The Barefoot Nomad Travel. Tech. Family. Fun. Fri, 02 Mar 2018 18:59:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Guide to Driving Around Australia in a Campervan Mon, 26 Feb 2018 20:00:00 +0000 Want to drive around Australia? Have enough money to buy or rent a campervan and keep the fridge stocked and the petrol full? Have a good sense of adventure and a willingness to put a few hours behind the wheel? Well, if you do, you’re all set for an Australian adventure.

Before we had kids, Micki and I had the amazing opportunity to spend six months driving around Australia in a campervan that we had bought and outfitted ourselves.

By the sixth month, we had put over 25,000 kilometers on that campervan, driving from Adelaide in South Australia, up through the untamed Outback in the center, then up to Darwin in the north, before crossing over to Cairns, and finally down the east coast of Australia to Sydney.

Even after spending years bouncing around the globe, it was an unforgettable adventure and still one of our favorite travel highlights.

Ready to hit the road and travel across Australia? We spent six months driving around Australia, from Adelaide to the Outback to Cairns and Sydney, and share our best tips for having a fantastic time! Australia Road Trip | Tips | Travel | Australia travel | roadtrip | budget #australia #travel #traveltips #roadtrip #wanderlust #vanlife #adventure

A guide to driving around Australia in a campervan

Australia is the perfect country to drive a campervan or RV, since it has huge spaces and plenty great RV resorts, or Holiday Parks, as they’re often locally known, in nearly every town.

I think that an Australia road trip is probably the best way to see the land down under, especially if you want to see more than just the big cities and get to know the real Australia.

The funny part about our Australia roadtrip was that our first campervan turned out to be a massive lemon. Sure, we only bought it for a few hundred dollars from a hostel where a previous backpacker had left it and managed to sell it for $50 more than we paid (once we realized it wouldn’t pass a safety inspection). In case you’re wondering, we actually sold it to a guy fixes cars, so he profited as well once he fixed it up.

Our first Australian van

The great part about the whole scenario was that the original van was stocked with tons of extra goodies.

From an extra camping tent and sleeping bags (helpful when we rented a 4×4 and stayed on Fraser Island) to boogie boards, a portable table and even a nice propane stove that, by the time our trip was complete, we had gotten good use out of nearly everything. So, when we bought our next campervan, for about 20 times the first, we had it totally stocked up without spending an additional penny.

If you’re interested in buying a used Australia campervan, you can check out Gumtree. Not only do they have thousands of Australian campervans, they also have tons of used camping supplies as well to help get you fully outfitted for your own Australia roadtrip.

Australia road rules and such things as road trains

Initial problems aside, driving around Australia was a breeze. Well, that is, once we figured out that not only did we have to get used to driving on the left side of the road, but we also had to change gears with our left hand (ours had a manual transmission) and things are reversed from what we’re used to in North America.

Since the gear shift was on the steering column, you have no idea how often we turned on the windshield wipers by mistake. It even became a running gag during our trip.

I’m also not going to lie and say that we didn’t almost get into trouble a few times coming off traffic circles (which weren’t used much in North America then). Not having lane markers when you’re first trying to remember to drive on the left can be problematic in itself, but after doing a few circles you kind of revert to what you’re used to when you finally straighten out, which wasn’t a good thing if you’re a right lane kind of person.

Outside of that and, oh, the one lane bridges, you should be fine. Just remember to look at what’s coming before you drive over them.

Oops. Did I forget to mention having to get off the road when those giant triple trailer trucks they lovingly refer to as road trains pass you by in the Outback?

That’s not really a law, but if you value your vehicle (and consequently your life) it’s not a bad idea to get out of their way. To say that back trailer sways a little is like calling Uluru a little rock in the Outback, and those road trains don’t slow down for anything or anyone. Don’t worry though, there aren’t that many of them, and it’s a nice change of scenery from the miles and miles of unchanging desert scrub.

Van and termite mound in Australia

Our trusty campervan dwarfed by a giant Ozzie termite mound

Oh, did I mention the kangaroos?

Well, you’ll see those for yourself if you drive through the Australian Outback like we did. They’re awesome to see hopping in the distance and don’t worry, you’ll see plenty of them. Just realize that they have no natural predators in Australia and there’s just as good a chance as them jumping into the side of your Australian campervan as you hitting one. You have been warned!

We also learned it’s a bad idea to drive most places in the Outback at night. Between the hopping kangaroos, the swaying road trains, wandering cows, an errant camel or emu and an abundance of wild rabbits in certain parts of Australia, unless you know the area well, it’s best to stay completely off these roads after sundown. Of course, if you’re on the coast or in one of the major cities you should be fine driving at night.

The realities of driving a campervan in Australia

All kidding aside, driving in Australia is easy once you have a few things down pat. Roads in major cities are well marked, and Australia is similar to most countries in regards to road rules and signage. Just realize that each Australian state has its own road rules. You can check them out here if you’re curious.

Since 85% of the Australian population is within 50 kilometers (31 miles) of the coast (see our recent post on things about Australia you didn’t know here) there are many places to stay, eat and most importantly, refuel, during your Australia road trip.

Once you get into the Outback, things are a little more spread out, so you need to make sure you have some spare gas with you or have a good estimate of how far your campervan or RV can make it on a tank. Luckily, there are usually signs saying how far the next available gas station. Trust us, you don’t want to get stuck in the Outback without fuel.

Outback safety tip: If you run out of fuel, or your campervan breaks down in the Outback, stay with your vehicle and wait for the next vehicle to pass by. The blistering heat is your biggest danger so stay hydrated. It might take hours, but someone will eventually drive by who can help you out.

It’s also important to realize that smaller towns that only have one gas station could close as early as 4 pm.  We spent the night parked in a gas station lot, because we didn’t have enough fuel to make it to the next town, more times than we care to admit.

Filling up the campervan at Williams Creek halfway down the Oodnadatta Track

If you’re looking for the cheapest gas in an area, or even how close the nearest petrol station is, you can grab the Motormouth app. Similar to North America’s Gas Buddy app, their Australian user-based system continually lists the current gas prices around the country. It’s also handy when that red light on your fuel tank starts flashing, and you need to refuel your campervan or RV immediately.

Even more importantly, since the Outback can get quite hot in the day and cool at night, you don’t want to get stuck without water and food. Make sure you have lots of both when you drive towards the Red Centre.

It’s more than likely you’ll be starting your journey from one of the major cities, so make sure to stock up on everything you’ll need at one of the big supermarkets. The farther you go from the big centers, the more costly food becomes and picking up essentials at gas stations is going to hurt the wallet more than a few spoiled or unused food items.

RV Resorts, Holiday Parks and campgrounds

I can honestly say that Australia has some of the nicest campgrounds we’ve seen anywhere in the world. Though the cost of some of the Australian campervan parks can be a little pricey, lots of campgrounds come fully provisioned with hotel quality swimming pools, multiple hot water showers and restrooms, huge cooking areas complete with lots of barbecues and even dedicated outdoor TV viewing areas for those not so nice evenings. Some even have trampolines and miniature golf for the kids.

Our favorite campgrounds in Australia even featured our own personal shower and washroom area as well as a private cooking area. Staying in those campgrounds was like having a very welcome addition to our campervan, giving us extra room to hang out as well as letting us cook our meals far from our beds. It was also cool to pull into your spot and find out what the little half building next to your pad contained.

Important! Australia has reverse seasons to the northern hemisphere. As such, Christmas vacation for Australians lasts two months and nearly everyone is out camping and enjoying the heat in December and January. If you’re planning to be in Australia during these months, I suggest you book your campgrounds far ahead of time, otherwise you’ll be parking on the street or in parking lots.

One of the biggest campground companies in Australia, with 180 campgrounds scattered across the country, is Big4 Holiday Parks. They’re among the priciest of the Australian campgrounds however they also tend to have the nicest amenities.

If you want to rough it a bit more, you can also find campgrounds throughout Australia’s National Parks. You can search for campgrounds across all the national parks here.

For a list of cheaper campgrounds around Australia, check out Explore Australia’s campground list here and the Findacamp site has a great list as well highlighting some of the cheapest campgrounds in Australia.

Buying and selling a campervan in Australia

If you’re looking at buying a campervan in Australia, there are certain months when it’s easier and cheaper to buy a campervan in Australia than others. The same goes for renting.

December and January are busy across the country, and finding a rental won’t be easy or cheap in these months. If you want to rent, consider going in the shoulder seasons of October or November and February or March. You’ll miss the crowds and added expenses but the weather should still be great.

If you’re considering buying a campervan or RV, you also need enough time to pick out your campervan and enough time to sell it. There are tons of options out there from used buying and selling sites to dealerships. You can also check out local hostel bulletin boards (even if that didn’t work out so well for us).

When it’s time to sell, you can place an ad or even bring your campervan to one of the local swap meets that specializes in selling vans, campervans and RV’s from other travelers. There should be one in every major city.

Devil’s Marbles in the Red Centre

Just note that there are better and worse times to buy and sell your campervan in Australia depending on the city you’re in. April to July tends to be the worst time of year to sell your vehicle in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne, however those could be great times to buy one. December to June is also bad in northern Cairns and Darwin, and both Brisbane and Adelaide can be tough to sell in year round. We ended up buying our campervan from a local in Adelaide, since there weren’t that many travelers selling theirs when we were there.

Vehicle Registration is valid for a year in Australia and usually requires an address. We just used our hostel’s address to sign up and it went pretty smoothly. Depending on the year of the vehicle and where it was initially registered, also note that some vehicles require a safety inspection before they’re allowed to be registered to someone else, so make sure the vehicle is roadworthy before giving over the money.

Final thoughts on driving an RV or campervan around Australia

Already have your Australian campervan fully stocked and ready to roll? All you need to do now is pick a route and set a timetable.

Are you going to drive The Great Ocean Road in the south past Melbourne and enjoy beautiful beaches and light houses?

Dreaming of jumping crocodiles and pristine canyons? Maybe driving from Darwin down to Katherine Gorge is the trip for you?

Want your area a little less crowded? How about having a quiet wilderness adventure on the west cost in Western Australia?

Still too crowded? How about checking out the Red Centre and experiencing the wide open spaces of Australia’s outback while you take in iconic sites like Uluru and the Devils’ Marbles?

Too remote for you? How about checking out rainforests, the great barrier reef and gorgeous stretches of beach as you live up the beach bum lifestyle in tropical North Queensland?

Maybe the mainland is too much for you? All that space giving you pause. Maybe you should check out Tasmania’s rural and natural beauty and check out Tasmania’s sleepy towns and secluded beaches.

No matter where you go or which route you decide on, taking a road trip around Australia in your campervan, RV or even just a van will be a memory you’ll keep forever and no matter how long you go for, there will always be something new to see on your next adventure.

Safe travels!

Got a tip about driving a campervan around Australia? We’d love to hear from you. Drop us an email or leave a comment below for everyone to read.

Australian Roadtrip Tips and Adventure. Planning to travel in Australia and have a fun Australian road trip? Here are our helpful tips and tricks for driving around in Australia that are worth adding to your itinerary. Australia Road Trip | Tips | Travel | Australia travel | roadtrip | budget #australia #travel #traveltips #roadtrip #wanderlust #adventure #vanlife How to road trip Australia on a budget. Australia can be expensive and driving around Australia in a van or RV or campervan can really cut the cost! Tips for driving around Australia in campervan. Australia Road Trip | Tips | Travel | Australia travel | roadtrip | budget #australia #travel #traveltips #roadtrip #wanderlust #adventure #vanlife ]]> 0
The Best Travel Toiletry Bag: Which One is Perfect for You? Tue, 13 Feb 2018 18:00:00 +0000 Having trouble keeping your things organized when you travel? If so, we’ve found the very best travel toiletry bags to help keep you organized while on the road.

Like many of you, we always have packing cubes and a great laptop backpack to keep our important stuff like clothes and electronics together, but it’s easy to forget smaller things like toiletries when you pack.

If you don’t have a good toiletry bag to store your cosmetics or shaving kit in, you’re just asking for headaches. A good toiletry bag can help keep everything in one place, and also keep those inevitable spills contained whether you’re going on a short beach vacation, or a year long trip backpacking the world.

Interested in only a specific section? Click one of the links below to jump to the toiletry bag review section you want.

Compare the best travel toiletries bag 2018

Toiletry bagImageTypePriceOur rating /10
eBags Pack-it-Flat Toiletry Kithanging9.5
IQTravels Dopp kitcase9.0
ROWNYEON Mini Makeup Train Case

train case8.5
Vetelli Hanging Toiletry Baghanging9.0
eBags Portage Toiletry Kithanging8.5
CHICECO Large Makeup Bag Toiletry Bag
Osprey UltraLight Roll Organizer
N. Gil Large Travel Cosmetic Pouch Bag
HOYOFO Barrel Travel Cosmetic Bag

TUZZ TSA Approved Clear Travel Toiletry Bag

clear/TSA compliant8.0
Yamui TSA Approved Toiletry Bagclear/TSA compliant8.0

What to look for in a toiletry bag

When you’re looking into a new toiletry bag, there are numerous features you need to think about. Not only is it going to be pulled out every morning and night but it has to work with your travel lifestyle. Here’s a few things to look for when comparing and reviewing toiletry bags.

