How to Protect Your Home While You’re Away

By Chris Long, a home security expert

Keep Tabs on your Home From Wherever You Wander

You’ve finally been able to escape your cubicle for a week of adventure in a place you’ve always wanted to visit. Eventually your relaxing trip ends and you have to come back to reality. But when you get back to your place you find that an enterprising burglar has ransacked it and your rejuvenating week has been ruined.

How to Protect Your Home While Away

Sadly, burglaries while homeowners are away on vacation are a common occurrence. Old-fashioned, low-tech methods to prevent burglaries – timers on lights, getting a neighbor to check in on the house – are still excellent, but there has also been a huge technological leap in the field of home security technology. Not only are monitoring systems more advanced, but they are also linked to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets which allow you to manipulate the system remotely. This advancement has made home security more accessible and also more customizable—not only in price but in services.

Here are a few tips on how to protect your home while you’re away on your dream trip.

A home security system

A home security system can get expensive, but it is also the best way to protect your home while you’re away. Only 17% of US homes have security systems in their homes and a residence without a security system are up to 300% more likely to be broken into. Put simply, for the greatest peace of mind possible while you’re away, a home security system is the way to go. Along with monitoring of the doors and windows, most home security companies will also install surveillance cameras in your home. Furthermore, most companies also have a free app for your smartphone that you can use to arm, disarm, and monitor the surveillance cameras from just about anywhere. If you get panicky about your home while you’re on the beach, you can simply bring up the live feed of your house and relax with another fruity drink, of course topped by a little umbrella.

While a home security system is the safest way to go, there are plenty of high tech options out there to protect your home on a budget. Here are a few of these options:

Canary Home Security Device

How to Protect Your Home While Away

Canary Home Security Device

During the summer of 2013, Canary became the most successful project in the history of crowd-funding site Indiegogo. About the size of a soda can, Canary uses its multiple sensors to monitor your home. Not only is there a microphone and camera, but sensors also keep tabs on the temperature and air quality. If Canary senses any change, it uses your home’s WiFi to send an alert to you on your smartphone no matter where you are. At around $200 it is also inexpensive, and it can easily be set up at your next apartment or home should you move. Canary is not available yet—delivery is expected in July 2014.


Presence might be the cheapest high-tech way to monitor your home, provided you have an old Apple device that you haven’t recycled or sold. All you have to do is download a free app to both your current and retired iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone. Presence works with one device as a sensor and the other as a monitor. Set up your old device somewhere in your home to act as a sensor, and set your current one as the monitor. The sensor device detects motion and will send you an alert on your phone with video of what caused the motion.

If you’re the techie person that gets a new smartphone every time a new model comes out, then you can use your old phones in different rooms of your home to be your very own surveillance system.


How to Protect Your Home While Away

Dropcam Home Security

A more sophisticated, and thus more expensive, version of Presence is Dropcam. With Dropcam you can stream live video from your home wherever you are. The cameras also have speakers and a microphone, so you can communicate with whomever you see on camera. Again, all this can be done through your smartphone, with a sophisticated level of customization. You can turn the cameras on and off depending on where you are, review footage from the past week and even share the video feed with friends and family.

DIY home security cameras

If you’re tech-savvy, there are many different ways you can set up your own home security camera that you can monitor through your computer or phone.

These are just a few of the many options you have with regards to home security. What other products/systems/techniques do you use to protect your home while you’re away on vacation?

Feeling a little more at-ease and ready to start planning your perfect trip? Let Utrip be your guide! 

Chris Long is an on-the-floor store associate at a Home Depot in the Chicago suburbs. Chris is also a frequent DIY advice contributor to the Home Depot website on electrical topics ranging from home automation to home security systems.

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