You’ve made your list and checked it twice. You’ve worn the ink from your travel brochures, scoured the internet, and after a few more gut-wrenching days on the tedious J.O.B. you’ll be rolling out on a vacation that can’t come soon enough.
While it’s important to remember everything you’re going to take, there are other rules of thumb which all too often get ignored. In our excitement to lock the front door behind us, we fail to consider some equally as important common sense steps that could ruin the great time we’ve been longing for all year.
Before the rubber hits the road, stop, breath, and take note of the following advice.
1 The Thermostat
There is absolutely no reason for anyone to leave an unattended house or apartment at a comfortable 72 degrees. Your precious belongings will survive a drop or rise in temperature better than you can.
In the winter set your thermostat around 62 and in the summer leave it at 80. It won’t take long to cool it down or heat up when you get home and the money you’ll save on your electric bill will be well worth the half-hour or so it takes.
If you’re techno inclined and control your home through an app, all the better. It’ll be the perfect temp when you walk back through the door.
2 Social Media
Social media can be your worst enemy. If you really want to announce to your friends, friends of friends, snoopers, and hackers, that your home is empty and waiting to be robbed, blast pics of your kids building sand castles all over your social media pages. You never know who is going to see them and digging up private information, including your address, is as easy as 1-2-3.
To let your ‘actual’ friends and family members know what a fabulous time you’re having, send private messages or emails. If they are close enough to know you are out of town, and where you’re at, you’ll have one another’s email address.
The world is a busy place and it can wait until you get home to be jealous of the time you had. Chomp the bit and wait until then to post your pics and not one moment prior.
Hairdryers, coffee pots (especially those with timers), and all variety of electrical items have been known to melt down on occasion. These things should be unplugged whenever you’re not home, but especially if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time. It’s recommended to also unplug as many nonessential electronics such as TV’s, stereos, cable boxes and etc. as you can. You never know when a thunder boomer might take a liking to your house while you’re away, plus it’ll save a few you a few more coins.
4 The Lights
The oldest trick in the book is leaving a light or two on, but it’s still one of the most effective. A darkened house is equivalent to hanging up a neon sign saying “rob me please,” especially if it remains that way for a series of consecutive nights.
The first and worst of all options, but still better than a dark house, is simply to leave a living room lamp on as well as the front porch light. Hopefully, nobody with misguided intentions will notice things looking the same night after night. A much better option is to purchase some household timers. If you do this, purchase several so different lights will be on at different times.
Once again, an app will solve everything provided you remember to use it.
5 Mail and Door Flyers
Mail theft happens. Not only are packages swiped off porches, mailboxes are prime targets as well. And those sweet church ladies leaving flyers on your front porch is a surefire way of advertising nobody is home.
If you have a relative living close by or a neighbor who can be trusted, have them collect your mail daily and make sure no packages or flyers are left in plain sight.
A quick call to the post office, or a visit to their website, allows people to put their mail deliveries on temporary hold while they are gone. If you’re worried your designated person might forget to collect it daily for you, this option should be considered.
6 Your Driveway
Unless you own multiple vehicles an empty driveway spells out “we aren’t home,” especially when it’s empty all night. If at all possible, if a neighbor happens to have more than one vehicle ask them to use your driveway for one of them while you are gone. It’s simple fix and would-be thieves are more apt to pass your house by if there is a car in the drive.
7 Local Police and Neighborhood Watch Groups
Many towns and neighborhoods these days have neighborhood watch patrols who regularly comb the surrounding streets in search of suspicious activity. Make certain they know when you will be gone so they can keep an extra eye on your house while making their rounds.
If there is no such group in your neighborhood, call the police department and let them know you’ll be out of town. They’ll put it in a report for the officers patrolling your area of town so they know to drive by your house a few extra times.
It would be impossible to do this with everything of value but if you have smaller irreplaceable items such as a piece of Grandma’s jewelry, don’t leave them in the house. Regardless of every precaution taken, homes still get broken into and it would be a tragedy to lose a precious family heirloom or anything else you simply cannot live without.
Important papers should also be considered as some of them would take an act of Congress to replace. Military documents, insurance papers, birth records, and these sort of things should be protected in case of fire, flooding, or other disasters which could occur during your absence.
A little extra preparatory time can ultimately save some headaches when you get home. The peace of mind from knowing you’ve taken every necessary step will help you relax and truly enjoy your long-awaited vacation.