Before you get away for a much needed vacation or travel for work, there are a few things you must take care of in your apartment. As you pack for your trip and research sightseeing spots in a new city, follow this guide to ensure you return to a comfortable home:

Bills: While you are away from your apartment, the last thing you want is to have your electric company shut off service because you did not pay your bill on time. Make arrangements to have your utilities, rent or car payments made in a timely fashion. Use online pay if you want to personally pay bills when you are away, or set up automatic billing so funds are taken out of your account on a set date every month.

A set payment such as rent can be made in advance; however, utilities or credit card statements usually differ from month to month and therefore, cannot be pre-planned.

Mail: Your friendly mailman will appreciate a little planning on your part. Instead of leaving him with the task of navigating your crowded mailbox, contact the postal service and let them know your situation. They will hold your mail until you return. If you have already made arrangements for your bills to be paid, physical copies of statements can wait at the post office. 

If you subscribe to any magazines, contact the company's customer service department to see if they can temporarily hold the service.

Plants and pets: If you have a mini-garden flourishing in your home, you will need to have a friend or family member stop by to water the plants. Leave specific written instructions about the frequency of watering plants to make things easier for your friend. Don't forget to bring him or her a souvenir from your travels!

Similarly, if your apartment building allows pets, you will need to make arrangements to have your furry friend walked and fed. If possible, try to have someone dog or cat sit at their home so it is convenient to take care of your pet.

Trash: Before you leave for a trip, empty your refrigerator and take out the trash. Avoid having to come back to any unfavorable smells in your apartment.

Thermostat: Don't forget to turn the air conditioner off in the summer months. If you will be gone in the winter, speak to your landlord about the heater. He or she may not want you to turn off heating for weeks or months as it could lead to the pipes freezing. Your landlord may ask you to keep the heat on at a low temperature.