Preparing the House Before Vacation

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Vacation season is about to begin. While packing up to hit the road is obviously top priority, there are some great things you can do to make coming home even better. Here are some great tips on preparing the house before vacation from Amy Gross, founder of Mom’s Toolbox.

Preparing the House Before Vacation | Life as Mom

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Getting ready to head out of town for a quick jaunt or extended vacation? Here are a few things you can do to have a happy homecoming when you return:

Preparing the House Before Vacation

Keep the home fires burning to deter intruders.

Find a house-sitter to keep an eye on things while you’re away. Ask a neighbor or friend to bring in the mail, solicitations, and any packages. Find a spot for that mail to go that is not visible from a window. Ask your friend to also set out a trash can on trash day. Either put a few lights on timers or ask your neighbor to turn off and on different lights throughout your time away.

Make sure things look like business as usual at your home.

Be sure to leave emergency contact information with your friend, just in case. If you will be unreachable (say, on a cruise) leave the name and number of someone else to contact in case of emergency. If you are engaging your security alarm, be sure your house-sitter has all applicable information.

Take care of the pets.

Have pets? Arrange for pet care, either by boarding or having someone come look in on your pets. Double check to be sure you have enough food and any other supplies for your pet for a few days beyond your planned trip, just in case. Leave your veterinarian’s contact information, too.

Tidy up!

Clear your cabinets and pantry of any fresh fruit or veggies. Give it away, refrigerate it or toss it. You do not want to return to fruit flies. Empty the trash so that you return to the sweet smell of home, not garbage. Believe me… I know all about this.

–> Be sure to read: Get Your Kitchen Ready for Vacation So You Can Save Money

Tidy up the living areas a bit. Our house definitely has that ‘lived-in’ look. Well, maybe it has that ‘really lived-in’ look.

When we leave, though, I like to at least stack up the clutter and make things look a little nicer for our return. I don’t strive for perfection, but I just do a few things so that when I come back, it can be more of a fresh start.

No use having a refreshing vacation to come home to drudge work! Be kind to your future self!

Preparing the House Before Vacation | Life as Mom

Plan for future needs

Double check that all your bills due while away have been paid or are scheduled to be paid.

Think about your first meal back at home. Will you be arriving late at night and want to be sure to have milk early the next morning? (Organic milk typically has a very long expiration date. Get a fresh carton before you go and leave it sealed.)

Or will you be arriving in time for dinner and want to bypass fast food on the way home? Think about what foods you can have on hand to welcome you so you aren’t scrambling… unless it’s eggs you want.

Make a post-trip “to do” list. Look over your calendar for what is coming after the trip and jot a few notes of what you’ll need to do when you get back. Leave it out in a spot where you’ll be sure to see it when you return. Again, your future self will thank you.

Have a great trip!

Smile and walk out the door, ready for a great vacation! Even if you are running late, stop, smile and bid your house adieu…. Then go have the vacation of a lifetime.

Every trip, whether big or small has that possibility. And with all of this taken care of, you can leave with confidence for a happy homecoming when it’s time to return.

A woman in glasses looking at the camera, with wine bottles in the background.— Amy is the Mom behind Mom’s Toolbox. She is a full time mom and a full time tech startup entrepreneur as the Founder and CEO of VineSleuth/ Wine4.Me. She is a world traveler — in heart, body, and prayer. Amy writes to equip moms with tools for success whether at home or abroad.

Got any tricks for preparing the house before vacation?

How do you make a post-vacation homecoming relaxing and stress-free?

Originally posted May 25, 2011.

Preparing the House Before Vacation | Life as Mom

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  1. I love coming home to a clean house, and I try to have everything clean and laundry done before we go. 🙂

  2. Such a lovely article and offering up some really good ideas. Whenever we go away our pets (dog and cat) visit our local kennels. I always make sure that I have them booked in well in advance of the departure date and also to make sure that their vaccinations are up to date. What is great I have a wonderful vets that send me an SMS when it is time for them to have theirs.

    If you don’t have this kind of service I would suggest that you make a note of the date when their next vaccinations are due in a diary or on your computer. This way you won’t forget.

  3. We have been taking Stay Cations since 2009 In 2006 we had over 22k in debt we paid it all off got a great emergency fund in place and then we started taking staycations because they fit our new budget. They are great we splurge on all of them go out to eat at places we love , we stay within a one day drive we explore areas we never seemed to have time for before / eat foods we should not enjoy the hot tubs and swimming pols and spend time together! We average between $200 and $1,000 per stay cation we take at least four per year (one per quarter as hubby says) The one in July we focused on fun in the water, this fall we are focusing on leaves, football and apple orchard, I love that we do not go away for long it makes it easier to get out the door and more enjoyable to me when we return home there is not nearly as much work involved with a night or two break.
    In Feb of last year we booked a hotel we never would have stayed at before due to the high price (we did not go for Valeninte’s day or week but we went in honor of romance in Feb and we had a hot tub , a fireplace in the room and hotsprings close by it was amazing and the entire two nights with all the expensive food was under $500.
    So just think outside the box and plan for what you really want!
    Sometimes we take food for picnic lunches to cut some cost other times we splurge, Sometimes we use coupons or gift cards that folks have given to us. Sometimes we share an entree.
    The key is we have fun!

