9 things to do in your apartment before going on vacation

Vacation season: It’s finally here! Maybe you’re headed to a week of relaxing on the beach; maybe you’re jetting off on a fabulous international journey. But before you start packing, no matter where you’re going, you’ve got a few things to take care of in your apartment first.

No one wants to worry about what’s going on at home when they’re out of town. So take care of these tasks before you go on vacation, and you’ll rest easy while you’re away.

1. Tell your landlord

There’s probably something in your lease about pre-vacation procedure. Read your agreement, then give your landlord a written description of when you’re leaving and when you’ll be back. Including your contact information is also a good idea, but if you’re not planning on checking your email every day of your trip (and we hope you won’t!), include a sentence about having limited access to email and voice mail.

2. Figure out the parking situation

If your car is coming with you — road trip! — this isn’t an issue. But if your car will be parked at your apartment community while you’re away, you need to take care of a few things. First, take all valuables out of your car, roll up the windows and lock the doors. Then, move it to an out-of-the-way spot – it would be rude to hog a prime parking place while you’re not even there.

Your landlord might have an ideal spot in mind for leaving your car. Be sure to ask!

3. Put your mail on hold

Your local post office will hold on to your mail instead of delivering it to your mailbox while you’re away. The process is easy: Just fill out an online form detailing where you live and when you’ll be out of town. Go to the post office to pick it up when you return, and you won’t have to deal with a stuffed-to-the-gills mailbox when you get back.

If your apartment building has lockers or another package handling system, you’ll also want to make arrangements for those to be put on hold while you’re gone.

If you haven’t done so already, arrange for your bills to be paid online. Scheduling automatic withdrawals from your bank account will ensure you never miss a payment. Your dog would love to go on vacation with you, but if your furry friend can’t come along, arrange for someone to take care of him while you’re gone.

4. Arrange for pet care

Can’t take your pets with you? You can gets friends or family to look after them (in your home or theirs) while they’re gone, or make arrangements with a boarding facility. Print out a detailed list of what kind of food and what time of day your pet eats, as well as instructions for medications.

5. Adjust the thermostat

An empty apartment can handle much harsher temperatures than an apartment with people in it, so take advantage. If it’s summer, set the thermostat higher than you normally would, and the reverse in the winter. If the weather looks particularly favorable and you’re not gone for too long, you might even be able to turn the thermostat off while you’re gone, saving you even more money while you’re gone.

6. Ask a friend or neighbor to check on things while you’re gone

Do you have houseplants? Someone needs to water them. More important than that, you have someone who can make sure that things are going well at your apartment, and letting you know if things aren’t. Having someone coming and going at least once a day also makes it look like someone is home, making your apartment a less valuable target to burglars.

If you can’t find anyone to come by, invest in a timer that’ll turn on your lights at certain times of the evening. You can find a plug-in timer for around $5 at your local home improvement store. The timer won’t water your plants for you (for that, you’d have to invest in a drip irrigation system for houseplants), but it’ll make it look like someone is in the apartment.

7. Unplug electronics

Everything draws power when plugged in. Before you go, look around and unplug everything that doesn’t need to run while you’re gone. Most appliances and electronics don’t need to run while you’re gone, and every little bit helps keep your electric bill down.

8. Clean the place

This isn’t just about the place looking and smelling nice when you get back. Garbage, food scraps, and half-finished laundry can also be a breeding ground for bacteria or a feast for bugs, which you really don’t want to settle in while you’re gone. Take out the trash, wash and put away all the dishes, wipe down your counters, eat or throw away perishable food, and make sure to clean the bathroom before you leave. It’s a lot to do, but you’ll be glad you don’t have to deal with the smell, bugs, or a kitchen full of rotten food scraps when you get back.

9. Prepare for your return

You’re going to be tired and overwhelmed when you get back from your trip, so put a little time into making your return easier. As an example, preparing a frozen meal you can easily heat up when you get back will be easier than cooking and cheaper than eating out the first day you come back from vacation. If you’re back to work the day after your trip, set out your bag right now, so you don’t have to worry about that when you get back. It may seem like a lot to do now, but your future self will thank you for that foresight.

Now you can enjoy your vacation with the knowledge that all is well at home. Bon voyage!