Travel Health Insurance: It’s Easy to Get and Cheaper Than You Think

Of the concerns people have when the topic of world travel rears its exciting head, few feel as serious as the concern of getting sick or hurt in a foreign country without any form of health insurance to take care of the problem. Compared with the fear of running into serious health problems abroad, the concern of not knowing where to travel, or the worry about getting scammed, or insecurities surrounding your ability to make the money necessary to travel all seem trivial. None of those fears can kill you- getting sick or hurt abroad without any form of health insurance can.

Most forms of health insurance are nationally based, they are domestic, which means the insurance you use at home isn’t going to do much of anything for you abroad. Thankfully, getting health insurance while you’re traveling, or getting insurance that will cover you as you travel, is a lot easier than you think and it doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg.

An Important Question

Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to acquire health insurance that will keep you secure and feeling good during your travels you need to ask yourself a single important question- do you plan on traveling to one country or multiple destinations?

The answer to this question will determine what sort of insurance you will need. If you’re traveling all over the place than you need a more comprehensive, far-reaching insurance. If you’re traveling to a single city or country and setting down roots for a few weeks or a couple months then you only need to get health insurance valid within that country.

Even though you should avoid overly-detailed travel planning to figure out the answer to this question before you leave home, it is a good idea to plan your health insurance needs.

Single-Country Insurance Strategies

As far as insurance goes, if you’re traveling to a single city or country you have it easy– though it’s important you act fast for peace of mind and safety’s sake. You should purchase local insurance the first day you arrive.

Doing this not only makes sure you’re protected no matter what happens, resolving to buy insurance your first day in a new country is also the best way to be sure you actually get it done. It’s easy to put off chores and busy work, the less sexy elements of travel, when you’re excited to be in a new country and itching to start exploring. Getting all the boring stuff out-of-the-way as soon as possible protects you against the dangers of procrastination- dangers that are potentially lethal when it comes to medical coverage.

But how, exactly, can you find local insurance?

Well, you have two options.

  • You can spend hours trying to research local medical coverage plans online, often browsing through poorly translated websites in an attempt to compare one plan with all the others. Or,
  • You can take the easy route and just ask an employee at your hostel or your hotel what local health insurance they have and what insurance they think you should sign up for. Then find out if their insurance coverage is available to visitors. Hospitality workers are there to help you out, and the more personally owned and operated your lodgings the better the chances of receiving some good advice from them.

Multi-Country Insurance Strategies

Owning local insurance in addition to global insurance is almost always a good idea. After all, it’s a safe bet local hospitals will accept your local insurance card but there’s no guarantee local hospitals will accept your international coverage. That being said, if you’re traveling to a large number of different locations, you don’t really have much of a choice. You need to get the most comprehensive global health insurance you can afford.

When it comes to global health insurance you have a couple options at your disposal.

1) First, you can take a look at your existing domestic health insurance and determine whether it provides any sort of worldwide coverage at all. The bigger the insurance carrier the more likely it will provide something for you when you’re out crisscrossing the globe. If you don’t know where to look and you’re unsure about your current coverage you should get on the phone with a representative and start asking questions.

If your current coverage won’t help you overseas you need to ask whether there’s any plan provided by your carrier that will help you out as you travel. If there’s an upgrade to your insurance available and if the upgrade will cover you abroad you’d be wise to pay a little extra to make sure you’re secure. Acquiring traveler’s insurance isn’t really difficult but ultimately it’s a lot easier to stick with the carrier you already have than to unnecessarily jump ship.

2) If your current carrier does not provide travel coverage while you’re traveling and if they do not offer any sort of upgrade, add-on or package that will cover you abroad, then you need to locate a new carrier.

You can either switch over to a large carrier who provides a wide range of insurance options, or you can just sign on with a carrier who specializes in traveler’s insurance.

3) Travel Health Insurance is a LOT more common and a LOT cheaper than you’d think. Don’t be surprised if you find travel health insurance that is considerably less expensive than what you’re paying for your existing domestic coverage. Not only that, but travel health insurance tends to be extremely flexible. You can purchase insurance for a single trip, you can purchase insurance for trips of varying lengths (such as 30, 60 or 90 days) and you can purchase insurance for those times you’re going to travel indefinitely.

So how cheap can travel health insurance be? How does less than $1,000 dollars a year sound to you? Compared with the normal $300-$500/month you’d pay for your own health insurance, if it’s not covered by your employer’s travel insurance, this represents a really, really good deal.

What Types of Travel Insurance Do You Need?

When you start researching travel insurance you’ll soon realize there are many types of travel insurance out there, all covering a different corner of the traveler’s experience.

