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Travel Tech

Making your home smarter

This week we’re talking about travel gadgets… And specifically, Smart Home tech that helps you stay connected while you’re on the road.

One of my favorite new types of gadgets is the connected doorbell. The most popular ones are the Ring Video Doorbell, and the Nest Hello.

Both of these little gadgets replace your current doorbell, which does nothing but ring inside your house!

These video doorbells send you an alert on your smartphone when somebody rings the bell, allows you to see video of who’s out there, and even talk back to them if you’re not home.

They both run about 200-bucks, and the Nest Hello connects to your existing doorbell wiring. The Ring Video Doorbell makes both hard-wired and battery powered options…

Next up, the connected thermostats. The most popular is also made by Nest, and allows you to control both your heat and A/C from afar. It also learns your habits, and automatically adjusts the temperature when you’re not home to save on energy costs.

If you’re on your way back from a trip, log on once your flight lands, and start cooling the house down… or heating it up…. It’ll be nice and ready by the time you get home.

The Nest Thermostat starts at 169 bucks, and is compatible with most existing thermostat wiring.

Finally this week, smart switches.

There are lots of different brands out there — Belkin WeMo, TP Link, Lutron — but they all do the same thing. Allow you to turn on and off lights, and other plugin devices remotely.

This is handy if you’re across the room, or across the globe… allowing you to turn lights on and off to make it look like you’re home, turning the radio on for your dogs, or just turning on the fan before you go to sleep.

Most of these smart switches are compatible with Amazon’s Alexa system and Google Home, which makes them even more convenient. Control your lights and appliances with your voice, simply by talking into your smart speaker.

We’ve come along way from The Clapper, haven’t we?

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The Best Apps for Travellers

This week, we’re talking travel tech… specifically, the best apps for your trip.

I spend more than half of the year on the road, as many of you know, so I’m always using my phone to help keep up.

First, use your calendar app more effectively. You already use it to keep track of meetings, so why not use it to put in details of your flight, rental car, hotel reservation, and even dinner plans.

Most confirmation emails even come with a helpful calendar attachment, which will add your trip info to your phone’s calendar automatically once you click it.

If packing stresses you out, check out PackPoint. You can put in the details of your travel, click on some of the activities you’ll be doing while you’re there, and the app will generate a packing list for you. Going to the gym? It accounts for that. Is it going to snow? It knows that too, and adjusts accordingly.

You can add or delete certain items you don’t like, and it’ll remember your preferences for the next trip. Even better, it’s free.

If weather is on your list of concerns, look no further than the Weather Channel App.

It’s free, and using your phone’s GPS, it’ll automatically give you updated local weather.

What’s the big deal, they all do that, right? True, but The Weather Channel’s app will send you alerts with an exact time you can expect rain or snow to start - even if you didn’t know it was coming.

This one has saved me from getting rained on many times.

Finally, if you’re driving your way around for work trips, check out iExit. This free app will tell you which restaurants, hotels, gas stations and attractions you’ll find at every highway exit, so no more guessing.

Sure, those blue signs are helpful, but they can’t give you gas prices at the local gas stations, and they probably wont give you restaurant reviews either, but iExit will.

If you have a favorite chain restaurant, it’ll even alert you when you’re getting close to one of their stores…

Helloooo In-N-Out Burger!

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