Bring it on home: Prince Edward Island | Travel


Who and where Linh Dye of St. Louis and “Anne” at Prince Edward Island Green Gables Heritage Place.

The trip • Linh and Bob Dye took a two-week RV trip in 2019, Toronto to Newfoundland with a side trip to Prince Edward Island. Other unique places to see on the island, the couple said, are a bottle house, beautiful beaches and Provincial Parks on the St. Lawrence River coastal drive, 63 lighthouses, lots of craft shops, wonderful food, and lots of Anne of Green Gables attractions.

Travel tip • “Avonlea Cavendish and Charlottetown are all places filled with ‘Anne’ memories. We stayed at a country RV park just minutes from Charlottetown.”

Contribute • Email your photo to [email protected]. Include the full names of everyone in the photo, including where they are from and where you are standing in the photo. Also include your address and phone number. Please also tell us a little about the trip and a travel tip. We’re looking for interesting, well-composed, well-lighted photos.



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FAA Has A Warning For Anyone Decorating Their Home For The Holidays


Holiday laser-light displays have become increasingly popular in recent years. While the displays certainly help create some holiday cheer, they also can create a serious hazard if they are not positioned properly.

You might not put your eye out with that thing, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) notes that it receives reports from pilots who have been distracted or temporarily blinded by residential laser-light displays each year.

“You might not realize this, but a well-meaning attempt to spread holiday cheer has the potential to create a serious safety risk to pilots and passengers on airplanes that fly overhead,” the FAA explains. “Please make sure all laser lights are directed at your house and not pointing towards the sky. The extremely concentrated beams of laser lights reach much farther than you might realize.”

A Growing Concern

The number of what the FAA calls “laser strikes against aircraft” continues to increase each year. What’s more, the number of laser strikes has spiked since the pandemic began, which makes sense given that more people decorated their houses for the holidays last year. Indeed, the number of reported laser incidents in 2020 jumped 12 percent compared to 2019 — and that’s despite a 60 percent decrease in the number of flights in 2020, according to data compiled by the FAA.

This year is shaping up in similar fashion. As of November 22, the FAA had received 8,550 laser strike reports for 2021, which is up from the 6,852 events reported in all of 2020. That’s the highest number of laser strike incidents reported since the FAA began tracking incidents in 2010.

Here’s why that’s such a problem: Laser strikes have been reported as high as 10,000 feet.

“Many high-powered lasers can incapacitate pilots flying aircraft which may be carrying hundreds of passengers and crew members,” FAA Administrator and pilot Steve Dickson told USA Today. “A pilot can face temporary blindness or suffer an eye injury that could be permanent after a laser strike.”

Stiff Penalties

“If we become aware that your laser-light display affects pilots, we’ll ask you to adjust them or turn them off,” the FAA explains. “If your laser-light display continues to affect pilots, despite our warnings, you could face a civil penalty.”

The FAA’s warning shouldn’t be taken lightly. That’s because the federal agency works with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies “to pursue civil and criminal penalties against individuals who purposely aim a laser at an aircraft,” it explains. For example, the FAA can impose civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation.

It gets even more expensive for repeat offenders: Civil penalties of up to $30,800 have been imposed against individuals for multiple laser incidents.

You can learn more about the hazards of laser strikes here.

If you’ve seen someone aiming a laser at aircraft, the FAA asks that you report the incident. You can learn how to do that here.

For up-to-date news in the travel world, check out our travel news section.



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Canadian field hockey players heading home from South Africa after travel exemption granted


Canadian field hockey players stuck in South Africa due to COVID-19 travel restrictions are set to finally depart on Dec. 8 after receiving a travel exemption from the Canadian government.

The federal government posted the exemption on its website on Saturday, while parents of the players were also notified.

“I am beyond relief that it looks like there is a way for them to get home,” said Sue Goddard from Vancouver. She is the mother of two players on the team: Nora Goddard-Despot, 20, and Arden Goddard-Despot, 18.

The team had been stuck in Potchefstroom, about 120 kilometres southwest of Johannesburg, because of shifting COVID-19 travel restrictions put in place late last month following the discovery of the omicron coronavirus variant.

