How to keep your home safe when you are traveling

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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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

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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?

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Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

51 Comments

  1. I travel a lot, so I really appreciate this valuable advice. A few simple changes, or just a conversation with a neighbour as you say, can make a world of a difference.

  2. These are some great ideas, the last thing you want to be doing when travelling is worrying about back home! We always let our neighbours know and have our cameras set up and fully charged as well.

  3. My husband and I travel for work and we always tell our neighbors when we are gone. I think it’s important to do so as well. You cannot be too safe these days.

  4. Oh wow, what an important topic, we need to really equip our homes with a security system no only when we travel but all the time. Bad things can happen especially if we have pets in the house. That is my biggest worry. Thanks for sharing about this equipment.

  5. Thanks for the valuable tips. These are the some great tips on who to secure our home while traveling. Thanks for sharing. I am sharing with my travel buddies.

  6. This is a great list! I agree that it’s probably best to post on social media after your long trip. Another one you could add is to turn your water off (if gone longer than a week)…both my parents and I have had pipes burst before while we were out of town.

  7. We have security cameras (inside and outside) that we can remotely access so we check our place all the time when we’re not here. In the US we can do a mail hold, so no mail gets delivered. Quick and easy too as you can do it online.

  8. These lists are really helpful. We travel a lot and leave our home alone. Security camera is a plus, we are planning to install some this week.

  9. I cant think of anything unmentioned here any more. Everything that i could think of,to be secure when leaving my house is mentioned here.Maybe i could that if you were about to leave even just for hours, you could turn a loud music on, making intruders believe that somebody might be in the house.?

  10. Loads of great tips here, it is so important to secure your home before going off on holiday. We always have people come to stay as we live in such an amazing place, everyone wants a free hioliday. Michx

  11. These are precious tips. I usually talk to one or two of my neighbors to help keep an eye out. It’s also nice to have a timer for your lights, one you can easily control by phone, that way you can turn on and off as you’d typically do. Also, ask your neighbor to put your trash out on trash day!

  12. These are all great tips. We do most of these when we go away, though we don’t have an alarm so that’s maybe something to look in to.

  13. When we’re in a house we’ll definitely have really good alarm systems and house security. But I do think speaking neighbours and friends to pop in and out of the property is always a good idea x

  14. These are some great ideas I’ll be using as I travel this holiday season. I always talk to my neighbors and let them know, they are so nice.

  15. These are some important tips to keep home safe when we go out. We are planning for a trip. This will help us a lot. Thanks for sharing.

  16. These are so good! I live in an island in the south pacific, where there a LOT of volunteers at a near by school my friend’s kids go. The volunteers are always sooooooooooooo happy to house sit and are trustworthy! Definitely good advice here!

  17. I travel often so your advise is very valuable for me. I always ask our friends to have a sleep in our house once a week. We had dogs and they either travel with us or stay with at our friend’s family but it is always lack of dogs which is very hard to cover.

  18. I agree with all of this. It is so important to try and protect your home when you are gone because it opens the place up to potential robbers. I have a security system and def inform my neighbors when we are going to be away for a long period of time.

  19. Theae are really great tips not only to all travelers who live their house for a months but also to everyone who are always living the house for their everyday’s work.

  20. These are wonderful tips. We all must be more diligent in this day and age. It’s so much easier to find out someone’s travel plans and take advantage, souring an otherwise wonderful trip.

  21. I never considered any of these but I do admit, the idea of travelling and leaving a home empty has put me off the idea of owning my own place. Also, I couldn’t resist social media updates so I would make it so obvious that my flat would be empty! x

  22. Some of these tips I would’ve not thought about! I normally have a house sitter since I have pets! But good to know for the future in case I have none.

  23. I find it helpful to have someone stop by from time to time to check on the place and keep it from being unattended the entire time. Social media does make it harder when we all want to be excited and share that we are away from home.

  24. Great tips. The tip on not posting on social media is so true. It’s super tempting but for safety reasons people don’t need to know exactly what you are doing.

  25. Leaving your home without no one leaves also an anxiety in our mind, so I”m thankful that you have shared great tips. Thanks for sharing ! 🙂

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