Learning to Live with Other People

I’ve discovered that living with roommates takes an entirely new skillset. This is my first time living with a roommate. After unsuccessfully finding apartments in Lowell MA for a single individual I decided that I would go for a house. I found an ad on Craigslist that someone had posted searching for a roommate to take over the top floor of a home that they own. Always eager to try out new experiences I thought it couldn’t be so bad and they seemed laid back enough. We met a couple of times before they agreed to let me move in and those meetings showed that we were going to get along.

Still. Continue reading “Learning to Live with Other People”

Nashville Photographers That Do Real Estate Photos

I am going to try to sell my house pretty soon, because we are going to be buying a new house, and it would be very helpful to go ahead and sell the current house. At least, I want to get it listed online as soon as possible. To make that happen, I am going to hire a real estate photographer in Nashville to take good pictures of the house, all around the property, and inside of the house.

Since I am listing the house for sale online and I want to make sure that it sells as quickly as possible, and for as much money, I feel the need to have the pictures taken of the house be made by a professional. That way I will know that they are good pictures, and the house will be sure to be shown off completely in the pictures that are posted with the listing to be put online.

I have some worries about selling the house, but I need to put them behind me, because I really do not have any basis for the worries. They are unreasonable and unfounded. The house is pretty great, and we did everything to make sure it was nice and fixed up prior to listing it for sale. So I really don’t see why we would even have any problem with trying to sell it. The only potential problem would be if there is just not enough people looking for houses in the area.

I don’t anticipate that to be a problem though, and so once I can have someone come over to take the pictures, I will be able to make my online listing. I am currently going over the details of the listing again, just to make sure that everything is right and nothing left out.

Started Looking for a Place Near the Campus

I am going to be out of the dorms after this semester and I can not hardly wait. I have not been able to get used to living with this other guy in the room and he has not made much effort to get along with me or any other person. The guy is just an angry jerk from what I can tell and he has been one very consistently since the day that I met him. Of course you just get who you get. I will be glad to look for apartments in Raleigh. Of course I have to make sure that it is on the Wolf Line, which is NCSU Transportation’s campus bus service. Continue reading “Started Looking for a Place Near the Campus”

Great Apartments Located in Dallas

I am going to be moving to Dallas in the near future, and before I will be able to actually be able to do that, I am going to need to take a look at Dallas apartments.. I am not looking forward to it, because I always have problems with finding the right apartment. I am not sure what the nature of my problems with finding apartments is, but I wish that I did not have such a difficult time finding apartments generally. It would be nice if I could figure out a way to get an apartment easily, without having to search for it on my own.

I have been trying to figure out what I am looking for in an apartment for awhile. I have never had an apartment before and so I am not sure what to look for. Continue reading “Great Apartments Located in Dallas”

Family Christmas Holiday – 5 Top Tips

If you are looking for a family Christmas Holiday here are 5 top tips for something a little different and exciting this year.

1. Since Christmas is traditionally a time for Children you might like to hear about this very special Christmas Holiday in Lapland. Up inside the Arctic circle is Lapland the home of Santa Claus. What better way to see in Christmas than to visit Santa, his Elves and his Reindeer at home before he sets off on his big day. Each child will get to see Santa,and receive a present. There are also sleigh rides (pulled by reindeer of course), husky rides,Snowmobiles, a lovely Christmas Gala Dinner, Christmas Carols and cosy log fires. So a truly wonderful family Christmas Holiday.

2. The next is a very unusual family Christmas Holiday. It is at the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden which is 200km inside the Arctic Circle. This is a truly unique Hotel. Every year it is newly built from the crystal clear ice provided by the fast flowing Torne River. Each year it has a new design and newly designed suites. You spend one night in the Ice Hotel suitably prepared with a nice warm bed and the other nights in a cosy and warm Swedish Hotel. There is every winter outdoor activity available or you can just sit quietly by the fire and read a good book or play games.

3. For a totally different Christmas our next destination is Australia. Sydney to be precise. If you are tired of the cold and snow try “Down Under” for a summery Christmas. The weather will be great but you will have all the usual Christmas fun. Christmas Trees, Carols, turkey dinner and of course Santa Claus. Sydney has a number of free events over the Christmas Season these include choirs, entertainers, slide shows, concerts and of course the fabulous fireworks display on New Years Eve.

