Travel Tips – The Barefoot Nomad Travel. Tech. Family. Fun. Thu, 18 Jan 2018 04:03:04 +0000 en-US hourly 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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10 Creative Ways to Preserve Your Travel Memories Fri, 22 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000 How do you keep the memories alive long after your dream trip is over?

Charles and I have traveled together extensively for over 15 years now. Since we travel so much, we have to be pretty picky about how many souvenirs we pick up.

The truth is, if we bought everything that caught our eye on our travels, we’d need another garage to store everything. Honestly, we probably overdid it in the beginning of our travels, as we still have boxes of souvenirs that we’ll probably never display. As a result of those, we’ve gotten pretty picky about the souvenirs we now bring home.

10 Creative Ways to Preserve Your Travel Memories

While it’s easy to pick up a T-shirt at any souvenir shop (and we still do sometimes!), we’ve aimed for some unique, interesting ways to preserve your trip memories.

After a lot of thought (and a lot of pruning of the list), these are the travel memories ideas that we love the best.

Send a postcard to yourself

Postcards are a classic way to preserve travel memories. The problem is that often they’re often pretty generic and boring.

That’s all changed now that apps like My Postcard let you send your own photos as physical postcards. You can send then straight from your computer or smartphone from anywhere in the world, to anywhere in the world. How cool is that?

Create a travel scrapbook

I’m not the scrapbooking type, but I do have to admit that they look pretty cool when they’re done.

It honestly looks pretty easy to do: just pick up a travel scrapbook kit, use the book and stickers they provide, print out some photos, and add things like airline tickets and notes.


Get a travel memories map

There are plenty of travel memories maps available, and they look great once they’re filled in and framed.

Some maps come with push pins, but most are scratch off maps. The best ones come with a scratcher, memory stickers, an eraser to clean scratch smudges and a magnifying strip.

You can buy it on Amazon here.

Create a memory box

A memory box (or shadowbox) is just a glass enclosed display box for displaying objects. You can even use a picture frame if you only have flat items to add.

Just add photos, plane tickets, and decorations and you’re done, like this DIY beach vacation shadowbox from MomDot, made with sand from a family vacation.

We really love this shadow box frame with a wooden background. It’s available on Amazon here.

Collect a unique souvenir from wherever you travel

Because we travel so often, we struggled with finding souvenirs that wouldn’t take over our house. There are many things that make great souvenirs, like fridge magnets, pebbles, patches, shot glasses, and the like, but we settled on bring home a paper map from wherever we visit.

Even in the age of Google Maps, it’s easy to pick up a paper tourist map at almost any hotel or airport. We just mark places we visit, and make notes to make the maps more personal. The best part is that they take up almost no storage room.

Write a travel journal

I’ve never once regretted keeping a travel journal. It’s amazing the details that you forget over time!

Unfortunately, the demands of working while we travel and taking care of a family mean that I don’t write in my journal as often as I’d like.

A travel journal doesn’t need to be on paper, emails to friends or family are great ways to preserve memories. If you like to write and take photos, consider creating a travel blog!


We love this highly rated Dingbats travel journal, made with biodegradable and recyclable materials. Get it on Amazon here.

Retro photo viewer

This is one of the cutest ideas I’ve seen in a while. I haven’t had a chance to try it out personally, but it’s definitely unique and whimsical.

RetroViewers are 3D viewers that are made from your own digital images. Each reel can hold seven images, and you can add text like location, time and so on.

Collect sand from everywhere you go

There’s something wonderful about being able to run your fingers through sand that you walked in on a tropical beach.

There are plenty of ways to display the sand, from keeping it in a bottle, to having it added to jewelry. I like to keep ours in small, separate glass bottles, rather than layering it in one bottle. One drop and it would be mixed together anyway!

You can pick up these adorable glass bottles on Amazon here.

Tip: Just be careful that you don’t take any sand or shells where it’s prohibited.

Keep leftover money

I think we’ve managed to keep just a little bit of leftover money from almost every country we’ve ever visited. Years later, I still love looking at the coins and bills.

If you’re crafty, you can include some of the small bills and coins in a scrapbook or shadow box.

We love this Punch Studio photo box. It would make a great storage box for coins and paper bills, plus other travel momentos.

Get it on Amazon here.


One of the best ways to bring back memories is through foods and smells. When we can, we love to pick up local spices as we travel and take them home. Cooking with them later never fails to bring back good memories from our travels and, if you can get typical mixtures that the locals, use that’s even better!

It’s unfortunate that spices only retain their true flavor for a few years at the maximum however if you get a local mixture that you love, ask for the amounts of each spice in it so you can reproduce it years later.

Spices in the souks of Marakkesh

Spices in the souks of Marakkesh

Bonus idea: Take more video!

I almost didn’t mention this because it’s pretty self-evident, but video is one of the best ways to keep travel memories. I wish we’d taken more videos on our travels.

As great as photos are, video brings back so many more memories, from sounds to little details you may have forgotten.

How to you preserve your travel memories? Let us know!

DIY ideas for how to preserve and display your travel memories and souvenirs. While it’s easy to pick up a T-shirt at any souvenir shop (and we still do sometimes!), we’ve aimed for some unique, interesting ways to preserve your trip memories. After a lot of though (and a lot of pruning of the list, these are the travel memories ideas that we love the best. 10 Creative Ways to Preserve Your Travel Memories. Since we travel so much, we have to be pretty picky about how many souvenirs that we pick up. These are our favorites. ]]> 6
How Masterpass Saves Us Time and Hassle on Travel Mon, 18 Dec 2017 18:00:00 +0000 To know me is to know two things: First, I love to travel, and second, I’m all about saving time.

It drives me crazy when something is inefficient. Don’t even get me started on the 45 minutes it takes to fill out passport and address information for a family of four for every flight out of the country we take.

I have so many better things to do than fill out forms. I swear. Like relaxing with family over the holidays, looking into our next trip or even just watching a great flick.

We’re home in Canada for the holidays this year, and I’ve been trying to find every way possible to save time and hassle. One of my favorite hacks for saving time is using the Masterpass digital wallet for travel purchases and holiday shopping.

Like me, Masterpass is all about efficiency. It makes checkout quick and easy by keeping my address and payment details securely organized. I love that I can bypass the address and credit card information form and just approve my order!

So how does it save time?

Once you’ve done the one time, quick signup with Masterpass, all you need to do is shop online and enter your Email or mobile number as well as your password to pay by clicking the pay with Masterpass button. There’s no more finding your wallet, digging out your credit card, entering that long string of numbers (and you know you always get it wrong the first time!), your expiry date, your address, and then the CVV code from the back. You can also skip putting all your shipping information in since Masterpass already has that information as well.

I also like that you don’t have to worry about any old company storing your precious credit card information on their insecure servers. Masterpass has some of the most secure servers out there and you’re also protected by multiple layers of security as well as their awesome zero liability protection.

So once you’re done shopping online and your cart is full, you just click Masterpass, and enter your Email or mobile number and your password to pay. No filling in personal details, no extra steps and no unnecessary forms! I love that! If only I could use Masterpass to fill out those irritatingly long forms at customs!

The cool thing is you don’t need a Mastercard to use Masterpass. It’s free (and fast!) to sign up, and most credit and debit cards are supported, including non-Mastercard cards.

Here’s how to use it:

#1 Visit and signup with your email address or mobile number.

#2 Add your credit and/or debit cards (even prepaid cards!) and shipping information.

#3 Shop online wherever Masterpass is accepted (thousands of companies accept Masterpass).

#4 Simply click Masterpass to pay.

