Travel Product Review – Sennheiser Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Travel Product Review - Sennheiser Noise-Cancelling Headphones
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You’ll usually recognize the road warriors as you board the plane as they fiddle with their noise-cancelling headphones. And I can finally say that after many years as a frequent traveller, I have finally joined up with the road warriors and invested in a good pair of wireless, noise-cancelling headphones. I wish I had them on my trip to Dubai! Rather than review 5 different headphones (buy 5 and return 4), the purpose of this post/review is to bestow the virtues of quality headphones for travel and to review my new Sennheiser headphones based on real life usage.

For many years, and like many of you, I carried earbuds and/or purchased them on the plane. I even purchased noise-cancelling earbuds a few years back. (They aren’t noise-canceling and aren’t nearly as effective as over the ear headphones). While travelling with earbuds in your pocket or handbag is beyond easy, listening with them on a plane is like being in the dark ages. If you travel with any regularity (and/or commute by transit or walk distances), you simply must get yourself a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.

Travel Product Review - Sennheiser Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Photo by Jason Toevs on Pexels.com

Headphones are quite simply essential in today’s world of packed flights and delays. Travel is certainly easier when you can “noise cancel” the snoring guy beside you, the crying baby and/or the arguing couple. They will change your in-flight experience, letting you disappear into a cone of silence and/or song. Deep relaxation and sleep are within your reach. I find it easy to sleep on a plane but only if I can block out the airplane sounds, the baby cries and the frat boys’ banter.

There are plenty of great headphones in the market. Sony, Beats, Bose and Marshall all make great headphones. Whatever you choose, make sure they warrant the investment (generally $200-$1,000) and are worthy of being in your carry-on. They must be comfortable, portable (fold up), have great sound, cancel noise, and have enough battery life to last through a long day of travel. And will they fit with a decent travel pillow? Keep in mind that if you are a commuter, you’ll be using them on subways, buses and long walks down busy sidewalks (in addition to travelling).

I’ve opted for Sennheiser Model HD 4.50BTNC, largely based on their reputation for fidelity. They are middle of the pack in terms of cost ($250-$300) and quality. You’ll pay more for many other models from Sony, Bose and Sennheiser too.

Travel Product Review - Sennheiser Noise-Cancelling Headphones

The lower price comes from a mostly plastic shell (fine with me), and a canvas sack carrying case (instead of a rigid case). The 4.50s fold up easily for carry-on and provide very good stereo sound (my opinion). Sennheiser’s NoiseGard™ active noise cancellation lets you enjoy silence or music in peace. If you spend more on a higher-end model, you will undoubtedly get more but I’m perfectly happy with my first pair of quality, noise-cancelling headphones. I’ve travelled with them and had an almost silent plane ride with music and sleep. The battery life is decent at close to 19 hours (2 hours to charge).

My verdict – a solid buy (and I did buy them). They provide great value; they are comfortable; fold easily and come with an auxiliary cord when you need to be wired.

Safe travels,

Mark

Travel Product Review – Palmate Travel Pillow

The Palmate Travel Pillow is my very first travel pillow. I’m a regular air traveller and have been for a very long time. I have the very good fortune of being able to sleep and/or nap quite easily on any flight – be it 1 hour or 12 hours. It’s time for a travel pillow.

There are a lot of travel pillows in the marketplace. You can buy them at the airport; at luggage stores; online, etc. The new Palmate Travel Pillow aims to be different and it is. It has cool and practical in one. And it does the job!

Palmate Travel Pillow

Palmate Travel Pillow

Palmate Travel Pillow – What Makes It Different?

Most travel pillows are round or shaped like a horseshoe. The Palmate is square and uber cool looking. It’s designed to mimic the way you would hold your head with your hands. It cradles your head in all directions. The Palmate fits comfortably around your neck and keeps your head from moving.  There are cut-outs on both sides to fit earbuds or even headphones. There’s even a secret built-in vent at the back to keep you cool. The Palmate’s cotton cover is soft and can be removed from the memory foam for washing. The Palmate Pillow also comes with a black cloth carry bag, a lint roller and earplugs. It is a bit bulky but you can tie the black carry bag to your carry-on or make room in a knapsack.

Palmate Travel Pillow – Does It Work?

In a word, yes. My only issue at all with sleeping on a plane is “the headbob”. You fall asleep sitting and your head falls forward or sideways. The “headbob” doesn’t happen to me with the Palmate around my neck. It works just like a neck brace or collar so that your head doesn’t move. Unlike a neck brace, it’s comfortable, plush and can be easily adjusted as you want.

