Traveling? Prep Your Home First
Each year, people travel for a variety of reasons. Some travel for work, some to visit family and friends, and others take extended vacations. In fact, according to the U.S. Travel Association, about 80% of American adults travel for leisure while 38% travel for business meetings and events. With so many people on the move, it's no surprise that homes are often left unoccupied for extended periods.
A range of potential issues can affect your home while you're away. From burglaries to water leaks, it's important to take some preventive steps before you leave so that your home is as secure and protected as possible.
Security Comes First
No matter how safe a neighborhood seems, even the best neighborhoods can have their share of accidents and unfortunate incidents. And houses that sit unoccupied for long periods are even more susceptible to break-ins.
Townhomes and condo complexes often have their own security system supplied by the association. Be sure to activate it before you leave and alert your complex manager that you'll be gone so they can keep an eye out. Most systems will have an emergency contact number you can call if anything happens while you're away.
Lock Up — Including the Garage
One of the quickest and easiest ways to deter potential burglars is to make sure all doors and windows are locked before you leave. That includes not just doors leading into your home, but also any second-story windows and sliding glass doors.
You should also lock away any ladders or tools that someone could use to gain access to your home. If you have a home with a garage or carport, be sure to lock it as well — garages are often easy access-points for burglars looking to break into homes.
Another way to secure your home is to install motion sensor lights around the perimeter of your property. This will help deter anyone who might be considering breaking in, as they'll be more likely to be seen.
Invest in a Security System
If you don't have a security system, now might be a good time to invest in one. There are several different options on the market, so be sure to do your research and find one that fits your needs and budget. Having a security system in place can not only provide you with peace of mind, but it can also help reduce your homeowners insurance premiums.
Most systems come with features like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and burglary alarms, as well as the option to add on things like flood sensors and cameras. Make sure to keep the contact information for your security company handy and give them a call if you'll be gone for an extended time and want them to do extra patrols around your home.
If you're looking for a more affordable option, you can also purchase fake security cameras and signs to place around your home. These will help deter potential burglars without breaking the bank.
Don’t Leave House Keys “Hidden”
It may be tempting to leave a key hidden outside your home so that friends or family can let themselves in while you're away, but this is one of the worst things you can do. By leaving a key in an easily accessible spot, you're making it easy for burglars to enter your home.
Instead, give a key to a trusted neighbor or friend and ask them to keep an eye on your home. If you have a pet, you can also ask them to stop by once or twice a day to check and make sure they have food and water.
If you don't have anyone you trust to leave a key with, consider getting a keyless entry system for your home. This will allow you to give temporary access codes to friends and family without having to worry about them losing or forgetting your house key.
Put Valuables in a Safe
One of the best ways to protect your valuables while you're away is to put them in a safe place. This could be a safe in your home, a safety deposit box at your bank, or even a storage unit.
Pause or Forward Your Mail
Mail theft is on the rise, with the number of complaints increasing by 600% over the last three years. Mail theft can lead to several issues, such as identity theft and financial fraud.
If you're going to be gone for an extended period, you can ask the post office to pause or forward your mail to another address. This will help ensure you don't miss any important letters or packages and your mail doesn't get stolen
Alternatively, you could ask a friend or family member to pick up your mail for you. Just be sure to give them specific instructions on what to do with it. You could also install a mailbox lock to make it more difficult for thieves to get into your mailbox.
Alert Neighbors You Trust
If you have any close neighbors or friends who live nearby, be sure to let them know you'll be out of town. They can keep an eye on your home and alert you if they see anything suspicious.
Give them your contact information in case they need to reach you for any reason. If they see something suspicious, they can contact the police and let them know.
If you're going to be gone for an extended period, it's important to save energy and money while you're away. After all, there's no need to keep your home heated or cooled if no one is there.
Consider investing in eco-friendly upgrades for your home, such as energy-efficient windows or solar panels. These upgrades will help you save money on your energy bills and protect the environment.
Turn Off Unnecessary Lights
Another way to save energy is to simply turn off all the lights in your home before you leave. This will not only help you save money, but it will also help conserve lightbulbs.
Use Smart Thermostats and Light Timers
If you want to automate your home while you're away, consider investing in a smart thermostat or light timer. These devices will allow you to control the temperature and lighting in your home from anywhere in the world.
You can also use them to create a schedule for when your lights should turn on and off. This will make it look like you're home even when you're not.
Make Adjustments to Indoor and Outdoor Plants
Watering your plants is an important part of keeping them healthy, but it's also one of the most common tasks that homeowners forget to do. If you're going to be gone for an extended time, be sure to water your plants before you leave and set up a watering schedule for when you're gone. You could also invest in drought-friendly plant types that don't need as much water.
Prevent Mishaps and Emergencies
One of the best ways to prepare for an extended trip is to prevent any potential mishaps or emergencies from happening. It's a good idea to have your home inspected before you leave. This way, you can identify any potential problems and make the necessary repairs. By taking precautions, you can help ensure that your home is safe while you're away.
Check the Weather
If you're traveling during a particularly rainy or snowy season, be sure to check the weather forecast before you leave. This way, you can plan and make sure that your home is prepared for any severe weather.
You can also stock up on supplies, such as sandbags, tarps, and insulation, to help protect your home from the elements.
Turn Off Water
If you're going to be gone for an extended time, it's a good idea to turn off the water valves in your home. This will help prevent any water damage in case of a leak.
If you're going to be gone during the cold winter months, you should consider dripping your faucet to prevent any water damage. This will help keep your pipes from freezing and bursting while you're away. You can also buy a device that will automatically drip your faucet for you.
Empty the Fridge
It's a good idea to empty your fridge and freezer to prevent any food from going bad while you're away. If possible, try to eat all the perishable food in your fridge before you leave.
Invest in Flame-retardant Decor
Taking safety precautions and learning how to upgrade your home decor can go hand in hand. If you're looking for ways to make your home safer, consider investing in flame-retardant decor. This type of decor is designed to resist fire and help prevent any accidental fires from happening. Not to mention that you can still keep your home aesthetically pleasing with flame-retardant decor.
Unplug Electrical Items
One of the best ways to prepare your home for extended travel is to unplug all electrical items. This includes televisions, computers, lamps, and any other devices that use electricity. By unplugging these items, you can help conserve energy and prevent any potential damage from happening.
Overall, preparing your home for extended travel is a process that takes time and planning. By following these tips, you can make the process a bit easier and ensure that your home is ready for your return.
Hi there! I'm Ryan Fitzgerald, a REALTOR in Raleigh-Durham, NC and the owner of Raleigh Realty. Chances are you and I share a similar passion, Real Estate! I also have a passion for building businesses, working out, inspiring others, technology, sports, and people. Connect with me on Facebook and Instagram!