  • The average traveler simply needs to purchase the most comprehensive Travel Health Insurance they can find. But if you’re traveling to snowboard the alps or something else that may be considered risky, then Hazardous Sports Insurance might also be worthwhile.
  • Evacuation Insurance might make sense to help get out of countries if political or environmental situations turn ugly, but only if you are in a country where you could reasonably assume you could be evacuated by helicopter.
  • You can purchase Identity Theft Protection in case someone swipes your passport and credit cards.
  • You can purchase Cancellation Insurance to make sure you end up at your destination even if your airline starts messing with your reservations or some other unforeseen problem arises.

Whether you purchase these different forms of insurance or not depends a lot on where you’re going and what you plan on doing there.

But after you settle the issue of travel insurance, what’s keeping you from finally taking that trip you’ve always dreamed of?

Save on Travel Now: Discover How Much Money You Can Save on Travel Now Using This

Who else wants to save on travel today? I realize that may sound like a silly question and the fact is, economic times are rough right now. Most people (including myself…) are looking to save big money on their travel prices. If you want to save a lot of money on your travel expenses, the solution to doing just that is actually a lot easier than you think. If you want to go to a nice luxurious hotel, resort, or cruise, the reality is you really can and at affordable prices that everyone can afford…let me explain…

The answer to saving on your travel has nothing to do with travel sites that have been known to save you up to 30%. I am talking about are travel memberships wherein you pay a one-time fee and gain immediate lifetime access. You can literally begin saving up to 80% off your travel needs for the rest of your life. No restrictions of when you travel, either! I am speaking highly of something known as a travel discount club that many are now discovering for the first time.

If you have never heard of a travel membership, basically what this mean to you is this…..it eliminates the high prices when it comes to travel prices. Have you ever gone to a hotel thinking that you paid way too much? Me too! These overpriced prices have gone on for far too long in my opinion. So in essence what these memberships do for you, is save you a log of money.

When you are a paid member, you then have access to over thousands of highly sought after travel locations from around the world. This will save you up to 80% off of your travel expenses around the world. You do not have to worry about when you travel because you get to decide that.

You can literally go anywhere and save a lot of money. You will save limitless amounts of money if you are member. If you are a member, you will have the luxury of being able to stay at some of the very most luxurious relaxing condos. You can also take advantage of scenic cruises, villas and cottages and best of all, when you want!

Savings are available at many of the finest of resorts, too. You can stay at 4 and 5-star hotels and be treated like a king or queen! For many, this is a dream come true because of the fact that you will have the ability to stay at some of the very best resorts from all over the world. This is not a timeshare, mind you.

These memberships do not require you to pay any additional fees, at least the ones that I have checked out. No maintenance fees or annual fees is a huge plus to many, who have been burned by timeshares. That is something that no timeshare can even come close to when comparing the two. If you compare the amount of money that you would have to pay on a retail vacation, a membership blows the retail price right out of the water. You will easily save over 50% or more.

Do your own research and see for yourself. Having a membership to for access to thousands of luxury hotel locations at rock-bottom wholesale prices is what makes this an easy decision for many. When you compare the savings to the retail price that you would have to pay, it just makes good sense..

Take for example the fact that you can get:

a 2-bedroom condo at multiple worldwide locations for less than $200 for a seven-day vacation stay. The only question is why would would you want to spend several hundred more than what you need to? The retail price for this vacation retailed for $998 on a site that offered the exact same amenities.

When I first learned of these savings, I jumped on the opportunity because I hate having to spend more money than I really have to. When you join, you will gain immediate private access and be a part of the vacation club that allows you to profit from these vacation deals. When I first took a look at it, I could not believe the savings. In fact, I thought there had to be a catch….I was pleasantly surprised when I realized there was no catch on having access to unbelievable discounts on these luxurious vacations. It was a dream come true for me.

Another big advantage is that you will also have access to travel advisors. These are advisors who will assist you with various travel needs on other travel related expenses. When you are getting ready to go on a trip, the less that you have to worry about is priceless.

These memberships are the answer to saving money when it comes to traveling throughout the entire United States, but all across the globe. While memberships are not free, you could easily make your money back on one vacation alone. So basically, you get your money back after your first vacation. Keep in mind that there are pretty high priced memberships compared to other clubs.

If you want to save some serious cash, consider a membership because it will certainly save you more than just a few bucks when you consider the fact that you can save several hundreds of dollars on your first trip. I cannot say enough about these memberships. They really are the way to travel when it comes to saving money at worldwide luxurious hotels, resorts and cruises.