4. How about a cruise for Christmas. This is a great one for Mom because after getting the family on board she can relax and let the party begin. This is a great opportunity for the adults to relax during the day while the kids are entertained then in the evening the fun of dressing up for the Gala dinners for each night of the Christmas period. Delicious food, great entertainment for all ages and a wonderfully relaxed Christmas for Mom.

5. Finally one of my favourite Christmas holidays. Christmas in New England. When you think of Christmas in New England you think of snow, skaters on a frozen pond, white churches with slim spires, twinkling lights on Christmas trees and pretty colonial homes with large holly wreaths on the front door. They are the images from a million Christmas cards.There are many beautiful Hotels and B & B’s all ready to provide you with a wonderful Christmas. Many of these buildings are beautiful old colonial homes. There is so much to see and do in New England. You and the kids could be busy from dawn till dusk. There is every conceivable winter activity and being on holiday you have the time to enjoy them together. Whether it is a simple toboggan ride down the nearest hillside or a day skiing it will be great just to enjoy it as a family.

So make the most of your family Christmas Holiday this year plan an exciting Christmas Vacation. From the cold of the Arctic circle to the warmth of an Australian Christmas there is sure to be something to please everyone.

Travel Tips – Packing Your Suitcase without Stress

The thrill of planning a trip will often light you up and consume all of your time. You look through guidebooks, talk to friends about their experiences, and research your itinerary on the internet. Still all this planning and research will not make the task of packing any less daunting.

Who hasn’t stood at the foot of their bed with empty suitcases spread on top, the

night before a big trip, filled with anxiety because you still haven’t packed?!?! You

try and try to think about exactly what you should be packed, throwing things in

and then taking them out. And you wonder, why didn’t any of the guidebooks give

you any advice on packing?

Well, hopefully this guide will help you, so that you can confidently pack and enjoy

the moments leading up to your trip, rather than being stressed over the contents

of your bag.

Luggage – I recommend taking one carry-on and one checked suitcase.

Shorter trips may allow for a carry-on only, but I would never take more than one

checked bag no matter how long you are traveling. Remember, when you get to

your destination, you will need to carry your luggage and you don’t know how far

you’ll be lugging it. While we’re talking about lugging your luggage… I would

recommend selecting a suitcase or pack that had wheels, but that you can also hand

carry. There are many varieties of large backpacks with wheels. The reasoning is

that if your wheels break off (a common occurrence along cobblestone streets), you

will still be able to carry your pack.

Shoes – Bring a pair of sneakers (or boots) for outdoor activities such as

hiking, and a dressier pair of closed-toe shoes for museums, dinner’s out, or other

city activities. If you are traveling to a hot locale, then also bring a pair of sandals

that can go from beach to dinner. Resist the urge to bring 10 pairs of shoes!!! As

someone who loves shoes, I always want to pack a wide variety… but we must avoid

packing too many shoes! They take up space, are heavy, and are an unnecessary

addition.

Shorts – When traveling to a hot climate, shorts are often considered a

requirement. Still, remember that in many cultures shorts are not considered

acceptable. For example, many museums and churches such as the Vatican will not

allow you to enter if you are wearing shorts (or have exposed shoulders for that

matter). Bring only a pair or two of shorts, and make sure that you have other light

weight options for hot weather.

Basics – Bring enough socks and underwear to last for every day of the

trip (up to two weeks) so that you will not need to do laundry. For longer trips,

understand that you will likely need to do laundry on the road if you do not want to

bring ridiculous amounts of luggage. As far as shirts, pants, skirts, and the rest…

Bring clothes that could be worn during the day or at night, and as a general rule

bring half as many items as you have days. Wearing items twice should be no

problem, and you will significantly lighten your load.

Rolling – To avoid wrinkles and use your precious packing area to the

max, fold your clothes in half (in the long direction), then roll as smoothly and

tightly as possible. When you arrive at your destination, your clothes will unroll

wrinkle-free. Stuff socks and underwear into your shoes and carefully place the

shoes on top of the rows or rolled clothes.

