With the number of traveling families steadily increasing as the holidays get closer and closer, there’s no better time to discuss the necessary steps to ensure that our travel this time of year is more worry-free than stressful. It can be easy to get caught up in making sure you’re bringing all of the essentials, but it’s important to think about everything you’re leaving at home too.
Protecting our homes is just as a good a way to kick some of that travel stress to the curb. Whether you’re planning on being gone for a couple days, or a couple weeks, it’s extremely important to do a few last minute steps before heading out. They’ll add a couple minutes to your pre-travel routine, but the peace of mind will be so worthwhile. Here are a handful of tips to make sure everything at home is safe while you’re traveling.
Have someone watch over your home
Before you head out, the number one way to protect your home is to have someone house sit. If you’re unable to get a house sitter, at least make arrangements with a family member, friend, or trustworthy neighbor to keep an eye on things. Recent statistics have shown that burglaries are usually done by someone who lives within two miles of the victim’s home. Having your house regularly occupied by someone makes it less of a target, and they can even help you with general maintenance and upkeep if necessary. Not only can they water your plants or collect your mail, but they can be there in case an appliance is accidentally left on or something unfortunate happens like your pipes freeze.
If no one is available to watch over your home, here a few measures to add to your list before heading out the door:
- Stop your mail with your local post office. Mail piling up in your mailbox and packages left on your front porch are a sure-fire way of telling everyone that no one’s home.
- Turn off/unplug any electronic devices or small appliances that could be hazardous if left on for extended periods of time.
- Check, and double check, that all of your windows and doors are secured and locked.
- Close any blinds that you have. If a burglar can’t see what’s inside, or what’s waiting for them inside, they’ll be less inclined to enter.
- If you have any lights set to timers, be sure to set them to turn on at appropriate times during the day. Also consider getting motion-activated lights for the outside. They’re a great way to alert you when someone is approaching your home, and they’re a great deterrent for any burglars while you’re away.
- Arm your security system and consider updating the emergency contacts in case the system is tripped while you’re gone. There are security units now that are wireless systems and can alert you directly via a smartphone app. You can arm/disarm remotely and even monitor activity in and around your home.
- As opposed to leaving spare keys hidden somewhere outside your home (under a doormat, in a hide-a-key, etc.), consider bringing them indoors or leaving them with someone you trust.
Don’t over share
In this day and age, social media makes it incredibly easy for everyone to share simple things like where you went out to eat, or even major things like milestones in your life. You may not realize this, but sharing your travel plans on social media can put you at risk. It can be very tempting to share your plans before you leave and favorite photos during your trip, but it’s a good idea to hold off until you get home to share everything, especially if your profiles are public. Sharing too much info can let everyone know how long you’ll be gone and that your home is currently unoccupied.
Make yourself available
This may sound counterintuitive to getting away from everything, but it’s a good idea to be available in case of an emergency. Especially if you have someone house-sitting, it’s important that they have a means to contact you should anything happen at home. It could be your cell phone number, an email address, or even the number of where you’re staying. If you’re too concerned with this taking away from your quality time with family or enjoying your trip, at least set aside a few minutes each day to check in.
Before you head out for the holidays, consider these tips. They’ll help you enjoy your time more because you’ll have that peace of mind knowing that everything is safe at home. Here’s a handy checklist to use as well! Give it a look, or even print it out to reference each time you’re leaving home for an extended period of time.