Are you getting ready for a well-deserved seasonal escape? Prepare and secure your home before you take off on your holiday adventures. Safeguarding your space is more than just locking doors – it’s about creating peace of mind so you can fully enjoy your time away. Whether it’s protecting against potential risks or avoiding common hazards, we’ve got you covered with pre-travel preparations. Take in the sights and sounds of a new city or unwind on a lakeside retreat, leave your home concerns behind for a stress-free vacation or weekend getaway

Securing the exterior of your home

Your home’s first impression is its exterior, and it can speak volumes. An unkempt yard, piled-up mail, and a dimly lit entryway are telltale signs of a vacant home. With the whirlwind of packing and preparing for a vacation, these pre-travel tasks might slip your mind.

Preparing your home’s exterior pre-travel

Did you know that over a million home burglaries occur in the US every year, and 25% of these incidents happen during the day? It’s an unfortunate reality we can’t ignore, but fear not! While burglars may be experts at targeting vacant homes, there are practical steps you can take to protect your home during your next extended travel.

  • Security system shield: Invest in a security system to deter burglars. Display the system’s sticker or badge visibly in your home, signaling that your property is well-protected.
  • Lock it up: Confirm all doors and windows are securely locked before you leave.
  • Light the way: Install timers for outdoor lighting to give the illusion that someone’s home.
  • Curb appeal matters: Arrange for snow removal or lawn care to keep your property looking lived-in.
  • Neighborly watch: Inform a trusted neighbor, family member, or friend about your absence, enlisting their help in keeping an eye on your home.
  • Snail mail: Don’t let an overflowing mailbox give away your absence—temporarily halt mail and newspaper deliveries.
  • Deliveries on hold: Contact package delivery services to temporarily pause shipments, preventing packages from piling up at your doorstep.

Preventing fire hazards

In the United States, a fire department responds to a fire every 21 seconds, and residential fires contribute significantly to fire-related casualties, as noted by the National Fire Protection Association. To minimize the fire risk while you’re away, adhere to the following preventive measures. 

  • Trim trees and branches: Trim back trees and overhanging branches from your roof and home’s exterior to reduce the risk of lightning-induced fires.
  • Place firewood and piles of leaves away from your property: Verify these items are not too close to your home, as they can quickly become kindling for a grass fire.
  • Regularly clean gutters and roof: Remove debris from gutters and roofs to eliminate fuel sources for fires and enhance fire resistance.
Picture of window gold lock

Prepare the interior of your home

Now that you’ve tackled the exterior, let’s focus indoors. Don’t overlook the heart of your home during your pre-travel preparations. Make sure every nook and cranny is ready for your departure.

Safeguarding your space pre-travel

No one wants to return from a vacation or weekend getaway to missing or damaged items, deal with a leaky faucet or appliance, or walk into a messy home. Give yourself a smooth return by taking simple steps to safeguard your space before leaving.

    • Adjust thermostat: Set the temperature to save energy and maintain a safe indoor climate.
    • Secure valuables: To deter theft, safely stow valuables in a secure or hidden location.
    • Check faucets and appliances: Confirm that all faucets and appliances are turned off to prevent potential water damage.
    • Water leak protection: Shut off the main water supply to prevent potential water damage. Small leaks can escalate into significant issues if not addressed promptly.
    • Home cleaning: Empty the refrigerator and tidy up your living space. Your future self will appreciate walking into a clean home upon your return!
  • Backup power: In case of power outages, consider investing in a backup power source for essential appliances like refrigerators or freezers. This keeps perishable items safe during unforeseen disruptions.
  • Smart home integration: If you have smart home devices, leverage them to control lights remotely. Set up timers or use mobile apps to simulate your presence by turning lights on and off, enhancing home security during your vacation.

Identify and eliminate potential electrical and fire hazards indoors

Begin by conducting a thorough assessment of your home. Look for common culprits such as faulty wiring, overloaded power strips, and unattended appliances. Identifying and rectifying these issues can significantly reduce the risk of a fire. 

