How to Travel the World on a Dime

Many of us dream of traveling more often, but lack of funds often contributes to staying home. For those of you who dare to dream, however, traveling the world could become a reality.

Here’s how:

  • Voluntourism is one of the best ways to give back and see the world at a low cost. There are many development projects all over the world that are looking for volunteers, and they may even help you out with your room and board (and sometimes even flights)!
  • Fundraising is a way some people get to travel and experience various parts of the world. Whether it’s through an overseas university research project, through a church or school group, many students and adults alike raise money to pay their way overseas to work on projects, build housing developments for the less fortunate or participate in a research project. All it takes is a little digging to see what opportunities best fit your lifestyle.
  • Housesitting is a great way to see the world without the steep price tag. Housesitting entails taking care of someone else’s property (and possibly their pets) in exchange for your stay.1 While they may intimidate some travelers, websites connecting homeowners and house sitters – sometimes for jobs of a few weeks or longer – have emerged as another option.
  • Teach English Overseas: Did you know the world is in need of English teachers? A lot of countries only require that you speak English, though some may require a special certification. Many countries in Asia will even pay for your flight to get there.What better way to immerse yourself in a culture?
  • Use a Credit Card for Everything: While we aren’t advocating getting into debt you can’t pay off, putting all of your purchases on a credit card can earn you more points for free flights and other travel perks that will allow you to travel cheaply. Besides, you can pay off your card each month, but keep the points (and benefits from the perks)!
  • Embrace Serendipity: If you keep your eye out for opportunity, you will often find it. Travel for free with your friend who has a lot of friends around the country and loves to “couch surf.” Research areas in other countries that are in need of a homestead sitter or farm sitter for the off-season.
  • Travel Slowly: Those who believe time is money may often spend more on travel. Who says that you need to drive or fly to a destination? Grab a bike and enjoy the scenery… take a bus or two… carpool with friends or refurbish an old sailboat and sail away.

For more ideas on how to travel cheaply, click here.

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What Travelers Need to Know about Natural Disasters

Whether you are an avid traveler or the occasional trip-goer, you love to travel. The sights of unfamiliar places spark curiosity in you and the sounds of new cities excite you. But no matter how seasoned of a traveler you are, do you know what to do if natural disaster hits while you are on vacation?Do you have a plan to get home safely?

Although the possibility is small, natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, tornadoes, or earthquakes can happen while you are traveling. Think about April’s earthquake in Nepal or Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Natural disasters can seriously injure large numbers of people, contribute to the spread of some diseases, disrupt sanitation and interrupt normal public services.Travelers should be familiar with risks for natural disasters at their destination and local warning systems, evacuation routes and shelters.

Here’s a few recommendations from the Center for Disease Control to get you started:

  • If you are in another country, follow rules put forth by the local public authorities and/or seek advice from the nearest U.S. embassy. Be sure you have the contact information for the nearest embassy in your cell phone or wallet. For a list of U.S. embassies and their phone numbers, click here.
  • If you are traveling out of the country, be aware of that country’s equivalent to 911. For example, in India the emergency number is 102.For a list of emergency numbers by country, click here.
  • Be aware of where the local hospitals, police and fire departments are, in case you need to reach them in an emergency.
  • Does the area to which you are traveling have an evacuation route in the event of a disaster? Research where this might be before you leave on your trip.
  • Identify a “safe spot” in the area to which you will be traveling and then discuss an emergency travel plan with your family or whomever you will be traveling with.
  • Be sure to travel with a list of emergency contact numbers. This will serve as your “go to” document in case of an emergency. Include names of close relatives or friends back home and don’t forget to include the phone number of your travel insurance plan provider. Travel Guard® travel insurance plans include 24/7 emergency assistance services that can coordinate efforts on your behalf to get you medical attention when you need it and many include cover to transport you safely home.
  • Travel with a first aid kit.

Travel is meant to be invigorating and fun, but remember to be prepared in case disaster strikes. For in-depth detail and resources about what to do during and after a natural disaster, click here.

