GIMME SHELTER- Home alone: Get organized to go away

Sue Battani
Owner, Cville Concierge

PHOTO BY Laura Burns

Q: I'm about to leave for a two-week cruise around the Bahamas, and I want to make sure my house doesn't fall apart while I'm gone. What steps should I take to get my house "vacation ready"?

A: One of the most important and obvious steps to take is stopping your mail or ensuring that someone else will pick up your packages while you're away. One of our clients told us the post office delivered a package while she was away and left it on her front porch. It rained all day and the package– and its contents– were ruined. 

Stopping your mail temporarily with the post office is the most reliable option, as wires can sometimes get crossed with family or friends about mail pick-up. If too many letters pile up, your mail will be pulled, and you'll have to trek down to the post office. It's also important to put a vacation stop on all your newspapers or have a friend pick them up.

Be sure to leave your lights on to give the appearance that someone is home. Ideally, you should put them on a timer so that they shut off during the day and go on at night. Keep your thermostat on a timer or temperature control so the house stays at room temperature. We recommend keeping it at 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter.

Go through your pantry and fridge and dispose of any perishables that will decompose while you're away. You may even consider writing up a grocery list of things you'll need to stock up on upon return so you won't come back to an empty fridge. 

Make arrangements for someone to care for your plants and animals while you're away. Sometimes it's best to take plants inside to a climate-controlled environment. Even if you don't have living creatures like plants or pets to worry about, it's a good idea to have a friend stop by the house and check on things. This is especially important if you plan to be gone for an extended period of time– two weeks or longer. 

Something that may seem obvious but is often overlooked is making sure that all your windows and doors are secured and locked. We once had a client call us who was 100 miles away from home when she realized that she had left her garage door wide open! 

If you need to have your rugs cleaned or any other maintenance preformed, a vacation can be the perfect time to get those things done. Rugs can take weeks to be professionally cleaned, and there's nothing like coming back to a clean house.