I’m going to be gone for twelve days (wow, that seems like forever when I put it that way!). I’m actually waiting as I type this for my cab to pick me up!
12 steps to prep your apartment for vacation
Get rid of old food
You don’t want to come home to a moldy, sticky, smelly refrigerator. Throw out milk and dairy products that will go bad, as well as eggs, any open jars or beverage containers, and fruit. Or better yet: eat it yourself, or give it to a neighbor.
Do your dishes
Here again: you don’t want to come home to a sink full of flies (or, if you live in Brooklyn, possibly mice). Wash and put away your dishes before you leave.
Take out all the garbage and recycling
Here again, ad nauseum: garbage smells after one day. Imagine that smell multiplied by the number of days you’ll be gone. Get rid of it all.
Put open nonperishables in sealed containers
This is actually something you should do all the time. Don’t keep bagged or boxed rice, beans, pasta, or pet food in your kitchen. Rodents can easily chew through those bags and boxes, so keep them safe in plastic containers with lids. (I actually use 4-gallon Rubbermaid containers under my sink to store dog food.)
Deal with your laundry
If you don’t have time to do all of it before you leave, at least get it together so that it’s easy to combine with all the dirty laundry you’ll be bringing back with you when you come home.
Change your sheets and make your bed
When you’ve been sleeping in someone else’s bed for twelve straight days, coming home to your bed after the exhaustion of travel can feel borderline orgasmic…but only if it’s clean.
If your sheets are covered in dog hair and night sweat, getting into your own bed will be a chore. So make sure your bed is good-night’s-sleep-ready before you leave.
Make sure the space where you’ll do your unpacking upon returning is clear of clutter
Don’t stress about cleaning and decluttering the entire house, but unpacking will be so much less of a chore if it’s done in a decluttered, visually peaceful environment.
Stock up on essentials
It really sucks to come home and realize you don’t have any toilet paper in the house. Or to unload a sack of laundry that you’ve schlepped across seven relatives’ houses only to find that you don’t have enough detergent to clean it all. So don’t let this happen to you.
It’s no secret that leaving your appliances plugged in during a long absence is a fire hazard, but did you know that leaving them plugged in while they’re not in use actually uses electricity—even if they’re turned off? Unplug them and save a little bit of cash on your next bill.
Turn the thermostat down.
No one’s around to enjoy the heat, so why would you leave it on?
Pay your bills in advance, or arrange for them to be paid on time.
If you take care of your impending financial responsibilities before you leave, then there are no ugly surprises when you come back—”Oh, shit…I forgot to pay my student loan, and I spent that $500 on dresses while I was gone!”
I used Chase’s Online Bill Payment to send my bills in advance—the money is withdrawn from my account when I schedule the payment, but it’s sent whenever the bill is due. Convenient! (I use this compulsively, by the way…as soon as I have the money in my account, I set it aside for future bills.)
Have someone pick up your mail or stop the mail delivery
If your mailbox has a lock on it, you may be okay without doing this. But you don’t want someone stealing your mail. So don’t let it happen. If you’re in the United States, fill out the form.
How do you prep for a long absence? Tell us in the comments!