Tip! There are always great deals with Masterpass. There’s currently $25 off of $100 or more on using Masterpass, but deals change all the time, so be sure to keep checking back.

Welcome to Masterpass

Using the Masterpass hack to save time and hassle

We’re starting to book our travel plans for spring and summer, and I’m loving that Masterpass is accepted at some of our favorite travel heavyweights like Via Rail Canada, WestJet Vacations and Air Canada. Even better, Masterpass is accepted online or in-app at thousands of other great stores, including Cineplex, Costco, The Globe and Mail, Indigo, Joe Fresh, Landmark Cinemas, London Drugs, Lowe’s, Pizza Pizza, and Roots.

I’m about an inch away from using my Masterpass to book our next trip, and I have a few great ideas. Here’s how some of the fantastic journeys we have planned can be made easier with Masterpass.

Take the trip of a lifetime across Canada with Via Rail

Despite being Canadians by birth, we have yet to cross our gorgeous country by train.

A train trip across Canada has been on our bucket list for years, and I’m hoping this is the year to make it happen. We’ve heard wonderful things about riding across Canada with Via Rail on the Canadian. The route goes from Toronto to Vancouver, with plenty of amazing scenery along the way.

There’s also a pretty spectacular train ride on Via from Winnipeg to Churchill, Manitoba, the polar bear capital of the world.

Stock up on travel essentials

We’re spending most of this winter in snowy Canada, and I’m getting some serious wanderlust for somewhere warmer. For now, I’m stocking up on travel essentials at Costco. We’re set to go with a GoPro HERO 6, some new luggage, and I’m eyeing up a new camera as well. Paying is a breeze with Masterpass.

Tip: If you haven’t booked a car rental with Costco before, it’s well worth a look. We almost always find the most affordable rental car rates on Costco. On last year’s trip to New Hampshire, renting with Costco saved us over a hundred dollars.

Fly the family for a winter getaway

I’m watching the Westjet Vacations website like a hawk these days for the perfect time to head down to Las Vegas for a cheap getaway. A few day’s escape from the snowy winter sounds like heaven, and I love that Masterpass lets me book anytime, without cash on hand, to make traveling easier.

We’ve been to Vegas a few times now however it’s been over six years (where does the time go, honestly!) since we were there last, so we’re due for a little fun.

Las Vegas Nevada

Fly with Air Canada to visit family

For us, family is scattered all across Western Canada, from Vancouver to Calgary to Winnipeg. Since we live in BC, that means a very long road trip, logging 23 hours straight from Vancouver to Winnipeg to be exact. That’s an awful lot of audiobooks. Our alternative is grabbing a flight across country.

Guess which one I prefer?

Dirt road in Saskatchewan

Sure, it’s beautiful, but we’ve road tripped by this dirt road in Saskatchewan dozens of times. Time to catch a flight instead!

Have a whole lot of fun at the movies

While I’m booking our spring and summer travel adventures, I’m saving time and hassle by using Masterpass here at our home base.

I just used Masterpass to book us tickets to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi with Landmark Cinemas.

No matter where we are in the world, you can count on our nerd flags flying high and proud!

Want to learn more?

Need more time? Yep, us too. Save time by using Masterpass this holiday season for all your shopping needs.

Sign up now for Masterpass.

Follow along on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Your chance to win!

And now we get to do one of our very favorite things – give you a chance to win!

Enter the contest below, and help spread the word about Masterpass, and you could be entered to win one of three $100 prepaid Mastercards this holiday season!

Masterpass Holiday

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The Best Gifts For Travel Lovers Fri, 01 Dec 2017 01:00:00 +0000 Are you looking for the perfect gifts for the travel lovers in your life?

In the 15 years we’ve traveled together, and the eight years we’ve blogged on The Barefoot Nomad, we’ve had a chance to road test quite a few travel gifts.

Some have been instant hits, like our GoPro HERO 6, my SCOTTeVEST travel jacket, and packing cubes. There have been some duds as well, but we’ve left them out so we can concentrate on showing you the best travel gear out there.

The Best Gifts For Travel Lovers

Here they are: our very best gifts for travel lovers.

Tep Wireless International WiFi Hotspot

What is it? The Tep international WiFi hotspot is a palm-sized gadget that gives you Internet access anywhere in the world.

We’ve traveled with our Tep for well over a year now, and it’s now an essential part of our travel kit. For just dollars a day, we can get WiFi almost anywhere in the world. Even better, we just pay for it when we need it. Check out our in depth review.

Want 10% off? Use our link to Tep Wireless and enter barefootnomad where it asks for the Discount Coupon.

Our Tep doing duty on the beach in Mexico

Our Tep doing duty on the beach in Mexico

Rosetta Stone

Would you love to learn a new language? We’re learning Spanish, and it was incredibly useful lately in Mexico, Columbia and then Ecuador to be able to easily order at a restaurant, or understand bus and plane schedules.

To get started, you can download Rosetta Stone and learn to speak the language of your choice in your own time. Live online tutoring sessions and online learning games make it fun, and you can choose the program that’s just right for you.

Subscriptions come in 3, 6, 12 and even 24 month packages, and you get the flexibility to learn another language on your schedule, with any device, from anywhere in the world. You can even download lessons to your mobile device to continue learning offline.

Want to try it out first? Click here to try the Rosetta Stone Free Demo.

Get your online subscription here, and learn from anywhere your mobile device takes you. Follow Rosetta Stone on FacebookTwitter, or YouTube.

Rosetta Stone

Joby GorrillaPod Smartphone tripod

We bought our Joby GorrillaPod about a year ago, and it’s become an indispensable part of our travel kit. Despite its small size, it’s surprisingly sturdy, and a lot of fun to tote around and use.

This little stand for smartphones has flexible legs, making it easy to level on uneven surfaces like rocks and trees. It folds easily, and it’s easy to slip into a pocket or our day bag, and lightweight as well. It has an adjustable phone holder that should fit almost all smartphones with no problem, as we use it regularly with a Samsung S6 and iPhone 6.

Buy it on Macfixit Australia

Joby GorillaPod Tripod for Smartphones

GoPro HERO 6

We just picked up our GoPro HERO 6 a couple of months ago, and we’re loving it.

Unlike older GoPro models, there’s no case to snap on and off. It’s waterproof as is, and it takes gorgeous 4K video and photos. See our sample video here and our tips for taking great family photos and videos!

We’re Canadian, so we picked our GoPro HERO 6 up locally from Sport Chek, but they’re available almost everywhere, including Amazon.

Buy it from Amazon here.

GoPro Photo of the GoPro-8406

What’s a GoPro without accessories?

The GoPro is made for action, and it’s the perfect little camera to bring in the water. The problem is: it doesn’t float. We use a bobber floaty for it in the water, and it keeps it from sinking to the bottom or getting lost in ocean waves. Buy the bobby floater on Amazon.

The GoPro can also use a bit of battery life if you use the WiFi feature, so it’s helpful to have a second battery always charged. Buy it on Amazon here.

We also love our Joby Gorrilapod for getting great shots. This version comes with an adapter for the GoPro. Buy on Amazon.

If you’re looking for a bunch of other accessories, we’ve had great luck with this inexpensive after market BAXIA TECHNOLOGY 44-in-1 kit that’s chock full of accessories like a chest harness, head strap, and plenty more. Everything we’ve tested from this kit has worked with our older GoPro 4 Black and the GoPro HERO 6. See it on Amazon.

Packing Cubes

Packing cubes honestly changed my life. No more digging through a suitcase to find that last pair of underwear, and no more dirty laundry accidentally jumbled in with the clean.

