Summer is a great time to hit the road! Taking advantage of the warm weather and time off from school to relax on a beach, camp, board a cruise and more. This is a great time to hike the Blue Ridge Mountains, road trip to Virginia Beach or Williamsburg, or venture further for an exotic adventure. Whatever you plan to do, there is a lot to plan for to make sure this summer vacation is one to remember. Most schools start after Labor Day, so summer in Virginia can be a little longer than many places today.

While rest and relaxation may be on your mind, it’s just as important to think about the state of the home you’ll be leaving behind. Whether you live in a high-rise condo or master-planned community, in Fairfax or Alexandria, it’s important to know how to prepare your home for an extended time away.
If you work with a professional association management company, you can reach out to your community association manager for vacation preparation tips specific to your community. No matter where you live, here are some simple tips to help ensure your home is safe and well maintained while you are off enjoying the summer sun. 

1. Don’t Broadcast Your Absence.
Nothing ruins a great trip like coming home to a burglarized property. The FBI reports that there were about 23,000 burglaries in Virginia in 2014. Thankfully, there are several ways to discourage potential criminals who might be lurking near the neighborhood, observing people’s behaviors for clues that residents are away. Use your garage for loading the car, if possible, so fewer passers-by will know you are planning to be away. Consider stopping mail and newspaper service while you are gone, so that it doesn’t pile up. You can quickly arrange for your mail service to be held for you at; a phone call to your local paper’s circulation desk will stop delivery. Limit online shopping the last couple of weeks before you leave, unless you have an alternate delivery location or someone who will pick packages up for you. Besides the risk of theft and burglary, packages can get damaged being left outside.
If you have a landline phone, set your voicemail to answer on the second ring, and turn down your ringer volume. A constantly ringing phone is a good signal that no one is home. Be careful about broadcasting your travel plans on social media such as Facebook or Twitter, regardless of your account privacy settings. That’s a dead giveaway you are out of town and are unable to respond to a crime at your home. Also, if many neighbors are traveling at the same time, residents can contact the local police department and your community manager so extra eyes can be on the neighborhood.

2. Save on Your Electric and Gas Bills.
There are many ways to conserve energy while you are out of town, which will do wonders for your summer electric bill. Keep your air conditioner on but set at a higher temperature (unless you are leaving pets at home). Your compressor will kick on when temperatures rise, which could be a sign someone is home. Also, consider turning off the circuit breaker or gas valve to your hot water heater, or simply turn it to a lower setting so it isn’t working when it doesn’t have to be. You don’t want to leave your home completely dark, because that’s an obvious sign you are away. But you also don’t want lamps, TVs, and other appliances running unnecessarily. Instead, set your lights and TVs with a timer so that they are on at appropriate times and turn off when you would be going to bed. Leave your blinds slightly open so that lights and flashing TVs inside the house shine out.

3. Schedule Lawn and Pet Care Before You Go.
If you plan to be gone for more than a few days, schedule pool cleaning, lawn care and landscaping to be done while you’re away. Overgrown grass is a flashing neon sign that says “no one is home!” If you are close to your neighbors, ask one of them to park a car in your driveway and retrieve mail or newspapers (if you haven’t suspended these services) so it looks like people are coming and going. If you are traveling without your pets, consider asking a friend or neighbor to pet sit in your home, rather than boarding them in a kennel. It’s less stressful on your furry family members and creates the impression that the house is occupied.

4. Be Neighborly.
Having a friend that you can trust on your block or in your building can go a long way toward helping you relax while you are gone. Make sure you leave a key with this person and an emergency contact number in case you need to be reached while you’re on vacation. Have them check on your home now and again to make sure everything is in order. If you leave before trash day, ask them to put out your trash and retrieve the cans, so it is not sitting outside past collection day. Return the favor when your neighbors are away, and bring them a token of your appreciation for taking time to give you peace of mind. This way, you build a reliable network, form stronger friendships, and know that any time you have to leave town, you don’t have to worry about what’s going on around your home.
Following these easy tips can help you keep intruders away from your property, save money and energy and bring you peace of mind while you’re enjoying your time away from home.
Wednesday August 03, 2016