5 Tourist Scams to Avoid: Money Edition

October 21, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

For the last couple of blog posts, we’ve been discussing different travel scams and petty crimes found on a Lifehack.org infographic on common travel scams. In our last two posts, we’ve discussed pickpockets and con artists. Now let’s look at how people can take your money through general theft or even identity theft.

1. The Drop and Swap

This one happens when someone is returning your change. They will drop it, pick it up, but give you less than what you should be given. They might exchange the dropped money for coins or bills that are worth less. It’s important to know the currency in the places where you’re traveling. Know what each bill and coin is worth, how much you are giving, and how much you should get in return.

2. The Cashier on the Phone

Credit card

Credit card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a sneaky one. The cashier will act busy on their phone, but in reality, they are taking a picture of your credit card to get your card information, which they’ll use later.

3. Slow Counting

A cashier will count your money very slowly. While this may not seem like a big deal, they are doing this to see if you notice they are counting a bill twice. Count the money again yourself, once you’ve been given your change.

4. The Fake Takeout Menu

If a menu is slipped under your hotel door be warned! It may not be a real menu. You’ll call the restaurant to place an order, only to have your credit card number stolen, and no one will show up with your food either. So now you’re hungry, and significantly poorer.

5. The Fake Front Desk Call

If you ever get a call from the front desk saying there were problems with your credit card, always go down to sort out the problem. Scam artists have been known to call hotel rooms asking for credit card information, especially in the evening. Instead, they steal your credit card number and take your money. But if you go downstairs to deal with the problem, you can make sure you solve the right problem.

Have you ever been scammed on your travels? What happened? How did they do it? Leave a comment, or tell us on our Facebook page.

5 Tourist Scams to Avoid: Payment for Service Edition

October 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

People all around the world have come up with some clever ways to con tourists. Tourists are often a target due to having little knowledge of an area, the culture, and the currency. Because of this locals have created interesting ways to make you pay for something you did not want or even take.

We recently found a great infographic on Lifehack.com that showed several different tourist scams and how to avoid them. We wanted to share them with you here, over the next few days.

1. Friendship Bracelet

The friendship bracelet scam is when someone will come up to you and offer a friendship bracelet. They will try to put one on your wrist as if you’re their new best friend, and want you to share in their feelings of warmth. If they succeed, they will demand payment even if you had refused in the first place, and make a scene if you refuse.

2. The Shoe Shiner

Shoe shine

Shoe shine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Someone will drop their shoe shining brush in front of you and begin to shine your shoe. Afterward, they’ll demand payment for the big favor they did for you. This happened to me in Chicago during a visit — a shoe shiner started cleaning my shoe and then demanded I pay him. I gave him a dollar so there wasn’t a hassle, and I left with one shoe shinier than the other.

3. Woman Selling Rosemary

Rosemary is supposedly a sign of friendship, so an offer of rosemary is like the friendship bracelet scam we mentioned earlier. If a woman offers you rosemary, be aware that she might try to read your fortune. After that, she’ll expect to be paid for her services, and will loudly express her displeasure if you refuse.

4. A Rose for your Girlfriend

If someone were to sell you a rose in front of your girlfriend and you said no, you might have a very upset girlfriend later. Rose sellers are counting on this. The problem is that these roses are extremely overpriced. Once you touch the rose, the’ll demand payment for their single rose. This scam is common at restaurants especially ones with outside seating.

5. A Free Massage

You are laying at the beach when a man or woman comes over offering to give you a massage. They may start to rub your arm to give you a “sample.” No matter how long they did it, they’ll expect to be paid.

In all of these examples, the scam is not that these things they do or don’t have value, it’s the scene that the scammer will make if you refuse payment. While you might be able to argue that the masseuse or the fortune teller didn’t do anything, it’s the scene they’ll cause that creates the problem. It will attract unwanted attention, and may even bring in the police or anger the crowd. It’s best to just say “no thank you” when approached and keep moving.

But if you get caught, hand the person a few dollars — from a small roll of bills you keep separate from your “main stash” — and move on quickly.

