I remember when I was a kid and we would go on family vacation, my parents would always be preparing a ton of different things to make it look like we weren’t away. Obviously, as a kid, I thought this was excessive and annoying.
Now as an adult who regularly leaves her home unattended for weeks at a time, I get it. I think I might even be worse than my parents were!
I recently closed up our house for the summer, locked the door, and said goodbye to our little apartment for two entire months. It took a bit of preparing, but I’m confident that I’ll come back to a clean and safe home.
Besides the usual things like leaving my windows cracked, cleaning my sheets so I come home to a fresh bed, and making sure all of my houseplants will get watered while I’m away, there are a few other things I do to make sure my home is safe while I’m traveling.
These are just a few of the things that I do to ensure that I keep my home and all of the valuables I’ve left behind, totally safe whether I’m away for a long weekend or for the entire summer.
Have Someone Collect Your Mail
One of the things that my parents always used to do was to have a neighbor come over in the evening to collect any of our mail from our mailbox. I live in an apartment with a doorman, so I’m lucky that the doorman simply holds our mail at the front desk until we get home.
If you live somewhere where the post gets put through your door’s mail slot, you may still want to have a friend come over and clear it away so that a nosey person going past doesn’t see all that mail piled up behind your door.
If you have a mailbox, like many Americans, and you’re going to be gone for more than a week, you’ll definitely want a trusted friend to stop by and clear out the mailbox before it starts to overflow. An overflowing mailbox is a surefire way of letting people know you’re not home.
If you don’t have someone nearby who can collect your mail and you live in the US, you can have the USPS hold your mail for a short period of time. Basically, you give them a date that you’ll be returning and they won’t deliver any of your mail until that date. They will hold it for up to 30 days.
Consider a Home Alarm System
If you’re leaving a lot of your valuables at home while you’re traveling or you simply want the peace of mind knowing that your home is being looked after, consider getting a home alarm system.
If someone tries to break-in through a window or door, your alarm will sound. If for some reason, this doesn’t scare the burglar off, a siren will sound shortly after. This will no doubt get your neighbors out to see what’s happening. If the alarm isn’t shut off after a minute, then the police will be notified and they will come to inspect your home.
The thing I love about home alarm systems these days is that you can have total access to what’s happening at home with an app on your phone. If something isn’t right at home, you’ll get a notification on your phone and you’ll be able to check in on any cameras that have been setup by your home alarm company.
Get Timers for Your Lights
This is a simple one that I learned from my boyfriend’s parents. They use timers on their lights to make it look like someone is in the house at night. The time can be set to whatever you want, so you can simply have it on for an hour or two each night to make it look like someone is home.
I remember when I was a kid, that my parents would leave the living room light on when we would go on vacation. It’s a great deterrent, in my opinion, but having a timer means that you don’t waste anywhere near as much energy.
Gone For More Than a Month?
If you’re going to be away for more than four weeks, you’ll want to do a few more things to make sure your house doesn’t look totally deserted.
If you are going on a long vacation, but don’t want to inconvenience your neighbors or friends, consider getting a housesitter who can keep your house clean, open the windows throughout the week, run the taps (important especially during the winter), and make your house look like it’s full of life. If you’re going to be gone for more than 6 weeks, you may want to have someone cut your grass, especially during the summer months.
This is also a great idea if you have pets. It means you don’t have to pay to kennel them. I housesat in Copenhagen and Paris a few years ago and it was so much fun. It allowed me to see these expensive cities without spending a fortune on hotels or Airbnb and I helped out a few families who needed their dogs fed and walked.
Of course, you don’t have to have pets to use housesitting services. If you simply want someone in the house to look after things, you can use the same websites as people with pets.
The longer you’re away without having someone come into and out of your home, the more likely it is that your home will look like no one is there. If it looks like no one is ever at home, you may set yourself up as a target for burglars.