How to Protect Your Home and Assets While Traveling

Vacations are supposed to be a time to relax and take a break, but they can also leave you vulnerable to theft, fraud, and unexpected expenses. 

Take these steps to ensure you are protected so you can truly relax on your vacation. 

Maintain business as usual at your house. If your landscaper comes every Wednesday, make sure he drops by even while you are gone. Have a neighbor pick up newspapers and mail. Keep your indoor and outdoor lights on. Even better: if you have smart home capabilities, you can preset your lights to turn on and off to match your routine. If you can, leave your car in your driveway.   

Watch your social media posts. Don’t announce to the world that you are leaving as this could tip off would-be thieves. Likewise, resist the urge to post selfies from your exotic adventure, as this too will divulge your whereabouts. 

Remove or reset your GPS. If you’re leaving your car at an airport, train station, or hotel, your GPS could lead thieves right back to the real prize – your empty house. Take it with you or leave it at home. If it’s built in, change the home address to an empty mall lot or a police station. 

Invest in home security. Despite your best efforts, someone could still catch on and try to break in. If you don’t already have a home security system, now is the perfect time to install one. Likewise, get a safe for valuables and important documents and hide it in an inconspicuous place. 

Buttoning up your credit cards. It helps to notify your credit card carrier of trips in advance to avoid any unnecessary and inconvenient freezes of your card while you are traveling. At the same time, make sure your card has fraud protection and review the plan before you go – in case you lose it or it’s stolen. 

Have a backup to your credit card. Have a cash backup in case you do lose your credit card. Make sure you keep it somewhere separate from your card. An even better option is traveler’s checks, which require your signature, and, often, a photo ID in order to be cashed. For more on traveler’s checks, see this post

Protect your identity. From your passport to your cell phone, you, as a traveler, are an optimal target for identity thieves. Before your trip, you need to take extra measures to protect your identity, such as setting up a password on your phone and making photocopies of your passport. For a full checklist, see this post

Check your health insurance. Find out how payments are made in emergency situations. Be aware that some overseas hospitals won’t accept U.S. health insurance plans – better to know in advance. It may be necessary to purchase travel insurance if your ordinary health insurance won’t cover you where you are going. 

Consider getting travel insurance. In addition to emergency medical expenses, traveler’s insurance covers a host of other things that can go wrong, like lost luggage or damage to rental cars. Another major advantage of travel insurance is that it pays you back for any prepaid non-refundable trip expenses in the event that it’s canceled or cut short. For more on travel insurance, see this post

Sources included: Forbes, NerdWallet, Credit Karma, Equifax, and Upgraded Points