Protect Your Home While on Vacation in 7 Steps
Whether you own a house in a quiet neighborhood or rent an apartment in a busy city, learning how to protect your home while on vacation is a must. Here are seven steps to consider beyond locking your doors (and rechecking that you've locked them).
1. Avoid Social Media Posts
It's tempting to share your vacation excitement on social media. But one of the easiest ways to keep your home secure while on vacation is by not letting the world know you're on vacation in the first place. Even if you think your security settings are strict, consider posting once you've returned.
2. Give a Friend a Key
Instead of hiding it under a rock, give a key to a trusted friend who can access your house in an emergency. Make a list of phone numbers — such as your hotel, landlord, or any other contacts — your friend may need. If you rent your home or apartment, take another look at your lease to see if telling your landlord about your vacation is an obligation; some require notice for insurance reasons.
3. Keep up Habits
Making your house appear as if someone is living there goes a long way to deter crime. You can pause your mail and newspaper service so that they don't pile up, and put your lights on automatic timers. Motion-sensor lights are also a good way to keep people off of your property.
Consider having a friend mow the lawn if you're leaving in the summer or shovel your driveway if you'll be gone in the winter. If you usually keep your curtains open, consider only partially closing them while you're away.
4. Invest in Technology
If you want extra piece of mind, technology is another great resource that allows you to keep tabs on your home from afar. While it will take a small investment, devices like the Nest Hello allow you to see and record what's at your doorstep. You can check and see if a package is left while you're gone and text a friend to bring it inside.
Belkin Wemo Smart Light Switch allows you to control your lights from your phone, while Samsung SmartThings Water Leak Sensor will alert you about excess water. If you have an alarm system, make sure the company knows you'll be away.
5. Set Your Thermostat
You don't want to pay for heating when you're not home, but you also don't want a pipe to burst. The American Red Cross recommends keeping your thermostat at 55°F or higher. For more control, devices like ecobee4 let you regulate the temperature in your house from your phone.
Consider turning off your water and unplugging your electronics as well.
6. Protect Your Car
Take any valuables out of your car. If you have on-street parking, find out if your car will be affected by street cleaning or a snow emergency.
Depending on how long you'll be gone, you may want to have someone turn your car on, or even take it for a quick drive around the block so you don't return home to a dead battery.
7. Safeguard Your Valuables
You don't expect your home to get broken into, but you want to be prepared in case it is. Put items like jewelry and documents with personal information in a fireproof safe. The safe does double duty of protecting items in case of a fire and making it more difficult for thieves to access them. And if you have a lot of windows, be sure to move valuables out of sight.
Figuring out how to protect your home while on vacation, no matter where you live or what your house looks like, will help you relax and enjoy your trip. For that extra piece of mind, look into homeowners' or rental insurance if you haven't already. If you have time before your trip, you may even consider a home improvement loan to help you make the updates needed to secure your home.