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Best Practices for Traveling with Pets

DogCar_166185763There’s no doubt about it – man’s best friend and many a furry feline are becoming permanent fixtures when people travel. People love their pets and often want them by their side when they travel. Whether it’s by car, plane, ship or train, there are a few best practices to follow if you want to take your furry friend on vacation.

By Car

  • When traveling by car, dogs should be secured in a harness and buckled in the back and cats should be secured in a carrier that won’t bounce around while driving.
  • Leave the front seat for humans.1 Make sure animals are safely secured in the back of the vehicle and be sure not to let your dog’s head hang outside the vehicle, as that exposes them to potentially harmful debris.
  • Be sure never to leave your pet in the car alone. When it’s 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour.1

By Plane

  • Sorry all you pet-lovers, but air travel just isn’t safe for pets according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). In the unavoidable circumstance that your pet absolutely needs to travel by air, find out if they can travel in the cabin with you.1
  • If you need to travel with your pet on a plane, be sure to get special permission from the airline and find out about any special pet immunization requirements as well as the type of carrier you may need to put your pet in.
  • Be aware that pets that need to fly in the cargo area may be exposed to extremely hot or cold conditions, poor ventilation and run the risk of rough handling. Many pets become injured or die each year because of this.1
  • If your pet must fly, consider these best practices to ensure a healthy, safe arrival:
  • Book direct flights.
  • Make sure you fly during temperate weather if your pet needs to be exposed to the cargo area of the plane.
  • Put a detailed label on your pet’s carrier to easily identify your pet.
  • Don’t give your pet food at least six hours before you fly.1
  • Carry a photo of your pet with you in case your pet becomes lost.

By Ship

  • Cruiselines don’t usually permit animals on board – however, there are some exceptions. Be sure you check with the cruise line to see if your pet is allowed and under what circumstances. Sometimes kennels are available on ships as well.

By Train

  • Taking your pet on a train may be permissible depending on where you travel in the world. As a general rule, pets aren’t allowed on most trains in the U.S. unless they are needed for medical purposes. However, if you are traveling in Europe, you’ll find that many trains are pet-friendly.




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How to Instill Wonder into your Children’s Travels

When you think about your travels abroad, what are the first things that come to your mind? Many of us think of the sights, sounds and smells associated with a particular place. What invigorates our senses tends to have staying power, which coaxes us to continue our exploration both now and into the future. Even having young children doesn’t stop the most adventuresome among us. We want our kids to see for themselves how the rest of the world lives. Sometimes, however, young children let fear dominate fact – but given the right tools, they can thrive on new experiences, just like you. Here’s how you can engage your kids with your travel plans abroad, and help them look forward to travel realities they might otherwise question:

  • Map your Destination

After you have selected a destination, show your kids a map, point to the destination and then trace your finger back to where you live. Ask your kids to guess at the distance and how you will get there. Have them predict what the time change will be like and how they might feel when they get to the intended destination.

  • Involve the Kids in Planning

Now that you have selected your destination, discuss with your kids what the culture is like in the city to which you will travel. Watch movies about the destination and rent easy-to-understand books about the particular country from the library. While watching the movie or reading a book, ask your kids questions and encourage them to ask you questions, so that you can begin to engage their senses and prepare them for what to expect.

  • Language Learners

Expose your children to the local language beforehand and have them learn a few key phrases, like how to greet people. That way, when you arrive at your destination, the language change won’t be as big of a shock to them. This may sound complicated, but it is relatively easy by purchasing flashcards and simple books that teach kids the basics of a language.

  • Money Talks
    Obtain foreign currency for the country to which you will be traveling and teach your children how to count it and, if they are old enough, talk through the exchange rate and what that means for any purchases while they are abroad.
  • Foodie Frenzie

In the months leading up to your trip, whip up a few snacks or meals similar to the ones you might find in the country to which you will be traveling. Make the food the focal point of conversation during dinner in order to get your children excited about traveling and trying new food.

  • Cultural Music
    Purchase cultural music to listen to in the car or around the house. When the music plays, explain to your kids that the music is a traditional type of music found in the area to which you will be traveling. If you are really ambitious, insert a few traditional dance moves to make it more memorable.

While nothing can completely conquer the fear of the unknown for many children, familiarizing them with what to expect when they arrive can help. To learn more about how to travel securely with kids while you are out of the country, click here.

