Going on Vacation? Your Ultimate Apartment Prep Checklist

If you’re going away for a couple of nights, you’re probably not thinking too much about what could happen to your apartment as it sits alone and unattended for such a short time. But what if you’re taking a much longer vacation? When do you need a friend or a family member to “check in” on your living quarter?

Indeed, apartment care doesn’t pause when you’re not home. If you follow this ultimate pre-vacation apartment prep checklist, you can be sure you’ll return home to an apartment that functions exactly as when you left it – and you’ll minimize any emergencies that could occur while you’re gone.

  1. Consider the season

The extremes of winter and summer can potentially damage your home. In winter, for example, low temperatures can cause the water in your pipes to freeze. This can result in your pipes malfunctioning or even bursting. 

One of the best safeguards against a burst pipe is to leave your heat on while you are away. This isn’t a worry if your landlord controls your heat, but if you have sway over your thermostat, make sure it’s left on no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Those who can may wish to turn off the water completely, especially if you’ll be away for several weeks.

In the summer, excessive heat and humidity can warp and rot wood. You may want to consider leaving your thermostat at 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re on vacation to prevent this from happening. The money you spend on air conditioning during your vacation will likely be less than whatever you’d spend repairing damaged wood.

2. Clear your fridge

Before you leave, freeze or eat any food you expect to spoil while you’re away. You can throw things away if you absolutely need to, but then you’re just piling up trash – and that presents its own set of problems.

3. Take out the trash

Make sure to completely empty all your home’s garbage and recycling cans before you leave. If you need to put your garbage and recycling bins curbside once or twice a week for collection, consider asking a friend or neighbor to handle this task for you. Trash piling up in front of your house or empty bins not being moved back to your property are signs that you’re away for a long time, exposing your home to potential burglars.

4. Consider keeping some lights on

A consistently dark house may attract potential burglars. Consider leaving some lights on to make it seem as though you’re home. You can ask a friend to come and go occasionally to turn lights on and off, or you can use a smart plug or other type of timer to program the lights to turn on at random intervals.

5. Safely store your valuables

Returning home from your dream vacation to a stolen laptop would sour what was otherwise an amazing trip. Hide your valuables or store them in a safe so that, if burglars do enter your home, your possessions will be safe. 

6. Unplug appliances

When you’re not using appliances, unplugging them is a great way to lower your energy bill. Non-essential appliances and electronics, such as the toaster oven or the TV, can simply be reconnected upon your return. When you’re gone for an extended period, unplugging appliances also decreases your home’s fire risk.

7. Check the washer and dryer

If you have a washer and dryer in your home, make sure you’ve dried any clothes sitting in the washer. Leaving wet clothes in the tight, humid confines of a washing machine creates a breeding ground for mold, turning your clothing into an unhealthy mess and creating a challenging, unpleasant cleanup situation. 

8. Bring outside objects inside

When you’re relaxing on a sunny beach and thinking about nothing, how could you know if a gigantic storm comes to your hometown? Avoid sending your outdoor possessions flying about in unexpected whipping winds – and possibly directly into your windows – by bringing them inside. If you do not have the space to bring everything inside, take in light objects first; these items can blow around easily and get lost for good if the wind is strong enough.

9. You don’t have to do it alone

When you’re gone, you can have friends stop by your apartment to check on it and take care of basic upkeep tasks. Plants to water? Cats to feed? A friend can take care of that (though, for dogs, you’ll want to consider dog sitting or boarding instead). You’ll also want a friend to collect your mail, because an untouched mail pile is a dead giveaway that nobody’s home.

10. Set up animal care

If Fido, Fluffy, or even Fred the lizard aren’t coming with you on your travels, ensure that all care arrangements are in place. Depending on your pet’s personality and the nature of your trip, you may want to consider long-term boarding, dropping off your pet with a friend or family member, or hire a professional or trusted loved one to come over and feed, walk, and play with your animals each day you’re away.

11. Leave a key with a trusted friend

Emergencies do happen, and if you cannot get into your apartment, you may need someone to enter on your behalf. Ensure that a trusted neighbor, friend, or family member has a copy of your key.

You may want to notify your landlord for extra peace of mind. This decision is entirely up to you and depends on your relationship with your landlord. For example, you may be more likely to notify your landlord if you live below or above them in the same building, but you may not see the need to notify a large management company.

12. Lock up!

Your very final step in preparing your apartment for vacation is to lock everything. This doesn’t just mean the front door – windows, back doors, side doors, and any other potential entryways should be locked tight as well. Lock up right before you head out to thoroughly ensure a worry-free vacation.

How do you prep your apartment for vacation? Share your tips in the comments!

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