The Ultimate Safety and Security Vacation Checklist for Your Home and Car

This safety checklist will ensure your home & car are ready for that well-deserved vacation.

The following is a guest post by Mark Gittelman

If you want to get the most out of your summer road trip and have the best time possible, take the worries out of leaving your home behind and relying on your car to get you where you’re going. This checklist will help you prepare both your home and car before you set sail, so you can concentrate on something much more important: your family and the adventure ahead.

Batten Down the Hatches: Your Home Security Checklist

We’ve all experienced those unsettling thoughts a couple of hours into our vacation when we wonder if we locked all the windows and doors. Worse than that is coming home from a fantastic trip and finding out that your home was broken into. In addition to locking up, learn the home’s most vulnerable entry points, and take steps to harden those soft targets.

– A large percentage of homes have sliding glass doors facing the backyard. This affords would-be felons the privacy they desire as they work on opening this entrance. Often they gain entry by prying upward on the sliding door to disengage it from the track. Your local home improvement center will offer several solutions to this problem. However, sometimes it’s as simple as sliding the right-sized piece of wood, metal pipe or broom handle above the sliding door to prevent the upward movement needed to gain entry.

– I’m a strong believer in a full-time home security system with a contracted monitoring service. Nevertheless, this type of commitment isn’t right for everyone. With the evolution of the smartphone, some really interesting no-contract security devices have entered the marketplace. Most of these are self-monitored through downloadable apps. Basic systems come in at around $200 and can provide peace of mind without the long-term commitment.

– Laying out a little more cash will give you additional sensor coverage and advanced features that can allow you to turn on and off the interior lights. This makes it appear that someone is home and moving from room to room. In addition, these more-advanced systems can notify friends and neighbors when trouble arises, while you’re busy riding a roller coaster at Wally World. The nice part about these no-contract systems is when you return home, you can stop paying for it without penalty.

– Ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your home and collect your mail and any delivered packages, so it’s not obvious to others that no one is home.

– Finally, for your home’s security, wait until the adventure is over to post those vacation pictures on social media.

Buckle Up and Go: Your Car Safety Checklist

If you watched any of the National Lampoon’s Vacation movies, you’re aware of how important the family automobile is to the overall success of the trip. Check off these items before revving up the engine to keep your trip a safe and happy one.

– If your car is almost due for service or past-due for its regular oil change, wiper blade or air filter replacement, make it a point to complete the maintenance before departure. Notify the repair center that this vehicle will be responsible for hauling the family safely on an extended journey. Most shops will perform a safety inspection for their regular clients at no charge.

– An automotive technician doesn’t have a crystal ball, but he or she can identify weak or problem areas that might throw you a curveball during your vacation. For example, although belts and hoses last a lot longer than they did on cars from the 70s and 80s, they still have an expiration date. Nothing made of rubber will last forever. Mechanics use a general rule of thumb when they inspect a drive belt: If it has more than 10 cracks per inch it needs replacing. Have your mechanic take a look and make sure all hoses are in good shape.

– Prepare for the worst and imagine yourself broken down in a remote location. Think about the things that you would want to have on hand to comfort you and your family. Make an emergency kit that includes commonsense items like blankets, snacks high in protein and fresh bottled water. Also include things like an emergency, no-contract cellphone with an additional battery backup, road flares and emergency triangles to deploy.

– Finally, get yourself a rechargeable automotive jump box. For about $60 you can get a nice one with an LED light and a USB port for charging phones. A dead battery is one of the most common car issues, and it’s nice to have the solution charged up and on board in case of emergencies.

With your home and car safely secured for your trip, get peace of mind, enjoy your adventure, and then make your way safely home.

Mark Gittelman is a retired mechanic and writer for CARFAX. He fuels his passion for cars by offering consumer advice on car care and driver safety tips.

Christian is the Senior Manager of Brand Media for Coldwell Banker Real Estate. In this role, he oversees social media for the brand as well as media planning for all national advertising campaigns. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, building LEGO sets and binging TV's latest hits. He currently resides in Miami, FL.

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