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    4 Tips To Keep In Mind The Next Time You’re Planning A Trip

    There are two groups of people:

    1. Those who love to plan, and

    2. Those who want things done for them

    Some of us just don’t have the organization skills or care to do every tiny bit of research when there are experts to rely on. We get it – but for those of us live for every detail, suffer from FOMO, need to know the best spots, then scan through every review and photo to make sure it’s legit, it can be a time consuming process. For my co-travellers, here are 5 tips I use to save on time and money when planning my own journey:

    1. Travel Aggregators – It’s obvious but people still don’t think to use them

    We see television ads for them everywhere, but they work and cut down on research time. I’m talking about travel aggregators. These are sites that do all the research for you to find the lowest price. Hotels use these companies so you find them. Out of all aggregators, I’ve come to like booking.com best because they’re very transparent with their users on the hotels ratings by highlighting reviews, sharing photos, facilities, location, and property surroundings, which cuts down on research time because I don’t have to look elsewhere for hotel reviews or what kind of facilities are included. It also shares the total price for the duration of your stay, not the average price/night which helps with budgeting. I don’t have to do (easy I know, but it’s still math) additional math to determine the total cost.

    • Want to save further? Use services like getservice.com and ebates.com.
      1. If you booked a hotel and a week later you see the same room type for your hotel but cheaper, getservice will rebook for you at the lower cost. You just have to pay a percentage of the savings to them. Best part? It’s all done automatically.
      2. Before you even book, earn cashback with ebates.com. They’re a rebate site, so everytime you complete an online purchase you earn cash. Who doesn’t love free money? And because you’re booking a hotel, you can likely earn up to $20 because hotels are usually a big purchase.

    2. Avoid FOMO

    Wondering what to do while you visit? Trip Advisor is always a good go-to to see what is popular with tourists, but another way to try fun things that are targeted towards locals is by using Groupon. It creates a different trip from seeing the usual sites, and it’s pretty exciting and different to say “I went to Vegas and played Laser Tag.” Sidenote: you can earn cashback with Groupon when you go through Ebates. You can literally earn money on everything with them!

    3. Get Touristy

    But who are we kidding, you don’t visit a new city and not at least see some of the big touristy spots. Not sure what to see? Contact the cities tourism HQ, they’ll have details and local insights on everything, such as discounts and good eats. It’s their job to know this, and who knows, you might get something a little extra – one of our readers contacted Dallas Tourism and when her family arrived at their hotel room, there was a lovely gift from the Tourism office with coupon books full of savings and small gifts to welcome the family.

    4. Save On Flights

    Need to book a flight? Here’s one place to avoid- google. It’s convenient they have the feature built into their search engine however the price they quote you isn’t the final price. It’s the price before taxes and fees. This can make your budgeting even more expensive when the additional costs come as a surprise. I like to use kiwi or if I’m planning well in advance, the hopper app. Once you find a price and time, bring the flight (take screenshots) to a local flight agency. They’ll find the flight and even give you a small discount (remember to ask) because they want the commission.

    1. Hopper is good for advanced planning because you can choose a destination and put in the desired or estimated dates, then the app will notify you whenever prices drop. This way you don’t have to constantly be searching everyday, and feel comfortable that you’re getting a lower price.
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    5 Valentine’s Ideas For Your Special Lady

    Valentine’s day is a day that I don’t think is on anyone’s radar until February 1st. Which means it’s officially fast approaching. Trying to think of what to get or do this year? Want to make it special or customized? Here are 5 unique ideas to blow her away.

    1. Plan A Staycation

    Can’t afford to get out of town but want that same feeling? Then plan a staycation, it’s super easy to take advantage of discounted deals at hotels because it’s currently low season in most places. To save, I usually use sites like booking.com to see what places have a good deal in my area. After you make the booking, call the hotel and see if they can do anything special so you can really wow her upon entrance. For example, ask for a room with a view, or if they can place chocolates or flowers in the room.

