Travel Safety Tips for World Travel

May 17, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’ve traveled the world full-time for seven years, we consider you an expert on how to see the sites and do so safely. Matthew Karsten, the Expert Vagabond, is just that. He has spent the last several years living as a nomad, traveling from country to country, doing remote work for clients to pay for his lifestyle, but living out of a suitcase wherever the winds will take him.

Here are Matt’s top five tips for minimizing the bad stuff and maximizing the good stuff while exploring the world.

Before we get into specifics, here’s a freebie: educate yourself on the travel scams of the country you’re visiting. Ask Google for specific information so you’re not a victim of something that could’ve been avoided, had you only known.

So, Matt’s first piece of advice is to seriously consider what you’re going to take with you. Do you really need your digital SLR camera when you could take pictures with your phone? If you decide you need a valuable asset with you, create a plan for how you will secure it while you’re traveling (zippers and locks aren’t necessarily deterrents) and when you leave it behind in your hotel room.

Secondly, purchase travel insurance for your valuables. If you need to travel with your laptop, you’ll feel more secure if you know that it will be replaced if something happens to it. World Nomads, IMG Global, and TCP Photography Insurance all offer this type of insurance, but read the policies carefully. There are limits to what they’ll cover.

After you’ve secured your valuables, think about your personal safety. Taking a simple self-defense class before you go abroad will equip you to keep your wits about you should you accidentally end up in a place you didn’t intend to. Remember that just because you know how to defend yourself doesn’t mean you have to actually get into a fight. Removing yourself from the situation physically may be all you need to do in order to restore your desired level of safety.

Third, tell your bank where you’re going so that your account isn’t frozen because an employee suspects fraud. Also, spread out emergency cash among your luggage so that if your wallet is pickpocketed, you can still eat, pay your hotel bill, and get yourself to the airport. Securing a backup credit card in case of this type of emergency is also a good idea.

One final money tip? Inspect ATMs before you use them for evidence of tampering. Don’t ever allow anyone to assist you with a cash withdrawal. If you’re not sure, go to a bank during regular hours and ask them for help. (Better yet, try to avoid carrying cash and shop at merchants and restaurants where you can use a credit card. Then you don’t have to worry about paying too much in exchange fees.)

Finally, when exploring a new country’s cuisine, Matt suggests you purchase a filtered water bottle so that you don’t have to continue buying bottled water. This helps you avoid getting sick on the local water, because the filter will screen out any pathogens and bacteria.

He also passed along a few tips from his friend Jodi, another world traveler. For example, Jodi advises travelers to look for places to eat where you can see how the food is being prepared, and where the lines are long. This is an indication that it’s a popular place, and that food isn’t sitting around for long periods of time.

Her most helpful tip is for those with food allergies? Pack a translation card you can show when ordering food to avoid accidentally getting exposed to something you’re allergic to. Asking Google for a simple translation of “I have a peanut allergy” and transcribing that on a card could save you lots of unnecessary distress.

Risk is unavoidable when traveling, and you’re going to run into problems, the same as when you’re at home running errands or just going to work, but it can be managed. Prepare the best you can, practice some basic safety and situational awareness, and see what the world has to offer.

What kinds of safety tips do you have for world travelers, whether veterans or first time travelers? Share them in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Yonikasz (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 4.0)

Smart Ways to Carry Money When Traveling

October 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Traveling with money is always a challenge, because there are twice as many ways to lose money as there are forms of payment. Not only can you just misplace it or leave it behind, but you’re also at risk of pickpockets and thieves, especially if you travel outside the United States.

So here are a few tips for managing your money while traveling on business, especially if you travel overseas.

A credit card is an effective way to carry money when you travel, because you can always get a replacement if you lose it.

Get a compatible credit card. The card you already carry may be used internationally with a simple call to the company to alert them of your travels, but a growing number of European and Asian countries now require a card with a built-in chip. If you are traveling on business and your company doesn’t supply you with a credit card for expenses, make sure your personal line of credit can be accessed without penalty. Then, get a personal card to be used only for business expenses, one that lets you rack up airline or hotel points. Additionally, use this card whenever possible, rather than making cash withdrawals overseas. Not only are the fees higher, the exchange rate is less favorable when you exchange it yourself.

Consider on-body storage. You may have been told that money belts are a safe way to carry money, but an experienced thief can recognize them immediately (hint: nobody wears a belt that thick). Instead, money belts and fanny packs broadcast to thieves that you’re not a local, which could increase your odds of being a victim. Consider a money pouch that hangs on your belt inside your pants, or a wallet that hangs around your neck inside your shirt. Just don’t go digging through it when you have to pay for an item; the whole point of on-body storage is for it to be a secret!
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Don’t Make These Tech Travel Mistakes

September 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

We’ve come to rely on technology so much, we’ve sometimes made things more difficult when the technology is supposed to make our lives easier. And one little tech mistake on your travels can throw off your whole trip, or add some unexpected expenses. USA Today shared several tech travel mistakes we can avoid to ensure our next trip is pleasant and glitch-free, and we picked a few of our favorites.

