Planning a vacation? Check these 10 things off your to-do list

Person packing luggage for vacation.

Don’t let getting away from it all get you down this season. Whether you’re planning a jaunt to a woodsy cabin, a cross-country road trip, or a hop 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. Shut off your home’s main water supply (and drain your pipes if you’ll be gone for a while). Leaks happen — but you can avoid coming home to a burst pipe (and the resulting water damage) by shutting off your main water valve and draining your pipes 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.
    Note: Your insurance company likely has a few requirements you’ll need to follow when you’re going to be away from home (and they may include a guideline for how often someone needs to come in and check on your house). Before you hit the road, contact your broker to find out what’s required for you. 
  3. Ask a neighbour if they can keep an eye on your property. They can watch for unexpected visitors, collect your mail and flyers so it’s not obvious you’re away, shovel your sidewalks, 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 by powering down while you’re away, consider keeping your power on so you can set timers on your lights to make it look like you’re at home in the evenings. Keeping your furnace running (and set to at least 13°C) is also a good way to help prevent frozen pipes.
  5. Keep your window coverings exactly as you usually do when you’re home. Why? Because noticeable changes (like leaving your curtains 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 electronics and other valuables where they are not easily visible from windows. It might pay to invest in a safety deposit box for smaller items (like jewelry or cash), or you could leave treasured items with someone you trust.
  7. This one might be harder than it sounds, but try to 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. Don’t leave a spare key outside your home. As convincing as your plastic rock looks, it’s not a safe place to store your spare key while you’re away. Criminals also 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.
  9. Don’t forget to lock all points of entry. That includes all of your windows and doors (double-check your garage, out-buildings, sheds, and storage barns, too).
  10. If you’ve got a security system, use it! If you don’t have a security system and you travel a lot (or you have valuables you really want to keep safe), consider having one installed. Many modern systems are even manageable from your smartphone or tablet.

Sometimes accidents and break-ins happen, even when you’ve taken all the right precautions — and that’s why it’s important to make sure you keep your home insurance policy up to date. The best time to make changes to your coverage is at renewal time, but if you haven’t reviewed your policy in a while, get in touch with your broker and make sure you still have the coverage you need to protect your home and your belongings when you’re away.

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