Toiletries – Bring all of your toiletries in travel size containers. Full size

shampoo bottles add unneeded weight to your pack. After selecting your toiletries,

place all items into zip-lock bags. If a bottle bursts during travel, you will be much

relieved to have the protection. If you are bringing make-up, keep it to the bare

necessities, avoid bringing extras like eyelash curlers. Any prescription medication

should be accompanied by the actual prescription and if possible, a note from your

physician. Keep the medication, as well as your toothbrush and toothpaste in your

carry-on, just in case your luggage is lost.

If you follow these basic packing rules, you will find that the process of packing and

carrying your luggage will be much easier. Additionally, you will be able to enjoy

your travels much easier knowing that you have brought what you need, but can still

carry the load.

Enjoy your trip (and your packing!)!

Buying Cheap, Discounted Airline Tickets and Vacation Packages Online

I love buying airline tickets and vacation packages on line for two reasons. Convenience and price. Convenience because I can look and then purchase them on my own time and then can spend less time in lines at the airport. With an e-ticket, purchased on line I can check my baggage at a kiosk or at curbside (for a small price) and then proceed directly to the gate, no waiting for my boarding pass. And I like getting the best price I can. But I had to learn a few things about how to get the best price first.

When is the best time to buy the cheapest airline ticket? Buy early; the best prices may be 21 days or more prior to your travel day. The fares will generally increase after that. The highest prices are fourteen days prior to travel. Buy late; sometimes you can purchase tickets for the following weekend at cheap rate if the plane has empty seats. But you may have to return on Monday or Tuesday.

What is the best day to buy the cheapest airline ticket? Most airlines release the new prices on Wednesday, so the best time to look is between midnight on Tuesday and early Wednesday am.

When is the best time of year to travel? The highest rates are June, July and around the holidays, although sometimes a good price can be obtained for the actual holiday itself. Most people do not want to fly on Christmas or Thanksgiving. The lowest price trends tend to be mid January to mid February, April to May, and mid September to mid October.

Where should I fly to and from? Flying through an airline hub may get you a lower price on that airline. For example Southwest has a hub in Phoenix, so check for lower rates there, and American has a hub in Minneapolis, so check for lower rates with them there. Try an alternative airport. Often arriving at a smaller airport just a few hours away can save you a lot of money. Balance the price of a rental car or travel time to see if is worth it to you. Often it is.

What should I purchase? Combining airline tickets, hotel and car rental can decrease the price of your plane ticket. Look at purchasing the whole package from one place to save money.

I think if you use these tips for looking for and purchasing your airline ticket and vacation package on line you will love it as much as I do. Give it a try!

Holiday Tips – How to Build the Ultimate Capsule Wardrobe

For many people, the capsule wardrobe is the holy grail of dressing. The concept in itself is simple: it is simply a collection of clothes that work well together, and can be worn in different ways to suit different occasions. Achieving a capsule wardrobe for everyday wear can be tricky and certainly expensive at first, but almost everybody will already possess the essentials for a holiday capsule wardrobe.

Before you even start mixing and matching, take a deep breath. What kind of holiday are you planning? How long will you be going for? Will you be going to any events requiring a particular dress code? What is the weather forecast like?

Once you’ve answered all these questions, you can start drawing up a preliminary list. This should include your absolute essentials, such as underwear, socks and tights, as well as essential holiday items. If you’re going skiing, it’s likely you need a ski jacket! If you’re going to the beach, you probably want a sarong, bikini and a pair of flip flops.

So. Now you have your essentials sorted. These are things you will take no matter what. Now you need to do a bit of calculating! You need to know how many outfits you’ll require for your trip. Remember, this includes the flight or journey there and back. One thing that’s really worth taking into consideration is if you will have access to laundry facilities. If so, you can afford to take less with you and maybe even save on baggage charges if you’re flying.

Look at your itinerary. Are you planning on spending all day on the beach, but going out to clubs and restaurants at night? Would you rather spend your time wandering around museums and galleries? Are you planning to go to bars or go clubbing? Will you be doing any sports, and if so, what kind? Your holiday capsule wardrobe will fit around these considerations.

