If you’re anything like me, the thought of going on vacation can bring a rush of excitement quickly followed by a torrent of to-do’s, what-if’s and arrangements.  If you are a seasoned vacationer you are well versed in these types of dilemmas, but what if you are not?  Aside from simply locking your doors there are quite a few more precautions and best practices to follow before jet-setting off to wherever it is you may be heading.  Take a look at some of the points below and who knows, you might just learn something new.

Halt Mail!

Thanks to the internet, holding your mail has never been easier.  You can kiss goodbye those days where you had to trek down to the post office, locate one of those cards and do your best to get your 24 lettered street name to fit in the 16 allotted boxes.  Now with the hold mail service holding you mail is only a few keystrokes and an enter key away.  You can even request a hold up to 30 days in advance.

Keep it Trimmed and Tidy

When it comes to being targeted by thieves and burglars, a big deterrent is a well-kept and manicured lawn.  Homes that a burglar can perceive as being un-kept and in disrepair are more likely to be targeted.  In the same sense, when grass and weeds spring up in a yard that is otherwise well maintained, you may be setting yourself up for some unwanted attention.

To avoid this, arrange for a neighbor or a lawn care service to come trim your lawn or cut back on some of those quick growing weeds for you.  If you are unacquainted  with your neighbors consider posting a want ad on Craigslist or taking a gander at TaskRabbit which lets you locate people in your surrounding area that have passed background checks and are ready to help out others.

If you’re looking for some other great pointers you can find some great information about burglary statistics here and here.

Un-Spare that Spare

If you’re like me, you might have fallen victim to the assortment of “hide your key in plane site” marketing that seemed to inundate the early 2000’s.  With three children in the house and a forgetful husband, the number of times someone locked themselves out of the house quickly became ridiculous.  As an extra precaution for vacation, we often bring these spares inside for the duration of our vacation.  You can never be too safe!

8 Top Tips For Your Home To Consider Before Going On Vacation

Windows, Windows, Windows

Making sure your windows are properly secured is another habit to get into. Not only for pre-vacationing plans but really anytime you are going to leave the house.  While you may be accustomed to locking the window or replacing the dowel after use, others might not be. Before you leave, double check all the windows in your hose to make sure all locks are engaged, all dowels are placed between the frames and all curtains are drawn.

Well-Timed Lighting

If you want to take the added precaution of giving the appearance of someone being home, consider investing in an inexpensive light timer. Most of these can be picked up at hardware stores for under $10 and are easily programmed to turn on and off at any time of the day.

Minding Your Power Bill While Away

Aside from the timed lights you probably won’t be leaving a slew of lights on around your home, but there are actually more ways than flipping a switch off to save while you are away.  I’m sure we have all heard the adage of unplugging your appliances and electronics while they are not in use.  The reality of this is its simply inconvenient.  Im wagering you would be hard pressed to find a family of four that is committed to crawling behind their entertainment center and unplugging the television every time it is flipped off.

However, being away for an extended period of time makes this process a lot more reasonable and a whole lot more economical. Turning off the water and unplugging cords from outlets while you are away can make a noticeable impact on your utility bills.  Give it a shot next time you are away.

Gander inside that Fridge

Before you take off for faraway places, make sure you don’t have any perishables that will turn into odorous deformities while you are away.  Half empty gallons of milk, eggs, yogurt and other dairy products are prime examples of foods that can either be donated or tossed out.  If you have ever been gone two plus weeks and come home to a refrigerator with spoiled milk you know as well as I do that the lower temperature can only mask the smell for so long.

Round up your Waste

In the same token of emptying out your fridge, make sure you do the same for your trash.  Any foodstuffs that got pitched before you left will quickly breakdown and stink up the house. This means the inside and garage trash as well as any food that might have gone down the drain but wasn’t properly flushed out or whisked away via the garbage disposal. If you’re drain or sewage pipes don’t seem to be working, you might want to contact your local plumber to fix things up. The last thing you want is to come home to a stinky mess.

Lock Up Important Documents

Just in case the unfortunate happens and someone does break in, you’ll want to round up any documents with your social security number, credit card number, excess credit card applications, work stubs, passwords, and medical information. The last thing that you want is for the robbers to take over your identity and wreak havoc on your finances, credit score, and name. Americans already have a hard enough time staying out of debt. The last thing you want is to have to worry about fraud as well as debt consolidation.

Once everything has been squared away at home, pack your bags and hit the road.