The ability to hang

Hanging toiletry bags are fantastic, because they’re almost always designed so that you can easily see what’s inside, and access all of the compartments once hung. This means that you don’t need to pack and repack your bag, saving time and hassle. They do require a place to hung from however most bathrooms have towel racks or hangers behind the door. The nice part is they don’t require a big counter to sit on and you don’t have to worry about them getting wet while sitting there. That said, they can be awkward to deal with if you can’t hang them properly.

Easy to clean

Even if you pack carefully, it’s almost inevitable something will eventually spill in your kit. Bags with plastic lining are the best to clean, and bags that dry quickly after cleaning are a great choice as well. If you’re using a carry-on, getting some refillable silicone bottles like the new 100ml humangear GoToob+ Travel Bottle with Locking Cap  is a great idea.


Suitable for flying

Since the TSA requires travelers to pack all liquids in a resealable plastic bag, I make sure my 3-1-1 resealable quart size plastic bag can easily fit inside my travel toiletry kit. That way, it’s a breeze to pre-pack the plastic bag, put the bag in my toiletry kit, and just pull out the plastic bag when going through security screening.

Plenty of pockets

Toiletry bags hold an interesting array of things, from tweezers, razors and scissors to shampoo, perfume and lotions. They can also hold medication and toothbrushes so it’s handy to have plenty of little compartments to keep this all organized.


From leather and plastic to waterproof canvas, choosing the right fabric for your toiletry bag kit will ensure it lives up to your lifestyle. While leather looks great and is durable, it may get damaged if it gets wet. Conversely, some plastics fade or tear with age though are great to clean while canvas style fabrics are great for durability but may fail in the cleaning department. The trick is to match your bag fabric to your lifestyle.


If you’re an ultralight backpacker, you’ll want a small toiletry bag, while a large toiletry bag would be a great fit if you carry a lot of makeup or grooming products and tend to check your bags thereby space isn’t a premium.

Best travel makeup bag

The best travel cosmetic bag is a pretty individual choice. It depends a lot on your style and how many toiletries and accessories, like curling irons, you carry in your vanity bag. We’ve found what we think are the best women travel toiletry bags, though (of course!) men may love them too. They’re all water resistant on the outside, large enough to carry plenty of makeup and accessories, and all work well for travel.

We’ve picked the very best travel toiletry bags for women, including the train case, clutch, pouch, bucket or barrel, and hanging bag.

CHICECO Large Makeup Bag Review

The CHICECO Large Makeup Bag is a cute, large stylish clutch style travel makeup toiletry bag, with a gold color zipper that comes in several colors, including black, dark purple, grey, pink, and turquoise.

The outside is waterproof and easy to clean, though the lining is made of a non water repellent fabric. If something spills inside, you will need to wash the bag.

It’s one of the larger travel cosmetic bags at 10″x 7″x 4″. There’s plenty of room inside for your many liquids, hairbrushes, makeup, and more. It’s even large enough to fit an iPad Air in. Inside, there’s a zippered pocket (perfect for small items like tweezers and eyeliner pencil sharpeners) as well as a couple of smaller pockets for small items like lipstick.

See price and colors.

CHICECO Large Makeup Bag Review

CHICECO Large Makeup Bag

ROWNYEON Mini Makeup Train Case Makeup Organizer Bag Review

The zippered ROWNYEON Train Case bag is waterproof, with a spill proof interior, and it comes in black, blue and pink. The inside is packed with adjustable dividers that are perfect for creating a custom design to protect your cosmetics and perfumes, plus a top brush holder with a zippered pocket.

There’s a hand strap, and large sized at 10.2″ x 9.1″x 3.5″. It’s a fantastic choice for someone with a boatload of toiletries, as it keeps them organized and neat on the road.

We’ve included this in the ladies’ travel toiletry bags section, but it could easily be used for men’s toiletries and a shaving kit.

Click here to see price and more.

ROWNYEON Mini Makeup Train Case Makeup Organizer Bag Review

ROWNYEON Mini Makeup Train Case Makeup Organizer Bag

HOYOFO Bucket Barrel Travel Cosmetics Bag Review

If you like bucket bags, the HOYOFO Barrel toiletry bag is a great choice.

It comes in blue or pink, and it’s washable with a waterproof coating. This bathroom bag itself is 6.7″ x 9.1″ and also comes with a matching mini zipper storage bag (5.5″ x 3.1″) and a plastic pouch for makeup brushes.

There’a drawstring closure, with three mesh pockets inside.

Click to see prices and more.

HOYOFO Bucket Barrel Travel Cosmetics Bag Review

HOYOFO Bucket Barrel Travel Cosmetics Bag

N. Gil Large Travel Cosmetic Pouch Bag Review

If you’re looking for a cute, stylish cosmetic travel toiletry bag for women, the N. Gil cosmetic pouch should fit.

This bag’s biggest advantage is the 3 dozen plus colors and patterns it comes in, with everything from sea turtle aqua red (pictured below) to arrow mint green, purple chevron, pig navy blue, kaleidoscope zebra, flamingo navy, and a lot more. If you are a unique individual, this bag has your name all over it.

N Gil womens cosmetic travel bag colors

The exterior of the N. Gil Cosmetic pouch is water resistant, with a zip top and foam padding, and the interior of this travel toiletry case is lined. The bag is 8.5″ x 6.5″ x 3.8″.

See prices here.

N. Gil Large Travel Cosmetic Pouch Bag Review

N. Gil Large Travel Cosmetic Pouch Bag

For the best women’s hanging travel toiletry bag, check out our pick below, the eBags Pack it Flat Toiletry kit hanging cosmetics bag.

Best hanging travel toiletry bag

Sometimes, hanging your toiletry bag up on a hook is a great way to keep your toiletries organized, easy to access and out of the way of precious sink space. We’ve rated our favorite hanging toiletry kits below.

 eBags Pack it Flat Toiletry Kit Review

The eBags Pack it Flat Toiletry kit is one of our favorites on the list. When we first got it, it looked so flat that I wondered how we’d manage to put all of our stuff inside. No worries though, this eBags kit can hold an awful lot, but still remain fairly compact. Because it folds up neatly and packs flat, it fits easily into almost any kind of luggage, from carry-on, to checked bags, to backpacks or even a day bag.

It comes in colors that include aquamarine (like ours below), black, canary, denim, eggplant, grasshopper, raspberry and titanium.


The bag is water resistant and easy to clean, and measures 2.2 x 14 x 9.25 inches. There are three compartments of 2.25″ x 9.25, and the center section is 7.75″ wide by 9.25″ tall.

This is one a bag that can easily be used by men or women, and we even use it as a family of four (though we have to keep our four large electric toothbrushes elsewhere). You can store one or two Sonicare or other electronic toothbrushes inside, as long as you remove the heads.

One feature that I really love is the removable pocket mirror, as I don’t normally travel with one.

Click to check prices and more here.


eBags Pack it Flat Toiletry Kit

The Larger Option: eBags Portage Toiletry Kit Review

If you’re looking for the best travel hanging toiletry bag in regards to size, check out the large eBags Portage Toiletry Kit. It measures 5.2″ x 13.5″ x 8.5″, and unlike it’s smaller sibling, it also stands up as well as hangs.

This would be a good family size toiletry bag for a family that shares one bag for all their toiletries. As you can probably guess, it can hold a lot of toiletries.

Check prices here.

Large eBags Portage Toiletry Kit Review

Large eBags Portage Toiletry Kit

The hanging Travelon toiletry bag is another option if you’re looking for a even larger option. It’s 7.5″ x 13.2″ x 9.5 inches, and folds into a neat cube. See prices and information for the Travelon bag here.

If you’re looking for a leather hanging toiletry bag, just check out the Vetelli Hanging Toiletry Bag, below.

Best mens travel toiletry bag

While (of course!) men can use any bag in our list, there are a few that are designed specifically for men’s travel kit shaving and grooming needs. These are our top picks in mens travel toiletry bags. Of course, women are free to use these bags as well.

Vetelli Hanging Toiletry Bag for Men – Dopp Kit Review

If you’re looking for a stylish leather hanging toiletry bag designed for men, the Vetelli Hanging Toiletry Bag is our pick. This leather travel toiletry bag gets stellar ratings, and has a luxurious look.

It’s made of high grade PU leather, which is easy to clean and water resistant, with an interior of PU leather and a canvas lining.

The bag is designed to hang or lay flat, with four interior pockets (two large, and two small). When unfolded, it’s a large travel toiletry bag at 20.9″ x 12″, and it’s 8″ x 12″ when folded closed.

Click here to see prices and more details.

Vetelli Hanging Toiletry Bag for Men - Dopp Kit Review

Vetelli Hanging Toiletry Bag for Men – Dopp Kit

IQTRAVELS Dopp Kit Review

The IQTravels Dopp Kit for men is a good size, at 12″ x 5″ x 5″.

It has a large center pocket, with tow medium pockets on the side. The pockets fold out flat, like wings, for easy access. The design is flexible enough that you can use it as a toiletry bag, a travel storage organizer, shaving kit bag, shaving dopp kit, or makeup bag.

The dopp kit itself isn’t waterproof, but it comes with a waterproof bag for your liquids. The waterproof bag is large enough you can even use it to hold a pair of shoes, or a change of clothes.

It also includes two free e-books: Hack your Way to Better Travel and RV LIVING: The Ultimate Beginners Guide.

See prices and more details here now.

IQTRAVELS Dopp Kit Review


Clear toiletry bag for air travel

There are a lot of clear toiletry bags for air travel. They’re all great at making items easy to see and access. However, not all of them are small enough to be TSA compliant. There’s definitely something so nice about being able to pack your liquids in one bag and leave them there for the duration of your trip, including trips through airport security! The best toiletry bag for carry on definitely needs to be TSA compliant.

The kit that I’ve traveled with for years is a clear bag that I chose because it’s clear and easy to access. Unfortunately, it’s not small enough to be TSA compliant, meaning I have to carry my liquids inside a separate plastic Zip-lock style bag inside.

What does TSA compliant mean? This means that the bag is compliant the the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule, meaning that it’s a quart or litre in size, resealable, and clear. According to the TSA’s website, “You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes through the checkpoint. These are limited to 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. This is also known as the 3-1-1 liquids rule.” Any liquids over 3.4 ounces need to be carried in checked baggage.

Tip: What a lot of people do is take a quart size TSA compliant clear toiletry bag, and use it to store their liquids. They store other (non-liquid) toiletries and accessories, like hair brushes and tweezers, in another bag.

I’ve been eyeing up the best TSA toiletry bag for my carry on. There are quite a few that meet the grade, but these are my favorites.

YAMIU TSA Approved Toiletry Bag Review

The YAMIU toiletry bag is a quart sized, clear, resealable bag that’s TSA compliant with the 3-1-1 toiletries rule.

It’s a great value if you’re looking for more than one bag, or for couples or a family.

This bag is waterproof, comes with two sizes, with two of each size, so you get four bags in total.

See prices here.

YAMIU TSA Approved Toiletry Bag Review

YAMIU TSA Approved Toiletry Bag

TUZZ TSA Approved Clear Travel Toiletry Bag Review

The TUZZ carry-on bag is a quart size bag that’s compliant the the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule, meaning that it’s a quart in size, clear, and resealable. It’s 7.8 x 2.5 x 6.3 inches, and weighs only 1.6 ounces. The TUZZ is made of PVC, making it waterproof (though big spills of liquids may leak through the zipper).

Designs on the outside of the bag are printed on, and can’t be removed.

TUZZ TSA Approved Clear Travel Toiletry Bag Review

TUZZ TSA Approved Clear Travel Toiletry Bag

See prices and more here.

Best toiletry bag for backpacking

While we love the eBags Pack it Flat Toiletry kit, for backpacking, at 11.2 ounces it’s a little heavier than some backpackers would want. A great, lighter alternative, is the Osprey UltraLight Roll Organizer.

Osprey UltraLight Roll Organizer Review

The Osprey UltraLight Roll Organizer is just like the name implies, a compact and lightweight choice for backpackers. It weighs only 4.5 ounces, and measures 6″ x 3″ x 9″, making it easy to squeeze into a backpack or carry-on. It’s made of washable and water resistant nylon, and it comes with a hook for hanging, plus a little mirror.

Click here to see current prices.

Osprey UltraLight Roll Organizer Review

Osprey UltraLight Roll Organizer

Final thoughts on our toiletry bag review

No matter which toiletry bag kit you choose on this list, you can’t go wrong. Each offers something great from size to options to style. We’ve owned several different kinds over the years and our choice of toiletry bags have changed as our needs have changed.

