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8 Ways to Keep Your Home Safe While You’re On Vacation

A woman typing a code on a security system panel.
Daniel Jedzura/Shutterstock.com

Whether you’re just heading out of town for a holiday weekend or finally taking that long-awaited trip to the Bahamas, protecting your home while you’re away is likely one of your top priorities. These eight tips could not only prevent a break-in, but they’ll also give you peace of mind so you can enjoy your trip.

Whenever you’re away for an extended time, it puts your home at risk for vandals and thieves. Luckily, there are some things you can do to prevent this. We recommend doing all eight of these things before you hit the road or head to the airport.

Put Your Mail and Newspaper Subscriptions on Hold

Overflowing mailbox.

Putting your mail and newspapers on hold will not only prevent either from being stolen, but it will also prevent any would-be burglars from immediately knowing that you’re not home.

One of the most obvious signs that you’re not home is an overstuffed mailbox or a stack of newspapers on your porch. Putting your mail on hold is as easy as logging on to the USPS website and requesting it. You can either have your held mail delivered after you get back or go pick it up at your local post office.

You might be able to put a hold on your newspaper subscription online, as well, so be sure to check the publication’s website. If not, it’ll just take a quick phone call.

If you’re expecting any packages from FedEx or UPS, you can also put those on hold until you return. Or, you can have them redirected to the address where you’ll be staying or a nearby pickup location.

Lock All Windows and Close All Shades

Silhouette of a burglar holding a crowbar outside of a window.
Lucky Business/Shutterstock.com

Naturally, you’ll lock all of your doors before you leave, but don’t forget about those windows! Double-check all of them to make sure they’re locked. If any locks are broken, just pick up a sliding security bar to wedge it from the inside until you return and can have it repaired.

You can also discourage theft by keeping drapes and blinds closed. This way, not only will thieves not be able to see what you have inside, but they also won’t be able to easily see if anyone’s home or not. don’t want an open view of what’s waiting for a thief inside your home.

Don’t forget about basement windows or those in rooms you rarely use. Even if your basement is empty and dark, basement windows are easy to kick in on some homes. Unless you intend to break into your own basement whenever you lock the keys in the house, you could put up some reinforcement bars.

However, in addition to a lock or security bar, a motion-detection light and/or security camera covering the area would be an excellent investment.

Leave On a Light or Set a Timer

A porch in daylight and at night with the porch light on.
Amazon Basics

Leaving just one light on in your home in addition to the porch light will help create the illusion that someone is there. Again, make sure all shades and drapes are closed, or passersby will be able to see right into your empty home.

It’s best to pick a somewhat centralized light. If you have someone checking on your home while you’re gone, you can ask them to leave a different light on each time they stop by.

Make sure the lights you choose to leave on aren’t a fire hazard, though. For example, LED bulbs are generally much safer than incandescents, but even they could catch a plastic or fabric shade on fire if left on 24/7. Avoid leaving desk or accent lights with shades on while you’re gone.

Another option is to replace the bulbs in the lamps or fixtures you want to come on at night with some that have dusk to dawn sensors. This will reduce the chance of any accidents as the lights will only turn on after dark.

Of course, if you already have smart lights installed, you can set a schedule or control them from wherever you are via their companion app.

However, if you’ve been looking to upgrade to smart lighting and want to do so before you leave, you can’t go wrong with the Philips Hue Starter Kit. You’ll get three A19 smart bulbs, a hub, and Smart Button.

Install Some Outdoor Motion Sensor Lighting

Mr. Beams Motion Sensing LED Dual Head Security Spotlight over a garage door at night.
Mr. Beams

While motion sensor lights aren’t a fail-safe, they can be great thief deterrents. Because they light up your whole yard, the idea is they’ll startle any would-be burglar away so they can avoid being seen.

If you only want one motion sensor light, put it over your garage or back door, as thieves are far less likely to break into your front door. We recommend this dual-head, battery-powered option from Mr. Beams. It covers an area of 30 feet and shuts off 20 seconds after any motion stops.

Of course, if they know no one is home, a determined thief will just move to a darker area of your home to find a way in, which is why you might want to add a camera or alarm system, as well.

Install Outdoor Security Cameras

A woman installing an Arlo security camera above a front door.

Outdoor lighting is all well and good, but a security camera is even better. These days, they’re also incredibly easy to install. From Wi-Fi to hardwired models, you’ll be able to find one that suits your needs.

Be sure to choose one that has a companion app so you can view what’s going on at home no matter where you are. We like this three-pack from Arlo. They’re wireless, offer night vision in color, and have two-way audio. They also work with Alexa.

Get an Alarm System

Someone pressing a button on a Ring alarm keypad.

If you live in a large city or spend a lot of time on the road, your best bet might be to have an alarm system installed. If it sounds too pricey, consider how expensive it could be if your home were robbed.

You can also bypass the professional (and more expensive) security companies and do it yourself. Just hop online and do some research on pricing and options. We recommend looking for a system that alerts your phone and the authorities in the event of a break-in.

The Ring Alarm Pro system is an excellent option. It comes with a base station, two keypads, eight contact sensors, two motion detectors, and one alarm range extender.

Don’t Post About Your Trip on Social Media

One of the biggest mistakes people make is posting online about their traveling adventures while they’re away. Your friends and family who always post their vacation photos after they’re back are doing things the smart way. Posting online about your trip tells everyone you’re away and your home is empty.

Of course, if only trustworthy friends and family members can see your posts, then it might be okay to post your fun pics while you’re gone. Still, it’s worth considering just how well you know all of your friends and/or followers.

If you’re vacationing with a purpose, such as working on a travel book or recording interviews and podcasts that will air while you’re away, consider asking a friend or neighbor to watch your home.

Ask Someone to Watch Your Home

A woman handing over house keys.
Perfect Wave/Shutterstock.com

If a friend or family member lives nearby, give them a key so they can get the mail and go inside your home and take a look around every few days. Just asking someone to drive by your place every few days while you’re gone is better than nothing.

You might also consider hiring a house sitter to stay at your home the entire time that you’re gone. This can be especially helpful if you have pets that will need to be fed and looked after. Ask a friend or a responsible younger family member if they’d like to hang out while you’re away. Failing that, you can also hire a professional house sitter.

We all love getting away from home from time to time, but ensuring that your home remains safe while you’re gone should also be a priority. These tips will not only help keep your property safe and sound, but they can also offer you peace of mind so you can enjoy your trip that much more. Happy travels!

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »
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