Ready Your Home for Travel Season

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Travel season is nearly upon us (unless you are retired, and travel season is EVERY season!). As you are making travel plans, choosing what to pack, and making transportation arrangements, you need to also think about how to prepare your home for your absence. Some tasks are season-specific (i.e. you don’t need to worry about bursting water pipes in the summer), but others are a must-do no matter what the season. Here are some things to think about if you are planning an extended absence from your home.

Stop Your Mail

Nothing gives a bigger clue to would-be thieves that a home is vacant and unprotected than to see mail or newspapers piling up. You can temporarily suspend your mail delivery online or by filling out a form at your local post office. The will hold your mail until you return until a specified date, and you can pick up your accumulated mail at the post office. Stop your newspaper by calling the circulation desk for the paper you subscribe to.

Hire Someone to Mow Your Lawn

Another clue that a home could be an easy target is overly tall grass. If you only going to be gone a week, you may not need to hire someone to mow, but extended absences require extra precautions. Hire a teenage neighbor or a local service to take care of your lawn. Your neighbors will thank you, and you will avoid broadcasting your vacant home to unscrupulous thieves.

Set a Lights on Timers

Many people prefer not to leave lights on while they are gone because it wastes energy. In this instance, you need to balance energy usage with home protection. Buy using a timer, you can turn lights on and off at designated times, mimicking your home routine. Or, if you have smart home features, you may be able to control lights from an app on your phone, giving you even greater control over energy usage. Who wants to be tied to their phones while on vacation, though? Set it and forget it with easy-to-use timers.

Adjust Your Thermostat

It may be counter-intuitive to leave your furnace or air conditioning running when no one is home, but there are some logical reasons for doing so. In the summer months, your a/c unit not only keeps the house cool, but it also removes humidity from the air. The combination of heat and humidity, coupled with a closed up home with little air movement, provides the perfect incubation conditions for mold and mildew. You really don’t want to come home to that surprise! However, you can reduce your energy usage and still protect your home by bumping the thermostat up to around 85 degrees. This will reduce the load on your air conditioner while you are gone, but allow it to run often enough to prevent nasty stuff from growing in your home.

In the winter months, you don’t want to turn off the heat, either. A running furnace helps prevent damage to water pipes caused by the expansion of freezing water. Bursting water pipes can cause catastrophic flooding and water damage. Set the thermostat to 55, which will keep the house warm enough to prevent freezing, but will save on energy costs while you are gone.

If you have smart home features, such as a smart thermostat, you can also monitor and control your home’s temperatures from a smart phone app.

Wrap Your Toilet Bowls

If you shut off the water during your trip, you may come home to unpleasant odors caused by the build up of sewer gases in the toilet. You may not have this problem if you leave the water on, but it could depend on your particular situation. One easy way to block those nasty odors is to wrap your toilet bowl with plastic wrap.

Unplug All Appliances

A major cause of energy drain is the energy used by appliances and electronics that are plugged in but not in use. If you are going to be gone for a few weeks, unplug your washer/dryer, stove, TVs, microwave, computer, and other electricity hogs. Just leave enough lamps plugged in so you can run them on timers (see above).

Clear out the Fridge

A short trip may not necessitate this step, but if you are going to be gone for awhile, cleaning out the perishables from your fridge is a no-brainer. Even with the refrigerator running, food spoilage can create a big mess when you return. However, your absence is also a good opportunity to defrost your freezer, and unplugging the refrigerator will save energy costs while you are away. Completely clearing out the fridge and cleaning it thoroughly allows you to leave it unplugged. Just leave the doors open with an open box of baking soda in a shelf to absorb odors while the unit is off.

Travel is presents exciting opportunities and can help you create many cherished memories. Just make sure everything is buttoned up at home before you leave, to ensure peace of mind and prevent a mess when you return! Let my team at Keystone Realtors® meet all your real estate needs. Paul Phangureh has over 16 years of experience in buying and selling in the Santa Clara and San Mateo County areas, specializing in the high-end, luxury market, as well as commercial and multi-use real estate. We can help you navigate the process of getting started with real estate investment. Visit our website at for listings and information. You can contact Paul at 650-924-2544, or email at [email protected].