Since we now travel as a family of four, we need ones that are a little bigger to hold both ours and the kids toiletries. Half the time they’re also full of hotel shampoos and soaps (we unofficially collect them) as well as our usual assortment of toiletries.

We loved the idea of hanging toiletry bags and were jealous anytime we saw others using one so we’re excited to have our new eBags one. Coupled with Charles’ Dopp Kit, we should be golden until the kids are big enough to need their own.

Our other travel gear reviews

Interested in some of our other popular travel essentials reviews? If you’re looking for the perfect laptop backpack click here. Wondering if packing cubes are for you, click here here to see why we like them. Always wanted a little more security and can’t decide between a money belt or neck wallet? Click here to read our lengthy review of them.

Trying to decide if you can travel with only carry-on bags. We did it as a family of four for over 3 months without a problem. You can see it here. Looking for a little more room to store things on the plane, check out my review of my favorite travel jacket ever, the SCOTTeVEST Chloe Glow Hoodie here.

So, do you have a favorite toiletry bag we missed? Let us know!

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What Are The Best Countries to Teach English Abroad? Thu, 01 Feb 2018 18:00:00 +0000 There are plenty of ways to make money abroad, from volunteering to picking fruit to working on a cruise line. One of the most tried and true ways to fund your travel is to get a job teaching English overseas.

Today’s post is from Jessica at MissAdventure Travel, who’s spent the last six years traveling and teaching English abroad. We wanted to share her thoughts on the best countries to teach English abroad, since she’s taught in both Thailand and China. Here’s what Jessica has to say.

Why did you decide to teach English overseas?

When I first decided to teach English abroad, it wasn’t for noble reasons. I’d wanted a way to travel and to write, and I didn’t have enough savings (more like $0) to live for a significant amount of time.

I’m a little more savvy now – I’ve even written about the the best travel hacks to save you money – but back then I was first learning of the idea of slow, meaningful travel, and it resonated. I wanted the chance to immerse myself in a completely foreign culture, to become a part of the community, to put myself as far out of my comfort zone as possible…all for the chance to come back changed.

Photo by Jessica J Hill

Perhaps I didn’t know I was seeking change at the time, but after teaching English abroad for nearly two years, first in Thailand and then China, I learned that with this kind of travel, the change is inevitable. It’s impossible to step outside of your norm, witness how those different from you live and think and speak, and to NOT return home a different (and better, I’d argue) person.

As airfare becomes increasingly more affordable around the world, the desire for meaningful travel experiences like teaching English abroad is also on the rise (don’t just take my word —here’s a list of the best blogs about teaching abroad!). After teaching abroad myself, I started a TEFL agency where I help those who are just getting started figure out where they’d like to go, and how to get there, proof that you just never know where teaching abroad can lead you.

What are the best countries to teach English abroad?

My first-hand experience in the industry over the last six years has given me insight into the world of teaching ESL, and as a result, a personal list of the best places to teach English abroad, for varying reasons as mentioned below.

Photo by Jessica J Hill

Photo by Jessica J Hill


One could say I’m undoubtedly biased when it comes to putting Thailand at the top of the list, but I can quickly argue anyone out of that logic.

Thailand is an easy pick for the top because it’s the best of so many things. Not only do you get tropical weather, gorgeous scenery, a never-ending list of things to do and see, friendly locals, delicious food and ease of travel to neighboring countries with Bangkok as your hub, you’ll also experience a laid-back lifestyle, a light work load, and a super low cost of living coupled with a relatively high income.

Thailand beach on Ko Phi Phi island


Some people consider Nicaragua the forgotten step brother to it’s much more popular neighbor, Costa Rica, but I’d be willing to bet those people have never been to Nicaragua, and that’s precisely why I love it so much. If off-the-beaten track is your peanut butter, then Nicaragua is your jam. Think volcanoes, unspoiled beaches (great for surfing), one of the largest lakes in the word (with freshwater sharks!), and gorgeous, colonial towns. Nicaragua is pretty new to the ESL scene, so there are more jobs available than teachers to fill them, and you don’t need a university degree or even to be a native speaker to qualify.

Czech Republic

Beer and castles. Need I say more? The self-proclaimed beer capital of the world, and also the country’s capital, Prague, Czech Republic is a hot bed for English teachers right now. Not only does it offer a comfortable lifestyle with no shortage of things to do (hiking, castles, beer tours, shopping…), but it’s also one of the cheapest cities in Europe to live AND it’s almost smack dab in the center. As an ESL teacher in Prague, you could have a central home base from which to explore the rest of Europe by train or car (weekend trip to Amsterdam, anybody?) while earning a living wage. The salaries aren’t high but you will earn enough to cover your living expenses, and have lots of opportunity to work more if you wish. Plus, the Czech Republic is relatively new to the scene when it comes to hiring ESL teachers from abroad (and being able to get them work visas), so the jobs are aplenty.

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South Korea

If you’re looking for a little more cushion in your bank account, consider a government-sponsored position in South Korea. Slightly more competitive than the above mentioned countries with more requirements (only open to native speakers with a degree AND a TEFL certification), programs like EPIK (English Program in Korea) come with great salaries, furnished accommodation, paid vacation and annual airfare reimbursement.

What questions should you ask when you’re looking at a teaching commitment?

One thing to keep in mind when it comes to choosing a location: the higher salary and better benefits typically equals longer contract commitments and more teaching hours required.

Another question to ask yourself might be if you prefer to teach in a public school or in the private sector? Children or Adults? How many hours per week are you willing to work? Will you want your weekends free?

Do you need a TEFL certificate? Can you get it overseas?

Regardless of where you decide to teach, it’s highly recommended to obtain a TEFL certification. With the growing popularity of teaching English abroad, more and more countries and employers are starting to require it, plus it will help you stand out above the crowd and make you a better, more confident teacher, which can only benefit your students in the end.

There are courses all over the world as well as online, so you can choose a program that suits your needs.

If you know you want to teach in Thailand, for example, it’s best to get certified there. Not only will you still gain an internationally recognized certification, but you’ll get hands-on experience and tips/tricks for what works specifically in Thailand, so you’ll be perfectly prepared to step foot in the Thai classroom, and from there, you’ll be able to tailor your skills to other students from around the world.

Bio: Jessica Hill is the face of MissAdventure Travel, a blog about adventure travel and teaching English abroad. After teaching English in Thailand and China, she started Teach English: ESL, a TEFL agency where she helps others teach English abroad. Find her on Facebook.

Where to teach English abroad. Do you want to teach English abroad, but don't know what country is the best? Our travel expert tells you her top countries, and explains why each is best for teaching English overseas. Not sure if Japan, China, South Korea or the Czech Republic is best for teaching abroad? We can help. Where to teach abroad | Best countries to teach English | best countries to teach abroad | How to teach English abroad | Teach English abroad | Teach English as a second language | teach English abroad tips | Teach English in Japan | Teach English in China | Teach English in Thailand | Teach English in Europe | TEFL | ESL | ESL teaching #esl #travel #traveltips How to teach English abroad. Teaching abroad expert Jessica shares her best tips for how to teach English abroad, the best countries for teaching English overseas, and shares if she thinks you'll need to get a TEFL certification (and if you can get a TEFL certificate overseas!). Where to teach English abroad | Where to teach abroad | How to teach English abroad | Teach English abroad | Teach English as a second language | teach English abroad tips | Teach English in Japan | Teach English in China | Teach English in Thailand | Teach English in Europe | TEFL | ESL | ESL teaching #esl #travel #traveltips


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How To Find Cheap International Flights The Easy Way Tue, 30 Jan 2018 21:10:00 +0000 Do you have that one annoying friend who always gets amazing flight deals?

Did you imagine them slaving over their computer late at night, every night, obsessively checking and re-checking airline deals?

Well, I used to be that person. Most days, I had Google Flights open in one tab, a Twitter feed for the best deals open in another, and half a dozen airline websites in the rest. Even with all that work, I’d still miss a deal or two.

Eventually, I figured out a better way: Let someone else do all that work! Even better, let a real, tried and true, cheap flights obsessed someone else do it.

These days, I live my life away from my computer (gasp!), check my email a few times a day, and let the cheap flight deals come to me instead.

What’s the secret? I signed up for Cheap Fly Club, run by a super nice fellow named Josh, who’s a flight finding travel expert. I imagine him and his team hunched over their computers 24 hours a day, finding me the best deals.


How to find cheap international flights for 50% off or more

New York to Christchurch, New Zealand for $245?

Fort Lauderdale to San Jose, Costa Rica from $199?

Chicago to Paris for $392?

Any of these deals sound good? They’re just a few of the prices I’ve seen in my inbox since I joined the completely free Cheap Fly Club last month.

I’ve even clicked on dozens of deals in numerous emails I’ve received and have verified for myself that they’re legit and real.

Cheap Fly Club homepage

How to get cheap airfare: Sign Up For Emails From Cheap Fly Club

Getting flight deals by email is a great time saver. Subscription services watch for sales, prices errors and fare drops to destinations all over the world. It’s so easy! When they find a great deal, they send you an email. That’s it.

Even better, it’s completely free to sign up for emails from Josh and the team at Cheap Fly Club. If you want to get even more deals, there’s also a paid Premium membership that starts at $3 a month however I’ll talk about that more, later in this post.

All of the deals Cheap Fly Club sends are for flights that are at least 50% off, but often they’re an even bigger discount. That means you won’t be swamped with emails with small dips in the prices. Everything they send means you’re paying half or less!

FYI: All the deals that they send are for international flights only, and they’re primarily for USA residents, though you’ll see deals from Canada’s largest cities as well. Now don’t despair if you’re from outside North America since there’s a good chance you can go the other way for a similar price as well!
Click here for more information or to sign up.

Sample email from Cheap Fly Club

Curious to know what the emails from Cheap Fly Club look like? Here’s one of those mistake airfare deals that landed in my inbox earlier this week.Cheap fly Club New Zealand Deal

What’s up with the premium membership?

The paid Premium Membership at Cheap Fly Club gives access to all the deals, which occur about four times more than the free subscription. It starts at $3 a month.

The biggest bonus is you can also choose your departure airport with a premium membership.

Will I get spammed with email?

No, since on the free plan, I’ve been getting about seven emails a week, or one a day. They were all great deals, so I was glad to see them in my inbox!

Do I need to fly last minute?

No, most of the Cheap Fly Club deals are between 3 to 10 months away. There are some last minute deals, but I’ve found that the best deals tend to be for a few months out.

What’s the catch?

There really isn’t one. The basic subscription is free. Try it, and if you don’t like it, all you have to do is hit unsubscribe. Worst case, they provide you with a bit of wanderlust. Best case, a very cheap flight.

Click here for more information or to sign up.

Hankering for some more sweet tips on how to find cheap airline tickets?

Check out our articles on how to find the cheapest flight to anywhere and our six quick steps to nailing the cheapest flight.

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10 Reasons Why You Should Visit The Jasper Dark Sky Festival Tue, 30 Jan 2018 00:00:00 +0000 Looking for something just a little bit different for your next trip?

Does gazing up at endless starry skies and watching the dance of the northern lights sound enticing? How about viewing stunning mountain scenery and seeing wildlife, like elk and moose, every day?

Now what would you say if I said you can do all that while eating at fantastic local restaurants and staying in world class accommodations?

The Jasper Dark Sky Festival delivers all of that and much, much more.

Jasper Dark Sky Festival Photo Courtesy Tourism Jasper

Jasper Dark Sky Festival Photo Courtesy Tourism Jasper

The Jasper Dark Sky Festival – What is it?

Every year, the Jasper Dark Sky Festival takes place in Jasper, Alberta, Canada.

Jasper is nestled in the rugged heart of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. It’s a small town that’s managed to keep it’s unique character, despite being a major tourist attraction. Bighorn sheep and elk are regularly spotted in town, and the town site and surrounding area are home to some of the most stunning views of alpine lakes and mountains you’ll ever see.

The Dark Sky Festival takes place over two weekends in October that are packed with events, speakers and activities that feature science, space and conservation.

There’s even a little bit of geeky celebrity magic that happens here: past speakers have included George Takei (best known as Sulu from the original Star Trek TV series), Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield (check out his informative and entertaining Facebook account here), plus Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, and Tory Belleci (former co-hosts of Discovery Channel’s hit show Mythbusters).

So when Tourism Jasper reached out to invite me to experience the Jasper Dark Sky Festival firsthand, I jumped at the chance.

Jasper Alberta Canada lake

Jasper Dark Sky Preserve

The Dark Sky festival is held in Jasper National Park, home to one of the world’s largest Dark Sky Preserves.

