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Vacation is supposed to be a stress-free time for families to explore somewhere new, relax, and forget about everyday tasks. Unfortunately, vacations leave unoccupied homes more vulnerable to break-ins and weather events. Homeowners should take proper precautions before leaving for vacation to secure their homes and deter thieves, even if they plan to be gone for just a few days.

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How To Protect Your Home on Vacation

  • Let Trusted Neighbors Know
  • Notify Your Home Security Company
  • Lock Outdoor Areas
  • Install a Video Doorbell
  • Park an Extra Car at Home
  • Check Alarms
  • Set Lights on a Timer
  • Pause Mail and Deliveries
  • Avoid Social Media Until You Get Home
  • Do a Thorough Exterior Check
  • Unplug Electronics
  • Hire a House Sitter
  • Prepare Your GPS
  • Keep Valuables Locked Away

Statistics show that intruders target homes every few seconds in the United States. When a home is left empty due to vacation, a potential thief has the perfect opportunity to break in, especially when homeowners aren’t diligent about securing their property before they leave. Home insurance typically covers damage and loss of personal property from break-ins while on vacation, but it’s best to protect a home as much as possible from the start to avoid lengthy and expensive insurance claims.

14 Ways to Protect Your Home When You’re on Vacation

Family leaving on vacation

Even if you have a home security system installed, burglars can find ways to get in without the additional threat of someone in the home. Taking a few extra steps can boost your home security while also keeping it as safe as possible from weather events.

1. Let Trusted Neighbors Know

If you have a good rapport with your neighbors, it can be helpful to let them know when you’re leaving and when you’ll be back from vacation. Even if you don’t feel comfortable giving them a key to your home to check on it, they can still keep an eye on your property, alerting you if they see anything out of the ordinary while you’re gone.

👪 Pro Tip: Ask trusted neighbors to keep an eye on your home, adding an extra layer of security.

A trusted neighbor may also be able to take care of small tasks that you can’t do while you’re away, like holding onto packages that got delivered or taking your trash out on trash day. This may even add a layer of protection to your home by making it appear to potential intruders that someone is still home.

2. Notify Your Home Security Company

A home security system can help you arm your home with smart devices, like a smart lock and light timers, to thwart burglary and keep an eye on everything when you’re away. However, the best home security companies go a step further to help you protect your home on vacation by actively monitoring your home for potential threats.

Before you leave, let your home security company know the dates of your vacation. Request that they do a thorough check of your security cameras and alarm system. You might also consider opting into remote security monitoring while you’re away so that the company can occasionally check inside and outside of your home for suspicious activity. If you have anyone watching your home or pets for you, be sure to let them know that your security company may be actively monitoring.

3. Lock Outdoor Areas

To protect your home on vacation, you need to think about more than just door security. Locking your doors is a must, but to keep your home safe, also consider other areas of your home that a potential burglar may be able to access, like your garage, windows, or even a balcony that isn’t too far off the ground.

Disconnect your garage door opener before leaving to ensure that no one with unauthorized access can get into your garage. Lock all windows and gates. Also, remove any spare key that you may have hidden on a porch or around your home.

4. Install a Video Doorbell

If you don’t already have a video doorbell as part of your smart home security system, think about installing one. Video doorbells double as an extra security camera that lets you see outside your home.

A doorbell camera sends you an instant notification when someone is at your door, allowing you to answer the doorbell remotely and speak with the person live. Most video doorbells also include a motion sensor to alert you if a person or vehicle is within the vision range you set. For example, when you’re on vacation, you might set the camera’s vision range to pick up any motion in your front yard and driveway.

Be sure to look for a video doorbell with ample storage space to save video clips to review while you’re on vacation, just in case you can’t get to every real-time alert right away.

5. Park an Extra Car at Home

Although it may not seem like an important step, keeping an extra vehicle parked in your driveway or in front of your home could deter a potential thief from thinking that your house is easily accessible because no one’s there. The simple act of leaving a car behind makes it appear that a family member is home or at least that someone is watching over your place while you’re gone.

🚗 Pro Tip: Park a car in your driveway to give the appearance of someone being home, deterring potential intruders.

Better yet, have a trusted neighbor, family member, or friend move the vehicle occasionally. They can place it in a different spot in the driveway or move it to another parking spot. Keeping it in the same spot for the length of your vacation could signal to an intruder that it’s only there for display if they consistently monitor your home.

6. Check Alarms

Even if you have the best home security system installed, you can still have other problems with your home on vacation that don’t involve intruders. With the right alarms and alert systems in place, you can keep an eye on things and make sure that any emergencies are dealt with in a timely manner.

Before you leave, check your smoke and CO2 detectors. Replace their batteries to ensure their reliability while you’re away. Also, check that your motion smart lights work—recharge them if needed—and review all other home automation systems that keep your house secured.