Have you ever seen any of these scams or fallen prey to them? How did they turn out? Let us hear from you in the comments section or on our Facebook page.

Better Than Wrinkle Cream? Travel’s Anti-Aging Effect

July 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Here’s a sobering statistic: In a study of 2,300 American workers who get paid vacation, only 25 percent said they take advantage of every day they’re allowed. Sixty-one percent said they continued to work even while on vacation.

There are plenty of other blog posts — books, even — that could be written on American work culture and why we don’t take advantage of the benefits of our jobs. This blog post is a plea to consider traveling more.

Travel Keeps You Healthy

178.

(Photo credit: Deb Stgo)

Why? A recent article in the Dubai Chronicle documented the results of a survey several existing studies on leisure travel’s health effects and found that it actually boosts cognitive and cardiovascular health, particularly in middle-aged people or older.

One study, for example, followed women from 45 to 64 years old for 20 years; women in the study who took vacation twice a year were at much lower risk of having a heart attack or dying of a heart-related disease than those who traveled every six years.

If you’ve encountered significant delays and other frustrations during your travels, you may feel the exact opposite. But I think that to reap the anti-aging effects of travel, you have to flip the old adage around: It’s the destination, not the journey.

My Own Experience

I can personally attest to this, actually. My wife and I are fortunate enough to be able to travel to the Caribbean a fair amount, and it’s absolutely essential for helping us relax.

A big part of the relaxation for me is shaking up my routine and immersing myself in a totally different environment and culture, away from my everyday lifestyle. Vacation is an opportunity to shake yourself out of your deepest ruts.

I am, unfortunately, often part of that 61 percent of workers who continue to work while on vacation, but it’s for self-preservation. I go through my emails once a day and flag the important ones for my attention when I return. It only takes a few minutes and makes coming back to work the following week a lot less stressful.

I’d love to hear whether you connect with the findings of this survey. Do your vacations alleviate your stress levels? How do you cope with the stress of returning to a full inbox? Share your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.

Travelpro and Atlantic Luggage Announce the “2014 Father’s Day Gift Guide” [PRESS RELEASE]

June 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Make this a Special Father’s Day with Travelpro and Atlantic Luggage

Travelpro, the original inventor of Rollaboard luggage and Atlantic Luggage, part of the Travelpro family of brands, are proud to announce their “2014 Father’s Day Gift Guide.” Make this an unforgettable Father’s Day with a luxurious gift from their expansive lines of innovative spinner and carry-on luggage, designed to suit the needs of the business and leisure traveler.

Travelpro 21 inch Blue Marquis Spinner

Travelpro 21 inch Blue Marquis Spinner

Surprise the special man in your life with the new Travelpro Marquis 21″ Expandable Spinner. With its revolutionary self-aligning MagnaTrac system, magnets instantly align the 4 spinner wheels to roll straight in any direction the user desires. Moreover, the lightweight Marquis 21″ Expandable Spinner includes tapered expansion capability of up to 2″, maximizing packing flexibility while keeping the center of gravity low, making it the rolling carry-on item of choice this Father’s Day. Available in both stylish sapphire blue and elegant black, the Marquis 21″ Expandable Spinner retails for an affordable $179.99.

“The ‘2014 Father’s Day Gift Guide’ provides shoppers with a variety of high quality luggage choices that are wonderful gifts for fathers who travel for business or leisure,” said Scott Applebee, Vice President of Marketing for the Travelpro family of brands.

The Travelpro Platinum Magna 22″ Duffel Bag is also an excellent gift for Father’s Day. Lightweight and built to go the distance, this spacious carry-on duffel features a comfortable adjustable shoulder strap, multiple pockets to store bulky items like belts, cables and socks and a large open area for high capacity packing. Additionally, the Platinum Magna 22″ Duffel Bag is part of Travelpro’s 2013 TGA Innovation Award winning Platinum Magna Collection. The award is an acknowledgment of the cutting edge consumer research that served as a foundation for the design of the line. Ideal for a two – three day business trips or a weekend vacation getaway, the Duffel Bag is available in fashionable sienna and black fabric colors with leather accents, for a retail price of $169.99.

