Travel Tips

Stay Safe: How You’re Vulnerable to Identity Theft When Traveling

travelThere are many risks that travelers face when packing up and jetting off. The nature of the pursuit leaves people unprotected and very vulnerable. Over the years, the type of crime that travelers are a risk of falling victim to has changed. Now, more than ever before, identity theft is on the rise, and many unwittingly adventurers are finding their journeys cut short due to an unsuspected attack.

However, this doesn’t mean it’s time to put away the hiking boots and backpack for good! Although the risk is there, it should never stop you from doing what you love and getting out to see the world. By taking a few simple steps to help understand the threats and do what you can to minimize them, travelers can protect themselves and continue their journey without having to constantly worry about the chance of disaster.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft comes in many different forms, but they’re usually the means to a similar end. When criminals intercept your details, they do so in order to use that information for their own monetary gain. In the simplest form, they could merely aim to collect enough information to be able to access your bank account and drain the money from it; however, more complex variations on the scheme include fraudulently applying for loans or credit using another person’s identity and then leaving the victim to deal with the fall out.

Although most good banks and organizations will resolve with the situation accordingly and make sure you’re not out of pocket, the immediate repercussions when on the road and traveling could be disastrous. You could easily face your funds being frozen, bank accounts locked and even police enquiries, so avoiding the situation at all cost is a necessary practice.

Physical Theft

Physical theft is a common and, unfortunately, likely problem that all travelers are potential victims to. Due to the fact they carry so many personal and sensitive documents around with them, tourists regularly become targets for pickpockets and thieves. Similarly, the lack of secure storage when backpacking and staying in hostels leaves valuables at significant risk.

Fortunately, this is a problem that has been acknowledged by many, and steps have been taken to reduce the threat. Many hostels offer lockable safes to all their customers, and many money belts are designed to keep your cash and documents safe and close to your body while traveling around. However, it’s still important to be aware and stringent with these practices. Avoid leaving your bag lying around unattended when on the road, and make sure you hide valuables in hidden pockets so no sticky fingers can reach in and grab them.

Public WiFi Networks

Identity theft is not just a problem in terms of physical crime; one of the most vulnerable points for travelers’ information to be stolen is when connecting to the internet. This is because, often, people on the road have to rely on public WiFi networks to be able to connect. These networks are notoriously unsecure as they leave your data flying around unprotected and completely visible to prying eyes. As you input passwords and credit card details into websites, then malicious hackers can intercept and gather that information before using it for their own benefit.

Unfortunately, public WiFi is a necessary evil for life as a traveler; however, there are a few simple steps you can take to avoid becoming victim to online identity theft. First, try to ensure you only use dependable WiFi spots. There are many rogue hotspots set up specifically for data collection, so sticking to named and trusted brands—such as Starbucks and McDonalds—or using traceable sources—such as your hostel WiFi—ensures that you won’t stumble into one of these digital traps. To protect yourself further, it’s worth installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This handy piece of software acts as a middleman and encrypts your data before you access the public network. This means you can input information without worrying about onlookers and can surf the internet safely and securely.

Credit Card Interceptions

Unsurprisingly, credit card information is some of the most sensitive, and most coveted, data out there. This is because, although other information allows criminals to commit fraud, having direct access to someone’s bank account is a much quicker and straightforward payout. There are numerous techniques all over the world that criminals use to try to intercept card details, so any traveler could be exposed to many scams and tricks during their journey.

Some simple steps to take to improve your security include being stringent with cash point usage. ATM’s are a hotspot for credit card fraud. Criminals tamper with the machines to prevent cards coming back out, and watch over your shoulder as you repeatedly input you pin number, or even use heat-sensing technology to pick up which buttons you pressed. To avoid this, aim to use trusted cash points that have long queues and report any thing suspicious immediately. Also ensure you always cover your pin and even press a few extra buttons for good measure to avoid heat tracking! If you are worried about a certain transaction, make sure you ring your bank as soon as you can, as reporting it early can make a big difference in ensuring a refund.

While worrying about the risks should never be enough to prevent you from traveling, it is always worth being cautious! These few steps are a great place to start to optimize your security and stay safe on the road. If you have any more tips that you feel should be added to this list, then be sure to leave a comment below.

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How to Save on International Holiday Travel

There are loads of people who love to travel on the holidays, but most of them pay a premium to do so. If you want to travel for the holidays 2016, your window of time is well open. There are many techniques that you can employ to score some awesome deals, whether you want to go someplace in particular or if you have no particular destination in mind. With more than a year before you leave, this is when the best deals will still be available.

