How to Protect Your Home While You’re Away on Holiday Travel

By Lyle Weischwill | Nov. 10, 2023 7:20 am PST

Image of homeowner adjusting thermostat for travel.

For those who travel during the holidays, preparing your home for your absence will help you enjoy your trip worry-free. Keep your house and everything in it safe from potential damage, freezing, flooding and theft by following these helpful tips.

Basic Steps to Secure Your Home While You Travel

These common-sense tactics will help keep your home safe and secure no matter how long you’ll be gone.

  • Lock up everything. Be sure that you lock all doors and windows before you leave. It sounds basic, but you’d be surprised how often this basic step is overlooked by travelers.
  • Ask trusted neighbors to watch your home. Let reliable neighbors know about your travel plans. They can keep an eye out for any suspicious activity and alert you or the authorities if necessary.
  • Leave a light on. Make your home looks occupied by leaving a light or two on inside your house. Use timers or smart light switches to turn lights on and off if you’ll be away for more than a few days.
  • Secure your valuables. Keep your valuables in a safe or a less predictable hiding spot. Don’t make it easy for any potential intruders.
  • Set the heater thermostat lower. You typically shouldn’t turn your heater thermostat completely off while you travel, but you can set it at a lower temperature to save energy and money. Don’t set it lower than 50 degrees. Setting it at around 60 degrees is appropriate for many climates. If you have a smart thermostat, you can monitor weather conditions and adjust the thermostat as needed while you’re away.

Taking these basic precautions and making sure that your home is prepared for your absence will help make your holiday travel smooth and enjoyable.

Advanced Tips to Protect Your Home During Extended Travel

When you’ll be away for more than a few days, you can better protect your house by taking extra steps to monitor conditions and react to potential problems that may occur while you’re gone.

Install Smart Devices to Monitor Your Home

You may already have some smart devices installed in your home such as a video doorbell or security cameras. If not, adding smart devices can help you remotely monitor your home while you’re travelling. Monitoring your home via smart devices will give you the peace of mind that everything is okay in your home when you’re not there – or that you’ll know immediately if something is wrong.

Here are the top smart devices to help you monitor your home while you’re on vacation:

  • Video doorbell. This smart device will give you a view of your porch and notify you when anyone rings your doorbell while you’re away. Video surveillance of your front porch is valuable for your peace of mind when you’re travelling.

  • Security cameras. Setting up smart security cameras along with motion-detection security lighting deters theft. Knowing that your house is safe or immediately seeing potential threats while you’re away will keep you from worrying and wondering if everything is okay at home.

  • Smart HVAC thermostat. A smart air conditioner thermostat such as Nest will help you monitor and control your heating and cooling system settings while you’re away. You see the temperature inside your home and adjust the system settings remotely through your phone. Using a smart thermostat you can save money and prevent your home from getting too cold (or hot) while you’re away. You can also start up the furnace to get your house comfortable just prior to your arrival back home. Entering a nice, warm house will top off your holiday travel.

  • Water leak monitoring device. This smart device is an excellent gadget to have installed to help you immediately know about a water leak so you can take immediate action to prevent home damage. Installing a leak monitor with an automatic shut-off valve will provide even more protection and peace of mind.

  • Gas leak monitor and shut-off valve. Just as with the smart water leak detector, installing a gas leak monitor and shut-off valve will help protect your home when you have gas appliances such as a water heater, gas dryer, gas stove and gas furnace. When you have this device, you’ll know immediately when there’s a gas leak in your home and the gas supply has been shut off by the smart valve.

  • Smart light switches and electrical outlets. You can easily turn on and off lights in your home remotely using these devices. This tactic helps deter theft while you’re away.

Setting up some or all of these smart devices will help you monitor and control what’s going on in your home while you’re travelling. You’ll be able to relax and enjoy your holiday trip with less worries.

Image of shutting off the water supply to a washing machine

Prepare Your Appliances

As you leave on a long trip, consider turning off the water supply to the washing machine and dishwasher to prevent any chance of water leaks while you’re away. If you have gas appliances, you may also want to shut off the gas valves to those appliances if they won’t be used during your absence. Unplug appliances that won’t be used while you’re away.

Have a House Sitter Take Care of Your Home

When you’ll be gone for more than a week, it’s a good idea to have a house sitter stay in your home – or at least visit and check your home periodically during your absence. Having a person physically monitoring your home will give you the peace of mind that everything is okay (or that someone is there to handle any situation that arises). A house sitter is a must when you have pets and or plants that need care during your absence. Many plants can survive a week without being watered but will begin to wither if they dry out too much.

Make sure that the house sitter is a responsible person that you can trust to help you keep your home safe.

Prepare the Kitchen

Use up or dispose of any foods that will expire during your time away. Empty the trash before you leave to prevent smells and bugs from invading your kitchen while you’re away. Cover fruits and vegetables that you store outside of the fridge to prevent fruit flies from building up in your kitchen.

Check Your Security System and Notify Your Security Service

If you have a monitored security system installed in your home, notify the security service that you’ll be away. Make sure that all security cameras and devices are working properly before you leave.

Holiday travel is for relaxing with no worries or problems. Proper preparation goes a long way in helping protect your home so you can travel smoothly and not return to any disasters.

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