Vacations are never the same once you become a homeowner. In the old days, I just packed up and took off, never worrying about burglary, raging fire, flash flood or an alien absconding with my hammock. But things changed once I bought The House.

Maybe it’s because that no matter where The Bride and I go to unwind – whether it’s Alaska for two weeks or the Hill Country for a long weekend – she is constantly wondering out loud: “Do you think we’ve been burglarized?…What if the hose to the washing machine broke again and everything’s ruined?…Do you think The House has burned down?”

It doesn’t make for a relaxing time.

We’ve been lucky. In five years of home ownership. The House has never been broken into. We take the usual precautions: locking the doors, leaving on a radio and turning on lights with a timer.

I’ve always thought, however, that leaving the light on over the sink in the kitchen is a signal to burglars. They cruise the alley and check out a house. No dog. Privacy fence. Light’s on over the sink in the kitchen. Nobody’s home. Piece of cake.

The Bride is imagining this throughout our vacation, except when she’s shopping. She relays her fears to me, and I wonder if I really did turn off the iron before we left – and I don’t even iron.

But there are ways to lessen your chances of developing an ulcer on vacation. Here are some tips:

  1. Turn off the water to the washing machine before you leave. Remember: It’s righty-tighty, lefty-loosey – whatever that means. One thing you don’t want is to open the back door upon your return from Disneyland only to get drenched worse than you did on Splash Mountain.
  1. Let you neighbors know that you’re leaving and ask them if they would please look after the place while you’re gone. Of course, this only works if your neighbors like you. And there really isn’t much they can do if your house implodes or is swallowed up by a giant sinkhole.
  1. Let the police know you’ll be gone and ask them to increase patrols down your street, which could hinder would-be ruffians. Then again, you do run the risk of being cited for a seat-belt violation when you pull into the driveway.
  1. Have some house-sit your abode while you play. This does have some drawbacks. A couple I know once left their home and three dogs in the hands of two co-workers while they vamoosed. When they returned, they were down to two dogs and one home. Plus, no matter how trustworthy your house-sitter, you’ll always wonder about the all-night parties thrown in your absence or if they replaced your single-malt Scotch with Boone’s Farm. (Well, you probably could figure that one out.)
  1. Stay home.