No matter if you are casual traveler or a business traveler, saving up to 80% on travel related expenses is the perfect solution for literally anyone who travels I do not know about you but most everyone I talk to travels at least once in a while. So even if you just travel once in a while, you still save a lot of money.

If you want to save money on your travel, having a membership that will save you several hundreds of dollars on resorts, cruises, fine hotels and many other vacation expenses, is the best deal. The reason is that having one of these memberships pays you back every time you access your membership privileges. It allow you to take immediate advantage of for the unlimited savings.

Travel Insurance FAQ

Travel Insurance is an essential part of any trip and is something that should not be put aside. Most soon-to-be travelers usually have heard about travel insurance, but might not know the specific reasons why they need travel insurance. This is an important article about frequently asked questions for travel insurance. This article also provides a link for further reading about travel insurance.

What is travel insurance protection?

Travel insurance is a type of insurance that covers you financial for any losses or illness that may unfortunate occur while you is on your trip. Travel insurance can be bought for international or national (within your country) trips.

Why should I buy travel insurance?

Since travel insurance protects you while traveling, this will help and provide the necessary protection you will need in the occurrence of a unfortunate event. Any individual traveling anywhere without travel insurance will be in a dangerous situation if an accident occur.

What is the coverage for travel insurance?

Travel insurance should provide coverage for medical cost, transportation to a medical facility, and reimburse you for certain or some nonrefundable costs due to a interrupted trip, and financial loss of funds.

How much does travel insurance cost?

How much the cost of your travel insurance will be depends on your insurance company provider and their policy. The cost of travel insurance usually will range up to 12 percent of the cost of your vacation/trip.

Is travel insurance really important and how many people actually get paid for their claims?

Travel insurance is highly recommended, there are usually about 10% of people who file claims. Sometimes some travelers make have taken a overly expensive trip that they would have to pay out of their own money if they have not bought travel insurance.

What is the medical care coverage?

When there is a case of illness or serious injury, medical transportation to an appropriate medical facility, and medical treatment will be covered. You should also have coverage for if it is deem necessary to bring you back home.

Does travel insurance cover business trips?

This will depend on the insurance company. Most insurance companies will provide travel insurance for a business trip, but the coverage may be separate from the standard coverage.

How long will travel insurance provide coverage for me?

You can often buy travel insurance starting from as little as two weeks, up to a year. Different insurance companies may vary with their service of coverage.

When is the best time to buy travel insurance coverage?

The best time to buy travel insurance is as soon as possible before you go on your trip or vacation. You want your travel insurance active during your whole trip.

What will happen if my money is lost or stolen?

If you can not receive traveler checks replacements many insurance companies provide a service where a travel agent can arrange a money transfer or traveler check for you to receive. You will have to ask more about this to your travel insurance provider.

Base Tendriling Travel Expenses

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and re-engineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticket-less” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference.

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and re-engineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

Do Travel Agents Get Free Trips? Part 2

Yes: travel agents DO travel for free

There are several scenarios that could allow travel professionals to travel for free. In a previous article, I discussed 4 ways that travel agents do come out of their pocket to pay for their trips. This time around I will explain how they also save and even travel for free.

Booking Groups Could Get You a Free Pass

There are incentives for booking groups (the fact that group travel is the most lucrative bookings in the travel industry should be incentive enough). If an agent books so many rooms (hotel) or cabins (on a cruise), they cold get a free room or cabin or money (not counting the commission) that they could use toward their room or cabin. Of course this all depends on the vendor’s group policy, quantity needed and who is assigned as group leader.

Actually you do not have to be a travel agent to get this benefit I am described above. If you are not a travel agent and you decide to book a group, if you are the group leader, you could very well get these benefits (ask your travel agent they should tell you that up front). This is the only way (outside of a frequent guest program) that a non-travel agent could get perks extended to them… so if you want to get some perks out of your trip…think in groups!

Travel Contests

Another way an agent could go free could be based on sales volume for a specific property or destination in a particular niche. Some travel vendors and agencies may offer free trips to top agents as incentive or awards for sales performance. These kinds of awards are offered as contents too! I’ve seen some really exotic destinations, life a fully expense paid trip to Costa Rica (wow!) offered to contest winners in my agency, which makes it really worth trying to get your sales

Travel Perks can be Good

Agents can sometimes take advantage of extended ‘courtesies’ or perks, which is an added benefit of being in the travel industry. We call them courtesies because no vendor is obligated to extend perks just because a travel professional identifies themselves as such. If an option for a room upgrade or car rental upgrade is available, agents will ask first if of course, and it’s up to the vendor to extend free services, amenities or perks to agents up presentation of valid credentials. These perks may also include shows, attraction tickets, tours and much more.