By now you should have a basic idea of how many separate outfits you will need and what you will need them for. Now you can start putting the actual wardrobe together.

With a capsule wardrobe, you are aiming for flexibility. While you do want one or two stunning, unusual pieces, the majority of the items should be classic and in neutral colours, such as black, grey, navy, khaki or white. The best pieces are ones that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. For example, a smart pair of jeans can be worn with a shirt for a casual daytime look but snazzed up with an evening top and heels for going out. Or, a wrap dress with leggings is great for the day, but at night bring out those heels again, ditch the leggings and put on some pretty jewellery and you’re ready for anything. See what I mean?

Here is an example of what I’d take to a hot, beachy destination:

shirt or safari dress

wrap dress or sundress

floppy hat

flat sandals

tote bag

clutch bag

sunglasses

one pair neutral-coloured high heels

neutral-coloured sweater, wrap or cardigan

one or two sets of swimwear (depends on use)

one or two sarongs

one pair linen trousers

one mid-length skirt

two sets of jewellery

two or three simple day tops

one going out top

one pretty camisole top

Most items of this list will work for any destination, so basically just adjust it to wherever you’re going. Bear in mind when choosing the items that as far as possible, you should be able to mix and match them. Skirts and trousers in particular should be in neutral colours.

Good luck!

Cancun Weather – Best and Worst Months to Go

Cancun weather is one reason why this Mexican resort enclave is the second most popular vacation destination in the Caribbean region.

Other reasons why Cancun draws so many tourists include its hotel, shopping and restaurant strip; the inexpensive bus transportation system; plenty of things to do; and convenient access to and from U.S. airports. It is 1.5 hours flight time from Miami and four hours from Chicago.

The best time to go to Cancun depends in part on whether you prefer to spend a lot of time on the beach and in the water, or if you like to spend most of your time shopping, dining and visiting the various attractions in the region. Some fabulous Mayan ruins are located nearby.

Cancun weather is generally warm throughout the year — in fact many hotels and resorts have open air lobbies — but offshore breezes can make the air and water more chilly in winter months.

Average Temperatures

The average year-round high temperature for this resort destination is nearly 88 degrees Fahrenheit and the average low temperature is just less than 74 degrees, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

Cancun weather in May through September is the warmest time to visit when the average high temperature exceeds 90 degrees each month — peaking at 92.5 in August.

Cancun weather in December, January and February is coolest when the average high temperatures are about 83 degrees.

The average low drops below 70 degrees in January and February, and barely breaks 70 in December.

Average Rainfall

The average rainfall is 4.4 inches per month and the average number of rain days per month is 9.6.

The rainfall and rain days are about average for a Caribbean destination.

February, March and April are the driest months when it rains less than 1.8 inches a month. It also rains only five days a month during that time.

Total rainfall increases in June, drops in July and climbs during the most active hurricane season months of September and October, when it rains nearly nine inches per month.

November also has a higher than average amount of rain.

Best Times to Go

Vacationers will find that the best time to go to Cancun is February through May, while they should avoid it in September and especially in October.

However, be aware that water temperatures in February and March are chilly and not comfortable for swimming for any great length of time.

Thanksgiving Holiday Tips

Thanksgiving celebrations are usually centered around a table of wonderful food. There are always the traditional Thanksgiving dishes present and they are usually enjoyed by most of your guests. There are some guests, such as children, that may not list favorite Thanksgiving dishes on their best liked food list. For these guests, it is always wise to have some not so traditional items on your table. Along with the pumpkin and pecan pie, have a cherry, apple or chocolate pie available for your guests. Brownies also go over well, with children. Some Jell-O served beside your ambrosia dish is a good choice to add to the menu.

Have ice cream and whipped cream available for use over pies and with cakes. That adds a touch of sweet creativeness to your meal. Have some hot chocolate, ginger ale and bottled water ready to serve as alternatives for tea or coke. Some hot apple cider served can be an unique and crowd pleasing experience. With the traditional turkey or ham, have some baked chicken available, also. Sausage balls are great to serve at holiday gatherings. Along with the dressing, serve some plain white rice and baked potatoes. You can also serve a tossed salad. For those who do not want to eat rich or high fat foods, have some low fat butter, sour cream and salad dressings available. Here is another great tip. I recommend having a bag of chipped ice on hand, so you do not run out. Guests can get quite thirsty.

