6 of the Best Ways to Secure Your Home Before Going on Vacation

It’s always nice to escape the everyday routines and go for some well-earned rest and relaxation. We prepare for vacations by doing things like making lists of what to pack and making sure we have the proper travel documents. But have you thought about the security of your home while you’re away? Vacation-proof your home before you leave town to give you peace of mind and to ensure that your home is secure while you’re not there.

1. Lights

Most people will go for the standard tip of putting their lights on a timer while they’re away. But if someone is watching your home, they may notice that the same lights go on and off in the same areas of the home at the same times every day. It won’t take someone long to figure out that the homeowners are out of town. Thanks to technology, we can now control the lighting in our homes with our smartphones. Accessing your home’s lighting remotely will allow you to change up the times they turn on and off.

Selecting lighting for your outdoors is also a great way to deter any would-be thieves. Placing motion activated lights around the entry points of your home, like the front and back doors, the garage, and above windows, will brighten those dark corners and add to the appearance of your home. With motion detection, active sensors will switch on when sound waves are interrupted in the vicinity, while passive sensors will activate when heat is detected. Motion activated lights will make someone think twice about lurking around.

2. Locks and Home Security Alarms

Imagine starting your vacation wondering if you remembered to lock the front door. The anxiety would ruin your vacation! With a smart lock, there’s no use for a key; you can lock and unlock your doors with your smartphone (https://www.amazon.ca/). You can even send a temporary key to someone who needs to get into your home when you’re not there, like a neighbour collecting your mail or watering your plants. Smart locks can connect directly to your alarm system too, so you’re alerted when there’s any activity.

Some home security systems will alert you when a door gets busted or a window gets broken. This is added peace of mind, knowing that you can monitor the security of your home even when you’re not there.

3. Water Sensors

Water sensors are designed to detect leaks or, if you have a sump pump, can give you a warning if there’s a change in the water level. You definitely don’t want to come home from your vacation to find a flood in your basement that has been sitting there for a week. Some water sensors provide remote monitoring so you can receive a warning on your smartphone if a leak is detected. If this happens when you’re out of town, you can unlock your home with your smartphone to get someone you trust into your home to shut off your water and survey any damage. Of course, it’s always a good idea to shut your water off before you leave town to prevent leaks while you’re away.

4. Surge Protectors

A whole house surge protector connects to your electrical box and will protect anything in your home that’s plugged in from the damaging effects of electrical surges. Nobody thinks to unplug their dishwasher, television, washer, dryer and certainly not their fridge, before they go on vacation. Having a surge protector installed will protect your appliances and devices from voltage spikes that can cause permanent damage.

5. Landscaping and Maintenance

Having long grass and an overgrown yard is a sure sign that a homeowner is out of town. Cut your grass before you go and consider asking a neighbour to do the same while you’re away. If you have a landscaper, schedule them for when you’re out of town so the garden is maintained when you’re not there. Trim any overgrown trees that can damage your home in high winds. You never know what the weather will be like while you’re away, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. The same goes for winter vacations. Snow and ice can weigh heavy on branches, so make sure they’re taken care of to prevent any from falling on your property and causing damage. Ask a neighbour to shovel your driveway and clear your paths. Get to know your neighbours – they’re one of the most powerful resources to safeguard your home. If you’ve built a good relationship with them, let me know you’ll be out of town so they can keep an eye on your property while you’re away.

6. Don’t Broadcast It!

The power of social media is being able to broadcast to your friends and followers that you’re going on vacation. Don’t do it! Don’t let people know that your house will be sitting empty while you’re out of town.

Going on vacation is supposed to be fun. But keep in mind the importance of securing your home before you leave. It will give you peace of mind when you’re away and will ensure that you don’t come home to any unpleasant surprises.

By Mike Holmes at HGTV https://www.hgtv.ca/mike-holmes/blog/ways-secure-your-home-vacation-1917192/ 
House Photo by Binyamin Mellish from Pexels

Heading to the Backcountry? Here is an Essential Camping Gear Checklist

You’re going camping this weekend.

And it’s going to be epic. Days filled with hiking or paddling. Loon-song at sunset. Campfires and s’mores. Starry skies to fall asleep under. Total immersion in nature.

However, the success of it all rests on having the right gear. Because even if the weather turns foul or the fish aren’t biting—if you have a dry tent, good food and a cozy place to sleep… well, how bad could it be?