A Dark-Sky Preserve is an area in which no artificial lighting is visible and active measures are in place to educate and promote the reduction of light pollution to the public and nearby municipalities. Sky glow from beyond the borders of the Preserve will be of comparable intensity, or less, to that of natural sky glow. – Royal Astronomical
Society of Canada

In Jasper, the city and park have taken extra steps, like replacing older street lights with lights that point to the ground, rather than up, and cast less light. The result is stunning, clear views of the night sky – perfect for catching a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis or Milky Way.

10 Reasons Why You Should Visit The Jasper Dark Sky Festival

There’s so much to enjoy at the Jasper Dark Sky Festival, from world class talks, to taking in the night sky, to enjoying delicious meals that it’s hard to narrow it down to 10 reasons! That said, here are my top 10 reasons you should check out the Jasper Dark Sky Festival for yourself.

Stargazing and taking in the northern lights

There are plenty of opportunities to take in the stars at the festival, but don’t miss the Beyond the Stars event at Lake Annette.

Jasper Dark Sky Festival Photo Courtesy Tourism Jasper

Northern lights over the Jasper sky Jasper Dark Sky Festival Photo Courtesy Tourism Jasper

There’s plenty to do at this night time event, with expert guidance from the Telus World of Science – Edmonton, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – Edmonton Centre, Dark Sky photographers, Parks Canada interpreters and other special guests.

For those of us who aren’t fond of cold weather, or those who just love their java, there’s a Tim Horton’s truck parked conveniently nearby, offering up free hot chocolate and lattes! There’s also a free shuttle from the Visitor Information Centre.

It’s an other worldly experience to stand in the middle of the starlit sky, gazing up as the northern lights glow, and change shape, over Lake Annette.

There’s a lot to see here, but one of my favorite activities was to stop by the telescopes set up and manned by knowledgeable volunteers. Each telescope was trained on a celestial object, from far away galaxies to planets. It’s an amazing experience to see these with your own eyes!

Tip! A good stargazing app can make your experience so much more enjoyable! Try out Sky Map for Android (free) or StarWalk 2 for iPhone or iPad.

The Scenery

Ever seen a photo of an impossibly perfect, clear emerald green lake in the Canadian Rockies? It was probably taken in Jasper.

You can catch Jasper’s scenery pretty much, well, everywhere around town. Tourism Jasper has an excellent list of highlights here.

Maligne Lake in Jasper Alberta in winter

For a gorgeous, birds-eye view, be sure to take the Jasper SkyTram‘s fully enclosed tram for some stunning views. Dogs are welcome!

If you’ve ever been on Instagram, you’re sure to have seen an image of the beautiful Maligne Lake and Spirit Island. In warmer weather, the lake is a stunning green.

Spirit Island Jasper Alberta Canada

Spirit Island


You don’t need to be a nerd to love the Jasper Dark Sky Festival, but it doesn’t hurt.

There’s plenty here for science nerds like me, from chances to chat with world class astronomers to hands on chances to view the stars. Be sure to check out events like Stargazing and Observe the Sun with RASC Royal Astonomical Society of Canada, which get stellar Jasper Dark Sky Festival reviews. Events vary each year, but there’s always plenty to do and see.

The Wildlife

Jasper’s relatively untouched location in the Canadian Rockies means that it’s a great place to see wildlife.

The park is home to elk, moose, caribou, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, bears and wolves, plus smaller animals like the adorable pika and marmots, plus many bird species.

Tip! Keep your distance, as these are wild animals, and their behavior is unpredictable, no matter how accustomed they are to humans. It’s illegal and dangerous to touch or feed wildlife – both for you and the animals!

A moose casually hanging out by the side of the road in Jasper

The Keynote Speakers

Keynote speakers for the Jasper Dark Sky vary by year, but they’re sure to be informative and entertaining. They’re sure to delve into interesting questions like these. What is dark matter anyway? Why does space exploration matter? Will we ever colonize Mars?

Human Universe by Brian Cox

During my visit, the keynote speakers were UK Professor Brian Cox and Phil Plait, of Bad Astronomer fame.

The talks were interesting and lively, and I was incredibly impressed with how gracious and engaged both men were with audience members, young and old alike, during the question and answer period.

Bad Astronomy book by Phil Plait

The Kids

There’s plenty for kids to do at the Jasper Dark Sky Festival, from having fun at the planetarium (more on that later!) to hands on fun at the Big Bang Expo.

family fun at the Jasper Dark Sky Festival The Dark Sky Festival takes place over two weekends in October that are packed with events, speakers and activities that feature science, space and conservation. Jasper Dark Sky Preserve | Things to do in Jasper Alberta | Jasper Alberta | Jasper National Park | Northern Lights | Canada | Alberta | Canadian Rockies | Scenery |Where to Stay in Jasper National Park | Dark Skies | Jasper National Park Things To Do | Jasper National Park Winter | #travel #traveltips

Big Bang Expo, presented by TELUS World of Science at the Jasper Elementary School, is chock full of real life experiments and experiences for kids and adults alike.

There’s a lot of fun building and flying model rockets, and plenty of science-related activities indoors.

Model rocket launch Big Bang Expo at the Jasper Alberta Canada Dark Sky Festival

Model rocket launch!

The Food

For a small town in the mountains, Jasper has a surprisingly excellent selection of top notch restaurants. You’ll find everything from gourmet to casual. Here are the restaurants I had a chance to try during my visit.

Orso Trattoria

One word – Yum! The elegant but relaxed Orso Trattoria is located inside the gorgeous Jasper Park Lodge. It also has an enviable ground level spot with stunning mountain and lake views.

The menu’s full of farm to table goodness, with interesting dishes like breakfast poutine (with hash browns), croque madame, and, of course, avocado toast (delicious!). Breakfast is served all week, but dinner is only served Saturday and Sunday.

Orso Trattoria breakfast in Jasper Alberta

Evil Dave’s Grill

Locally owned, Evil Dave’s Grill is a casual, fun place with great food.

Dishes like Malevolent Meatloaf, Fiendish Falafel and Karma Curry all have a diabolical twist. I tried the Karma Curry, and it was spicy, flavorful, fresh and darn tasty. Be sure to try the Beautiful Brie, a wheel of almond and panko crusted deep fried brie, on chilled pear puree, with toasted baguette. Delicious!

Coco’s Cafe

Of all the restaurants I tried in Jasper, funky and fun Coco’s Cafe was my favorite.

Everything I tried here was perfect, from coffee to a bagged lunch with a spicy, flavor packed vegetarian burrito.

It’s a locally owned joint that specializes in vegetarian, vegan and celiac friendly fare.

Jasper Cocos Cafe sign

Jasper Brewing Company

The Jasper Brewing Company is a bustling place packed with locals and tourists alike. The menu has a great range, from confit duck tacos, to delicious warm buttered soft pretzels, to veggie burgers and pan roasted Ora King salmon. The beer’s pretty darn good, too!

Emerald Lounge

I got a chance to try the Emerald Lounge, located just off the lobby to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. After a long delay with my shuttle, the Emerald Lounge’s roaring fireplaces and comfy chairs were a welcome sight. It’s open all day until late, with gorgeous views and a welcoming vibe.

The Planetarium

Don’t miss a stop at the Jasper Planetarium. The inflatable dome planetarium is a 360 degree astronomical immersive experience that’s fun in any kind of weather, even if the skies are cloudy. It’s well worth a visit, with interesting and informative narration.

See the Jasper Planetarium website for more info and ticket prices.

Planetarium at Jasper Alberta Canada Dark Sky Festival

SPACEtalks panel

In addition to the fantastic keynote speakers, each year the Jasper Dark Sky Festival hosts a Spacetalks Panel.

It’s hosted by knowledgeable and entertaining science journalist Natalie Panek, and features different scientists each year.

This year, the panel was moderated by CBC Radio’s Bob MacDonald, with presenters including astrophysicist Rob Thacker, Scientific American Contributing Editor John Rennie, and Rocket Scientist and Explorer Natalie Panek.

There’s a lot to love at the Dark Sky Festival, but SPACEtalks was one of my favorite parts, as it was fun, casual, and just so interesting!

Watching the Stars at the Jasper Dark Sky Festival. Photo Courtesy Tourism Jasper.

Watching the Stars at the Jasper Dark Sky Festival. Photo Courtesy Tourism Jasper.

Niki Wilson

The SPACEtalks panel and other events are hosted by Dark Sky Festival favorite Niki Wilson. She’s a knowledgeable and interesting science journalist, published in the likes of like BBCEarth, Motherboard, Canadian Wildlife Magazine, Natural History Magazine and Canadian Geographic.

SPACEtalks panel Jasper Alberta Canada Dark Sky Festival

SPACEtalks panel at Jasper Dark Sky Festival in Alberta, Canada

The hotels – Where to Stay in Jasper National Park

Jasper’s home to plenty of great accommodation, but I was lucky enough to stay at the iconic Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.

This is a stunning 700 acre year-round luxury mountain resort that’s located on the shores of Beauvert Lake. There’s a heated outdoor pool (enjoyable even in winter) located in a gorgeous setting, and plenty of luxury touches around the entire hotel.

This is an unusual hotel in that it’s rooms are a village of heritage log cabins all interconnected by picturesque paths. There are also luxurious Signature Cabins.

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge outdoor pool

Heated pool at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

Bonus reason! The Community

Despite being known worldwide, Jasper, Canada is still a small town, and it feels like it. There are only about 4,500 residents in the town, so you’re almost guaranteed to be bumping into people you recognize from earlier in your trip. It makes for a welcoming experience.

Candy Bear's Lair in Jasper

What you need to know

You can get all of the Festival details as well as learn where to get Jasper Dark Sky Festival tickets on the Jasper Dark Sky Festival Website.

You can learn more about Jasper activities, accommodation and places to eat from Tourism Jasper’s excellent website right here.

Jasper is located 362 kilometres (225 mi) west of Edmonton, Alberta, and 290 kilometres (180 mi) north of popular Banff, Alberta via the Icefields Parkway.

The Icefields Parkway is a beautiful stretch of highway with cascading waterfalls, ancient glaciers that you can walk upon and clear emerald lakes set in gorgeous valleys of thick pine forests.

You can also get there from Kamloops, BC in about 4 1/2 hours or from Calgary, Alberta in about the same amount of time.

Temperature: During October, Jasper’s surprisingly warm for a town high in the Canadian Rockies, with daily highs averaging 50 Fahrenheit (10 Celsius), and lows averaging 30 Fahrenheit (-1 Celsius). When I was there, there was little to no snow in the town site, but higher elevations like Maligne Lake already had some heavy snow.

What to bring: Because this is Canada, and it’s October in the mountains, be sure to bring a warm coat, warm shoes or boots, mittens and a touque (warm hat, for the non-Canadians out there). Since you’ll be outside at night watching the stars and northern lights, make sure you dress for the forecasted lows.

Jasper Alberta Canada Maligne Lake in the winter

A winter trail on Maligne Lake

How to get there

The closest airports to Jasper are Edmonton International airport (390 km) or Calgary International Airport (430 km). There is an airport in Jasper itself, however there’s no direct commercial flights offered, as it’s used mostly for diversions and delivieries use.

From Edmonton or Calgary, you can self drive, or take a shuttle. SunDog Tours operates shuttles from both Calgary and Edmonton.

If you’re not used to driving in snow and ice, I’d advise taking a shuttle during the winter for safety.

I was hosted at the Jasper Dark Sky Festival by the kind folks at Tourism Jasper.

Things to do in Jasper Alberta. Visit the Jasper Dark Sky Festival! Looking for something just a little bit different for your next trip? Why not visit the Dark Sky Festival in Jasper? Bighorn sheep and elk are regularly spotted in town, and the town site and surrounding area are home to some of the most stunning views of alpine lakes and mountains you’ll ever see. The Dark Sky Festival takes place over two weekends in October that are packed with events, speakers and activities that feature science, space and conservation. Jasper Dark Sky Preserve | Things to do in Jasper Alberta | Jasper Alberta | Jasper National Park | Northern Lights | Canada | Alberta | Canadian Rockies | Scenery |Where to Stay in Jasper National Park | Dark Skies | Jasper National Park Things To Do | Jasper National Park Winter | #travel #traveltips Jasper Dark Sky Festival. Ever dream of being far away from the bright lights, and spending an evening staring up at the starry night sky, and maybe even seeing the Northern Lights. Then this is your Festival. The Dark Sky Festival runs over two weekends in October, and is packed with ways to see the night sky, plus informative, entertaining events, speakers and activities that feature science, space and conservation. Jasper Dark Sky Preserve | Things to do in Jasper Alberta | Jasper Alberta | Jasper National Park | Northern Lights | Canada | Alberta | Canadian Rockies | Scenery |Where to Stay in Jasper National Park | Dark Skies | Jasper National Park Things To Do | Jasper National Park Winter | #travel #traveltips ]]> 4
20 Interesting Facts About Australia That Will Wow You Sun, 28 Jan 2018 18:00:00 +0000 A few years back, Micki and I spent half a year driving across Australia. We landed down south in Adelaide and then worked our way through the center of the Outback up to Darwin on the north coast, and eventually made our way past Cairns and Port Douglas before slowly making our way down the east coast, past the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane, all the way to Sydney.

