You have planned and waited for this vacation for what feels like forever. Now, it’s finally time to pack and hit the road! But, before you go, there a few things you should consider in order to prepare your home while you are away. It doesn’t matter whether you are leaving for a few days or an extended period, there are several steps you can take and tips you can follow to help keep your mind at ease.

Electrical and plumbing precautions are key to protecting your home while you are away. Unplug small appliances and electrical devices. Test your smoke detectors to ensure they are working properly. Place your water heater to “vacation” mode. Turn water valves by the dishwasher, washing machine and all sinks to the off position. It is also a good idea to turn your thermostat to a temperature that is closer to the temperature outside, but also make sure it is a safe temperature for any pets or plants that you are leaving in the home.

While you are enjoying your vacation, be sure your house appears as if you are still home. There are several ways to do this. First, you should hold mail at the post office or maybe have a trusted neighbor, family member or friend stop by and get it for you. Also, ask someone to stop by the house to check on it or your pets. This action creates activity at the house. Putting your lights in your home on a timer will also help with this illusion. Make sure your lawn stays mowed, especially if you plan to be gone for an extended period. Make sure any security systems or features are functioning properly. Be sure to lock all windows and doors as well. Finally, consider posting vacation photos after you return home as you do not want to advertise you are out of your house for all social media to see.

There are also a few other tips you might want to consider that will make your return home more enjoyable. First, consider notifying your credit card and your home security company to inform them that you will be out of town. Clean out your refrigerator with things that will expire or go bad while you are gone. Take out the trash so there are not any strange smells when you return. If you have a garbage disposal, be sure to run it with vinegar and hot water. Also, wash and put away any dirty dishes and laundry.

Taking these necessary steps and following these helpful tips to prep your home will allow you to sit back and relax on vacation. Making sure you took precautions with your electrical and plumbing minimizes chances of any major problems while you are away. Keeping up appearances of activity at your house will also deter break-ins. Finally, taking a little extra time to clean up any areas that might create bad smells will make your return home much more enjoyable. These steps and tips not only help reduce unnecessary costs, they can also help prevent a problem with your home while you are enjoying your vacation time.