To ensure your camping trip goes as planned, we’ve compiled the Essential Camping Gear Checklist. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive gear and supplies checklist for three-season vehicle-camping and backcountry camping.

Packs & Bags

Your choice will depend on a number of factors. Are you backpacking? Paddling? Car-camping?

Duffel Bag: For car-campers, a large (80- to 120-litre) duffel bag will swallow most of your camping gear. Backpack straps are handy.

Daytrip Backpack: Essential for day excursions while camping. Maximum of 25 litres. A hydration bladder is a nice feature.

Overnight/Multi-Night Backpack: Minimum of 60 litres for overnight hiking, consider 70-plus-litres if heading out for multiple nights.

Dry Bags: Always good to have at least one dry bag on hand (10 to 15 litres) to protect electronics or to hang a bear cache. Paddlers, however, should store everything in dry bags. Canoeists can use large (100 litre) dry bags to store their gear; kayakers will need a selection of smaller bags (10 to 20 litres) to stash in cargo holds.


There are a lot of options here: freestanding and non-freestanding tents, hammock tents, bivy bags, lightweight shelters, wall tents and more. For multi-purpose camping in most conditions, a freestanding tent with ample venting and a durable DWR-treated rain-fly is your best bet.

Tent: Choose a three-season tent with a capacity of one more person than will occupy the tent. An internal gear loft, venting, dual entries and vestibules are nice features as well. Practice setting it up before you head out; double check to ensure you’ve packed the poles, stakes and rain fly. For gear longevity, add a seam-sealer and wash in a solar-repellent treatment.

Ground Sheet: A durable tarp with a slightly smaller footprint than your tent. Not always necessary, but nice if you’re headed into a particularly wet area.

Tarp: Lighter-weight than the ground sheet; DWR-treated; polyester, nylon or silicone. Ideal for setting up over the camp kitchen or atop your tent in a downpour.

Bug Shelter: For camping in buggy areas, consider a tarp that has no-see-um mesh on the sides. It’s also good for protecting from sideways rain.

Sleep System

Sleeping bags have come a long way in the past decade or so. Rather than bulky one-size-fits all, campers have choices of shapes, sizes and configurations to suit every need. For summer car-camping, a roomy rectangular bag is best. For three-season camping and/or backpacking, a smaller-and-warmer mummy bag is ideal. And a proper mattress is not just for comfort, it’s vital for warmth. (Don’t forget the pillow!)

Sleeping Bag: To stay cozy, aim for a temperature rating of five degrees Celsius colder than the nighttime low-temperature you’ll likely encounter. Down-fill compresses lighter and smaller, is generally the warmest and offers the best at temperature regulation—but is expensive and requires the most care. Synthetic fill is ideal for wet conditions and requires little care—but offers less warmth-for-weight and breathability. Hydrophobic down is great for all conditions—but it's the mostly costly of all.

Mattress: Car-campers should err on the side of comfort, where backpackers need the smallest-packing and lightest-weight mats. For the former, look for a plush self-inflating mat with ample foam; for the latter, an air mat may be all you require.

Pillow: Today’s blow-up or pack-pillows are an easy way to add comfort. In a pinch, bundled clothes or a puffy jacket can also work as a pillow.


Your clothing should answer the call of comfort, warmth and weather protection. Make sure you’re prepared for the worst weather you’re likely to encounter.

Base Layers: Wool, wool-synthetic blend or technical synthetic fabrics. That means socks too—cotton socks cause blisters!

Mid-Layers: Fleece or wool sweaters are great mid-layers; if weight/space is a concern, opt for a down-filled puffy jacket. Nylon or cotton-blend pants and shorts offer great durability.

Outer-Layer: Always pack a waterproof jacket. If you’re travelling in the backcountry, consider rain pants too. Gloves/mitts may be appropriate in high-alpine or far north environs.

Headwear: In summer, wear a sun hat—wide-brimmed or ball-caps (trucker style, for venting and water resistance) are great options. In spring, fall and winter, make sure you bring your toque (which is nice for sleeping in too). Sunglasses are important too; doubly so when paddling.

