There’s nothing quite as exciting as a family vacation. All over the country households are in the midsts of a big trip or packing their bags in anticipation. With an estimated 58% of Canadians planning to take a vacation before Labour Day, all signs point to a healthy travel industry in Canada.
But with all of those households hopping on planes, trains and automobiles many homes will be left vacant in the weeks ahead. This, presents an opportunity for those of lower moral ground. As savvy as you may be when it comes to home security there may be one gap in your property protection plan – your social media activity.
A recent study notes that 78 percent of burglars admit that they use social media to seek out their victims. With 58% of you on vacation this summer, that’s a startling statistic. Today we take a look at the key tips to managing your social media presence while preparing for, or while on, a vacation.
5 Tips to Managing Your Household’s Social Media Activity to Protect Your Home While on Vacation
1. Blackout During the Planning Process
Like most people, you tend to share the exciting times of your life on social media. As we all know, one of the most thrilling parts of a trip are the days preceding it. It can be tempting to post updates on your Facebook or Instagram feed, counting down each subsequent day until you depart for your destination. But in doing so, you give potential burglars the opportunity to plan for your big trip as well. The more notice given on your social profiles, the more your home becomes a target. Don’t post one single thing about your impending trip on your networks.
2. If You Must, Do So Privately
Our advice for you while on vacation is simple. Wait until you return to post updates. But we’re realists. We know that for all of the warnings many of you will still share your experiences, live and on the fly while enjoying your trip.
This behavior isn’t exclusive to us tech-heavy North Americans. Studies from abroad show that travelers update their Facebook status 10 times, send four tweets, and add two pictures on Instagram on a seven-day holiday.
It’s even trickier when you’re attending an event. There, you are inundated with a slew of “check in” promotional contests that ask you to share your experiences on social. Thus, if you insist upon doing so, venture into your settings and do the following:
- Make your account temporarily private
- Target posts to be shared only with people on your network that you trust
- Turn off the geotagging function on your mobile device
In addition to editing your settings, permanently remove all information about your home address, including the street you reside on, from your profiles. Remove your phone number from public view as well, which can be used to track down your home address. If you must set auto-reply emails regarding your vacation, do so only for select people (that you trust) on your contact list, and state that you will be unavailable, versus away on vacation.
3. Analyze Pictures for Location Give Aways
You may feel that it’s safe to post photos of a vacation destination that is similar in appearance to where you live, as long as you’ve adjusted your privacy settings. The backdrop of Vancouver BC can be similar to that of cities and towns on Vancouver Island or in Washington state. This doesn’t get you out of the woods. There may be hints in the photos that give away your location. Anything from a landmark to a retail store can tell burglars that you’re no where near your property. If you must post visual vacation updates, be sure to pick apart your pictures first.
4. Be Mindful of the Kids
Those of you with children will need to be especially diligent. Make sure that they also follow the rules you’ve imposed upon yourself. Teenagers in particular will have a hard time abiding by the social media lockdown during vacation. Monitoring this will be easy enough, as long as you are connected to your kids (as Friends / Followers) on social media too.
5. Keep Up Appearances
Even if you’ve instituted a social media blackout for your trip, you may choose to be extra cautious by arming yourself with unused photos from around the property. While away, you can post sporadic updates that show you and your family at home. Alternatively, if social updates on your trip are unavoidable (for lifestyle bloggers, etc.) you can take measures to make it look like someone remains at your home. Post statements about house-sitters, AirBnb guests, or family members that are holding down the fort. Feel free to throw in a photo of your neighbor’s pit bull on the lawn for good measure. Burglars using social media to identify victims think they’re smart – beat them at their own game.
Wishing You Safe Travels this Season!
Taking your foot off of the gas on social media while on vacation also has another very big benefit. You can actually enjoy the sites and sounds of your destination without staring into the screen of your smartphone. Try it out on your next family trip and you’ll find that by disconnecting from social media you better connect with people and places, and that’s what a vacation is all about.