Over the course of those six months, we learned just how big and just how awesome Australia is. We ended up put over 25,000 kilometers on our van, got up close and personal with some unique wildlife, met some interesting people, and saw the beautiful and varied landscapes that make up Australia.

As our kids get older, and we tell them tales of the land down under (like the termite mounds that were twice the height of our van!), the realization that we’re going to have to take them to Australia becomes clearer. It’s also what prompted us to dive into these interesting facts about Australia.

Van and termite mound in Australia

Our trusty van dwarfed by an Ozzie termite mound

Interesting Facts About Australia

So without further ado, if you’re thinking of heading to Oz or have ever been curious as to what kinds of things await you down under, here are our interesting facts about Australia that will amaze you.

Australia is big. As in, really big.

We put on over 25,000 kilometers during our trip around Australia, took six months to do it, and we still only saw half of the country. As the 6th largest country in the world with one of the lowest populations per kilometer, most people fly from city to city. When we were driving in the Outback, we would go hours at a time before seeing anyone else on the highways except the occasional road train and kangaroos.

Due to it’s massive size and the fact that the entire country is an island, Australia is the only place in the world that is considered both a continent and a country. As such, it’s sometimes also referred to as the island continent.



Beaches are everywhere in Australia

If you love beaches, there are over 10,000 beaches found around Australia. If you visited three beaches a day it would still take you over nine years to see them all!

We visited dozens of beaches along 3 coasts however we found the Whitsundays had the prettiest beaches of them all.

It also has over 25,000 kilometers of coastline where you can jump on a speedboat, a catamaran or even a sailboat and explore the over 8000 islands that circle the giant island. We visited almost every beach we could find, and even toured the Whitsunday Islands on a sailboat for four days. We loved every minute of it.

Tidal pool and beach on Fraser Island

Australia has the largest sand island in the world

Just off the east coast of Hervey Bay, Australia lies the largest sand island in the world. Fraser Island, measuring over 120 kilometers (75 mi) long and 24 kilometers (15 mi) wide also houses the country’s only all sand highway/airport runway where you can drive 80 kilometers an hour on the beach only a few feet from the crashing waves.

Renting a 4×4 SUV for 4 days, camping along the beach and driving along the sand paths and the beach was one of our favorite highlights of the trip.

Rented 4x4 on Fraser Island Australia

Micki and our little rented 4×4 on Fraser Island

It has the world’s largest coral reef

Australia is home to the Great Barrier Reef, which is the planet’s largest living structure.

Diving the Great Barrier Reef was one of the highlights of our trip. Unfortunately, the reef is in trouble these day – scientists say that the reef is dying off.

Australia wildlife is unique, and often well… pretty darn weird

The kangaroo, the duck billed platypus, the dingo, the emu, the cassowary, and the koala are just some of Australia’s unique species that can only be found in Australia.

We spotted them all in the wild, including the shy platypus, however the little rock wallabies might be one of the cutest things alive.

Rock wallabies in Australia

Australian Aboriginal culture may be 65,000 years old

Australian Aboriginals first arrived in Australia 65,000 years ago marking them as some of the oldest known human cultures.

We saw rock paintings around Uluru (Ayers Rock) and near Darwin that are some of the oldest found anywhere in the world.

Ayers Rock, Uluru, Australia at Sunset

Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Australia at Sunset

Australia was founded by inmates

Here’s one of the many fun facts about Australia: The first English settlers landed in Sydney in 1788 and the majority of that first fleet were inmates. Though most died off, a sizable number of inmates helped found Australia.

We’ve been to dozens of countries over the years, however I can truly say Australia is the only country we traveled to that I was ever held at knife point. Coincidence? Haha, probably not since the vast majority of Australians we met were super nice and helpful. Australia is also one of the safest countries in the world.

Camels, camels, camels … and more camels

The are more than half a million feral camels wandering around Australia’s outback.

We saw some wild camels more than a few times while driving and even considered riding a few that had been tamed. Unfortunately, the camel smell was only matched by the heat of the sun that day.

Are we sad we didn’t do it? Nope, we did rode camels in the Sahara desert instead.

In a country that’s mostly desert, water can be a problem

To secure a constant potable water supply, the first settlers built water tanks along the stream leading into Sydney Cove they called the Tank Stream. However, due to early pollution, the tank stream eventually became a stormwater drain that still protects Sydney from flooding.

We were in a few heavy rainstorms while in Sydney so can attest to their ability to protect the city from flooding. Rain or shine, Sydney is a gorgeous city.

Micki and Charles in Sydney Australia

The two of us in beautiful Sydney, Australia

Everything will kill you

Australia probably has the largest collection of dangerous things on the planet. From the box jellyfish to poisonous snakes like taipans, death adders, brown snakes and tiger snakes. Not to mention they have funnel spiders, blue ringed octopuses and even huge jumping bird eating spiders!

We swam in special Lycra bodysuits up north to protect us from jellyfish stings and only swam in beaches with shark nets down south.

However, we never shied away from walking trails or going on hikes, even at night. We had a few close calls with spiders, however we never saw a snake in the wild without being on a guided tour.

Interestingly, deaths from spider bites are extraordinarily rare.

Egg laying mammals are found here

There are only two egg laying mammals left in the entire world, and both can be found in Australia. These include the platypus and the spiny anteater echidna.

One of our favorite rare and unusual animal sightings ever was the platypus.

Since the platypus is known as hyper reclusive, we feared we wouldn’t be able to spot one. In truth, we found one the first place we looked and then spotted several more at different places the following days. Who knew?

That being said, our son’s favorite animal has always been the platypus, so you know we’ll be searching them out again next time we go.

Australia Facts for Kids. Oh, Australia! Australia has some of the weirdest animals in the world, plus it's also a continent, and it's the sixth biggest country in the world. We tell you all about the fun and interesting things we learned about Australia Australia Facts | Weird Australia Facts | Fun Australia Facts | Australia Travel #Australia #australianproblems #aussie #Australiakids

Lifeguards are incredibly important

Bondi Beach in Sydney, was home to the world’s first and longest running life saving club, the Bondi Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club, that started in 1907 when several groups routinely patrolled the beaches around Sydney.

Though Bondi Beach wasn’t our favorite beach in Australia, it was definitely the most happening beach we came across. If you want to see and be seen, Bondi is definitely the place to be.

Busy Bondi Beach - Sydney

Bondi Beach in Sydney

The world’s tallest birds live here

There are some amazing birds in Australia, however, the red eyed emu and the blue feathered cassowary definitely top them all, at least when it comes to size. Some emus stand over 6.2 feet (1.9 meters) while the sometimes dangerous cassowary can grow to nearly the same size.

We saw a lot of emus while crossing the center of Australia, however the huge blue feathered cassowary is both an endangered species and supposedly impossible to find.

After talking to some locals, we drove into a national park and, as we got out of our van, there happened to be a big cassowary only a few feet in front of us. They’re known to be a little dangerous, so we got back in the van and watched him strut around for 15 minutes before he suddenly turned and disappeared back into the forest.

cassowary sign in Australia

The reptiles will eat you

Australia is home to over 750 different reptile species, which is more than any other country in the world.

Though we saw them numerous times, the huge saltwater crocodiles were always intimidating to us.

Well, they have been known to eat people! The turtles on the other hand, were always fun to watch.

Jumping Crocodile on the Adelaide River

Jumping Crocodile on the Adelaide River

It’s really, really, dry in the Outback

For all the water Australia gets along the coasts, the lack of water in the central outback of Australia makes it the driest continent on the planet excluding Antarctica.

Though the outback wasn’t as dry as we originally expected, we covered huge distances across the Australian outback with only a few scraggly trees and the occasional hopping kangaroo seen in the distance. To put it simply, it was dry enough to make me happy we always had spare water on hand.

The Outback is fairly empty

How isolated is the Outback?

And this is where our Australian facts get really weird. The Outback is so isolated that an obscure, but well bankrolled, Japanese Cult may … or may not … have detonated a nuclear bomb at Banjawarn Station, Western Australia back in 1993. No one knows for sure, because it just registered as a small 3.6 earthquake.

Not only is there not much flora in the Outback, but there aren’t many people either.

Here’s one of the most weird facts about Australia: with nearly 85% of the population in Australia living 50 miles or less from the coast, you can literally be the only person within a hundreds of square miles in the outback.

When we exited from the tanned emptiness of the outback, the greenery of the coastal areas shocked us every time.

Birds be crazy in Australia

Besides for the big birds of Australia, there are some regular sized Australian birds that are a both a joy to watch and hear. The parrots in the north are gorgeous and the silly antics of the widespread galah or rose-breasted cockatoo are fun to watch.

While the laughing call of the kookaburra is definitely a bird call you’ve never heard outside of Australia, one of the most haunting sounds in Australia has to be the cry of the Green Catbird. It sounds like a cross between a baby crying and a cat meowing.

Micki and I both nearly ran into the bush looking for this poor crying baby the first time we heard it. It wasn’t until we talked to some locals, who explained it was only a bird, that we relaxed. That said, it still made us look around every time we heard it.

Galah Flock at Alice Springs Australia

Galah Flock at Alice Springs Australia

There are cattle ranches bigger than Belgium

The Anna Creek Station in South Australia is the largest cattle ranch in the world. Bigger than either Israel or Belgium, it’s also 7 times as big as the famous King Ranch in Texas. It currently holds around 10,000 head of cattle and is run by only eight workers.

We drove through part of the Anna Creek Station when we took the offroad Oodnadatta Track to Coober Pedy. Our van wasn’t really outfitted for it, and we nearly got stuck a few times after a rare rainstorm, but it definitely gave us an appreciation for anyone living out there on their own.

Australians love their wine

There are over 2,000 wine producers throughout Australia and they export over 750 million liters a year to world markets. They also drink their fair share domestically.

Some of our favorite wines ever come from Australia and we spent weeks going from one winery to another tasting a bunch for ourselves. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, they don’t export their amazing port so, if you want to try some out for yourself, you’ll just have go to Australia yourself.

Australians love to abbreviate everything

Don’t believe us? Check out this video.

Australia Facts. After six months in Australia, we learned first hand that a lot of the fun and weird things we'd heard about Australia were true. Does Australia have some of the weirdest animals in the world? Yes. Are there termite mounds as tall as a building? Yes. We tell you all about the fun and interesting things we learned about Australia | Weird Australia Facts | Fun Australia Facts | Australia Facts for Kids | Australia Travel #Australia #australianproblems #aussie #Australiakids Weird Australia Facts. There's no getting around the fact that Australia is a weird, but wonderful place. From termite mounds as big as a building, to animals that defy description, we tell you all that's weird and cool about Australia. Australia Facts | Australia Facts for Kids | Cool Australia Facts | Fun Australia Facts | Australia Travel #Australia #australianproblems #aussie #Australiakids ]]> 2
Planning For A Trip: 10 Practical Tips To Save Time, Money And Hassle Sat, 27 Jan 2018 18:00:00 +0000 Travel planning can be overwhelming and time consuming, so, if you need help planning for a trip, this guide is for you.

In this post, we’ve partnered with KAYAK to help share the best tips and hacks we’ve learned during our years of travel together. KAYAK searches other sites to show travelers the information they need to find the right flights, hotels, rental cars and vacation packages, so you can travel more confidently.

This post can help with finding the most affordable destination, packing for travel, finding the best area to stay, avoiding cell roaming charges, and much much more.

Poolside loungers with view of the ocean The Phoenix Belize Resort

So here are our top hacks and tips, all together in one simple trip planning guide, to make your next trip a breeze!

So what are travel hacks? They’re tips, tricks or tools to help fellow travelers ultimately make the planning process easier. That can mean saving time, saving money or saving you from making the same mistake others have made beforehand.

Planning For A Trip: 10 Practical Tips

So let’s get started: our first tip is to start by picking your destination.

Pick your destination

The first step in planning for a trip is to choose your destination based on your budget, your interests, the time you have available, and your travel partners.

Like most people, we start narrowing down our destinations based on cost. For us, especially since we’re in Canada, and since we travel as a family of four, airfare is the biggest part of our trip cost.

Because of that, we pretty quickly figured out that KAYAK’s Explore tool can help us find the most affordable airfare from our home airport.

Here’s how to do it:

Just go to, type in your Home Airport, and select the date you want. Chose Anytime if you want to find all the cheapest KAYAK flights to anywhere.

Now, just choose your budget, and see where you can afford to fly. I love this part!

We’re looking for a winter getaway somewhere warm, on as cheap a budget as possible, so I put in a budget of $600 a ticket for the example below.

KAYAK Explore Kelowna to Los Angeles

Even better, the KAYAK tool came back with a price of $233 for a return ticket to Los Angeles. Now that’s a great price!