We use eBags ultralight packing cubes, but they’re a bit expensive (though incredibly lightweight and durable).

If I was buying packing cubes again, I’d seriously consider the Amazon Basics sets, which get stellar reviews, and look similar.

Buy on Amazon.

Canon EOS Rebel SL1 DSLR Camera

As a family of four, with two kids, we’re constantly struggling to keep our travel gear as light as possible.

However, as travel bloggers, we need a DSLR for good quality photos and video.

So, we opted for one of the smallest and lightest DSLR cameras on the market: The Canon EOS Rebel SL1. It weighs less than a bottle of water, and the camera body fits neatly into my hand.

We’ve been using the same little SL1 for over four years now, and still love it. Sometimes, we talk about upgrading to a professional grade DSLR, but they’re just too bulky, too expensive, and our lightweight SL1 does a fantastic job for us.

See prices on Amazon here.

Travel Jacket

My women’s SCOTTeVEST Chloe Glow travel jacket is by far my favorite item of travel clothing. It’s cute, comfortable, and has a whopping 18 hidden pockets to store all my travel gear. Even better, it’s nicely fitted, and is never bulky. See my review here.

Buy on Amazon.

Looking for a men’s jacket? The men’s SCOTTeVEST travel jacket has a whopping 25 pockets and great ratings. See the men’s jacket on Amazon here.

Travel Adapter

Every traveler needs a good travel adapter. The Orei World Travel Power Plug Adapter is rated one of the best out there, and it even comes with a built in dual USB charger.

Get it on Amazon here.

Tip! A travel adapter connects your plug to the outlet wherever you travel. An adapter does NOT change the power output coming from the outlet so make sure your devices can handle the local voltages.

Quick drying travel underwear

When you’re trying to pack light, quick drying travel underwear is a must. You need something that you can wash out in a sink or bathtub at night, and that will be dry by morning.

ExOfficio fits the bill. They’re lightweight, fit comfortably, and dry quickly. We have a couple of pairs coming for review, as we’ve heard from other travel bloggers that ExOfficio underwear is their favorite.

Buy women’s ExOfficio travel underwear on Amazon.

Buy men’s ExOfficio travel underwear on Amazon.

Books and a Kindle for the traveling soul

If your budget won’t quite reach to a high end camera or a trip, a Kindle is almost always a great gift for a travel lover.

We have the Kindle Paperwhite and love it. The only thing that we wish ours had was the cellular connectivity (it’s about a $70 add on). Cellular connectivity is free (after the initial buy), and it will let you download and shop on the go anywhere in the USA or roam in 100+ countries without an additional charge for wireless data. Trust me, your traveler will love this.

Buy the Kindle Paperwhite on Amazon.

reading the Kindle by the lake

As for books, here are a few of the most popular travel novels out there to get you started.

  • Eat Pray Love. The classic by Elizabeth Gilbert has probably inspired more solo trips than almost any other book. See it on Amazon.
  • Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. The book’s protagonist buys an abandoned villa in Italy, and learns to love the simplicity of rural Italian life. The book was made into a movie starring Diane Lane and Sandra Oh. See on Amazon.
  • Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. This is a fantastic book for outdoor lovers. It chronicles her journey along the Pacific Crest Trail when she was 26. See on Amazon.
  • In A Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson. This is my favorite travel book of all time. It has Bryson’s trademark wit, along with plenty of interesting and entertaining tidbits about Australia. See on Amazon.
  • The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. A wonderful, international best seller about Santiago, a shepherd boy who yearns to travel the world. See on Amazon.


We also adore audiobooks for travel. Every year we drive thousands of kilometers across Canada and the USA to visit friends and family, sometimes logging in over 40 hours and four thousand kilometers behind the wheel over a week or two.

Audiobooks are an absolute lifesaver on those trips. When we start a great audiobook, the hours fly by as we drive across our gorgeous country. It’s a great way to keep the kids entertained, and keep us from going stir crazy.

An Audible subscription with Amazon makes a fantastic gift, and you can even sign your travel lover up for a free trial to see if they like it.

Check out Audible on Amazon.

Best backpack for travel

We’ve moved on from traveling backpack only to wheeled carry on only these days, but for many years we traveled with a backpack.

While most people get a backpack based on features and cost, the most important thing is probably making sure you get the right size backpack for your frame. As a woman who’s five foot five, I’ve tried on a few backpacks that are geared for tall men. What a mistake! They’re uncomfortable, the straps dig in, and even worse, the waist straps are often too big.

For women, the Osprey Aura 65 AG Backpack consistently gets great ratings, and it’s sized perfectly for female travelers. Even better the Osprey comes in small, medium and large for a perfect fit.

See the Osprey Aura 65 AG Backpack on Amazon.

For men or taller women, the Deuter Aircontact 65 +10 is a great choice, as is the Osprey Pack Atmos 65 Backpack.

See the Osprey Pack Atmos 65 on Amazon.

See the Deuter Aircontact 65 +10 on Amazon.

Keeping your gear safe with a travel pouch

There are a lot of choices for keeping your travel gear safe, from fanny packs to belt wallets to traditional money belts.

When we’re in a situation where we need to keep our valuables as close to us as possible, we usually choose a neck travel wallet (see our extensive review of them here). A neck wallet has room for passports, credit cards, money and the like. It’s small enough that you can wear it under your shirt and no one can see it.

Tip: The most secure way to wear a neck wallet is like a gun holster; over your neck, with one strap under one arm. If you wear it only around your neck, it’s easy for someone to rip off. The only downside is that it’s a bit embarrassing to have to lift up your shirt to access your wallet if it’s slung under your shoulder. Keep it slung in front of your body.

Silk is a good choice for a neck wallet. It feels good against the skin, plus it’s durable, washable and lightweight. I wore the Eagle Creek Silk Undercover Neck Wallet almost every day for a year. It was lightweight, thin, and comfortable, though I did have to sew the straps back on after about nine months.

Click to see prices here.

If you’re looking for something with RFID protection and that’s water resistant, the Venture 4th Travel Neck Pouch Neck Wallet gets stellar reviews. It’s a great alternative if silk isn’t your thing.

Click to see prices on Amazon.

Carry on backpack

For my last few solo trips, I’ve been trying out a top-loading Pacsafe Venturesafe X30 anti-theft adventure backpack.

It’s surprisingly lightweight, has a padded tablet sleeve, a wealth of pockets and locking zippers, and anti-theft Slashguard stainless steel wire mesh embedded into it complete with RFID protection. At 18 inches high and 9 inches wide, it’s small enough to use as a personal item with most airlines, and it holds an awful lot. It also has a molded frame that sits on the body quite well.

Get it on Amazon.

External battery chargers

We never leave on a trip without grabbing our external battery chargers. Finding a place to plug in our smartphones, the kids electronics, and our tablets, is a constant hassle, so now we have a few chargers with us at all times.

Our little Anker PowerCore+ mini 3350mAh Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger travels with me in my jacket pocket wherever I go. It’s less than 3 oz (80 grams), and less than 4 inches long, so it’s lightweight and compact. I can get a full charge for an iPhone or Samsung S6 from it.

See it on Amazon.

Our go-to charger for the family is an older version of the PowerCore+’s bigger sister, the Anker 20100mAh Portable Charger PowerCore. It can charge two devices at once, and has high speed charging.

See it on Amazon.


Admittedly, a headlamp isn’t the first thing you’d think of as travel gear, but our Petzl Tikka headlamp has been a must pack item for us for the past 10 years. It’s still going strong after a decade.