The junior national women’s team was to participate in the Junior World Cup from Dec. 5-17. It was cancelled and the suspension of most commercial flights meant the 21 players, five coaches plus managers and support staff had no way home.

Field Hockey Canada had already booked a flight out of Johannesburg, transiting through Germany, before the exemption came. Originally, the governing body said the team would not be able to board the plane because Canada required a negative PCR test in a third country.

The temporary exemption says travellers must obtain a pre-departure negative COVID-19 molecular test from an accredited South African laboratory 48 hours before departure; fly from Johannesburg or Cape Town to the German city of Frankfurt on a Lufthansa flight; and transit through Frankfurt airport to travel on a direct Lufthansa or Air Canada flight to Canada.

Goddard said the tests are being secured and that the team will fly through Frankfurt to Toronto. Western-based players will then fly home through Calgary. She plans to see her daughters at the Vancouver International Airport on the evening of Dec. 9.

Goddard said on that, prior to the temporary exemption, her daughters were crestfallen and worried they wouldn’t be home in time for Christmas.

Their moods have now changed, said Goddard.

“Super excited they were coming back home, relieved and grateful for all the work everyone had put in to make it happens and feeling really positive,” she said.



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Stuck in South Africa, new travel rules put this Canadian’s trip home for the holidays at risk


UPDATE: The federal government has amended its rules for Canadians and permanent Canadian residents travelling here from South Africa. It includes a “temporary exemption” from the more strict restrictions detailed in the article below. The temporary exemption requires Canadians and permanent Canadian residents: 

  • Obtain a pre-departure negative COVID-19 molecular test from an accredited South African laboratory 48 hours before departure.
  • Fly from Johannesburg or Cape Town to Frankfurt, Germany, on a Lufthansa flight.
  • Transit through Frankfurt airport to travel on a direct Lufthansa or Air Canada flight to Canada.

Andrew Neumann’s hopes of making it home for the holidays have been cast into doubt by the emergence of the omicron coronavirus variant and the swift implementation of new pandemic border restrictions around the world.

“It’s actually a particularly sensitive time,” Neumann, a Canadian living in South Africa, said in an interview on CBC’s The House that aired Saturday. His son just started university in Toronto, his first year away from home, he explained. And there are other pressing concerns.

“My wife’s father is very ill. He’s in his 80s. He’s undergoing chemotherapy…. Likewise, my mother’s 91. She’s in sort of cognitive decline. I haven’t seen her in two years,” he told host Chris Hall.

“And there’s a question mark again in my mind: Am I going to be able to say goodbye?” Neumann said.

20:23Borders tighten again

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino discusses new restrictions and testing measures at the border and Peel Region medical officer of health Dr. Lawrence Loh explains how his jurisdiction is dealing with concerns about omicron. 20:23

Neumann has lived in Johannesburg since 2015. He was planning to return to Canada for the holidays when new travel restrictions were put in place affecting travellers from 10 countries, mostly in southern Africa. Canadians trying to come home from those countries must now meet a series of additional testing and quarantine requirements.

Travellers must get a pre-departure molecular COVID-19 test 72 hours ahead of their departure, something Canadians are now used to, but that test must be in a third country — not any of the 10 on Canada’s list. Neumann was planning to get a test during his connection in Germany, but additional rules put in place there have made that impossible.

Canadian, German restrictions clash

A letter Neumann received from the Canadian High Commission in South Africa said German airline Lufthansa would not allow Canadians to board because of that third-country testing requirement and restrictions put in place by Germany.

Neumann’s situation closely resembles that of the Canadian junior women’s field hockey team, which has also been stuck in South Africa. The team has asked for an exemption to leave the country.

Andrew Neumann and his family have been trying to come back to Canada from South Africa. (Submitted)

Neumann said he has been struck by what he says is the “cavalier” way the government has answered the questions of would-be travellers whose plans the restrictions have thrown into limbo.

He also says the restrictions themselves make little sense given what we now know about the spread of the omicron variant.

“It just seems so disproportionate a response to southern Africa versus the rest of the world that you have to question the motivations,” he said.

In an emailed response to CBC News, Global Affairs Canada said this country’s entry requirements are meant to ensure the safety of Canadians. It said that the implementation of restrictions could disrupt travel plans but that “the decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the individual.”

