A person planning their next vacation

Pre-Vacation Tips

Updated December 4, 2016 . AmFam Team

Vacation time is near, so how can you be sure your home stays safe while you're away? Learn all the details on how to plan your home security for a trip.

Careful vacation planning and home preparation makes all the difference. 

It’s here! Your bags are packed and you’re ready to take off on the dream vacation you’ve been patiently been waiting for. But before you go, there are a few things you’ll want to do to improve the security of your home and make sure you’re prepared for any mishaps on your travels, too. Check out our tips for how to plan a stress-free vacation — you’ll have a carefree getaway knowing you took proactive steps to stay protected.

Schedule Maintenance and Upkeep While Away

While you’re traveling, prevent your house from being an easy target for thieves by making it look like you’re home. Here are several great ways to get that done.

Yard work. Arrange a lawn service or snow removal company to keep up your yard, especially if you’ll be away for a while.

Pause mail. Stop your mail service or ask a neighbor or family member to check your mail regularly.

Timers. Use timers to turn lights off and on at various times throughout the day or consider using an app.

Motion sensors. Install motion-sensor lights outdoors.

Garage parking. Park your car in the garage, so it’s not apparent it hasn’t moved in days.

Invest in a Smart Home Alarm System

If you haven’t already, think about investing in a smart home alarm system. With it, you’ll be able to monitor your place in real-time, and some systems give you the ability to stream video to any device.

Ring Video Doorbell. Sending you instant alerts when a visitor presses the doorbell or triggers the built-in motion detector, Ring (Opens in a new tab) allows you to see and speak to visitors in real-time through portable devices. In addition to other great features like setting custom motion sensing zones and a night vision camera, you’ll be able to manage package arrivals while away, too.

Spread the Word Before Your Vacation

Once you have your smart home security system in place, be sure to inform these key players that you’ll be away from your home:

Your alarm company. If you’re alarm company knows you’re away, they can immediately notify the police if your system is tripped without the call to you first. Be sure to let them know the dates you’ll be away so that they’ll forward any alarms directly to first responders.

Trustworthy people. Contact neighbors or friends who can keep an eye on your house and report any suspicious behavior.

Financial institutions. Notify your bank and credit card companies. This prevents them from flagging your card and declining purchases when you’re spending increases and location changes.

Clean Your Home Before You Leave

Squaring away your home before you go will make it all the more welcoming when you come back from your travels. Not only that, but getting everything in order will help ensure you’re not leaving valuables out in the open or bringing along anything you don’t need. Before leaving, consider the following:

Clean the car. If you’re going to leave your car in a public lot, remove any valuables.

Double check. Check bags, purses and pockets. It’s easy to forget things like pepper spray and pocket knives you carry every day. You won’t be able to bring things like this on the plane!

Just in case. Clean any items from your wallet that you won’t need on your trip, like credit cards you won’t be using or your Social Security card, so there’s no worry about losing them or them being stolen.

Utility Control and Vacations

To avoid electrical fires from starting, but also to save on bills, it’s a good idea to unplug minor electronics and appliances while you’re away. You also want to consider:

Water breaks. Turn off the water supply to prevent leaks and floods. Get onboard with a Flood Detector to be alerted when water trouble surfaces.

Turn off appliances. Don’t leave the house with the washer, dryer or dishwasher running. This insures they actually shut off at the end of a cycle.

Make Backups and Get Travel Insurance

Making sure the smallest details are handled can have a big effect on your vacation. For example, charging all your devices before your trip is a definite stress reliever. But, sometimes going old school is actually the best backup.

No service. Write down important addresses and phone numbers in case your phone or GPS loses service.

Copies. Make photocopies of your ID, passport and other important documents. This allows you to use the copies rather than taking a chance on losing the originals. Or they’ll serve as backup, if you actually do lose the originals.

Travel insurance. Be sure to contact your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) before leaving to make sure your insurance is up to date, and learn what’s all covered during your travel. For example, personal items may be covered under homeowners or renter’s insurance, but only up to a certain limit. So, consider picking up our travel insurance for a worry-free getaway. From global medical insurance coverage to customizable trip cancellation policies, we’ve got you covered — whether you’re traveling across the country or across the world.

And just like that, you’re off! You’ll be able to unwind and enjoy your vacation knowing that everything at home is under control with the steps you took to make your home safer. And getting back home will feel so much better because it’s ready for you when you return. With a list like this, you can vacation the right way, knowing you’ve packed your peace of mind too. Enjoy!

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