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Hurricane Season is Here

HurricanePalms_dv118085How to Prepare Yourself for Travel During Tropical Storm Season

The summer travel season has officially begun. As many travelers make their way to coastal destinations, they should keep in mind that the kick-off to the summer travel coincides with the start of Hurricane Season in the Atlantic and the Northeast Pacific, as well as Typhoon Season in the Northwest Pacific. Combined, the seasons span April through December each year and often create several dangerous storms. If one of these locations is included in your summer travel plans, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you are U.S. citizen, you should enroll with a U.S. Embassy, which will make it easier to get in contact with you if there is an emergency in the area which you are traveling (such as a hurricane, typhoon or other natural disaster).
  • Individuals and families who plan to travel to an area where hurricanes and typhoons are prevalent should be sure to make sure they have access to a radio, TV or mobile device for frequent severe weather updates. Make sure to listen/view to local stations regularly in order to become aware of any tropical storms that may develop.
  • Maintain close contact with your tour operator, cruise line, hotel staff and local officials so you will know local protocol and procedures if inclement weather should occur during your vacation.
  • Before you book your hotel and other accommodations, call ahead to find out what the cancellation policy allows for in the event of a hurricane or Typhoon.
  • Make sure your vehicle always has plenty of fuel. Because weather can quickly change and tropical storms may blow in without much warning, you shouldn’t have to stop for gas on your way to a safer area. Stay ahead of the game with a full tank of gas.
  • Always remember to travel with a Travel Guard travel insurance plan. In the event of a covered hurricane or typhoon, travel insurance may provide coverage under the Trip Cancellation benefit so that you may be reimbursed for the pre-paid, forfeited, non-refundable trip costs up to the limit of the coverage purchased. Many travel insurance plans also come with 24/7 assistance services to re-book cancelled flights and help you get to safety.

For additional information on hurricanes and other tropical storms, please visit the State Department’s website on Natural Disasters.




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Traveling with Kids? Seven Things Every Parent Should Know

family_parisAs the summer travel season kicks off, millions of families across America are planning their summer trips. With the kids out of school it’s the perfect time to travel. But, mom and dad, before you begin planning that perfect family vacation, there are a few important things to consider when traveling with your children.

  • Involve Your Kids in Planning: If you want to keep your kids enthusiastic about what you plan to see and do while traveling, get them involved in the planning process. That doesn’t mean you have to do everything they suggest, but getting them engaged will make it almost certain that you’ll see more smiles and less complaints along the way.
  • Simplify Your Plans: We get it. There’s a lot to see on a family vacation. But, if you plan too much, you (and your kids!) will end up exhausted and crabby. How much fun will you be having then? A better idea might be to choose one or two things to do each day and fill the rest of the time by enjoying the scenery at your destination and relaxing in each other’s company.
  • Tell Kids what to Expect: While traveling can be an exciting time for kids, it may also be scary. Have they been to an airport or on a plane in the past? If not, you may want to gently explain what they can expect (large crowds of people, popping in their ears as the plane ascends, etc.). Similarly, if they’ve not been to a foreign country, you might teach them a few key words/phrases in the native language and share with them what the locals will be like.
  • Go Crazy for Carry On:It’s a fact: Nearly 22 million pieces of luggage go missing each year.1 That’s why it’s important to pack one extra change of clothes for each child in their carry-on bag. Having a set of clothes to change into while you are waiting for your luggage to be found is a lifesaver. Remember, if your luggage does get lost and you have a Travel Guard® travel insurance plan, you are likely eligible for 24/7 assistance in finding your luggage.
  • It’s all fun and games until someone gets bored. Or tired. If your destination is hours away, smart parents bring along activities or binders for each child that include a coloring book, blank paper, crossword puzzles, activity sheets, crayons and writing instruments. To get you started, free printable coloring pages, stories and activities can be found hereand here.
  • Have an Emergency Procedure: Even if your kids are model citizens, things can happen. Equip your child with a card that they permanently carry on their person that includes your hotel name and number and other contact information. Make sure everyone in the family knows where they are headed. And though it may sound silly, it may pay to have unique family noise like a certain whistle call or “whoop” that enables each family member to get the other’s attention.2
  • Reflect and Connect: Travel is so much more than arriving – it’s a process that can invigorate the senses. Encourage your children to journal each day’s experience before they wind down for the evening. Share with them your thoughts on the day and ask them about their feelings and reactions to certain tastes, smells, cultural differences and so on.2

Of course, we know that no trip is perfect. There may be occasional complaints and bouts of being hangry (hungry and angry), but don’t be discouraged. Tomorrow’s a new day full of invigorating travel experiences.