    Tip – if you find a good deal online, you can phone hotels and ask if they can match or beat it by 10%. Although every hotel is on an aggregator, they don’t enjoy paying commissions to these website and prefer you book direct. You also have a higher chance of being upgraded if the hotel is full.

    2. Upgrade That Bouquet

    Flowers are nice, but gentleman, get your lady flowers randomly throughout the year don’t save it for Valentine’s Day (unless you know she really wants one). So what do I mean by upgrade? Instead of a bunch of roses, create a makeup bouquet, or a bouquet of anything else that she loves:

    • Step 1 – Check out your partner’s makeup bag and note the brand she uses the most, or make note if she uses a variety of brands (even easier).
    • Step 2 – Visit your local sephora (or go online) and buy her 3 or 4 pieces of makeup or a bunch of random things ranging from mascara, eyeliner, perfume, blush, foundation, face masks etc.
    • Step 3 – Turn it into a bouquet, you can easily find examples online or on pinterest, simply search ‘makeup bouquet’. Throw in a few stems of her favourite flower and you’ll surprise her with your creativity.

    3. Decorate Then Eat!

    If you’re both into baked goods or sweets this will be a fun activity you can easily do at home for a more relaxed evening. If baking isn’t either of your fortes, go out and buy pre-made frozen cookie dough or a box of cake mix, the baking can either be done beforehand or as part of the activity. Once the goods have cooled down, start decorating! You can buy all the ingredients you need in bulk at your local grocer. This can be a fun activity and bring out both of your flirtatious sides. Then once you’re done, if you can’t eat them all before a tooth or stomachache approaches, bring them to your workplace. Your fellow colleagues will devour them and love you for it.

    4. Go On An Adventure

    It doesn’t have to be a literal adventure, but if the both of you don’t mind physical activity, go do something that is both new and exciting but will let you challenge each other. I like to think of them as adult parks, such as laser tag, trampoline parks, paintball, escape rooms etc. Note. I’d like to think you have a sense if your partner is into these type of things, if you’re not sure then do not follow this advice, it could lead to a disaster.

    5. Distance Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

    This is specific to those who are in a long distance relationship or can’t be home for Valentine’s Day; create a care package. But you have to put thought into a package of all her favourite goods, examples could be chocolate, candles, jewelry, makeup, gift certificates, or if you really have the money to spend, surprise her with a ticket to visit you.

    Found these helpful? Share with us on Facebook your favourite Valentine’s activity you’ve treated your partner.

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    5 Valentine’s Ideas For The Man In Your Life

    February 14th is fast approaching, and it’s not an event that gets a lot of tv time but is definitely commercialized when you visit your local grocer or pharmacy, so it’s not a surprise that the date always sneaks up on people (like me- hello, it was just Xmas!). But I like to think that men are easier to buy gifts for (maybe that’s just me), but if you’ve totally forgotten and don’t have the time to think of that perfect thing, then here are my 5 to-do’s or gift ideas for that special guy in your life.

    1. Plan A Staycation

    Sometimes the house or apartment doesn’t provide that right escape of relaxations as we think we do. So instead of worrying about the clean-up, go plan a staycation. Get that feel of being away, but without the cost of going out of town. In most towns, it’s currently low season so there are great discounted deals at your local hotels. I usually use sites like booking.com to see an overview of all hotels in one place, makes comparing hotels and their ratings easier. After you book, contact the hotel and ask for a room with a view, or one with large amenities in your room category. You can probably even upgrade the suite for a low cost. 

    Tip – if you find a good deal online, you can phone hotels and ask if they can match or beat it by 10%. Although every hotel is on an aggregator, they don’t enjoy paying commissions to these website and prefer you book direct. You also have a higher chance of being upgraded if the hotel is full.

    2. Upgrade That Bouquet

    If your man loves meat, make him a pepperoni stick bouquet. This does require some arts and crafts on your part, but use the pepperoni sticks as the stems then cut out shapes of flowers and stick them through one end of the pepperoni stick. Or, make bacon roses! 