Even in the age of smartphone flashlights, we still love it because it lets us have a hands free light. It’s perfect for camping, and finding our way around strange cities after dark. We’ve used it for home renovations where we need our hands free, and the kids love to play with it, which is a bonus.

The Tikka we use takes three AAA batteries that last us months, and it’s lightweight enough that we carry it with us in our day bag everywhere we go.

Buy it on Amazon

Gifts for the home

While we spend a lot of time traveling these days, we also spend a fair bit of time at our home base in Canada.

We’ve included a few of our favorite at home items here. Even travel lovers like us like to spend a bit of time at home!

We’ve been eyeing up a new TV for a while now that does beautiful 4K images. We’re loving the look of the VIZIO M50 SmartCast 4K HDR Home Theater Display, which features Google’s Chromecast built-in and is compatible with Google Home and the Google Assistant.

I can’t wait to watch some of our favorite travel TV shows and movies on this beauty!

See it on Amazon.


We’ve also been having a blast with our Google Home Mini.

It’s powered by Google Assistant, so you can ask it questions, set reminders, control your smart lights, turn on your TV to watch Netflix, and even play some fun games.

We’re big Stranger Things fans, so we’ve had a blast using our Google Home Mini to chat with Dustin from Stranger Things 2. Check out this video, where they chat with Dustin on his walkie talkie and head into the Upside Down!

What’s your favorite travel gear? Let us know in the comments below!

best gifts for travelers. Are you looking for the perfect gifts for the travel lovers in your life? We can help. #travel #gifts #traveling Best gifts for travel lovers #travel #gifts #traveling ]]> 4
A Naughty or Nice List for Aviation Security from CATSA Fri, 24 Nov 2017 18:00:00 +0000 This post is brought to you by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA).

If you think Santa’s list is long, you should check out the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority’s (CATSA) What Can I Bring list.

It’s basically a naughty-or-nice list for aviation security. The What I Can Bring list is a searchable database saying what can and cannot pass through airport security in your carry-on or checked luggage. It has hundreds of items, so here’s a seasonal selection of what’s good to go and what’s a no-no this holiday season.


Here’s what not to bring on the plane this holiday season.

Replica weapons

This shouldn’t be too surprising, but if you’re helping Santa to bring toy guns, replica knives or anything similar this holiday season, you’ll have to mail it to your destination or pack it in your checked baggage.

Liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) in containers of more than 100 ml

Pack your egg nog in your checked bag if the container is larger than 100 ml. Passengers are allowed to bring only as many smaller containers as can fit inside a 1L bag (which is available at the checkpoint). Check CATSA’s website for more info.

Liquids CATSA

Wrapped gifts

Leave your gifts unwrapped when bringing them through the security checkpoint, in case their contents need to be inspected. In some airports, gift wrapping services are available after security during the holiday season.

Wrapped gifts CATSA


Wondering what’s allowed in your carry-on this holiday season?


Portable electronic devices are allowed in your carry-on, so feel free to load up your tablet with holiday movies to watch on the plane. However, you may be asked to remove your device’s protective case, and to power it up at the checkpoint. CATSA’s security-screening page has everything you need to know about screening procedures.

Electronics CATSA


Does it feel like your immune system is already on holiday? Medications, even non-prescription ones like cough syrup, are permitted in your carry-on, and they’re exempt from the 100-ml naughty-list rule. For more info, check out CATSA’s special medications page.

Baby food/drinks

We all know the holidays can be hard on parents, but air travel doesn’t have to be. Things like baby food, juice, formula and breast milk for children under two years old are also exempt from the 100-ml rule, and so are ice packs used to keep them cold.

If you’ve checked their list more than twice (take that, Santa), but if you still don’t find the item you’re looking for on CATSA’s What Can I Bring list, you can send a picture or a question to them on Facebook or Twitter.

Happy holiday travels!


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Do I Need Travel Insurance? Mon, 13 Nov 2017 18:00:17 +0000 Planning on taking a trip and not sure if you need travel insurance? Well, the simple answer is yes, you need it.

It can give you medical coverage when you’re injured or sick, plus it can reimburse your if your expensive camera or smartphone is broken, if you need to return home if a family member becomes sick or injured, or if your flight is cancelled.

We always strongly advise people to get travel insurance. It only costs dollars a day. We’ve seen good insurance help us and so many other people, and we’ve also seen others regret being cheap and not getting good insurance.

Micki and Charles on Motorbike in Thailand

The two of us cruising around Thailand on a motorcycle – probably an accident waiting to happen

We’ve been grateful for  insurance when Micki had a three day hospital stay in Thailand, when our son needed stitches for his ear in Greece, and when we needed the addresses of the nearest hospitals in Quito, Ecuador.

Why you need travel insurance

So why do you need travel insurance? The same reason you need car insurance, home insurance and so forth. It’s insurance, something you need to insure that you don’t lose everything else you have in your life in case something bad happens. Without it you open yourself to a lot of unnecessary risk.

Now, you might be thinking, how much can it cost me if I don’t have insurance? I mean, you’ve traveled dozens of times and haven’t needed it. Why should you bother giving your hard earned money to some  insurance company?

Simple, no one plans for an accident to happen, that’s part of the definition of an accident. If you haven’t needed to use your travel insurance on previous excursions out of country then consider yourself fortunate. If you travel often, the odds are that sooner or later you’ll need it and hospital stays in foreign countries can easily cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

What is travel insurance

So what exactly is travel insurance? It’s a hedge bet that something will happen on your next trip that you’re not prepared for.

It might be a stolen phone or camera. It could be a sudden case of a nasty flu or it could be that a car swerves and hits a truck that unleashes a herd of geese that distracts a driver that nearly hits you and, as you back away, you fall down a flight of stairs. Now, it wasn’t the fall that hurt you, it was slipping on the ice at the bottom as you were dusting yourself off that broke your arm while you were trying to grab the handrail. The bad part is that you need to use your arm when you get home and it’s going to take 6 weeks to heal.

Some of our electronics gear

Sound too far fetched? Maybe, but that’s the nature of accidents. If they were planned, they’d be called on purposes.

Travel insurance is piece of mind

So yes, accidents happen, at home or abroad. It’s called life and it’s not simple, clean or easy. We’ve been fortunate the we only needed travel insurance a few times over the course of our travels, but it’s still something we firmly believe every traveler should carry.

Not only can a good plan give you piece of mind, the company behind it can often help guide you to a good doctor, they can help with your emergency return to your home, pay for follow up treatments in case it’s warranted, cover your lost or stolen goods, cover your cancelled flights and even pay for your hospital bills.

They can also provide money to your family should you not make it back home. Not something people like to discuss but it’s a reality whether you’re getting in the car to go to work or getting on a plane and heading to Rio. Leaving enough so your family can properly do what they need will make their lives easier in times of loss and there’s no price too high for that.

Travel insurance options

So now that you’ve decided you need travel insurance, what are your options? The good and bad side are that there are tons of options to choose from. Not only are there hundreds of companies and brokers, there are single trip plans, multi trip plans and comprehensive plans. Plans that have deductibles and plans that are deductible free. There’s cancellation insurance, liability insurance even dismemberment insurance. There are evac only plans, hostage and negotiation plans and even natural disaster only plans.

Amid all that there are different price points for each plan. So I ask again, how do you choose your travel insurance?

Snorkeling in the Marietas Islands, Mexico

Snorkeling in the Marietas Islands, Mexico

The hard truth is there is no simple way to choose insurance. You need to decide which factors are the most important to you and how much you’re willing to pay for each service because the fact is, the more comprehensive the  insurance, the more it’s going to cost you.