“We can confirm that we are receiving reports of Canadians abroad affected by these new measures,” the statement said.

Debate over travel ban effectiveness

In a separate interview on The House, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the restrictions are being implemented to give Canada the time to assess the risk of the omicron variant and “protect the progress” the country has made against the pandemic.

“I’d acknowledge that we’re at a moment where there will be some challenges, but we put in place public health measures because of the variant of concern.”

WATCH | New travel restrictions throw travel plans into chaos: 

Omicron variant renews uncertainty for travellers

The uncertainty around the omicron variant and new COVID-19 testing and isolation requirements has some wondering if international travel is about to be upended again. 2:04

There has been significant criticism of the travel measures put in place by Canada and other countries, with growing evidence that the new variant had been circulating in several nations before South African researchers first discovered it in late November and travel restrictions were imposed.

Part of the debate has centred on the efficacy of travel restrictions themselves, with some experts arguing they do little to stop the spread of a new variant. The president of South Africa called them “unscientific” and “discriminatory.”

Mendicino said the restrictions on the 10 countries were not politically motivated but instead based on science.

“We’re doing it because we want to protect Canadians. This is not their first go-around. We’ve done this drill before, and we want to make sure that we’re taking the right decision when it comes to protecting the health and safety of Canadians,” he said.

WATCH | Debate over the effectiveness of travel restrictions: 

Travel bans unfairly target country that identified omicron variant, specialist says

Dr. Samir Gupta, a respirologist and associate professor at the University of Toronto, says travel bans to prevent the omicron variant’s spread can buy time, but penalize the countries that identify new virus variants. 7:52

For one medical officer of health in Canada, the bans are of some use but should not be the focus of government.

“You know, the honest truth is that it probably would have limited impact overall, but it may help to slow the introduction of omicron,” said Dr. Lawrence Loh of Peel Region, which hosts Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

For Neumann, it’s clear the travel bans are not justified.

“When we know now that it’s also everywhere else in the world suggests that poorer countries are at a disadvantage, certainly versus Europe and Canada and the U.S.,” he said.

Despite the challenges so far, Neumann now has a flight booked for next Friday and describes himself as “somewhat hopeful” his travel plans will work out.



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Lady Raiders Return Home for Thursday Matinee vs. No. 20 Georgia on ESPNU


LUBBOCK, Texas — The Texas Tech Lady Raiders return to United Supermarkets Arena Thursday for an 11 a.m. nationally-televised (ESPNU) matchup against the No. 20 Georgia Lady Bulldogs.
Tech and Georgia will meet for just the second time in program history, and for the first time since the 1984-85 season.

LAST TIME OUT FOR TECH:

The Lady Raiders closed play at the Van Chancellor Classic 2-1 last weekend. Tech opened the weekend with a 71-67 victory over Ball State on Friday. In that contest, senior forward Taylah Thomas had a career-best 18 points and 17 rebounds, while Lexy Hightower added 15 points.

On Saturday, the Lady Raiders suffered their first loss of the season, falling to Old Dominion 59-45. After falling behind as many as 27 points in that game, the Lady Raiders cut the deficit to single digits in the fourth, before the comeback effort came up short.

Sunday, Tech bounced back in a big way, using a 27-point first quarter to cruise to an 82-75 victory. In the contest, all five Lady Raider scorers were in double-figures led by Hightower’s 17 points. The West Texas A&M transfer also grabbed eight rebounds and had six assists.

INSIDE THE MATCHUP:

MATCHUP:
Texas Tech (7-1) vs. No. 20 Georgia (6-0)

Date: Thursday, December 2, 2021

Time: 11 a.m.

Location: United Supermarkets Arena (Lubbock, Texas)

TV: ESPNU

Radio: Texas Tech Radio Network/The Varsity App

KNOW YOUR FOE:

Georgia Lady Bulldogs (6-0):


Georgia enters Thursday’s matchup with Texas Tech ranked No. 20 in the country, after defeating Notre Dame 71-67 and Marquette 70-45. One of the best defensive teams in the country, Georgia has four times held a team to 45 points or fewer and has allowed under 60 in every single game except the Notre Dame game that went to overtime.

