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
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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

Why an All Inclusive Travel Insurance Package is the Way to Go

Sponsored by: TuGo
Content provided by: TuGo

Why an All Inclusive Travel Insurance Package is the Way to Go
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While you’re planning your next getaway, don’t forget to get travel insurance; these
days, it’s a necessity! You may be surprised to know that if you’re injured while
travelling outside of your home province, provincial health care covers less than 10% of
medical costs! With that in mind, cover your bases with an affordable travel insurance
plan that works for you and your travel companions.

According to TuGo, an All Inclusive Holiday Package offers comprehensive coverage.
Here’s why:

1. Bundle away

If you’re 59 years old or younger, and interested in coverage to supplement Emergency
Medical Insurance, your most economical option is an All Inclusive Holiday Package; it’ll
save you time, money, and stress!

2. Prepare for the unknown

The truth is, accidents happen, travel advisories come into effect on the regular, and
there are plenty of unknowns when it comes to travel. But when you’re on vacation, you
shouldn’t have to worry about a thing.
TuGo’s All Inclusive Holiday Package not only has Emergency Medical Insurance
coverage, but it also includes:
• Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption Insurance
• Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance
• Baggage Insurance

3. No deductible

In case you need to make a travel insurance claim, coverage with TuGo’s All Inclusive
Holiday Package includes an automatic $0 deductible, meaning there’s nothing extra to
pay before we cover your approved claim.

No matter where your travels take you, ensure you’ve got the right travel insurance to
cover all your needs.

Why an All Inclusive Travel Insurance Package is the Way to Go
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Thinking Of Renting A Car In Europe? Here’s What You Need To Know

Renting A Car In Europe

Renting a car in Europe lets you explore and discover different countries and cultures. Renting a car gives you freedom to travel on your own schedule and time. You can get off the beaten path and get to smaller towns and sights with relative ease. There are potential challenges like “driving on the wrong side of the road” in the UK, different rules of the road and some country specific laws. But it’s all well worth it for the memories and potential trip of a lifetime. Here’s the short list of things to consider when you’re renting a car and driving in Europe.

Renting A Car In Europe? Book In Advance

Ca rental rates vary widely by destination and season. Generally speaking, rates are higher for any rental car company or location if you wait to book. (Especially if you walk up to a rental counter with no reservation). You will save money by paying for your car rental ahead of time. Auto Europe is one of the best options for car rentals in Europe. They’ve been in business over 60 years with more than 20,000 locations in 180 countries. They work with well known car rental companies and provide unbeatable rates on car rentals. You can book your car rental as soon as you book your trip with the option to modify or cancel your booking if your plans change.

Beyond the large highways in Europe, most roads are tight and winding. And parking is tight and tricky with limited street parking and small parking lots. A smaller car, typical in Europe, is the best way to get around and easier to drive. Many cars in Europe are equipped with a manual transmission. If you don’t drive a standard/manual transmission, you’ll need to book early to make sure that you get a car equipped with an automatic transmission.

Renting A Car In Europe

Renting A Car In Europe? You’ll Need Insurance Coverage

With Auto Europe, if you select a basic rental rate your price will include value added tax (VAT), public liability insurance, fire insurance and unlimited miles. If the inclusive rate is selected, it will include everything in the basic rate plus collision damage waiver (CDW) and theft protection for the rental vehicle. I definitely recommend the inclusive rate specifically to have full CDW and theft protection on your rental car. If you rely on credit card coverage or your own car insurance, you may not have enough coverage and/or you may have to pay in full for a claim and then seek reimbursement.

Renting A Car In Europe? You Might Need an International Driver’s Permit

Many European countries—like the United Kingdom and Ireland—recognize North American driver’s licenses. However, other countries—like Italy, Germany, and Spain—require that you possess and carry an International Driving Permit (IDP). The IDP is proof that you possess a valid driver’s license. It also translates your driving qualifications into ten of the world’s most commonly used languages, and allows travellers to drive in over 150 different countries.

You can get an International Driver’s Permit at AAA (U.S.) and CAA (Canada) for a nominal fee, and you only need proof of your driver’s license to apply.

Renting A Car In Europe? Be Prepared For the Unexpected

The unexpected can of course happen anywhere and at anytime. Be aware of what’s covered by the rental car agency if you have an accident or your car breaks down. Most offer some form of roadside assistance in the event of a break down. Traffic tickets and toll fees will naturally be billed to you if you don’t pay locally.

If your rental car is involved in an accident, it is imperative that you contact local authorities immediately. A valid police report is always required, regardless of how minor the accident is. The second number you should contact is the one listed on your car rental key chain. For further protection, take pictures of all the damage done to your rental car and any other parties involved.