Agents Travel Free in the Long Run

This is the part I love about being a home-based travel professional! It really is all free in the long run! How is that? Travel professionals are allowed to legitimately write off their travel 100%. Yes, they can, so regardless if you are an agent who paid for their trip, you are in the business of travel, which makes all your travel 100% tax deductable. So if you are a travel agent, the key is to document your trip and save your receipts so you can legally write off your trips at the end of the tax year!

Just to recap, there are 4 main ways travel agents can travel for free:

1. Booking groups and getting room, cabin, or monetary credit
2. Agency and Vendor Contests
3. Perks & upgrades
4. Write-off your travel 100%

Attention All Agents: save those receipts and document, document, document!

How To Travel Vacation And Grow Rich Part 2 of 5

This is about taking advantage of the travel industry’s secrets. Taking that dream vacation at wholesale and making money!

Remember that Expedia was sold for $5.1 Billion Dollars! Wonder why?

I really wondered why such a high price was paid for an internet travel store until researching some important facts.

People love to travel. It is the number one (1) thing that people say that they would do if they had the money and the time to do it. Because of the major trends that are taking place, more and more people now have the time and the money to travel.

So They Are Traveling!!

82% of all travel is booked online meaning, through the internet. 79 million Americans booked their travel on line in 2005.

In the last decade, more than 200,000 travel agents have lost their jobs. By 2004 there were only 103,000 travel agents left in the United States.

People like you and me were buying travel from the Internet Travel Stores.

The travel industry today is a 1.3 Trillion dollar business here in the US.

7 Trillion worldwide. Wouldn’t you like a piece of that! That amounts to $56 million a minute spent on travel in the U.S. alone.

The travel industry is growing 23% faster than the global economy.

Of that economy, tourism accounts for 11% of all consumers spending worldwide.

The travel industry is bigger than the oil business.

There is continued growth of Internet e-commerce. Consumers spend billions on the Internet, and travel is the fastest growing segment of that trend.

Consumers are comfortable buying things such as cars, homes, and, of course travel online.

Baby boomers are retiring at the rate of 1 every 8 seconds and what do they want to do? That’s right, Travel.

Because of this the travel industry is about to experience an explosive boom: it is expected to double to $14 Trillion worldwide in the next 10 years.

Why Would You Or Anyone, Not Want to Own An Internet Travel Store!

Let’s See Why:

You and the people you know are going to travel anyway, so, doesn’t it just make sense to…

1.Get paid for that travel?

2.Make a substantial amount of your personal travel tax deductible rather than paying for it with after tax dollars?

3.Travel as an insider, with potential perks and benefits, rather than as an outsider?

WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO THROW MONEY AWAY FOR NO REASON? This Is So Unique—It Has Two Opportunities in one!

1. You own your own travel business with a company supported website and Earn 60% of the commissions from all travel booked on your site!

2. You benefit from the greatest referral compensation plan in the industry and Make money every time you and your Rep team refer someone to the travel business. Just like I am showing you!

I don’t want you to be confused, so the first one is an Online Travel Agency where you have travel credentials and are referred to as a referring travel agent. This is where you make 60% of all commissions on all travel booked on your travel site. You, your friends and family do the booking on your site.

The second is as an Independent Marketing Representative showing your friends about this opportunity. The Company Is Financially Solid

The company was founded in January 2001 and is a wholly owned subsidiary of YTB International, a publicly-traded company (YTB.PK) The last three years the company has gotten the highest award from Carnival Cruise line for travel bookings. WOW

Southern California Travel Agent Location Highlight

Northern California travel agents just aren’t as busy as those who work in LA, mainly because when hearing “California”, most people quickly think about Metropolitan Los Angeles which is recognized for the theme parks, entertainment industry, classy accommodations, busy beaches, superstars, movies and the like.

A Northern California travel agent seldom experiences the hustle and bustle of the agencies in the heart of Los Angeles because their place isn’t so daring and fancy. LA is the residence of the rich and famous along with Hollywood, the Walk of Fame, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Disneyland, Universal Studios, water parks, Beverly Hills, Kodak Theater and the list goes on. Visiting the residences of stars and their lifestyle is fascinating and watching the shooting of a live TV show is just as exciting. It’s a no shocker that many tourists flock Los Angeles for these purposes.

Shopping additionally draws crowds to LA. Melrose Avenue presents retro stores while the Grove is a superb site to hang out and enjoy the outdoors. Obviously, Rodeo Drive tops the list, if you have the budget for it. Fun destinations such as theme parks, Santa Monica Pier, beaches and boardwalks could all be found in Los Angeles as well. So that is why take you should take the time to visit down south. An instant call to a Southern California travel agent will surely encourage you to take a drive because it is really worth the travel. The Southern part has a lot to offer which Metropolitan Los Angeles can no longer offer since it’s too packed and busy.