Now, you can pick your dates and see if your timelines match up. Just don’t book yet, you need to do some quick research before you book your flight or hotel! Read on to find out why!

Pick your dates

Depending on how flexible your schedule is, your dates may be ironclad. If you’re fortunate enough, you may have a lot of flexibility and that’s when you’ll really save on flights.

Tip! If you only have a week or so to travel, I’d suggest staying closer to home, so your precious vacation time isn’t eaten up by travel time and jet lag.

Before you book! Quickly research costs, availability and paperwork

We do the core of our trip planning even before booking our flight or hotel, because we’ve occasionally found that hotel rooms can cost a fortune during conferences or holidays, eating up any savings we made on our cheap flight. Even worse, we’ve occasionally found an affordable and convenient flight, but found out that hotel rooms are completely booked out for that time frame.

You only need to spend a few minutes doing this – you’re not booking your hotel yet – you’re just doing a five minute check to make sure that you can get a place to stay in your budget.

We’ve also had friends book tickets only to find out that they need a visa for their trip that would take longer to process than their departure date allowed.

A list of things to quickly check before you book your hotel and flight.

  • accommodation costs and availability
  • car rental costs and availability
  • any must-do activity costs and availability
  • if you need a visa
  • if you need vaccinations. Depending on the vaccination, you may need multiple shots, so make sure you have enough time for these before you leave.
  • if your passport is valid

Book your flight

Unless it’s a quick unplanned trip, we usually have a baseline airline price for where we’re heading. It’s always nice to know it’s an actual deal and not just the lowest price you’ll see today. If it is, now that you’ve quickly scouted out your costs, book your flight quickly before prices jump!

Get your passport, visa, and vaccinations in order

As soon as your flights are sorted, make arrangements to make sure your passport is valid, apply for your visa (if you need one), and arrange for any vaccinations.

JooJoobs Passport Holder

Choose things to do and see

We always choose the activities we want to do, and the places we want to see most, before we book our accommodation. That way, we can base our accommodation based on how close it is to the airport, restaurants, activities, and any attractions we want to go to. If you’re not sure where everything is at your new destination, now’s the time to look them up!

Book your accommodation

So now that your flight is booked, you’ve got your paperwork in order, and chosen what you want to do, see and eat, the next step in planning a trip is to book your accommodation.

We love the KAYAK hotel heat map as a tool for choosing the best place to stay. It shows you what hotels are near restaurants, sightseeing, nightlife and shopping, which is fantastic if you want to be in the heart of the action. You can even use it in reverse to find a place out of the busy center if you’re looking for peace and quiet!

Inside family room at the Hotel Albemarle Isabela Island Galapagos

How to use the KAYAK hotel heat map

Search for hotels in your destination, during the dates you want.

In the results, click Go To Map.

In the popular areas box, select Eating, Sightseeing, Shopping, or Nightlife.

The map shows the most popular areas for each activity.

Because we’re usually traveling as a family, sightseeing is the most important activity for us followed by eating.

We’re going to spend a bit of time in Anaheim (hello Disneyland!), but our main focus would be Universal Studios. We went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando and LOVED it, so we’re looking at checking the California Universal Studios out.

Taking a look at the KAYAK heat map tells me Universal is pretty close to some other great LA attractions, like the Griffith Observatory and the La Brea Tar Pits. Now that we know roughly where we want to be staying, we can pick a hotel.

KAYAK hotel heat map Los Angeles

Get travel insurance

After one too many accidents and health scares overseas, we’re huge fans of getting travel insurance. Even if you’re healthy, it’s so easy to have a car accident or hurt yourself on your vacation. You can pick up good medical travel insurance from just a few dollars a day and we believe this is an essential step in vacation trip planning! If you’re from Canada, take a look at our Canadian Travel Insurance post that we update every year.

Pack smart!

We often stress far too much over packing when in reality all you absolutely need is a smartphone, wallet and passport. You can buy everything else at your destination if you really need it so those are really our only essentials.

As you can guess, we’re big fans of traveling as light as we can. We find it’s a lot less stressful to travel with carry-ons only, as you never have to worry about misplaced luggage, and you don’t have to lug around big bags. We even managed to travel carry-on only as a family of four for over three months last year!

Here are a few tips that will help you pack lighter:

  • Check the weather for the time you’ll be there, and pack accordingly.
  • Put everything you want to bring on your bed next to your luggage, and only pack the items that fit and that you need. Put everything else back.
  • If you travel with checked luggage, fly with one change of clothing (or a change of underwear at the minimum) in your carry-on, just in case your checked baggage is lost.
  • Pack clothing and shoes for activities like hiking or swimming.

Sort out cellphone and Internet access before leaving

Make sure you take a minute in your vacation planning to sort out cell phone coverage and Internet access before you leave.

Depending on your home cellphone plan, and where you’re going, you may be able to get a good data roaming rate with your local phone company. Check with your cell provider to see if they have any roaming deals and that they can provide roaming services where you’re heading.

Tip! Don’t think that your monthly plan includes automatic coverage for a reasonable price if you don’t have confirmation. We’ve seen people rack up hundreds of dollars in costs because they didn’t realize how much checking their Facebook page cost overseas or how much that phone call back to family cost them.

Because our cell roaming plan is pretty much non-existent away from home, we always travel with an international WiFi hotspot, which costs us less than $10 a day. Even better, we can connect up to six devices, which is perfect for our family of four. We could rely solely on hotel and public WiFi, but we find that sometimes hotel WiFi can be dodgy, and it can be surprisingly hard to find public WiFi in some destinations.

The nice part is that if you own an international WiFi device like we do, you can connect for only a day or two as needed while you travel so you’re not paying for it when you don’t need it.

Our Tep doing duty on the beach in Mexico

Our WiFi hotspot doing duty on the beach in Mexico

Check local currencies

These days, we rarely buy currency ahead of time, with the exception of US dollars. We always carry enough in US dollars to get us local transportation, a hotel room and food for a day or two in case our debit cards are lost or stolen, or there’s a rare problem accessing credit car machines.

Generally we like to live a little dangerously and grab some local currency at an airport ATM after we land (not usually the best rate) and then some more from a local ATM via a bank machine. We also tend to use use our credit cards for bigger purchases like hotel rooms, meals in nicer restaurants and higher priced attractions.

If you like to plan more ahead, your best currency conversion is probably going to be from your bank at home. You can get almost any currency from your local branch however some currencies could take a few weeks to get in so make sure you give yourself enough time before you leave.

Do you have any travel planning tips? Let us know what works for you!

This post is in partnership with KAYAK. Start your 2018 travel planning at

vacation planning tips. Travel planning can be overwhelming and time consuming, so if you need help planning for a trip, this guide is for you. We help with packing tips, getting a good hotel, and making sure you're ready to travel. Trip planning | Trip planning tips | vacation planning | vacation planning on a budget | vacation planning tips | vacation planning travel hacks | travel planning | travel planning tips #travel #traveltips #vacationtips #vacationtips #vacation #KAYAKtravelhacker #KAYAKsponsored #ad Trip planning tips. We share the best tips and hacks we've learned during years of travel together to help make your  your travel planning a little bit easier. There's help finding the most affordable destination, packing for travel, finding the best area to stay, avoiding cell roaming charges, and much more. Trip planning | vacation planning | vacation planning on a budget | vacation planning tips | vacation planning travel hacks | travel planning | travel planning tips | planning a trip #travel #traveltips #vacation #vacationtips #vacation #travelblogger #travelblog #KAYAKtravelhacker #KAYAKsponsored #ad


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The Best Business Travel Backpack Wed, 24 Jan 2018 18:00:00 +0000 A good travel backpack can make any business trip more enjoyable, and a lot less stressful. I’ve done a lot of business travel over the years, and learned first hand which backpacks were great for business trips and which weren’t.

Choosing the best business backpack is an important decision, because it can mean the difference between enjoying your time on the road, and having a miserable trip. You need to make sure that your laptop fits, and that the backpack is comfortable and stylish.

Luckily, we’ve done the work for you. Keep reading to find our reviews of the best business travel backpacks below.

Choosing thebest laptop backpack for work is an important decision, because it can mean the difference between enjoying your time on the road, and having a miserable trip. You need to make sure that your laptop fits, and that the backpack is comfortable and stylish. Luckily, we’ve done the work for you. best backpack for work | best laptop backpack for work | best backpack for work for women | best backpack for work - laptop bags #backpacks #laptopcase #travel #traveltips

The Best Business Travel Backpack

Looking for something specific? Just click the link below to go directly to that section.

Comparison Chart for the Best Business Travel Backpacks

Check out our comparison chart with all of the options for the best laptop backpack that we’ve reviewed here. Just click on the column headings to compare!

BackpackImageMax laptop sizePriceOur rating /10
eBags Professional Slim159.5
Pacsafe Venturesafe X30159.0
Targus Drifter II
SwissGear Travel Gear 1900178.5
Kopack Lightweight
Uoobag KT-01 Slim Business
Dell Adventure Laptop178.0
Solo Vintage Colombian Leather Laptop Backpack15.68.0

How to choose the best business backpack for travel

There’s a lot to consider when you’re looking for a great business backpack. Just because your boss loves her backpack, doesn’t mean that it’s right for you. You need to take a look at fit, style, and if the backpack will fit you properly.


When you’re traveling for business, it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll be carrying a laptop and charger at all times. On top of that, you may be bringing a portable international WiFi device (we love our little Tep portable WiFi), plenty of chargers, plugs, business cards, and so much more. All of that means you’re going to need pockets, and plenty of them. Above all, you need to make sure that your backpack is big enough to pack all of your gear.

Does your laptop fit?

If your laptop doesn’t fit in the backpack, it’s time to head back to the drawing board.


If a backpack’s too big for your frame, it’ll seem clunky and awkward, not to mention heavy. If it’s too small, you’ll likely find the straps and general fit awkward.

Padded against accidental damage

I’ve learned the hard way that padding in a business backpack is crucial. I dropped a laptop bag on the floor a couple of years ago, and because it didn’t have good padding on the bottom, my nice new laptop ended up with a good crack on the casing. Luckily, it still works perfectly to this day, but I won’t make that mistake again.

Make sure that there’s padding on the bottom of the bag especially, but padding all around the laptop sleeve is a great feature as well.


If you’re spending a lot of time outdoors, you may want to make sure your laptop backpack is waterproof, or at least water resistant.


Since I carry my laptop and other valuable gear, I like to make sure that my backpack’s as secure as possible. Many backpacks have partially hidden compartments, as well as zippers that are theft proof, and some are made of materials that are hard to cut or slash. Some backpacks even have an RFID pocket to protect your passport and cards from RFID scanners.


Straps are a crucial part of the best business laptop backpack. If the straps aren’t comfortable, you won’t like the backpack, and you won’t use it. Good straps mean the fit is comfortable. Here are a few things I like to look for:

  • Adjustable straps. If a backpack doesn’t have adjustable shoulder and waist straps, don’t buy it. Even if it fits you as is, you may want to wear the backpack with a heavy coat someday, and then the straps won’t fit. You might also not be the only one to one day carry it.
  • Padded shoulder straps. A padded shoulder strap means that your sometimes heavy backpack won’t dig painfully into your shoulders. I know that my backpack gets pretty weighed down with my laptop and accessories, so a comfy shoulder trap is important.
  • Padded back. You don’t want so much padding on the back that the backpack gets heavy. A softly padded back can be a blessing when you’re running to catch your flight, and your backpack keeps bumping against your back.
  • Carry strap. Usually a carry strap is a loop at the top of the backpack. It makes it easy to pick up your backpack from the floor.


Because you’re using your backpack in a business capacity, you’re going to want a pack that reflects your style. Whether you’re the buttoned down power suit type, or an edgy, creative type, there’s a style that’s suited for you.

Easy access

My favorite backpacks have what’s called a u-zip. This means that you can open them completely on at least two sides, making access easier. I’m not a big fan of top access only backpacks, as I find it hard to find things that have moved to the bottom.

inside front pocket of eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack

u-zip access on the eBags slim professional

The best laptop backpack for women

For women, the best business laptop pack is one that fits their body, and (hopefully!) also fits all their gear as well. Most (not all) women have shorter bodies and narrower shoulders than men, making a slightly smaller and compact backpack a great choice. We’ve used a Dell backpack for years now, and while it holds a ton, as a woman who’s 5’5″, I find that it’s uncomfortably big and bulky to carry around.

I really prefer our new, narrower and more compact eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack.

eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack

I’m definitely a fan of this eBags backpack.

It fits me well, and easily holds my monster of a nearly 16″ Lenovo Ideapad laptop in the back compartment.

This is a great backpack for someone who wants a professional look, as it also converts to a briefcase when you tuck away the straps.

At 18.5 inches high x 12.75 inches wide, it’s plenty small for carry on luggage for most airlines, or even as a personal item.