If you just need to get out of town, and want to go somewhere that’s outside of your home nation, you will do best if you pick a place that has different holiday traditions than your own. If you’re like many of our readers, you live in a nation where most citizens celebrate holidays that happen in November, December, and January.

This is typical of so-called “first-world nations” for many reasons. Marketing and national economy realities make it efficient for all people groups in a nation to get their celebrating out of the way within a period of a few weeks. This enables the larger economy to move along with minimal interruption and infrastructure strain.

Much of this strain comes in the form of travel burden. In the United States, there is more travel on the road and airways during November and December than in most other months of the year combined. This results in higher costs for all. Airlines have to pay more fuel and operating costs as more people move through their facilities. More personnel demands, more delays, more things to repair: it’s all part of the holiday season. These costs get passed down to consumers, who are already paying more to get seats on crowded airplanes.

While this aspect of late-year airline travel cost can not be completely avoided, it’s possible to fly for less simply by traveling to a nation which doesn’t have widespread December holiday culture. It may seem hard to believe, but more than half of the world is a good destination contender for this kind of holiday. If you want to get out of town while the rest of your nation is celebrating Christmas or some other Judeo-Christian holiday (or another holiday that happens around this time), just go someplace where people don’t celebrate those as much.

The only other way to save on holiday travel is to make plans for times when so many people aren’t moving around the planet by air. The other savings alternative is to buy your tickets well in advance. We’re talking a year or more in advance. It may be outside of your nature to plan a trip that far in advance, but this is how the pro savers do it.

You could also make a habit of practicing travel savings strategies using credit cards. There are many top finance blogs which will give you better tips than I could fit in a short post like this. But suffice to say, this is one of the main ways that people make their international holiday travels a lot more affordable. Whichever of the above methods you choose, I hope you find a way to get a great deal on your holiday travel.

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How to Enjoy a Romantic Paris Getaway on a Budget

Dubbed the World’s Capital City of Love, Paris can be really as magically romantic as you choose to make it, whether you have a fortune to splash or working on a budget. This article is especially for you who is looking for ways of planning and enjoying a romantic, low-budget getaway to this great french city. Check out our tips below:

1) Plan Your Trip Ahead

First of all, you need to decide on the trip and how you get there. There are some great offers that can let you save a lot, for instance, with the Orbitz coupons. Also, the choice of places to tour are some of the major factors that can affect your romantic trip to the City of Lights. Being one of the most expensive spots on the planet, price can also be another major setback. It’s good, therefore, to do some homework and research on all these factors before the actual visit to ensure that you get the best at affordable costs when the actual day of your romantic getaway comes.

2) Time to Visit

With fewer tourists, the fall and winter are the best times of the year to visit Paris both budget-wise, as well as in order to avoid large crowds of tourists at places like the Eiffel Tower. If there is a significant difference in time-zone between your home country and France, before leaving home it is also important that you have at least a few days of adjusting your body system to this change by shifting your dinner and sleep times to roughly conform to Parisian time.

3) Accommodation and Dining Deals

Just like in any other city, you will find a myriad of tourist traps in Paris with people wanting to rip you off by selling you expensive food. Avoid these pitfalls by visiting sites like Groupon, KGB Deals and TopTable.com to find places you can dine and make room reservations on a budget. What is more important is that you can also get discounts, coupons and points by using the services of these sites and lower the cost of your stay even further.

4) Get a Paris/Metro Pass

You should consider acquiring a Paris Pass whenever you are visiting Paris. It is reasonably priced considering the fact that it can help you avoid queuing at more than 60 major attractions, monuments and museums including the Seine River Cruise, the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe (unfortunately excluding the Eiffel Tower). In addition, the Paris Pass offers you unlimited travel on the Paris metro, buses and the RER within the city’s CBD; as well as a guidebook and the most important thing to your pocket, coupons to dine and shop on a budget! A daily/weekly Metro Pass can also help you save some cash since you will not have to buy each pass individually whenever you need to move around. Keeping track of the places you go to also becomes much easier.

5) Places to Tour on a Budget

The city of Paris has hundreds of places that you can tour by either spending very little or nothing at all. For instance, you can have a romantic stroll by the Champs Elysees, shoot romantic photos outside of Notre Dame or on the Seine bridges, enjoy seeing the sculptures outside the Louvre or even tour the world-famous Pere Lachaise Cemetery. You could also consider a romantic Seine Dinner Cruise, a Trocadero horse-&-carriage ride, or just enjoy panoramic views of Paris from atop the Sacre Coeur!