Palmate Travel Pillow – Where To Buy It?

Get it from Amazon for $28.99. You can also buy it directly from Palmate.

Travel Product Review – The Slicks Flexible Travel System

Carry-On Made Easy

Travel inspires and helps us to understand people and other cultures. Travel takes us to faraway places; to simply visit relatives; to see the world. For as long as we’ve traveled, there has been our extra travel companion called luggage. Starting back with a “travel chest” (on a steamship and/or stage coach); then onto extra large suitcases and to where we are now (mad for carry-on). If you have elite status with your favorite airline, chances are you have “free” first bag or 2, priority baggage (first on the baggage carousel when you land) along with priority check-in. If you don’t have elite status or you are on a shorter trip, chances are you prefer carry-on.

While it’s great to travel, and to look forward to travelling, the worst part (at least for me) is packing. I dread packing. But I’ve just come across the answer to my packing prayers. The Slicks Flexible Travel System. It has it all. It’s a backpack and briefcase combined into a carry-on.

Slicks Bag as a briefcase

I’ve got the Slicks Biz Bundle. It combines backpack, trip cover, wash bag and suitcover in one. It’s the Swiss Army knife of luggage!

The Slicks Pack is super sturdy and can be a back pack or a briefcase (store the back straps in the pack and use the side handles). The back pack on its own is perfect for trips to and from the office or campus.

The Trip cover is the wardrobe bag that attaches inside the Pack and has a place for the wash bag, laundry bag (included) and room for underwear, socks, shirts, etc. It also includes a shirt cover to keep shirts folded and not wrinkled.

The suit cover can fold 4 times to keep your suit or nice outfit wrinkle free and attaches inside the Pack as well.

Here’s the best way to see what I’m talking about – Click Here for the full Slicks visual tour!

Slicks bag fitting together

Slicks bag as a backpack

This modular backpack/suitcase has a place for everything and everything in its place. It will keep you away from the baggage carousel (worth the price alone) and keep you organized. With all of its components and accessories, it provides great value. It’s carry on heaven!

PROS

  • Looks great, well designed
  • Carry On
  • Perfect for a weekend away or 3-day trip

CONS

  • Not enough room for a weeklong trip
  • Not ideal for checked baggage (but not what it’s meant for either)

All in all, a great piece of luggage and I highly recommend it. If you are interested in getting Slicks luggage, go to the Slicks website for more information and to order direct. And here’s my Promotion Code that will save you 10% at checkout – MarkTravelSlicks (valid until April 30, 2018).

Safe Travels!

Dealing with Common Travel Emergencies

Dealing with Common Travel Emergencies (2)

The majority of trips and overseas vacations go without any significant issues. But even the best plans and carefully designed schedules can turn into a stress-fueled disaster and completely ruin your vacation. Whether it’s a missed flight, stolen documents or misplaced credit card, travel emergencies happen more often than you think and unless you adequately prepare for them, your trip overseas can easily be replaced with a disappointing ride home. Here are some common travel emergencies people experience, as well as a couple of ways to deal with them and avoid them in the first place.

Missed or canceled flight

Missed or canceled flight

Some of the most common reasons travelers end up missing their flight includes oversleeping, arriving at the gate far too late, long security lines and late connections. Although most of these can easily be avoided by being more responsible with your scheduling and arriving at the airport a little bit earlier than usual, flight connections tend to be the weakest point of an otherwise carefully planned travel schedule. Booking a connecting flight might be cheaper, especially when you’re working with a limited budget, but spending a couple of extra bucks on a direct flight is ultimately a better idea. If you absolutely cannot afford a direct flight, then try to have at least a few hours in between the flights.

Road trip emergencies

Road trip emergencies

While you might prefer catching a quick flight to your dream destination, there are those who prefer taking the road and turning their trip into a proper adventure. The only issue is that all it takes is a small mechanical failure or a moment of carelessness to completely ruin your trip. Make sure to check your car for any issues and inspect everything from the tire pressure to your windscreen wipers. Another common issue people report experiencing is getting their keys locked inside their car. If you happen to find yourself in such a scenario while traveling through the greater Sydney area, there’s a professional locksmith in East Ryde on call ready to provide you with assistance regardless of the time of the day.