Atlantic 25 inch Compass Spinner

Atlantic 25 inch Compass Spinner

Make family travel effortless and stress-free this Father’s Day with the Atlantic Compass Unite 25″ Expandable Spinner. Featuring the revolutionary Link2Go system, two pieces of luggage can connect back to back with Velcro straps so you can easily roll two pieces with one hand and hold your child’s hand in the other. The Link2Go feature is ideal for Dad when he is travelling with the family where multiple pieces of luggage are the norm. The 25″ Expandable Spinner is available in elegant Cobalt Blue and Black fabric colors, for a retail price of $139.99.

Travelling can be hassle free this Father’s Day with the Travelpro Maxlite 3 Garment Bag. This versatile, lightweight garment bag is the ideal carry-on to keep Dad’s suits, pants and dress shirts wrinkle free. Water resistant coating protects contents from foul weather, while interior pockets keep essentials handy and ready for use. The adjustable shoulder strap adapts to users’ different heights. The Maxlite 3 Garment bag is available in elegant black for a low retail price of $99.99.

Additionally, the Travelpro Crew 9 Business Brief is an ideal fit this Father’s Day for Dads who travel on business and want highly organized convenience and style. The Crew 9 Business Brief features multiple pockets, a padded laptop sleeve and a convenient business organizer for everyday use at the office or for business travel. In addition, the Crew Business Brief includes an adjustable, non-slip shoulder strap for maximum comfort when traveling. The Crew Business Brief is available for a retail price of $129.99.

About Atlantic Brand Luggage

Since 1919, the Atlantic brand has been synonymous with affordable, value-added and lightweight luggage. As a market leader in the lightweight luggage segment, including neatly designed uprights and spinners to trendy and smart garment bags and totes, all Atlantic branded luggage is of superior quality and durability. Whether for business or pleasure, travel is easier with Atlantic luggage, now part of the Travelpro family of brands. Please visit Atlantic Luggage at www.atlanticluggage.com for a list of the latest products available for purchase and the nearest retail locations.

About Travelpro

For over 25 years, Travelpro International has prided itself on design innovation and durability in crafting the highest quality luggage for travelers worldwide. Since transforming the ease of modern day travel with The Original Rollaboard wheeled luggage, Travelpro has been the brand of choice for flight crews and frequent travelers worldwide. Travelpro is dedicated to building a lifelong relationship with its customers by consistently understanding and exceeding their needs. Travelpro was honored to receive the New Product Innovation Award from the Travel Goods Association (TGA) in March 2013 for the revolutionary Platinum Magna luggage collection.

Please visit the Travelpro website for a full list of the latest products and retail locations. You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Will Airlines Use Customization For Good Or Evil?

April 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

On the horizon for the airline industry: customizable fares.

A little further out on the horizon: angry passengers.

The airline industry is developing technology that will allow them to create a customized airplane fare for you — and only you — using personal information such as gender, marital status, and how often you fly. This information will enter an algorithm that will decide the fare amount you are required to pay. Amazon.com already uses a similar tool which suggests items for you to purchase based on your browsing and previous purchase history.

AA MD80

AA MD80 (Photo credit: Blue Pylons)

Advocates of this method argue that this change will give the travelers more control. In theory, travelers will be able to visit the website of a travel agency, set the desired travel locations and select the airline with the most affordable price. Travelers would also be able to check for other options, such as wireless Internet, and view any extra fees that may be attached to any trip.

The idea of a fare customization has been greeted with skepticism. Opponents of the proposed change argue this is nothing more than a marketing ploy. They worry that by giving away so much personal information, the airline industry could easily check on your credit history and income information. Instead of giving you the cheapest fare based on what you need, they could use that information to determine how much you could afford to pay. Individuals with more disposable income could be charged much more for a flight than the person seated next to them. And without knowing the formula used to set the price, there’s no true way to know who is getting charged fairly and who is being overcharged.