Another great holiday tip is to dress your table up with a colorful Thanksgiving theme table cloth. Your food will look wonderful with this holiday presentation.

For extra entertainment, you can have some traditional holiday favorite movies on hand to show your guests. In another room, you can have some holiday music playing and let this area be a conversation room. If you have some trivia games or other board games, these can be enjoyed by your guests and their children. This will help everyone to have fun.

Always have some aspirin, Tylenol, indigestion medicine, band aids and rubbing alcohol on hand, for emergency needs.

Let your guests know, as they arrive, where your bathroom is located and where the trash area is, if they are not familiar with your house. That will make them more comfortable.

Always secure any animals or pets that may cause a problem for your guests.

Be sure to child proof your home, before the guests arrive. This means securing any medicines, weapons, sharp items, tools, gasoline, matches, lighters and cigarettes.

It is also a good idea to lock your vehicles and secure any keys you may have around.

These tips will ensure that you have a wonderful and safe holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Top Five Tips to Avoid the Post-Holiday Blues

After the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, many people experience the post-holiday blues. Learn some easy and powerful tips from International Certified Success Coaches, Amy Ahlers and Melissa McFarlane, to beat post-holiday depression:

1. Look to nature and hibernate:

Mother Nature is the master of all things, isn’t she? She lets us know when to Spring into action, bask into the glow of Summer, gear for change for Fall and finally, hibernate for Winter. After the holiday bustle and stress, why not use the months of January and February to hibernate and practice RADICAL self care? Get massages, take hot baths, spend more time with your family and friends. Allow yourself the time and space to cocoon so that come spring, you are a full-blown butterfly ready to emerge.

2. Set your sights on the year ahead:

January is a time for new years’ resolutions and goal setting-a way for you to look at what you want to CREATE for the year ahead. And when you’re in the mode of creation, it’s hard to find the space to be depressed. At Electric Kites Success Coaching, we always begin with the vision of where we want to be. Look at the following questions:

o What’s the story I want to be telling about this year?

o What’s the vision for the year?

o What is my #1 focus/goal for the year?

o What MUST occur in order for this year to be considered a “success”?

o What MUST STOP in order for this year to be considered a “success”?

As you lean into what you want to create this year, you’ll find your inspiration, energy and passion rise, as the post-holiday blues easy fade into the background.

3. New Years’ Resolution Burn Out:

One of the things that often leads to the post- holiday blues is New Years’ Resolution failure. Many times, we make a resolution for the New Year that is WAY TOO BIG and fail in week two. And then we spend a month (or several years!) beating ourselves up. Instead, set yourself up for success by making a resolution for the first month of the year that feels like a delicious baby step-then build on your success.

4. The Big Project Withdrawal Syndrome:

Let’s face it, the holidays are a huge project! It’s a time filled with shopping, card writing, receiving, giving, scheduling and cooking. It can suck up your time, energy, and patience all at once. Perhaps what your blues are telling you is that you are, quite frankly, bored and need a new project. Maybe now is the right time to take on a charity event, a new project at work, a class you’ve always wanted to take. Anything that feels big and juicy will do the trick!

5. Gratitude and Appreciation:

Gratitude and appreciation are the simplest (and often most overlooked) keys to fighting any kind of blues (holidays or otherwise). Take time to practice gratitude and appreciation on a daily basis. Perhaps you can set up a gratitude ritual around the dinner table, at morning mediation or at night prayers. As you appreciate and express gratitude your blues will become a thing of the past.

8 Rules Of Christmas: Healthy Holiday Eating Tips

First of all, before anything else is said, let’s agree on a couple of things.

Sharing good times with friends and family is part of what the holiday season is all about. When these groups get together, it is often in the presence of delicious, scrumptious food. This food tends to be available for snacking all day. Personally, I would immediately call the Vatican and nominate anyone for sainthood who could truly enjoy all the festivities and be awash in the total ambiance of all the season inspires while ignoring the lavish plates of goodies while walking around munching on a stick of celery.