There’s plenty of padding in the back, the Airmesh back panel keeps it from being too sweaty on hot days. The straps are contoured, padded, and fully adjustable, making for a great fit. There’s even a removable front (sternum) strap for heavy loads.

The front compartment is chock full of zippered pockets to hold cables, flash drives, and all your gear. There’s also a limited Lifetime Warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.

All compartments have a u-zip, meaning that you can open them up and load from the the top or side. top view of eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack open

Click for the current price, more information and reviews.

Best business backpack for men

The best men’s business backpack takes into consideration all of the points above, but also takes into a man’s (generally) broader shoulders. My 6 foot husband loves our Dell Adventure Backpack. It’s a great laptop backpack and holds a ton but the style is pretty casual and it can get a little uncomfortable when it’s loaded with 40 pounds of electronics. It’s also older and I’m a little afraid it’s running out of stock, so something like the SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 Scansmart TSA Laptop Backpack is a great choice instead.

SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 ScanSmart Backpack

SwissGear products usually get good reviews, and the SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 Scansmart TSA Laptop Backpack is no exception.

It’s another more casual choice, and a medium to large size bag, at 9 inches deep, 13.5 inches wide and 18.5 inches high. It fits a 17 inch laptop.

This is marketed as a TSA SmartScan backpack with lay-flat technology, which just means that it’s designed to meet the TSA’s criteria to allow a your laptop to stay in the bag during screening. That said, I’ve always had TSA agents ask me to remove my laptop, and they don’t seem especially keen to discuss exceptions.

This is made with weather resistant 1200D ballistic polyester. It’s not waterproof, but it should withstand some tough knocks and a bit of rain.

The shoulder straps are all adustable and padded, and there’s a padded back panel as well.

The main laptop section zips to lay completely flat, making access to your laptop a breeze.

All in all, this is a solid, more casual choice, that should last a while.

Click for more reviews, the current price, and more.

Dell Adventure Backpack

We’ve had our Dell Adventure laptop backpack since 2014, and it’s still going strong. There’s hardly any wear on it, even after 4 years, and it’s traveled with us to at least four continents, carrying a lot of gear each time.

The downside is that I find it’s pretty big, and it gets insanely heavy when it’s jammed with all of our gear. Of course, the upside is that it’s so big the we can jam in a crazy amount of gear.

It’s definitely a casual look, and ours has a blue accent, but they only offer it in black and orange now.

It will fit a laptop with up to a 17 inch screen however we once carried 3 laptops and their power bricks, 2 tablets, 4 eReaders, a DSLR camera in it’s own case, 2 GoPro’s, a couple chargers and a half dozen cables in ours. Needless to say, the bag is a good size at 9 inches deep, 13.7 inches wide, and 18.3 inches tall.

There are padded and adjustable shoulder straps, along with a padded, mesh back. There’s no waist strap.

Access to all of the compartments is easy, with zippers that open wide.

Click for the current price, more information and reviews.

Amazon Basics laptop backpack

The Amazon Basics laptop backpack is a good size backpack that will hold a 17 inch laptop, and is seven inches deep, fifteen inches wide, and nineteen inches high. If you’re looking for a wide backpack, this is for you, as it’s the widest one in our review.

As with all Amazon Basics products, it’s great value for the price, and people seem to really like it.

Like all the other backpacks in this review, the shoulder straps are padded, and the back is padded as well. There aren’t any hip straps.

There’s nothing fancy here, no specialized waterproofing or security features, but it’s a good value. There’s light padding on the bottom of the laptop pocket.

You can get it with, or without, the Amazon logo on the front.

Click here for the latest prices and to see more information.

Best travel laptop backpack for security

For my last few solo trips, I’ve used our top-loading Pacsafe Venturesafe X30 anti-theft adventure backpack. I don’t love the fact that it loads from the top, so it doesn’t make my cut as the absolute best backpack for business travel, but other than that it has some great security features.

It has anti-theft Slashguard stainless steel wire mesh embedded into it complete with RFID protection. The Venturesafe X30 is fairly lightweight, has a padded tablet sleeve, with plenty of pockets and locking zippers.  It also has a built-in rain cover, an aluminum support back panel, and a stowaway hip belt for adventurous hikes.

At roughly 18 inches high and 9 inches wide, it’s small enough to use as either a carry on or even as a personal item with most airlines, and it holds an awful lot. It also has a molded aluminum frame that sits on my body quite well.

If you’re really concerned about security while you travel, check out our in depth money belt and neck wallet review here.

Pacsafe Venturesafe X30

In terms of security, the Pacsafe is my top backpack for security pick. I’ve had my Pacsafe Venturesafe X30 for well over a year now and I really love it. It’s lightweight, good looking, and has great security features like RFID protection and slashguard fabric.

It has a 30 liter capacity, fits a 15 inch laptop, and officially measures in at 7.9 inches deep, 11.8 inches wide and 20.3 inches high.

Tip: If you’re looking for something even smaller, Pacsafe sells the Pacsafe VentureSafe X22, which has a 22 liter capacity, and measures in at 4.7 inches deep, 10.6 inches wide and 18.1 inches tall.

The big disadvantage to this backpack is that it’s top load only, making it hard to get at gear in the bottom. Of course, being top load only means that it’s also harder for thieves to access your gear. It also has a bit more of a casual look than the eBags professional.

That said, I’ve used this backpack on multiple trips now, and it has plenty of room for my laptop, charger, cables and gear, plus my DSLR camera and lenses, my MeFOTO Roadtrip lightweight tripod, plus a GoPro HERO 6 and accessories.

See prices and more reviews now.

The best business travel backpack reviews

Now that we’ve talked about backpacks that are great for different uses, here are my other picks for the best business travel laptop backpacks. These packs are in addition to the backpacks noted above, and are all solid choices.

Kopack Slim Business Laptop Backpack

Along with our eBags slim pick, the Kopack slip business laptop pack is one of the more stylish laptop bags we found. It has a sleek, professional look, and it comes in black, grey, and a nice pinkish purple.

It’s on the smaller end, at 7.1 inches deep, 11.8 inches wide, and 17.7 inches high. It will hold a 15.6 inch notebook computer.

The fabric is water-resistant, and anti-scratch nylon.

It has a dual access zipper with anti-theft design, but no RFID or anti-slash tech. There’s a hidden back waist slot for concealing a credit card or small item.

Shoulder straps and the back are padded, and there’s a loop handle on top to make picking it up easier.

It has a useful external USB charging port on the outside. Just connect your power bank to it on the inside (check out our favorite external battery pack on Amazon), and connect your USB charging cable to the outside port. No more rummaging in your pack for your spare power bank!

The front pocket has a large, easy access u-design zipper, but the laptop compartment only loads from the top.

Unfortunately, there’s no extra padding at the bottom of the laptop compartment, so be careful when placing it down on hard surfaces or pick up an Amazon laptop sleeve to give you extra protection.

Click here for the latest prices and to see more information.

Uoobag KT-01 Slim Business Laptop Backpack

The Uoobag KT01 is a pretty sleek looking back, in pure black with red accents.

It fits a 15.6 inch laptop, and the entire laptop compartment is padded. It measures in at 5.9 inches deep, 13 inches wide, and 18.1 inches high. It weighs in at 2.1 pounds.

Tip: If you’re looking for a slightly bigger option, there’s also a 17 inch version that measures 6 inches deep, 12.6 inches wide, and 19.3 inches deep. It won’t fit a thick 15.6 inch gaming laptop. You can find it here on Amazon.

The Uoobag KT01 also comes in coffee and a lighter grey color.

Safety features include anti-theft dual zippers and a waist pocket. There’s a lockable ring on the side of the laptop compartment.

It’s made of 210D water repellent fabric.

Click here for the latest prices and to see more information.

Solo Executive 15.6 Inch Premium Leather Laptop

The Solo Executive 15.6 Inch Premium Leather Laptop is our only leather option that we rated well enough to be included.

It’s a sleek, professional looking leather laptop backpack that fits a 15.6 inch laptop, and measures 13 inches wide and 17 inches high.

It’s one of your best bets if you’re looking for a polished, professional image.

Shoulder straps are padded and adjustable, with a padded laptop compartment. It comes in espresso only.

There’s no strong leather smell, and there’s a u-zip to make access to the middle compartment easy.

See prices, and more reviews and information here.

Targus Drifter II Backpack for 17-Inch Laptop

The 17 inch Targus Drifter II is a solid choice, with a bit more of a casual look. It’s also on the larger end of these choices, and while it is casual, it’s a real workhorse, with the 17 inch version holding a 34 liter capacity.

It’s a good size, at 7.87 inches deep, 14.57 inches wide and 20.08 inches high. Be warned, though, it does swell to more than 7.87 inches deep when it’s full!

There are approximately 8 million pockets in this backpack. While that’s definitely an exaggeration, there are pockets in this thing for everything from your laptop (of course), to a microfiber lined pouch for sunglasses.

Straps are fully adjustable and padded, and the back is also padded for comfort. It doesn’t have a sternum (chest) strap.

There are no special security features like RFID or fancy zippers here, but there is a cool secret zipper compartment on the back for hiding keys or your wallet. There’s also no waterproofing on the zippers, and no separate rain cover.

It also comes in a 16 inch version, if you’re looking for something slightly smaller.

The only issue with this backpack is quite a few reviews that mention straps that start to wear with use.

See prices, reviews and more here.

Want to find out more?

See how we manage to travel carry on only for a family of four here, or check out our business travel checklist here.

What’s your favorite laptop pack? Let us know, and maybe we can add it to our business backpack reviews!

What's the the best work backpack from women? We help make sure that your laptop fits, and that the backpack is comfortable and stylish. best backpack for work | best laptop backpack for work | best backpack for work for women | best backpack for work - laptop bags #style #backpack #laptop #workstyle #business #traveltips How do you choose the best laptop backpack for work? You need to make sure that your laptop fits, and that the backpack is comfortable and stylish. best backpack for work | best laptop backpack for work | best backpack for work for women | best backpack for work - laptop bags #style #backpack #laptop #workstyle #traveltips ]]> 1
Best things to do in Cancun Mexico Sun, 21 Jan 2018 00:00:00 +0000 Cancun, found in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera, is an area of beautiful beaches, stunning scenery and is teeming with a range of activities.

Over the years, we’ve spent many months in the Yucatan, Cancun’s home state, and have done just about everything there is to do in and around the region.

From enjoying the beaches of Cancun with the kids, golf carting around Isla Mujeres, and walking along Quinta Avenida in Playa Del Carmen, to swimming with turtles in Akumal, wandering the ruins down in Tulum, and crossing over to the lovely city of Merida. The list goes on.

Isla Mujeres with Cancun in Background

Look closely! You can see Cancun on the horizon. View from Isla Mujeres

A favourite of ours was when we took a ferry to Cozumel, and a bus then a high-speed ferry to Belize. All of these paradises originating from the Cancun and Playa Del Carmen area.

Some of our fondest memories of Cancun include hours spent on the many beaches, mornings exploring nearby cenotes and Mayan ruins with visiting friends, afternoons enjoying snorkeling as a family in underwater wildlife sanctuaries and visiting eco-theme parks.

We loved spending evenings watching amazing shows and hanging with the locals on Sundays, and spending warm days in parks and cooler days in malls, as well as going to far flung restaurants all along the coast and even over to Cozumel.

Cancun Mexico Tips. All the best things to do and see in or near Cancun, Mexico, from cenotes to shopping. We've spent months around Cancun and in the Riviera Maya, and dish on the best day trips, things to do in Cancun centrol and the Hotel Zone and more. What to do in Cancun Mexico | Que Hacer En Cancun Mexico | Mayan Riviera | #Cancun #Mexico #travel #traveltips #exploremore

We’re even so enamored with Mexico’s beautiful gulf coast that we’ve seriously considered buying property in Mexico on numerous occasions. Once the kids are on their own, Mexico’s Mayan Riviera area will likely be our winter home. We’re also always one click away from chartering a plane to Cancun with Air Charter Service (ACS) anytime we see a hint of snow here in Canada.

With all that said, we’ve discovered more than a few of the best things to do in Cancun, Mexico, along with the Mayan Riviera. Let us know which ones are your personal favorites!

ME Cancun

Best things to do in Cancun Mexico

Hit the beaches

It might seem obvious, but if you’re visiting Cancun, you’re likely here for the miles and miles of beautiful white sand beach and warm azure waters. Before all the other once sleepy fishing beaches along the coast followed suit, Cancun was welcoming visitors from all around the world to enjoy its 14 miles of pristine paradise.

The most popular beaches in Cancun include Playa Delfines (Dolphin Beach), Playa Forum, Playa Caracol, Playa Chac Mool, Playa Tortuga and Playa Del Nino. Generally, the waves are calmer on the northern side of the hotel zone, and the powder soft sand in Cancun can’t be beat.

