You’ve booked that amazing trip, but how can you maintain your home while traveling? Learn the best tips and what not to do to keep you mind at ease while you travel.
How to Maintain Your Home While Traveling
The often overlooked task of taking care of your home while you’re away is just as important as packing your suitcase. Whether you opt to leave your home empty or rent it out, having systems in place is critical to help maintain your home while traveling.
Doing your homework and taking precautionary measures will keep pests at bay, plants from wilting, and valuables right where you left them. Whatever option you choose, you can make the extra effort without draining your funds with these inexpensive, but very important DIY tips to help maintain your home while traveling.
Tips for Closing Up the Home
- Consult your pre-made, laminated list of to-dos for closing up your house. When you’re racing around, it’s easy to forget one little but very important thing. The worst time to remember is when you’re sitting on the plane. Having a pre-made list ready saves you from having to rely on a memory that may be frazzled in the hours before you leave for a trip. This step can save you from the expensive hassle of having to hire someone to take care of the things you forgot. Save yourself a headache and make a list, then consistently use it.
- Relay your travel plans to someone local that you trust. Something may come up in your travels that needing to be addressed. If possible, leave them a key, or give them entry code or key hiding place instructions, just in case they need to gain access.
- Take care of your mail. The USPS has a fast, easy process for holding your mail at the post office. It’s easy to set the start and stop dates and it’s free. If you plan to be away for a significant amount of time, mail forwarding is a helpful option to avoid any chance of missed payments in utilities.
- Put your lights on a timer. Purchase a lighting timer allows you to have your lights turn on and off while you’re away, and save you money by not running them all day and night. Many timers can by managed remotely with your cell phone.
- Enlist a younger person to handle pet care. Hiring a local grade schooler can offer the child a great learning experience. You can keep a few bucks in your pocket that would normally go toward a pet boarding service. Depending on the child’s age, make sure parent assistance is in place if needed.
- Keep some second-story windows cracked open to allow air to circulate for plants and animals that will be staying home. Never leave first-story windows open as this can invite theft.
- Don’t post on social media that you’re traveling. This makes your home a target for intruders that scour the internet looking for unoccupied homes to invade. Don’t invite them in.
- Don’t ask someone you don’t know to take care of your home. Either hire a reputable service, or ask someone you trust, but asking someone you don’t know well is asking for trouble.
- Don’t leave town without making a friend or relative aware of your travel plans. If something goes wrong on your travels, or at home, you want to be sure you’ve got someone on the alert. In case you need help.
Rent Out Your Home When You’re Away
- Always vet anyone that stays in your home. Airbnb offers insurance for rental home use, but getting background information on renters, along with a deposit can help you avoid the unpleasant experience of damage done to your home. I have used this resource in the past and enjoy all of the information you receive that Airbnb leaves out. A quick online search will also yield several other services.
- Lock up any valuables, by putting keyed locks on doors to no-access rooms. Many Airbnb spaces only allow access to rental rooms and common areas. Then you can lock up basements, closets, attics, and personal bedrooms to keep them off-limits to guests.
- Be sure you tidy your home, and keep it stocked with small snacks, extra linens and toiletries for your guest’s comfort.
- Don’t rent any space, be it to people you know or don’t know, without getting clear details on the time they will occupy your home. Communication, even with friends can save you the hassle and stress of having to fix misunderstandings down the road. Get everything in writing, even if it’s just an email.
- Don’t leave any detail to chance. Do your homework to be sure you have contracts clearly written, background check systems ready, and clear deposit requirements.
Property Upkeep During Your Absence
When you leave your home to be closed up, or rented, you still need to take care of your home and your surrounding property. Great upkeep tips will help maintain your home while traveling. To be sure the weeds don’t overtake your prized roses, and the house doesn’t fall apart, follow these steps:
- For vacation stays longer than a week you should consider hiring a house sitting service, or younger person you know, or ask a friend to come by and water your plants.
- For lawn care, during the high growth months, temporarily hire a local landscaping or gardening service. They can help maintain your shrubs, pull out weeds, and mow the lawn. To save money, hire a high school student in your area to provide lawn care while you’re away.
- Run through a home check before you leave, of all your housing systems such as sprinklers, heating, air conditioning, lighting, alarms, and timers. If someone will be caring for your home, make a list of the systems. Then they will know who to contact, should any systems need maintenance in your absence.
- For house sitters, and property caretakers, be sure you have a stock of any items they may need. Double check your pest repellants, tools, equipment fuel, weed killer, hot tub chemicals, pool chemicals, and plant food.
- Add in landscaping fabric and a deep layer of mulch to manicured areas to keep weed growth down during warmer months. For garden areas, add lawn clippings to layer over the soil and keep weed growth down. Here is a great resource for more tips to help maintain your home while traveling!
- Don’t leave your lawn or garden to chance when you’re away. Make sure you have systems in place, or you’ve hired someone reputable to handle the upkeep.
- Don’t offer discounts or reduced rent for your renters to take care of your yard. While renters may have the best intentions, it may not get done. That will leave you with a mess on your hands when you return, and ultimately draining you of time and money in the end.
- Don’t leave your property maintenance to caretakers, local hires, friends or relatives without clear, written instructions on exactly what you need to be maintained, and when. Just like a good DIY project, the clearer the instructions the better!
Leaving your property, either unattended or rented, in your absence can be a money-saver, a money-maker, and a great help to others who need a place, or need a job. Having the process flow seamlessly is heavily dependent on committed preparation and research. But the benefits in the prep work are great, and will make your money stretch further in the long-run.