You’re all set and read to go for your next big adventure. Your bags are packed, your itinerary is ready, you have booked all your ticket… but have you thought about how to keep your home safe when you are away?
I remember my first long term trip, which led me around Asia for about 2 months. I have been living in my own flat for about a year before I left to Asia and the thought of letting it empty for so long was worrying me. So, I gave the key to a friend and she passed by every 1-2 days, to check that everything was all right, to feed and play with my cats and to water my plants. But what do you do when you can’t find anyone to look after your home when you are away on holiday?
Talk to your neighbours
Letting your neighbours know that you will be away for a while, no matter if it’s for a couple of days or one month, it’s a smart thing to do. They can pass by your house from time to time and collect your mail. The piles of envelopes and magazines do attract attention that nobody is home. Also, they can keep an eye and notice suspicious people.
Ask a friend to house sit
This is the best way to make sure that your house is safe while you are away on your dream holiday. A friend will not only look after your house, but they will also water your plants, pick up your mail, sign for packages, and turn the lights on in the evening, making it look like it’s you who’s home.
If you don’t have any friends available you can always find a trusted house sitter online, on websites like trustedhousesitters.com or mindmyhouse.com. Here you have the option to choose from a large selection of people who are interested in looking after someone’s house in exchange for free accommodation. It’s a win-win situation for both parties. Of course, always choose someone who already has positive references. My go for number of references is 3+, all from recent hosts. To join one of these websites you need to pay an annual fee which varies between 20$ to 60$.
Install a professional home security system
More and more homes these days have home security systems installed and no wonder, with the number of burglaries increasing. I have such an alarm system installed and I always turn it on when I leave my house. It has sensors on all the doors and windows and if someone tries to break in, it takes 45 seconds for the evaluation team to send a guard response intervention.
Not to mention, these days, the home security systems are so advance that they can detect pet movements as well and not trigger the alarm if your furry friend is left home alone.
A house that is protected by an alarm system will also have a warning visible somewhere on the façade. This by itself discourages thieves to try to break into your property.
Install a video camera activated by motion
It is very easy these days to buy a cheap camera and install it outside your home. Most of these cameras have WiFi and can connect to your home internet connection. They also have a dedicated channel which you can access on your mobile, from anywhere you are in the world.
A camera that is motion activated will send alerts to your phone as well, so you can take immediate action.
Check the privacy of your social networks
It is very tempting to post on Facebook or Instagram that you are going on holiday. But if you leave your home empty, make sure that you have changed all your privacy settings from public to private. Sure, it’s lovely to post photos from your dream vacation and keep your family and close friends updated with your itinerary. But they should be the only people who see them, not the entire internet.
There have been many cases in which families have been on holiday, only to return to an empty home, without any valuables in it. Just because they posted on social media that they were away!
Not to mention, your insurance company might not compensate you if your house gets broken into whilst you are away, if you posted on social media. There is a clause in any home insurance contract that refers to “reasonable care” of the property. When you post on social media photos from your holidays you are also telling everyone indirectly that your house is unoccupied, which breaks this clause.
Don’t close the curtains
It might be instinctual to close the curtains when you go away on holiday, but this is a clear sign to potential robbers that you are not home. If you usually keep your curtains open, they leave them as they are when you go on holiday. Of course, don’t leave anything valuable in plain sight, but we will get to that in a minute.
Even if you live in a flat at a superior floor, having your curtains pulled for several days in a row will attract attention. And it’s so easy to access a residential building these days, pretending you are a courier or the postman.
Unplug your electronics
One advantage of turning off the electronics in your home when you are away is the savings you will make to your electricity bill, that can go towards your next adventure. The second advantage is protecting your appliances from power surges that can occur during stormy weather.
You should unplug all the electronics except for the fridge and freezer. If you are traveling in winter, leave the boiler plugged in, on a timer. If the temperatures are dropping below 0, your pipes might freeze and burst, so it’s important to have the heating on, even if it’s on a minimum.
Don’t forget to turn the water supply off as well (except for your boiler, in winter). You don’t want to come back to a flooded house.
Sliding garden windows?
Do you live in a house with garden sliding doors? I do, and when I moved in I did wonder why there was a piece of wood fitted at the bottom, where the door slides. Then I figured it out!
Sliding doors are beautiful and let a lot of light into the house, but they are also very easy to open. They have small locks which can be broken very easily, even when you are a little bit more brutal with the key in.
But when you put a piece of wood, or metal, or anything else that’s long enough on the bottom rail, it blocks the door from opening, even if it’s unlocked. Do not underestimate the power of DYI!
Don’t leave your valuables lying around
If you are living in a house or in a ground floor flat, make sure you are not leaving your laptop or any valuables in sight. Anything that can be seen from outside, through the window, can make your home a potential target. Put your laptop inside a cupboard and invest in a safe, for any jewellery or other small valuables you might have.
Did I miss anything? How do you protect your home when you go on holiday?
Disclaimer: Some of the links one this website are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and do a purchase, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. This helps me keep my website running and continue to share my traveling knowledge with you. I thank you for booking your flights or hotels using the links on my website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.