Having your cell phone activated for use in Europe is a must for driving directions, destination information and in the case of emergency. A SIM card saves on roaming and data charges while keeping you connected. TravelSIM is my choice because its prepaid (providing cost control), works in over 170 countries and incoming calls and messages are free. Between driving and blog support, I need coverage while in Europe.

Renting A Car In Europe?

Renting A Car In Europe? Find Out the Rules of the Road

The autobahn actually exists in Austria and Germany where the drivers follow a strict code. The left lane is for passing only (most cars will be travelling at more than 160 km/per hour). The middle lane is for the average driver – 120-160 km/per hour. Anything slower is on the right lane.

In the UK, you drive on the left side of the road , and you pass on the right side. There are also numerous roundabouts where you need to know which exit you are taking ahead of time.

Turning right on a red light is not permitted anywhere in Europe, unless there’s a sign that indicates otherwise.

Renting A Car In Europe? Other Things To Know

  1. It’s not a bad idea to buy a traditional paper map as backup. Maps are readily available at gas stations and highway stops. Google Maps or offline maps work but you may not have service or data in remote areas.
  2. Most tolls can be paid by coins, cash or credit card. Some countries like Austria and Switzerland require the purchase of vignettes (driving stickers) that need to be displayed in your front window. They are readily available at gas stations and road side stores.
  3. Getting gas in Europe typically requires that you pay in advance before pumping.
  4. Parking in Europe varies greatly by town and city. Parking can be free, pay via parking meter or require a parking permit. Pay attention when you park or you will invariably get a ticket.
  5. You’ll get comfortable driving in no time. Enjoy the trip, lookout for great places to stop and enjoy the views!

Auto Europe Car Rental

The Adventurer’s Checklist For A Visit To Australia

There are many, many reasons why tourists flock to the land down under from all over the world. They get scorching hot summers while most of us are getting ready for winter. They have the friendliest locals and the coolest cities. They have delicious food and incredible wine. They have one of the most spectacular and diverse ecosystems on the planet. They have some of the world’s most incredible creatures (I dare you to spend 5 minutes with a quokka and not fall in love). They have numerous thriving centres of art, music and culture, yet, one thing that characterises an Australian holiday perhaps more than any other is the enormous sense of adventure. Australia is a great place for relaxing by the beach with a cocktail and a good book, but it’s also quite possibly the adventure capital of the world.

The Adventurer's Checklist For a Visit to Australia

Image by Alex Healing via Flickr

If you’re the kind of person who can’t sit still for a moment while on holiday, make your way through this adventurer’s checklist of Australia…

Walk in the wilderness of Fraser Island

Before European settlers arrived in Australia, the country was an ecologically diverse (and spectacularly dangerous) wilderness that only the canny indigenous peoples could navigate safely. Perhaps that’s why so many of the country’s cities hug the coast. Yet, if you want to get off the beaten track and explore the “real” Australia, heading on over to Adventure Free tours and booking a trip to Fraser island is a good place to start. In this UNESCO World Heritage site in Queensland you’ll get to enjoy long hikes and swimming in crystal clear waters surrounded by some of Australia’s stunning native wildlife including dingos, echidnas, flying foxes and all manner of exotic birds.

Climb Uluru… while you still can

There are some who can’t pass a rocky outcrop without wanting to climb it, and if you want to visit the sandstone monolith formerly known as Ayers Rock with the intention of climbing it, you’d better get your skates on. The site’s cultural significance to the indigenous population and the inherent risk factors of the climb have led to the decision for climbing trips to be banned in October 2019. Of course, even if you should choose to visit after this date, there’s still lots to see and do around this seminal landmark.

Snorkel with white sharks

Australia has no shortage of stunning wildlife on land, but perhaps its most spectacular sights are seen beneath the sea. Australia has a plethora of opportunities for scuba diving and snorkelling but for a truly memorable experience head on over to the Ningaloo Reef where you can swim side by side with 10 metre long white sharks. Of course these graceful giants aren’t the only natives to these fair waters. You’ll also encounter dugongs, manta rays, dolphins, turtles and whales.

Go kayaking in Nitmiluk National Park

Finally, those who are most at home in the water won’t want to miss the opportunity to go on a kayaking adventure down the the Katherine River in Nitmiluk National Park. You’ll be able to go off the track most beaten by tourists and dive deep into the outback, mixing it up with freshwater crocodiles and paddle your way past hoards of screeching cockatoos.

What Every Traveler Should Know Before They Get On the Plane

So you’ve made up your mind, you know where you want to go, you know what you want to do once you get there and you’re ready for an amazing experience. Hold on, pump the brakes and check to see if you’ve done everything you need to. Have you learned something about the culture? Have you learned some basic phrases which could come in handy for when you’re in an emergency? Have you got the right amount of money you will need? Do you know who to call or contact when you’re in need of some assistance? Have you planned any alternatives to things you plan on doing just in case they don’t work out? Just when you think you’ve thought of everything, you find out that actually you haven’t left no stone unturned. This is what every traveller should be doing before they even step one foot on the plane.