There is no need for immediate concern; the technology for customizable airfares is still in the development phases, years away from actually being implemented. However, the idea still raises a few eyebrows from those who are concerned with how their personal information is being used by major corporations. In the end, it is not the technology that we can call “good” or “evil,” but the intent behind the way it is used.

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How Will NFC, Biometrics and Wearable Tech Affect Travel?

April 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

If a group of people traveled twenty years into the future, from 1994 to today, and saw the amount of commercial technology available, they would be staggered at the sheer connectivity we enjoy. We have portable computers and tablets, sports bands that monitors our heartbeats, and mobile phones that we use for everything except for making calls. We may not be living in the age of the Jetsons, but we’re getting close.

And we’re continuing to advance, thanks to a group of people who specialize in “outcome-focused thinking,” or thinking that creates ideas without worrying of positive or negative consequences.

At Walt Disney World, biometric measurements a...

At Walt Disney World, biometric measurements are taken from the fingers of guests to ensure that the person’s ticket is used by the same person from day to day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This raises the question, where are we going next? According to Rob Girling, the co-founder of the Artefact Group and one of the more prominent outcome-focused thinkers, he sees technology moving towards three directions.

  • Near Field Communication (NFC): NFC will play a large role in the future of wearable technology. NFC, when partnered with wearable devices, will function as a form of identification, allowing the wearer to create checkpoints at restaurants, make payments and unlock certain secure areas.
  • Biometrics: In some ways, biometric data (iris pattern, thumbprint, heart beat) is almost like NFC technology. Biometric sensors can be placed in hotels or airports for security purposes, and will only respond to a specific individual’s biometric data. Think unlocking a door with your finger print or identifying yourself on a plane ride with an eye scan. We’re already seeing this with the iPhone 5’s thumbprint scanner.
  • Natural Language Processing: As impressive as NFC and biometrics sound on paper, natural language processing may be the most promising and useful advancement in technology. NLP will allow your device to actually follow through with a complicated task and execute a complex search query, such as finding the cheapest price for a car rental. Asking SIRI to set a reminder is simply the first step on the NLP ladder.

So what does this mean for the travel industry? In some ways, traveling will become a lot easier. Imagine wearing NFC tech that you can wave at a security checkpoint or can use to make payments with your phone.

Biometrics are already being used in some office security protocols, such as a thumbprint scanner for a computer, or even Dublin Airport in Ireland using an automated passport scanner for immigration checks.

And you can already use Siri or any number of Android personal assistants to find nearby restaurants, gas stations, and tourist attractions. How much longer before you say, “Siri, rent a car for me”?

Outcome-focused thinking is already making itself felt in the travel industry. The next 20 years will be interesting, and we’re looking forward to seeing what that time is going to bring.

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When Hotel Rooms Become Mini-Spas

January 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Say ‘sayonara’ to letting go and doing without while traveling. Thanks to the health and wellness craze that has swept the country, some hotels are now revamping their offerings to include amenities that target travelers concerned about healthy living. Upscale hotels have always gone the extra mile for their guests by offering things like complimentary treats, upscale gyms and high end toiletries, but how about a “running concierge”?

Both the Westin Hotel chain as well as The James Hotels have hired staff members who will give travelers local running tips; The James Hotel even offers running tours of New York City and Chicago. After their morning run, travelers can indulge in gluten free, organic and low calorie menu options at many hotels. Healthy eating and exercise options are the tip of the iceberg. While healthy menus and plentiful exercise options aren’t too outlandish, some hotels are taking the wellness craze one step further — or one step too far, depending on your outlook.

English: MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas.

