One of the simplest steps you can do for yourself and possible visiting guests to your cottage is create a step-by-step guide of what to do before you leave.
This is a shorter checklist for when you’re heading back to your primary residence for the week and you plan on returning in the next couple of weeks and a longer, more intensive one for when you’re shutting the place down for the season.
The list provided here is just a sampler. Your specific list will and should be tailored to your own cottage’s particulars (e.g. do you have a boat? Do you have a dock? Do you have neighbours nearby and/or a property manager who can check on your cottage throughout the winter?).
Sweep up, wipe down counters and seal up any food containers with tight lids, or move food that’s in bags or boxes (e.g. packages that a pest could eat through, like opened chip bags, cereal boxes, baking products that aren’t in sealed containers) into a cabinet that has no possible holes/entry
Collect the garbage/recycling
Take any food from the fridge that might be going bad before you return
Tie up anything that might blow away (e.g. Muskoka chairs, tables, recreational water devices, etc.)
Remove deck furniture cushions and stow away
Clean out chimney (if there’s an indoor fireplace)
Double check that the propane tank is turned off and barbecue is covered