Footwear: For car camping, easy walk-in camping or paddling, a hiking shoe is best: low cut, quick-drying and with rubber lugs. For backpacking trips, a high-cut, stiff-soled, deep-lugged boot will offer the support and grip you need. Waterproof-breathable membranes stop that annoying trail moisture from seeping in. If backpacking, bring a pair of comfy sandals as well—they’re nice to slip into after a long day on the trail. If canoeing or kayaking, pack water shoes for the daily paddle.

Cooking & Food

Car camping and canoeing allows you to be more generous with your food and equipment. Backpacking trips require extremely lightweight gear and food.

Stove: Camping stoves range from minimalist stick-stoves to multi-burner camp barbecues. A solid all-purpose option is either a canister stove (pictured) or a liquid fuel stove. The former consists of a small burner that attaches to a canister of compressed butane/isobutene. It’s lightweight and easy to use, but requires specific canisters of fuel. The latter—a burner that attaches to a refillable white-gas cylinder—is heavier and larger, but the fuel is cheaper and more widely available.

Pots & Pans: At minimum, bring a lightweight aluminum cookware set consisting of a frying pan and a saucepan. For car-camping and canoeing, a cast iron Dutch oven allows for classic campfire cookouts. Add a kettle or campsite French-press for luxury.

Eating Kit: Per person: a plate, bowl, cup and multi-use eating utensil (knife/fork/spoon). One small cutting board is useful too. Also, bring a water bottle; consider an insulated bottle when camping in extremely hot or cold conditions.

Food & Hydration: If you’re carrying all your gear in a backpack, lightweight freeze-dried meals offer the best energy-to-weight ratio. The downside is cost (usually $8 to $12 per person, per meal). Taste has improved over the years. Car camping allows for fresh veggies and fruit, canned stews and soups, meat, eggs, dairy and whatever else you can fit in your cooler and food-bag. Canoe/kayak camping invites a mix of backpacking meals and fresh/frozen options. In all instances, look for wholesome foods with high calorie-to-weight ratios: whole grains, beans and meat or meat-substitute. Ideal snacks include nuts, dried fruit, beef jerky, protein/granola bars, trail mix and chocolate. Hydration is key. Plan to drink two to three litres of water every day, increasing as heat or physical activity demands. Always filter or purify water from a natural source. Add instant coffee or tea bags for the morning and hot chocolate at night. And remember graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows—for s’mores. There’s always room for s’mores.

Food Storage Tips: You can get away without a cooler if you wrap frozen meat in newspaper or other insulating material and cook it on the first or second night. Store eggs in the carton they came in—or buy a plastic egg holder—they’ll stay edible for a day or two, longer if they’re farm-fresh. Pre-chop veggies and store in Tupperware; you want to limit campsite meal-prep. If you’ve brought a cooler, remember that every time you open it you’re drastically reducing the lifespan of the food within. Aim to open the lid only three times daily and for super-short durations. 

Other Considerations: Bring cooking oil (re-use) and salt/pepper and/or hot sauce. Also pack biodegradable dish soap, pot scrubber, water filter (if backcountry camping) and waterproof matches/lighter or a fire-steel. And bring a dish-washing tub—hard-sided or collapsible. Leave No Trace ethics prohibit dishwashing directly in a natural water source. (So, yeah, you gotta pack everything and the kitchen sink.) If you’re travelling in the backcountry, make sure to pack a bear-bag (a dry bag works well) and a length of cord (15 metres) to hang it with. Otherwise, store food in your vehicle. Pro tip: only use your stove and pots and pans for breakfast and dinner; you don’t want to waste the mid-day doing dishes.

Equipment & Accessories

You have a place to sleep, a warm bed, proper clothes and well-stocked kitchen. What’s next?

Headlamp and/or Flashlight: Remember extra batteries. Add a portable lantern for a luxury car-camping setup.

Knife and/or Multi-Tool: An essential campsite tool; also handy for cooking. Add a hatchet if you’re going into the backcountry.

Sun and Bug Protection: Minimum SPF 30 waterproof sunscreen (50 is better) as well as bug-repellant cream/spray—alcohol-free and with 15 per cent DEET or more is best.

Toiletries: Along with dental care and basic hygiene, pack hand sanitizer and use it before every meal or snack and after every bathroom break. Always bring a roll of toilet paper. And store all scented toiletries either in your car or in a bear-bag.

Camp Chair or Hammock: Because you want to be able to stay up late, counting stars in comfort.

Notepad and Pencil/Pen: For recording your profound wilderness thoughts.