    Tip – you can use toothpicks to keep the flowers attached.

    3. Plan A Romantic Meal

    Now this isn’t unique, but then again, if your partner loves home cooked food, then why not make him a special meal. It’s easy, create a romantic setting at home with candlelight, his favourite music/band playing in the background and make his favourite dish paired with his favourite drink. You’ll warm his heart instantly.

    4. Go On An Adventure

    Go outdoors. If you have some great parks in the area, go for a walk and plan a surprise picnic at some point. Bring wine and a couple beers, hang out at the spot for a little bit and enjoy your surroundings. Or if you’re really into the outdoors, go camping. It’s fairly cold this time of year but like I said, if you’re really into the outdoors, you likely have the gear already. Your local campsites are usually very empty this time of year which provides a weekend escape and some peace and quiet.

    5. Distance Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

    This is more specific to those who are in a long distance relationship or can’t be home for Valentine’s Day; create a care package. Put a couple of his favourite beers, tech accessories, console games, etc. and you have a great package that says I miss you and am thinking of you.

    Have other suggestions for our readers? Agree or disagree? Let us know on Facebook!

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    All Our Thoughts About Amazon Key, But Through Twitter

    Anytime there’s a new service, or event announced or occurring, our favourite go-to for reactions is Twitter. Amazon Key was just announced, a home delivery service for Amazon Prime members that will deliver your packages into your house using Amazon’s In-Home Kit.

    Here’s our favourite reactions from Twitter expressing everyone’s initial thoughts and concerns:

    Let’s be real, this was everyone’s first thought

    For Real

    At Least The Unemployment Rate Will Decrease?

    It Sounds Good To Everyone

    I Think The Real Problem Here Is That We Miss The Fresh Prince

    Truth

    Top Service Right Thurr

    Why, Hello There

    Unfortunately I do Bob

    I Can Relate So Hard

    I’ve Been Waiting

    Which All Leads To

    I’m Always Looking For The Next Best Adventure

    Let’s Be Honest With Ourselves

    Because We All Did

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    A Delivery Service Straight Into Your House? Say What?

    Amazon, have you heard of them? Well they just announced a new delivery service that’s bringing delivery and online shopping to the next level. It’s called Amazon Key. What does this mean? It means during the holidays or anytime throughout the year, you won’t have to worry about stolen packages and can instead worry about stolen items from your house. Kidding…

    Starting November 8, Amazon will start offering Prime members Amazon Key, a secure lock service allowing you to receive packages worry free, whether you’ve stepped out for an errand or are away on vacation. Packages will be securely delivered just inside your front door using these easy 3 steps (and their technology):

    1. Amazon will authorize the delivery through the cloud by automatically turning on Cloud Cam before the package is dropped off, which also records the entire process. The cloud will then unlock your door, allowing the Amazon personnel to enter your home.
    2. Using their Amazon Key app, you’ll receive a notification that your package is being delivered, and the entire transaction can be watched via the app 
    3. Package is dropped off, the courier leaves and you’re notified in the app. If you weren’t able to watch the drop off live, you can view a video clip afterwards.

    Another feature they highlight, easier access for guests or family in while you’re away. You won’t have to worry about duplicate keys or hiding a key securely on the outskirts of your home. This can be a beneficial feature for those who have pets, cleaners, etc. Plus you’ll receive notice when any guest enters your home using Amazon Key.

    To buy-in to Amazon Key, you first have to be a Prime Member, then check your eligibility, if all the boxes are ticked you can purchase their In-Home Kit, which includes a security camera, smart lock and the app. You’ll even get the kit installed for free (which usually never happens with any installation).

