Vacation and Burglars and Damage — Oh My!
Vacation is supposed to be a time to relax, clear your mind and have fun. You shouldn’t be worrying about your home and whether or not everything will be just like you left it when you return. Here are a few ways to keep your home safe – and your mind clear – while you’re gone.
Secure Your Home
One of the best defenses you can install is a professionally monitored home security system. The alarm company will alert authorities if someone sets off a sensor when they try to break in. You should also install outdoor motion-activated security lights along with inside and outside security cameras that can send video clips to your phone. Get rid of any spare keys you have hidden outside the house and install a smart door lock, which lets you unlock the door remotely from your phone and give people (such as pet sitters) temporary access.
You can also install a video doorbell, which will let you see any visitors. These are also handy for catching package thieves. Last but not least, make sure all your doors and windows are definitely locked before you leave. You don’t want to make it easy for anyone to stroll right in.
Make it Look Like You’re Home
Thieves are much less likely to strike your house if they believe someone is home, so simulate a human presence while you’re gone. If you have a smart lighting system, set it to turn lights on at varied times so it looks like someone is in the house. An overflowing pile of newspapers and mail are a sure sign no one is home, so have your newspaper and mail held. The post office will hold mail up to 30 days, or ask a neighbor to pick them up.
Also, ask neighbors to park in your driveway occasionally so it looks like someone is around. If it’s summertime, keep your air-conditioning running and have your grass mowed while you’re gone. You can also go the extra mile and hire a house sitter or pet sitter so someone is actually in the house and moving around even when you’re not there.
Don’t add anything to your social media, voicemail or email auto-reply saying that you’re gone. This is an open invitation for thieves to head straight to your house. The best practice is to wait to post your vacation photos on social media until you’re home. If you get itchy fingers and want to post while you’re gone, at least make sure only friends can see your posts and don’t mention the specific dates you will be away.
You also want to do everything you can to protect your house from mechanical problems. Ever worry about coming home to a flooded house because of a burst pipe? Take a minute to turn your water main off before you leave as this can prevent thousands of dollars in damage. Some security systems also include sensors that measure moisture in the air, which can indicate broken pipes or appliances. Other environmental sensors include smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that can alert the fire department if they sense smoke or fire. You can also unplug all non-essential devices to conserve electricity and reduce the risk of fire.
Taking these few steps will help you rest easier while you’re away from home. Make sure your house is protected and you can enjoy your family and your fun. Some of these tips may require an investment, but most can be done economically. It’s small price to pay for peace of mind.
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How to Make Traveling with the Kids a Breeze
At the best of times, traveling with kids can be a hoot. At the worst, however, it can be absolutely exhausting. If you want to prepare as best you can to make traveling with your kids a breeze, here is what you need to know.
The best tip for packing is to pack light. Plan the outfits for your kids, pack them flat into plastic ziplock bags, and squeeze the air out to save space. You can also get packing cubes to make organizing even easier. Get as many travel-sized things as possible, including toiletries, deodorant, and even toothbrushes. Remember, kids can bring luggage on a plane, so pack them a bag or two in addition to your own.
Kids of all ages, even teenagers, love getting presents. One way to make the onus of a trip easier to bear is to bring a little present for each child. Have it wrapped and ready to go for when kids start getting cranky or to reward good behavior about halfway through the trip. Younger children may enjoy playing with gel window clings, and you can get a pack or two cheaply from most large retail stores. They can arrange them on the car window or even on their airplane tray table. You can buy travel games, including miniature versions of classic favorites, to pass the time together. Coloring and activity books can help keep kids sane. Consider letting older kids download a gaming app or two to the family tablet to keep them occupied, as well. You can also download a movie or episodes from your favorite television show so you don’t need to worry about having the internet to stream.
Travel fatigue can make us grumpy if we’re lucky and sick if we’re not. The best thing to do if you are changing time zones is to adjust your schedule a few days before you leave so you can start acclimating to something new before you hit the road. If you’re going for a relatively short trip, try to leave around the time your child normally has a nap. If your little one is asleep during the journey, they will be less likely to become bored or disruptive, and a distracted driver is dangerous. To encourage your child to sleep, bring their favorite blanket and maybe an inflatable pillow to put behind their head so they can rest easily. If you are planning to stay at a hotel on your journey, make sure that you give yourselves your best shot at sleeping well overnight. Getting everyone their own bed, rather than having kids share if they normally sleep alone, can go a long way toward helping everyone sleep in an unfamiliar environment. If your little one is finicky, a white noise machine or application for your phone can do wonders.
It’s all too easy to pick up a bug when traveling, particularly if you’re going by plane. You need to keep an eye on your kids’ toys, especially your youngest ones. It’s too easy for things to fall and pick up a virus or some extra germs. Once you get home, many toys can go straight into the dishwasher to safely remove anything funky they may have picked up. When you’re traveling, however, dishwashers may be hard to come by. Instead, use a mild or gentle sanitizer, and wipe them down periodically to keep them sterile. Even a quick wash in the sink can suffice in a jiffy if you’re on a plane and have no hand sanitizer. Make sure that you have gum on hand for older kids, as a change in altitude can cause ears to need to pop. It may seem counterintuitive, but try to eat a light snack before the car ride or flight, as an empty stomach may be more prone to nausea than a satiated one.
With a bit of prep, a game or two, and some healthy precautions, you can make your trip so much easier. After all, travel should always be about enjoyment, not stress.
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