The holiday season is here, and for millions of Americans, that means traveling far and wide (or sometimes just a few hours away) to visit family and loved ones. Traveling can be lots of fun – but it can also be a little nerve-wracking, especially if you’re not prepared. Here are a few simple travel and home safety steps you can take to stay safe and reduce risks while you’re away from home this season:
- First, don’t post your travel plans on social media. Studies show thieves keep a close watch on what’s being shared online so they know which homes are empty (and easier to target). Be selective in sharing information at work and among your friends as well. Even though your contacts may be trustworthy, there’s always the chance your info could be overheard or passed on to someone who’s not.
- If you’re driving a long distance, take your car in for a quick service and checkup to avoid breakdowns, especially if the weather is snowy or icy.
- Keep a first aid kit in your car along with a few warm blankets and some flares. Make sure your phone is charged before heading out, and let others know of your travel plans and route.
- At home, use timers to turn your lights and TV on and off to give the appearance of being home. Today, there are plenty of “smart” timers you can program and operate using your phone so lights don’t always turn on and off at the same times each day.
- Invest in a security system. There are plenty of DIY options that can significantly improve your home safety without draining your savings. Most include cameras that let you see your property – inside and out – from your laptop or even your phone. And some let you “answer” your door through a speaker system so it looks like you’re busy inside, even when you’re miles away.
- Have a neighbor pick up your mail or ask the post office to suspend delivery while you’re gone. A helpful neighbor can also remove flyers from your porch or front door, park a spare car in your driveway and keep a general eye out for suspicious activity.
- If you live in a snowy area, arrange for snow removal for your driveway and walkways ahead of time. Give the removal company your cell, and arrange to pay over the phone by credit card. No need to let them know you’re going away and shoveled walks and driveways make it look like you’re at home.
Holiday travel isn’t just fun; it’s also a great way to build memories that can last a lifetime. A little preparation is all it takes to maximize your enjoyment while minimizing stress and headaches.