6) Romantic Eateries to Visit

For a place to have an intimate candle-lit dinner, accompanied by a bottle of French champagne, beneath the stars on a romantic Parisian night, there are hundreds of hotels, restaurants and cocktail clubs in the City of Love that you can take your lover to. Some of the most popular choices here include Flute l’Etoile, Hotel Taylor, Le Baron Rouge, Hotel Avalon and La Dame de Canton.

Enjoy your trip!

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4 Essential Items You Need for Your Adventure in Europe

No spring break is complete without a fetching trip to Europe. While looking to soak in some culture and importing an air of je ne sais quoi, it is important to keep in mind of 4 essential items that can either make or break your European escapade. All of these will help you enjoy your trip better and keep you on your toes. Here is the list of the things you need to live it up and stay safe while holidaying in the Member states of the European Union:

Currency

Ain’t no sunshine when money is gone: this is probably the first and most important thing you will need. While this one is a no brainer (Travel without money? We’re not yet Christopher Supertramp), it is important to keep in mind about the destinations you plan to travel. As of right now, the Euro is the currency in 19 member states out of the 28 member states in the EU. Now, with the Schengen visa, you can also travel to non EU member states like Switzerland and Norway. This would mean you should carry a little bit of the local currency. While it is not much of a hassle these days to convert currency, it may help to have small batch in case of emergencies.

Dictionary

The European Union has 24 official and working languages as of right now. Of these 24 languages, there are 4 languages that are most spoken. According to a special Eurobarometer report published in June 2012, German is the most widely spoken language. After German, it is Italian & English and then it is French. While there is a very good chance that you may find someone who can understand English, why not pick up some local flavour and speak in the native language? Carry a translator or a dictionary to help you out when the words don’t come so easy. If nothing else, add yet another feather to your cap for trying to learn a new language!

Adapters

The European Union is made of multiple small countries and crossing them is only a matter of hours. It is good to keep a variety of adapters for the plug points and connectors you may come across while on travel. For example, your favourite flat iron and your trusty DSLR’s charger need to have adapters. Phones, laptops and cameras by themselves can run on the different voltage levels found in the EU though. Bear in mind, if you plan to travel to the UK, you will need to carry yet another adapter. UK has a different style of plugs as compared with the bulk of Europe.

Maps and Guides

Some of the counting charm of Europe can be experienced by walking around. This is a great way to see the thriving street art, the local culture in action and get around new experiences while travelling. Most of the member states are very friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists. Keep a map or a guide handy to know what to look out for. There is always a lot to see while taking a walk. So keep your wits about and carry your camera too!

This was just a brief on what to look out for when taking a trip to Europe. Keep your head up for the basic needs of travelling too, like hotels and flights. In Europe, with the influx of people and tourists, there are a variety of options to consider for stay and travel. In this season, you are likely to get a very good deal with major sites like www.Orbitz.com and its easily accessible Orbitz coupon codes save on deals at Orbitz. Relish these like fresh gelato.

Bon courage, mon ami!

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Las Vegas Without Opening Your Wallet

Las Vegas is the top U.S. travel destination this year, with more people searching for travel packages and tips about Las Vegas than any other destination. Travelers like Lindsey Stone can easily see this is because there are a lot of free activities in the city and the nearby countryside that make this a great destination even if you don’t gamble.

The Big Casino Hotels

The biggest casino hotels offer free events that attract viewers all day long.

The Venetian offers the Carnevale di Venezia, which is a 15-minute performance of opera by elaborately costumed artists. You can also see living statues, gondoliers and jugglers on stilts.

The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is an airy atrium with hundreds of exotic plants and flowers in elaborate arrangements. It’s open 24 hours a day, has live music from 5pm – 6pm, and there is Mr. and Mrs. Green Thumb to answer all your botanical questions.

Caesars Palace has a Fall of Atlantis water show that is out of this world. It starts at 11am and repeats every hour. There is also a 50,000-gallon saltwater aquarium with more than 300 fish. There’s an even bigger one at Silverton’s with more than 4,000 tropical fish, mermaids and feeding times.

Every night you can see a 54-foot volcano erupt at the Mirage with all the requisite smoke, fire and lava.

Children, and adults, can watch a free circus show at Circus Circus that has trapeze acts, acrobats, jugglers and other acts above the casino floor as well as acts in the child-friendly midway.