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The best ways to travel on a budget

The summer travel season is here, offering endless destination options and the chance to relax and recharge with friends, family and loved ones. If you have children, this time of year can make vacation planning easier as families do not have to work around school schedules, but it can also be an expensive time to travel. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your next trip, stretching those travel dollars even further.

1.) Be a bargain-hunter
We’ve all heard of finding a cheap flight by using aggregator sites such as or, but there are other places to seek great deals, including online “warehouses,” like Groupon Getaways, TravelZoo and LivingSocial.1 Be sure to read the fine print on any deal.

2.) Be detailed in your research
When you are looking for places to stay while on vacation, scrutinize the details of resort and hotel offerings. Don’t assume that all amenities are included. For example, is breakfast free? Are
wifi and parking free? Expenses can add up quickly, especially if you have a large family. Do your homework before booking your next trip.

3.) Remain flexible
If you don’t have to be restricted to a family trip in summer, try booking your next vacation during an off-peak season where a better rate is most likely offered. While the weather might be a bit
cooler or warmer than expected during the off season, some attractions or parks may be less crowded leading to a potentially more enjoyable experience while also saving you money. When it comes to hotels, sites such as Hotel Tonight and Last Minute Hotels rewards those who practice patience and flexibility with last minute deals and discounts of up to 60% on their stay.1

4.) Find alternate places to stay
Whether you are traveling alone or with your family, you can save money simply by staying outside of the city-center. Opt for a hotel just outside the city limits and you could save a bundle.

5.) Be open-minded
When traveling on a budget, people often default to simply looking at the cheapest hotels but that isn’t the only budget-friendly option available. There are endless opportunities for your stay if you
just keep an open mind. Airbnb, for example, offers many different accommodations, from extra rooms in private homes to entire vacation villas and even live-in sailboats – many of which can be
less per night than a standard hotel. Don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun!

6.) Earn rewards points and join clubs
Do your research on good travel clubs and travel email groups, and investigate your credit card’s rewards system. Each of those options may save you hundreds on your vacation, whether in the form of heavily discounted airline tickets or lower prices on rental cars, hotels or vacation packages.


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Six Ways to Expedite Airport Security with Ease

With the busy summer travel season in full swing, extra-crowded airports and a record number of travelers projected to take to the skies this year, the need for a way to ease through security checkpoints has never been greater.1 Whether you’re traveling with your family for vacation or you’re a business traveler flying interstate to a meeting, here are six tips to help bypass the crowds and breeze through airport security:

  • Sign Up for TSA Pre®: If eligible, this expedited way of traveling typically allows passengers to keep their shoes, belts and light outerwear on, as well as to leave laptops and TSA-compliant liquids inside carry-on bags.
  • Try Other Travel Programs: Business and leisure travelers alike may enjoy great benefits from Global Entry, NEXUS or SENTRI, which allow travelers to move quickly through the customs process, across borders when traveling internationally. Check out thiscomparison chart to see which Trusted Traveler Program best fits the trip you are planning.
  • Match Your ID to Your Booking: When securing your travel booking, be sure to enter your name as it appears on your driver’s license or state-issued ID. If these do not match at a security checkpoint, your travels may be delayed.
  • Double-check for Banned Items: Let’s face it, even the savviest of travelers sometimes slip up while packing their carry-on luggage. As a rule of thumb, check your bags before arriving at the airport, as prohibited items in your carry-on could lead to revocation of your expedited traveler privileges.
  • ID your Electronics: Laptops, cameras and phones can inadvertently be left behind at security checkpoints due to the nature of the screening process. Always take a second look at security checkpoint bins to be sure you have all of your items. Remember to label belongings with your contact information so items can be returned safely to you if you leave them behind. Alternatively, contact the TSA lost and found service.
  • Mind Your Carry-on: Try not to overpack your carry-on bag. Stuffing everything in one piece of luggage may save a little money on a checked-bag fee, but could cost you more in time wasted. A jam-packed bag may slow down the screening process and the security checkpoint line, potentially setting off alarms as the bag progresses through the X-ray machine.