Notes at the ready

Even before you have boarded your flight, you should have the money you’re going to use in your suitcase. It’s not good to land and not have any kind of money to use for getting a ride to the hotel, paying for dinner, paying the hotel and for many other things. You need to look for a trusted Currency Exchange service and get the best value you can for your money into the currency you’ll be using abroad. Sometimes currencies are linked together such as the US dollar and the Canadian dollar. The CAD will almost always be worth less than USD because it’s pegged to that fiat. However if you’re exchanging a more valuable currency such as GBP or even the EUR, then you could stand to get back three times more.

An extra set

Planning for the rare occasion might seem trivial but it really does depend on where you’re going. For example if you’re heading into a tropical climate, you should pack an extra set of clothes. During monsoon season especially, sudden and incredibly strong downpours can come out of nowhere. In a hot climate, wet clothes can not only begin to stink, but they can begin to smell as well. It’s cautious and prudent to pack an extra pair of clothes that you can wear in the event that all of your other clothes are either dirty or drenched. This clothing doesn’t have to be heavy, it can just be a light t-shirt and some shorts so they won’t take up much room in your suitcase.

The translating apps

Pick from a range of translating apps and see which one for the language you need is the best. These apps are downloaded onto your smartphone and they come in great for when you need to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak English. Simply speak into your phone’s speaker and the app will then translate your speech into the words you’re looking for.

Before you go abroad you can do these simple things to make your experience much better. The most important is getting a good deal for your currency exchange as without the national coin, you can’t pay for anything.

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.

How to Pack Like a Travel Blogger

Do you want to know how to pack like a travel blogger? Quick, easy and packing light? Less experienced travellers usually fall into the common trap of stuffing their bags with everything they think they might need, but often forget some important item. That usually leads to frustration, because the problem is most typically noticed when there’s no place where the particular item can be bought.

Those people who have this problem envy travel bloggers and wonder how they can travel so much and still carry everything they need. The secret lies in the fact that the more you travel, the better you are at packing and in following the tips of more seasoned travellers. So, what is it they recommend, based on their experience?

Daypack

One of the first things you need to put on the list is a daypack, compressed and stored in a main backpack. You need it for day trips, hikes or even weekend getaways, where you only carry things that are absolutely necessary. With so many daypacks to choose from, your only concern is likely to be the amount of money you’re happy to part with. Some more fashion-conscious ones will also try to match the style of their daypack with the clothes they usually wear on a trip.

Multi-tools

You definitely want to bring along a multi-tool, such as the famous Swiss Army knife, which you can use for opening cans, bottles, nail clipping and cutting food. However, make sure you put your multi-tool in your checked luggage otherwise security will take it away. Still, the functionality of such tools allows travellers to reduce both the size and volume of their luggage by option for these practical solutions.

Bags for wet and dry items

No matter where you go, you’ll be exposed to the risk of getting wet to a certain extent. In case that happens, you need to protect your dry clothes and electronics by using a wet/dry item. This is particularly useful for towels that can’t get dry before you your departure or swimsuits.

Record your memories

No matter how focused you may be during your trip, there’s no way you can remember every adventure you had. That’s why it’s vital you take something to help you record your memories but won’t require a lot of your attention in terms of handling. A logical choice is a gadget, such as a fantastic GoPro HERO action camera, that can provide high-quality videos and pics of your travels.

Earplugs

Though they might not be an obvious choice, earplugs are highly recommended by frequent travellers because of their ability to help deal with crying babies, snorers or simply people having loud conversations close to you. You want to be rested as much as possible once you reach your destination and there aren’t many items that can help you with that better than a pair of good earplugs.

Reusable water bottle

Since you need to keep yourself hydrated at all times, it’s very important that you have a sturdy, reusable water bottle that you can refill and reuse many times. You’ll not only avoid buying plastic water bottles, but you can also benefit from some bottles’ ability to filter water using UV light or some other method.

Dark clothes

Unless you’re travelling to some sunny and hot destination, experienced travellers recommend using darker clothes, because all the stains and spills that are bound to appear will not be as noticeable as they would be if you wore white, for example. That would also mean packing fewer items of clothing, which is another benefit of listening to seasoned travellers.

It goes without saying that there are many other tips for packing like a travel blogger, but you have to start from somewhere, right? So, consider the destination, the length of stay and other vital elements and start making a list well before you embark on your journey. It’s through the experience of travelling that you’ll find what you need to bring on your next trip.