If you’re packing up to go on holiday, you’ll have plenty to think about. But while planning your trip, spare a thought for your home, too, which might need some extra protection while you’re away. You may have some security measures in place already, such as surveillance lights, HD CCTV cameras or a burglar alarm, but you can protect your home even further, at no extra cost, just by duping any would-be-burglars. These five little tricks will send out misleading signals to anyone watching your property, sending them off-track.

1, Keep your travel plans to yourselves
You never know where snooping ears and eyes may lurk, so refrain from mentioning your travel plans in public. Whether you’re in your back garden, out in the street, or in a shop or restaurant, someone could be listening to your conversation and noting your leaving and returning dates. Even if you divulge your travel plans privately or discreetly, they may be passed on with less discretion, so don’t tell anyone beyond your closest circle until your return.

2, Put valuables out of sight
Don’t incite temptation by displaying desirable items in view of your windows or front door, even when at home, as anyone interested in acquiring them will be watching out for an opportunity. Before leaving for your holiday, hide away your precious items in secure, well-concealed places, or hand them over to a trusted friend or relative for safekeeping till your return, in case anyone does break in. Alternatively, you could lodge them with your bank or in a self-storage unit, for a fee.

3, Leave signs of life around
Don’t tidy your house too much before leaving, or its lifeless appearance may attract unwanted interest. Leave a few low-energy lights on, or set up a security system for intermittent lighting. Add to the lived-in impression by leaving a radio or TV on – or perhaps both, in different rooms. Arrange window drapes and blinds a little unevenly, for a casual look, mostly half open so as to look normal for day or night. Also remember to remove potted plants and vases of flowers from windowsills, unless you’ve arranged for a neighbour to water them in your absence; wilting flowers indicate your absence.

4, Ask a trusted acquaintance to look in
A very effective way of making your empty home look occupied is to arrange for a trusted acquaintance to pop in from time to time, switching on lights and making the place look lived-in. Ask them to remove accumulating letters from your postbox, open windows, rearrange the drapes and blinds and perhaps even mow the lawn. They could also water your plants, indoors and out. A long-established neighbour with time on their hands would probably be happy to do this for you, either for a modest remuneration or gift, or with a mutual commitment arranged, whereby you’ll return the favour when they go away. Perhaps they’d like to move in for the duration of your trip, for a change of scene – with a few house rules in place, this might be an ideal solution.

5, Pack your car discreetly
Don’t let observers see that you’re setting out on holiday. If you’re loading up your car, pack your less valuable items a day or two before, to avoid a big display of luggage all at once. Ideally, pack your car in your garage or if you have a drive or street parking choose a time when it’s not so busy for example early morning or late at night, to mislead any watching eyes. Conceal holiday items, such as sunhats and seaside accessories, in everyday shopping bags until you’ve driven away, reducing visible travel bags to a minimum. Keep your farewells low-key or private, and set off casually, as if just popping out.

As you leave, make sure all your windows and doors are locked, and double-locked where feasible, and set up any security devices you may have. Then, with all your clever tricks in place, you’ll be able to relax to the full throughout your holiday.