    So what’s the buzz? Well aside from the concept, the biggest and obvious concern is around security. Not only do Amazon users have to trust having a complete stranger have access to their house, but as well with having their house key data being stored in the cloud. One breach and someone’s key access is suddenly in someone’s possession. Of course Amazon says these have been considered and every courier goes through an intensive background research, and that their online security is up to date. But it’ll only take one really bad egg to completely ruin this for Amazon, they’re putting their name on the line.

    On the other hand, these concerns have obviously been thought of and can technically be avoided with the technology provided. Every delivery is being recorded and you receive a notice straight to your phone anytime someone uses your amazon key pass. Isn’t this similar to having security cameras in your home? If anything bad occurs, you can call 911. Plus if you have cleaners or a dog walker that has access to your home while you’re out, there technically isn’t much of a difference, the Amazon personnel is technically just putting an arm inside your home and leaving the package by the door. 

    Walmart is currently in the testing phase with a similar delivery service, these are two big named companies. What are your thoughts? Would you trust Amazon Key or Walmart? Or do you think it’ll take awhile before you’re willing to open your door to a stranger.

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    This Is Not A Drill, Facebook Is Down, I Repeat, This Is Not A Drill

    Facebook is currently down, and we haven’t a clue how to cope and coordinate life without it. Here are 11 tweets that we can all relate to:

    Hello Twitter, My Old Friend… I’ve Come To Talk With You Again

    This Is Fine, Said No Social Media Manager Ever

    Socializing? What’s That?

    Wait- You Mean I Have To Work Now?

    I Just Need To Take My Morning Poo

    Just Keep Hitting Refresh, It’ll Be Back Soon

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    The Real Hero of DerbyCon #TrevorForget

    This past weekend the 7th annual DerbyCon, came to an end in Louisville, Kentucky, but not without a beautiful… yet hilarious tragedy occurring.

    Let’s clarify, Trevor is a cockroach, and he unfortunately had his life come to a halt when he was sucked through the straw of a milkshake at the local SmashBurger and into the mouth of DerbyCon attendee Grifter.

    As you’d expect from a group of hackers, they elevated Trevor’s death to new levels; a memorial was born in front of the SmashBurger, thoughts and prayers were said, candles lit, and other tokens of remembrance such as flowers, plushed toys, the bible and of course Smirnoff ice were left at the site. From there, the hashtag #TrevorForget was born and visitors started flocking to his memorial; even the police made an appearance, leaving their condolences.

    Check out that 6 pack of Smirnoff Ice. His site is even more magical at night.

    But let’s not forget Trevor’s legacy, a fan and good friend, Jim Kennedy started a #TrevorForget Memorial Fund, which raised over $3,000 in three days. All funds raised will go to ‘Friends of Puerto Rico,’ to help Trevor’s family abroad, who are currently experiencing the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Trevor’s family and friends do not have it easy right now.

    As you know, the Info Sec community lost a beloved member over the weekend. Trevor the Roach. To make matters worse, his entire family is also caught up in the disaster in Puerto Rico. Funds contributed will go directly to ‘Friends of Puerto Rico’. A long standing and respected Non Profit working to better Puerto Rico.”

    Who knew that Trevor was such an inspirational little guy. RIP Trevor.

     

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    Here’s 7 Of Our Favourite Tweets From Trevor’s Legacy

    Don’t know who Trevor is? Catch up on his story here. He’s basically a lost soul (cockroach) who had his life end due to a milkshake, a straw, and a guy named Grifter. And a group of people who rallied to make sure his life story was not forgotten by the community.

    One good thing that came from the entire situation was #TrevorForget. Below are our top 7 tweets from his unfortunate tragedy:

    1. When it became the goal to be in Grifter’s mouth, and Trevor won.



     

    2. When Smashburger didn’t know how to handle the situation, and just flat out said “Please stop.”

    #lostopportunity anyone?

     

    3. Or when Grifter asked Smashburger to start up a college fund for his thousands of children

     

    4. Those extra moments by-standers who don’t have the time to stop but still want to pay their respects to Trevor

     

    5. When a film was created

     

    6. When Trevor’s true colours came to light

     

    7. And when #TrevorForget still lived on, even in Louisville’s International Airport

     

    But at least he’ll have another well known friend to discuss worldly matters with….