Visit the Transportation and Security Administration website for more great tips on expedited security, passport advice, crossing U.S. borders, and more.



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Solo travel tips from record‐breaking world traveler

Solo travel continues to rise in popularity, with the trend showing women in particular embracing the benefits of traveling alone. Last week, AIG Travel #WhereNext? Twitter followers were offered the
chance to hear from the ultimate expert in female solo travel, Cassie De Pecol.

Cassie, a modern day female explorer who is the first documented  local!
 TripIt is one of my fav travel apps for keeping travel plans organized.
 I love Tripit and Rome2Rio. Both must‐have apps for travel
What has inspired you to travel the world sustainably, especially during Expedition 196?
 Our future generations. Thinking of them as I aimed to offset my carbon footprint and promote
sustainable hospitality.

How can regular travelers offset their carbon footprints? What did you do?
 Google is a great resource to provide sustainable hotel and responsible tour recommendations based on your destination.
 Focus on companies that are locally‐owned/hire local guides!
 I think too many people are unaware of the damage they can do as travelers. Education is always the key!
 There are so many ways to travel sustainably! Here are 7 ways that we love:

Tips on preserving local culture and heritage when traveling to a new country?

 Engage in local activities, respect the people, partner with donation organizations in that region/donate to their projects.
 Start by learning about and respecting the local culture. Use homestays, visit authentic places, rather than touristy ones.
 Reduce carbon emissions & book non‐stop flights for fewer take‐offs, landings. More on Travel Guard

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How to Avoid Jet Lag

If you are traveling overseas, chances are, you want to make the most of your time. That means there’s really no room for jet lag, the symptoms of which are daytime sleepiness, confusion, hunger at inappropriate times, and general irritability. So, given the sudden shift in time, how do you stay at your best on a vacation? To fend off the symptoms of a sudden time adjustment, consider these tips:

Reset your internal clock before leaving.
It may seem like a hassle, but attempt to adjust your sleep schedule and eating patterns to the time zone to which you will be traveling. Begin the new schedule at least four days before your departure date.1 Then, when you arrive at your destination, all that you willneed to do is adapt your daily routine to your surroundings.

Schedule overnight flights.
If your flight to your destination is overnight, you can get ahead of sleep along the way
and better adapt to your destination’s time upon arrival. If you’re flying coach, select a
window seat and bring a small pillow to prop yourself against the wall of the plane.

Cut out coffee.
While you might not exactly feel wired after you drink a caffeinated beverage, caffeine
remains in your system for 12 hours – a good rule of thumb is to avoid caffeine for at
least that many hours before your flight to prevent it from affecting your sleep.2

Mild dehydration is commonly associated with jet lag.3 In order to stay as hydrated aspossible, try to consume at least eight ounces of water every hour before and during your flight – even if you don’t feel thirsty.4

Avoid alcohol.
The air in flight is more prone to dry out your body, which can make you more
susceptible to jet lag. The effects of alcohol can also be quickened by the altitude. In order to feel more rested once you hit the ground in another country, try to avoid drinking alcohol while on the plane.



3 Ibid.

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Sunburn and Heatstroke Prevention Tips and Tricks

The season of sun means fun for everyone. Think of families on vacation, newlywed couples on their honeymoons, or a group of college friends on a cross-country road trip. Whatever the summer holds in store, before you embark on that journey of a lifetime, be sure you protect yourself during all your sun-filled activities. Remember, sunburn and heatstroke are completely predictable and preventable.

