Travel Product Review – Sennheiser Noise-Cancelling Headphones

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

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 – Travel SIM

Travel SIM

Travel SIM – Yes or No?

You’re about to depart on a trip and you’re thinking about how you’ll stay in touch. Do you turn off roaming and data and jump on wireless when you can or do you use your phone abroad with data? I’ve done both but I prefer to be in touch, use my GPS apps and check email periodically. In my travels, having a cell phone is a must for driving directions (think roundabout) , destination information (the next town) and in case of emergency.

 

Travel SIM

 

Travel SIM – Your Best Option

My personal money saving tip for most travel destinations is to pass on your cell provider’s international travel plan and go for a SIM card instead. A SIM card saves on roaming and data charges while keeping you completely connected. TravelSIM is my top choice because its prepaid (providing cost control), works in over 170 countries and incoming calls and messages are free. You buy it online and it’s delivered within a couple of days. You also get great “bars” in destination (cell reception) because you’re using a local telecom provider. Make sense?

The small challenge here is installing the SIM card. You’ll need to remove your current SIM card and insert your TravelSIM card. It’s easy – use a pin to open the SIM card slot (a thumb tack or paper clip both work); take out your current SIM card; put in the new SIM card, and Voila! Your phone will need to be “unlocked” for the new card to work (if it’s locked, the new SIM card won’t work). Contact your service provider or a cell phone unlocking service.

 

If by chance you didn’t buy a SIM card in advance, you can still buy when you arrive in destination (at the airport, train station or bus station). Just look for a store that sells SIM cards. The cards will be cheap and in many cases an employee will insert the SIM card for you.

 

Travel SIM

Travel SIM – The Bottom Line

You can save a lot of money and get a lot more high-speed data by planning ahead and buying a Travel SIM card.  If you are traveling to multiple countries, you will probably need a separate SIM card for each country unless you buy a TravelSIM card that features multiple countries and zones. If you get a new SIM card for travel, you will be using a different phone number from your regular one. To simplify taking a smartphone abroad, use messaging apps like What’s App or iMessage to maintain your identity and end-to-end encryption. A SIM card for travel keeps you in touch and keeps you off unsecured public Wi-Fi.

Safe Travels!

 

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.

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.

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.