On the year, forward Jenna Staiti leads the Lady Bulldogs in points (13.3), rebounds (8.0), blocks (17) and field goals made (31). Led by Staiti, Georgia has three different people scoring in double-figures this season. Guards Que Morrison and Sarah Ashlee Barker are averaging 10.5 and 10.2 points respectively.

UP NEXT:

The Lady Raiders return to action a week from Sunday, when they travel to Canyon, Texas to clash with UNLV. The game will be a homecoming for HC Krista Gerlich and guard Lexy Hightower. Gerlich coached the Lady Buffs from 2006-13, while Hightower played for West Texas A&M from 2017-21. Tip-off from the First United Bank Center is set for 2 p.m.

 



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WBB: Huskies Return Home to Host Texas State


Texas State Bobcats (3-2) at HBU Huskies (3-4)

Thursday, December 2 – 6:00 p.m.

Sharp Gymnasium – Houston, Texas

Watch (Husky Sports Network with Tamer Knight)

Live Stats

HOUSTON – The HBU women’s basketball team returns home from a three game road trip to host the Texas State Bobcats in Sharp Gym Thursday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.

 

The Huskies (3-4, 0-0 SLC) return home to Sharp Gym where they have yet to drop a game this year as they look to end a three game skid. HBU’s last two contests were nail biters, including an overtime loss to Montana and a loss against GCU in which the Lopes pulled away very late.

 

Marilyn Nzoiwu is coming off of a week in which she was named an honorable mention in Southland Conference Player of the Week voting. She averaged a double-double with 11 points and 11.3 rebounds over three games while shooting just under 62 percent from the floor, 50 percent from long range, and was a perfect 6 of 6 from the foul line. Her 13 point and 13 rebound performance against New Mexico were both season highs along with the five field goals she made against Montana.

 

N’Denasija Collins also had a big week, averaging 13.6 points and seven rebounds across the weeks slate of games including a 20 point and 10 rebound double-double against Montana. Collins also leads the Huskies with 17 steals on the season and Julija Vujakovic has added 14. Abbey Sutherland leads the Huskies in blocks with seven.

 

The Bobcats (3-2, 0-0 SBC) are coming off of a loss to Texas Tech and a blowout win against Arlington Baptist in which three different Bobcats earned double-doubles. Da’Nasia Hood leads Texas State in scoring and rebounding averaging 16.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. The Bobcats shoot 43 percent from the field while holding their opponents to just 38 percent. From three point range they shoot 32 percent while holding opponents to 24 percent.

 

The last time the Huskies and Bobcats met was in 2015 where Texas State walked away victorious, 71-66. The overall series between the programs is tied, 2-2.

 

The Huskies will head back out on the road on next Monday when they travel to Edinburg, Texas to face UT Rio Grande Valley.

 



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DIY couple transform damp-ridden caravan into stunning travel home for just £800


Bex Ambler, 29, and her boyfriend Tom were quoted £2,000 to fix just the damp in their new caravan – but they decided to save themselves cash by taking on the project themselves

Bex Ambler and Tom with their rescue dogs
Bex Ambler and Tom with their rescue dogs

A couple who purchased a second-hand caravan that was riddled with damp have managed to totally transform it for just £800.

Bex Ambler, 29, and her boyfriend Tom had no idea the vehicle had any issues when they handed over £3,000 for it.

After being quoted £2,000 just to fix the damp, the pair decided to renovate the caravan themselves – and now it has been completely overhauled into a chic space.

It took them five weeks to complete the project and used budget supplies including DC Fix, stick-on tiles and No More Nails glue to fix it up.

Bex, who works as a marketing and events manager for a toy distributor in Yorkshire, and Tom, wanted to be able to take their two dogs on holiday.







The caravan turned out to be riddled with damp
(

Image:

Bex Ambler)

She told LatestDeals.co.uk : “We started looking for a van at the end of the summer and it was so hard to find one we liked within our budget that hadn’t sold within a couple of hours of it going online.

“In the end, we had to up the budget and loaned a bit of extra money from the bank of mum and dad to buy it.

“We thought it was in perfect condition but unfortunately due to us being absolute amateurs, we didn’t take a damp metre which is my number one recommendation.