  • Non-essential appliances: Unplug toasters, coffee makers, and chargers to eliminate residual risk. 
  • Essential appliances: Consider investing in smart plugs with timer functions for refrigerators, allowing you to control their operation remotely. This conserves energy and reduces the likelihood of electrical malfunctions in your absence.
  • Overloaded power strips: Review your electrical outlets to verify that power strips are not overloaded with too many devices. Distribute the load evenly and avoid daisy-chaining multiple power strips. Invest in high-quality power strips equipped with surge protection to safeguard your electronics.
  • Use surge protectors: Protect your electronics and appliances from power surges by using surge protectors.

Pause services

It’s easy to forget about pausing services when heading off for a vacation.

  • Pause services: Put services on hold, such as cleaning and pest control, on pause during your time away.
  • Automate your pay: Stay worry-free by setting up automatic bill payments or notifying service providers of your travel dates to avoid unexpected disruptions.
  • Pause subscriptions: Temporarily halt streaming services and gym memberships to avoid paying for services you won’t use during your vacation.

Pre-travel security system prep

Returning from vacation should be a breeze, and a key factor for a worry-free homecoming is giving your security systems the attention they deserve. Establishing an emergency plan and consistently maintaining security systems in tip-top shape enhances your safety and minimizes stress levels. Remember, a little preparation goes a long way in safeguarding your home sweet home.

  • Notify your provider: Keep your alarm company in the loop about your travel plans to enhance security awareness during your absence.
  • Emergency preparedness: Entrust a spare key to a reliable friend or neighbor for emergency access.
  • Pre-departure checks: Conduct thorough tests on security alarms and cameras before heading out to verify they are in optimal working condition.

Emergency contacts and important documents

Having a reliable network of emergency contacts and safeguarding important documents in your pre-travel preparations will reduce unnecessary headaches if something goes wrong while you’re miles away.  

  • Build your network: Create a comprehensive list of emergency contacts, encompassing neighbors, family members, and close friends. Strengthen your community ties by sharing your contact details with a trusted neighbor for swift communication.
  • Communication is key: Enhance your safety net by sharing your travel itinerary with a close friend or family member. This keeps your loved ones informed about your whereabouts and provides additional security.
  • Document duplication: Make duplicates of documents such as your identification and insurance policies. Having these copies easily accessible can prove invaluable during emergencies or unexpected situations.
  • Emergency numbers on hand: Stay well-prepared by having emergency contact numbers for local authorities.
  • Centralized contact list: Keep a concise list of important contacts in a readily accessible location. Whether it’s medical professionals, insurance agents, or other essential services, this list provides efficient communication in times of need.

Insurance coverage

A solid insurance policy not only safeguards your home against criminal activities but also shields it from potential damages caused by unforeseen natural disasters during your time away. Knowing that your investment is protected offers a sense of security, allowing you to enjoy your vacation without worrying about the well-being of your home.  A vacant home, in insurance terms, refers to a property that remains empty and unused for a significant duration. Typical homeowners insurance policies don’t cover most claims on a vacant property because they often have vacancy clauses, which restrict or exclude coverage on properties that have been vacant for a certain time – usually 30 or 60 days. Vacant home insurance generally covers the structure of a home for damage from scenarios like fire, lightning, wind, hail, and explosions. It can also protect homeowners from unexpected damages that might occur in their absence, such as theft, vandalism, or damage from unmaintained equipment or frozen pipes. If you plan to leave your home unoccupied for more than 30 days, it’s important to consider purchasing vacant home insurance to avoid a potentially expensive coverage gap.

Prepare for your return

Returning home after an enjoyable vacation is an overlooked step during our pre-travel preparations. However, the process of returning home deserves thoughtful consideration. To guarantee a welcoming return, here are a few recommendations to follow. 

