Home Security Tips For When You’re On Vacation

Security Baron  • 

A good vacation takes some preparation. You have to scope out the best sights, figure out which restaurants to hit up and figure out how you’ll fit in all the fun stuff a vacation has to offer. But you also want to plan how you’ll secure your home while you’re away. Follow these security tips and you’ll be able to focus on your vacation while you’re away, not your home.

Simple security

The simplest security measures are often also the first line of defense in home security. From basic timer switches and motion-activated lights to smart-home tech like light bulbs and connected plugs, your home may already have what it needs to make it look like you’re still there.

Burglars often scope out homes before breaking in. Setting up a light on a timer in a few rooms throughout your house can go a long way to making it look like someone is still in there. You can also purchase sensors that will turn on lights when motion is detected or when light levels are low, helping to make your home looked lived in.

If you want to step up your system, consider buying some smart light bulbs or connected outlets. While these are great for everyday use, they really shine when you’re away. Instead of crawling under a desk to set your timer, you can do it from your smartphone. And you can set up your whole house with a single set of rules.

If you’re going with a smart solution, you may want to stick with the schedules you’re already using, like turning the lights on around the time you’d usually get home from work and turning them off at bedtime. But it doesn’t hurt to change things up a little, which you can do from anywhere thanks to the connected nature of these gadgets. This could throw off an especially smart thief or just come in handy if you forgot to set your timers until you’re standing in the security line at the airport.

Keep an eye out

Peace of mind can be hard to come by when you can’t actually see your home. Luckily, there are great solutions to getting a live feed of the inside of your house. A connected security camera, like the Nest Cam or Logi Circle, provide both sound and vision anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection. And with continuous cloud recording, you’ll be able to review footage if something goes wrong.

For the best coverage, you’ll probably want to purchase a few cameras. The Blink cameras are small and cheap enough to blanket your house, and their ability to run for years on battery power means you don’t need to snake power cables all over the place. However, they only turn on the camera when they sense motion, which means you’ll have to hope that it catches everything you want it to.

If you do only have one or two cameras, consider placing them in ways that provide coverage of main rooms in your house. While facing the front door may seem like a great idea, a burglar prying open a side window wouldn’t be caught on tape. Putting the camera in the room with a big TV or packed jewelry drawer is more likely to catch a thief in the act.

Also consider some cameras rated for the outdoors. Nest makes an outdoor option, and Netgear’s Arlo wire-free cameras are rated for inside and outside use.

You may also want to up your subscription to your cloud recording system. While a day of recording on the free plan may work for day-to-day life, it could leave you blind to some problems you don’t notice until you get back from a 10 day trip. Plus, those upgraded plans often come with smarter notifications that send special alerts when they sense a person instead of your cat. 

Explore your options with our review of the best home security cameras. 

Secure your space

There’s nothing like a good security system to keep your home safe and your mind at ease while you’re away. Check out Frontpoint or Protect America as good examples.  But you may want to take a few extra steps before just setting it and walking away. Obviously, step one is arming the system.

It can be easy to let your bad habit of leaving the security system off while you run to the grocery store turn into leaving it off all the time. But you’ll want to be sure it’s in working order before your road trip or international cruise. That may mean just arming the system and making sure it’s not going off. If you have a monitored solution, give them a heads up before testing it so they don’t call the cops if something does go wrong. You’ll also your security provider with details of your trip and an alternate contact so that someone can respond quickly if you’re unreachable.

See our security system reviews

Securing your space also means making sure everything is locked up tight. Checking the locks on all your windows and doors is a great first step. You’ll want to engage all deadlocks for extra security and place a strong bar in any sliding doors to ensure they aren’t jimmied open. Also consider turning off your garage door opener to keep it from being opened with illicit “universal” remotes.

Consider unplugging unnecessary devices as well. Obviously, this will save on electricity, but it will also cut down on chances for electrical fires or other accidents. However, you’ll probably want to leave your router and modem plugged in if you’re using a security system or smart devices that rely on the internet connection to do their jobs.

Humans can help too

Nothing beats a real human keeping an eye on your house. This can be as simple as letting a neighbor know you’re away to hiring someone to check in daily. However, be careful broadcasting this info too much, as you don’t want it to get out that your home is empty.

Again, some smart home solutions can help here, especially if you’re hiring a dog walker, plant waterer or other helpers that need access. You can buy smart locks that allow access only during certain hours to certain people, keeping your housesitter from throwing a rager. You can then revoke access once you return, so you’ll never need to give anyone your garage code or an easily copyable key.

You’ll definitely want someone to come by to take in any papers, mail or flyers left outside. A stack of packages and mail is a sure sign that no one is home. Also consider asking someone to mow the lawn or shovel the walk during longer trips. No trash bins out on garbage day is another sure sign someone is away, so make sure they’re taken in and out, even if they’re empty.

Armed with these tips, you should be able to really relax and enjoy your vacation knowing your house is safe and sound. Plus, they’re simple enough that you can still spend plenty of time packing and planning for the fun part. Bon voyage!

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner is an attorney and journalist with a passion for home tech and secure, efficient living. Since graduating from NYU Law, he has maintained a paradoxical existence of trying to live life adventurously while remaining staunchly risk-averse. He is torn by the dual desires of wanting to only be in Brooklyn writing about housing policy and smart home tech and aspiring to visit his friends scattered across the globe. Gabe believes that stable, safe communities are the cornerstone to a vibrant and healthy society, and it is this passion that brought him to contribute to Security Baron.

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