Playa Delfines is a beautiful spot nestled away from the bustle of the regions many hotels. Around 20 km long, and home to the always busy Cancun sign you see in every other selfie coming out of Cancun, there are also many amenities, water sport rentals and a playground for kids here.

Playa Tortuga and Playa Del Nino are two family favorites since they’re on the far northern reach of the hotel strip. Both are protected by Isla Mujeres meaning the water is some of the calmest in Cancun – great for the little ones.

Playa Forum, situated at the northeasterly tip of hotel row, is famous for its party scene. While nearby Playa Chac Mool (Chac Mool Beach) has a nice set of free palapas to hide from the afternoon sun. The water at both places can be pretty rough, so make sure to watch the flags and lifeguards are letting people in the water.

Playa Caracol, slightly north and around the corner of Playa Forum, is another popular beach in Cancun. There aren’t a lot of amenities, but it’s a great place to stretch out on the public beach.

Note: All beaches are public in Mexico so you can walk anywhere along them. However, getting from the street to the water or finding parking can sometimes be a hassle. Most of the beaches in Cancun have hotels with private loungers set up everywhere, however you’re always free to pay for a seat in one of the many beach clubs or just drop a towel anywhere you want to be. They can’t stop you.

Kids on the Beach in Cancun at Chokmal

The kids on one of Cancun’s beautiful beaches

Go deep sea fishing

Cancun is a great jumping off point for deep sea fishing, with tons of options from which to choose. There’s always something biting no matter the season in Cancun, with Atlantic Sailfish, Blue and White Marlins, Grouper, Wahoo, Tuna and Red Snapfish all calling the waters around Cancun home. If you’re interested in deep sea fishing in Cancun, check out this  handy chart to let you know which fish is in season.

Take a day trip to Isla Mujeres

The closest of Cancun’s neighboring islands, Isla Mujeres is only a 15 minute ferry ride away, but it feels like another world with its roads filled with golf carts, smaller beaches and quaint eateries strewn about the island.

Journey to Isla Mujeres in the morning, rent a golf cart and drive the entire length of the island checking out the turtle sanctuary, Mayan ruins, some of the nicest ocean side cliffs in Mexico, as well as some unique snorkeling. Or experience the islands exhilarating zip line and watercraft that circles the island to gain a unique and fun view.

You can check out this post we wrote on Isla Mujeres for more hints on what to do once you get there.

Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres

Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres

Go shopping

With Cancun’s gorgeous temperatures, why would you want to hit a mall? Well, besides for the occasional rainy day, and when that sunburn takes hold and you just can’t handle another hour in the sun, Cancun is accustomed to its global visitors boasting a ton of international shops to accommodate them.

As well as high end malls like Plaza Las Americas, La Isla Shopping Village and Luxury Avenue Cancun, there are outlet malls like Las Plazas Outlet Cancun, as well as handicraft stores like Ambarte, that feature gorgeous locally made hand crafted items. For the thrifty, or those looking for unusual finds, there are also plenty of flea markets and local handicraft markets all around Cancun.

Zooriders Cancun Plaza las Americas

The kids having fun in Plaza Las Americas

Go snorkeling or scuba diving

Want to get away from the beaches but love being in the water? Cancun offers snorkeling and scuba diving trips right from the town centre. Most head out towards Isla Mujeres while some go south towards Playa del Carmen. With warm clear blue waters, it’s easy to spot fish and coral.

If you want something a little different, consider going scuba diving to the MUSA Underwater Sculpture Museum in Isla Mujeres. This is the largest underwater museum in the world, and seeing fish and coral make their homes among the hundreds of works of art is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Take a catamaran cruise

Prefer the water topside? There are plenty of ways to get out on the ocean that don’t involve getting your feet wet. Taking a catamaran cruise is one idea. There are plenty of boats to choose from family friendly boats to party boats. There’s even a pirate cruise featuring a live action pirate adventure. Most Cancun boat cruises include meals and alcohol so it’s up to you to decide if the party booze cruise, the family cruise or if a always romantic sunset cruise is more your speed.

Photo by Shinya Suzuki

Photo by Shinya Suzuki

Party the night away at Coco Bongo’s and enjoy Cancun’s wild nightlife

Love to party? Cancun is generally regarded as the party capital of the Mayan Riviera and as such it has a thriving night scene. From wild shows and antics at Cancun’s Coco Bongo’s to early morning nachos and cervezas at Carlos and Charlie’s there’s surely something in Cancun for the night time party animal. Cancun really gets wild during college Spring Break so if madness and mayhem are your thing, then book accordingly.

Rent a jet boat in Cancun

Catamaran not fast enough for you? Then maybe you want to rent a jet boat in Cancun and go on a jungle expedition. There are several companies in Cancun that rent two seater speed boats and take you on a follow the guide, hold onto your hat and ride with mad dashes through mangrove lagoons and rivers. You’ll also get a chance to snorkel along a gorgeous coral reef. We haven’t done this one yet, but rest assured it is on our list.

Things to do outside of Cancun

With so much happening all along the Mayan Riviera, limiting yourself to just staying in Cancun will mean you’re missing some of the best things to do on this side of Mexico. Playa del Carmen is only a forty minute drive from Cancun and even Tulum can be easily reached for a day trip.

Of course, you have the pyramids of Chichen Itza, the island of Cozumel, swimming with turtles down in Akumal and dozens of cenotes within easy reach of Cancun as well.

Playa del Carmen Mexico Quinta Aveneda Feliz Navidad

A rare quiet moment on Playa del Carmen’s Quinta Aveneda

If you like the comfort of knowing when you’re starting and when you’re returning on your excursions, there are hundreds of day tours available that will get you to where you want to be and save you the hassle of figuring it all out for yourself.

If you want to jump on one of the nice long distance buses or even one of the ridiculously cheap local buses, you can do that too. We’ve also rented cars to tour the peninsula and have taken both collectivos (local mini buses) as well as taxis on many occasions.

Quick recap of some of the best things to do outside Cancun

Some of our favorite things to do just outside Cancun include:

  • Visiting the popular Xcaret eco theme park (see our review here)
  • Exploring the newly opened Xenses park (see our thoughts on Xenses here)
  • Swimming with turtles in Akumal (see our guide on how to do it yourself here)
  • Visiting the ruins in Tulum (see how our day went here)
  • Taking the ferry to Cozumel (see things to do in Cozumel here)
  • Going swimming in limestone cenotes (see a day at a cenotes here)
  • Going for breakfast in Puerto Morelos (see how we fared here)
  • Just hanging with the locals in Playa Del Carmen (read about our love for Playa Del Carmen here).

Have kids with you and looking for things to do in Cancun with kids? Check out this post we wrote about things to do in Cancun with kids.

Have we missed anything? If you think there should be something added to our list of things to do in Cancun Mexico please let us know in the comments.

Things to do in Cancun. Our list of the best things to do and see in Cancun, with tips on exursions, activities and fun for all ages. Things to do in Cancun with Kids |Cancun excursions | Cancun activities | Cancun excursions | Things to do in Cancun Mexico | what to do in Cancun | Cancun activities | Cancun excursions | Cancun beaches | with kids | #Cancun #Mexico #travel #traveltips Things to do in Cancun Mexico. With years of time spent in Cancun and around the Riviera Maya, we share our favorite activities, excursions, and more around Cancun, Mexico. Cancun Mexcio Tips | Cancun Day Trips | What do do in Cancun | Cancun beaches |Things to do in Cancun as a couple | #Cancun #Mexico #travel #traveltips #exploremore ]]> 1
Can I Buy Travel Insurance If I’m Already Abroad? Wed, 10 Jan 2018 02:00:00 +0000 Already overseas and forgot to buy travel insurance before you left?

Has your travel insurance run out while you’re on vacation and you want to extend your stay or, heading to an area where it might be a really, really good idea to have travel insurance and you never bothered to buy any before? No matter the reason, buying travel insurance while you’re already abroad happens a lot more often than you’d think.

If you find yourself without travel insurance, and you’re already on the open road, don’t worry, we have the solution.

Zip lining fun

What could possibly go wrong? Charles zip lining in the Riviera Nayarit.

Can I buy travel insurance if I’m already abroad?

Whether you’re a classic procrastinator and forgot, or if your travel plans have changed: the good news is you can probably get travel insurance coverage for the remainder of your trip. Even better, the coverage you get will likely be similar to a policy you’d have purchased before you left.

This is important: No matter which policy you buy, you won’t be covered for injuries or accidents that happened before you buy your policy. So waiting until you’re on the way to the hospital isn’t the best time to buy travel insurance.

Not all travel insurance companies offer travel insurance if you’re already out of the country. In fact, the majority of them require that you haven’t already left on your trip. That said, there are some companies that let you get travel insurance after departure.

Our favorite company is World Nomads. We’ve been recommending them since we started this blog, because they’re reputable, and endorsed by Lonely Planet and National Geographic.

They’re also one of the only companies that offers travel insurance after departure to citizens of multiple countries.

You can use the widget below to find a plan for your trip:

Waiting periods before coverage starts

Some insurers have a waiting period before coverage starts, which is usually just a few days, before your travel insurance coverage takes effect. This is more common for Australian and New Zealand companies, but we’ve also heard it happens with Canadian, UK and US companies.

If you get sick or have an accident during this waiting period, you likely won’t be covered. Insurance companies add this waiting period to protect themselves from fraud from people who’ve gotten sick or injured, and then buy insurance to cover the now existing injury or illness.

That said, check your policy because some insurers have a waiting period, but they’ll also cover you for emergency overseas medical expenses and emergency transport expenses for a sudden illness or serious injury that results from an accident during that waiting period. Every travel insurance company handles the waiting period differently, so talk with your travel insurance agent to see what they do and don’t cover during this waiting period.

Micki and Charles on Motorbike in Thailand

Cruising around Thailand on a motorcycle. That was probably an accident waiting to happen.

Travel insurance coverage for people already abroad

Just like regular travel insurance, the costs and what’s covered under your policy will vary a lot for travel insurance if you’re already overseas. The exact eligibility requirements, and cover you get, will depend on the specific insurer you choose. Talk to an insurance agent to make sure you’re covered for every activity you plan on doing while you travel.

Hospital room in Trang Thailand 2003

Micki’s hospital room in Trang Thailand, way back in 2003 – our first brush with needing travel insurance.

Age limits

Depending on the travel insurance company you choose, age limits may apply. This is common for both standard travel insurance, as well as health insurance you buy when already on a trip. There are some travel insurance policies with no age limit, but some insurance policies have age limits as low as under 60 years of age. Read the fine print to make sure you qualify.

Pre-existing medical conditions

Just like standard travel insurance, depending on the plan you choose, you may also not be covered for pre-existing medical conditions. Of course this depends on your policy, as some travel insurance policies do cover some pre-existing medical conditions like stable high blood pressure.

It’s very important that no matter whether you’re buying your travel insurance before you leave or while you’re already on the road, to always tell your travel insurer about any pre-existing medical conditions when you buy your policy. Otherwise, you might be surprised when you submit your bills that they’re declined.

Snorkeling in the Marietas Islands, Mexico

Snorkeling in the Marietas Islands, Mexico

If you’re over the age of 60, pre-existing conditions get more common, and also more complex. We get a lot of questions from Canadian seniors heading south in the winter (called snowbirds) about pre-existing conditions and travel insurance. However, any good snowbird travel insurance coverage should include pre-existing conditions – just be sure to check your policy to make sure that you’re covered.

Tip: Always check your travel insurance policy to know exactly what your coverage offers, and if there are any exemptions. At the end of the day, your policy is your contract and generally supersedes everything else.

Buy this coverageIf you need
Travel medical insuranceYour expenses to be paid if you're sick or injured on your vacation
Trip cancellation and trip interruption
Unfortunately, you likely won't be able to get trip cancellation or interruption insurance if you've already left on your trip. This coverage will reimburse you if you need to cancel or end your trip ahead of time.
Theft and lost luggage coverage To be reimbursed for lost, stolen or damaged luggage
Electronics coverage Payment for stolen or damaged electronics or photography equipment
Emergency evacuation and repatriation To be moved to the nearest hospital or flown home if needed
Payment for damage to a rental car Car collision insurance (CDW)
Assistance finding a doctor 24 hour medical or concierge assistance

It’s probably non-refundable

Of course, each insurer is different, buy many travel insurers don’t offer you a cooling off period if you buy travel insurance once you’ve already left your home country. Instead, these policies are typically non-refundable. If you have any doubt, check your own policy to make sure.

Need some more help?

Have you ever wondered “do I  need travel insurance“?

If you’re a Canadian, and looking for travel insurance, check out our Canadian travel insurance review.

Have you bought travel insurance whilst already abroad? Let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear from you!

how to buy travel insurance after departure Can you buy travel insurance if already overseas? Yes, you can, and we tell you how and our favorite travel insurance company. travel insurance tips | travel insurance reviews|


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