while you're away. A lawn with foot tall grass or snow is a sign that no one is home.”
An overgrown lawn is also not something you want to come home to after enjoying a leisurely cruise holiday around the world. You will want to make things as easy as possible upon your return. So, as Cheryl recommends, consider hiring someone or just reach out to friends/family and neighbours to see if someone would be willing to cut your grass for you and water any plants so that you don’t come back to a dying garden.
Don’t shut your drapes
“If you normally leave the curtains open at home, don't shut them while you're away” Cheryl recommends. “This sudden change in behaviour signals that you aren't at home. Just leave the curtains and window coverings as you normally would but move expensive electronics and valuables out of sight.”
Utilise light timers
Another tip of Cheryl’s is to: “Use programmable light timers,” explaining that travellers should “set lights indoors to turn on and off at random times during the day (when your family would regularly be awake and walking around the house) to make it look like someone is at home.”
Park your car on the driveway
To help maintain the illusion that you and your family are indeed at home and not out in the world enjoying your travels, Cheryl suggests that you park your car on the driveway and not hide it away.
“This makes it look like someone is at home. Remember though to remove garage door openers and cash from your vehicle if you're going to leave it out on the driveway. You don't want to give them a reason to break into your car too.”
If you are taking your sole vehicle to the airport when journeying to your cruise, hiding your GPS when parking at the airport could be a shrewd move, as Cheryl explains:
“Thieves may break in, turn on your GPS and find out where your home is. Even better is to set your ‘home’ address to a retail centre or grocery store near home instead of your exact address.”
Of course, airports are incredibly secure places, with untold amounts of people parking on their premises with no problems at all. However, it never hurts to take those extra precautions!
Stay away from social media
Travellers may be excited about sharing their favourite holiday snapshots, but, as Cheryl rightly points out, this could cause some security issues back home.
“In today's social media driven world, it's tempting to share your vacation photos and travel plans with others. But doing so let’s everyone know you're not at home. It's better to remain silent on social media and save the sharing until after you've returned home.”
Along the same lines of maintaining your garden to prevent work upon your return, another job to consider is giving your house a thorough tidy and clean before you jet off. While this won’t help your home’s security at all, arriving back to a clean and organised home will be a relief as the last thing you will want to do after unpacking is clean up a messy house. Do yourself a favour now and you will surely be thankful in the long run.
Lock all doors and windows
To finish things up we bring you the last piece of advice from Cheryl of Kinds on a Plane. Once all of the above has been taken care of and you are ready to start your holiday, always make sure that you have locked all doors and windows before leaving.
“The night before you leave, ensure all locks, deadbolts, and safety chains are locked and secured - including those on garage doors, basement entrances, and pet doors.”
As mentioned earlier, you will hopefully have checked all the locks, so now you need to put them to use. It’s always a good idea to double check this before heading off, so give the house a second run-around to make sure everything is as secure as it can be, allowing you to enjoy your holiday without a worry.