Keeping Your Home Safe While You Travel

Here are some smart "insider tips" from industry professionals and everyday travelers we interviewed that cover the preparation of your home while you are on vacation.


The House: Main Rooms

  1. Have a friend, family member or trusted neighbor check on your house.
    • Give the person your house keys and security codes (if necessary).

    WHN TIP: Take in the Paper

    If you're going on a short trip, ask a friend or family member to take in the papers. Your house should look occupied while you're gone

  2. Kitchen
    • Empty the refrigerator of anything that might spoil - dairy, meat, and produce – and adjust the temperature to a lower setting.
    • Unplug toaster
    • Coffeemaker
    • Toaster oven
    • Other small appliances.
  3. Bathroom
    • Unplug blow dryer
    • Curling or flat irons
    • Toothbrush chargers
    • Shavers
    • Other electrical appliances you're not taking with
    .
  4. Laundry room
    • Unplug the iron
    • Be sure your dryer ducts are properly covered (so squirrels don't come in).
  5. Bedroom and den
    • Unplug TVs
    • Radios
    • Computers
    • Shredders (This protects them from power surges if there's a storm while you’re gone.)
      • Not unplugging electronics? Make sure your surge protectors are properly installed.

The Rest of the House

  1. Set automatic light and radio timers.
  2. Leave shades or drapes as you normally do. This will make your house look lived-in.
  3. Put your valuables and jewelry in a safety deposit box or safe.

    WHN TIP:

    If you don’t have a safe or safety deposit box, put jewelry/valuables in a nondescript cardboard box in a closet, under a sink, pantry, etc.. Why? Thieves won’t think to look there.

  4. Empty trash cans.
  5. Be sure all candles and fireplaces are OUT.
  6. Lock all doors and windows including basement and garage.

Outside

  1. Bring in last deliveries of mail or newspapers.

    WHN TIP: No Mail

    If you stop the newspaper and mail, have a friend or neighbor check your mailbox - sometimes it may take a day or two AFTER you've left for your request to take effect.

  2. Pick up any toys, tools, objects, ladders, etc. that might be in your yard.
  3. Check outdoor electronics (hot tubs, fountains, lights) to be sure they are either off or on 'economy' (this depends on how long you will be gone).

    WHN TIP: Thanks, Neighbor!

    If it snows where you live, keep your driveway plowed when you're gone - it will look like you're home. Extra tip? Have your neighbor drive in and out of the plowed driveway; the tire tracks will make it look like you're home.

Final Checklist

Reconfirm all reservations and confirmation numbers.
  1. Hotel: Reconfirmed - Date of Conversation - Person Spoke With - Confirmation number(s) - Email Confirmations Printed
  2. Airplane: Reconfirmed tickets/departure time - Date of Conversation - Person Spoke With - Confirmation number(s) - Email Confirmations Printed
  3. Car Rental: Reconfirmed - Date of Conversation - Person Spoke With - Confirmation number(s) - Email Confirmations Printed
  4. Train: Reconfirmed tickets/departure time - Date of Conversation - Person Spoke With - Confirmation number(s) - Email Confirmations Printed
  5. Driving to your vacation destination? Call ahead and reconfirm: Your Arrival - Date/Time of Conversation - Person Spoke With - Confirming (and printing) route you're planning to take
  6. Other: Reconfirmed - Date of Conversation - Person Spoke With - Email Confirmations Printed
  7. Re-evaluate itinerary.
    • Make any necessary changes. Leave a final copy with a friend, family member or trusted neighbor.

    WHN TIP: At the Office

    Leave your itinerary with a co-worker. Why? Often the first sign that something may be wrong is when someone doesn't show up at work when they are due back. <

  8. Check the weather for your destination(s). Take out or add items to your luggage, if necessary.

Departing

  1. Make arrangements to get to (and from!) the airport.
  2. Double-check that you have all necessary tickets, passports, photo I.D.s, money, cameras, medicine and all bags ON YOUR PERSON.

    WHN TIP: Currency Exchange as You Go.

    Flying to a foreign country? Convert some money before you go so when you land at the airport you have pocket change.

  3. Just as you're leaving - double-check that all doors and windows are locked.
  4. Have fun!

Updated: 5/2009