4 Practical Ways to Keep Your Home Safe While You Travel

By Guest | Posted November 9, 2021

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash
Traveling this holiday season? This guest post from Molly Barnes, of Digital Nomad Life, outlines some easy tips to help keep your home safe and secure while you’re away.
Traveling comes with its own set of stress and headaches. Itineraries, fellow travelers, and being away from home will push your buttons and wear you down, even on vacation. The last thing you need is the added stress of worrying about the safety of your home.
That’s why the following list of easy actions is vital for any homeowner. Before heading out, take some no-nonsense steps to ensure your home is safe. Here are four practical ways to keep your home secure while you travel.

Be Smart About Security
Almost every electronic device is smart these days. And those that aren’t can be hooked up to a smart outlet to grant you complete control. Intelligent, automated systems are great for convenient use, energy savings, and security.
Smart home systems can be remotely monitored and controlled. Homeowners can set up cameras and sensors to track movement or sounds. All data can be saved in case you catch anyone in the act with cloud recording.
Set up lighting routines that mimic a standard daily schedule with smart lighting, including inside and outside lights. If nefarious actors don’t realize you’re gone, they’ll be more inclined to stay away.
Smart appliances can alert you if problems occur, such as a power failure or open doors. There are even smart systems for the entire house (like Control4!). These can control heating, water systems, and more, which can come in especially handy in the event of a power surge or burst pipe. You can stop calamities from a country away with integrated, automated systems.
You want to avoid actions that are out of the ordinary. For example, don’t draw all curtains if they’re usually open or leave a car parked in the driveway while you’re away. 
Many cameras are inexpensive, come with cloud storage, and can be viewed from an app. Installing them both inside and outside your home will help deter criminals. 
The home doesn’t have to be professionally monitored to benefit you. Get some professional signage and post it around the property. Keep some indications of security plain to see. This front-line defense can stop burglars before they even step foot on your property.

Don’t Advertise Your Absence
Millions of homes are burglarized every year. While not a guarantee, keeping your plans to yourself is one of the best steps you can follow to avoid becoming a statistic.
Avoid creating unsafe scenarios that will alert others your house is empty. Ask your neighbors or a family member to pick up mail and packages. If you will be gone for an extended period, ask them to care for home maintenance, including lawn mowing or snow removal. Nothing says “empty” clearer than an overgrown lawn and dark windows.
If you’ve invested in home security before your trip, discreetly dispose of the packaging. Don’t advertise your recent upgrades on the curb. And be sure to keep all personal documents out of the trash. Shred anything with your name on it, from statements to utility bills. 
Aside from the select few close friends and family, don’t tell anyone about your vacation. Avoid posting any details on social media; particularly specific dates, times, and locations that could create a schedule for burglars to follow. 
Keep your pictures off the web until you’re home. You might think it fun to check in with a picture of you feeding a Howler Monkey in Belize, but burglars will only see an empty home ripe for plunder.

Photo by Nikola Knezevic on Unsplash
Invest in a Backup Power Source 
Without power, your home is a sitting duck. Even your smart automation will be useless without electricity. And with continuing climate change, you can’t rely on common weather trends anymore. 
Even without the threat of burglary, a home without power is a disaster waiting for your return. Fridges will turn into science experiments. In the winter, pipes can freeze and burst without heat. Mold can form from a lack of fresh air. No power leads to horrible things.
Protect your home by investing in a backup generator, specifically, a CARB-compliant generator. These generators ensure fewer emissions, and they are safer around the house as they use higher-quality components. Of course, they must be appropriately installed to function correctly.
Make sure the power potential of the generator can meet your wattage needs. Home-standby generators can produce up to 20,000 watts, which is enough for an entire home. Or, you can dial in the right size to ensure just lights and security systems are running while you’re away.

Make the Necessary Repairs 
When you plan a vacation, always take some time to note what needs to be repaired around the house. Focus on safety and function above anything else. Replace any burned out bulbs inside and outside. Replace HVAC filters and clean the ducts so you don’t come home to stuffy, stale air.
Make sure that your windows are in working order. Old, weathered windows are easy to unlock. Plus, they bleed energy and send your utility bills soaring. Use an online calculator to determine window replacement costs. These resources will specify different types of windows for their practical situations. They will also list which windows are best for the price. It may cost up to $1,800 to replace a window, but that will still be far less than losing your valuables.
You’ll also want to test your existing systems and features. Make sure your smoke and CO₂ monitors are in working order. Some models will alert your phone if smoke or fumes are detected. Don’t neglect the small things, like making sure your floors are clear if you’ve got a robotic vacuum. Unplug unnecessary electronics. You can leave some plugged in to create mock routines, but you can avoid damage from surges by unplugging most electronics from the wall.
Bring in professionals to assess your home’s systems. Have a plumber check for leaks throughout the house. Ask them to inspect the water heater for any issues and where your shutoff valves are. Shutting off the water main is a good choice to avoid unforseen water issues, or turn off the water to individual appliances.
Vacation prep doesn’t end with a full suitcase. Making sure the home is ready for your absence is just as important, if not more so. Keep details out of the public eye, and only tell your trusted circle of your plans. Spruce up the home before you leave to avoid unforeseen issues while you’re away. And to be perfectly covered, bring in an emergency generator to ensure security systems and lights stay on.
Automation can address many issues that homeowners face while away. Set up lighting routines and living schedules. Keep security systems running at all times with connected cameras and sensors. These systems will not only protect your home while you’re gone, but they can also make your life much easier when you return.

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