Doesn’t seem fair? Well, think of it from the company that’s insuring you’s side. It’s no secret they’re into this business to make money. That’s why they have actuarial tables and the risk each person faces and the likelihood that they’ll have to pay out in case an accident occurs. They can’t offer more services without charging for it.

Get what you need

On the other side of the fence we have people that often over buy insurance. They get enough insurance that if they have to make a claim they equate it to winning a lottery. That’s not right either. To us, the purpose of travel insurance is to mitigate as much risk as possible while also realizing that sometimes bad things happen.

However, just like I don’t make my kids walk around in helmets in the odd chance they fall and hit their head, so too don’t I rely on insurance to make my life better. In this way we often plan for the worst case scenario and no matter the outcome we know we’ll be at a loss when it comes to insurance, but our family on the whole will survive.

To us that often means getting a good insurance plan with a reputable company with a little less bells and whistles than we’d need. We save on fees a ton that way, like by including a deductible on our plans. We know we don’t often end up using our  insurance and having a deductible often lowers our initial cost. That said, we know that if we do have to make a claim it will cost us a few hundred dollars. This also ensures that if we really need to use our insurance it has to be worth it.

A personal travel accident story

To give you a good example, while we were in Greece a few years back, our son slipped on a merry go round and tore his ear wide open. Seeing as Greece was in economical turmoil, the hospital was closed down so we walked to the private hospital service across the street. For $180 dollars they had him sewn up and as good as new in a few hours. Now, we could have filed a claim, but however considering our deductible was $200 there was no point. That was an acceptable cost to us and didn’t really affect us monetarily in a big way, however had he severely injured his leg, we would have happily paid the deductible and considered ourselves fortunate that we had travel insurance.

Kids playing on the fallen columns at the Kos Agora Greece

Kids playing on the fallen columns at the Agora in Kos, Greece

So what’s the purpose of that story? It’s to affirm that yes, accidents happen everywhere as well as to highlight that every traveler has their own needs and what’s acceptable to them. It’s up to you to decide what’s right for you and your family.

Choosing what matters to you

If having your bags lost or stolen worries you, get baggage insurance. If you never file claims, consider increasing your deductible to save a little money. If you travel often, especially for short periods, consider getting a multi trip plan since it will save you in the long run and you won’t be having to buy travel insurance every time you leave the country.

Just like every traveler is unique, so is every plan. Make sure you compare your plan with others before deciding which one is right for you.

Do I need travel Insurance Travel Insurance do I need it ]]> 2
The Personalized Leather Passport Holder from JooJoobs: A Review Tue, 07 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000 The more I travel, the more I realize how important it is to stay organized. It’s just so easy to misplace or damage an important travel document.

A passport holder can be a great way to protect your passport from damage, and it’s also a great way to showcase your personal travel style. In this review, we’re taking a look at the JooJoobs leather passport holder.

JooJoobs leather passport holder front berries

The Personalized Leather Passport Holder by JooJoobs

When JooJoobs first reached out to us to review their personalized passport holder, I first clicked over to the JooJoobs Etsy page to check out their reviews. I was blown away by the over 5,000 reviews, with a five out of five star rating. Pretty impressive!

So, we asked JooJoobs to send us a sample to check out.

Want to win your own JooJoobs personalized leather passport holder? Scroll to the bottom of this post now for a chance to win one of five JooJoobs personalized leather passport holders!

What did we think of the JooJoobs leather passport cover?

JooJoobs personalized leather passport holder fits one passport perfectly, with no extra room for credit cards or cash (unless you tuck them into the inside passport sleeve).

JooJoobs personalized leather passport holder side

What’s really special about this leather passport cover is that you can personalize it with your initials, or even an image.

There are some really cool images to choose from, including a compass, anarchy, bio hazard, a fleur de lis and a happy face. You can also get your initials on the inside cover.

JooJoobs personalized leather passport holder up close

I always worry a bit about my passport falling out of a passport holder, but I honestly don’t think that will be a problem here. The JooJoobs passport holder is perfectly sized for the passport, and holds both the front and back passport covers securely.

It’s made from full grain distressed leather, and each wallet is handmade to order.  The quality of the leather is great, and I have a feeling that this passport holder is going to be one of those items that wears beautifully.

Want more room for your credit cards?

If you’re interested in a passport holder with more pockets for credit cards, be sure to take a look at this larger JooJoobs leather travel wallet. It can hold two passports, plus six cards (in two credit card slots).

Enter to Win!

*** the contest is closed! Congratulations to our five winners! ***

JooJoobs leather passport holder front

Now we get to give you a chance to win one of five personalized passport holders with a MSRV of $37.00 USD.

The contest is open to residents of the USA and Canada, except Quebec. See the entry form for terms and conditions.

So how do you enter? It’s easy.

See the contest widget below? To enter, all you have to do is to enter your email or log in via Facebook!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The contest runs from November 6, 2017 to November 21, 2017. The winners will be contacted by email and the prize will be shipped soon after.

Want to find out more?

You can find JooJoobs on the JooJoobs website and on their Etsy shop, and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Looking for a slim travel wallet?

If you love a minimalist travel wallet, be sure to check out JooJoob’s minimalist wallet, and their money clip wallet.

JooJoobs minimalist slim wallet front

JooJoobs minimalist slim wallet

Stay tuned, we’ll be writing a post comparing the best slim travel wallets coming up soon!

JooJoobs minimalist slim money clip travel wallet

JooJoobs minimalist slim money clip travel wallet

This article was sponsored in part by JooJoobs. We only work with partners we use and recommend personally.

The Barefoot Nomad is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

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This International WiFi Hotspot Gives You Unlimited Travel Internet: The Tep Wireless 4G Tue, 31 Oct 2017 17:00:00 +0000

If you’ve followed us for a while, you know that we love our Tep International WiFi Hotspot. It’s unlimited internet has kept us connected all over the world, which is essential when you travel and work as much as we do.

What is it? The Tep international WiFi hotspot is a palm-sized gadget that gives you Internet access anywhere in the world.

We’ve used our original Tep 3G pocket WiFi for well over a year now. That’s given us plenty of chances to review it and I honestly don’t know how we managed without it!

As frequent travelers, it’s kept us connected while traveling in countries like Canada, the USA, Mexico, Europe, Ecuador and even Colombia, among other places. Since we work as we travel, we need reliable WiFi everywhere, and we found that we have that with our little Teppy. If you’re interested, you can read our original review of the Tep here.

Want 10% off? Use our link to Tep Wireless and enter barefootnomad where it asks for the Discount Coupon.

Using our Tep 4G in Jasper, Canada

Using our Tep 4G in Jasper, Canada

The International WiFi Hotspot – Tep 4G Wireless

When Tep reached out for us to try their brand new 4G International WiFi hotspot, lovingly called the Teppy, we agreed in a second, since we used their original Tep 3g device so much. We’ve had the new 4G Teppy for almost a month now, and we’ve had a chance to test it in Mexico and in Jasper, Alberta, as well as central Alberta and British Columbia.

What really got our attention is that Tep includes unlimited internet, which is never cut off, regardless of how much you use.

Click here to see Tep plans and pricing.

Tip! The 4G capability of the Teppy 4G only works where 4G service is available. So, where 4G isn’t available, the Tep just grabs the fastest signal possible, even if it isn’t 4G. For now, in some countries like Canada, 4G isn’t available for the Tep, but I think that’ll be changing soon. Find out where Tep now offers 4G service.

Here’s the non-technical explanation: Even if 4G service isn’t available, your shiny new Tep device will still work on other signals like 3G.