Repairs: Duct tape and bailing wire can fix a lot of problems. If weight/space is a concern, wrap a length of tape and wire around a pencil and store it in your pack.

Personal Kit: Prescription medicine, contact lens solution, extra eyeglasses, knee-brace, antacid—consider your individual needs to customize this list.

Safety & Emergency Preparedness

A first-aid kit is necessary even when car-camping in a well-travelled campground. In the backcountry, navigation and emergency preparedness are primary concerns.

First-Aid Kit: Your first-aid kit should include at minimum: treatment for blisters, adhesive bandages, gauze, tape, disinfectant, painkillers, relevant prescription drugs (if applicable), anti-diarrheal and water purification tablets. Add a space blanket if travelling in the backcountry. Add a whistle for bonus points. This can all be stuffed into a very compact case or even a zip-lock bag.

Fire: Waterproof matches or fire-steel and fire-starters. Consider a fire-steel, for its durability, longevity and compactness. And make your own fire-starters by soaking a few cotton balls in Vaseline then stuffing them in a zip-lock. If needed, fluff the ball up, put a spark to it and be amazed by the burn!

Navigation and Communication: For hikers and paddlers, always travel with the following: a trail map, a compass (and the knowledge of how to use it) and your phone, or a satellite communication device if you’re out of range. A modern smartphone likely has the first two items built-in—and that’s super handy—but batteries die, devices get dropped and cell service disappears. Always have old-school backups.

Wildlife Safety: If dangerous wildlife is a concern, pack bear spray and/or an air horn. Learn to use it properly. Visit http://bearsafety.com/ for more info on Bear Safety and More...

Final Considerations

Some of these are optional, some are trip-specific and one is a very important note on wilderness ethics.

Fishing Gear: Appropriate gear will vary, but a safe bet for most lakes and rivers is a light spinning rod and reel (six- to 10-pound-test) with three to five lures (spinners and spoons), a selection of swivels and clips plus the appropriate fishing licence.

Camera: Your phone for selfies, a DSLR with a zoom lens for serious stuff.

Portable Battery: For recharging devices in the backcountry. Some models include solar panels for infinite energy.

Binoculars: Looking for wild critters? 10x42mm is a good all-purpose magnification.

Bug Hat/Jacket: In extremely buggy regions, you may need this level of protection.

Go Swedish: The reusable, weatherproof blue bags from certain Scandinavian furniture-manufacturer are ideal for packing around food and gear while car-camping.

Paddling Safety/Rescue: If you're canoeing or kayaking, you'll also need a PFD, extra paddle, heaving line, sound signalling device, bailer/pump, rebounding device and perhaps even a radar reflector, flares and navigation lights (ocean travel).

Leave No Trace: Real campers always abide by this ethos. Bring a trash bag to pack out what you pack in. Leave the campsite better than you found it. Limit your usage of disposable containers. Only build a fire in an established ring. Travel on-trail whenever possible. Respect flora, fauna and other campers. Be prepared and plan ahead.

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Just Listed - Two Gorgeous Condos for Sale in Canmore

#315 and #321 at Beautiful Blackstone - 170 Kananaskis Way

Luxury 1 bed 1 bath Vacation and Revenue Property in Canmore

Spacious, luxurious, and close to all town amenities. This revenue producing fully furnished 1 bed 1 bath vacation condo is currently in the Clique rental pool. Enjoy for your vacation stays, and have it professionally managed by one of the top hotel management companies in the Bow Valley. The deck has mountain views and overlooks the year round heated pool, hot tubs and BBQ area. Park in the heated underground parkade, relax in the pool and two hot tubs, work out in the well equipped fitness room, and book a massage in the onsite therapy rooms. Recently updated with new carpet, appliances, furniture, and deck furniture. Whether skiing, biking, hiking, golfing, climbing or shopping, make this your revenue producing base of operations for years to come. Subject to GST.


For more info on these two wonderful condos contact us or visit Our Listings page

Beat the Heat

We do not see this kind of heat very often in our Mountain Town of Canmore.  Very rarely do we need an air conditioner and many homes are not equiped with one.  If you are suffering from the heat here are a few tips to keep you cool.

