Vacation mode is a wonderful feeling, but while you’re on a trip, niggling thoughts about the security of your home often pop up. Is your home safe? Did you lock all the doors and windows? Are any drapes open or lights left on unintentionally? Will the home be damaged during a burglary or storm? Are valuables well hidden?

These stressful questions intrude on valuable hammock time, particularly when your phone rings unexpectedly. But should you be worried?

It’s true — break-ins are common. In the U.S. alone, one occurs every 25.7 seconds. Still, you can be prepared.

One common solution is to install an alarm. According to ADT, a home without a security system is three times more likely to experience a break-in. Adopting more intelligent habits also reduces your chances of theft and damage. 

In this article we’ll explore effective ways to protect your home while you’re away so you can relax and enjoy that hammock time with greater peace of mind.

    Why Secure Your Home Before Vacation? 

    Burglars prioritize empty homes — even when owners aren’t on vacation. According to ADT, burglars case homes to spot vulnerabilities and time patterns to ensure they can get away with a break-in. Burglars even prioritize homes under two miles of their own to make surveillance easier.

    When you’re on vacation, burglars are more likely to spot inactivity, which increases your chances of break-ins. Summer months are the most common time for burglaries since they’re the most common times families take vacations.

    Burglaries aren’t the only potential hazard to deal with while you’re away. Damage from hazards like weather and electrical fires is also a possibility. If your vacation takes you far away, you may not be able to return in time to protect your home and minimize the damage.

    By taking some time before your trip to secure your home in ways that help minimize risk from burglars and damage from weather and other factors, you’ll reduce your chances of losing valuable items and being hit with expensive home repairs, helping you sleep better on your trip.

    11 Ways to Protect Your Home While on Vacation 

    Below we’ll outline effective solutions that reduce your risk of break-ins and damage from weather or other causes.

    1. Install a Security System 

    Security alarms have always been effective tools for recognizing when a potential break-in has occurred and warning law enforcement, but new tools bring more protection. In our article covering tips to improve your home’s security, we discuss solutions like low-cost security cameras that work indoors and outdoors and motion-sensing lights that turn on automatically to create the appearance that you’re home and lighting up spots where burglars may be lurking or trying to gain entry.

    Other recent innovations include voice technology that lets you verbally warn intruders and smart locks that are safer than hiding spare keys in the yard.

    2. Use Lights with Timers or Smart Lighting

    A dark home over many nights is a sure sign of an absent owner. Timed lighting gives the appearance of activity in the home so that burglars cross you off their list of potential targets. The more you mix up the lighting timing and locations, the more it will seem like someone is actually home.

    Today’s smart lighting devices make adjusting the timing and frequency of lighting easy from wherever you are, including your hammock. You can also turn lights on instantly to check on your home with your cameras whenever desired.

    3. Keep a Car in the Driveway 

    This may raise concerns for your car’s safety, but a home without visible cars is another sure sign of an empty house. You can install a car security system to reduce risk.

    You can also have your neighbor use your driveway while you’re gone. Any evidence of activity will keep thieves at bay.

    4. Use a Friend or a House Sitter 

    If you have a neighbor or other person you trust who can check on your home, use them. If you don’t, hire a housesitter. They can report any unusual activity or help prevent potential damage from storms. They can also help with everyday needs like watering plants, airing out the home, and collecting your mail so burglars never know you’re gone. They can even stay in the house for improved safety. A smart lock provides quick access.

    5. Be Careful What You Announce on Social Media 

    This one isn’t often top-of-mind, but it should be. Even if you think your account is private, proceed with caution. You may not have your privacy settings correct, which could expose photos and posts of your trip to the wrong people.

    If you plan on posting photos, do it when you’re back. Also, don’t announce the specific dates you’ll be gone.

    6. Continue Home Service Provision

    Have your cleaner and landscaping company continue their work. The work shows activity inside and outside the home while maintaining the home’s clean and manicured appearance so that the house looks active.

    7. Unplug Devices 

    Electrical issues are a common cause of home fires. Limit your risk by unplugging unnecessary devices and using surge protectors for those that remain connected.

    8. Hide Your Valuables 

    This step will provide you with much-needed comfort while you’re away. Before your trip, hide your jewelry, cash, financial documents, family heirlooms, and any expensive/high-demand items. Additionally, make sure your drapes and blinds are closed, but keep in mind that when they are closed too long it could indicate an empty home to would-be thieves. Having a friend or house sitter adjust them now and again is a smart move.

    9. Stop Mail and Newspaper Deliveries

    A pile of unread newspapers and mail outside or visible through windows are also tip-offs to thieves. If you don’t have a house sitter or neighbor who can collect the items daily, temporarily stop delivery by notifying your newspaper delivery service and post office.

    10. Check the Weather

    If a storm is planned during your trip or you’re gone during a volatile time of the year, keep an eye on the weather forecast and take added precautions to ensure the home is safe. Securing outdoor furniture and umbrellas, cleaning out gutters, and testing your sump pump are good courses of action.

    11. Lock Your Garage

    It may seem like a closed garage door is automatically secure, but that isn’t the case. A garage door can be forced open easily when the safety release mechanism is flipped. To prevent this, disable the electric opener or install a padlock on the overhead door latch. Another simple solution is to slide a bolt through a hole in the track. 

    Before You Go

    When the next trip calls, below are three steps you should remember to take.

    Step 1: Check Your Homeowners Insurance Policy

    Ensure that your policy covers property damage. Insurance lightens the financial burden for increased peace of mind. A quick phone call with your insurer is all it takes, and you can increase your coverage easily.

    Step 2: Tell Your Neighbors 

    Call or visit a trusted neighbor’s home and tell them about your vacation plans. See if they can collect mail and water plants and find out what else they are willing to do. If they will help, return the favor. Working as a team keeps you both and your entire neighborhood safer.

    Step 3: Arm Your Security System

    This is the final step before walking out the door. Lock all windows and doors and set the code before exiting the last entry point. Familiarize yourself with your alarm system so you know the system is adequately armed. Also, let your alarm company know you’re gone. If the alarm is set off, they will know that the chances of a burglary are high to provide better service.

    Threats Other Than Break-Ins

    Burglaries are common issues for homeowners but aren’t the only ones. Damage from fires and floods, whether weather-related or otherwise, can cause serious damage or even total destruction of your home.


    Undetected fires can go from an initial flame to engulfing homes in only 5 minutes. This is true of both weather-related and electrical fires. To prevent potential fire damage:

    • Unplug nonessential electronics
    • Check smoke detectors
    • Have your home regularly landscaped to reduce dry brush and overgrown trees that can spread fires


    Flooding can wreak havoc on homes. In 2021 alone, floods caused over three billion dollars of property and crop damage in the U.S. — representing two-thirds of the cost of all natural disasters.

    Like fires, floods aren’t caused only by Nature. They can result from leaky or burst pipes and quickly grow worse when not addressed promptly. To help prevent potentially disastrous flooding of your home:  

    • Install water leak detectors 
    • Don’t set your house temperature too low in cold weather — your pipes could freeze and burst
    • Clear storm drains and gutters 
    Editorial Contributors
    Ross Robinson

    Ross Robinson


    Ross Robinson has spent over five years working in interior design and six years as a marketing manager for an award-winning luxury design company. Now he focuses on what he loves most: writing. From reviewing home products and DIY design tips to discussing the latest architecture and design trends, he’s covered it all.

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    Alexis Curls

    Content Strategist & Digital PR Manager

    Alexis Curls is a content strategist on the Today’s Homeowner team. She specializes in home services research. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations.

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