Everyone loves a well-deserved vacation. The anticipation of an upcoming holiday is exciting and many of us can’t wait for it to begin. While planning for your holiday it is easy to forget to protect your most precious assets – your home and yourself. Make sure you start your break away with peace of mind by following our essential checklist for going on holiday. Better to be safe than sorry!

1. Make it look like you’re home

Try to keep the appearance of the house as normal as possible. For instance:

If you usually leave the curtains open, continue to do so but move expensive items out of view from your windows. Closing your curtains may draw attention (and give burglars privacy).
  • Create the illusion of you still being at home by using variable light timers to turn lights off and on at various times. A motion-activated light at your front door will also deter prowlers.
  • If you have a lawn, arrange to have somebody mow it if you plan to be away for a while
  • For pet-owners – if you aren’t taking your pet with you, organise for a pet sitter to visit your home. Not only is this less stressful for your pet (and cheaper than boarding), it helps maintain a normal appearance. If you have a particularly vocal pet, their absence will no doubt be noticed.
  • Enlist a friend to house-sit for you. Having a trusted person keeping an eye on the premises is one of the safest and easiest ways to protect your home.

2. Keep it tidy

It’s the small details that matter. If you plan to be away for any period of time, make sure that you:

  • take the garbage out
  • give away any perishable food
  • clean any dirty dishes
  • don’t leave any wet clothes in the dryer or washing machine

After all, the last thing you want when you return home from a relaxing holiday is a funky smell when you walk in your front door.

3. Remove unnecessary risk

If you’re not going to be home to use it, turn it off. The added benefit of turning everything off is that it will help you save energy and money.

4. Remember the basics

It may sound simple but make sure you lock all doors before you leave (including the pet door if you have one). Remove any spare keys hidden outside and give them to a friend for safekeeping. If you have an alarm installed, make sure you turn it on and let the security company know you’re going out of town.

5. Protect your privacy

If your mail is piling up, it’s a dead giveaway that you’re not home (or worse!) Savvy thieves can also steal a great deal of personal information from your mail. Protect your privacy (and identity) by asking the post office to hold or forward your mail for you. You could also ask a friend to collect your mail for you.

6. Don’t broadcast to the world

As tempting as it may be, don’t announce on social media that you’re going on holiday. Depending on your security settings, strangers (or friends of friends that you don’t know) can access this information. Leave posting holiday photos for when you get back (and enjoy your time away from social media!)

7. Avoid motor vehicle theft

Australia’s National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (NMVTRC) recorded 55,571 motor vehicles stolen in the past year (ending 30/9/16). That is an increase of 8% on the previous year. You can minimise the risk of having your car stolen by parking your car in the garage. If you use street parking, ask a friend to drive your car regularly. If you leave your car in an airport car park, make sure to write down exactly where you left it (so you can find it when you get back).

8. Pay all bills

Keep up to date with any bill payments that will be due while you’re away. It can be difficult accessing online banking while travelling so set up direct debits if necessary.

9. Protect yourself

Prevent your dream holiday turning into a nightmare by taking the following steps to minimise risk to yourself (and your family)

  • Take photos and photocopies of your passport, medical certificates and labels on all prescription medicine bottles. If you need to leave the above items for any reason you can leave the copy instead of the original.
  • Advise your credit card company you are going to be using the card while travelling. If you don’t, you run the risk of having transactions declined due to suspicious use.
  • Remove anything you won’t want or need when traveling from your wallet/purse.
  • Keep trusted family members and friends aware of your movements and ensure they can get in touch with you if necessary.

10. Prepare for worst case scenario

Going on holiday is an exciting and enjoyable time, but sometimes things can go very wrong. Make sure that you have the relevant insurances in place so you and your family can receive medical attention if necessary. It is also extremely important to have a valid will so your family is provided for if the worst were to happen.