Our Tep doing duty on the beach in Mexico

Our Tep doing duty on the beach in Mexico

Is the Tep 4G as fast as they say it is?

We recently tested the Tep 4G service near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. In our tests over the course of a week, the Tep 4g had a speed of over 30 Mbps. That’s pretty impressive. 30 Mbps is plenty fast to stream video on multiple devices, and more than adequate for social media, phone calls, email and streaming. Tep itself says that the 4G speed is likely to be around 18.6 Mbps, but we found our Tep 4G to be faster.

What is 4G, anyway? 4G is the 4th generation of wireless cellular service, and the successor to 3G cellular service. 4G is up to 10X faster than 3G service, which is why we think investing in a 4G mobile hotspot is essential.

33 mbps Tep 4G service in Puerto Vallarta Mexico

33 Mbps Tep 4G service in Puerto Vallarta Mexico

What does it cost?

It’s only 8.95 a day to rent a Tep, with free delivery. Returns are easy with the prepaid envelope. You get the Tep device, a handy carrying case, a charging cable, and a compact wall charger with adapters for different voltages. For me, the Tep battery lasted for about seven hours without recharging.

To get 10% off now, use our link to Tep Wireless and enter code barefootnomad.

If you try Tep and love it, they’ll give you $20 for every friend you refer!

Tep for short trips and family vacations

This is Tep’s most popular plan. You rent the Tep device for $8.95 per day, with free delivery to your home or hotel. To return, you just pop it in the return envelope at the end of your trip.

Who’s this for? We think the Tep rental plan for short trips works best for travelers who only take one or two trips a year, or who aren’t sure if they’ll like a mobile WiFi hotspot.

Tep for frequent and business travelers

This is the Tep plan that we use. Instead of renting our Tep, we bought it outright and it travels with us everywhere. It came with 3 days’ service, and the device cost $99. Additional days are only $8 per day. We really love that we don’t have to return the Tep at the end of every trip and it fits nicely into our electronics bag.

We think that the Tep for frequent travelers makes sense if you travel three or more times a year, and you’re sure you’ll use an international WiFi device somewhat regularly.

If the WiFi is good as we travel, we leave the Tep tucked away. However, if we’re somewhere remote where WiFi isn’t available, or I can’t find a good connection, I just connect the Tep, and voila, instant WiFi. It’s a pay as you go service, so all I have to do is turn on the Tep, grab the Wifi Signal, and I’m connected. Tep is a pay as you go service so if you don’t use it, it costs you nothing.

Tep Wireless 4G International WiFi Hotspot

How does it work?

The Tep grabs the nearest cell signal, and uses that data to give you WiFi. Because it uses multiple carriers, we’ve found that the Tep often gives us WiFi when our cell phone can’t get a signal. This is a huge advantage everywhere, but especially in places like rural Canada where cellular coverage can be spotty, even for major carriers.

To use the Tep, all you do is turn it on and connect your smartphone, tablet or computer using the Password and SSID (which is the WiFi name) on the front. It doesn’t require any setup, cables or installation.

You can connect up to five different devices to one Tep and your day of data lasts for a full 24 hours from the moment you connect.

Can I use the Tep with my Kindle?

Yes! The Tep works with any device that’s WiFi enabled, like Windows and Mac laptops, smartphones like the iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows phones, plus tablets like the iPad as well as games consoles and anything else that connects to WiFi.

What countries does it work in?

The Tep works in over 100 destinations worldwide, including Canada, the USA, most of Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, much of the Caribbean, and many countries in South and Central America.

Who will like the Tep 4G?

All travelers

An international pocket wifi is perfect for travelers. It can keep you connected, even when the hotel WiFi you were promised is down. It allows you the hassle of trying to find a local SIM for your phone or buying an expensive international data plan when you might only need data for a day or two of your trip.

Families and groups

Since multiple people (up to five devices at a time) can connect to the Tep simultaneously, it’s perfect for families and groups. The nice part is that when you factor the per device cost in, using the Tep is often the cheapest route to share data with multiple people when you travel.

Business travelers

Business travelers need reliable WiFi to get work done. Since we travel so often, and work as we go, I think we fall into this category. I was stuck in the Edmonton airport for about three hours waiting for my shuttle on a trip to Jasper, and the airport WiFi wasn’t working. My monthly cell data plan only includes so many megs of data so I pulled out the Tep and had a productive three hours while I waited.

Road trippers and RVers

Campground WiFi is notoriously sketchy, so having your own mobile device can ensure you’re connected even when you’re out in the wild. We’ve used our Tep to stream Netflix while out camping on rainy days and I especially loved being connected on a five hour shuttle bus to Jasper. I got a lot of work done, and had a little downtime streaming YouTube videos to my tablet while in the shuttle.


Solo travelers

I loved having the Tep with me on a girl’s trip to Boston last year. Since my Canadian phone service didn’t work in Boston, it was nice to know that I was always connected with the Tep and everyone in the group used it as well.

People who don’t like to get lost!

When we travel, we find ourselves checking local transit maps and Google maps constantly. We often preload the places we’re going to be while on WiFi but that doesn’t help when we need to do some research on the go. It’s nice to have our Tep with us so that information’s always at our fingertips if we need it.

We actually used our Tep this Spring in Florida while we were waiting to find out if our AirBnB rental came through and then while driving to it. Since we had it anyway, the kids streamed Netflix from the back seat while we did the 3 hour drive from Fort Lauderdale up to Orlando.

Tep for Pokemon Go lovers!

My kids figured out pretty quickly that the Tep 4g is the perfect thing for playing Pokemon Go around town. Every so often, I pull out our little Tep, we all connect, and we head out for an afternoon catching Pokemon. Because it’s a day to day type of device (once you connect you get a full 24 hours of use), it’s a small cost for a few hours of family enjoyment and it allows our kids to not need their own data plan.

Tep 4G Pokemon Go

WiFi hotspot rental in Europe

What’s the best mobile hotspot device for international travel?

Well, we haven’t tried every mobile hotspot device, so we can’t say for sure which is the very best. That said, the Tep 4G has served us very well in three continents, and there are plenty of great reviews for the Tep 4G service in Europe.

How to rent Tep and more

Want 10% off? Use our link to Tep Wireless and enter barefootnomad where it asks for the Discount Coupon.

If you have more questions, just ask us below (we’re happy to help if we can) or head on over to the Tep website.

Staying connected with the Tep at the hoodoos in Drumheller Alberta

Staying connected with the Tep at the hoodoos in Drumheller Alberta

how to have pocket WiFi wherever you travel - international WifFi Hotspot with Tep 4G Wireless Pocket WiFi A WiFi Hotspot to keep you connected ]]> 3
13 Expert Tips for Family Travel on a Budget Tue, 17 Oct 2017 17:00:00 +0000 Whether you’re throwing the kids in the minivan and heading out to see the Grand Canyon, or jumping on a jet and heading to Paris for some croissants and a tour of the Eiffel Tower, the truth is, it can cost a lot more when you travel with kids.

Before we traveled with our kids, we just had to worry about airfare for the two of us, and hotel rooms that would fit a couple. Today, our airfare costs are now times four instead of two and while we’re gone, we also need more room for the kids to sleep. Plus, we need more reliable access to laundry since kids are messy.

In hot countries, we also find that the kids are a lot more susceptible to extreme heat and humidity, so we often use air conditioning to keep them happy and comfortable. All of that adds up to spending more on family trips than when traveling as a couple.

Despite the extra cost and logistics, we love to travel with our kids, and we’ve traveled with them to every continent except Antarctica.

