Coming home from a long trip can be a welcome reprieve: you look forward to sleeping in your own bed, raiding the fridge, and cozying up in front of the TV. That is, until you arrive to an overstuffed mailbox, fruit flies, and a fridge full of semi-liqified produce (not that I'm speaking from experience or anything).
The adage goes that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and taking a little time to follow this checklist before heading out of town will save you from having to ask "What exactly did that used to be?" about the contents of your fridge.
1. Clean out the fridge. Be realistic on this one: if it's nearing its expiration date and you will be gone all week, toss it.
2. Refrigerate produce. I've found that moving fresh produce from the countertop to the crisper eliminates the swarm of fruit flies that can seemingly appear the very moment one banana over ripens.
3. Take out trash. Empty all trash cans. Not only will it help you avoid the smell of stale garbage, but you don't want to encourage any critters to move in while you are out.
4. Wipe down surfaces. Surface clean your countertops, making sure to clean up any crumbs for the same reason as #3.
5. Make the bed and change the sheets. Crumpled, dirty sheets are twice as bad when you've been staying in a hotel, but there's nothing like slipping into your own freshly made bed after a long trip.
6. Water plants and move them to cool areas, or setup a self watering system. I am notorious for coming home to dead plants. It's easier to plan ahead than to nurse a dehydrated plant back to life.
7. Stock up on ready made meals and coffee. A few ready made meals in the freezer and a supply of coffee will get you through a couple of days while you get settled back in.
8. Hold your mail or ask a neighbor to get it. An overstuffed mailbox is a major giveaway that you are out of town. For the sake of security and to save the mailman from having to cram it to the gills, have it held or ask someone you trust to empty the mailbox for you.
9. Turn off thermostats. There is nothing quite like getting your bills at the end of the month and finding out that you paid to keep an empty house at a comfortable 78 degrees all week.
10. Toss fresh flowers. They might look nice now, but the stale smell at the end of the week is not worth trying to save them.
Leave your own suggestions in the comments below.