Avoid travel mistakes like forgetting mobile chargers or letting your phone's memory get too full.

  • Don’t forget the power sources for your mobile devices! Nothing can stop you in your tracks faster than a dead battery, so consider purchasing an extra wall charger that stays in your luggage at all times. Some battery packs take up less space than a wallet, and can boost your device for a day if they’re fully charged. Take along a separate charging cable that will allow you to charge your phone using your laptop’s power, and if you’re going to be driving, pack your car charger. Better yet, purchase our new Crew™ 11 21″ Spinner with a built-in USB port for on-the-go charging! Be sure to label the cords and wrap them so that they don’t become a tangled mess, and check your rental car and hotel room thoroughly so you don’t accidentally leave one behind.
  • Airline earbuds are complimentary for a reason. They get the job done, but often they don’t fit your ears well. That means those around you are forced to eavesdrop on your conversations or “enjoy” your music selections. You may live in a state that doesn’t mandate Bluetooth use when driving and talking on a cell phone, but you may go to one that does. Buying a set of Bluetooth-enabled earbuds will do double duty for you. One heads-up, though: this type of earbud system runs on batteries, so re-read #1. Read more

Shared Economy Opens Doors for New Travelers

June 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

You’re traveling to a new city, either on business or leisure, and you want to experience it the way the locals do. Before 2008, the idea of staying in someone’s home was only a viable option if you already knew someone there. Airbnb (and before that, HomeExchange) changed all that. Now you can safely stay in someone’s home or apartment and perhaps even share a meal with your hosts, providing a uniquely personal way to get acquainted with your destination.

Dairsie Castle, Scotland, a once-in-a-lifetime destination for travelers

It may not save you a lot of money, but travelers can stay in Dairsie Castle, Scotland as part of Airbnb.

While you may already be familiar with the shared economy of accommodations, did you know there’s also an alternative to the traditional rental car industry? Through companies like RelayRides, Zipcar, Hubber, Getaround, and JustShareIt, individuals can share their vehicles with travelers who need them on demand, or for as brief a time as one hour.

In some cases, the owners of the cars pick their renters up at the airport, saving time spent in rental car lines. If you’re looking for a different mode of transportation, Spinlister offers travelers the ability to rent a bicycle, snowboard, or skis. You can even rent a boat using GetMyBoat.
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More DIY Travel Hacks

April 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

In order for travel to be efficient and enjoyable, organization of your stuff is key. This is where travel hacks can help. We’ve read a lot of articles, heard from a lot of travelers, and even spoke with our fellow road warriors. And, of course, we found a great article on Huffington Post about the topic of travel hacks.

Here are a few of our favorites.

Travelpro Crew 10 with suiter

Travelpro Crew 10 with suiter

  1. All those lotions, shampoos, conditioners, sunscreen, makeup foundation, and eye creams you use take up a lot of space. Seal off a drinking straw with a heat sealer, fill it with your favorite lotions and creams, and seal off the other end. Label them with tape, and you’ve got some single servings of your different products. It saves space and you won’t run afoul of TSA rules.
  2. If you’re like me, you’re tired of wrestling with all those different charging cables and earbuds you carry around. Rather than unpacking and unraveling a tangled mess every time you need a cable, put them in an eyeglass case you’re not using. The hard shell ones that spring shut work best.

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Five Fastest Ways to Get Through the Airport

March 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It seems everybody is busy these days. We never seem to have enough time to do things at a leisurely pace, and that includes flying. Even if we have some extra time, we feel like we have to rush through the airport. But you can avoid that rushed feeling if you use some of these techniques — which we read on Yahoo — to navigate your way through the airport.

Dubai International Airport, Terminal C

Dubai International Airport, Terminal C

1. Plan ahead. This may sound like common sense, but time adds up when you’re en route to the airport. If you don’t plan for it, you run the danger of missing your flight. Factor in traffic, security checkpoint wait time, and how long it takes to ride the off-site airport parking shuttle to the terminal into the amount of time you allot yourself to get to your gate. It adds up fast!

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How to Survive Losing Your Bag

March 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s a traveler’s worst nightmare: the lost bag. If it hasn’t happened to you, consider yourself lucky. In many cases, the bag is not really “lost”, it is misplaced. In other words, you are at your destination, but your bag is somewhere else. The problem is you don’t know where your luggage is. While airlines are doing much better at baggage handling, the system isn’t perfect. So, what can you do?

United Lost Luggage RoomFirst, be proactive. I don’t know about you, but I never gave those baggage claim stickers much thought until I experienced my first lost bag. Without that tracking number, you have no proof that your bag was checked, or that it belongs to you.