If you don’t have water leak detectors, consider installing them before you leave. Various models work a bit differently, with some monitoring water usage to help you detect abnormal usage, while others detect flooding from appliances that use water, like a washing machine or dishwasher.

7. Set Lights on a Timer

A system of smart lighting can be invaluable to protect your home on vacation. You can set timers for exterior and interior lights to turn on and off at different times, with many systems even allowing you to control your lighting from an app on your smartphone.

Vary the timers a little bit each day to make it more realistic that someone might be home. For example, avoid turning all lights on and off at once. Instead, have a bedroom light switch on at 5:00 PM, followed by the kitchen lights at 5:30 PM, with most lights off around 10:00 PM. The next day, you might have all bedroom lights on at once and leave the living room lights on throughout the evening.

8. Pause Mail and Deliveries

Even if you only plan to be away from your home for a few days and don’t get much mail, it’s still a good idea to pause your mail and deliveries. This way, you don’t end up with mail and boxes piled in front of your door – which is a great way to attract porch pirates.

📦 Pro Tip: Pause your mail and package deliveries to prevent pile-ups that signal an empty home.

Let your delivery people know the days you’ll be gone so they can hold your mail and packages at the local office. You can conveniently request a mail hold through the United States Postal Service’s website, but you’ll also need to reach out to UPS, FedEx, and any other services that typically deliver packages to you.

9. Avoid Social Media Until You Get Home

Sharing photos of your vacation adventures on social media adds an extra layer of excitement to your trip. And it’s fine to do so that your friends and family can share in your fun, but wait to do it until after you return. Even if you’re careful about who views your social media posts, the fact is that they exist on the internet where almost anyone can find them, and you don’t want to alert the wrong person that you’re enjoying your vacation home instead of your year-round home.

10. Do a Thorough Exterior Check

Although the chances that something catastrophic might happen to your home while you’re gone are slim, the possibility is still there. By doing a detailed exterior check, you could prevent some problems, like storm damage.

🌳 Pro Tip: Remove overhanging tree branches and secure outdoor items to minimize weather-related damage risks.

Specifically, look for:

  • Tree branches overhanging your roof
  • Cracked windows
  • Gutters filled with leaves and debris
  • Areas of flooding in your yard
  • Unsecured patio furniture

Also, lock away any tools and ladders that could provide easy access to your home.

11. Unplug Electronics

When you’re away from home for an extended period of time, there’s no reason to leave most electronics and small appliances plugged in. Not only can it waste electricity by keeping them plugged, but you’re also putting your home at risk of an electrical fire or a power surge that can damage your electronics while you’re on vacation.

Even if you unplug everything, be sure to double-check each smoke alarm in your home, as they’re your number-one defense to protect your home in the event of a fire.

12. Hire a House Sitter

House sitters are becoming more popular to use. The number-one reason to have a house sitter while on vacation is to keep the home occupied while you’re gone, at least most of the time, to deter potential theft or vandalism. Some people ask a friend or family member to stay in their home or visit multiple times a week while they’re gone, but you can also hire an independent house sitter for the job.

🧑 Pro Tip: Hire a house sitter to maintain routine activities and enhance the illusion of occupancy.

A house sitter can also keep an eye on pets and take care of small tasks around your home, like cleaning, mowing the lawn, performing small home maintenance jobs, and bringing in mail and packages until you get back.

13. Prepare Your GPS

Something many people don’t think about before leaving on vacation is how accessible their location could be to others. For example, if location services are enabled on your phone, your social media posts and pictures may include information about your location, potentially alerting others that you’re not at home. If you don’t need your phone to track your location while you’re away, turn that off before you leave.

Also, be smart about your vehicle’s GPS. Disconnect it and turn off the screen if you need to stop at a rest area or park your car at the airport to prevent anyone from accessing your saved home address.

14. Keep Valuables Locked Away

Despite taking precautions to protect your home on vacation, it’s still a good idea to secure any valuables before you leave. This way, if an intruder does enter your home, they still can’t access important documents, jewelry, and other valuables that you can’t replace. Use a fireproof safe to lock your valuables away, and keep a note of everything you have stored in it.

Can Home Insurance Help Protect Your Home While You’re on Vacation?

Homeowners insurance offers protection for some incidents that may happen while you’re away, including damage from a fire or bad storm or any damage or loss resulting from theft or vandalism. Unfortunately, squatter insurance that protects an unoccupied home against squatters is difficult to find. Your homeowners insurance may still cover some problems if a squatter takes residence in your home while you’re on vacation, like any damage the person causes.

Before leaving for vacation, call your home insurance company to ask what it can help you with should any problems occur when you’re away. Your company may have additional coverages you can add to offer more protection without raising your premium too much.

Taking a vacation is a great way to relax, but it’s also important to protect your home while you’re away. Ensuring your home remains secure and safe during your absence involves taking some simple yet effective steps. This not only gives you peace of mind but also helps in avoiding any potential issues that could arise in your absence.