That summer getaway you’ve been bragging about is just around the corner and you’re counting down the days. But before you start packing your bags, you’ll want to make sure everything back home is squared away. Here are some tips to make sure your next big vacation is nothing but smooth sailing – at least on the homefront.

Prepping the Place

Prior to taking off, it’s important to prep the house for departure. Be sure to lock up all your doors and windows, clean out the fridge to avoid spoiled food, tackle any undone laundry, unplug and reset the thermostat, and unplug any unnecessary appliances to save money on the energy bill. Depending on the length of the trip, you can also put your mail and newspaper delivery on hold so they don’t pile up on the doorstep. Simple tasks like these will make your return home trouble-free.

Choosing a Caretaker

From plants to pets, you’re going to need someone there to take care of things while you’re away. If you’re asking a friend or family member to watch over your house, make sure they know exactly what you expect from them. Take time to sit down and write out a detailed list of duties. Be specific and go over each task with them before you leave.

If you plan on hiring a sitter, start by compiling a list of prospects and weighing out your options. You’ll want to make sure that they’re completely qualified to take care of your house sitting needs. For instance, if you own a dog you’ll want to hire someone who has pet sitting experience. Be sure to get a list of references from candidates, explain your expectations clearly, and have them interact with your pets beforehand (if applicable) to make sure they’re a good fit. Most importantly, choose a sitter who you feel comfortable with!

Tips for the Caretaker

So you’ve just landed a house sitting job – what’s next? Here are some do’s and don’ts that will make the experience a positive one for both you and the homeowner.

Do: Ask for written instructions and seek clarification on anything you’re unsure of, set up a meeting in advance and have the homeowner show you around and ask for an emergency contact list. It’s also important to set ground rules for having guests over and meet the neighbors so they know that you will be staying there. Last but not least, get to know the area – use this experience as an opportunity to explore!

Don’t: Have overnight guests without permission, pry into personal belongings, neglect your duties, or undertake any job that you are not qualified for. In short, don’t do anything that you wouldn’t want the homeowner to find out about.

Vacation is a time of relaxation, and you should be doing just that. Use these simple tips before heading off this summer, and the only thing you’ll need to worry about is your departure time.