Going on a Trip House Preparation Checklist

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Originally published July 9, 2014. Updated June 18, 2020.

Going on a vacation is both an exciting and stressful time. I use the Going on a Trip House Preparation Checklist. Whether you’re going on a business trip, a personal trip or a vacation, this checklist is helpful. It really makes getting ready for any trip less stressful (and isn’t less stress the purpose of a vacation?).

top image airplane model sitting on top of globe, lower image 3 house preparation checklist images in blue and yellow

Whenever you’re leaving your home unoccupied for a few days or weeks, you should make preparations for its safety.

What kinds of things can go wrong?

  • Your house can be targeted for a break in.
  • You can have a water leak.
  • You can have a fire start from an appliance or faulty wiring.
  • You can have your mail stolen from your mailbox.
  • You can have an animal enter and wreck havoc.
  • You can have food rot in your cabinet or fridge.

How to Prepare Your House for Vacation

There are several things you can do to prepare your house for vacation. These steps will help protect your house and reduce unnecessary expenses while you are away:

  • Stop your mail delivery or ask a trusted neighbor to collect it for you. You can stop your mail delivery at usps.com
  • Stop your newspaper delivery.
  • Turn the thermostat on your water heater down.
  • Adjust the thermostat in your house according to the region where you live and the season. 
  • Set one (or several) lamps on a timer to mimic your normal routine.
  • Set a radio on a timer to sound like conversation.
  • Place a dog bowl or toy on the porch to discourage a would-be thief.
  • Close your blinds and drapes a few days before your trip. Suddenly shuttering up your house the day of your departure is a sign of vacancy and an invitation to a potential thief.
  • Lock all windows and doors.
  • Turn off or unplug all extra appliances.
  • Turn off the water to your clothes and dish washer.
  • Use up any perishable food items that may spoil while you’re gone.

Going on a Trip House Preparation Checklist Printable

I’ve used this checklist in my own home for years.

closeup of 3 yellow and blue house prep checklists for vacations

How to Use This Checklist

I print this checklist out as soon as I know the dates of our trip or vacation. I take a few minutes to sit down with a calendar and my checklist to plan out the dates for completing each task.

Some tasks can be done weeks ahead of the trip, like setting up pet care or stopping the mail, and other tasks should be accomplished the day of your departure. 

Taking those few minutes to consider weekends, holidays and your own schedule will help you select the best days to accomplish each task. Deciding ahead of time when you should complete each task, you won’t be scrambling to get everything done on the morning of your trip.

I am faithful about turning off the water to my clothes washer and dish washer.  My aunt and uncle went to the store for 2 hours and came home to a busted washer hose and thousands of dollars of clean up and floor repair.  I can only imagine the damage that would be done over days or weeks of a vacation.  Imagining the damage and headaches is enough to insure I turn off the water to those appliances every time we go on a trip.

To save on utilities and our budget, we turn the thermostat down on our hot water heater and adjust the temperature in our house.  Be sure to check what the recommended minimum or maximum temperature is for your region before you reset your thermostat.

In the 3 months after I graduated from college, I had my hotel room broken into and my car broken into.  Those 2 experiences convinced me to take steps to discourage a would-be thief (because of our many moves, we have not found it cost-effective to invest in a home security system, so these are steps that we take)

I have a timer for a lamp in our bedroom and a second timer for a lamp in our living room.  I set those timers to come on and turn off to mimic our normal schedule. 

I also leave a large dog bowl of fresh water on the porch for short trips.  For longer trips, I’ll often leave a large dog toy on the porch.  A thief may not see or hear a dog in the house, but let them wonder and choose not to try my house.

Ask a trusted neighbor or friend to keep an eye on your house while you’re gone. If you are going on a long trip, ask them to park their car in your driveway occasionally to give the illusion that someone is home.

No one likes coming home to a smelly house after vacation. Taking out the trash and using up any perishable food items in the fridge before going on your trip will help make sure nothing spoils and starts smelling while you’re gone.

Make sure any open food in the pantry, like bags of chips, is in a sealed container to avoid coming home to a bug or critter infested kitchen. You can even pack some of the open food as snacks to take on your trip.

How to Print the Going on a Trip Checklist

Download your own copy of the Going on a Trip House Preparation Checklist.

  • Click on the link above.
  • When the checklist pdf opens, right click on the pdf and print it.
  • You can save the checklist to your computer by right clicking the pdf.

More Travel Tips:

Be sure to pin this for later so you can find and print out the Going on a Trip House Preparation Checklist the next time you need to prepare your house for vacation.

top image - stack of suitcases, bottom image - 3 yellow and blue checklists for preparing house for trip

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9 Comments

  1. Hi Susan – This is brilliant! I can’t think of anything you missed. It really covers it all. Our immediate neighbors let each other know about out of town plans so we can keep an eye on each other’s houses. Love the sense of community. Hugs, Holly

  2. This is such a great list. I worry for days about something bad happening when I go away! As soon as I get on the road, I feel I have forgotten something. Lucky for me, we have neighbors who check on our house. Love the printable!

  3. This is awesome checklist I would like to print it. I will make also my own. I used to wash a dishes , fill water bottles in the fridge and clean the house before I leave. I know how tired I will be when I come back and have luggage to empty. so it will be lovely to find the house is clean and there are cool water in the fridge.

  4. Thanks for the wonderful lists. I just bought your ICE binder printouts! I am trying to download the “going on a trip house prep checklist” but I am unable to find the link to click on. I have looked everywhere on the page…Please let me know how to get it.
    thanks

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying our checklists, Teddy. I’m so sorry the technology gremlins got to that link. I’ve added it back again. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  5. Thank you for this post! I started a few days ago and posts like yours help me to learn a lot. This is very insightful content on the Trip checklist!  All the best to you!

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