Whitney is a home improvement writer for Dickson Plumbing LLC with previous experience as an editor for Upwork. She is a family-oriented person who is studying Psychology at Florida International University. When she isn’t delving deep into research, editing, writing, or studying, she can be found riding horses. She created an outlet for both her passions in horses and writing with her site...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Car Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Apr 12, 2022

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The Short of It

  • Planning for your cars or trucks is an important step to securing your home
  • Water damage caused by busted or leaking pipes affects one in four homeowners
  • It can be useful to ask certified professionals before turning off utilities to your home

Going on vacation can be the break from everyday norms you need. The last thing you want to worry about on your getaway is your home, or worse, coming home to a disaster that could have easily been prevented. 

We consider making your home trip ready an important step to a successful vacation — and to a relaxing return home. With a little effort and planning, your home can be safe and secure while you travel.

A great option to easily secure your home while you are away is to hire a short-term property management company. Many companies provide this service and even have homesitters on staff. 

Home Utilities and Water Service in Your Home

The general guidance for vacation trips is to turn your water off to your whole home. Statistics from The Insurance Institute show one in four homeowners experience damage due to broken water pipes or water pipes that freeze. 

The average repair cost for these homeowners between 2015-2019 was $11,098. But most of these homeowners were home when the damage started. Water is a powerful force that can cause irreparable damage to your home. 

Turning off your water can save you from coming home to a huge mess. But there are some reasons to leave your water on. 

These reasons include: 

  • Lawn and garden sprinkler systems
  • Aquariums with automatic filtration feeds
  • Refrigerators with water purifying systems

If you feel that you must leave your water on while you are away, there are options to keep you safe.  

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Ways to keep track of your home’s water usage while you are away:

  • You can have a relative or friend check inside your home each day.
  • You can buy a water usage monitor that sends the information to your phone.
  • You can contact a property management company to look after your home.

If you have never turned off the main water valve before, you might call a water technician to help you. These valves can rust and corrode, causing you trouble before you leave on your trip. 

Usually, you shouldn’t turn off your electricity or gas. These power and heat sources are safe even when you aren’t home. You should plan to unplug most electronic devices on the day you leave.

 These include:

  • Televisions
  • Printers and other computer workstation devices
  • Some appliances including electric washers and dryers 

You will want to leave timer lights and any devices tied to your security system plugged in.

Appliances that need more consideration as to whether to leave on include:

  • Your refrigerator 
  • Your dishwasher
  • Your electric oven

Usually, it is fine to leave these powered while you are away. If your refrigerator is a freezer combo, then you’ll want to leave the refrigerator on or clear out the freezer.

If any of your appliances are older or have operating problems, it might be wise to ask a certified appliance person for guidance.

Stopping Your Mail and Other Deliveries While You’re on Vacation

Putting a hold on your mail is a simple process. You will just fill out the form and deliver it to the post office that processes and delivers your mail. You can hold your mail for three to 30 days. After 30 days you will need to submit a new hold form.

You can also add someone to your form if you want them to pick up the mail being held for you. You will need to add their name exactly as it appears on their identification. Then they will need to show their ID to be given your mail. 

Stopping your mail is an important step to keeping your home safe. An overflowing mailbox can allow criminals to steal your mail. It is also a sign that no one is home, making your home vulnerable to burglary. 

The U.S. Mail isn’t the only delivery you need to put a hold on. Many of us receive packages each week or month on a standard delivery schedule. 

These scheduled delivers can include:

  • Pet food and supplies
  • Specialty food deliveries
  • Medicine and health care products

You want to put a hold on each delivery you normally receive. In some cases, your local delivery company may hold your items for you until you return from vacation. 

Not many people receive a daily or weekly newspaper anymore. But if you still like to hold the newsprint in your hands, you’ll need to put a hold on this, too. 

Take Care of Your Car or Other Vehicles While You’re on Vacation

It seems like every month the statistics for car thefts go up. And no part of America is safe from this trend. You will need a plan for any cars you won’t use during your trip. 

For cars or other vehicles parked in a home garage during your trip: 

  • Clear the car of any valuables.
  • Remove your garage door remote.
  • Take out any paperwork with your information on it. 

You may be driving your car to the airport and leaving it there until you return. This is a popular option for many travelers. You should follow all of the above advice to keep your car safe at the airport. But there are also things you should do to be sure your car is ready to go when you arrive at the airport. 

If you plan to use the long-term parking at an airport: 

  • Make sure your battery is holding a good charge.
  • Make sure your car has the proper amount of antifreeze.
  • Clear your car of any aerosol cans or other flammable products.

You can take your car to many auto parts stores for a free battery checkup. Many people use street parking for their cars and trucks. Of course, a vehicle left out each day and night is at more risk of damage and theft than one parked in a garage. 

When you’re home you can quickly see that something has happened and address the situation. If you are on vacation and something happens, your car could be long gone before you get back.

Options to consider for your car besides street parking while you’re on vacation:

  • Store your car with a long-term auto storage company.
  • Ask a friend or relative if you can park your car at their home.
  • Ask a property management company if they include safe storage for cars.

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Home Alarms and Light Timers

A home alarm can give you a great sense of security while you are away. You will want to notify your alarm company of your trip. They likely will want you to choose someone local as a contact in case something happens at your home. 

If you are new to a city or don’t have many trusted people near you, you can use a property management company as your contact. Hiring a short-term property management company can be very affordable and can give you extra peace of mind in knowing professionals are looking after your home. 

Another great tip to help protect your home is adding timer lights. Many people buy these types of timer lights to make their homes look lived in while everyone is away. These are a great addition to your home-away safety list even if you hire a short-term property management company. Light timers will automatically turn your lights on and off at whatever intervals you’d like. This will give the illusion that someone is home even if you’re thousands of miles away, carpooling with your friends across the country.

Yard and Lawn Care While You’re on Vacation

As we mentioned before, you might want to leave your water on if your lawn will suffer while you are away. Just like mail piled up in your mailbox, an unkempt lawn can give would-be robbers a clue that you are away. 

There are many options to make sure your lawn and home aesthetic stay well-maintained while you are on vacation. One of the easiest ways is to ask a neighbor to help you out. Many neighbors share vacation lawn care and some neighborhood associations have lawn and garden vacation care plans, too. 

Asking a neighbor may not be an option for you. If that is the case, you can hire a local landscaping company to care for your lawn while you’re gone.

 Other things you can do to keep your lawn looking healthy and fresh while you’re gone:

  •  Cut your grass very short right before you leave.
  •  Replace flowers that need a lot of care with hardier greenery.
  •  Don’t fertilize or seed your lawn the week before you leave.

Last Touches Before You Embark on Your Trip

It’s a good idea to clean out your refrigerator before you leave. Refrigerated food items that could spoil before you get home include:

  • Leftovers 
  • Fresh meat 
  • Dairy products 

Windows and Doors

Double-check that all of your windows and doors are locked. Don’t overlook other entrances you may not use very often, including your garage or patio.

Don’t share your plans with too many people

If you can, it is also a great idea to keep your trip plans to just close friends and family. There is no way of knowing how many people will know you’re not home if you post that information online.