English: MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For example, this past December the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas increased the number of their “stay well” suites (which cost $30 more per night) to a whopping 171 rooms featuring high tech amenities that have been endorsed by famed guru Deepak Chopra and other wellness experts. Dubbed the hypochondriac hotel by some, the rooms feature anti-microbial coating on bacteria susceptible surfaces such as doorknobs and countertops and a dedicated cleaning crew that will come armed with UV wands to sanitize and HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaners. If you’re planning on pulling an all-nighter in the casino, these rooms may be just what you’re looking for, you’re in luck – the rooms also feature melatonin-friendly lighting and dawn-simulator alarm clocks, allowing travelers to sleep as late as they please and still get the sunlight they need. As if that wasn’t enough, guests can enjoy a Vitamin C infused shower, which is said to neutralize chlorine and promote healthy hair and skin.

According to Stephanie Serino, a New York-based travel agent, “Business travelers want to keep their regimen going. I do have them asking for perks that go beyond the gym.” However, she adds “for many consumers who do care about wellness, a gym and a few healthy restaurants nearby will likely suffice.”

Would you spend an extra $30 per night to stay in a room with top-of-the-line wellness options? Share with us on our Facebook page.

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Millennial Travelers Spend More, Complain More

January 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s no secret that Millennials are changing the way many things are done these days. Commonly referred to as “Gen Y,” this tech savvy generation’s preferences have made a huge impact on today’s workplace, communication style, and the way we consume news and TV. So major hotels, airlines and travel brands are paying close attention to the travel habits of millennials. Ready or not, Gen Y is about to change the way we travel.

According to a recent study conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Egencia and Expedia.com, millennials are doing more business travel than their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts, and they’re also spending more money. Younger Americans (34 and under) are slightly more likely to use their company’s credit card to splurge on a flight upgrade, room service, alcoholic beverages or expensive meals than those 35 and older. Additionally, millennials are also more apt to mix business with pleasure. In fact, 62% of millennials surveyed have extended a business trip into a personal vacation.

backpack travel berlin

Backpacking in Berlin (Photo credit: FastPhive)

Gen Y travelers are also complaining more than any other age group. According to Egencia, tech savvy 18-30 year old business travelers are more likely to air their grievances via an online review site after having a poor experience while traveling. That being said, negative online reviews are still relatively rare — 67% of travelers worldwide state they have never written one.

While it’s no surprise that Gen Y travelers are more apt to use smartphones and mobile apps when traveling, many may be surprised to learn than mobile app usage in travel is up for all generations. In fact, 75% of travelers worldwide report that they use a smartphone or tablet while traveling. It’s safe to say that in the coming year, many more major travel brands will be launching mobile technology to accommodate tech savvy travelers.

Egencia president Rob Greyber said in a USA Today article, “Business travelers are early adopters of technology — millennial travelers even faster — and all on the move from device to device, from online to offline and back again. We realize that keeping pace with millennials and future generations of corporate travelers demands significant focus on mobile in order to sustainably engage them with the right information.”

We’d love to hear from you. Do you welcome such changes, or do you feel they will only alienate older travelers? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, or via our Facebook page.

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How To Travel Like a Pro

December 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

While traveling can be an enriching, wonderful, life changing experience, it can also be stressful, especially if you’re not well prepared. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, there are certain things you can do to ensure your trip goes as smoothly as possible. We have compiled a list of our five favorite travel tips from the TravelPro team and other travel industry experts to ensure your next trip goes off without a hitch.

1. Get in the (time) zone

There’s nothing worse than wasting the first day of your trip feeling completely jet-lagged. Instead of making an abrupt switch, set your watch to the time zone you’ll be visiting as soon as you board your flight and act accordingly. This means that if you’re visiting Thailand and it’s 11pm Indochina Time, then guess what? Time for some shut eye.

2. Invest in an international SIM card

An AT&T SIM Card before being taken out and pu...

An AT&T SIM Card before being taken out and put in use in a mobile telephone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you travel abroad quite often, an international travelers’ SIM card is worth the investment. You can pick these up on sites like Ekit and most work in over one hundred countries around the world. You can even register your SIM card with Ekit and have it map your journey, allowing friends and family members to not only follow your travels, but ensure you’re alive and well.

