18 June 2018

3 Things You Need to Do Before You Leave on Your Overseas Trip

Getting ready to travel internationally is an exciting time, especially if this is going to be your first trip. The anticipation during the days and weeks beforehand builds, and you have something big to look forward to in the middle of the doldrums of your ordinary day-to-day life.

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

But as with anything bigger, traveling anywhere requires a fair amount of planning and preparation, and this is even more important if you’re going to be leaving the country and going somewhere overseas.

Here are three things that you will need to do before you leave on your overseas trip:

#1 - Confirm That Your Passport Is up to Date

Just because that your passport is still valid doesn’t mean that the country you’re traveling to will accept it.

As a golden rule, your passport still needs to be valid for at least six months after your date of return. The State Department even recommends that it be valid for at least nine months after your date of return, and at least other travelers say one full year.

The reason for this is because if you are detained or delayed in the country you’re visiting for whatever reason, the authorities want to make sure that it will still be fully legal for you to travel.

#2 - Get Cash

Specifically, you need to get cash in the currency of the country you’ll be visiting. You can absolutely pay for everything with credit cards if you want to (in fact, that might be smart so you can add up rewards points), but it’s still wise to have cash on hand as well for emergencies.

To acquire cash in another currency, you will need to use a third party money transfer service. As Remitly points out, all you will need to do is convert your money and then have the cash of the other currency sent to a pick-up location in the destination of the country you’re visiting.

#3 - Invest in Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is an investment that many novice travelers neglect to make. This is a mistake, because travel insurance can really save you financially if you encounter any costly emergencies overseas.

For example, you may have to return home quickly and cancel your upcoming flights and hotel room stays. Or, you may get sick or sustain a serious injury and require medical treatment in a foreign hospital; chances are extremely high that you’re current healthcare plan isn’t going to cover overseas medical costs, but several travel insurance plans will. Just be sure that you read the fine print of your plan.

Leaving on Your Overseas Trip

Yes, there are more things you’ll need to do to prepare for your trip besides those things that we have just covered. But the trip preparation steps that we have covered here today are among the most important for you to remember, especially if this is your first international trip ever.

15 June 2018

Cool New Ways to Make Your Home More Secure

Your home is so much more than just a roof over your head. It’s your refuge from the outside world and all its problems. A place where you can feel safe and secure either alone or with the people you love most in the world. It’s somewhere where you should feel unafraid and unashamed to be yourself. It’s a place where guests can see little hints of your taste, your personality and your life experiences all around whether it’s in the books that adorn your shelf, the art that hangs on the walls or even the color you choose for your bedspread. In many ways it’s the broadest canvas that you’re lucky enough to get to paint on. Each and every room can be made into a neat microcosm of a different part of your personality. Your kitchen can be almost futuristically decorated in shining chrome and brilliant white to show off your industrious and technologically minded nature. Your living room can demonstrate what you’re like at rest, showing visitors how your use of space, decoration and furnishings reflect the calmer aspects of your nature. Your bedroom can demonstrate that you have a sensuous side, using scent, colors and textures to give the subtlest hints at the more intimate side of you.

Your home is many things to you, but it’s also an investment. It’s also where you keep a lot of your biggest investments. From the car in your garage or carport to the original artwork you hang on your walls to the wardrobe full of designer clothes and expensive shoes (and that tiny black Chanel dress you’re definitely going to slim back into this year). Thus, it’s essential that you keep your home as well as everything and everyone in it safe and secure. But this doesn’t necessarily mean expensive renovations or gruelling DIY. It may simply be a case of using cool new technologies to your advantage. Not only could they make your home more secure, they can also make your life a whole not more convenient and potentially save you time and effort every day.

Your Garage--

You may think that all you need to do is keep your car, motorbike or (if you’re extremely lucky) boat in the garage and this is enough to keep it secure. Unfortunately, determined thieves know how to get into many garages, especially if they have time to do so (while you’re away for example). This is why your garage should have IR sensor activated lights at the front to deter thieves. Fortunately, most modern door openers are equipped with new technologies that will not only make getting in and out quick and easy, but will also make your garage more secure. Look for an opener with a built in monitor, and an automatic close. You’d never believe how many garages are infiltrated simply because their owners forgot to close them. You should also consider a smart opener that is synced to your smartphone. For more information on keeping your garage secure, including guarding against door “fishing” click this link.

