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9 Ways to Protect Your Home While You're Away on Vacation

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An outdoor security camera mounted in the corner

Leave for vacation with peace of mind knowing your home is secure. (Image: Shutterstock)

Whether you’re headed to the airport, going on a road trip, or planning a staycation in your city, you have a checklist separate from the items you need to pack in your suitcase. When vacation approaches, people tend to forget how to secure their homes. Your passport and boarding pass are important, but securing your home and making sure you’re going to come back to an intact house are arguably a higher priority. Here are nine reminders to keep your empty home safe while you’re away.

Knock Knock, No One’s Home

Even though no one’s home, make sure it doesn’t look empty. Keep some indoor and outdoor lights on or purchase timers for your TV or radio. A dark house that appears locked up without anyone inside is a dead giveaway for burglars and trespassers. That’s not to say you should keep all the lights on and waste electricity, but look at your house from the outside and figure out areas where it could use some light (and life). That should fool intruders, or at least make them hesitate about their decision to break into your house.

Hey, Neighbor

Telling your neighbors you’re going on vacation is almost always a good idea (unless you don’t trust them). They won’t be inconvenienced by keeping an eye on your home and can notify you or the police of anything that looks suspicious. Most people trade this responsibility with their neighbors, so the next time they leave town it’ll be your turn to look after their home. Building relationships and having extra eyes on your home when you’re away is recommended.

Spare Key No More

It’s typically a good idea to hide a spare key outside your house, such as under your doormat or in a flower pot. When you’re going away on vacation, however, remember to bring that key inside. If you need to lend a key to your neighbors, bring it to them before you leave town. A burglar who breaks into homes likely knows the places homeowners typically leave spare keys, so remove yours until you’re back in town.

Lock Up and Unplug

An unplugged cord from an outlet
Unplugging appliances and devices while on vacation prevents electrical fires. (Image: Shutterstock)

Don’t just lock up your home before going on a vacation. You should also unplug your appliances to decrease the chance of an electrical fire or power surge. These items range from TVs and coffee makers to lamps and alarm clocks. Even if someone’s watching over your home while you’re away, you should still get into the habit of unplugging your appliances so you have peace of mind knowing your home is as safe as possible.

Security Is Key

Neighbors and friends are reliable (most of the time), but it’s also a good idea to invest in a home security system and a camera-based doorbell or smart lock. A smart lock removes the possibility of someone breaking into your home with a spare key, and you can adjust or reset the code whenever you want.

Video doorbells such as Ring are convenient for staying alert if you’re thousands of miles away. They send alerts straight to your mobile device and immediately notify you if something moves at the door where you’ve installed the system. The playback footage is also helpful, especially on the off chance you need to review or report it for further investigation.

You’ve Got No Mail

If you’re going on an extended vacation, you can contact your local post office to pause your mail service until you return. Having mail pile up is a sure sign no one is home, and you don’t want to risk important mail getting stolen or removed from your mailbox.

Neighbors can pick up your newspaper or mail for you, but it’s best if as few people as possible handle your personal items. Simply fill out a form online that lets your post office know to pause mail service at your residence. You can also pause other deliveries or regular subscriptions, such as meal services, through your individual logins.

Valuables Are Valuable

Even when you’re home, you probably have treasured possessions locked away in a safe. Make sure your valuables are in a hidden area of your home as opposed to in your dresser or jewelry box. If a thief breaks into your home, valuable items are at the top of their list of things to steal, so remove your prized belongings from places that are obvious to find.

Stay Smart

A person holding a smartphone with a house icon on the screen
Locking up your home with smart devices is a great way to secure your home during vacation. (Image: Shutterstock)

Not only should you invest in a security system, but you can also install smart lighting both inside and outside your home. Timer-based lighting systems are a subtle way to tell someone you’re aware of their presence. You can also turn smart lights to different modes when you’re on vacation and program them to mimic your usual behavior so it appears you’re home.

Some devices allow you to activate or deactivate the lights from your cell phone and monitor your home from afar. You can set times for TVs or radios to give the impression you’re still home. The smarter your home is, the smarter you’ll be when leaving town.

Keep Up Your Appearance

It’s fairly noticeable if you lock up your entire house, shut off all the lights, and close all the curtains. To retain a similar look and feel as if you’re home, you can do several things you may not otherwise have considered. Instead of completely closing your blinds and curtains, leave them partially open.

Leave a light or lamp on where someone can see through the window. It’ll shine through better to give the appearance that you’re home. Parking a car in the driveway with the valuables removed is also a good tactic, since most people assume a car parked in front means someone is home.