That leaves the airline with your name, which reminds me: make sure there’s identification on your bag at all times. At a bare minimum, use the complimentary tags the airlines offers at check-in, or better yet, a business card in the ID slot that’s built into the luggage. With Travelpro luggage, the ID information will be hidden under a flap on the outside of the bag, so it is not visible for all to see.
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Packing for the Trip Home

February 24, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the least sexy things to think about when you’re traveling is how to manage your dirty clothes. I don’t know about you, but I’m a much better packer on the way to my destination than I am on the way home. I want my clothes to arrive unwrinkled and ready to help me look and feel my best, but on the way home I couldn’t care less if they’re folded neatly or not. The problem is my clothes seem to grow exponentially, making it challenging to get the same number of items back into my suitcase to come home.

Tpro Bold 2 Duffel - Open

Tpro Bold 2 Rolling Duffel – You can pack clean clothes in one part, dirty clothes in the other.

With this in mind, because I know I’m not alone, here are some options to help you get your clothes home without contaminating your suitcase.

Laundry pouches: Several of our luggage series have mesh pouches for separating dirty clothes from clean clothes. Unpack completely upon your arrival and then repack as you are finished wearing each item. Folding each piece neatly, even though it’s no longer clean, will help you remain organized when it comes time to put your toiletries, extra shoes, and maybe even a jacket in the final packing of the suitcase.
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How to Entertain and Inform While You Travel

November 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Remember the vacations you took with your parents? If you were lucky enough to fly, your entertainment only needed to last a few hours. But if you went over the river and through the woods to wherever you were going, then time yawned ahead of you. Unless you were properly prepared.

Nowadays, there’s no way you can possibly be bored while en route to your destination, thanks to all the entertainment and information available online? You might hear someone utter a few choice words if they discovered they didn’t have the latest episodes of their favorite podcast, that ebook they’ve been waiting to start, or the latest game app at their fingertips because they didn’t realize there wouldn’t be wifi.

iphoneSo, don’t be like those unfortunate souls. Take a few moments in the days before your trip and assess your entertainment and information needs. Perhaps you want to catch up on your favorite television show. Download recently aired episodes to your tablet or be sure to add the Netflix app to your phone so that your queue is ready to go.

Second, Flydelta.com and the Delta app are excellent ways to keep track of your flight status and can be shared with your ride at the airport, so they’re not endlessly circling or waiting in the cell phone lot, wondering where you are. The Trip Advisor app can also let you spend your time in the air planning activities when you land.

If you want to get some work done while en route, set up your documents folder to sync to a cloud service like Google Drive or iCloud so your work isn’t stranded while you’re soaring through the real clouds. Evernote is also a great place to store travel information, and it isn’t wifi dependent.

New podcasts appear every day and most are a free, quick way to learn new information or while away the time. Note to Self and Serial come to mind. Check Overcast or other podcasting apps to find a few favorites.

If you’re traveling with children, a new game app can buy you valuable minutes of silence. If you haven’t investigated this realm lately, believe us, there’s so much more than Angry Birds. Try Noodles or Two Dots. The fun thing about Two Dots is that you can download the soundtrack and enjoy it as background music if you don’t want to play the game.

Travel time doesn’t have to be down time. It can be productive, entertaining, and even relaxing. Just make sure you download and sync everything before you leave home or your hotel, and you won’t be dependent on airport or airplane wifi.

Photo credit: jeshoots (Pixabay, Creative Commons)

Travel Hacks You Can Use Anywhere

October 20, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

In our last blog post, we talked about hotel hacks you can use while you’re on the road. With a little ingenuity and a few of the complimentary items most hotels offer, you can have a semi-civilized existence if you need food, a shave, to shine your shoes, or to even remove unwanted odors.

Another travel hacks video from Dave Hax tells us how to pack and travel with just a few simple items to make packing easier and our time on a plane or train more comfortable. Here are a few things we learned.

  • If your shoes get dirty while you’re sightseeing, use the hotel shower cap to cover the soles. If you suffer from SFS (smelly feet syndrome), help yourself (please!) to the teabags in the hotel room and use them as shoe deodorizers.
  • Don’t want to bring your laptop protector but need something to protect your computer inside your suitcase? Fold your hoodie around it and you’re good to go! Your hoodie can also be used as a makeshift pillow. Provided you’re not already using it as your laptop protector.
  • If you’ve never learned how the Marines fold their clothes to make the most use of their duffel space, read our post on making a skivvy roll. It’s genius, and it helps you count pairs of underwear, socks, and t-shirts easily.
  • If you don’t want to watch the in-flight movie, and don’t want a crick in your neck from hunching over your phone, pack a sandwich bag in your carry-on. Place the phone inside the bag and use the tray table clip to hold the bag at viewing level. Then, poke a small hole in the bag for your headphones. If you don’t have a bag, you can fold your sunglasses and use them as a stand.
  • If you have a hard time remembering your room number, take a photo with your phone when you arrive.
  • If your phone battery is running low and you don’t have a lot of time to charge it, put the phone in “flight mode” and it will charge faster.
  • For all you McGyver fans out there, a clean, empty lip balm tube can be used to hide rolled-up bills when you’re going out.

With these tips, your next trip can be cleaner, more efficient, more enjoyable, and adequately charged. What other hacks do you use when you travel? Leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page.

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