Travel Tips – Internet Travel Safety

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2017 is the year for top travel tips on Mark’s Travel Journal. My goal is to provide countless tips for making the most out of your travelling in 2017 and beyond. So here is the first in the series – Internet Travel Safety.

There really is no such thing as total internet security while travelling (or not travelling for that matter). When you are travelling, and your connectivity options are limited to public networks, you are at even more risk. Smart travellers know that the small investment in a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service is the best way to keep their identities and private information protected, not to mention the added benefits of accessing blocked sites (U.S. NetFlix, etc.) and online shopping with minimal risk.

Not all VPNs are created equal! The team at reviews.com has looked into over 100 service optins for the fastest, most reliable, affordable and compatible across multiple devices. Check out their complete study and findings here: http://www.reviews.com/vpn/

Happy travels!

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The Paris Series (Part 2) – Sainte-Chapelle

Among the many things that Paris is famous for, its collection of museums is second to none. There are over 50 museums and monuments in and around Paris. There are of course many very well known ones including the Musee du Louvre, Musee D’Orsay, Musee Picasso and monuments including the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Chathedral, Chateau de Versailles and more.

One of Paris’ greatest jewels, and often overlooked sites, is Sainte-Chapelle. As you walk down Boulevard du Palais, you’ll see a line of people that appear to be waiting to enter the Palais de Justice (a large building from 1868 that still functions as a court house). Behind the entrance and in the courtyard is what they are actually waiting for – entrance to Sainte-Chapelle. (Unlike some other museum sites, your Paris Museum Pass does not get you queue-cutting access here).

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Sainte-Chapelle is a royal medieval Gothic chapel dating back to the 1200s and Louis the IX of France. Although damaged during the French Revolution, Sainte-Chapelle contains one of the most extensive and beautiful collections of stained glass anywhere in the world. As you enter the chapel, you’ll see some stained glass and a gift shop. Look for the stairs on either side of the room to get up a narrow staircase to the second floor and the main room. It is absolutely spectacular and breathtaking !

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More Travel Apps To Make Life Easier

Travel apps show now sign of waning anytime soon. Some have fallen by the wayside- ultimately they need to have some kind of business model that makes money. Others are popular beyond reason (but for good reason). Here’s another short list of apps that can help you on the road:

UBER:

On the one hand, a great idea. On the other hand, not without some degree of risk- drivers with regular licenses, possibly under insured and almost unregulated. The offset is it’s a neat service. I’ve done it several times (see my post- To Uber Or Not To Uber). It cuts the cost of a regular taxi in less than half, auto bills to your credit card and it’s fun to talk to your driver (they at least seem more talkative than most taxi drivers). It couldn’t be easier to use and can be set  up in minutes. www.uber.com

FONGO:

This Canadian App provides calls and texts across most of Canada for free to 800+ cities. Fongo uses VOIP for calls and texts and as an app uses data if not connected to Wi-Fi. You can radically change your mobile phone plan and use data to save large! Voice clarity is great and it’s free! I use the same number on both my iPad and iPhone with no monthly phone bill. www.fongo.com

INSTAGRAM:

It’s easy to throw this ultra popular app onto this list but here’s my rationale. Instagram has many uses- just between friends (“this user is private”), fun shots, food & drink, etc. As an Instagram user myself (marktravel), I like it for documenting my travel and also travelling around the world (via Instagram) on any given day. By using hash-tags for searches, say #London, you can research your upcoming destination beforehand or while in the destination. Great sights to see, restaurants to eat, attractions and more. www.instagram.com

TROVER:

Trover is similar to Instagram in that you share pictures but members add tips and share inspiration from their travels. It’s very much about finding unique places to visit and sharing your story. It’s basic search function is location based so it tells you the nearest “discoveries” relative to where you currently are. In order to interact with other members, you follow them and thank them for their discovery. I’m a member (MarkTravel) but haven’t used it a lot to-date. www.trover.com

EXPENSIFY:

If you need to keep track of your expenses on the road (and who doesn’t), this is really cool. The basic version is free and provides 10 SmartScans per month, unlimited expense uploads, ability to track time and track distance (using GPS, odometer or inputting distance). Very simple for a mundane task. Their motto is “expense reports that don’t suck!” www.expensify.com