  • Let there be light: Plan for a well-lit return with timers or smart home devices to create the appearance of occupancy.
  • Homey welcome: Coordinate with the trusted person holding your spare key to open windows, adjust the thermostat to a comfortable temperature, and attend to any additional tasks that can enhance the coziness of your return.
  • Swift resolution: Address any issues immediately upon returning to prevent further damage or complications.
  • Unpack strategically: Unpack systematically, starting with the essentials, to quickly settle into your daily routine.
  • Replenish essentials: Stock up on groceries and household supplies before returning home, ensuring a seamless transition into your routine.
  • Check mail and messages: Catch up on any missed correspondence to stay informed and maintain a sense of connection.
  • Reflect and reset: Take a moment to reflect on your travels, jotting down any memorable experiences, and set positive intentions for your return to daily life.

Pre-travel checklist

Before you leave for your trip, consider the following questions:

  1. Have I secured all doors and windows?
  2. Have I arranged for snow removal or lawn care?
  3. Have I adjusted the thermostat settings and unplugged electronic devices and appliances?
  4. Have I tidied up and emptied the refrigerator?
  5. Have I paused mail and newspaper deliveries and suspended regular services?
  6. Did I set up automatic bill payments or inform relevant service providers?
  7. Have I informed my security systems and provided a spare key to a trusted friend or neighbor?
  8. Have I created a list of emergency contacts and documented important information?
  9. Is my home insurance coverage up-to-date and tailored to seasonal risks?
  10. Did I prepare for my return?

By addressing these pre-travel questions, you can be certain that your home is well-prepared for your absence, allowing you to enjoy your vacation worry-free.

Additional pre-travel tips

In addition to securing your indoor and outdoor areas, elevate your home’s safety with these supplementary steps before your journey. 

  • Seasonal travel precautions: Take additional measures to prepare your home depending on the season. In winter, ensure pipes are insulated to prevent freezing, and in summer, set timers for lights to create the appearance of an occupied home. Adapting to the specific season helps safeguard your property.
  • Secure outdoor items: If you have outdoor furniture, bicycles, or other valuable items in your yard, secure them or move them to a locked storage area to prevent theft or weather-related damage.
  • Car considerations: If you’re leaving your car at home, park it securely and ask a neighbor to watch it. If you’re taking your car, verify it’s in good condition for the journey.
  • Pet-friendly and plant care arrangements: If you have pets and plants, make sure they are well cared for in your absence. Coordinate with a pet sitter, friend, or family member to provide regular care and attention.
  • Social media caution: While sharing your excitement about your upcoming vacation on social media is tempting, be cautious about broadcasting your absence. Adjust your privacy settings and consider posting updates after you return to maintain the security of your home.
  • Inform local authorities: If you live in an area where local law enforcement offers vacation checks, inform them of your travel dates. Some police departments provide extra patrols for homes that are temporarily vacant.
  • Packing tips: Streamline your packing process by creating a checklist of items, including travel documents, chargers, and any necessary medications. Roll clothes to maximize space, and use travel-sized containers for toiletries. Consider the weather at your destination to pack appropriate clothing, and don’t forget versatile accessories like a travel adapter and a reusable water bottle.
  • Medication management: Confirm you have enough to last through your vacation if you’re on medication. Consider setting up a medication reminder or taking your prescriptions if you run out.
  • Travel-friendly first aid kit: Pack a compact kit with essential items like bandages, pain relievers, antiseptic wipes, and any specific medications or medical supplies you might need. A travel-friendly first aid kit prepares you for minor injuries or health concerns while on the go. Check expiration dates and replenish supplies as needed before each trip. 

Safeguarding your home before seasonal holiday travel brings you peace of mind. By following these tips and our pre-travel checklist, you can avoid potential disasters and enjoy your vacation worry-free. Remember, a well-prepared home allows you to relax and make the most of your time away. Safe travels!