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Don’t let getting away from it all get you down this season. Whether you’re planning a jaunt to a woodsy cabin, a juggernaut road trip or a jump across the pond, being prepared is the key to a stress-free return home. Once your bags are packed, be sure to check these pre-vacation to-dos off your list:

  1. Leaks happen. You can avoid coming home to water damage caused by a burst pipe or leaky appliance by shutting off your main water valve before you leave.
  2. Arrange for someone you trust to check on your home every few days. That means going in and looking around every room on every floor (even the garage). If anything happens, they can take action (and alert you) before further damage occurs.
  3. Got a few neighbours you’re fond of? Ask them if they’d mind keeping an eye on your property. They can watch for unexpected visitors, collect your mail and flyers so it’s not obvious you’re away, and report any suspicious behaviour to the authorities. Be sure to tell them you’ll return the favour when they go away, too.
  4. Keep the power on. While it might be tempting to save on your electricity bill while you’re away (many appliances use power even when they’re turned off), consider keeping your power on so you can set timers on your lights to make it look like you’re home in the evenings.
  5. Keep your window coverings exactly as you usually keep them when you’re home. Why? Because noticeable changes (like leaving them closed for two weeks straight) might tip off a would-be burglar of your absence.
  6. With your blinds or curtains open, remember to store valuables like jewellery and cash where they are not easily visible from windows. It might pay to invest in a safety deposit box, or you could leave treasured items with someone you trust.
  7. This one might be harder than it sounds, but avoid posting your travel plans on social media. Or at the very least, make your accounts private so potential thieves can’t see them.
  8. As convincing as your plastic rock looks, it’s not a safe place to store your spare key while you’re away. Wiley criminals know to check under your mat, in your mailbox, above your door frame, and in your flower pot for hidden keys that give them easy access to an empty home. Outsmart them before you leave.
  9. Speaking of locks, don’t forget to lock all points of entry like windows and garage doors. That includes all out-buildings, sheds, and storage barns, too.
  10. If you’ve got a security alarm, use it! If you don’t and you travel a lot (or have valuables you really want to keep safe), consider having one installed. Home monitoring services have improved in recent years and many are even manageable from your smartphone or tablet. Having one could also get you a discount on your home insurance policy.

On a final note, be sure to check if you have sufficient insurance to cover all of your belongings. Items like recreational equipment are pricey these days and could easily exceed the limits of your homeowner’s policy. If you need some advice before you bid bon voyage, your insurance broker would be happy to help.