11 Things I Never Travel Without

This Post Was Originally Published on the TuGo Travel Blog on July 19, 2019 by Mark Crone

Whether travelling for work or on vacation, you want your trip to be smooth and easy. To do that, you need to pack a few things to make your trip as easy and comfortable as possible. Here’s my list of things I always travel with (and never travel without):

1. Money/Credit Cards

Credit cards offer the convenience and security of access to your funds and credit any time. Even with a credit card, you’ll still need travel money for tips, snacks, cabs, and other “cash only” items. It’s easy to get major exchangeable currencies like the U.S Dollar, Great British Pound or Euro before you go. Other currencies, for example Poland’s Zloty, are best purchased in small quantities for your stay while in that country.

2. Travel SIM

sim

While Wi-Fi is tempting, it’s not secure in public places and is very limiting when you travel. A SIM card saves on roaming and data charges while keeping you connected. TravelSIM is my choice because its pre-paid (providing cost control), works in over 170 countries and incoming calls and messages are free.

3. Tablet/iPad

Between flight delays and in-flight entertainment, this is an absolute must to keep informed and entertained. There’s nothing worse than getting on a 4-hour flight without the airline app required for viewing in-flight entertainment, or a 4-hour flight delay while sitting at an airline gate. Watch Netflix, look at social media, receive emails, or your Kindle. On the plane, you can watch movies that you’ve missed. Before you know it, you’ll be at your destination!

4. Hard Case Luggage

away-luggages

I usually travel with a small backpack (for my gadgets) but always take a smaller hard case luggage as well. They’re lightweight, sturdy and easily fit in the overhead bin. Your belongings are better protected with a hard shell, they’re easy to pack and unpack, and even easier to roll around the airport.

5. Portable Power Bank & Adapter

A pocket-sized portable charger is a great toy to have for travel or anywhere. Keep it in your pocket or bag to charge your phone when you can’t find an outlet. When you’re travelling abroad, it’s also a good idea to invest in a combination adapter/converter. You can plug it into different electrical outlets and convert power from 220/240V down to North America’s 110/120V to use your devices.

6. Noise-cancelling Headphones

bose-noise-cancelling

These are essential in today’s world of packed flights and delays. Travel is certainly easier when you can “noise cancel” the snoring neighbour beside you, the crying baby and/or the arguing couple. With these headphones, deep relaxation and sleep are within your reach. One of the best choices is the Bose QuietComfort 35. Although there are wireless ear bud options from Apple (AirPods), they aren’t really noise-canceling and aren’t nearly as effective as over-the-ear headphones.

7. Note Pad/Pen

I always carry a notebook and pen when I travel. Nothing fancy required here, just a small notebook and everyday pen (often a hotel branded giveaway). You can always jot down your thoughts, to-do list, next blog post, etc. at any time and won’t forget to hit “save”.

8. Toiletry Bag

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Amenities and toiletries vary greatly by accommodation and destination. An Air BnB may not have any; a resort may have soap on the wall in the shower; a better hotel may have product that leaves you with skin rashes. It’s easy enough to pack a toiletry bag with small travel-sized containers. If you’re not checking your bag, make sure you pack your <100 ml liquids in a small clear bag to show at security.

9. First Aid Kit

A small and basic first aid kit that includes medication is a must. Painkillers, band aids and other medical essentials come handy during travel, especially if you get a small cut or catch a cold. With a first aid kit, you’ll save time and money being able to take care of yourself!

10. Water Bottle

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A water bottle or travel mug is a real travel essential. If you’re off to explore, hike or even just relax on a beach, you need to stay hydrated throughout the day. And by bringing your own reusable bottle, you’ll be doing your part to save the planet from plastic water bottle waste.

11. Phone and/or Camera

You won’t forget your smartphone when you travel (or camera if you have one). You’ll need it for your boarding pass and other important travel apps. But you may well forget your phone charger, so here’s your reminder: don’t forget it! If you happen to forget one, go to the front desk of any large hotel and let them know that you forgot your charger in the room. Chances are, they’ll pull out a basket full of various chargers that were left behind. Choose the compatible one for your phone, and you are back in business.

And of course, don’t forget the essentials like travel documents and travel insurance. You can’t get around the world without your passport, and you shouldn’t travel without the protection or peace of mind that travel insurance provides.

Safe travels,

Mark

Travel Product Review – Sennheiser Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Travel Product Review - Sennheiser Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Photo by C. Cagnin on Pexels.com

It’s easy to spot the road warriors as they wait at the gate and board the plane. They are the ones listening intently with their noise-cancelling headphones. And I can finally say that after many years as a frequent traveller, I have become an official road warrior with my new wireless, noise-cancelling headphones. I really wish I had them on my long trip to Dubai! But rather than review 5 different headphone brands (buy 5 and return 4), the purpose of this post/review is to bestow the virtues of quality headphones for travel. And also to review my new Sennheiser headphones based on real life usage.

For many years, and like many of you, I carried earbuds (or purchased them on the plane when I forgot to bring them). I even purchased noise-cancelling earbuds a few years back. (They really aren’t noise-cancelling and aren’t the same as 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 loud and unwanted sounds all around you. They will alter your in-flight or commuter experience, letting you disappear into a cone of relative silence and/or into your favourite song. Quiet time and even sleep are highly possible. I find it pretty easy to sleep on a plane but only if I can block out the airplane sounds, baby cries and the loud conversations.

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 trains, subways, buses and/or long walks down busy sidewalks (in addition to travelling).

