Are you staying in Paris for the holidays? Or are you traveling elsewhere? Are you spending the holidays with family?  Or are you using the quiet time in the office to travel somewhere new?

From the Highline, Manhattan

I was lucky this year to spend the Thanksgiving holiday in New England. Nonetheless, I am heading back to the U.S. this Christmas, as I do every year, to see my family and friends.  I will be dividing my time between New York City, my hometown outside of Boston, Massachusetts and Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

If you are headed out of town, consider finding a house sitter or renting out your home on a short-term basis.  Not only can you make some extra cash but you can avoid the risks of leaving your property unattended.  I generally sub-let my apartment to friends of friends if I will be gone for more than a week and so far it has always proved to be a win-win situation.

Ocean Point, Boothbay, Maine

If you must leave your property unoccupied, here are some tips for securing your home while you are gone:

  • Unplug non-essential appliances (TV, toaster, etc.) even if they are plugged into surge protectors.
  • Shut off the hot water heater. This will save energy and prevent problems the event of a leak while you are away. Just remember that it could take about 12 hours before you have hot water again once you turn it back on.
  • Shut off the main water valve (and let the faucets run until the water is drained). Again, avoid the nightmare that could ensue if there were a leak while you are away. You may need to think about this task in advance as renters may need to ask the landlord/management company where the valve is located.  Mine is in my bedroom – who would have ever guessed?
  • Make sure all the windows are closed tightly and locked.
  • Be sure no particularly valuable items are visible through the windows.
  • Turn off the ringer on your telephone so neighbors in earshot are not alerted to your absence.
  • If possible, have some pick up your mail every few days so it is not too obvious you are gone.  (And if you have plants, don’t forget to have someone stop by to water them… or bring them into the office if there will be people around to pitch in!)
  • You may consider asking trusted neighbors to keep an eye on your place, but if you are leaving your home unoccupied, do not publicize your departure to people you do not know or trust.
  • Consider notifying your guardien or management company (if you rent) of your plans and emergency contact information.  You may want to give them or a trusted friend a spare key so they can get in if there is an emergency.

Do you have any additional tips to share?

Great Meadows, Concord, Massachusetts

What are you most looking forward to this holiday season? Please share your plans with us!