Lost or stolen documents

Lost or stolen documents

Losing your documents while traveling domestically is very stressful, let alone losing them in a completely foreign country. If you happen to experience losing your passport or ID or having them stolen alongside your wallet and belongings, contact the local police and file a claim with your travel insurance agency. Losing your papers in a foreign country, however, requires traveling to a consulate or the embassy and dealing with issuing fees and filling out paperwork. Scan every important document you have with your smartphone before traveling or print out copies and give them to a person you trust in case you also lose your phone or laptop.

Lost or stolen money

Lost or stolen money

Carrying all the credit cards and money you have in a single wallet is a sure-proof recipe for disaster. While cash is often misplaced or simply stolen, credit cards can also get stuck in an ATM or simply be denied for one reason or the other. This is why it’s important to have more than one financial resource available at all times. Make sure you always have small amounts of cash on you for regular purchases and a debit or an ATM card in case you run out of money, but always have a spare card just in case and split your resources between your different bags and belongings.

No matter what type of emergency you experience, whether it’s losing your ID and passport, getting stuck in a middle of nowhere in the middle of your road trip or you find yourself in a middle of a crisis situation, the single most important thing is to remain calm and collected. Avoid lashing out at the people around you and be patient. The majority of stressful situations can be avoided with careful planning ahead so try to prepare as best as you can, keep your cool and try to find a silver lining while you wait for your situation to get resolved.

How to Pass Time on a Long Trip

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Sometimes, while travelling for a long time, the hours just seem to drag by. If you get easily bored on a plane, bus or train, why not try some of these tricks to pass the time and arrive fresh and ready to explore? 

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Catch some Zs

Travelling is a great way to get some extra sleep and pass the time. Although it can be a little uncomfortable for the legs, sleeping on a bus or a train accompanied by the rhythms and the sounds of traffic is hands down the best way to sleep. And don’t hesitate to splurge on a sleeping compartment when on the train. There you can stretch your legs and back, close your eyes and just relax as the train lulls you to sleep. If you have some valuables with you, such as a laptop, camera, phone and money, make sure to keep them close to you while sleeping.

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Shoot photos

All professional travellers always carry their camera with them, and so should you. You’ll get to shoot some beautiful nature scenes, cities, villages and people you don’t get to see every day. Your photos are actually one of the most valuable things you can take home from your adventures, and most people cherish them forever. So, have your camera at hand at all times and who knows what kind of masterpiece you’ll create.

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Watch movies

If you happen to fly, most of today’s flights are equipped with an entertainment system, so you can catch up with the movies you’ve missed in the cinema. However, if you’re travelling by bus, you can take your laptop or tablet and fill it with TV shows and movies to pass the time. They are also good airport companions, especially on long layover flights. 

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Make new friends

Travelling alone is perfect for meeting new people and making new friends. Look for other solo travellers who look bored like you, or start a conversation with your seatmate. Who knows, you might meet some extraordinary people, your future BFF or even your soul mate. However, don’t be pushy, as some people just want to enjoy their trip in peace.

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Bring some cards

No matter if you’re travelling with your friends, family or alone, you should always make some extra space for a deck of cards. This way you can play a variety of games with people and even alone. Solitaire, anyone? Cards are also an amazing way to break the ice and start talking to other people. You can also get one of those travel chess boards with magnets and play a game or two.

Enjoy some music

One thing a traveller mustn’t forget to bring is an iPod or an mp3 player. When you’re down and exhausted, music will pick you up and give you the energy to push forward. It will also relax you and fix your mood. Music is also a great way to tune out conversations, crying babies and loud sounds of the plane or train. But if you just can’t ignore the noises in the background, you can get noise-cancelling headphones such as AKG headphones that will completely isolate you from the rest of the world.

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Read a book

Before, it wasn’t so easy to carry two or three books with you at all times, but today, that’s not difficult at all. Even though you might be a fan of the “real deal”, e-books are much more practical for travelling and they can almost fit into your pocket. Any time is good for reading, but if you’re stuck on a plane or a train, it can really save your life. However, it’s not recommended for people who suffer from motion sickness. 

So, remember these, and next time you go on a trip, you won’t be bored or lonely. Bon voyage, traveller!

Prevent Jet Lag From Annihilating Your Life

Travel is one of the great rewards of saving and working hard. To see places that you dream about—whether they’re just three states over or across the globe—is magical.

But what’s not magical is jet lag. It can ruin the first few days of a trip, and can make returning to a daily routine after a vacation torturous. Not only can jet lag mess with your sleep, it can mess with your stomach and your mood.