3. Get your finances in order

If you’re leaving the country, do your research. Your debit card may be useless in many countries. In some places (such as Myanmar), ATMs are not connected to international networks, whereas in others (i.e. Japan), you’ll find that your card isn’t even the correct size for ATMs. Also, don’t just inform your bank of your travel plans once. Be sure to call and confirm they’ve noted your account before you leave. Finally, exchange a small amount of money — enough to last a day or so — prior to leaving the United States. In the event that you run into issues withdrawing money, you won’t find yourself stranded and penniless in a foreign country.

4. Plan for the worst

As the saying goes, expect the best, but plan for the worst. Leave copies of your itinerary and all travel documents with a trusted friend or family member. Hide an emergency credit card and back-up identification in an inconspicuous location, keep scanned copies of everything (especially your passport!) on your computer, and back-up your photos as often as possible. If you are pick-pocketed or your hotel room is robbed, you’ll be grateful you took these extra precautions.

5. Don’t make it obvious you’re a traveler

Nothing screams “I’m new here!” than walking around with tags on your luggage. As soon as you pass through customs, be sure to rip the tags off of your bags and discard them. If you need to pick up a taxi to your hotel, leave the international area make your way over to domestic arrivals. Chances are, you’ll end up paying less for that ride anyway, since some international cab drivers try to take advantage of foreign visitors.

Are you a savvy traveler? Have you picked up any valuable tips on your travels? Share your tips with other travelers in the comments section.

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Travelpro® Maxlite® 2 Luggage Wins Coveted Editors’ Choice Award from “Outdoor Gear Lab” [Press Release]

December 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Boca Raton, Fla. – December 2, 2013 – Travelpro, the original inventor of Rollaboard® luggage and a market leader in innovative, high-quality luggage design, was honored to receive the 2013 Editors’ Choice Award for the Travelpro® Maxlite® 2 22” Expandable Rollaboard, from OutdoorGearLab.com. The Outdoor Gear Lab Review Editors chose the winner after extensive field testing on flights across the country. Eleven popular pieces of carry-on luggage were subjected to head-to-head tests to determine which stood out in terms of performance across these following metrics: features, durability, weight, storage capacity, ease of transport and style. To read Outdoor Gear Lab’s review of Travelpro’s Maxlite 2, click here: Outdoorgearlab.com.Travelpro Maxlite Rollaboard

“We are very honored to receive the Editor’s Choice award from Outdoor Gear Lab for our Maxlite 2 22” Rollaboard. Receiving this award from an objective 3rd party, supports our strong emphasis on product testing and quality throughout the product’s life cycle,” said Scott Applebee, Vice President of Marketing for the Travelpro family of brands.

The Travelpro Maxlite 2 22” Expandable Rollaboard provides an economical and lightweight two-wheel design, ideal for carry-on use by frequent business and leisure travelers. Maxlite 2 expands up to 1 1⁄2 inches, maximizing space and packing flexibility, without sacrificing effortless mobility. A full length zippered lid pocket provides easy storage for shirts, blouses and accessories. Moreover, a large front pocket provides a great way to store tablets and laptops as well as any other last minute items.

For additional information on the Travelpro Maxlite 2 22” Expandable Rollaboard or any other of Travelpro’s expansive line of luggage, contact rmartinez@gohrmc.com or dial 305-573-0882

About Travelpro

For 25 years, Travelpro International has prided itself on design innovation and durability in crafting the highest quality luggage for travellers worldwide. Since transforming the ease of modern day travel with The Original Rollaboard® wheeled luggage, Travelpro® has been the brand of choice for flight crews and frequent travelers worldwide. Travelpro is dedicated to building a lifelong relationship with its customers by consistently understanding and exceeding their needs. Travelpro was honored to receive the New Product Innovation Award from the Travel Goods Association (TGA) in March 2013 for the revolutionary Platinum® MagnaTM luggage collection.

Please visit Travelpro at www.travelpro.com for a full list of the latest products and retail locations. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TravelproINTL and Twitter: @TravelproIntl

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