    Godspeed Hef & Trevor, Godspeed.

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    NFL and Trump: Showdown Over Protests

    Don’t watch Football? Or any news outlets? Then you likely missed out on the latest Trump-roversy (get it, trump and controversy, moving on…) from this weekend. This latest presidential controversy started last Friday (09/22), when Trump announced at a political rally in Alabama that NFL owners should fire any “son of a b#$*h” who protests during the national anthem.

    The players, coaches and owners of the NFL responded on Sunday where audiences of teams across the NFL saw displays of players kneeling, locking arms, or remaining in the locker room during the pregame performance of the American National Anthem.


    BILLIE WEISS/GETTY IMAGES

    This was also after the president doubled down on his comments Saturday morning, tweeting he was rescinding a White House invitation to Steph Curry because the two-time NBA MVP was “hesitating” in accepting the presidential offer (in reality Curry had flat-out refused the invitation.) Hours later, Trump continued on his rant against NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. His most inflammatory comments came in a two part tweet where he said…

    Within the NFL, a show of unity to support protesters emerged along with a strongly worded statement from the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell,

    “The way we reacted today, and this weekend, made me proud…I’m proud of our league.”

    Even ardent Trump supporter, Robert Kraft (owner of the New England Patriots) said he was “deeply disappointed” in Trump’s remarks. As the highly rated Monday Night Football comes, it will be telling when another protest takes place in the Republican heartland of Texas. Football season only just started, will this be a continuing trend?

     

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    Make Your Dream Trip a Reality— With the Help of Airbnb

    In Short: Airbnb is becoming the latest trend as a way to earn extra money. What better way to save up for your next dream trip than renting your place as a bed and breakfast?

    You’ve no doubt seen the blissful treehouses, fairy-tale castles, and chic apartments available on Airbnb , and if you’re like me, you’ve probably bookmarked a few as travel inspiration. The home-sharing website is famous for inspiring fantasy vacations, but did you know it can also help you save for that dream trip? Here’s how I earned for that all inclusive trip to Hawaii.

    Airbnb makes it simple to earn extra money by putting your extra space to work for you. You can share a spare room in your apartment, host your whole home the next time you’re out of town, or create a listing for a vacation house, if you have one. However you choose to host, Airbnb offers support that makes being an entrepreneur easy. The online process to create a listing is pretty quick and easy—you write descriptions of your space, upload photos, and mark dates your space as available to travellers. And it’s always free to create a listing.

    So just how much could you make hosting on Airbnb ? It’s easy to find out what hosts in your area are making, and start imagining the possibilities. Besides saving for travel (aloha), I’ve used Airbnb to also help upgrade my home (kitchen remodel, anyone?), and pursue passions that have been on my bucket list. Plus Airbnb makes the payment process simple. Guests are charged when a reservation is made, and funds are typically released to hosts 24 hours after check-in. How you’re paid is up to you: You can set up direct deposit, PayPal, or a number of other options, it’s so flexible!

    Once I became a host, Airbnb had all kinds of cool tools to help me feel comfortable and confident welcoming guests. I found hosting tips on the Airbnb blog and got my questions answered by experienced, successful hosts in the Community Center. At first I was nervous about the safety of my home and belongings when away, but Airbnb’s got my back : In the rare event an accident happens, my property is covered up to a million dollars when I host—it was a huge peace of mind, and it was at no extra charge. As for the folks staying at my place, everyone who travels on Airbnb needs to submit a profile photo and confirmed phone number and email address, and for extra assurance, if I feel the need, I can also require my guests to submit a government-issued ID.

    Hosting let’s me give my guests that extra level of service by showing off what makes my city great. It can be upsetting to hear that they went to my least favourite restaurant, and didn’t enjoy it (no surprise there). When I welcome travelers from around the world, I get to introduce them to all that makes my city great—and drive more business to your favorite local mom-and-pop shops.