“Unfortunately we found loads of damp as soon as we started painting and taking things down.”







Bex and Tom had to strip it out and start again
(

Image:

Bex Ambler)

The pair started by using a multi-tool from B&Q – which cost £50 – to chop away at all the damp and strip the caravan back to its shell.

Bex and Tom then replaced the polystyrene, plyboard and batons using No More Nails, which cost around £250 for the supplies, also from B&Q.

The couple then repapered the walls using lining paper and painted on top of that using Frenchic Alfresco paint.

They used about five tubs at £20 each as the wood was so orange it took four or five coats.







Here is how the caravan looked before
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Image:

Bex Ambler)

Bex then jazzed up the caravan with gold handles, which cost £25 for 20 handles from Amazon.

After this, the couple recovered the sofas and dining seats using throws from The Range and rugs from IKEA – which cost them around £60 in total.

These needed to be cut to size and stapled on.

“I was worried about it being uncomfy to sleep on but invest in a gel mattress topper and you can’t feel a thing, super comfy,” said Bex.

Have you managed to transform your home on the cheap? Share how you did it: [email protected]







It now looks chic and modern with a Scandinavian twist
(

Image:

Bex Ambler)

“The dining seats, I did the same thing again but I put the buttons through before I stapled them.

“I found a guy on eBay who recovers buttons. I got 24 buttons for £6 and you just send your fabric off to him.”

For the worktops, the couple used DC Fix which is a type of self-adhesive covering and cost £16 for two rolls.

The door was also done in DC Fix white gloss, then Bex and Tom added some decals from Etsy on the top, at a total cost of £14.

Similarly, the flooring was vinyl lino from eBay that cost £95. Next up came the kitchen.







The pair spent around £800 doing it up
(

Image:

Bex Ambler)

Bex explained: “For the kitchen, the tap is a standard household tap from Amazon and was £60.

“We had to get some special pipes from ebay to make it suitable for a caravan which were £17.

“The tiles are stick-on from One Below and were £1 a pack. We used about 10 packs as it was a super awkward shape.

“We used extra PVA to make sure that they stay stuck, and the same with the wallpaper on the back wall which is from Dunelm at £10.

“As I said before my biggest tip is to purchase a damp metre when looking for your caravan. You can get them on Amazon for about £15.







They’ll now be able to travel in comfort when going on holidays with their dogs
(

Image:

Bex Ambler)

“On reflection, we paid too much for ours when we realised the amount of damp it had.”

Bex is over the moon with the look of her finished caravan and can’t wait to take it on the road after all her hard work.

The whole process took around five weeks as the pair both work full-time so have done most things in the dark on an evening.

Read More

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‘Welcome home’: First VTL travellers arriving in Johor by bus look forward to family reunions, long-awaited time off


TEETHING ISSUES

As we crossed the empty Causeway, the skyline of Johor Bahru came into view along with a large “welcome home” sign and familiar sights such as City Square shopping mall.

We then disembarked at Bangunan Sultan Iskandar for our final immigration checks – this was when teething issues surfaced.

After grabbing our luggage, we were clustered around the foot of two escalators which had yet to be turned on, while cleaners swept the bus platform. Amid the confusion, several travellers started taking the stairs and making a detour for the lift, only for all of us to be eventually shepherded back into a group.

After some waiting, the Malaysian immigration officers performed a headcount by reading out our names from the passenger manifest, before allowing us to take the now functional escalator to the arrival hall.

The immigration hall was clearly split into VTL and non-VTL zones. Passport checks were relatively uneventful, although Malaysian citizens who are also Singapore permanent residents were asked to show their Singapore identification cards. I thankfully had mine on hand but another person had to double back to collect it from his travel partner.

The immigration officer asked for my passport and also looked at hard copies of my bus ticket, ART results and vaccination certificate. I also flashed my MySejahtera app for good measure.

Although soft copies of documents are permitted, the journey seems to be smoother if you have hardcopies on hand. Another plus – it minimises having to hand your mobile phone to others.

After this was baggage check, where those with “large bags” were stopped. I unzipped my oversized duffel and was let through quickly after I explained what I had packed. To my right, a man was held up after the Customs officer unearthed a few boxes of what looked like children’s toys. The officer then informed the man that he may have to pay a tax on the items. Another tip – keep receipts for any gifts handy.

