Mow the Lawn
Going away for more than a few days? Remember that grass grows quickly, and (at least in some neighborhoods) an unkempt lawn suggests an unoccupied house. So hire a neighbor kid to mow the lawn and trim the hedges in your absence. That way, your home will appear lived-in—and as a bonus, when you return, the landscaping will look great.
Shut Off the Water
If a pipe bursts while you're away, the accident could leave your residence doused in thousands of gallons of water. Before heading to the airport, take the time to shut off the water valve. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Hire a Housesitter
Concerned about the burglars? Achieve peace of mind by hiring a housesitter you know and trust. Besides bringing in the mail and attending to other basic homekeeping tasks, your sitter can act immediately on any problems that arise.
Ask a Neighbor
If you'd rather not hire a housesitter, request the assistance of a friend or neighbor. They can help by watering (or even mowing) the lawn, taking in the mail, and checking on the house occasionally. What's more, your neighbor can park in your driveway, if you're going to be leaving it empty, so it looks to a passerby as if someone's around.
Check the Weather
While you're checking the weather forecast for your vacation destination, don't forget to confirm the forecast for where you actually live. If there's a storm on the horizon, make sure the gutters are clear so that the basement doesn't end up flooding in your absence. If your below-grade space typically floods in foul weather, test your sump pump. Don't leave until you're convinced it's in good working order!
Hold Your Mail
Don't let mail pile up near your front door; there's no surer sign that you're out of town. Have the post office hold your letters and packages until you return (most post offices are happy to do so for up to 30 days). If you're a newspaper subscriber, temporarily suspend delivery.
Put Lights on a Timer
Make it look as though you're home at night with an electrical timer that turns on house lights automatically, at a time of day you specify. Affordable and easy to use, such devices are a no-brainer for people leaving their most important investment unattended.
Use an Alarm System
If your home has been burglarized in the past, or if you're intent on never being a victim to that sort of crime, think about installing an alarm system. Choose from one of the many trusted providers; many offer systems that sync with your smartphone or tablet, allowing you to stay connected to your home no matter where you happen to roam.
Lock Up the Pool
Keep kids and animals safe by closing up the pool before you leave town. Locking the pool gate is one thing, but why not go a step further and put on a pool cover? That'll keep out uninvited guests as well as unsightly debris.
Money-saving, time-saving—and yes, sometimes even life-saving—the latest and greatest smart home technologies span from self-programming thermostats to voice-activated TV controls to video doorbells and beyond. Raise your home's IQ!