1. Clean out the fridge and donate extra food
When you're about to leave for a big trip but find it hard to gobble down all the perishable food in your fridge and pantry, donate it to a local organization who'll feed it to people who aren't fortunate enough to be off on a big trip. In big cities, Food Banks will happily accept individual donations while, in small cities, you'll have to give your local soup kitchen a call. Still, there are rulescheck out the NY Food Bank's details for an example.
2. Take out the trash
Getting away from your usual digs for a few days or even a few weeks means your scent is reset; you're away from the usual smells of your living space. Returning, then, may be a small shock if you've left even a little garbage to rot in a waste bin. This is also a cleanliness issue, to avoid attracting gnats and other undesirables.
3. Enlist a neighbor for newspaper duty
We'd like to thank our mom for being a somewhat paranoid traveler and drilling into us the importance of home safety while traveling. If you receive a newspaper on your lawn or in a mailbox every morning, it's plain to see whether or not you're at home by whether or not those newspapers pile up. A yard full of newspapers is an invitation to thieves looking for a house to rob. Enlist a neighbor or friend you trust to come by every other day to pick up those newspapers and empty your mailbox.
4. Unplug electronics
There's several reasons why this is a good idea, like preventing electrical fires, short circuits, and "vampire" electricity usage, but it goes in the same cautiousness category as checking that the oven is off. It's just a smart move.
5. Make your bed
What feels much better at the end of a long trip away than falling back into your own bed and your own pillows? Oh, it's so nice. Alas, returning to a messy room kinda kills that vibe; make your return less stressful and more welcoming by doing something as simple as making your bed. It'll be ready and waiting for your return, and to help you get over any jet lag.
Got any other tips to add? Share them in comments below!