    Thinking about your next adventure? Sign up to start hosting , and start earning extra money toward your next travels.

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    It’s Become My Go-To For All Things Pets!

    In Short: Being a parent is challenging, and comes with a lot of questions. Petcentric is an amazing resource for anyone looking for new ways to care for or pamper their furry loved ones!

    When I moved from an apartment to my very own house, I had a new puppy before all my boxes were even unpacked. I had waited years to be able to have a dog, and my children were just as excited as I was at this new addition — until he couldn’t walk two steps without scratching and started throwing up in his kennel every morning like clockwork. Turns out, raising pets is almost as complicated as raising humans and possibly even a little harder because fur babies can’t tell you what’s going on.

    As the days passed, I found myself scouring the internet for answers to all my puppy questions. Apparently, puppy skin is dry (cue the itching) and doing the last feeding too early in the day can lead to low blood sugar in the morning. A couple of dog biscuits before bed ended all the puking problems. My search engine was getting a serious workout until one day I came across Petcentric. Finally! A one-stop shop for all my questions and concerns . I was happy to see it run by the folks at Purina, a long-time trusted name in pet care and the food my vet had recommended, so I could be sure that the info I was getting was legitimate.

    They have information on everything you can think of for pets, including general care and grooming, how to make sure your pet is getting the best nutrition possible and lots of tips on training and how to deal with problem behaviors. There’s even a handy search bar on the site so you can quickly find articles and posts on your specific issue.

    While we were a dog household, when a kitten showed up on my back porch, I knew that there was plenty of info on Petcentric on cats, so off I went to start reading up. Within minutes, I was prepared for Hazel’s first vet visit, had been educated on the dangers of not spaying and knew exactly which toys would keep her from clawing my couch to pieces. There was even an article on how to help our dogs and new feline friend get along.

    Now, my pets are older and there aren’t quite as many questions that come up — although I’d still love to know why my dog is obsessed with paper towels — but I want to stay informed about trending issues and topics, so I subscribe to Petcentric’s email newsletter. Whether you’re having litter box issues or are wondering what your dog wants for Christmas, Petcentric’s got you covered .

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    I Did All My Kids Back To School Shopping In One Go At An Online Dollar Store

    In Short: Most of us already love dollar stores so Dollar Tree online is already a smash hit. If you haven’t checked it out yet then what are you waiting for?

    Back-to-school time is bittersweet. On the one side, the insanity of summer is ending and returning to logical schedules, early bedtimes, and the perfect, life-changing organization that is a new planner. But on the other is the dreaded school supply shopping. The ridiculously long list, the bulk buys — why do I need 20 packs of black dry-erase markers and how the heck am I supposed to find that when 20 other moms are looking for the same thing? — and the impulse fruit snacks you buy just to keep your kids quiet. All the time spent going from store to store trying to cross off everything on the list, and the money. ALL the money.

    But this year, I learned the secret: Dollartree.com. That’s right. The shopping Mecca for parents everywhere has a website. Same great prices, but you get to browse, buy and destroy that back-to-school shopping list from the comfort of your own home and in your pajamas if you so choose (although I don’t know why you wouldn’t.)

    Dollar Tree makes it easy with a dedicated back-to-school section , and the navigation lists on the left side let you quickly find everything you need. It’s designed for bulk buyers, so those 25 spiral bound one-subject notebooks you need are no problem, and the prices are so awesome, you won’t even mind having to supply tissues for the entire class. They even offer free — yes free — site to store shipping if you want to save even more money.

    Best part: I was able to find everything on my 4th-grader’s list, pick up cute decorations and party favors for the Halloween bash we’re planning and grab a new set of wine glasses all after bedtime with no children around to ask why I need more wine glasses or complain that they want a different shade of red for their three-ring binder. Score!

    Check out Dollar Tree online here !

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