Fun in the sun is one of the main attraction of Southern California. It is filled with beautiful and not too busy seashores. Coronado Beach, Black’s Beach and Imperial Beach are only few of the many beach locations with broad sandy shores and crystal clear water. Other water activities draw people to this section of California like Knott’s Soak City Water Park and Sea World in San Diego. For those with little ones, visiting San Diego Zoo is a good idea, having its central African rainforest feel. The zoo recreated the natural home of the animals so children can picture how they live in the wild, furthermore, there’s a petting zoo where children can freely socialize with animals that area safe to be around. A Southern California travel agent offers passes for these fun-filled places.

Apart from “fun in the sun”, heritage lovers drive down south for some museum hopping. A lot of the more popular ones would be the Women’s Hall of Fame, Marston House, Junipero Serra Museum, Museum of Modern Art and the list goes on. What makes the south appealing to tourists is the fact that if offers pleasure from the hustle and bustle in the city. Peaceful respite and quiet leisure is one thing we need from time to time. Though LA is glamorous, it doesn’t capture the whole essence of California. Contact a Southern California travel agent now to explore other exciting places in California.

Driving Safety Near a School or School Bus

Driving near a school or a school bus can be dangerous if motorists don’t take proper precautions to ensure not just their own safety, but the safety of children in the vicinity. Here’s a guide to help you understand the right protocol to follow as a motorist in a school zone, or near a school bus.

Picking up or dropping off children at school:

  • Every school has a system to pick up and drop off children. Make sure you educate yourself on the rules of the school and adhere to them
  • Don’t double park because it reduces visibility for other drivers, and can endanger students
  • Park in the allotted areas (these have been designed keeping in mind the safety of students), and take permitted turns while navigating the school grounds. Avoid making U-turns and three-point turns.
  • While driving, watch out closely for children on bikes coming onto the roadway from between parked cars. Also keep a safe distance of at least 3ft between your vehicle and the motorcycle, and always check your side-view mirror before exiting your car
  • As a rule, ensure that your child is safely buckled in with the seat belt or in an age-appropriate child car seat before starting the car. Also, make sure your child enters or exits the car only via the ‘safety door’ which is the rear door on the kerb-side

Driving in a school zone:

  • Don’t exceed the 25mph speed limit imposed while driving in school zones. Most often this speed limit is imposed in school zones between 8 a.m. and 9.30 a.m., and 2.30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Motorists must adhere to this speed limit even if there are no children in sight
  • Slow down when approaching a school crossing
  • Do not proceed past the school crossing until the crossing supervisor’s hand-held sign is no longer displayed, or until he/she indicates that you can continue
  • If there is no crossing supervisor, but ‘CHILDREN CROSSING’ flags are displayed, the motorist must stop and wait until all the pedestrians have crossed the road
  • While driving through a school zone, avoid honking as it might scare children and cause them to stumble or fall in the way of oncoming traffic

Driving in the vicinity of a school bus:

  • Learn to understand the flashing light system on school buses.
  • If the overhead lights on the bus are flashing yellow, then prepare to stop. These lights indicate that the bus driver is planning to bring the vehicle to a halt to load or unload children.
  • If the overhead lights are flashing red, and the stop sign extended, it means that the bus has stopped and that children are getting on or off the bus. At this time all motorists, regardless of the direction in which they are moving, must come to a halt until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign pulled back, and the bus resumes motion. In all 50 states of the U.S., it is mandatory for all vehicles on both sides of the road to come to a halt during this process. However, if a median divides the road, this may not be required.
  • If you are passing a school bus, make sure that there is plenty of visibility and space in the next lane. It is illegal in the U.S. to pass a bus on the right side, as this is where the loading and unloading of children occurs. Therefore, vehicles may pass the school bus on the left side on multiple lane roadways
  • Remember, though buses have large mirrors to assist the driver in his/her navigation, these vehicles also have huge blind spots. Stay cognizant of this, and pull back and slow down if you see a bus flash its blinkers, and allow it to move into the next lane.
  • Be especially vigilant near bus stops. Children may be playing at the bus stop to kill some time, or might be arriving late for their school bus and may inadvertently dart into oncoming traffic.
  • Bear in mind that buses stop frequently, so maintain at least 3ft distance between your car and the bus, to allow yourself enough time to come to a halt too
  • Do not park at or near a bus stop. In fact, maintain enough distance between your vehicle and the bus stop to allow children to enter and exit the bus with ease
  • Always remember that children can behave in an unpredictable, often rash, manner. In their haste or enthusiasm, they may not remember the safety concerns associated with walking on the road or picking up something they’ve dropped on the road. Therefore, it’s important to look very carefully to make sure the way is clear before navigating traffic behind a school bus.

