Travel Tips: Pre-Vacation Checklist to Ensure a Safe and Pleasant Return Home

I’ll admit that I can get so wrapped up in the excitement and busyness of planning and preparing for a trip or vacation that I rarely give the house a second thought.  Lucky for me though, I have a husband who thinks about and is much more aware of such important matters.

In the days and hours before we go out of town, he goes through a checklist of sorts (though it’s just in his head) and makes sure our house is not only a safe place to return to, but also a pleasant one.  While on a road trip recently, I picked his brain, and we came up with a list of 10 important things we do to not only ensure our house safe, but also a nice place to come back to!

Sure, I don’t want my basement flooded, the pipes to freeze, or any other unspeakable disaster, but I also want to be happy and relieved when I return home.  The post-vacation blues are hard enough.  I don’t want to be overwhelmed walking into another “to-do list” and feeling like I want to walk right out!

Pre-Vacation Checklist: Ensuring a Pleasant Return Home |

1. Blinds/Window Coverings.

We have vertical wood blinds and strategically close them ever them ever so slightly.  Light can come through, but it’s actually hard to see into the house.  Keeping the blinds open slightly allows light to come in and prevents condensation and mold, something us Pacific Northwesterners take very seriously.

2. Lights.

If it’s just a night or two away, we just leave the porch light on.  For a more long term vacation or trip, we leave another light in the house on (in addition to the porch light).

3. Lock Doors.

Yes, it seems simple and a no-brainer, but with the frenzy of getting to the airport or getting the car packed, it can be overlooked.  Also, don’t forget to think about ALL of your exterior doors: back porch, walkout basement, side doors, etc. And while you’re at it, check to make sure your gates are properly latched.

4. Windows Locked.

When we are fixing the blinds, we also do a quick check to ensure all the windows are actually locked.  Even windows that you think are high and unreachable.  This is especially important to check on post-summer.  We were astounded to recently find that we had 2 or 3 windows that were not only unlocked, but cracked open a bit—not good for the heating bill either!

5. Clean.

I know, I know the last thing you want to do while you are trying to prepare for time away is clean the house, but it feels SO good to return to a home that’s inviting you back in.  But like I said earlier, coming home after vacation can be a depressing downer, and it’s even worse when you come home to a mess. Confession:  In my former life (my family can attest to this) I was what some might consider pig-like, but I’ve come to the other side, and it’s so much nicer!

You don’t have to do a deep clean.  Just de-clutter, make the bed, sweep, wipe down the counters, put away toys, laundry etc.

6. Dishes.

Clean all the dishes in the sink and make sure the dishwasher has been run.  Dirty dishes are not fun to return home to and they also attract unwanted pests. Also, those dishes left sitting will get even harder to clean once the food has a chance to settle and crust, not to mention the smell!

It’s not a good idea to run the dishwasher and then leave the house as you never know if accidental leakage will occur, so we always take care of that well before we leave. Also while we’re busy with the dishes, we always run the disposal to clear the drain.

7. Refrigerator.

We plan ahead and grocery shop accordingly. Since we know we’re going away, on the days leading up to the trip we try to use up everything we already have on hand.  If there is anything left that we know would spoil during the course of our time away, we pitch it.

8. Garbage.

It’s hard to remember everything that gets tossed in the garbage and whether or not it will end up making the house stink, so as a general rule, we just empty out all the trash cans throughout the house before we leave, including the diaper bin.  If it’s close to our trash, yard waste & recycling pick-up day, we also put the bins out on the curb and ask a friend or neighbor to put them back for us.

9. Mail and Newspaper.

Depending on the length of our trip, we either call ahead to have the mail and newspaper stopped or ask a friend or neighbor to collect or take them in for us. If it’s just a night or even two, if one of days is a Sunday, the mail is really not a big deal, but any longer than that, it’s important for it not to pile up in your mailbox.

10. Heat and Air-conditioning.

During the times when we would need heat, we turn the thermostat down to 55 degrees F.  Like most Seattleites, we don’t have air-conditioning, but if we did, we’d simply turn it off!

What’s on your pre-vacation checklist? Share how you ensure your house is safe and pleasant to return to! 

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Here’s a handy printable version: Pre-Vacation House Checklist

Pre-Vacation Checklist


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6 thoughts on “Travel Tips: Pre-Vacation Checklist to Ensure a Safe and Pleasant Return Home

  1. Great list and not something that always comes to mind in the midst of packing and finding reservation numbers and such!! A big one for us is locking down the garage so the large overhead door can’t be opened at all while we are gone.

    • Thanks so much! Good point on checking your garage door–we don’t have a garage so it’s not something I would have thought of…I appreciate you bringing that up!

  2. My TV has a timer so I set it to go on for a bit in the late evening when I’m away. I have a neighbor check for flyers or free newspapers and make sure that person has my cell # or contact info in case they notice a problem.
    Hard to believe you were not always organized.

  3. Pingback: Find Happiness In The Places With The Most Of It ::

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