The escalator leading back down to the bus bay was not working, leaving us to slowly descend with our heavy bags. One more tip – wear good shoes.



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Travel weather gets tricky as many return home from Thanksgiving


People returning home from Thanksgiving festivities may encounter travel delays as a series of storms crisscross the country.

A strengthening cold front, followed by another fast-moving system, will impact many from the Plains to the Midwest, and even the Northeast.

The second storm could bring the first measurable snowfall of the season to many cities on the East Coast.

Rain, wind, and snow are all possible across the Northeast on Friday. However, major coastal cities along the I-95 corridor will see mainly rain.

Millions will still be impacted by snow across interior sections of New England through Friday, which is expected to clear out by Saturday morning.

Rain will impact much of the east coast on Friday as a strong cold front moves through.

Bur windy conditions will remain, with gusts potentially up to 55 mph for parts of the Northeast.

“Right now, we are looking at sustained winds at 15 to 25 mph, with gusts of 25 to 35 mph,” says the National Weather Service (NWS) office in New York City.

Wind is one of the main causes of travel delays in the late autumn and winter months, and this weekend will be no exception.

We could see airport delays on Friday due to wind and a few delays due to snow and de-icing in New England.

Cold temperatures will follow, impacting the vast majority of the eastern half of the country.

From Texas to Maine, temperatures will be anywhere from 5 to 15 degrees below normal on Friday and Saturday.

Morning low temperatures forecast for the next four days.

The Pacific Northwest will also be at risk for travel delays through Friday, with another atmospheric river event getting set to impact the area.

Heavy coastal rainfall and mountain snowfall are expected through Friday with a slight break in the evening hours.

Saturday’s weather travel hot spots

Major cities on the East Coast are off the hook Saturday, but parts of northern New England can still see snowfall.

Wind gusts are likely to reach 40 mph, but Saturday still looks like the better travel day in this region.

The central US will experience winds gusting up to 55 mph in some locations.

Cities like Minneapolis could see an excess of flight delays, as the winds strengthen during peak volume hours.

In addition, these winds whipping across the Great Lakes will likely force lake-effect snow into the weekend.

Sunday’s weather travel hot spots

By Sunday, a quick-moving storm system could bring a brief shot of snow to the Midwest and Great Lakes.

The snow could reach the Washington, DC, area late in the weekend, impacting flights as well as road travelers.

Some computer models are hinting at the possibility of the storm system intensifying off the mid-Atlantic coast.

Rain and snow accumulation forecast for this weekend.

If this scenario plays out, snow would develop in eastern Pennsylvania, reaching Philadelphia and possibly farther north into New York City.

Of course, the timing and exact locations that will see snow will change in the coming days, but it bears watching as we get closer to the end of the week.

In the Northwest, another system pushes through with more rainfall over the weekend.

Washington town sees 75% of homes damaged by floodwaters
This will add to the impressive rainfall totals that the region has seen in the month of November.

Seattle has already seen 8.40″ of rain in November, and the month will most likely end as one of the wettest.

Overall, the weather will have some impact on travel, but it won’t be the ginormous snarl of mounting airport delays we have seen some years.

Something to be thankful about, for sure.



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Smart home holiday vacation checklist: Prep your house to be home alone


The appeal of the smart home is, in part, the management and monitoring that can happen while you’re out running errands or at work. Your smart home can perform just as well if you’re gone for days or even weeks, with the right setup.

If you’re hitting the road this holiday season, we have the tips you need to leave your smart home home alone with confidence. 

Read more: The best travel gifts | Best DIY home security systems to buy in 2021

smart-thermostat.png

The new Amazon Smart Thermostat is currently our top pick for smart home climate control. 


Amazon

Thermostats

If you have a smart thermostat, most types will detect that you’re away and offer a way to change the thermostat remotely. After all, that’s probably why you bought the thing in the first place. It’s a nice perk when you’re out for a few hours or a workday.

For longer periods of time or for thermostats that include a vacation mode, it’s a good idea to check the threshold settings before an extended absence. These temperatures are the minimum and maximum your system will allow before it kicks in. To save energy, set them to a bit colder and warmer than you would if you were home.

