Preparing for extended departure


Junior Member
We are preparing for our first extended (4 week+) tour on the road to the Pacific Northwest.

I was wondering what you all do to prepare the house you will leave behind while you are gone. We live in southern AZ and don't expect any critical weather issues while gone (no hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.) We are taking our dogs with us, but leaving our cats in the capable hands of a pet sitter who lives across the street from us.

Surely would appreciate any suggestions that you all might have that will ease our minds about leaving the house behind for a month.

Thanks in advance.


New Member
Re: Preparing for extended departure

This is my first post as I just discovered the site.
Wife and I take extended vacations and, a few of the items we take care of before we head out is to turn the water heater to low or "vacation", shut the water off to the clothes washer (had one burst once...not pretty), turn the AC/heat to off or low depending on the time of year and try and have family or friend drop by and check on things. We also have our mail held at the P.O. and stop the paper. We sometimes have a lawn care service stop by once a week to keep the yard looking good. An interior light on a timer is also recommended. Try to keep in contact with friends/family and give them your cell number.
Have a good time.


Senior Member
Re: Preparing for extended departure

I just got back from 6 weeks away from my S. Arizona home, so I have some ideas.

1) Turn OFF the water heater, both gas/electric and the water. I had the bottom fall out of one and even with immediate response, there was significant flooding. I keep meaning to turn off the gas outside the house but never have gotten around to it, and haven't had any problems.

2) Turn off the water to anything which could burst, particularly washing machine, dishwasher and toilets (at least those are the things which have given me trouble in the past). This time I tried turning off the water to the house instead, but the plant sitter left it on after watering, so that didn't help. Fortunately, nothing let loose.

3) UNPLUG anything which could catch fire (heaters, toasters) or be damaged by power problems (computers, entertainment electronics, computerized appliances)

4) Set the heating/cooling at a lower/higher setting, but still on so that the house does not get too cold/hot. For instance, I set the AC at 80.

5) Have mulitple timers at various points in the house (at least 2 and 3 is better). Never have something come on or go off at a 'even' time (like 10:00 or 10:30) or at the same time as another timer. A radio or TV (if you have one which can survive no power for a while :) ) is good. There are 'security' timers which 'learn' your patterns and/or have a random delta from the set time which may be of value. Have a phone answering machine which does NOT say you are not there. In fact, mine says 'due to sales calls, I now only answer my cell phone (xxx-xxx-xxxx)' which works most places in the country.

6) Double check all locks, including those on windows. Make it as tough as practical to get in, and just as difficult to get out.

7) Clean house before you go. It sure is the pits coming back to a messy place after being away for several weeks. This encourages the 'fulltiming bug'. :)

8) Get the yard looking good. Hire someone to keep it up. Mine was good when I left, but when I got back the weeds were higher than the cars.

9) If you are going to be gone for less than 30 days, you can have the post office hold the mail. If you have arranged it so all bills come about the same time and are due about the same time, you can arrange your trip so this is not a problem. For longer than 30 days, or if you need to get mail during the trip and will be somewhere you know in advance, the Post Office can forward it once a week (Wednesday), getting there Friday through Monday. This costs $10.40 a week plus $10 to sign up. If you won't be in the same place for the whole trip, you may be able to talk them into holding it for a few weeks, and then sending it (in my case they send it twice during the 6 weeks, so only cost me $30 total). If you will be traveling a lot or for long periods, perhaps permanently changing your address to a mail forwarding service may be better in the long run (more versatile).

10) Online bill pay is a great way to manage your finances while travelling

11) Stop any papers, make sure no deliveries are pending. It is wise to have someone stop by on occasion and make sure the place is still standing, and more importantly, remove all those annoying advertisements and other things people leave at your door.

12) If you have a garage, make sure noone can see into it. If you don't have a garage, make sure at least one car which appears to work is parked there, even if you have to borrow one.

13) If you have plants which need it, have an automatic sprinkler system or hire someone to water them regularly.

14) Remove anything irreplacable to a safe deposit box or a rented storage facility as practical.

15) Clean out the refridgerators/freezers to the degree practical, particluarly of meat (including fish and fowl) products. I know a guy who left for a while and his fridge died. The stuff in it rotted and expanded enough to force the door open, getting 'ick' all over the place.

16) Things which I have considered but have not got around to are a monitored alarm system, and those 'internet' camera systems you can view from anywhere in the world.

I've been gone 3 weeks or more several times and never had a problem, so I must be doing something right :)


New Member
Re: Preparing for extended departure

I left my house once for 6 months. Did everything Hertig recommended and I have a monitored alarm system on my house and shop. I also set timers so that lights would come on and go off at night. Didn't have any problems except spiders had taken over my woodshop. And I went down to the county sherriffs department and talked to the sherrif. I let him know when I was leaving and when I was coming back, who was watching the house, and who would be mowing the lawn. My alarm went off one night and the house watcher said a county sherrif was in my yard within 10 minutes.

But I think making a checklist and following it saves a lot of worry.


Senior Member
Re: Preparing for extended departure

Ron and John hit in right on the nose. All of the above is perfect. The only thing I would maybe add is I LEAVE a key to the house with a trusted neighbor who is listed on the call board for alarm system (him first, the daughter and then us). change it when we ge back.
I do the CHECK LIST because I'm getting older and forget stuff really easily..... :dead: ;)

DL Rupper

Senior Member
RE: Preparing for extended departure

One last bit of advice. If you take a daily paper have your cat sitter across the street pick it up everday. I just read somewhere that houses in the subject area were being burglarized when the people were on vaction and the culprits were the individual at the newspaper that was taking the message to stop the paper and his accomplice that was breaking into the homes.


Junior Member
RE: Preparing for extended departure

Thanks all for the ideas and advice. It's been invaluable and I now have an "out-the-door" check list stickied to the door.

Appreciate all your held.