Here are a few tips to remember from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing so that your body can cool properly.
  • Protect against sunburn.Consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and  sunscreen, with an SPF of at least 15. Don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen every two hours.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.Staying hydrated will help maintain a normal body temperature.
  • Be aware of medications.Some medications may affect your body’s ability to stay hydrated and control Be aware of any sensitivities to your medications before heading out and choose to spend time in the sun or shade, accordingly. If you will be traveling in unfamiliar territory, have local emergency numbers/addresses on hand in case you experience heat-related medical problems.
  • Avoid “hot car” tragedies.Don’t leave your child (or anyone, for that matter) in a hot car. When a car is parked in the sun, the temperature inside can rise 20° F in 10 minutes, which means an outside temperature of 80° F easily can reach 100° or more, potentially killing people who are unable to get out.
  • Take it easy when it’s hottest.Sometimes, travel plans include strenuous activities. If that’s the case, undertake those activities in the cool evenings and mornings to help avoid overexerting yourself. Remember to drink fluids and rest frequently in a spot that’s not overly warm. Try to schedule exercise or physical labor for times when temperatures will be moderate.
  • Acclimate yourself.If you are transitioning from a cool climate at home to a significantly warmer one at your destination, give yourself time to get acclimated to the heat. If you are not conditioned to the hot weather, you are even more susceptible to heatstroke.


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10 Ways to Protect Your Home While on Vacation

Planning for a vacation can be an exciting time. While focused on everything ahead of you, it sometimes can be too easy to sail out the door without a second thought. But before you embark on any vacations, you may want to consider the following ways to protect your home while you are gone. It’s easy and just takes a little foresight.

  1. Hold Your Mail

If you will be away from home for more than a few days, consider putting your mail delivery on hold or asking a person you trust to pick your mail up for you. Newspapers piling up in your mailbox or on your lawn scream, “No one is home!”

  1. Make Your House Look “Lived In”

If you know you’ll be traveling for a while, don’t draw attention to your absence by leaving the lawn unmowed. Before you depart, set lights on a timer or schedule the TV and radio to go on or off at various times. Remember, you want to create the illusion that someone is there to act as a deterrent so robbers aren’t tempted to enter your home.

Here are a few additional pointers:

  • During the winter, arrange for snow removal in case of a storm.
  • Leave an unrolled hose outside or, if you have children, a few toys in the yard.
  • Overall, don’t tidy up too much before you leave.
  1. Zip it

Don’t announce to the world that you’ll be out of town. Refrain from talking loudly in public about your departure and posting about your upcoming vacation on Facebook or other social sites. Social media settings aren’t foolproof, and sometimes it’s not easy to distinguish public content from private posts. To stay safe, don’t mention your trip until you’re back home.

  1. Trust a Friend

Record your itinerary, phone number and other important information on a sheet of paper and give it, along with a house key, to a trusted neighbor or friend. If there’s an emergency while you are gone, your neighbor or friend may be able to intervene or at least reach you.

  1. Advertise Your Security

While it’s not a good idea to advertise your whereabouts when you go on vacation, it is good to blatantly advertise your security measures. Post general security alarm warning stickers on your windows, install real or fake security cameras, or put up a “neighborhood watch” sign in your yard.

  1. Unplug

Unplug all unnecessary appliances (except those on timers, of course) to help protect your home from an electrical fire or a power surge. This includes items big or small, from TVs, to your toaster, your coffee maker, and other appliances.

  1. Remove the Spare Key

Many people hide a spare key on their property so that they (or their kids!) will never get locked out of their home. Before you leave for a trip, remove the spare key. You don’t want any nosy thieves letting themselves into your home.

  1. Adjust Your Thermostats

Consider that while you are gone, your house doesn’t need to maintain the same temperature as while you are there. Set the air conditioner to go on only at 85°. You can also lower the temperature on your water heater.1 Although these measures don’t enhance security, they certainly help protect your hard-earned dollars, and perhaps leaving you extra cash to spend on your vacation.

  1. Lock Valuables Away

Lock jewelry, the deed to your home, wills, and any other valuables or sensitive documents in a fireproof safe.1

  1. Alert Your Alarm Company

If you have a home alarm system, call the monitoring service to let the staff know you’ll be away. Make sure all door and window alarms are set and working when you leave.1






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