Of course, the more time zones you cross, the more likely you’ll feel the affect of jet lag. Flying a lot and age can also be determining factors to the intensity of jet lag. But there are some simple steps that you can take—before, during, and after a trip—to help lessen jet lag.

One of them is remarkably easy: hydrate. Want to learn more tips to help bust this travel-induced fog? Use the ideas in this graphic.

Airlines Are (Finally) Offering High-End Food

The post below was originally published on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on January 21, 2016 by theHipmunk.

 

While some airlines have distinguished themselves with awesome in-flight entertainment options or stellar amenities in first, business, and economy class, for the most part airline food has failed to keep up with these new high-end innovations. Until now.

That’s right: Airlines are officially improving their menus, especially on domestic flights. From using fresh ingredients, to offering healthier options, to recruiting talented chefs to revamp their menus, airlines are going out of their way to make their food better, reports USA Today.

It’s hard to say exactly why airlines have suddenly started to up their food game, but odds are good that the increasing presence of higher-end eateries in airports and consumer pressure are big factors. Airlines are finding that better food options result in higher online ratings and can offer a competitive edge in a review-happy marketplace. Here’s how that translates into better options for you.

The Arrival of Better Food

Who benefits the most from improvements to airline food? Travelers, of course, in the form of fresher, more diverse, and more flavorful fare. Here’s an airline-by-airline preview of what hungry travelers can expect.

American Airlines

In an effort to provide healthier food options to passengers, American Airlines hasadded seasonal vegetables to its food options on several domestic, first-class flights. (The new dishes are inspired by restaurateur Sam Choy.) The airline is also in the process of revamping its first-class menus on other domestic flights by adding options like beef filet, shrimp and grits, and mac ‘n cheese. To top things off, American is featuring snacks from gourmet grocer Dean & Deluca—think raw almonds and spicy Cajun snack mix.

Alaska Airlines

In order to reflect and celebrate the airline’s home city of Seattle, Alaska Airlines now invites economy passengers to purchase Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches or othermulti-ethnic offerings during their flights. The airline has also recruited acclaimed chef Tom Douglas to develop its hot meals (which are available for sale on any flight longer than 2 ½ hours), and works to source local ingredients from its many destinations.

Delta Airlines

In November, Delta doubled the number of menu items offered to its first-class passengers on domestic flights. Entrée choices now include restaurant-worthy dishes such as grilled shrimp with roasted corn and tomato salad and lemongrass chicken with a Japanese Cobb salad. Delta is also upgrading its fare on transoceanic flights by introducing a seasonal rotation of menus influenced by various regions.

JetBlue

JetBlue is taking fresh in-flight food to a whole new level. The airline has gone so far as to open its own farm and garden at JFK’s Terminal Five, dubbed T5 Farm. The farm has been developed in partnership with GrowNYC, an NYC-based nonprofit that works to support the development of gardens and farmers markets throughout the city. The goal is for the farm to provide food that’s ultimately incorporated into the airline’s in-flight meal options, such as potato chips made from the farm’s own blue potatoes. In addition to potatoes, the farm will also grow herbs, leafy greens, carrots, and beets. If all goes according to plan, these items will make their way into JetBlue’s edible fare over the next few years.

United Airlines

United has decided to offer fancier menu items, such as roasted duck and flatiron steak, in its first-class cabins. The airline is also using cage-free eggs in its economy-class entrees on domestic flights (as well as on international flights that depart from airports in the U.S.), and it’s attempting to add more flavor to its lunch and dinner options for first- and business class customers by infusing dishes with spices and aromatic herbs. To top things off, the airline has started to serve food in first-class cabins on a larger number of flights (even those that don’t take place over traditional meal times).

In addition to their custom initiatives, many of these airlines have also begun offering a healthier paid food option to passengers in the form of snack boxes. Delta’s Eat Tapas, JetBlue’s Pump Up box, and United’s Tapas Snackbox all contain hummus, crackers, olives, and perhaps some nuts. The airlines then put their own twist on the tapas concept by adding in supplements like pepper and artichoke dip (Delta) or roasted fava beans (JetBlue).

It’s not only U.S. carriers that are getting in on the action. Take just two international examples: Aer Lingus allows its passengers to pre-order traditional foods and meals, including Irish Breakfast. And British Airways is committed to offering a fresh snack or meal on every flight within Europe.

So rest easy, travelers: Your plane ride is likely to come with better food options in the (very) near future.