Pre-Travel Checklist Before Leaving Your House (with Free Printable Download)
Updated: Mar 30
It doesn't matter how many times you've traveled, when you step out of the house to leave, it's nerve-wracking.
I often haven't recently used my stove or curling iron, but here I am worried about one of them being left on.
I started this pre-travel / vacation checklist several years ago, and I've refined it over the years. Admittedly, I don't always do a great job of referring to it, but I have peace of mind whenever I do go through it.
Read on, save it!, and be sure to comment if it's helpful and/or if you have suggestions to add.
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Pre-Vacation Checklist Table of Contents:
Two Weeks Before Trip
Get an Animal Sitter / Walker
In the weeks leading up to your trip, you should secure a pet sitter / dog walker, if needed. They can fill up fast, especially around holiday times. And don't forget, they go on vacation too!
Get under-the-sink and Leak Detection Water Sensors
I bet I lost a bunch of you here. Let me explain.
I used to be on a consumer advisory panel for a large bank. One of the most frequent and expensive household claims is for water leaks. Your insurance company may actually offer this as a service to you - check first.
If not, get some and put them at least under each sink. We have had them under all of ours and we were alerted once of a leak that we were able to fix without any damage.
Folks, this isn't something that you need when you go out of town, you need this all the time!
Jump straight to the printable list.
Week of Trip
Get someone to watch the house, pick up mail and packages and rollout your trash and recycling bins
This could be the same person or several people. We like to make sure at least one neighbor has a key and we tell them when we are coming and going. We also share who may be at our house while we are gone (e.g., dog walker, cleaning ladies).
We have great neighbors and someone is always ready to help with one of these tasks - and we of course, reciprocate!
Charge Ring Doorbell Cameras
This is one of those 11th-hour things often for us if we don't look at this list in advance. You want to make sure that your doorbell camera and any other cameras that need charging are ready to go.
Set Up Lights to Go On and Off at Certain Times
This is both good for anti-theft as well as for your animals. Bill is clearly very into home automation and he has this all set up. It often drives me crazy, but never when we are out of town. It's nice to be able to turn on and off lights.
Separately, we even have our backdoor wired so that we can remotely lock and unlock it which is great for peace of mind.
Check / Buy Animal Food and Supplies
We are a menagerie over here. We have a dog, cat, frog and fish and someone is inevitably always out of food before we go out of town.
When you are scrambling trying to get out the door, this is not a stop that you want to make. Plan ahead on this one.
Get Tires Checked and Filled. Get your oil changed.
This is one stop that may delay you in the short term but can save you a lot of time and unnecessary stress down the road (pun intended).
Jump straight to the printable list.
Day Before / Departure Day
Empty fridge and trash
You don't want to forget these tasks. Trust me. Mold...ick. Texas cockroaches? Holy hell. Ginormous. Get them out of the house and to the trash. See the tip above and make sure you have someone to make sure your trash and recyclables get picked up while you're gone.
Load and Run Dishwasher
Same advice on this one. You don't realize how much nastiness can accumulate in a few days. If you haven't experienced it, take my word on it.
If you don't have anyone coming in while you are gone, it's best to do this while you are still at the house. Otherwise, I don't worry too much about it.
Write Checks / Venmo / Zelle
While most people gladly take a cash transfer, some people still use checks. If you are paying someone to watch animals or clean your house or any other service, make sure that you have the money ready and available to them by the first visit.
Consider Turning Off Water
We don't usually do this, but if we lived in a colder climate during the winter, I would absolutely do this. You don't want to come home to a broken pipe.
Adjust Your Thermostat
As my dad would say, "Why are we [heating or cooling] the neighborhood?" Certainly don't do it when you aren't home. Do, however, make sure that it is comfortable for your animals.
Water Your Plants
Chances are, your indoor plants just need to be watered before you go, and then you are good to go for your trip. Your outside plants may need a bit more care. In any case, make sure you water everything before you go and give clear instructions for anyone coming to the house.
Set Alarm and Lock Doors
You've made it out of the house! Impressive! I dare you not to run back in.
Quick check: Do you have the essentials?
People freak out about leaving for a trip. I get it. There's a lot to remember and a lot of unknown. If you strip it down to the very minimum though, you need your wallet, keys, driver's license and/or passport, and your phone. For anything else, pull out your credit card.
There you have it. Here is a downloadable and printable checklist for you.
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