How to Prepare Your Home Before a Vacation

Today my husband and I are on our way home from a long weekend in Orlando, FL celebrating my niece’s 3rd birthday at Walt Disney World. If you missed it, you can recap the photos of my trip on Instagram. A few nights ago, before we left, I was running around taking care of all of these last-minute things that I feel just had to be done before leaving when my husband called me out and told me to just relax. Apparently he thinks I stress too much about things that don’t matter. Well, I think he’s wrong and I think they do matter and I decided to share those things with you today.

I like to prepare my home before a vacation. I like knowing that my home is in order while I’m away and that it will be a welcoming and inviting space to return to when our trip is over. I hate coming home to dirty dishes, expired leftovers, and laundry waiting to be done. You already have dirty clothes from the trip to deal with, there’s no reason to add more chores than necessary to your to-do list. If you’re planning on taking any trips soon, you’ll want to take care of the items listed below so your home is a comfort welcoming you back. 

If you're planning on taking any trips soon, you'll want to take care of the items listed below so your home is a comfort welcoming you back. Follow these steps to prepare your home before a vacation and have it waiting to welcome you home. #vacation #travel #homemaking

How to Prepare Your Home Before a Vacation

  1. Wash All the Laundry – No one wants to come home to piles of laundry still waiting to be done. You are going to have to wash all of the clothes from the vacation; the last thing you want to do is have piles of dirty clothes in the laundry room as well. Before you leave, make sure all of the laundry is washed, dried, and put away. Get your family to help because odds are it’s their clothes too.
  2. Change the Sheets – After sleeping in a hotel bed for a few nights you don’t want to come home to a dirty bed. There’s nothing like crawling in to a super clean bed at home after a vacation. You don’t want your bed to smell like it smelled a week ago. Put clean freshly washed sheets on your bed before you leave so you’ll have fresh clean crisp sheets on your first night home.
  3. Clean Out the Refrigerator – I clean out my refrigerator every Sunday anyway but I also do it the day before leaving for vacation. Even if you only toss the worst offenders, take 15 minutes to throw away the leftovers, toss expired items, and check the expiration date on the milk. If the milk will be bad before you get home, use it or toss it. Don’t come home to spoiled clumpy milk in the fridge. It is so gross to come home from a vacation only to find that you had fruit, veggies, or milk go bad while you were away. The smell is rank and no one wants to deal with rotted food after a nice trip.
  4. Take Out the Trash – After emptying the refrigerator, don’t forget to take out the trash! If you leave food in the trash for an extended period of time you’ll find a disgusting and foul-smelling display waiting for you when you get home. Bag it up and take it out before you go. If it’s not trash day, you may have to clean out your refrigerator a day or two early. Just make sure those bags are on the curb and gone before you hit the road.
  5. Vacuum the Floors – This might be a personal hang-up but I like to have all of the carpeted spaces in our home vacuumed before leaving. I find the vacuum lines on carpet incredibly relaxing. It’s the pattern or something but it is really soothing for me. I love coming home after vacation and seeing those calming lines waiting for me. Plus, it’s a visual reassurance that your home is clean. As a bonus, it’s very telling sign if someone was in your home while you were gone.
  6. Wash the Dishes – Do you want to come home to a dirty sink? I doubt it. You want to walk in to find your kitchen clean and all of your dishes clean and waiting for you. Even if they are in the dishwasher, they should be clean. You can turn the dishwasher on as you’re taking care of other last-minute tasks so it’s done before you leave. Whatever you do, don’t leave while the dishwasher is running. If something goes wrong you could come home to a huge mess!
  7. Check and/or Turn Off the Water Heater – Just trust me. If this thing breaks, leaks, or bursts while you’re away you’ll hate life when you get back. At best, you have an expensive bill but at worst, you’ve flooded your home, laundry room, or garage. There’s no need for hot water while you’re not home so turn it off.
  8. Turn Off the Toilet(s) – That little lever on the wall in the back? Turn it off. See #7 for an explanation.  I’ve worked in the utility industry for over a decade. I’ve seen the water bills and I’ve heard of the destruction. You don’t want to be the person with a toilet flood waiting for you.
  9. Set the Air Conditioner (A/C) – When it comes to your air conditioner, you can either turn it off or turn it up. It depends on where you live. When we lived in Georgia I turned it up because I hated coming home and feeling that hot stuffy feeling of uncirculated air. Now that we live in West Virginia I turn it off completely. It never gets off enough here for the home to feel intolerable. If you turn it up, rather than off, I recommend setting it to approximately 79 – 81 degrees.
  10. Add the Destination Address to the GPS or App – Setting the destination prior to getting in the car can help prevent electronic frustration on the first day of your vacation. I use the Waze app on my iPhone and it allows you to schedule trips in the future and notifies you that it’s time to hit the road. It’s one less thing you have to do as you’re loading up the family to walk out the door and a smaller to-do list is always a win.

He doesn’t stress about these things as much as I do and he said they “are not essential.” I beg to differ but that’s for another day. If you’re heading off on any vacations this year I hope you follow suit. Taking care of these things to prepare your home before vacation makes arriving home (almost) as relaxing as your actual trip.

Do you have any additional tips to add? Tweet me @ashleyfromhp or leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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  1. Great list! I’m a huge organizer/planner, so I love stuff like this. I always clean the house before a trip because I love coming home to a clean house. My husband now also realized how great it is to come home to a clean house, so he helps me clean too. Cleaning out the fridge is a huge one! It’s just disgusting to come home to rotten food! Bleh!

    • Rotten food is the WORST when I come home from vacation. It always smells and if it’s been there too long the smell is so set in that it can take days for it to dissipate. It’s just so nasty and absolutely my biggest pet peeve. When we got home last night it was the first thing my husband said, “Oh, it’s so nice to come home to a clean house!” so I’m hoping that maybe now he gets it. 😉

    • It was such a fun trip although I hate that it was marred by the terrorism at Pulse. 🙁 It was so heavy on our hearts while we were trying to be happy with a 3-year old at the “most magical place on earth.” It was nice to see her little face light up at everything though. The joy was overwhelming.

  2. This list is amazing!! We leave on Saturday and I am adding some of these things to my to-do list for tomorrow and Friday. It is so nice to come home to a clean house!

    • Oooh where are you going this time Macy? Y’all are always on the road it seems! I think our next trip is to LA in September but I’m thinking of trying to squeeze in a weekend before then to somewhere nearby.

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