Before you head off to an exotic paradise, a beach resort, or a weekend in the mountains, there are a number of odds and ends that need to be tied up prior to leaving for vacation. Aside from covering the logistics of your trip and making sure that all travel arrangements have been accounted for, you have to make sure your home is prepped and ready to be left alone.
Maintaining a home before vacation means ensuring the home is safe. You have to cover all of your bases. What needs to be considered before you head off for vacation?
Install Home Security Equipment
If your home doesn’t have a home security system, now is the time to equip it with a security setup. Modern home security systems allow you to view live-streams of the home and receive push alert notifications if any unusual activity or a break-in occurs.
Many security systems are also monitored by law enforcement and other emergency agencies, so if a break-in does occur, you’re sure to have a response from professionals at your property. Home security is the surest way to ensure your home is protected while you’re away.
Advertise Your Home Security System
If you’ve achieved step one and your home is equipped with home security, now advertise that you have the equipment. Thieves are 33% less likely to target a home that they know is equipped with home security, especially if it’s monitored and their activity risks them alerting law enforcement.
Place signs on lawns and windows that advertise your home security equipment. You can even add additional signs that a dog is present on your property, or that a neighborhood watch is present in your community.
Aim Home Security Equipment at Vulnerable Areas
All home security cameras should be aimed at the most vulnerable places of the house. The majority of burglaries occur at the front door, but back doors, balconies, windows, backyards, and garages each provide their own unique vulnerabilities.
Burglars can also target these areas if common home tools are left outside. For example, a balcony can be accessed if a burglar has access to a ladder. Always keep a clean home exterior.
Use Your Neighbors for Aid
Your community is the best resource to keep your home safe. Not only will they serve as the eyes and ears for your home while you’re away, but since neighbors live in your community, they are aware of what types of activities are unusual.
If neighbors see anything out of the ordinary, they can investigate, check on your home, and alert the necessary authorities. Neighbors can also help you by doing routine maintenance checks on the home and by helping take care of animals.
If your neighbors do provide a helping hand, make sure to do the same for them next time they’re on vacation.
Give the Home the Appearance of Activity
Burglars are less likely to target homes that they believe are in use. If burglars know that you’re on vacation, then they’ll see an opportunity for themselves to attempt a break-in. On the contrary, if they think someone is home, they won’t bother.
One thing I found super cool is the things you can do with Hue Lights. They have special things Presence Mimicking and TV Mimicking to make it seem like you are open by changing and flashing your Hue bulbs. These can be set on timers for evenings to automatically turn on.
Maintain a Clean Home Exterior
Whether you’re on vacation or not, burglars are most likely to target homes that are unkept. An unkept home gives burglars the impression that owners don’t care about their property.
Untrimmed bushes and overgrown foliage also provide burglars with cover while they attempt a break-in. And leaving common household tools like ladders or stools outside can help a burglar gain access to a balcony or second floor. It is also a good idea to add locks to un-secure gates as well
Always maintain a neat and clean proper, and be especially vigilant of doing so before vacation.
No Hidden Spare Keys
Whether you’re home or on vacation, spare keys are problematic. These keys are hidden with the intention of being secret, but oftentimes they are kept in the exact location a burglar would look. Under the doormat? Obvious. Inside the pot near the door? Obvious. The strange looking rock that’s not a natural part of the lawn? Obvious.
The better solution is getting a touchpad lock. I added a Yale Smart Lock to my home and they are amazing. No longer worry about locking yourself out and add codes for neighbors so you never have to worry.
If you need spare keys for the home, the best places to keep them are with close friends or relatives. Otherwise, make sure that you are remarkably strategic with your key placement, and one hundred percent positive that they are in a location that a burglar will not look.
Essential Plumbing and Electricity Needs
If you’ll be away from the home for quite some time, make sure to take the proper plumbing and electrical precautions. This means unplugging all devices in the home, turning off power, and placing your water heater in “vacation mode.”
You’ll need to turn off water valves for dishwashers, washing machines, and sinks. Set your thermostats to temperatures close to the outdoor temperature, or turn them off completely. With newer thermostats like Nest, you can turn it on remotely when you get back so the house is cool when you get home.
Keep Tabs on the Home
While vacation is a time to fully get away and forget about all of the cares and worries that you left back home, it’s important to keep tabs on what’s happening at your house. How often you check in will depend on the duration of your trip, but once every few days is recommended.
If you have home security equipment, you can check on the home through the live-feed of your home security smart phone application. If you’ve gathered aid from friends and families to help care for the home, a few quick texts or calls will be all the updates you need.
General Vacation Tips
With so many arrangements and travel plans being worked out at the same time, and the general excitement of a vacation, it’s easy to forget about some of the basic vacation necessities.
- Tell your credit card and home security companies that you will be out of town
- Test your smoke detectors to ensure they are working properly
- Leave emergency contact information with a neighbor and inform them of travel plans
- Dispose of all food in refrigerators that could spoil
- Take out all trash to prevent odors
- Run the garbage disposal with water and about a half-cup of vinegar to eliminate odors
Some preparation measure may be unique to your home and family. You may have additional pets that need to be accounted for or a large property that has unique needs. Whatever your situation may be, always consider all the variables present at your home. Remember to lock back sheds, garages, and place all outdoor items inside or in storage.
Preparation Means Peace of Mind
Following all of these home preparation tips for vacation ensures that you get the most out of your trip. If you have the peace of mind of knowing that everything back at home is in order and taken care of, you’ll be able to focus your full attention on your family and vacation.
Vacations are enjoyable because they happen infrequently. They’re cherished getaways, but many people forget that vacation preparation also includes the work that is done before even leaving for the trip. As soon as you book your next vacation, begin the process of preparing your home. You will be happy you did.