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Wait...Did You Lock the Front Door? Things to do Before You Travel

It never fails. We get ten or fifteen minutes down the road toward the airport when I get that feeling that I've forgotten something. Do I have my passport? Did I get the boarding time right? Did I lock the front door?

The front door. That's got to be it. In my mind, I try to replay my actions as I left the house, but my memory is confounded by the whirlwind of tasks we had to complete before leaving. Too many miles later, I realize that turning the car around to check the lock would mean missing our flight, so I abandon the idea, imagining an ongoing parade of intruders ransacking the house while we're gone.

Of course, it's one thing to forget a task when you're leaving for the weekend, but quite another when you plan to be gone for an extended period of time. Keeping a list of things to do before you leave can help you remember from trip to trip, and updating it over time will make leaving home a friction-free experience.

So that you can solely concentrate on your travel experience, here are a few things you might like to add to your list to help make sure Home Sweet Home is just as sweet upon your return.

Shut The Front Door

One way to make sure the front door is locked, even from a distance, is to install electronic, internet-connected smart locks*. Smart locks enable you to enter with or without keys, using a passcode or fingerprint. They also allow you to let a service tech or other home pro into the house remotely if you have any issues while away. The lock can also be used to monitor the comings and goings of a house or pet sitter. Just set them up with a unique code and the app will log each time the house is entered.

It's Alarming

It’s a good idea to set up internet-connected contact alarms*, especially on any windows and doors that are hidden from regular view and might tempt a thief to break in. Motion sensors* will also let you know when someone is where they shouldn't be. These will both sound an alarm and notify you through the app on your phone if there's movement.

A Watchful Eye

Home security can mean more than setting up alarms. It’s easy to install a battery-operated front doorbell camera* or exterior camera* to monitor the outside of your home. Less expensive, plug-in, indoor cameras* will keep an eye on the inside. All of these cameras are subscription-free, internet-connected, and use AI to monitor whether or not a human appears. You can opt to receive notifications on your phone if one of the cameras detects a human, animal, or other movement. When fully charged, the camera battery will last for a year, and the doorbell camera for six months. Also, if someone rings the front door, you can talk with them via the camera’s built-in microphone and speaker using the app on your phone. This might enable you to direct a postal carrier to a neighbor’s home when they’re seeking a signature on a package, for example.

Automate It

Automating a few lights on the inside and outside of the house is also a good idea. Many automation systems let you run random light sequences that simulate people living in the house. This can be done by purchasing smart light bulbs, switches, or plugs and programming them through an app.

Water, Water, Everywhere

A water leak when you're home is a nuisance, but a leak that goes on for months can be devastating. After my family moved into our home, my elderly neighbor told me a story about how one of the previous occupants, years before, had gone away for the winter and left the heat off. The pipes froze, burst, and the basement eventually filled with water. The only way anyone knew there was a problem was when water started gushing out of the basement windows. Needless to say, thousands of dollars of damage was done. Had the owners simply left the heat on at 55F, the problem could have been avoided.

Another way to combat water-related problems is to install internet-connected leak sensors and a smart main shutoff. These work together to take signals from the leak detectors and AI about water flow through the smart shutoff to detect leaks and abnormal water flow and shut the water off automatically if needed. It sends alerts five minutes before the automatic shutoff and allows you to decide whether or not to shut the water off. Not only can this system save thousands of dollars in water damage, it also buys you a lot of peace of mind when you’re away.

Turn It Off

This can be a money saver and a safety precaution. Many appliances use electricity through status LEDs or digital display clocks even when they’re not in active use. It’s a good idea to unplug any appliances or fixtures that won’t be in use while you’re gone. Likewise, to avoid possible leaks, shut off valves to things like water filters, icemakers, and toilets.

Battery Backup

Consider plugging your cable modem, wifi router, and security systems into battery backups so that, should the power go out, you won't lose your online connection with the house. With all of the portable batteries around these days, it wouldn't be too hard to rig up a system to use battery backups on your refrigerator or freezer, too. The newer solar and whole-home batteries can accomplish this, although at a much higher expense.

Hit the Pause Button

It’s easy to stop your mail for 30 days by setting delivery preferences at If you’re going to be gone longer, you may want to forward your mail to a different address, which can be done for as long as six months. If a friend or neighbor collects your mail, you can give them prepaid and pre-addressed flat-rate mailers to fill with the accumulated mail. Then, they can simply pop the filled mailer into the mailbox without having to visit the post office. You can also pause many subscription services like cable TV or newspaper delivery while you're away. Each company has a different policy on how long you can pause services. This saves money and makes sure nothing piles up on the front porch while you're gone.

Pay Your Bills

Set every bill possible on a scheduled, automatic payment. For those you need to remember to pay that aren't automated, set reminders for yourself on your phone a few days before the bill is due so you can log in and pay electronically from anywhere.

The Grass Is Greener

Hire a landscaping service to keep the lawns mowed and the landscaping weeded. This will not only keep your home from looking unoccupied, it will also keep your neighbors happy.

Baby, You Can Drive My Car

If you're leaving a car sitting for any length of time, it's good to have someone drive it for ten or fifteen minutes each month. This helps keep the battery in good shape and various seals and gaskets lubricated.

There are lots of things that can go wrong when you leave home for an extended period. By taking some precautions you can be sure your home will be just as you left it when you return. Making a list of actionable items will help you make the transition from home to travel smoother every time you venture out.

What do you do to prepare to leave home? What things have happened while you were away? Tell us all about it in the comments below and subscribe so you don't miss a thing!

*Subscription-free Eufy security is a subsidiary of Anker, a maker of high-quality chargers and power banks. If you purchase anything through the links on this site, we may receive a small commission. For extra discounts, use our Eufy referral link.



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