Certain items on your to-do list are obvious as your prepare for your upcoming vacation. Make sure the plants and animals are watered and fed? Check. Close and lock all doors and windows? Check. But there are other steps to take that will make it hard for any potential opportunists from realizing you aren’t home and breaking in. This isn’t to alarm you or create panic before your upcoming trip, but to give you ideas on how to make sure your home isn’t an easy target.

Hold It

Per the Postal Service, mail can be held for a minimum of three days or for a maximum of 30 days. If you’re planning to be gone for three days or longer, it’s likely worth having your mail held. It’s a sure sign that you’re out of town if your mailbox is full.

On Time(rs)

Dark houses for days on end signal no one’s home! Have your most used lights (bedroom and kitchen, perhaps?) set on a timer while you’re away. There are timers that connect to the light switches in a room, ones that are programmable power strips, or others which are for outdoor use. Find the one that’s best for you based on how you use the lights in your home. Set the timer to an irregular pattern, instead of having everything turn on at the same time each day.

Plants and Animals

If possible, have someone take care of your plants and/or animals at your home. Someone going in and out regularly (or, ideally, staying in your home) creates activity and makes it look like someone’s present. Most pets are happier at home than in a kennel, and you’ll be less likely to worry about them while you’re away.

Look Natural

If you typically keep your blinds open on the first floor of your home, don’t close them while you’re away. It may seem counterintuitive, but that’s a sure sign you’re not home for anyone looking for an opportunity to break in.

If you mow your lawn every week during the summer, arrange for someone else to come over and mow while you’re away. Similarly, if you shovel snow from your driveway without fail, have someone lined up to clear the driveway if it snows while you’re gone.

Save the Pictures

Unless you have really tight security controls on your social media (and maybe even then), wait to post photos of your glorious vacation until you arrive home. If you’re posting real-time accounts of your European tour, that’s a big green light for anyone looking for an opportunity to break in!

Extras For Peace of Mind

Unplug It

Unplug everything not in use while you’re away, such as microwaves and televisions, etc. Appliances not in use but still plugged in do still use electricity, which means your bill is going up even when you’re not home. If there was a power surge to your home, any electronics that are plugged in may be affected or permanently ruined. Why take the chance?

Clean Up

If you’re traveling for a week or more, it’s so wonderful to come home to a clean house. As you plan for your trip, build in a little extra time to clean the kitchen, make beds with fresh sheets, and put things in their places. You’ll be so glad you did when you return after long flights or car rides!

We hope you have an amazing, stress-free vacation!