Kids on the Beach in Cancun at Chokmal

No, we definitely didn’t win the lottery, and we don’t have a huge trust fund. We can travel with our kids because we’ve discovered ways to save money on family vacations that lets our dollar go farther and last longer.

So whether you’re staying someplace for a day or a week, here are some tips for saving money when traveling with kids.

Stay Longer

Yikes, that doesn’t seem to make sense, now does it?

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter family with the frog choir show

At the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

However, we’ve found that that the longer a trip lasts, the lower the per day cost.

The reason for this is simple. When you have more time, you have time to do things differently. Instead of renting a car or taking expensive tours, you can can jump on a bus and see something on your own. You can slow your schedule down to see what you want to see, exactly how you want to see it.

Expert tip: Condo and house rentals can be less expensive the longer you stay. On sites like Airbnb and VRBO, we’re found time and time again that we’ve been able to rent a condo for two weeks for the same prices as for a full month. We’ve found this to be true for rentals we’ve booked in Spain, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Mexico, among other places. Get $35 off your first Airbnb rental with this link.

Bonus: Longer vacation.

Con: Figuring out a way to get extra time off work and potential lost income (though you’d be surprised how much time you can get if you ask and make sure it’s not your companies busiest time of the year).

Travel Farther

We realized long ago that there’s a cost to living no matter where you hang your hat at night. It’s just that there are many places where you can live much cheaper than in North America.

Tamarindo Beach Costa Rica

The beach in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

So while it might be tempting to jump in the car and tour a few States or Provinces over, jumping on a plane and heading someplace different might end up costing you less. This is especially true if you do some of your own cooking while you travel.

Bonus: Wine in Southern Europe is $2 a bottle

Con: Getting out of your comfort zone (but maybe this is actually a plus!)

Eat in

Now eating in on holiday doesn’t sound appealing, but the reality of eating out with kids everyday for a week or two is enough to deter even the hardiest of family traveler.

Blooming onion snacks Victoria House Belize

Let’s face it, kids can be temperamental and fussy at times, and making sure they’re always on their best behavior can get tiring awfully quickly. I wish I could say our kids ate everything we set in front of them, but that’s not the case. We have days where the kids both turn up their noses if the mac and cheese is simply the wrong consistency.

My suggestion? Eat breakfast in your room before heading out and eat every third supper in. Keep it simple, with a bowl of cereal and fruit for breakfast and make your simplest (yet favorite) supper. The kids will enjoy the comfort of home and you still get to eat out most nights on your trip.

There’s one surprising bonus to this – you get to shop at your destination. It can be a lot of fun to browse markets and find new foods and products all over the world!

Bonus: The kids will have more energy for the day if they can eat and then play while you get the day’s activities ready.

Con: You have to buy groceries and cook (though we love browsing in different grocery stores around the world since it gives us a great understanding of popular dishes and eating styles).

Snack time

It doesn’t matter if they’re two or ten, kids have smaller stomachs and need to eat more often than adults. Instead of wasting the entire family’s time and money in a restaurant, pack snacks for on the go.

Vancouver Foodie Tours The Best of what to see do and eat in Vancouver British Columbia

Whether that means cutting up some local fruit to take with you, or a couple of packages of Handi-Snacks or squeeze applesauce packages, it’s up to you. The reality is that no one wants to deal with a hangry child, at home or on vacation, so take something with you whenever you go.

Bonus: Not having to stand in long lines for things you can buy at the corner store for a fraction of the price.

Con: Snack prep time (however checking out local fruit and snacks can be an adventure in itself).

Bundle and save

Just like shopping in bulk saves you money, buying attraction passes all at once can save a lot as well.

I’d love to say that we practice this ourselves, but we find that we travel too last minute, and like to leave our options open most of the time. That said, using multi-passes and city cards can save you a lot of money if you plan on visiting a lot of attractions.

Using a company that offers city tourist passes for multiple places all on one card not only saves you from standing in long lines (especially in summer) but if you’re an energetic family it allows you to save tons while getting to see some of the best sites a city offers. We like GoCity Cards and CityPASS cards, as they cover a lot of European and North American cities.

Get CityPASS deals here.

You can see GoCity passes here.

If you’re in the UK, be sure to check out PlusVoucherCode.

Bonus: Families can split up and visit different attractions depending on what their interests are.

Con: If you don’t visit enough attractions, these multi-passes aren’t a great value (though it does force you to get out and see more).

Family Discounts

Does your family size make the Brady Bunch look small? If so, many major attractions around the world have deals for large families.

We usually find that our family of four doesn’t get much of a deal, but if you have five or more in your family then the savings can add up quickly. If you’re a group of eight or 10 you can usually get group rates (sometimes even on airfare!) so if you’re traveling with another big family it’s worth looking into group savings.

Bonus: Renting a limousine or van for a big group is often cheaper than taking a bus.

Con: The logistics of group travel can be a challenge (though you might get to ride around in a limo!)

Kids stay or eat for free

This is one of our favorite discount tips for travel with kids!

Girl running down the dock at Victoria House Belize

Some parents don’t know that most hotels, even all-inclusive hotels, don’t charge for kids under 12. Sure, you might need to pay for their flights if you’re going somewhere far, but once you’re there, the kids may not cost you a dime. The same goes for restaurants, lots of restaurants offer free food for toddlers and even small children.

Bonus: Most resorts offer free kids clubs during the day that will occupy your kids while you relax by the pool and drink margaritas.

Con: Kids over 12 often don’t qualify. Our oldest just turned 12, and we’re feeling the pinch a bit (though he can now babysit so that’s a plus).

Rent a house

Sure, an all inclusive down in Cabo might sound divine, but you can likely stay twice as long if you stay in an Airbnb or VRBO house or condo.

You might have to do a little more cooking, but with the money you save you can hit some of the nicer restaurants. You’ll also have more space for a little extra privacy than a hotel room would offer and there will be more areas for the family to spread out so when you’re tired from your long day of adventures, everyone gets their own space to relax.

Bonus: You can even do your own laundry.

Con: You can do your own laundry (though at least you can rest assured it will come back and be in one piece when it’s done).

Kids fly free before age two

Want to sit on the beach in Bali or go visit family on the other side of the country, but the thought of three airplane tickets leaves you in a cold sweat?

In Old Havana, Cuba back in 2007, when Cole was just a baby. We may have changed a bit, but Havana hasn't.

In Old Havana, Cuba back in 2007, when Cole was just a baby.

If you have a child under age two, there’s good news, as nearly every airline offers free flights to kids under age two. Sure, they have to sit on your lap for the entire duration but chances are, at that age they’re going to anyway.

Bonus: Strollers and car seats aren’t included in your baggage restrictions.

Con: You’ll have a wiggly kid in your seat for the flight (though that might make your neighbor move to another seat giving you and your family the entire row).

Free museum days

Want to go check out the Gugenheim museum, but know your kids won’t last an hour?

Cole Reina Sofia Madrid

A kid’s take on art at the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid

The good news is that a lot of museums around the world, like Madrid Spain, have free museum days. Sure, they can be a little busy, but with that extra bit of saved cash you can afford that extra large mocha cappuccino. Just make sure you don’t take it into the museum, they frown on that.

Bonus: There are usually more kids on free days so if yours are a little hyper they’ll fit right in with the rest.

Con: Museum time with the kids (though there are some great children museums out there too).

