11 Home Tasks You Should Do Before You Go on Vacation

Person watering a plant before vacation

Dmitry Marchenko / Getty Images

When your toes are in the sand or your feet are up in a hammock, the last thing you want to think about is whether you remembered to turn off the AC or water the plants. Getting your packing list right is a must prior to heading out the door, but so is acing your home checklist.

The rushed chaos that comes before you hop in the car or on the plane is kind of inevitable (there's a lot to think about!) but at the very least, you can put your mind at ease when it comes to home-related chores with a thorough list. While it won't be the end of the world if you don't organize the pantry or finish folding clothes before you go, other tasks are musts, like unplugging appliances and setting appropriate timers.

So before you switch on vacation brain, this list of 11 quick jobs will make sure you won't stress while on your trip or come home to an unexpected (but preventable) mishap.

  • 01 of 11

    Set the Thermostat

    Thermostat on wall

    Getty Images / Nickbeer

    There's no worse feeling than returning home from a trip and realizing the air conditioning has been on full blast while you were away. You can turn it off completely, but many models of thermostats have a holiday mode that keeps it at a set temperature for the number of days you'll be away. If you have to keep it running for other reasons, set a timer so it's not cooling down the house 24/7.

  • 02 of 11

    Unplug Cords and Appliances

    Appliances plugged into kitchen

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    Appliances and other electronics can still use up energy when they're turned off and plugged in. To save electricity and have more peace of mind while you're away, go around the house and unplug cords that won't serve you while you're away. Think: bedside phone chargers, coffee machines, and lamps.

  • 03 of 11

    Set Strategic Timers

    Sprinkler in lawn

    Getty Images / Katharina13

    Lights, central air, TVs, or any other timers that are set should be turned off or set strategically. Make sure any outdoor sprinklers are programmed to turn on when needed to keep lawns and outdoor plants healthy. For an extra safety precaution, having a lamp near a window or an outdoor light come on in the evening is a great way to make it appear as if someone's home.

  • 04 of 11

    Ensure Packages Aren't on Their Way

    Mint door with packages in front

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    Double-check your email for any orders that may be on their way and reroute packages or ensure delivery services know a safe place to store them while you're gone. A package on the doorstep is fine for a day, but it can be risky to leave them out for days at a time, especially if multiple packages build up. Asking a trusted neighbor to keep an eye out for you will reduce any worry too.

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  • 05 of 11

    Lock Doors and Windows

    Window with lock and key

    Getty Images / Adam Gault

    Locking the front door is the last thing you do before you leave (and one that's pretty hard to forget), but don't forget about the back doors and windows. It's easy to let these entry points and openings slip your mind, especially if they typically remain open or unlocked while you're at home.

  • 06 of 11

    Clean Out the Fridge

    Person cleaning out fridge

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    Clean your fridge and get rid of any food that will expire while you're away, and give it a quick wipe so you're not surprised by any lingering smells when you get home. Check the countertops while you're at it, too. Those ripe bananas should probably be eaten before you leave!

  • 07 of 11

    Take Out the Trash

    Person grabbing trash bag

    Getty Images / Grace Cary

    A relaxed post-vacation mood can quickly sour when walking back through the door only to be met with the stench of garbage. To avoid this, take out the trash from all parts of the home and the recycling the night before. A slightly related task that also shouldn't be forgotten? The dishes. Any leftover food or piled up pots and bowls can also create an unpleasant smell and lead to an annoying chore that needs to be done quickly. No one wants to snap back to reality that quickly after vacation.

  • 08 of 11

    Make a List for House Sitters

    Person making a list

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    House sitters or friends who are simply stopping by to help when you're out will appreciate having a list to look over and refer to. Start it several days before you leave so you don't rush it last-minute and forget any important to-dos.

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  • 09 of 11

    Close Blinds, Shades, and Drapes

    Closed blinds

    Irene van der Poel / Unsplash

    Before jetting away to that dreamy location, shut the shades, blinds, and curtains in each room. Keeping them closed can help maintain a cooler temperature by shutting out constant sun. It also prevents any curious eyes from peeking in and noticing that no one's home.

  • 10 of 11

    Water the Plants

    Person watering plant

    Getty Images / Dmitry Marchenko / EyeEm

    One of the last things to do before you leave is to water all of your indoor and outdoor plants. If you'll be gone for an extended period of time, it's best to ask a friend or family member or pay a service to come over and ensure houseplants and gardens don't shrivel up while you're away.

  • 11 of 11

    Check Outdoor Areas

    Outdoor patio area

    Getty Images / Oscar Wong

    While many pre-vacation to-dos take place within your home, checking outdoor areas is just as important. Make sure hoses are turned off and that any string lights or lanterns are unplugged. You may want to store cushions and furniture to prevent any damage caused by unexpected storms or inclement weather.