Smart Locks--

Have you ever left the house, gotten half way to work and then had to drive back because you were convinced that you’d left the front door unlocked? Do you ever get home from work only to find that you’ve left your keys in your desk drawer at work and have to drive all the way back for them? Fortunately, the new generation of smart door locks prevent scenarios like these, while also helping to make your home more secure. They offer unparalleled convenience, too. Need to let your next door neighbor in to take the dog for a walk while you’re at work or feed your cat while you’re on holiday? No problem, you can unlock your front door remotely when they arrive and lock it after them when they leave. Want to allay your fears that the doors are locked on your drive to work? Just pull up somewhere safe and check your smartphone. Smart locks can make your life easier in a host of ways while making your home more secure. You may, however, need to carry out some checks on your home before you install them.

Virtual House-sitter--

Going away for the weekend or for a far flung holiday? Want to make sure that the house is secure but don’t like the idea of paying a house-sitter to live in your home, eat your food and leave a mess for you to come back to? LG have developed an in-the-box solution that could be just what you needed. The LG Smart Security Solution is essentially a virtual house-sitter. It’s a camera, motion tracker and microphone all in one and can be accessed anywhere with WiFi through its companion smartphone app. It takes just minutes to set up and can give you a live feed of whatever room it’s positioned in from anywhere in the world. If you want to store and retrieve video, however, you will need a paid subscription. Live video can be viewed for free, though.

WiFi Video Doorbell--

Those living in apartment buildings usually get the opportunity to see visitors over an intercom before deciding whether or not to grant them access to the home. After all, nobody wants to open the door to anyone who looks dodgy or could potentially be a time waster. Fortunately, the digital age enables everyone this level of security thanks to video doorbells which send your smartphone a crystal clear, 1080p video of your visitor when they press the doorbell. It also offers you free online video storage just in case you need to warn the neighbors about a bothersome pest or a potentially dodgy customer.

Baby Monitors 2.0--

Most modern baby monitors allow you to see a live video of your baby while also alerting you if they cry or make noise. The Withings Baby Bundle, however, can not only allow you great video and audio surveillance, it can even intervene on your behalf if you’re not able to get to baby straight away. It can use a night light or play soothing music, both of which can be activated remotely. It also has automatic movement and voice alerts which send you a prompt if your baby is sleeping fitfully.

Even if you don’t have a whole lot to invest, smart technology can make your home more secure as well as making your life a little easier.

14 June 2018

Five Ways to Make Your Dining Room Look Perfect


Your dining room will look perfect after you have taken the time to make it look beautiful. You have to be thoughtful about how the room is put together, and you should look into different parts of the room that make it beautiful. Everything from the furniture to the accessories and lighting in the room make a difference, and you must invest heavily in each item.

#1 - The Lighting

Lighting in your dining room must be soft mood lighting that does not simply hang over the table. You will get a bright light that is not good for the eyes if you use this old-fashioned style of lighting. Soft lighting on the edges of the room helps you eat well, and the people in the room do not even notice the light fixtures because they are usually hidden away behind a sconce of some kind.

#2 - The Table

The table that you use cannot be too large for the room, and it must have removable leaves. The leaves of your table could come together to make it much larger, and you might find that the table can be adjusted for the people that come over. You might want to have a buffet table on the edge of the room, and it must feel as though it is far away from the dining table and not impeding on the dining experience.

#3 - The China Cabinet

The China cabinet you have in the room must display all the dishes in a beautiful way without taking up too much room. You need to use a cabinet that fits the style of the room, and it must be easy to open to remove all those dishes. You want to have the option of opening it and getting out anything you need while the dinner is going on.

#4 - Chairs

The modern dining chairs for sale at Modern Digs must be suitable for the people that tend to come over to your house. You might have people come over for very formal meals, and it is wise to have beautiful chairs. However, you might use benches for family-style meals. It all depends on what you think is best when planning the meal. Chairs often make the biggest impression, and they should keep the guests comfortable.

#5 - Decorations

The room must be a color that does not put everyone to sleep, and it must be a color that you are proud to show off. It should match the furniture, and you might want to put paintings or patterns on the wall that help tie into the furniture and lighting. You must consider the furniture part of the decorations, and you might even consider the silver and dishes part of the decoration as they sit in the China cabinet.

Each step of this process makes the dining room a beautiful place to eat. You might have found that you only need to change one of these things, or you might feel like you need to completely redecorate the room to make it more fun to be in.

