10 Ways to Keep Your Home Safe While You’re on Vacation

The front of a house with all its lights on

There’s so much to love about traveling—from experiencing the culture of other regions to making unforgettable memories with loved ones. Don't dampen these magic moments with anxiety about the safety of your empty home. Take some steps ahead of time to ensure a relaxing vacation.

1. Stop Your Mail

An overflowing mailbox and newspapers lying around near your door are signs your house is unattended. If you don’t have anyone who can pick up your mail while you’re gone, contact the post office and have the service stopped for the time that you're gone.

A home mailbox overflowing with mail

2. Put Lights on a Timer

It’s pretty simple to put interior and exterior lights around your home on timers to give the illusion that people are home. Many smart light systems can be controlled from your smartphone, which is even better. This allows you to turn lights on and off at varying times, throwing onlookers off even more.

3. Put Away Spare Keys

Many people hide spare keys outside their home in case of a lockout. It’s not a good idea to leave these spare keys out when you’re away, even if they’re hidden. Put them safely inside for the duration of your trip.

4. Don’t Leave Your GPS in the Car

Thieves are becoming more tech savvy these days, and one of their latest tricks is to break into cars parked at airports, steal the GPS system, and use the pre-programmed “home” address to figure out where to find a vacant home. If you have a GPS system, take it out of your car and either leave it at home or bring it with you. At the very least, put it inside the center console or glove compartment in your car so it’s out of sight.

5. Unplug Items

Cut down on the risk of fire, and save yourself some money, by unplugging unnecessary electronics before you go. Disconnecting power hungry devices like televisions, video game consoles, and computers is a great way to reduce energy usage. Of course, you won’t want to unplug certain appliances—such as your fridge—so use your best judgment when taking this step.

6. Turn Off Your Water

The last thing you want while you’re away is for your home to experience a water issue. To prevent this from happening, turn your water main off before you depart. This can help avoid leaks and floods that could cause a huge mess and expensive damage. If you need the water to be on for something like a sprinkler system, shut off the water supply to your toilets, dishwasher, washing machine, and ice maker.

7. Steer Clear of Social Media

It’s common to share tidbits from trips on social media. You may want to consider holding off on that until you’re safely back home, though. If your accounts are public, travel posting can tell strangers your house is empty.

A hand replacing a detector's battery

8. Check Safety Device Batteries

Before you leave, check the batteries in your home safety and security devices. This includes motion detectors, surveillance cameras, smoke detectors, and anything else that alerts you of potential hazards.

9. Disconnect Your Garage Door

Most garage doors operate remotely, and unfortunately these systems can be hacked by clever crooks. Disengage your garage door opener and use a manual lock while you’re out of town.

10. Schedule Landscaping

An overgrown lawn is another sign you’re away. Schedule someone to mow your lawn, water your plants, and clean up your yard while you’re off adventuring.