I’ve chosen the Sennheiser Model HD 4.50BTNC, based on their price point and 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 outer 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 – they are a solid buy (and I did buy them). They provide great value; they fold easily; are comfortable and come with an auxiliary cord when you need to be wired. Perfect for travel!

Safe travels,

Mark

Is Your Credit Card Travel Insurance Coverage Enough?

Sponsored by TuGo
Content provided by TuGo

Is Your Credit Card Travel Insurance Coverage Enough?
Photo by Cameron Casey on Pexels.com

Still relying on credit card travel insurance? Not sure if it really fits the bill? Read on to determine if your coverage is enough…

1. Coverage clauses

• Do you have to pay for the whole trip with your credit card to be covered? Is
there a minimum amount?
• What’s the maximum number of days covered for one trip?
• What’s the maximum amount you’re covered for?
• Are you covered for high-risk activities, like scuba diving?
• Are you covered for other professional services like physio, chiro, etc. to relieve
an acute emergency?

2. Family coverage

• Is coverage only for you, the cardholder?
• Will your travel companions get the same coverage as you, or do they need to
buy additional insurance?
• Would coverage be available to return your travelling companion,
children/grandchildren or accompanying pet home, in a medical emergency?

3. Pre-existing medical conditions

• Does your age affect coverage?
• Are you covered for pre-existing medical conditions?

4. Trip cancellations or interruptions

• Does the plan offer trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance?
• Do you have to pay for the whole trip with your credit card to be covered? Is
there a minimum amount?
• What’s the maximum amount you’re covered for?

5. Emergency and claim assistance

• Are you covered for ambulance or emergency air transportation?
• Will you be penalized if you don’t call the claims company after the emergency or
before visiting the hospital?

So remember, while you may have travel coverage through your credit card, it might not cover you completely in a medical emergency situation. Make sure to contact your credit card provider to know what your policy really covers. If it’s not enough, check out how TuGo can help meet your travel insurance needs.

Is Your Credit Card Travel Insurance Coverage Enough?
Photo by Julius Silver on Pexels.com

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.

Business Travelers Like to Have Fun?

If you travel for business, you have your routine. Arrive at your destination; get your rental car; go to your hotel; go to your meeting; repeat… Business travel is just part of the job and a necessity. But if you are like me, even with the many hassles and challenges of travel, you like business travel.

In a recent National Car Rental State of Business Travel Survey, some interesting findings emerged:

  • Ninety percent of business travelers plan to travel at least the same amount or more (63 percent will travel the same amount; 27 percent will travel more).
  • Business travelers say they work more hours (57 percent) and have more focus (48 percent) when they travel for business.
  • Ninety-two percent of business travelers are satisfied with their quality of life when traveling for business; 89 percent are satisfied with the amount of business travel they do.Aside from the business/work side of the survey, the desire for pursuing leisure activities while on a business trip also emerged in the survey. Most business travelers feel they deserve a break while on the road. And, most bosses (92 percent) support their travelers in taking time for leisure activities.

Aside from the business/work side of the survey, the desire for pursuing leisure activities while on a business trip also emerged in the survey. Most business travelers feel they deserve a break while on the road. And, most bosses (92 percent) support their travelers in taking time for leisure activities.

Again, if you’re like me, you’ve been to many destinations for business (think Las Vegas, Miami, Montreal, etc.). But have you really experienced those destinations? If not, it’s high time to loosen up and enjoy yourself. Chances are you’ll have a bit of free time during your trip. So why not get out of the hotel room and explore the area? Break your travel routine and change up your next business trip.

With proper planning, business travel can be enjoyable and it offers a perfect opportunity to explore a new city. Here are some travel tips to consider when planning your next business trip:

  • Always take advantage of loyalty programs. Airline loyalty gets you preferred status, free baggage, lounge access and more. Hotel loyalty means nicer rooms and other benefits. Car rental loyalty provides “frequent renter” programs. National’s Emerald Club is among the best and gives you counter bypass, your choice of car, rewards, Drop & Go service, e-receipts, etc.
  • Get ready for security screening. The more you travel, the more routine it should be. As you walk up to security, have your boarding pass ready (on phone or paper). Keep your laptop easily accessible to pull out and place in its own bin. Take off your jacket and place your other personal items in bins. Keep “travel only” socks handy if you are asked to remove your shoes (so you don’t have to walk barefoot on dirty floors). A simple and repeatable routine makes security a breeze.
  • Forget about expensive, noise-canceling, big headphones. Get some noise cancelling ear buds. They’re cheap, compact, takeoff- and landing-friendly (non-electronic), and you can sleep comfortably wearing them. They’re also easy to wear at the gym and on a walk.
  • Traveler technology exists to enhance the traveler experience. Within your company’s travel program, advanced technology is available in real time and may include Travel Alerts (travel disruptions), Flight Tracker (flight change notifications) and e-Travel Tracker (traveler tracking/security). Use technology, i.e. apps, to explore your destination. Top recommendations include city guides like Headout and Guides by Lonely Planet; Open Table for restaurants; and Detour for audio walks.
  • Stay active while away. Ask your concierge for a recommended running route to explore the city in a new way. If you are sitting in meetings all day, head to the hotel’s fitness center or pool after work. Exercise relieves stress and leaves you energized. After your workout, you’ll be ready to enjoy your leisure time and explore the town.
National's Emerald Club aisle

Want to learn more? You can find more info about National’s survey here.

What’s your story? How do you enjoy life on the road? Please share your story on Twitter tagging @NationalPro and/or as a comment on this post below. And enjoy your trip!

I was compensated by National Car Rental for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

(Written by Mark Crone for National Car Rental)

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!