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It's been a while since we've ventured out, and we're still trying to get our “travel legs” back. To refresh your memory, here are some things you'll want to handle at home before you leave on vacation.

Hold your mail and newspapers. 

If you're going away for longer than a week, put a hold on your mail and newspapers or ask a neighbor to take them in.

Don't order things.

Mail holds don't keep packages from being delivered, so avoid placing orders in advance of your departure.

Pay your bills. 

Be sure to make any upcoming payments or switch to autopay so you don't have to worry about it.

Make arrangements for your pets.

Make sure you have a plan so pets are well fed, watered, and loved while you're away.

Freeze a hearty meal.

Prepare some food before you leave so you can enjoy a nice meal when you get home.

Notify your home alarm company.

Let them know that you’ll be away when you’ll be returning and if anyone will be going into your home in case they need to respond to an alarm.

Arrange for yard maintenance

A snowy driveway or an overgrown lawn are telltale signs no one is home.

Clean your kitchen.

Wash your dirty dishes, clean the sink trap, and pour vinegar down your garbage disposal. Wipe down the counters and discard perishables from the fridge and pantry. Make sure the oven and stove are turned off.

Deep clean the rest of the house.

There’s nothing like coming home to a tidy, freshly cleaned house. Plus, a deep clean should keep the critters away.

Take clothes out of washer.

Lest you return to a mildewy mess.

Set your A/C and heating system. 

It might seem wasteful, but don’t completely turn off your air conditioning or heating system. If it’s warm out, set your A/C to about 10 degrees below the outside temperature so big appliances don’t have to work extra hard. If you’re going away in the winter, set your heat to around 55 degrees to prevent frozen pipes.  

Put your car in the garage. 

If possible, move your car into the garage so that it’s less vulnerable to theft and protected from the elements. And while you’re at it, make absolutely certain no animals are trapped in your garage.

Water your plants. 

Don’t let them go thirsty while you’re away. If you’ll be away for a while, invest in self-watering devices.

Turn off the water. 

If you’re leaving for longer than a week, you might want to turn off your main water supply to avoid leaks and flooding. However, if your lawn is on an automatic watering system, you’ll need to keep your water on.

Empty the trash.

Take out the trash so you don’t come home to a horrible stench and ask a neighbor or friend to take your cans to the curb and bring them back promptly.

Put your lights on a timer.

Put at least one light in your house on a timer so it looks like someone is home. Programmable timers let you randomize the daily on/off times.

Fully charge your electronics and bring your chargers and adapters.

You don’t want to run out of battery before you reach your destination.

Turn on a radio.

Also a good burglary deterrent, as long as it won’t bother your neighbors.

Adjust your shades and lock windows. 

Close your shades partially to block the view while giving an “at-home” appearance. And remember to lock your windows to keep burglars at bay.

Lock up.

And remember where you stash your keys.

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