These tips will help you drive in a safe, responsible manner while driving in a school zone, or near a school bus. If you would like to share your thoughts or suggestions of your own, we’d love to hear from you. Leave us a comment below!

DIY Travel Should Save You Money

Travelers or Travelers today, whether experienced or not, have unlimited choices, so why use a travel agent?

Savvy travelers or travelers, when in need of information relating to specific destinations or activities, seek out travel agents with knowledge, experience and expertise of those destinations and activities.

It is not always easy choosing a travel agent. Many agents are called specialists, but sometimes the qualification to be a specialist is a simple test run by a tourism office or tour operator. Sometimes, these tests do not require the agent to have ‘been there, done that, got the t-shirt.’ Some of these tests are too simple and could harm the reputation of the travel industry if allowed to continue unchecked. A ‘specialist’ can mean, ‘I know the brochure product’ or ‘I have seen a training video’ or ‘I have taken a test given by a Tourism Office.’

If you find a specialist, ask about their expertise. Ask them if they or their colleagues have any direct knowledge, experience and expertise of where you want to go and what you want to do, after all, it is your hard-earned money.

Experts are out there. Find them locally or use the internet and then do your bookings with them. You may have to use different experts for different destinations and activities, just as you would select any other professional for accounting, legal, medical or mechanical matters, except in your lifetime you will probably (or hopefully) spend more on travel than all of the others put together.
Reality Check: “I once tried a major chain of travel centers to get 2 tickets to Mexico from Canada. I was only offered 2 airlines. I then used an internet search and came up with 5 airlines and made my bookings online. Perhaps the travel center did not earn commission or was not able to charge a fee for the booking or did not want an ‘air only’ booking or did they only offer their ‘preferred products’ which limits client choices?”

The Nomad

If you do not need an expert agent you can use the internet to find all kinds of global travel choices and then you can make your booking directly with an online agent or travel operator. If you decide to make your own bookings directly with the travel operator you should not have to pay the full retail price which has a built-in amount for commissions to be paid to sellers of their travel products. Retail agencies that have their own in-house tour products which are sold through other agencies should also be prepared to sell at a net price for a direct booking from a consumer.

It is only fair that agents and agencies earn commissions and fees from travel providers such as hotels, lodges, tours, cruises or mark up their own tour products to allow for a third-party sale. They all have overheads which have to be covered to give local consumers the convenience of local shopping and it is important to support your local businesses as long as they offer excellent pricing and service. At the same time, it is only fair that consumers who make their own bookings directly with travel operators should not have to incur this extra cost. Fair fare prices should be available for consumers who want to handle their own direct bookings.

If you are comfortable with dealing over the internet directly with the travel providers and you want to get fair fare prices you can check out a travel website that was launched in April 2008 that, for members only, offers free travel vouchers that saves them the commission or fee elements in retail travel prices. The site offers thousands of travel vouchers for travel in over 70 countries ranging from simple B&B accommodations to complex adventure travel, all at net of commission prices. This travel site is operated by an online travel club that does not sell travel or make reservations and all monies therefore, are handled directly between the members and the travel operators.

The internet has just about everything a traveler or even a traveler could want, whereas agents and agencies can only offer limited selections of brochures from travel providers and operators. There are thousands of travel businesses that never get to see the inside of a travel agency or brochure, but they would still be prepared to pay commissions to sellers of their products. This online travel club allows travel businesses to promote their products and services at no cost except the requirement to issue travel vouchers that represent the normal commissions and fees in the retail price. 100% of these savings are then passed on to members who do their own direct bookings. As a member, all travel vouchers are free but if you do not want to join there is an associated website that sells the same travel vouchers without requiring a membership fee.

A tip from the website. When you make your own direct bookings, do make sure that the time in the time-zone that you are calling is appropriate as “it is embarrassing to wake up a Greek Sea Captain at one in the morning somewhere in the Greek Islands to discuss their listing.” The Nomad at The Top Travel Club.

This site is continually adding new travel selections and as long as you are comfortable and prepared to be a D.I.Y. Traveler or D.I.Y. Traveler over the web, you might find some interesting trips and adventures, some of which are not readily available elsewhere.

In closing, I hope you find the little bits of attempted English language humor humorous and as I consider myself 1 L of a Traveler, I say 2 L with travelers but at last I am happy to have found a web travel centre centered around saving me money. Apologies to both Websters and Oxford dictionaries.

