Whether it’s an impromptu road trip or a European vacation, travel is fun and exciting. But with cyber-crime on the rise and an empty home a target for thieves, traveling families should take extra precautions to keep themselves and their homes safe while away.
USA Today offers 10 safety tips worth reviewing before you pack your suitcase:
Stop mail and newspapers – There’s no bigger tip-off of an unoccupied home than newspapers piling up on the porch or mail overflowing the mailbox.
Remove the spare key – If you hide a spare key, remove it from its hiding place. Too many thieves know just where to look.
Ask for assistance – Bribe someone with home-baked cookies if you must, but ask someone you trust to drive by every day or two to check that all seems normal – perhaps even water your plants or bring in any advertising flyers left on the doorknob or in the driveway.
Don’t announce your trip on social media – You may want your friends and family to know that you’re embarking on a trip, but you have no idea how many people you don’t know will be reading those messages as well.
Purchase a light switch timer – Program it to turn a few lights on and off automatically throughout each 24-hour period.
Check the curtains – If you normally leave them on during the day, don’t close them. Drapes and curtains uncharacteristically closed for days or weeks can be another tip-off to thieves.
Leave an itinerary – Provide someone with your mobile number and itinerary, including hotels, so you can be reached if necessary. Check in with this person every few days, especially if your itinerary changes.
Scan your passport – If traveling out of the country, scan a copy of your passport, e-mail it to yourself and take a photo of it to save on your cell phone. You’ll have it if the original is lost or stolen, and getting a replacement will be easier.
Pack/replenish your emergency car kit – If on the road, include a first-aid kit, blankets, some non-perishable food, a flashlight, and bottled water.
Don’t flash cash – Keep your cash separated, with some spending money accessible but the rest hidden, so you don’t expose a wad of cash every time you pay.