10. Drink More Water

You know how important it is to stay hydrated all year round. When you’re sweating a lot, either because of exercise or the summer heat, drinking enough water becomes even more important. As the CDC suggests, think of your body like an air conditioner:

Whenever your body heats up from physical activity or the hot weather outside, your internal air conditioner turns on and you begin to sweat. And remember, now that your air conditioner is using its coolant (your sweat), it is important to refill the tank — by drinking lots of H2O.

As with other hydration myths, water isn’t your only option, but it’s free and easily accessible for most of us. Even if you have to trick yourself into drink more water and learn to love the taste of it, you’ll be much more comfortable if you keep refilling your water glass.

9. Keep Excessive Sweat at Bay

For many of us, sweat-inducing humidity is the worst part of summer. Even if you don’t have excessive sweat issues, you can get the sweating under control with a few tricks, like applying antiperspirant at night so it works more effectively and wearing breathable clothing materials, such as cotton.

8. Make a DIY Air Conditioner

Running the AC the entire summer gets expensive. You can make your own pseudo-air conditioner on the cheap with some basic materials, such as the styrofoam-and-fan version shown above. Don’t like the look of that? There are several other DIY cooling options to try.

7. Optimize Your Fans

Did you know that if you face your fan out, rather than in at night, your room will stay cooler and you might be able to sleep more comfortably? Day or night, you can use a temperature controller (or build one yourself) to automatically turn the fan on or off based on the temperature and save your energy—literally. If you have a ceiling fan, run it counter-clockwise (the “summer” higher-speed setting) for optimum cooling.

6. Keep Your Food Cool and Avoid Using the Oven

Summer might be a great time to eat outdoors, but some foods and drinks aren’t that enjoyable when heated by the sun. You can make a zeer pot (aka evaporative cooler) for your food and drinks with just two containers or create ice blocks for your cooler using old milk cartons. When it’s too hot to cook, consider making cold soups, relying on electrical appliances like the versatile rice cooker, or try these “no-cook” or “oven-free” recipe ideas.

5. Exercise Comfortably, Even in the Heat

Just because it’s hot out doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising. You can get used to exercising in the heat and use common sense strategies such as switching to water sports, avoiding the sun when it’s strongest, and exercising in short bursts. Precooling techniques can also prevent you from overheating when you work out in hot weather.

4. Optimize Your Windows

Pay a little more attention to your windows in the summer. Close the windows and use insulated drapes to keep the sun out during the day and open them at night when the sun is down. You can also hang a damp towel in front of the window to cool the air flowing into your home and open opposing windows or windows on the top and bottom floors for maximum air flow.

3. Cool Your Car Down Quickly

This Japanese trick will get your oven-like car closer to bearable temperature. Roll down one window and open and close the opposite door a few times to cool that car down.

2. Stay Cool While You Sleep

Summer heat is worst when you’re trying to get some shuteye, because a higher body temperature makes it harder to fall asleep. If you feel like an insomniac in summer, cool your head with a special pillow like the Chillow, sleep on top of a wet sheet (aka the “Egyptian method”), or try one of these other strategies in our cool sleeping guide or this infographic.

1. Know Your Body’s Best Cooling Points

Finally, if you’re stuck in the heat and can’t find get to a cooler place, know your body’s best cooling points, e.g., your wrist and neck. By applying a ice cubes wrapped in a towel (or any other cold object) to these pulse points, you’ll cool down more quickly and effectively.

So, keep cool this summer!

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Recreational Property Demand Growing in Canmore

The Canmore market has seen a rise in inventory from the low of 134 total listings on the market in January to 189 in June which is a typical seasonal trend. Last year we saw the listing inventory rise from 122 in January to the peak listing inventory of 2017 in September which was 213. The 48 properties sold for May was above the 5 year monthly average of 40 properties sold per month and down slightly from year long high in April of 60. Seeing this, we are still lacking inventory, so if you were wondering when the right time to list your home would be, there is a very good chance that the time is now.

We did see increases in the number of sales in both apartment style condos and townhome style condos while we saw a large decrease in single family home sales month over month.

This may be due to the fact that our listing inventory of homes under $1,000,000 is less than 20 though several of them are now conditional sales with buyers who have something to sell which we will see the typical domino effect of one property selling and several then getting sold as they may be linked together.

Alberta recreational property prices set to rise in value

June 6, 2018

The average price of Alberta recreational properties is expected to reach $770,100 this year, at least $200,000 higher than anywhere else in Canada, according to a new report by Royal LePage.