Oh yeah! You’re going to sample Aunt Millie’s mincemeat pie, Uncle Bob’s specially prepared fried turkey, and probably a glass of Alka-Seltzer or something similar.

Unfortunately, I am here to remind you of a few things; you are on a diet, you want to lose weight, all that stuff that is so tempting is fattening, and this is the hardest time of the year to be good. So, let’s just pick up on a few rules to help you get through the season.

8 Rules For Healthy Holiday Eating:

Before we get started, I want you to get comfortable, so put some turkey on your plate, get some of that great dressing (don’t forget the cranberry sauce), fight Cousin Ed for some of that green bean casserole my niece, Sharon, makes so well, and tell Grandma to save a piece of pie for you. Have a seat, relax, enjoy your meal (while balancing a soggy paper plate on your knee) and I will give you the rules to help you survive the season.

1. Forgive yourself in advance and give yourself permission to have a good time:

Look, this stuff isn’t poison! You didn’t take 10 years off your life just because you ate more than you should have…and then went back for seconds. You are only human, and you are here to have a good time! One of the reasons you want to lose weight, or keep it down, is so that you can enjoy life, and this is one of the most enjoyable times of the year. So, as they say, live a little. Whatever happens over the next few days will not kill you, and whatever damage you do manage to do can be rectified.

2. It’s just a couple of days:

Okay, for some families, it may be a couple of weeks…twice…Thanksgiving and Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanza. Whatever it is for you, it is finite, it WILL end, and it is mainly limited to a certain time of the year. Who you are in terms of health, fitness, and weight loss is determined by the overall accomplishments of the year, not by a few weeks in the fall.

3. Stay with your program:

You will definitely minimize the effects of all the dinners, cookies, and snacks if you can still get in your walks, aerobics, weight training, or whatever else you have been doing. During the holiday season, it can be difficult to get everything done the same as in the rest of the year, but two days of exercise Thanksgiving week, while not as good as three or five, is still better than none. Simply knowing you have not abandoned your plan will help you get over any depression you might have because of your holiday eating, and will help reduce any negative effects from all the delicious, gooey calories you have “accidentally” consumed. If you cannot stay on a formal program, squeeze in a walk, even if it is a high-speed shopping trip through the mall. By the way, this is the reason I love yoga. When everything’s done, I can retire to my bedroom and not only get the physical benefits of the yoga session, but I relieve some of the stress I may have built up during the day. That helps with the eating too.

4. Remain in touch with reality:

You will hear people speak of “mindful eating”. Be aware of what you are doing. Have you ever heard someone say, “That is so good, I just have to have some more.”? Of course, YOU and I never say things like that! Well, the truth is that you DON’T have to have some more, and, if you do, it doesn’t need to be right now. Just because the food is there right now doesn’t mean it has to be eaten right now. You know what’s good for you and what isn’t. One piece of pie today is not going to kill you or destroy your weight loss resolution, but do you have to have that pie? Isn’t there a healthier treat you could have, or could you just wait until the meal has settled, or after you take a walk to rev up your metabolism and burn off some of what you already ate? Why not take a piece home with you and have it as a treat for later…when you aren’t as full as a tick?

5. Food is not love:

Many people tend to equate food and eating with love. You cannot change the others, but you can change your own attitude. Refusing seconds of Grandma’s turkey does not mean you don’t love her. If she is hurt because you normally stuff yourself and this year you’re not doing her food “justice”, just say that you are full right now but will have more later. Take control of YOUR life. Others will have to take control of their own.

6. If you are the cook:

Choose healthy dishes prepared in a healthy manner. If you have found a new diet-friendly food that you enjoy, share that with others. This will give you one more healthy dish on the groaning board to select your own meal from.

7. Alcohol:

If you enjoy wine, beer, egg nog like my Uncle Wilbur liked, or other drinks containing alcohol, just slow down and cut back. Try slipping in a glass of water between drinks. Drinks containing alcohol are sneaky calories. They do nothing for you nutritionally, but they do have a lot of calories. A few drinks with friends can give you more calories than a Big Mac…and you probably have these drinks while snacking or eating a meal! Oh well! At least if you are a beer drinker, you can try some light beers. It will give you an excuse to sample.