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4 ways to deter break-ins with your smart home



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Sure, you can adjust the temperature remotely, but the whole idea here is to set it and go. So before you leave, set the temperature ranges on your thermostat so you can save money while keeping your home safe. 

Read more: Amazon Smart Thermostat review: A steal at $60

High and low temperature thresholds save the most energy when they are set closer to the outside temperature than you would probably prefer when at home. However, they should still be safe enough for your home. 

new-smart-home-lutron-serena-shades-15.jpg

If you have shades or window coverings, it’s best to lower them in your absence.


Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Lights and shades

My parents always left the TV on when we were away so people would think we were home. I thought it was a weird game of pretend as a kid, but now as a homeowner it makes sense. Lighting isn’t a fail-safe protection against intruders, but having your lights or TV set to mimic human activity is a good start. Smart switches and schedules can do just that.

Read more: Our review of the Lutron Serena Remote Controlled Shades

A good rule of thumb is that outdoor lights should be on at night and off during the day, while indoor lights should go on and off in different rooms. If you have smart switches, consider creating a schedule based on time of day that replicates what you’d typically do while home. You can also set smart light bulbs to power on and off intermittently. 

If you have automated window shades, consider setting them to stay down while you’re away. Keeping lights on might deter crime, but leaving your shades open could turn your living room into a window display for a burglar.

ring6

The Ring Alarm Pro is our top pick for DIY smart home security. 


Hobie Crase/CNET

Cameras, doorbells and security systems

You have plenty of choices when it comes to both DIY smart home security systems and professionally monitored ones. While they do most of the work for you once they’re out of the box, it’s important to give them a quick status check before you leave. Security settings will differ depending on what products you have.

Regardless of brand, it’s a good idea to make sure all the integrated motion sensors, cameras, locks and doorbells have fresh or fully charged batteries and notifications correctly enabled to reach the right emergency contacts. 

Read more: Our review of the Ring Video Doorbell 4

When it comes to cameras and smart doorbells, be sure the lens is free of dirt, cobwebs or decor that might obstruct the view. If you’ve turned down motion sensitivity or set your camera to ignore motion in some areas around your home, now is a good time to put those features back to maximum vigilance. Finally, ensure all notification settings are set to notify the appropriate people at the appropriate times.

halo-photos-3

Be sure detectors and sensors are powered up and ready to notify you in case of an incident. 


Chris Monroe/CNET

Environment detectors

Leak, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors offer peace of mind every day, and even more so when you’re out of town. Making sure all of these have fresh batteries, a solid Wi-Fi connection, updated apps or firmware and correct notification settings is worth a few minutes of your time before you hit the road. 

Read more: Smoke detector placement guide: Where and how to install sensors

If your detectors aren’t connected to a live monitoring service, it’s even more important to get a notification sent to the right mobile device. That way, you can ask a friend or neighbor to check out any suspicious alerts.  

Total floor care package deal at Best Buy

The iRobot Roomba S9 is our favorite robot helper.


iRobot

Robot vacuums and other small appliances

There are several robot vacuum cleaners out there with some version of a scheduling option. If that’s a feature you use often, turn it off while you’re away. If no one’s home to make messes, the vacuum doesn’t need to run. Plus, if you’ve enhanced the sensitivity of the motion detector portion of your security system, a robot vacuum could trigger false alarms.

Read more: Our review of the iRobot Roomba S9 Plus vs. Neato Botvac D7 Connected

You’ll save battery life and wear and tear on your vacuum by making sure it isn’t running when it doesn’t need to. The same goes for other small appliances that might run on a smart schedule or with smart switches. Run through your list of managed devices to be sure everything is on or off accordingly. 

gettyimages-1133795955

Getty Images

The human element

Yes, smart homes are cool. They can do a lot for you on a daily basis, and they keep you connected to home when you’re hundreds of miles away. Still, smart homes aren’t perfect, and it’s a good idea to have one or two very trusted (and tech-savvy) humans keeping an eye on things.

Whether it’s sharing a camera feed, security code or plain ol’ house key, knowing someone could physically check on your home if anything looked suspicious will help you travel happier.



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