We always read others’ travel tips in search of how to do it smarter, lighter, better. After many years of traveling it’s our turn to share some with you:
1. Locking clips for your pack We worry about pickpockets behind us on a busy train, carefully sliding that daypack zipper open and helping themselves to our stuff. Buying lots of locks is crazy and expensive, as well as bringing attention to our pack. We picked up little micro-lock clips at REI for around $3. They’re simple and work like a dream.
2. Hard drive case We have a little external hard drive that stores our photo library. How do we protect it when we travel? Start with a zippered cloth bag a little larger than the hard drive. Drop a nice padded envelope inside. Cut the padded envelope to fit in the cloth bag. Now we have a lined, padded, zipped bag.
3. Covers for passport and credit cards with chips If your U.S. passport was issued since 2006, it probably has a RFID chip laminated in the cover. (There’s a little symbol at the bottom of the passport cover that looks like a camera.) This RFID, which stands for radio-frequency identification, can be read up to 3-feet away. Anyone can scan this RFID, and that can be a problem, if the wrong people are scanning for your identity information. An easy solution to block anyone’s picking up the signals is to buy little passport and credit card pocket protectors. We picked up two credit card holders for under $2.
4. Witopia A worry for any traveler is unsafe wifi in the occasional internet café. Witopia is a personal VPN (virtual private network) that gives us security by hiding our IP address. You can use an IP address from any country where Witopia has a VPN gateway.
5. Google voice We struggled with ways to stay in touch with friends and family while we’re traveling. We won’t be using our U.S. phone number while we’re traveling so we got a Google voice number. Whenever we travel, we set incoming calls to our U.S. phone number to forward to our Google Voice number; GV then sends a message in text to our email.
6. SteriPEN A lot of our traveling will be in places where we’ll need to drink bottled water. An alternative to buying all those bottles is to use a SteriPEN, which uses ultraviolet light to purify the water.
7. Replica edition of “The New York Times” on line We’ve been reading “The New York Times” for a number of decades. For the past few years, we’ve been able to read the Replica Edition online. It looks just like the hard copy paper. Now, no matter where we are, we read the Replica Edition every day on our iPad, using an app called Press Reader.
8. Printouts for hotel addresses in the country’s language We’re going on the web, getting each hotel’s name and contact information in the language of the country, and printing them out. We think this should come in handy for cabs or needing directions back to our hotel.
9. Laundry soap sheets There will be lots of hand laundry in our future, and the best way to take detergent is in little packable sheets.
10. Computer backup left at “home” A full backup of our computers will be on a hard drive left with our son. If anything happens to our computers while we’re gone, at least we’ll have that hard drive as a true backup (to the backups we make every week on a hard drive we’re taking with us).
Why don’t you add a few travel tips to our list? It’s never too late for new discoveries on how to do it smarter, lighter, and better. Thanks.