8. Be happy to be where you are, doing what you are doing, with the people you love:

If you fall head over heels off the diet wagon, have fun. What you do throughout the year will have more effect on your weight and health than what happens between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

Holiday Tips to Keep Your Home Safe

The holiday season is one of the busiest traveling seasons of the year. Most of us visit our friends and family for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Unfortunately, this also opens the opportunity for your house to get broken into. If you have a dog and put it in a kennel, you have just eliminated the best security system you can have to protect your belongings. So before you leave, it’s important to take precautions to keep your house safe. The last thing you want to do is come home from visiting family and friends to find out that your home has been broken into and your possessions have been stolen. The following is a list of basic security tips to help you protect your home for the holidays.

• Completely lock up your house – This may seem like a simple rule, but eliminating easy entry points for a burglar is more entailed than you think. You must consider all ways your house could be broken into, which includes the front door, backdoor, man door to garage, and all first floor windows.

• Close your curtains and blinds- Don’t make it easy for thieves to scope out your house. Leaving the blinds and curtains open will only allow thieves to see what of value is in your house. If they don’t know what’s in your house, it may not be worth their while to break in.

• Avoid announcing you will be on vacation on social media – Thieves are savvy, they use social media to their advantage. If a thief knows your home will be vacant, you just opened the door to be robbed.

• Have your neighbors or friends watch your house- Ask your friends and neighbors to drive by your house while you are out of town. Ask them to drive by your house before and after work to watch for anything suspicious. If your friends or neighbors see anything unusual they could call the police and action can be taken immediately. Also, ask them to pick up your mail and remove your newspaper. If a thief sees your newspapers pile up on your front steps or sees mail sticking out of your mailbox for days on end, you’ve just invited them to break into your house.

• Security system- There is great value in having signs or stickers on your doors and windows that indicate you have a security system. Security systems deter thieves. Most security systems have 24 hour monitoring, if a thief sees this they will most likely move to the next house.

• Lights on a timer- Whether you have put up holiday lights or not, it would be a good idea to put them on a timer where each night lights come on throughout various parts of your house. This will make it appear as if you are home.

The last thing you want to do on your holiday vacation is worry about your home. It’s precious time to spend with your friends, family, and loved ones. Hopefully, these simple steps will help protect your home and allow you to have a more enjoyable vacation.

Tips for Selecting a Travel Agent

Even with the proliferation of options to directly purchase a holiday, a flight, or almost any accommodation, it is still mostly beneficial to share your plans with a reputable travel agent or consultant. Many of use have dreams to see new places, experience new opportunities and generally have a penchant to leave home but return safely. Here we look at what to look for in a such a person.

1. Personal Touch

The personal touch is important as you will get better results if you have a good working relationship with your travel agent. Find one who you can relate to and who listens to your needs and meets them. Most holiday packages are prepared and managed by an organisation that is not directly owned by the agent, so the best consultant will have no favourites or preferred suppliers. He or she simply listens to your requests and find the best options for you to choose. Generally it will take several iterations to plan the dream holiday.

2. Expert Knowledge

As a consumer of travel, you want to deal with someone who has expert knowledge. Fortunately, there are tens of thousands of options for you to choose but unfortunately no one travel consultant knows everything. Hence choosing someone who has travelled and has access to robust knowledge in other areas is wise. A travel consultant who knows what he or shes does not know but has research capability can help in most situations.

3. Availability

The travel agents availability is important both during the pre-travel time as well as during the travel time. The availability can be in person, online, email or whatever means you need during the pre-travel phase. Many arrangements are made now-a-days without face-to-face meetings, although much can be gained by meeting. A discussion on response times from your travel agent is important to understand should you be visiting countries of higher risk. Often, there will be people in-country with whom any challenges can be discussed.

4.Willingness to Answer Questions

A good travel agent will answer all the questions that you ask and clarify any confusions that you may have. They want to build their and retain business, hence reputable travel agents will do whatever is in their power to answer your questions.

In summary, choose a travel agent who you can build a relationship. People like doing business with people they trust. With so many options available it is impossible to know the details of each tour. Let the travel agent research with the suppliers and you will develop the best expectations for your travel. Happy travelling.