Whether you're heading off on that much anticipated two week holiday or you're heading off on a huge backpacking trip, it's important not to get so carried away you forget to safeguard your home. So often it is the last thing we think about when we're going away, but it is actually the time when our homes and our possessions are most vulnerable. With thieves getting smarter and so much of our personal lives being available for the world to see on social media, it only takes one bad egg to take advantage of your trip to line their own pockets. But as ever with travelling, planning is key and can save you a lot of time, hassle and money. So when planning your next trip, why not put some of these suggestions in action and see how much of a difference they make. You can spend as much as you like on a luxurious resort, but if you don't have peace of mind that your home is safe, there's almost no point in being there. Treat yourself to full relaxation on your next holiday by making sure you've done everything in your power to give yourself a good homecoming.
What can you do to protect your home?
For city breaks/summer holidays:
- Make friends with your neighbours - they're the best security watch you can get and they're totally free (well, perhaps get them a box of chocolates to say thanks for watching the house)
- Stay off social media. As hard as it can be to not boast pics of you sipping on cocktails in the Maldives, there have been several homes targeted by thieves who knew people were on holiday from social media.
- Get a house sitter - there are lots of websites where you can get house sitters for any length of time - in exchange for a place to stay people will watch the house and any pets you may have. Or ask a friend/family member to do it.
- Install a security system - good quality systems are available for all budgets these days and will offer 24/7 monitoring of your home and possessions. Check out this Panasonic Smart Homes System.
- Make sure the building is secure before you leave - all doors/windows should be locked and make sure expensive items are not on display, you don't want to tempt any opportunist thieves.
- Don't close all curtains and make the building look abandoned - it is very clear when no-one is home and it is most vulnerable. Instead use net curtains/blinds to block views into the downstairs rooms, leaving the main curtains open and making the building appear active.
For the long-term travellers:
- See if you can find someone to rent or live in the property while you are away. If you can't find a renter, consider Air BnB (which will also generate income) or house sitters to make sure there is always someone at the property and that it doesn't sit abandoned.
- Ensure the building is secure before you leave - check all exits and entrances, all windows and doors for vulnerable points or anywhere that could be a target for thieves. Replace any weak joints/hinges that could become a problem in six months.
- Making friends with neighbours or having a friend/family member who can monitor and check up on the building is a good idea whether you have renters or not.
- Installing a security system can be a good way to instantly alert authorities or family if there is a problem and the property is unattended.
- Place any expensive items that will not be used (i.e. cars/TV/computer) in secure storage so they are not left in an unattended house.
- Make sure your house insurance/contents insurance is up-to-date no matter where you are in the world or how far away it all seems. It only takes a burst pipe or an opportunist thief to cause serious damage at your home and you want to be covered for all forms of loss.
Don't suffer from FOBA (Fear Of Being Away) - get out there and enjoy your travels by doing all you can to protect your home while you're away. Just as you padlock up your suitcase and buy travel insurance as a back up in case anything goes wrong - make sure you look after what's waiting for you at home. Also, stay safe abroad by checking out my safety tips for travelling solo.
Have you been a victim of theft while on holiday? What security do you put in place at your home while you travel?