When it comes to home safety while traveling, you have options. You could pay your 12-year-old neighbor $10 a day to grab the mail or you could install a state-of-the-art security system that you can control from across the world on your smartphone. There are plenty of ways to keep your home secure. Some are better than others, but the safest home has a combination of old-fashioned security tricks as well as new technology.
To get you there, here are our favorite smart gadgets for your home. We’ve done our best to sift through the noise of Smart Home Technology (Wi-Fi plugs, fridges you can tweet from, and motion-activated video doorbells) to give you only the products that will truly make your home safer and more convenient. We also included some easy low-tech things you should always do to keep your home safe whenever you step away.
Lock and Block Your Doors
Leaving a key hidden somewhere outside your home is a mistake that has led to many home break-ins. If you have a spare key, give it directly to the neighbor or friend who will need to use it. Don’t leave it under your doormat or flower pot. Better yet, circumvent this entirely by installing a smart lock.
The Yale lock was rated the best smart lock by Wirecutter for security, convenience, and aesthetics. With the Yale Lock, you set a custom code for anyone who needs it. You can also remotely lock and unlock the door from your smartphone, giving you peace of mind that, yes, you remembered to lock the door. The app will even allow you to let anyone in who you don’t want to give your code to. See when the door was locked and unlocked and whether it’s currently open or closed. These features give you a clear picture of what’s happening while you’re away.
Sometimes the best option is the most low-tech. When it comes to locking and reinforcing sliding doors, be sure to block with a security bar like this one.
Keep Your Eye on Things
Having a traditional security system (and the signs in your yard broadcasting that security system) is still one of the best ways to prevent break-ins, but technology now allows homeowners to be their own security system. You can set up video surveillance with a motion-activated video doorbell from Ring, which allows you to watch video footage on your phone and even works as a two-way speaker. Ring sells camera options and smart lighting that you can put throughout your home or around the perimeter of the house. You’ll get an alert on your phone whenever there’s motion, and thieves will be deterred by the sight of a video camera.
If you don’t want to actually keep an eye on things, but you want anyone walking around your property to feel like you are, the old standby of motion-activated flood lights is for you. You can find these lights for less than $20, and they’re an immediate and low-tech deterrent to any shady behavior.
Prevent Signs of Absence
There’s no clearer signal that you’re out of town than mail building up or grass growing high. Be sure to ask a neighbor or a house-sitter to pick up any mail and packages that come in, and consider hiring a lawn service or keeping up any other routine home maintenance if you’re gone for more than a week.
For years, homeowners have left a few lights or the TV on to communicate “I’m home” to passersby. Now, you can do that with the technology of smart lighting and plug options. The best choice for you depends on how smart you want your home to be. Here are three options:
- If you’d like to control many of your lights and plugs from one place, you might benefit from a hub like the Google Nest Hub Max. The Google Nest Hub Max (a true mouthful) was created in collaboration with Nest, a company that sells smart thermostats. The product serves as a security camera—you can check in while you’re away via the Nest app—and it can be used to control all Google smart home products throughout your house. This means you can turn on and off lights, remotely adjust temperature, and control any other products you’ve added to the Google network, like TVs. It has plenty of other features too, including a big screen for video calling or watching cooking tutorials, face match technology that brings up your preferences when it recognizes you, and high-quality speakers.
- If you’d prefer to stick with turning lights on and off, the C by GE Smart Switch might be a better fit. While most smart home lighting requires you to replace every bulb with a smart bulb (not ideal), the smart switch only requires you to replace the light switch to make every light in the room smart, or able to control it remotely. This will let you turn lights on and off or set timers while you’re away so you won’t leave a dark house or waste electricity.
- You can also stick to the tried and true outlet timer (like this one sold on Amazon.) No need to buy any smart accessories for this gadget to work. Plug one of these into a wall outlet, then plug your lamp into the timer. Turn the lamp on, choose your desired on and off settings, and walk away. Your lamp will automatically turn on and off until you unplug the timer and replug the lamp into the wall. Simple!
Other Home Security Tips for When You’re Traveling
Some experts recommend deactivating your automatic garage door if you’ll be gone for more than a few days. Thieves sometimes have access to a universal remote that could control your automatic door. Disabling this function and using a physical lock is the best way to deter this.
It’s also recommended that you keep a low profile on social media until you get home. Status updates and Instagram posts that confirm you’re away from home could lead to a break-in.
And, of course, secure any valuables you’ve left in the house. These smart home gadgets and tips should be enough to keep your house safe and secure while you’re away, but important documents, expensive jewelry, and anything else that is valuable are best kept in a locked safe while you’re gone.
We Can Help Keep Your Hotel Reservation Safe and Secure
These smart home gadgets can help keep your home safe while away. We’re here to make sure your hotel reservation is secure as well. When you find a hotel you want to book on roomkey.com, we automatically transfer you to the hotel’s own website so you can complete your booking directly with them. When you book direct, you can rest assured that your reservation is safe and secure with the hotel, unlike third-party booking sites who are known to lose bookings.
At Roomkey, we put your best first. No tricks. Just travel.
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