The MGM Grand Lion Habitat is 12 miles out of the city, but the lions are brought into a special glass habitat at the hotel where you can view the lions from all angles.

In the City

Ethel’s Chocolates Factory Tour is free and fun. You get to watch how candy is made and get a free sample at the end. It’s an activity that is not associated with gambling and is a great alternative for a little quiet time. There is also the largest Botanical Cactus Garden in Nevada nearby with four acres of more than 300 species succulents and cacti.

Freemont Street

In downtown Las Vegas, the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian promenade is worth the trip to Vegas itself. There are free nightly shows that have more than 12.5 million lights and 550,000watts of sound. It includes free concerts and special events. It has the world’s largest video screen and is a great place to people-watch. You should get there early to grab a table in an outdoor café and enjoy.

The Neon Museum is also on the street that includes a veritable history of neon in Las Vegas as well as many other historical signs. There are guides that give tours to explain the background of each sign.

There are two zip lines down Freemont Street. They’re not free, but definitely worth the price.

Outdoor Adventure

If you like some outdoor activity included in your vacation, the Valley of Fire State Park is just one hour from the city. It has bizarre rock formations and Native American petroglyphs. The Grand Canyon in Arizona is about a five hour drive away, but definitely worth the trip. You can camp there and return the next day.

Las Vegas may have a wild reputation, but it is an extremely family and budget friendly place for a really memorable vacation.

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8 Budget-Friendly Destinations for a Stress-Free Vacation

Popular tourists destinations are great…sometimes. Other times you may want to avoid the headache.

What’s wrong with the popular tourist traps? They’re expensive, they can be dangerous and they’re crowded.

There’s a better way.

Traveling to little-known vacation areas can be great for several reasons. They’re affordable, they’re less crowded and you can try something new and different.

Disney World is great and all, but smaller attractions can leave lasting memories for the rest of your life. It’s amazing how stress-free a vacation can be if you’re not spending hundreds of dollars everyday and you’re more focused on actually spending time together.

I’ve got a solution for you. I’ve compiled a list of 8 great places to go on vacation that won’t break your budget.

And be sure to stick around for some stress-free travel tips at the end…

1. Washington D.C.

Though the cost of living in the D.C. area may be high, being a tourist there isn’t. You can find decent lodging rates if you stay out of the city and take the subway in.

Food: There are several amazing pizza joints in D.C. and don’t forget to look for the little dinners and dives that are scattered all over.

Attractions: Free museums galore! Of course, American tax dollars are paying for them, but there is no cost to enter a plethora of museums and attractions in D.C., including The National Museum of American History, The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, The Washington Monument and The Lincoln Memorial…to name a few.

2. Oklahoma City, OK

You won’t run out of things to do in this city with over 1,000,000 people in the metro area. Lodging rates aren’t too high in the city and if you look on the outer limits, you can expect some really great rates.

Food: World-famous onion burgers are one of the many choices you have for food in OKC. Eischen’s is another great place right outside of OKC. They are famous for their fried chicken and for serving it on a paper towel.

Attractions: There are all kinds of cheap/free museums and inner-city attractions. Don’t miss the Oklahoma City Zoo! With a ticket price under $10 for adults (half price for military), that makes for a cheap day exploring the giant wildlife wonderland.

3. Nashville, TN

The city of music and fun. If you’re looking for a night out, just go downtown and find any type of music you like, while eating some great food.

Food: It may not be Memphis, but the barbecue is comparable. If you’re looking for a treat, head over to Knockout Wings and be sure to try their famous butter biscuits, southern sweet tea and of course, amazing wings.

Attractions: From music museums to street performances, this is truly the city of music. If you like music, it’s easy to stay entertained for a week or longer, even on a small budget. Even if you’re not into music that much, there are several other museums and attractions around the town.

4. Branson, MO

With more shows than Las Vegas, Branson is a tourist’s goldmine. It’s a great summer getaway or a winter holiday vacation spot. Our family has been there during both seasons and both were awesome for different reasons.

Food: Look for the diners, they’re everywhere. You can find some great BBQ here and to top it all off, why not take a trip to the famous Joe’s Crab Shack?

Attractions: The shows are a given, but aren’t they expensive? Some are, but many are quite affordable. My family and I were able to see 5 shows for under $100 total for the family. You just have to find discounts and package deals. You’ll also want to spend a day or two at the new Branson Landing for shopping and dining.

5. New Orleans, LA

New Orleans is popular and for a good reason, though it’s not overcrowded, unless you go during Mardi Gras. There is a lot to do and you don’t have to spend much.

