Tickets? Check. Passport? Check. Packed? Check. But what about getting your house ready for your departure? Here’s a quick checklist of things you should do before leaving on vacation:
1. Stop the newspaper, mail, and any other delivery that may arrive during your absence. Packages from Amazon or Land’s End left sitting on your front porch are a dead giveaway that you’re not home.
2. Lock all the windows and doors. Secure the front and back gates with a padlock. Lock all outbuildings, garage, storage sheds, and vehicles (set the car alarm security system, if applicable). If you don’t have any security gates and don’t want them, at least plant some tall “thorny” or “prickly” shrubs or bushes that will deter burglars. Remove anything from around the outside of the home that might add a burglar, such as a ladder or bench.
3. Put lights on a timer. Inexpensive devices can be purchased at most home supply stores.
4. Don’t leave trash cans at the curb. It’s another dead giveaway that the homeowner is not at home.
5. Ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on the house. Tell them to call the police if they see anything suspicious, such as a delivery truck or serviceman or open gate.
6. Be careful who you tell about your trip. People are often robbed by someone who did work for them or by someone who did work for them and mentioned it to someone else, such as a maid’s boyfriend or subcontractor. Never put a message on your answering machine that says “The Browns will be out of town from the 21st to the 30th. Please call back at that time.”
7. If you have hired a pet sitter, be sure to tell the trusted neighbor so they don’t call the police when they see someone inside your house.
8. If you have an alarm system, make sure the alarm company knows about your absence. The employees are bonded and licensed so letting them know about your trip is okay. If someone cuts the alarm or accidentally triggers it, they will know that it is probably not a false alarm. You will have to give the code to anyone who you give access to, such as a pet sitter. Be sure to change the code when you return.
9. Hide valuables. This means important documents, debit cards, credit cards, jewelry, portable electronics, fur coats, etc. Put them in a safety deposit box or some other type of storage or find a clever hiding spot. The master bedroom is the most thoroughly searched room in the house.
10. Unplug electrical devices, especially kitchen appliances such as toasters and microwave ovens.
If you live in a high crime area or there have been a rash of break-ins recently, you may want to hire a housesitter. Reader’s Digest published a good book, How To Be Safe, filled with tips on best locks to buy, foolproof alarm systems, and more. www.rdstore.com. Also, there is a checklist in the appendix of my travel reference, The Encyclopedia of Cheap Travel: Save Up to 90% on Lodging, Flights, Tours, Cruises, and More!