The only thing worse than spending your whole trip worrying that everything is okay back at the house is coming home to a to-do list. Add that on to unpacking and readjusting to the real world, and it can put a serious damper on a trip. A little pre-planning and prep before you leave can save you from too much worrying and potentially prevent disaster. Here are a few of our suggestions for preparing your home for your road trip… and inevitable return to reality.

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Security

Obviously, you should make sure you have a plan for preventing break-ins while you’re gone. Whether you just lock the windows and pull down the shades, or you have a special timer for the lights, don’t forget to set it up. While using security systems or crazy tech to protect your home is up to you, there are a few additional things anyone can do to keep your house safe. This might be a good time to change the locations of any hidden spare keys or remove them while you’re gone altogether. It might also be good to let a friend know you’ll be gone and to have them cruise by or maybe stop in once or twice to mow the lawn or shovel the driveway. Making it look like normal activity is going on is important. Even something like trimming your hedges and making sure to move anything valuable out of sight can help prevent break-ins.

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Clean up

Coming back to smelly trash, rotted food, or to find nothing but stale bread in the pantry can really ruin what little vacation high you have left. Clean out the fridge and pantry to throw away any leftovers or food that might expire while you’re gone, and take out the trash. If you’re motivated and have extra time, a deep clean of the whole place or finishing up the laundry pile will make coming home a little more pleasant. And if you always seem to get scummy rings in your toilet from the water, it helps to pour some chlorine into the bowl of each toilet. If you’re worried about bugs, spray the house or set up traps before you leave.

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Peace of mind

Of course, you’ll need to arrange something for your pets and plants, but remember the mail (whether you stop service or have someone bring it in) as well. If you have rent or bills, take care of them or set a reminder to deal with it… when you’re on vacation and way out of your normal routine, it’s easy to forget stuff. Some people like to use pre-trip prep as a time to check the batteries in smoke detectors. If you’re the paranoid sort (aren’t we all, in a way?) this Lifehacker post suggests taking photos of things that make you anxious (like the oven, after you’ve double checked that the dials are firmly in the off position) as a way to reassure yourself that you’ve done it. In the same vein, there are loads of pre-trip checklists online, all of varying degrees of obsessiveness, so I’d suggest making a note on your phone with your own personalized checklist, and marking each thing off as you do it so you can refer back to your note if you get anxious, and see that you’ve checked each thing off.

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