Prep Your Home for Summer Vacation: 10-Step Checklist

The days are getting longer, the temps are getting higher. And that can only mean one thing, summer time. But before you head off for care-free fun in the sun, there’s a few things you’ll need to care for at home. Why? 

Because with summer time comes summer crime, including a significant rise in seasonal home burglaries. Though burglary rates are on the decline overall, break-ins still peak in the summer months. According to the United States Justice Department, summer is when average household burglary rates are at their highest — approximately 11% lower in winter, 9% lower in spring, and 6% lower in fall. 

Of course, the best way to protect your home is to prevent any break-ins before they happen. Here’s what you can do to prep your home when you’re away for any extended period of time.

10 steps to keep your home safe while you’re gone

1. Have the post office hold your mail 

A stuffed or overflowing mailbox can be an immediate giveaway that you haven’t been home for a while. But you can request to hold your mail online directly through USPS — or you can call your local post office. Start a hold on your mail as soon as the next scheduled delivery day. So even if you’re down to the wire on your vacation to-dos, it’s probably not too late. USPS lets you schedule a hold on your mail for up to 30 days. Simply pick it up when you get back.

Plus, aside from your regularly delivered mail, make sure you don’t order any packages from other delivery services that will arrive while you’re out of town.

2. Stay off social media. Save it for #LaterGram.

Another clue for would-be burglars is when you post live vacation pics, stories, and reels that are tagged in your vacation destination. Group shots with the whole family? That makes it pretty obvious that your home is all alone. 

As hard as it may be not to post that gorgeous seaside sunset or an adorable shot of your kids at the beach, it’s smarter to save all your vacation pics to post when you return. 

3. Use timers for a few lights 

It’s best to turn off your lights when you leave your house, so you can save energy and save on your utility bills. However, if you’re leaving for a long time, a few well-placed timers can give the appearance that someone’s still home. 

For example, one or two timers on lamps near windows will look like a light turned on or off to anyone on the street. 

💡 TIP: You can pick up lamp timers at any local home improvement store or get them online if they’re available for delivery before your trip. 

4. Double check your locks and windows

Cover your bases with the basics and lock up before you go. Be sure all the entry-points to your home are covered, not just doors. Leaving an unlocked window, even on an upper floor, can leave your home exposed.

If someone is coming by to check on your home or feed your pets, make sure they’re able to lock all the doors they use, too.

5. Get home security set up before you go 

Sure, a loud alarm and a yard sign from any home security company can be a deterrent for potential burglary. But a professionally-monitored home alarm system actually alerts authorities in the event of a break-in for the rapid response and assistance you need. 

Centralized home alarm systems are good for more than just burglaries. On top of theft prevention devices like door alarms and window alarms, you can also equip your home with smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, motion detectors, moisture detectors, and water shut-off devices to guard against other emergencies.

💡 TIP: The average customer pays around $250 a year for home security. If you don’t think professional home security monitoring is in your budget, you can offset the cost with savings on the home insurance you’re already paying. 

For Branch members, we offer a Connected Home discount on your premium when you protect your home with one of our home security partners, like ADT or Simplisafe. And with the amount you save on your home policy each month, that $250 pretty much pays for itself.  

6. Don’t forget about the outside 

If you’re away from home for several weeks, your yard can be a clear sign that your home has been left unattended. However, this is one of the rare occasions that putting your to-do’s off to the last minute can pay off. The longer you wait to mow the lawn or trim any overgrown hedges before you leave, the longer your yard looks tidy — maybe even for the duration of your vacation. 

For longer trips, you may want to schedule lawn care service with a company you know and have used before or that comes highly recommended by a friend.

7. Check the weather for at home while you’re gone

You probably care more about the weather wherever you’re going than where you live, but the weather at home lets you know how to set your thermostat. If the weather is hot, you still shouldn’t shut down your HVAC entirely, to avoid humidity in your home. In the summer months, the rule of thumb is to set your thermostat 5 degrees higher than you usually would (so you can save some money on energy costs), but no higher than 85 degrees. 

Also, if you do turn off your thermostat, beware of any unseasonal drops in temperature to the point you’d need to keep your thermostat at 50 degrees or higher to prevent any freezing pipes.

8. Put all your valuables in a safe place

When you stop by the bank to get cash for your trip, you may also want to drop off any items in your safety deposit box. If you have a safe at home, make sure everything you want to look after is locked away

Don’t worry if you don’t have a safety deposit box or safe. You can still hide items like jewelry around your home in unexpected places, so all your most valuable possessions aren’t sitting in one spot. Just remember to make a list of where you put each item for later.

9. Don’t miss your last trash day

Be sure to set any trash by the curb or in your usual pickup location in time for the final garbage collection day. If you miss trash day, you should take your own trash to the nearest dumpster or recycling area. 

While garbage that’s left sitting out can indicate you’re not home, burglars aren’t the only pests you need to worry about. Leaving full trash cans inside your home can lead to bugs and other infestations. 

💡 TIP: If your trash cans AREN’T out on trash day, someone might notice your family is out of town to, which brings us to our final piece of advice…

10. Ask a neighbor to help out

There’s always less reason to worry when someone has your back. Your summer vacation checklist gets way easier when a friend or neighbor can lend a helping hand. Whether that’s putting out your trash bins. Picking up your mail if you forgot to hold your mail with the post office. Tending to your yard and checking in on your house often as you need, depending on the length of your trip.

Put your home in the care of someone you trust — whether that’s everyday protection from your home insurance company or relying on your neighbors, friends, and family while you’re gone, the old-fashioned way. 

Happy travels and stay safe.