Get Your Home Ready for Your Travel With These 8 Expert Tips

preparing for travel at home

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Whether for business or pleasure, taking a trip requires a certain level of planning, even if you will only be away for a few days. Appropriate clothing for all your planned events? Check. Proper identification? Check. Home readiness? Hold on. We all know the regular protocol of locking the doors and windows as we head out, but there is so much more preparation to consider.

Take a look at some expert tips on things you might not have considered when preparing your home for your absence. 

Put Safety First

If you aren’t planning to have someone house-sit during your trip, some type of safety plan is a must. Installing an alarm system helps put your mind at ease and ensures that authorities will respond in the event of a break-in or fire. Give your monitoring service a call and let them know that no one will be home so they will have an added sense of urgency should alarms go off.

Aside from burglary deterrence, you should also plan to keep your home safe from utility disasters. Weather or other calamities could cause a water pipe to burst, and a flooded home is definitely no fun. Shut off your water supply at the source. Turn off the main water valve, often found in the ground near the street, to avoid unpleasant surprises, says Hubert Miles, certified master inspector and owner of

Are your appliances fueled by gas? Turn off the valves to each so you can avoid the danger of a leak or fire. Unplugging your electronics will also reduce the risk of sparking a fire while you are away.

Clean Up Outside

If your yard or home’s exterior looks abandoned, it could make your home an easy target. If you’ve had snowfall just before your trip, take the time to shovel the driveway and sidewalk so it appears someone is home and keeping up regular maintenance. That isn’t the only reason for getting rid of snow, however. 

“It is also extremely important to avoid someone slipping on your sidewalk or driveway, opening you up for legal action to be taken against you,” says Andew Helling, travel enthusiast and editor of “Most cities have a law that requires you to clear your walkways within 24 hours of snow.”

That means if such a law stands where you live, check the forecast for snow chances and make arrangements with someone to clear any accumulation before you get home. The same principles apply to warmer months or climates and yard care. Mow your lawn before you leave, and if you plan to be away for several weeks or more, make plans to have someone cut the grass again when it gets long.

Tidy Things Indoors

Coming home from a business trip or even a wonderful vacation can be a bit exhausting. Just traveling in and of itself takes a lot of energy. Walking into a home that was left in a mess only makes matters worse. 

Taking the time to clean up—or even better, having someone else do it—makes re-entry to regular life much more pleasant. Run the dishwasher, make sure nothing is left in the washing machine, and generally put things in good order. You’ll avoid being greeted with any odd odors when you open the door. 

You will also want to be sure you take out all the trash in the house before you leave. Even the smallest bit of garbage can raise a big stink in a short time. This same theory applies to items in your refrigerator and pantry. Anything that is close to its best-by date should go into the (outside) trash bin to avoid odors and possibly mold as well, according to home inspector Miles.

Store Your Gear

Storing your tools and ladder in the garage might seem good enough, but if you will be away for a while, consider how easy it would be for someone to get ahold of your hardware. If you have hammers or pliers lying about or a ladder stored behind your home, they can be used to get into your home. 

“Criminals often take the path of least resistance,” says Helling. “Ladders are often used to get to the second floor of a home, where people are often more careless about locking windows. Don't make the burglar's job easier for them!”

Prep Your Pool

If you are lucky enough to have a pool in the backyard, be sure you don’t leave it off your travel prep list, especially in warmer weather. No one wants to come home to a pool full of gunk! 

Jimmie Meece, brand president of America’s Swimming Pool Company, recommends going through your normal basic maintenance list for best results. First, keep the pump operating during your absence. Put it on a timer to keep the water circulating for eight hours, so the water goes through a complete filtering cycle every day.

Shock the water and add chlorine tablets as you normally would, making it a double dose if you expect to be gone for more than a week. And add a little water to help offset any evaporation, especially if the temperatures are going to be high. Right before you leave, vacuum the pool, remove anything that’s floating, and clean out the pool’s filters. You will come home to a pool that is instantly ready for use!

Make Your Home Look Occupied

Having someone set up camp in your home is a great way to deter crime, though that isn’t always an option—that doesn’t mean you can’t fake it. Putting timers on exterior and interior lights can help keep your home safe by giving the appearance that it is occupied. 

Other safety moves include having a friend or neighbor park in your driveway and making sure that you don’t leave a spare key in an obvious place, like under your front doormat. And even though you likely will have your home tidy for your return, making a few strategic messes can add to the perception that someone is home. 

“This might sound a bit odd, but it works, trust me: Leave some dirty laundry lying around your house,” says Jeremy Scott Foster, CEO of TravelFreak. “Now, I'm not talking about leaving your dirty socks on the kitchen table or anything, but leaving some clothes in a pile can give the impression that someone is living there.”

A pile of mail and newspapers or a stack of boxes on the front porch can also signal that your home is unattended. Ask a friend or neighbor to pick up your mail and papers, or have the Post Office hold it all for you until you return. Make sure any package deliveries are held by their respective carriers as well. 

Stay Off Social Media

As tempting as it can be to share every delightful moment of your travels, consider how those posts translate to a would-be burglar. What you are telling everyone is that you are away from home. Professional criminals don’t always just happen upon an empty house. 

“You might think burglaries are random, but the burglars often case a home days or weeks in advance to determine your schedule,” explains Helling. “If you post photos online (oftentimes profiles are not private), you are clearly signaling to the burglars that your home is open for business.”

Save those special snaps for sharing once you are safely back home.

Prioritize Your Pets

Many pet parents board their fur babies when they will be out of town instead of leaving them in the house. If your trip is a short one, or you will have someone coming in to make sure they are fed and the litter box is changed, you might be leaving them home. Other than ensuring they have enough food and water and a place to safely do their business, consider what could happen if they get bored. 

“One thing folks often forget before heading out is to set up a comfy, secure spot for their pets,” says Nina Clapperton of Traveling With Your Pets. “I remember once I left in a hurry and didn't put out Theo's fave toys and bed. I came back to a totally trashed living room! Now, I always make sure he has his special corner full of familiar stuff.”

Clapperton also advises pet owners to add childproof locks on their cabinets and doors even if they don’t have kids. The locks will also keep your cat or dog from getting into things they shouldn’t and save you from having to clean up a big mess later.

These expert tips, sprinkled with a little common sense, take a bit of front-end work but will ultimately pay off by giving you more peace of mind while you travel and a sense of calm once you have come back home.