Travel Safety Tips


passportIt’s very important to be aware of your safety when you travel.  Although this seems like a “duh” kind of thing to say, many people overlook certain things that they can do in order to mitigate the impact of disaster, theft, accidental loss, and a number of other bad things that can come up.

1.)  Ensure that your electronics are backed up.  I can’t stress this enough!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard of friends who have been on trips where they either lost an iPad or laptop or it was stolen.  And nine times out of ten, the data that they had on there was NOT backed up.  I suggest looking into one of the many cloud backup services out there (I use them and they are great, you can find more information on my favorite service, MyPCBackup, here).

2.)  Get a mobile data plan.  If you plan ahead and purchase a small international mobile data plan, you’ll be able to email, text, or look up a map.  I did this while I was in Japan, and just being able to use Google maps saved us from getting lost a few times.  It can also be very helpful for people in the event that they are in an emergency and need to text or email.

3.)  Get trip insurance!  Either buy some when you buy your plane ticket, or use your credit card.  Some credit card companies such as American Express tend to give automatic travel insurance when you buy plane tickets or rent a car.  But do your research first and make sure you’ll be covered.

4.)  Get into the habit of taking a “backwards glance” when you leave a place – you’re usually carrying more stuff with you when you travel, and it’s easy to lose track of things and leave things behind such as sweatshirts, sunglasses, and even phones.

5.)  Separate sources of money – don’t carry all of your credit cards and cash in the same wallet – keep some in the hotel, some in a bag, and some in your wallet.  Don’t lose track of them, but do keep them separated in the event that one is lost or stolen.  Then you won’t lose all of them at once.

Learning A New Language For Travel


diversityOne of the biggest advantages to learning a new language is that it makes traveling to the countries where it’s natively spoken a lot easier, more fun, and more rewarding.  But you don’t have to become fluent in the language in order to make your travels easier and more fun.  Even just learning the basics can go a long way towards making your trip a lot better.  The locals will also appreciate your willingness to try to work with them, and learn more about them instead of just assuming they will speak English.

Learning Spanish is a great way to go as it is spoken in many, many countries around the world.  You could go to Europe or Latin America and still make use of it.  You can even use it here, as it is fast becoming one of the most popular languages around the world.

Learn At Home

If you don’t have time to take a class, then learning a language at home is a great way to go.  There are several great programs on the market that can help you out and give you structure in terms of what to learn and when.

The thing about learning at home is that you have to stay motivated and make small goals.  Language learning is hard and takes a commitment, and it’s very easy to fall of when you get discouraged or even distracted.  When you physically attend a class you have some responsibility and accountability to stick to your studies.  But when it’s just you it’s very easy to stop studying or “take a day off” (which turns into a week, which turns into a month…).

Best Programs

You should definitely think about how you learn.  What classes did you do best in at school, and what were your study methods?  There are a couple different types of learning programs out there that utilize various methods.

The Rosetta Stone program uses a learn by listening and speaking approach.  You have little to no written material in the program.  This is a “learn like a child” approach that can be great for some, but the vast majority of adults do not learn like this, and might find it frustrating.  It’s an “immersion” approach that can be fun, but we don’t think it’s the best all around method, especially if you’re trying to learn for a specific event such as a trip.

The best, in our opinion, is a mix of listening, speaking, and reading.  This is a good all around approach that mimics what you learn in a classroom.  The Rocket Languages series is a great way to get this mix of styles.  It’s affordable and is highly rated by several major outlets such as PC Magazine and the New York Times.  It’s legitimate and fully featured.

Choosing The Right Hotel


hotelsWhen people pick out a hotel, they don’t think much past price.  But the reality is that you should consider more than just a cheap price in your hotel selection – and you could end up saving more money in the end.  Whether it be proximity, closeness to your venues, or simply the comfort of your “home away from home,” there are a bunch of factors that you should think about before you make your reservation, and here’s a quick rundown of what you should take into consideration.

Proximity to your venues of choice–whether it be a conference center or building where meetings will take place–consider the time and cost of getting to and fro if you’re planning on staying in a cheaper hotel that is further away.  What you save in room price could end up being a cost in terms of Taxis or even just time getting there.  And time is money as we all know.  Getting a closer hotel could save you on stress as well, since you’re right there and you have less to worry about.

Distance in relation to restaurants and other necessities is another consideration, for the same reasons as listed above.  One time I stayed in an airport hotel that was in the absolute middle of nowhere, and without a rental car I was stranded without an expensive cab ride.  If I had stayed a bit closer to some civilization I could have saved more money in the end (and some frustration).

Another factor is comfort – I suggest you take a quick look at various ratings sites, such as in order to see what others had to say about the hotel itself.  Disregard comments from obviously annoyed people with a chip on their shoulder – as in, take all reviews with a grain of salt.  But do consider if there are multiple people saying bad things – whether it be about the hotel itself, or simply the neighborhood in which the hotel is located.