The Advantages of HomeKit for Extended Travels

Cupertino, July 7, 2024

In September my wife and I traveled around Scotland and London for a few weeks. It was an amazing time and I highly recommend both places. Since our house was empty for a long time outside of family visits to check on the house (I’m always paranoid about a random leak, etc.), no one was home. With HomeKit I was able to create automations to make it look like we were home by turning on lights, curtains, and more. HomeKit Weekly is a series focused on smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks, and all things related to Apple’s smart home framework.

Most importantly, if you’re traveling, you 100% need a HomeKit-enabled leak detector. Water leaks, especially on hardwood floors, can cause thousands of dollars in damage. I would recommend putting one under every sink and possibly in front of your refrigerator if you’re traveling. HomeKit provides emergency notifications when a sensor detects a leak, and you can have a friend or family member take quick action to prevent further damage.

Easy Access

One of the things I really appreciate about a smart home is the ability to let people into my home while I’m away and still keep an eye on things. I use the Level Lock+ for the Home Key functionality, but Apple currently doesn’t offer a way to share it outside of your home. In this situation, Level’s NFC cards are the perfect solution for guest access. I gave one to a family member before we left so they had access to unlock our door. I also set them up with a code on our abode alarm system. I don’t often use the keypad to arm and disarm my system since I have the abode app installed, but it’s the perfect solution if someone outside the house needs to disarm it. It’s easy to add and remove codes without even being there. With Level Lock+ and abode, I can easily let family members in and out of our home myself, but I could also have unlocked/disarmed everything remotely.

Lights & Shades

When you’re away, you don’t want all the lights in your house to be off all the time, as that signals to a potential thief that you’re away. I also don’t want to leave lights on all day, as not only does that waste energy, it also signals that we’re away. If the house is dark at certain times but lit at other times, it gives the appearance that we’re there. We already have a number of HomeKit-compatible lights, wall plug adapters, and HomeKit shades, so this process is handled perfectly by a HomeKit scene that I can run at different times.

In the Home app, tap the + button in the top right. Tap Add Scene. You’ll create a custom scene. (You can call it “Travel.”) You’ll want to add some lights around your house and any other devices you have (including HomePods). Once the scene is created, you can easily turn multiple devices on and off at once with a single button. If you’re going to be without cell service for an extended period of time, you can also use this scene with automations so that it runs at a specific time to turn on devices, lower the curtains, etc. You can then reverse the scene to when you would normally go to bed. Again, the whole idea here is to give the illusion that you’re home.

The curtains aspect of this automation was really great to use when we were away. We often lower them to 50% at sunset and then back to 100% when we go to bed. I was able to easily set these automations in HomeKit to automatically lower and raise them at specific times.


For me, it was an easy way to check on our home. I could make sure the doors were closed and locked, the alarm was on, there were no water leaks, but it also simulated the appearance of us being there. Another lifehack we use when we travel is to put our heat and air conditioner on eco mode to save energy, but when we land in Atlanta and get home, we use the app to turn them back on so our house is the ideal temperature for our arrival. To control your HomeKit devices remotely when you’re away from home, you’ll need a HomePod, HomePod Mini, or an Apple TV. Any of these devices will give you remote access to your full Home app experience.

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