How to Prepare Your Home Before You Leave

Berty and I love to travel. We will get away for only a weekend, or ditch our place for an entire month to run around Indonesia. On the other hand, we also love our apartment. Coming home from a trip, we love to burst through the door, throw down our suitcases, and cuddle in our nice warm bed and forget about unpacking for a little while.

However, we’ve had a few instances where we come home, sit on the couch….wait, what is that SMELL?? (Our garbage is rotting) or ….oh my gosh we have no clean clothes!! (left our laundry hamper full to the brim.)  Eek! Thank goodness I remember to at least unplug my curling iron! These things are the absolute last problems we want to come home to after a trip away. Berty and I learned quickly that we need a better system.

SO, in order to make our lives easier when we return home, we’ve put together a prep routine to get our apartment ready for “vacation mode”. This ensures that we come home to a clean house, fresh clothes, and peace of mind that we didn’t burn the entire place down. We’ve decided to compile this list in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas, when lots of people leave and go home to families, vacations etc. Enjoy!

Pssst! If you like these tips, you can get them right to your inbox! Click here to never miss a post!



Here’s what you should do to prepare your home before you leave on vacation:


General Cleanliness

Take out the trash/recycling/compost.

This one is for obvious reasons. You didn’t ask a city of flies to move in, so don’t give them an excuse to invite over the whole family. Empty out every single garbage can in the house and replace with new liners before you go.

Wash the dishes.

Food gets crusty and gross as quickly as overnight. It would be horrid to come home to fossilized lasagna in your sink, so get your gloves on and erase any evidence before you hop on that plane!

Do the laundry (and put it away!)

Just thinking about coming home to clean sheets, blankets, and fuzzy socks makes me want to come home early! Do yourself a favor and wash, fold, and put away everything. Then, when you finally get off that 14 hour flight, you save precious time getting into your sweats as fast as you can.

Unplug all cords.

This tip is actually a two-in-one. Not only do you prevent a fire in your house by pulling out your cords, you save energy by doing so. Yay! Plugged-in cords keep a current of energy running, so cutting that off will give you peace of mind that your stuff is safe and sound.

Set thermostat to a manageable level.

Depending on where you live, this may look different. However, rule of thumb is to keep it low enough to be a safe temperature to keep your pets comfortable and your plants alive. Plus, you will also save money on your energy bill. *High five*

Clean your fridge of anything that will spoil before you get back.

Or better yet, try to eat all of it before you head out on vacation!




Money + Mail

Call your bank/credit card company about your travel plans.

It’s important to notify banks of travel plans. Many cards detect where purchases come from, so if all of a sudden they see a transaction in China (where you’re on vacay), they’ll freeze your account thinking it’s a fraud! Make sure to call your bank a week before you leave, and let them know where you’re going and how long. It ensures you have access to your money at all times.

Ask a trusty friend or neighbor to periodically pick up your mail.

Asking someone to empty your mailbox once in a while ensures all your mail + packages have room to get delivered. It also serves as a way to trick burglars into thinking you’re still home. There’s nothing more obvious than 30 newspapers piled on the front porch that tells robbers “hey everyone! I’m not home!”

If you can, set up automatic payments for bills.

So, my mom still mails checks to all the companies that send bills. When we went to Indonesia as a family in 2016, we were going to be gone when a lot of her bills were due! I sat down with her and we set up all her bills for automatic payments. It’s easy to set up, and ensures you don’t miss a single payment. Berty and I set up automatic payments for everything – it’s easy to manage, and we check on it once in a while to make sure things still look good.




Store away any valuables.

Don’t let anything of value be seen from a window in your home. Store and hide away any laptops, jewelry, or anything else special to you. If you have a safe, put them in it!

Leave a spare key with someone you REALLY trust.

If you NEED someone to stop by your house while you’re away, give a spare key to a very trusty friend. This way, as few people have access to your home as possible. And always remind them to lock the door!

Brings cars to a safe place.

Berty and I live in the city. In our neighborhood specifically, it’s a common crime to have property stolen. Therefore, we take our cars out of Seattle and park them at a family member’s house. The family lives in a quiet, safe neighborhood, so we know our cars won’t get broken into while we’re gone. If you have a garage, it’s safer to put them inside than leave them outside on the driveway or street.

Consider keeping one light on to scare away burglars.

Dark house = easy to sneak around. If you have outside motion lights, make sure they are working. Berty and I don’t have timers on inside lights, but we would definitely use them if we did! Random lights turning on and off occasionally gives bad guys the message that your house is off-limits.




How to Make An Easy Car Emergency Kit

Successful Camping in the PNW

11 Essential Tips For Long Flights

How To Pack for a PNW Weekend

How To Pack for a Los Angeles Weekend


We hope that this list can help you enjoy your vacation without worrying about your house! What are some other tips or preparations that you do to get your home ready? I’d love to hear your thoughts!



Photo by: Berty Mandagie

Thanks for reading!












  1. Reply


    December 8, 2016

    I just discovered your blog and this post! How timely this is for me with a trip across country for Christmas in just a few weeks. You mentioned several things I wouldn’t think of in preparing to go. So, thank you for that!

    • Reply


      December 8, 2016

      Hi Hannah! I’m so happy that you found it useful! Berty and I leave our house often for trips, and we’ve found these tips very useful in coming home to an already-clean/prepped home. I wish you safe travels on your journey during Christmas – thanks so much for stopping by! Seriously, comments like yours make my day!