7 Home Improvements That You Should Invest in This Summer

Home improvement is something that’s done for many reasons. Some people invest in home improvement because they want to increase the value of their home and others do it simply to improve their quality of life.
Photo by Samule Sun on Unsplash
Regardless of your reason for it, there are some improvement options that are more important than others. Here are seven home improvements that you should invest in.
Update Your Curb Appeal by Cleaning Up--
First impressions mean everything when it comes to your home. Start off by updating your curb appeal through cleaning up your yard. Add in some flowers for a little extra color and make sure you maintain it over a period of time.
It’s such an easy way to improve your home’s value and to feel house proud in the process.
Consider Your Attic Space--
Your attic space is an often forgotten part of your home. Improve it by turning it into a separate room. A full attic conversion will give you an extra room and allow you to create a unique part of your home.
Just make sure you add proper venting in your attic to improve airflow. You don’t want an attic that’s full of stale air or you won’t enjoy yourself in that part of your house.
Invest in Wall Insulation--
Homes needlessly spend thousands of dollars every year on energy because of air that dissipates too quickly. Go carbon neutral at home with wall insulation. It can radically cut your energy costs by keeping warm air in and cold air out, and vice-versa.
Thankfully, wall insulation has become cheaper than ever to install. Look around for the best contractor who will do the job right and offer you a great price.
Give Your Home a Fresh Coat of Paint--
Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make all the difference. Give the inside and outside of your home a new coat of paint.
It doesn’t have to cost much and you can do it yourself over the course of a weekend. Believe it or not, this can even add thousands to your home’s value.
Add a Deck--
Adding a well-built deck to your backyard can turn your yard into a place of pleasure. Make it easy for family and friends to hang out in the back.
These are not as expensive to install as you might think, and you can even do it yourself if you have the skills. Soon your yard will be a place where you can hold parties, family gatherings, and casual sit-downs with those closest to you.
Do Something with Your Basement--
Your basement is a huge amount of space. If you’re not doing anything with it you’re missing out. A full basement conversion is a big investment, but it’s not always necessary to opt for this.
Sometimes you can use it as storage space that can free up other areas of your home for other things.
Replace the Front Door--
For many years, replacing the front door offered the highest return on your investment. It’s still right up there because this is all about first impressions.
Get a steel front door and improve the security of your home. Make sure that the style is in line with the rest of your area, though.
Last Word – Home Improvement is What You Make It...
Whether you have a lot of money to spend or just a little, home improvement is possible. You can increase the value of your home by thousands and make your home a better place to spend time in.
But now it’s time to take action on improving your home.
What ideas do you have in mind for home improvement?

12 June 2018

How to Open up Your Home to Natural Light

We all want lighter and brighter homes. If you work from home and call your conservatory or spare room your office, getting the natural light is extremely important. Make sure that you are making some smart adjustments that will let the light flow through your space and help you save on your energy bills. There is nothing more depressing than a dark and dull house or home office. Find a few tips on getting started below.

Open Plan Spaces--

If you find that some of your walls stand in the way of the light, you will have to open up your spaces. Instead of having a full wall between your kitchen and the dining room, you can move your kitchen island between the two, so you can serve meals faster and have a kitchen that is a pleasure to cook in. Likewise, if your corridors are too narrow and dark, create some openings that will let natural light in.

Glass Walls--

A great solution is getting glass walls installed in place of the old brick ones. While you will have to consult with a structural engineer to make sure that you are not getting rid of a wall that is supporting your beams, the investment and the mess will all be worth it. A colored glass wall between your living room and the dining room, or between two reception rooms can create a great atmosphere.

Glass Blocks--

If you would like to take advantage of the insulating functions of bricks or concrete, but don’t want to feel claustrophobic, you can even get colorful glass blocks installed next to or above the doors. This will allow you to let more light in, and help you make the most out of your home in need of some TLC. Glass blocks can also brighten up landings and corridors, and be installed over back doors.

Smart Blinds--

You will also have to have full control over the light in your home. If you can get some smart blinds installed, you can make sure that you are getting just the right amount of light in the room every time of the day. You can also try day and night blinds that let you see clearly outside, but prevents others from looking through your front window from the street when passing by.

Better, Bigger, More Efficient Windows--

Of course, increasing the size of glass surface in your home will brighten up your room. If you can, you can install some efficient Replacement Windows that will make you feel warmer in the summer and the winter and get the most out of the natural light coming through into your house. You can even replace your back window with a glass wall or patio door.  

Whether you are looking to enjoy your house with your friends or want more natural light in your home office, the above tips are going to help you make your spaces brighter, lighter, and looking more modern and spacious.