OK, here the compiled list (in no particular order).
The idea is to make your place low maintenance and look lived in (not abandoned).
- Cancel the newspaper.
- Have someone pick up your mail and unwanted flyers.
- Put the lights on a timer, multiple timers are better.
Try to make the times approximate your normal schedule.
- Put a radio on one of the timers.
- Have snow removed from the drive way.
- Turn your water off. Don’t forget to turn your hot water tank off too.
- Shut down all the power hogs. Most electronics still use power unless you shut them off right at their source. Shutting off with remote puts electronics in stand by.
- Throw breaker for hot water tank (no need to heat 40 or 60 gallons of water for nothing).
- Set thermostat to minimum (beware you don’t turn it off).
- Turn down hot tub (if you’re lucky enough to have one).
- Have a series of friends lined up to keep a eye out on the house.
- Leave a list of contact info on the fridge (for major emergencies only).
- If you have a coffee maker that holds and preheats the water you should unplug it. Personally, I’d dump the water as well and refill it when I got back home.
- Empty perishables from the fridge.
- Ensure your home is checked every few days or your insurance could be voided. Have that person open & close some blinds and change the lights (if not on timer).
- Leave a vehicle in the driveway. If you do, have the snow taken off the vehicle and have someone occasionally take the vehicle for a drive or at least move it.
- If you live in a townhouse complex, advise the management that you are going away and what neighbour has a key in case of emergencies.
- Remove perishables from the fridge. Don’t forget what’s in the cupboard, nothing smells worse on your return than rotten slimy potatoes or onions …
- Arrange for someone to feed your pets that can stay home while you are gone.
- Get someone to live in your house for a couple of hours a day, am or pm, watching TV and turning lights on and off. Return the favour when they go away.
- Regarding the timers on the lights, a light sensitive switch is a good idea. It tends to reset itself after a power failure. The time on can normally be set for two, four or six hours.
- If you will be arriving home late, and take cream or milk in your coffee, don’t forget to ask someone to put it in your fridge the day before or the day you arrive home.
- Make sure all your travel documents are within the guidelines of your return. Some places require that they are still valid 3-6 months upon arrival and/or departure.
- For those with aquariums don’t forget to buy those one or two week pellets that will feed your tropical fish just in case you do not have a friend or neighbour that can feed them for you.
- Even if you only go away for a couple of nights, shut the water taps off to your washer. If the hoses break there’s no stopping it till you get home. That goes for the dishwasher hose too.
- Make sure you have your travel insurance booked (and there are no pre-existing conditions that could render it void).
- Make sure you have a pen to fill in the inevitable forms.
- If taking a credit card(s), contact them and let them know of your destination and dates. This will help prevent your transaction from being denied because of “unusual activity”.
- If you have a pet(s) that are being boarded anywhere other than the pet(s) vet, please leave Vet information (including phone number) with the caregiver and call the Vet with information on whomever is looking after the animal(s) and make arrangements with the Vet’s office for payment (in the unlikely event it is needed).
- Make sure all windows, doors and garage door(s) are completely shut and locked.
- Water plants, and if gone a longer time, have someone water them for you.
edit #1: added #26.
edit #2: added #27
edit #3: added #28
edit #4: added #29, #30, #31