What to Pack for Travelling

This is what I consider to be essential items for any traveler/backpacker. These are items which I have used in my past travels, and have served me well.

Backpack

The first most obvious thing for any traveler to decide on is whether to use a backpack or a suitcase. During my first solo travel experience to Southeast Asia, Korea and Japan, I traveled with a backpack. For under 50 I bought a Eurohike 55 litre backpack with a rain cover, which came in handy during the monsoon season! The pack was top-opening, and didn’t really offer much by way of security. I therefore bought a special backpack transit case which I put my backpack into and made it secure from theft, but also made it secure from airport conveyor belts. I had heard that the conveyors in airports sometimes broke clips from backpacks if they were not properly secured, and that some airlines didn’t even want to have backpacks on their airplanes because they were a safety threat. I actually lost the backpack case during the course of my travels, and had to resort to wrapping my backpack in black bin bags and tape in order to prevent the clips from catching airport conveyors. The backpack was comfortable, with some very nice cushioned padding. However, I realized as my trip went on that the pack was a little too large. I had read on many different websites that the smaller and lighter your pack, the more comfortable your trip will be. This is so true. It is not just about how light the pack is for you to carry, but also practical reasons like traveling on packed trains and subways with a giant wardrobe on your back. The backpack was incredibly annoying whilst traveling on busy subways, as I didn’t know if, and how badly, I was bumping into people – but I am sure that I definitely was! However, it was great to have my hands free when I needed to pay for tickets and also carry bags and water bottles.

Suitcase

On my second trip to Japan, I decided to ditch the backpack and travel with a medium sized suitcase. I was traveling for 3 weeks, and had planned to move around the country quite a bit. I was worried about the condition of the suitcase’s wheels by the end of the trip, but altogether I preferred the comfort of a nice suitcase. The suitcase takes up the use of your arms, but it does relieve your back. I found time and again that my backpack was becoming too heavy and cumbersome for longer walks; a suitcase, meanwhile, makes walking a pleasure. Trying to find your hotel in the humid and busy conditions of Bangkok with your gigantic backpack is not a pleasant experience. Though, going up stairs is a pain with a suitcase, but with a backpack it is a breeze. This may be important to you as it is best to travel around a Japanese city (and many other Asian cities) via the subway system, and sometimes they have enormous staircases leading to the platforms. The final clincher is that a suitcase makes you look more businesslike and professional; a backpack makes you easily identifiable as a traveler or tourist, and makes you stand out far more. If I entered a nice hotel with my backpack, I wouldn’t be given the same service as if I travelled with a suitcase. I believe that backpackers have a bit of a bad name in some countries, as backpackers tend to be younger people who are more prone to loutish behavior due to letting of some steam after finishing university.

Daypack

You don’t want to take your suitcase or backpack with you on your daily walks or excursions, so you need a nice convenient daypack. I actually took a shoulder bag, as it looked more stylish than a small backpack. But be warned, a shoulder bag can give you some irritating neck and shoulder pains if you over pack it with large water bottles or souvenirs. In this instance, a nice mini backpack is better as it transfers the weight evenly on your back and shoulders.

Travel Insurance

I always take out travel insurance as you never know what could happen during your trip. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Medical help abroad could cost you thousands if you do not have the correct insurance, so always read the insurance policy properly. When I search for insurance I always turn to comparison sites, such as moneysupermarket. This way you can compare all the different companies offering insurance and their relative policies.

Skype

Skype is a free service which allows you to call anyone in the world (who also has a Skype account) for free. The service is completely free when using the Skype-to-Skype service, and the prices are competitive if you want to call mobile phones or landlines. You can use Skype on your iPod Touch, an actual Skype phone or on your laptop. If you are taking a laptop abroad, you can even use your webcam to make video calls, but if you are not taking a laptop, I found that many internet cafes in Asia had Skype already installed on their computers. Skype also allows you to send instant messages, play games and even transfer files. All in all, Skype is a great device which you should be make use of whilst traveling.

First Aid Box

I like to take a mini first aid box when I travel. The boxes come in some very nice convenient sizes with everything you could need for your trip. Items can include: plasters, antiseptic cream, insect repellent, and various tablets for common travel sicknesses.

Clothing

I will not speak at great lengths on clothing, as I believe this is a personal choice and dependent on different people’s needs. However, I will say that you should always pack light, and think about whether you will ACTUALLY need an item of clothing. Sometimes, I have fallen into the trap of packing far too much clothing ‘just in case’. Whilst traveling in Asia you can always pick up cheap clothing, so there is no need to over pack. The minimum I would take for a month traveling is: 3-4 t-shirts, 2 shirts, trousers, two shorts, swimming shorts, 2 pairs of socks, trainers/sneakers (I would buy some that look formal but are as comfortable as trainers).

