- Fact: Vacation is awesome
- Fact: 55% percent of families plan on vacationing this summer
- Fact: The worst feeling after a vacation is coming back to a mess or a long to-do list…or to a bona fide disaster!
Crossing items off your home to-do list always feels good, but the benefits to doing them before vacation are MANY. There are two types of to-dos: the tasks that help prep your home for time away, and the tasks that feel oh so good to have done when you come home again. After all…getting into the swing of things isn’t made any easier by a long home maintenance to-do list.
There are lots of benefits to making progress on your to-dos now before you leave for vacation. Here we’ve outlined just a few to try and convince you how well your action will pay off later! Let’s see if you can be reasoned with.
- Maybe it’s just us, but we tend to feel BROKE after vacation. This leads to putting off essential maintenance even longer or skimping on the budget when to-dos are finally gotten to. Checking items off your list now is the easiest way to get jobs done up to your intended standard. It’s not just about the check box! It’s about the return on investment and on
- You definitely DON’T want a pain-in-the-rear list of stuff to do when you come home. In fact, you don’t want to feel anything but relaxed at home when you come back from a great trip! Coming home to to-dos and more stress undermines the lasting effects of vacation, so don’t squander your joy with a list that comes back to haunt you.
- You won’t feel that “ugh” sense of doing chores as much if you do them now while you’re excited about your upcoming trip! When it feels like preparation for your vacation, it’s MUCH easier on you emotionally.
- If one or more of your home maintenance to-dos could lead to disaster while you’re gone, give yourself the peace of mind of taking care of it BEFORE you leave. You can skip the worry-fest of stuff falling apart, flooding or burning down while you’re away.
- And, the biggest benefit…you get to come home, nice and relaxed from vacation, and catch up on work and life without that list of to-dos slowing you down!
OK…so, what type of tasks?
So…what stuff should you consider doing? This is a slightly tricky question because it depends on your home and on what you need to update. Maybe you really need to get your ceiling fans checked now before you flip them on for the summer. Or, maybe you need to get a paint job done before a family visit. Or, maybe your yard is needing a little “something.” We just put a list together of the basics so that you can save money, feel safer, and get the wheels turning!
Unplugging your electronics makes a difference. Unplug all your big appliances like TVs, PCs, etc. Not only does this save you money (there really is a fascinating science behind it), but it also protects devices and appliances if there’s an electrical storm, outage or surge while you’re gone.
You can also use a timer for your lights so that you can keep the appearance that someone’s home, but save on the electric!
Do you have a programmable thermostat? No? This might be the time to consider it. Programmable thermostats not only have timers so you can kick the air up or down automatically, but they’re also accessible via an app on your phone.
Remember that it’s not recommended to turn the thermostat off completely while you’re gone, no matter what time of year. Try to keep the air flowing no more than 7-10 degrees higher than if you were at home. Especially in the summer when those Texas temperatures soar, high temps in your home can put a strain on appliances.
Do you have a tanked water heater? This one is easy—turn the thermostat down (or off) while you’re gone!
Do you know where all your water valves are? If you have a master water cut-off valve in the house, turn it off before you leave. If you only have individual valves inside, be sure to close the toilet valves before locking up. You don’t want to come home to water coming out from under the bathroom doors (we’ve seen this happen)!
Is it time to check smoke detectors? If you can’t say RIGHT THIS SECOND when the last time was you did this, then the answer is YES, it is time to check your smoke detectors. Especially for those of you who have fire alarms monitored through your security provider, this is the best way to keep peace of mind while you’re out having fun.
Clean and snake the drains. Yes! If you have a slow drain, it’s important to consider getting it snaked before you leave. You might think this is something that doesn’t matter if there won’t be any water running through it …but remember that gunk in the plumbing fosters mildew, mold and bacteria. We’ve also seen that impacted mass turn into a cement-like block while homeowners were away.
Make sure to run a little water through each of the sinks, tubs and showers before you leave so the water in the drains doesn’t dry up and start sending sewer gas into the house while you’re gone. You might even pour a tiny bit of bleach into the shower drain before you leave (ONLY if you’re on a city sewer, never do this on septic tanks).
Clean the fridge out of any perishables that could go bad while you’re gone. Naturally, this will depend on the length of your trip! But at any rate, this is also an opportunity to clear the whole fridge out and wipe it down. Remember that mildew can grow in the fridge, too, so if you’re gone for a long time and choose to empty and unplug the fridge, be sure to leave the door open once it’s cleaned.
If you do choose to keep the air up higher/or down lower while you’re gone, close blinds and curtains in your sunniest spaces during the summer and open them in the winter. This will actually keep the sun from heating your rooms in the summer, and ultimately save you money while you’re gone! Regardless, we don’t recommend completely turning the HVAC off while you’re gone…in the winter we’ve seen pipes freeze because homeowners turned the thermostat down so low and in the summer temps inside a house can soar…this makes it hard for your appliances – like your frig – to operate and if you do leave electronics on, they can overheat as well.
TIP…even when leaving during the day, only turn the thermostat up or down a couple of degrees, you’ll spend more energy trying to cool/warm the house when you do get home and it can also put a strain on your unit.
Get a neighbor to pick up the mail. We’re the first ones to rave about our charming neighborhood, but theft still happens—and for those of us still receiving snail mail, there’s an easy way to avoid missed bills or the risk of identity theft. Have someone pick up the mail at least once a week to make sure that personal information isn’t sitting out for grabs, and to be sure that no one sees the overflowing box and realizes you aren’t home.
What about your plants and sprinklers? Don’t forget the plants! Have someone come to water them if you’ll be away for more than a week, particularly those outside gardens that are hit with the Texas sun. Make sure your sprinklers are operational before you leave, too, because we never know when that next heat wave will hit!
Don’t forget about the pets! For those of us with canine family members, you’re probably hauling pets with you or leaving them in their favorite, luxury kennels. But for cats that stay at home or those birds or fish that keep to themselves, be sure you have someone to come over and tend to them while you’re gone. Think about what added comforts they might need, and keep supplies stocked in an easy-to-access area for whomever will be swinging by.
If you aren’t sure whether a certain “honey-do” or project is worth doing before you leave, give us a call! There are other handyman and remodeling projects to consider that might not be as small, but would give you an ENORMOUS relief having them done when you come home. Think about the return on enjoyment and remember that you don’t deserve to come home to mess or stress after a great vacation.
What other vacation prep can you think of? Leave us a comment so we can add it to our list!