Food: New Orleans is known for all kinds of delicious Cajun food. You’ll want to try a real po’boy from Johnny Po’Boy’s or one of many other great places. There is plenty of seafood to go around. You’ll also want to make sure you try some crayfish and gator while you’re there.

Attractions: The downtown area has much to offer, even if you aren’t there to walk Bourbon Street. The Audobon Zoo is worth a visit and you won’t want to miss the National WWII Museum.

6. Hot Springs, AR

I may be a little biased, since this is my hometown, but it’s really a hidden goldmine. The entire city is a National Park, so if you want nature, this is your place. As far as lodging, you have choices from cheap, clean hotels to very affordable condos in the Hot Springs Village.

Food: Great barbecue and southern food all over. While we’re talking about barbecue, make sure you try the famous “tamale spread” from McClard’s BBQ. You’ll see the pictures on the wall of a few celebrities, like Bill Clinton and Tom Green, eating there. There is also a surprising number of great authentic Mexican restaurants and taco trucks.

Attractions: Hiking, walking trails, museums, a historic downtown area and their famous lakes will keep you busy. It’s also a great place to get an affordable massage at one of the many spas downtown. You can even learn to scuba dive in Lake Ouachita, one of the cleanest lakes in the country.

7. Gulf Shores, AL

A city on the gulf with just a few thousand people makes for affordable restaurants, lodging and entertainment.

Food: You can find your fair share of fresh seafood and southern cooking, but if you want a real hole-in-the-wall wonder, head over to Old World Bakery and Pizza for some amazing Italian food. It’s a hidden gem that my wife and I were lucky enough to find.

Attractions: For starters, you have the ocean. It’s hard to beat that. There are free beaches everywhere. If you get tired of the beach, you can always find something to do in the little beach-front town, or you can take the short day-trip into the Florida panhandle.

8. Lancaster, PA

Lancaster is known for being “Amish country”, but it doesn’t end there. Take the Amish tours and see the beautiful country, but there’s more.

Food: There are plenty of Amish restaurants that serve fresh, natural, home-cooked meals. Be sure to try the baked oatmeal over at Lititz Family Cupboard on the outskirts of Lancaster County.

Attractions: Amish tours and outlet shopping are pretty popular. You could take the kids to Hershey Park or just take a tour of the Hershey factory and land. There’s also a gigantic Sight & Sound Theatre that puts on a great show.

Some Final Stress-Free Travel Tips

Hopefully you’ve found your next vacation spot! Before I go, I want to make your next vacation even more enjoyable. Let me give you some tips that I use to make vacations less stressful…

1. Keep an Inventory List: Keep a list of everything you need to take with you when you go. Don’t make a new list every time, just keep a standard “inventory list” on hand. You’ll want to make a separate list for flying trips and driving trips, since you will likely bring different things.

2. Call Ahead: Whether you’re staying in lodging or with a friend, call ahead to figure out what you don’t need to bring. They may already stock the room with most of the hygiene products you’re bringing and the front desk can always supply you with more if you run out.

3. Don’t Stress, You Can Buy It: With your inventory list and calling ahead, you shouldn’t forget anything, but if you do, remember: don’t stress about bringing everything; you can always buy small items if you need to. It’s not worth stressing out over a forgotten tooth brush…just go buy one. Remembering this saves me tons of stress.

4. Use Tools: With all of the resources we have on the Internet, you should never be searching long for a place to stay or a place to eat. Use apps like “Hotels By Me” (lodging) and “Urban Spoon” (food) to find a place near you. This unlocks the opportunity to read reviews and see pictures before you arrive.—–LINKS!

5. Ask the Locals: If you’re ever not sure what to do, ask the locals. They know the best restaurants, the best attractions and sometimes, they may even know of some cheap places to stay. It always helps to ask someone who is already familiar with the area.

Now for one last bonus tip. Can you handle one more? Sure you can…

You’ll generally be spending more money on vacation than you would normally, so make sure you’re taking full advantage of credit card rewards with each and every purchase. Don’t miss an opportunity to earn money. For more on this, you should check out “11 Ways to Make Money When You Spend Money“.

Here’s to your next budget-friendly, stress-free vacation. Cheers!

Author Bio: Kalen Bruce is the founder and main writer at MoneyMiniBlog, where he writes short, sweet and simple articles about money and productivity. Kalen lives a debt-free life with his wife and four children. You can learn more about him here. Get his free eBook: Financial Freedom on a Full Schedule.

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