6 things to do before you leave on vacation

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Planning a vacation is exciting, but the lead-up can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming. From managing mail delivery to ensuring home security, there are several steps you can take to make your time away more relaxing. Let’s dive into some practical tips to help you prepare before your next getaway.


Tip #1: Set up a vacation hold with the USPS

You can easily set up a vacation hold with the USPS, allowing them to hold onto your mail at the post office while you’re out of town. You can request one online directly from USPS, and you can even see photos of your mail in your email before it arrives with USPS’ Informed Delivery.

Tip #2: Set up a Wi-Fi thermostat

If, like me, you live somewhere where the temperatures shift greatly depending on the time of the day, a smart thermostat can make your life easier at home and when you’re away from home. A Wi-Fi thermostat will allow you to keep your house warmer or cooler hours before you return from vacation. They also allow you to prepare for inclement weather events that might occur back home while traveling, such as heat waves or deep freezes.

Wi-Fi thermostats are cheaper than smart thermostats and only cool or heat the room based on your prompts. A smart thermostat can track your temperature settings and automatically adjust them for efficiency. If you need something for when you travel, a Wi-Fi thermostat is the more budget-conscious way to go.


Tip #3: Setup security cameras outside your home

If you enjoy having the peace of mind that your property is safe while you’re gone, look into putting up security cameras around the entrances and exits of your home. We have a list of our top picks to amp up your home security here.


Tip #4: Sign up for delivery services for groceries

A wide variety of grocery delivery apps are available to download for those moments when you need groceries promptly — whether it’s after returning from vacation or during a trip. Nearly any grocery delivery app allows you to customize your order, including the date and time of drop-off. 

Often less expensive than resort food options, ordering groceries on vacation could save you money. Also, returning home to an empty fridge after an extended amount of time away? Online ordering ensures you will have groceries to make dinner with right when you get home from vacation.


Tip #5: Set up a security camera inside your home

Setting up a security camera inside your home allows you to monitor activity and provides peace of mind. If you have pets at home, you can use it to check in on them while you’re away. Leaving them in the care of others can be stressful, and a camera allows you to ensure their well-being. I often travel with an inexpensive camera to watch my vacation rental when away from home. And about the only time I feel comfortable using a camera inside my home is while I’m away. It’s promptly relocated away from the interior once I return as I’m not a fan of using inside cameras while I’m at home.

Tip #6: Create an auto-reply for email in Gmail

If you handle your emails through Gmail, you can set an out-of-office response to all emails you receive. This will let anyone emailing you know you have received the message but cannot respond. As a tech journalist, I need to stay in communication with everyone, and auto-reply makes this easy. Here’s how to set up a vacation response in Gmail.


Open GmailIn the top right, click on SettingsClick See all settings

Scroll down to Vacation responder and turn it onFill in the date ranges, subject and the auto-reply messageAt the bottom of the page, click Save changes

Yahoo Mail

Log in to your Yahoo Mail accountClick on the gear icon (Settings) in the upper-right cornerChoose More SettingsOn the left, select Vacation ResponseToggle on the switch next to Turn on Vacation ResponseUnderneath where it says, “Show vacation response during these dates,” specify the start and end dates for your vacation responseEnter your custom message to let contacts know you’re awayClick Save to activate the vacation response


These Outlook instructions are based on the January 2024 update for Microsoft 365 subscribers. If you encounter any differences, make sure to check for any further updates or specific settings.

Open OutlookClick on File in the top-left cornerSelect Automatic RepliesCheck the Send automatic replies boxSet the date range for your vacation responseCraft your out-of-office messageClick OK to enable the auto-reply

AOL Mail

Log in to your AOL Mail accountClick on Options (gear icon) in the upper-right cornerChoose More SettingsClick Vacation ResponseToggle on the Turn on vacation response switchSelect the dates for your responseEnter your customized vacation messageClick Save to activate the vacation response


Bonus tip: Make your home look lived-in

While security cameras and holding your mail are great deterrents, there are other ways to make your home look occupied while you’re away. Here are a few ideas:

Lights on a timer: Set timers for some lights with smart bulbs in your house to turn on and off in the evening, mimicking your typical routine.Car in the driveway: If you have a neighbor you trust, ask them to occasionally park your car in the driveway to make it seem like someone is home.Radio on low volume: Playing music or talk radio softly can create the illusion that someone is inside.Pause deliveries: If you have any non-essential deliveries scheduled for your vacation time beyond what we discussed earlier with USPS, consider pausing them to avoid piling up boxes outside your door.

By following these tips, you can create the illusion of occupancy and deter potential burglars.

Kurt’s key takeaways

Vacations are a great way to get away from work, unwind and spend quality time with friends and family. However, they can also be a headache if you come home to a stack of overflowing mail and emails and a house that is too hot or too cold. These six tips I use anytime I go on vacation give me greater peace of mind and help keep everything organized when I get home. Auto-reply emails, in particular, have saved me a lot of stress.

Security concerns can vary depending on location. Have you ever had a close call or learned a valuable lesson related to home security while traveling? Let us know by writing us atCyberguy.com/Contact.

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