When you're off having fun on holidays, it's easy to forget you've left your home unattended for a pretty long stretch of time. Chances are things will be fine, but here are a few simple tips for better security — and peace of mind — while you're travelling.
Keep a Watchful Eye
There are two easy ways to do this: use a camera or a volunteer. If you have a friend or family member you trust that lives near by, just have them stop by your place a couple of times while you're gone to make sure everything is in order. As thanks, just take them out for lunch when you get back and it's a win-win for everybody. You could also ask a neighbour you trust, or enlist the help of the neighbourhood watch if you have one.
If you don't have anybody you can ask, or would prefer to keep matters in your own hands, you can use your webcam as a security camera. There are tons of options for Windows, but Yawcam is one of our favorites. Mac users should try iAlertU. Then, while you're gone, you can periodically monitor your home. Many of the apps will even email you and/or post images online so you can just use your phone to check in on things.
Look Like You're Home
If you look like you haven't gone anywhere and are still hanging out at home, chances are you're less likely to be robbed. To accomplish this, you want it to look like there's activity outside and inside your home. If you need any yard or exterior house work done, have someone do it while you're away. Go buy a cheap push light and put it buy the window. They're battery-operated so they won't run up your energy bills but will give the appearance of the lights being on and therefore somebody in the house. Putting motion-sensing lights outside is also a good way to keep intruders from coming too close. If you want to make noise, just have an MP3 player loop a long spoken word track near the door. From outside it'll sound like a conversation. Basically, anything you can do to give the appearance of being there can help.
Be Prepared for the Worst
Regardless of what you do, your home could get ransacked while you're gone. This sucks, but it sucks less if you're prepared ahead of time to cope with the loss. Check your insurance policy and claim procedures before you leave so you know what you need to do if something bad happens. You'll want to create a home inventory — for which there are plenty of good tools — and take lots of pictures of the place before you leave. While the home inventory can take awhile, once it's done it's easy to update. Taking pictures only takes a few minutes, and calling your insurance company to know the procedures is also a quick task that doesn't need repeating. This may seem like a lot of work, but it's a lot worse if you have to deal with disaster unprepared.
Got any other great tips for some added security while you travel? Share your strategies in the comments.