Travel Washing Line

I take a small washing line on my trips in case there is not enough places to dry my clothes. If you are packing light, you can just wash your clothes more often, and you will sometimes need a washing line for extra space.

Travel Sink Plug

I used this occasionally when I stayed in hostels. In some budget accommodation you will not have a sink plug, which makes shaving difficult. The travel plug is therefore recommended if you are considering staying in budget accommodation. Also, even some higher grade hotels have faulty plugs in their bathrooms, so it is generally a good item to take.

Toiletries

As a dandy backpacker I have a vast array of toiletries. My toiletry bag consists of: shavers, moisturizers, sun cream, nail clippers, eyebrow tweezers, aftershaves (which I tend to buy from airport duty free), lip balm, deodorant and more!

Rain Mac

If you are traveling anywhere that has a monsoon season then a rain mac is a great idea. Monsoon rain is awesome, and can just take you by surprise and leave you drenched. A little rain mac can be scrunched up into a very small size and can easily be carried in your daypack.

Swiss Army Knife

I sometimes take this on my travels as it has various useful devices: a bottle opener, scissors, toothpick, tweezers, screwdriver heads and numerous knives of varying shape and sizes.

Travel Towels

I recommend taking a large travel towel. These can be folded into an incredibly small size and take very little space in your luggage. They also dry quicker than ordinary towels.

Camera

I really don’t know much about cameras but I definitely know that you will need one on your journey. It’s a way of recording experiences that are not possible in any other way. I just bought an 8 megapixel camera in Bangkok – it has served me well.

Batteries

You will need these for your camera, so make sure you take enough spares from your own country, which tend to be cheaper than whilst abroad.

Mobile Phone

A mobile phone is now a necessary gadget in all parts of life, and is very important during your travels. It is a great device to keep in touch with other travelers, but is also a safety device if you become lost or in danger. Remember to take you charger though, or it will become useless after a few days.

Backup Sim Card

Just in case you lose the first Sim card you can just take another Sim, which are usually free.

Backup Debit/Credit Card

I would take a backup card just in case I lost my main card. If I lost my main card I could just cancel it and then transfer the money from my main account into my backup account via internet banking.

Pens and Paper

You will occasionally need to write things down, such as directions or contacts, and a pen and paper would be very helpful. I would always travel with a mini pen and small notepad in my daypack so that it was easy to get to. You can always use your mobile phone or iPod Touch for this as well.

Travel Adaptors

Travel adapters are necessary if you want to charge your iPod or mobile phone. Once you know where you are going, you can find out what converter plug you will need. It will save you having to search around in your destination country. Some plugs are all-rounders and cover everywhere.

iPod Touch

My iPod Touch has been irreplaceable during my travels. Not only is it great for watching movies, listening to music and playing games whilst waiting for your flight or on long train journeys, it also has practical uses. By downloading free applications via its Wi-Fi capabilities you can turn your iPod Touch into a hotel or hostel finder, a currency exchange service, a travel guide and much more. I also bought a special, and inexpensive, earphone and microphone set for my Touch, which allowed me to use Skype wherever I had free Wi-Fi. Actually you can find free Wi-Fi everywhere in Southeast Asia: McDonald’s, Starbucks, shopping malls, hotels and even airports. However, I surprisingly found that Wi-Fi access is not so easily found in Korea or Japan, and tends not to be free if it is offered.

iPad

I don’t actually own one of these but they just seem to be a large iPod Touch. All the convenience of the iPod Touch being a nice pocket device which is easy to take everywhere is lost on this device. But maybe I am missing something about it.

Travel Guides

I love to read travel guides and always take them on my trips. My favorite guides have always been DK Eyewitness Travel Guides. I regularly use DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: Thailand, Japan and Rome to name a few. I found them incredibly helpful, but most importantly I loved the focus on culture and historical sites. The guides are wonderfully illustrated, easy to navigate, and the pictures and captions are beautifully presented. In addition, the historical sections are informative, well illustrated and a joy to read. I would also recommend Rough Guides and Lonely Planet, which I have also used in the past.

Money Belt

I originally bought one in order to hide my valuables, but then just used it to hold my bus/train tickets or small change so that it was easily at hand and I didn’t have to rummage though bags or my pockets. The money belt can be used as just a regular bum bag (fanny pack if you’re American) without valuable items and just left on display rather than inside your clothing. I just used it as an extra convenient pocket.