  4. Oh my, I feel like an underachiever reading all this. I was planning on doing nothing but packing, but just realized I was setting myself up for a ton of unnecessary work and probably a bout of depression upon returning from our mere three day vacation. I had not considered the meal on the day of return, we will probably be ravenous. Yikes. Time to get busy.

  5. We go away for 2.5 weeks each summer on our sailboat so there are a few unique issues we deal with. One is that we take all of our food so when we come home, there is a LOT of cold stuff we bring with us (anything shelf-stable stays on the boat for the remainder of the season) so I make sure the fridge is clean and clear, ready to accept everything.

    Next up I make sure that the laundry room is ready. We have no laundry facilities in those 2.5 weeks other than hand washing or $20 a load so we bring a LOT of clothing and bring it all home pretty much dirty and needing to be washed. That works out to be 13-15 loads of laundry for the week after the trip. OY!!

    I also do as others have said – make sure toilets are flushed, clean sheets on all of the beds, garbage out and gone and lights on timers. We don’t have automatic sprinklers so I set up all of the potted plants in one bed or on the porch so someone can come and easily get to them to water. I give my inside plants a good soak in the tub and they are ready for the entire time we’re gone (surprisingly enough – I guess I train them to be used to little water – LOL).

    Oh and I love the idea of the change of clothes and undies left at home! I need to do that because with us almost bringing everything we own with us, I have to scrounge for an outfit for when we get home! One of the first things we all do is to shower because on the boat, we don’t shower as much and it’s a “Navy shower” – turning off the water as much as possible. So a nice long hot shower is wonderful!

  6. Great tips! One thing I always do is leave a clean pair of underwear and a fresh outfit at home for when we return. I don’t want to have to do my 5 suitcases’ full laundry before getting dressed the morning after we return!

  7. My friends always made fun of me because I do a major top to bottom clean before I leave for vacations. It all started when I traveled 23 days out of each month – I felt like if something happened to me, I wanted my parents to not have to deal with a mess at my house. Then out of that OCD issue, sprung my crazy pre-clean…but let me tell you how nice it is to come home to clean sheets and a clean house after relaxing with my family. Lovely feeling!!

  8. I apologize upfront if this is offensive to anyone, but from one mom to another, be sure all toilets have been flushed before leaving. We took a month-long trip several years ago, and one of our young ones made one last bathroom trip before we left. Enough said!

  9. Even though electricity in America is reliable, it does sometimes go out for hours (and more rarely, days at a time). Store some ice cubes in a baggie in the freezer when you leave. When you return, if they are no longer cubes, but a frozen slab (or worse, a bag of water), you know the power was out long enough to thaw them, and thus put all the rest of the contents of the freezer (and fridge) at risk for spoilage.

  10. I always empty the trash, change the cat box, make sure the dishwasher is run, put away all laundry, change the sheets, and clean the bathrooms and floors! We also mow the yard before we go. Most of these things were already mentioned. Someone comes in to feed the cats, yet I still leave lots of extra water and dry food for them in extra bowls. I love going away, yet love to come back home, too!

  11. I love this article! One of my favorite things to do before vacation is to work twice as hard the week before, getting the house in order. It’s so nice to come home to a clean house.

    Eggs are a great idea for a first meal back! I typically reach for something from the freezer but that is a great idea!

  12. One word for you: TIMERS! These little gadgets are worth every penney. We plug a couple of lamps into a timer so that the lamps turn off and on at various times during the day. Make sure to choose lamps that are near windows, or it’s pointless. Timers get double duty in the winter, when we plug the Christmas tree in.

  13. i always intend on picking up my house and having it clean for when we get home, but in the craziness of trying to get packed and get out the door on time, it never seems to happen quite the way i would like it. maybe at some point we’ll get there. 🙂

    i try to come home a day or so before we have to be home. like if my husband needs to be back at work or we have an appointment, i’ll come home a day early so we can get settled and unpacked before having to get right back to business. it helps us all to rest and not be so stressed when coming home.

  14. I always change the sheets the morning we leave. I love being able to climb into a clean bed on my first night home after a long trip.

    Also, I would have to add, if you clean up the kitchen by loading the dishwasher, don’t forget to run it. Nothing stinkier than half-eaten food rotting for a week in the washer!

  15. Great tips. Tidying the house, emptying the house, catching up on laundry; those are all right on the to do list along with the actual packing. I try to have a meal ready to go, either waiting in the freezer or in the fridge (if we won’t be gone all that long). A to do list for the day after we return is always important too.

    I love the idea of a store where I could place an order and then just swing in and pick it up on the way back home later!

  16. One thing I would add is that we now do when going on vacation is to shut our water off at the street. This after last summer’s week at the beach when we walked in the door to our flooded house! NOT what you want to find when you are coming home from vacation!

  17. We have a store out here where you can place your food order online and pick up at the day and time of your choosing. This way you order the food ahead of time and all you have to do it pull up they load your car and your off with a house full of food.