Tag Archives: Travel 101

6 Tips for Safeguarding Your Home

February 28, 2013


My home was broken into around 4am on February 3rd.  While I wasn’t home at the time and nothing was taken that can’t be replaced, the whole experience has been challenging.  Because of that, I wanted to share some tips to help others be better prepared.

  1. Remember the basics.

    Lock your doors and windows, get to know your neighbors, and don’t leave UPS/FedEx packages sitting on your door step overnight.

  2. Have adequate lighting.

    Motion sensor lights are a great way to add lighting when you’re not home (from $20 at Home Depot).

  3. Have a security system.

    Even if it’s not actively monitored, the noise of a security system may be enough to either scare off would be burglars, or to reduce the time they are in your home.  Monitored alarm systems can also save 10-20% on your home owners insurance (systems from ADT start at $49 with a monitoring contract; wireless systems from SimpliSafe start at $230, and do not require a land line or a monitoring contract, though monitoring options are available).

  4. Register your purchases / keep serial numbers.

    When given the option, register large purchases (especially electronics and tools) with the manufacturer to ensure you have the serial number.  Serial numbers for stolen goods can be entered into a nation-wide system used by pawn shops to help recover stolen property.

  5. Be able to prove ownership.

    If you ever have to file an insurance claim, you’ll need to prove ownership before they reimburse you.  If you don’t have a receipt or a user’s manual, take your phone and record a video while walking around your house for proof of ownership.

  6. Have the right level of insurance.

    Most homeowner’s policies have a pretty low limit on certain valuable items, for example jewelry is typically only insured up to $2,500.  If you own significantly more than the coverage amount, get a separate rider for your insurance policy.

Not going to lie – I used to mock all of the home security commercials on TV that focus on women’s insecurities, but after it happened to me, I slept much better after the alarm was installed.  Slept even better after I changed my locks…  I decided to go with SimpliSafe, btw.  I’ve had it for about a month now and I’m a big fan!

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3 Tips for Powering Up Abroad

December 24, 2011


With all of the cameras, iPads, laptops and small household electronics we carry these days, it’s essential to make sure they are kept fully juiced.  The only problem is that once you leave the US, you may not be able to use them without a little help.  In order to keep your electronics going, and to prevent you from burning the place down, here are three tips for powering up abroad:

Find the electrical outlet your destination uses before you go

While the majority of countries in the western hemisphere use the same type of electricity and outlets as the US, you’re out of luck most everywhere else.  Find the type of electrical outlet you’ll need to plug into at electricaloutlet.org.  They supply a list of outlets, as well as pictures, used by every country.  Once you know the type of plug you’ll need, Amazon.com has a great selection of adapters for a couple of bucks each.  Your local Radio Shack is also a good resource.  It’s key to pick these bad boys up before you leave home, otherwise it’s difficult to find an adapter that fits another country’s plugs outside of the airport, and you can be guaranteed that it won’t be cheap!

Determine if you’ll also need a power converter

There’s a good reason why different countries use different outlets – and it’s not to keep the electricians in business – it’s because they use different standards for electricity when it comes to volts and hertz.  Bottom line is if you plugged in an electrical device into an outlet that did not share the same standards, the best case is that you damage your equipment, the worst case is that you start a fire.  This is where the converter comes in.  The simple answer is that if you need an adapter, you need a converter.  However, a lot of higher end electronics (e.g., computers, cameras, tablets, phones) already convert the volts and hertz for you.  To be sure, read what’s listed on the plug.  For example, my iPhone charger reads “Input: 100-240V~ 0.45A (0,45A) 50-60 Hz”.  This means it can handle volts in the range of 100-240, and hertz in the range of 50-60, which covers the vast majority of the world.  Bottom line, I only need an adapter for my iPhone when traveling!  If your plug doesn’t say anything, it’s best to assume you’ll need a converter (in addition to the adapter).  Again, Amazon and Radio Shack are great places to find converters.

Pack strategically

I make it a point not to bring any electronic devices that need a converter – mainly because converters are pretty bulky, and really heavy.  Since my camera, iPad, and iPhone already accept 100-240Volts and 50-60 Hertz, I’m just not interested in carrying the extra weight in my bag.  If you’re visiting multiple locations on one trip, you can also purchase an “All in one” plug adapter which is great for visiting both the UK and mainland Europe in the same trip.

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