Extra carry-ons

With the abundance of low cost airlines out there, you can save a pretty penny by sticking to a budget airline. Unfortunately, that low cost can get quickly eaten up if you have to pay for every bag you carry.

eBags Allura 22 hardside carry-on with brushed steel look and our kids at the airport

The good news is that every person, regardless of size, gets the same luggage allowance. That means that with many airlines, even budget airlines, your three year old is allowed a full size carry-on and a personal item. So instead of packing one massive bag for everyone, split your stuff up with a bag for each of you and get the kids to carry little backpacks with a few of their stuffies or toys so you don’t have to.

Don’t think you can manage carry-on only? Check out our post on how we travel carry-on only for a family of four.

Bonus: Smaller bags are lighter to carry, easier to throw in a trunk or boot and make looking for your kids socks much easier.

Con: If your kids are little, you’ll need to manage more little suitcases (though they will be lighter than a massive one and kids love pushing rolling suitcases around).

Bonus miles

Whether you generally fly with one airline or many, most companies won’t let you use your reward number for your kids flights.

It might sound like more work than you want to do, but if you fly with one airline more than the rest it makes sense to sign up each person in your family so they can start earning miles. Some miles can be spent on things like lounge passes and even on plane refreshments so they won’t go to waste.

Bonus: A lot of companies use the membership number to prefill your flight information when you go to book so you won’t need to enter everyone’s info every time you book a flight.

Con: The hassle of applying for, and managing, multiple rewards cards (sorry, no upside to this, it sucks but it’s worth it).

Bring your own car seats

This may sound like a no brainer, but if you’re flying somewhere and planning to rent a car once you’re there, you can save money by bringing your own child seat.

Road trip with the kitty cat

Car rental places often charge $7 to $15 a day for car seat rentals, so you can save a bundle if you’re renting for a while.

Pro tip! We used to buy car seats in foreign countries when the kids were young since it was less than half price to buy a brand new one than rent a beat up one for the week. We just gave them to other harried parents as we returned the car or left them in there. We even brought a few home and sold them since child seats fly free.

Bonus: You’re guaranteed to have a good seat if you bring your own.

Con: You need to lug the seat on the plane and to your hotel (though you can use some car seats in the plane to make the kids more comfortable).

Travel off-peak times

Yes, winter break, summer holidays and spring break make the most sense to take the kids on a cross country trip, however everyone else is also doing it. What that means is that prices are jacked way up, availability is limited, and you’ll face lineups everywhere you go.

Merida Peacock Feather Christmas Tree

Sometimes you make do with what you have… Cole and Jo with our peacock feather Christmas tree in Mexico

Instead, go a week before or a week after the holidays. You’ll get the same weather and the same experience, but with a fraction of the people and a fraction of the price. If you can, book travel before and after peak times.

Bonus: It’s easier to book time off from work in the shoulder seasons and you might be eligible to get double time if you’re the only one working over the holidays to help pay for the trip.

Con: You may have to pull the kids out of school for a few days.

Do you have any tips for saving money on a family vacation? Let us know! 

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Our Best Holiday Travel Tips and Hacks Sat, 14 Oct 2017 14:00:00 +0000 This article is in partnership with KAYAK. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Holiday travel can be tough. Not only are there more people in the air, on the roads, and in hotels all around the world, but prices also tend to skyrocket during the holidays.

To help ease the pain of holiday travel, we’ve partnered with the world’s leading travel search engine KAYAK to showcase some of our best holiday travel tips and hacks to make holiday travel easier.

Holiday travel tips and hacks

First as a couple, and now as a family of four, Charles and I have travelled together since 2002. In those 15 years, we’ve managed to learn a few things about holiday travel. Some were tougher lessons than others.

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing. – John Powell

Sometimes, we’re the ones who’ve made the mistake, like the time we were stuck in a small Thai town for 3 days because we forgot to check if local transportation shut down for the holidays. Other times, we’ve learned from the mistakes of our Barefoot Nomad community, as well as friends and family. Either way, those mistakes have taught us plenty.

Here are our best, hard-learned travel hacks and tips for holiday travel to help you save money and travel more smoothly this holiday season.

So what are travel hacks? They’re tips, tricks or tools to help fellow travellers get the most from their travels. That can mean saving time, saving money or saving them from making the same mistake others have made beforehand.

Don’t wrap gifts before you fly

We’ve been guilty of this one. Wrapping gifts before your flight sounds like a great way to save time when you’re flying, right? Unfortunately, no. Airport security can ask you to unwrap gifts to see inside, meaning you may have to wrap them twice. We’ve also found that gifts often get little tears and rips in transit, anyway.

Instead of pre-wrapping our gifts, we now bring tape and wrapping paper and child safe scissors for this reason. Gift bags are also a great solution, as you can easily pop the gifts into the bags at your destination.

Even better, consider shipping your presents to your destination ahead of time. You can also have presents shipped directly to relatives through Amazon as a gift. Just be sure to tell your recipients not to open them before you get there!

Sign up for price alerts

Price alerts have saved us a lot of money over the years. Last year, we needed to fly over the Christmas Holidays in late December from Calgary to Cancun, Mexico. You could have knocked me down with a feather when I first saw the high prices. Even worse, almost all of the flights had a long connection somewhere in the USA. Luckily, we had over a month to find a better price, so I set up a flight alert.

Boom! A few days later I got a flight alert saying that there was a sale on direct flights on one of our favorite Canadian airlines. Taking two minutes to set up a flight alert saved us hundreds of dollars, and also a lot of time.

You can set a Price Alert on KAYAK to get customized alerts to your email Inbox. You can even get alerts for hotel price changes as well as flights! That way, if your flight or hotel price drops, you’ll get an email letting you know right away.

Tip! Want to set up a free price alert? Just search for your hotel or flight on KAYAK here, toggle the Track Prices button on, and enter your email!

KAYAK airfare alert

Take advantage of cancellation policies

We’ve rarely seen this tip anywhere else, but it could save you a lot of money.

Book in advance to lock in a good price, but make sure that your hotel or flight has a clear, no cost cancellation policy. Then, mark the last day you can cancel by on your calendar, and set a reminder for a day or two before.

If your plans change, or if you find a better deal before the cancellation date, you can cancel without penalty. If your plans don’t change, you’ll have grabbed a good early booking discount.

Our 11 year old with his luggage in the airport

Stay flexible

It’s hard to have a lot of flexibility during the holidays, but if you can use an alternative airport, or fly on alternative days, you can save a lot of money.

Even managing to move your flight or hotel reservation a day or two can be a big money saver.

Here’s how to get flexible dates on your flight searches. When you search for airfare on KAYAK, enter your travel dates and use the Flex Search feature by adjusting the depart and return options from the dropdown box. This shows you how much money you can save by showing up to three flexible arrival or departure days.

Here’s an example of how much you can save using Flexible Dates. We searched for a flight from Vancouver to Toronto over the holiday season at the end of December. We used the Flexible Dates feature on KAYAK, giving us three days flexibility for either departure or arrival dates.

The most expensive flight was $973 from December 22 to December 30. With a little flexibility, we found a flight for $630 from December 20 to December 29. That’s a savings of $343 a ticket! Even better, the cheaper flight was a non-stop flight with Air Canada.

As a family, we book four tickets, so the Flexible Dates we found on KAYAK could have saved us a whopping $1,372 ($343 per ticket times four)!

KAYAK Flex Search Vancouver to Toronto Results

Consider Christmas in early December

Even if you’re incredibly flexible on dates, travel during holiday peak season costs more, and attractions are almost guaranteed to be more crowded.

If you can reschedule your trip, consider travelling during low season. Not only do prices drop, there are also fewer people around, and you’ll have a better choice of accommodation.

In North America, low season is usually mid-September to early December, and then mid-January to the end of February, and finally April to May.

Christmas in Cancun Mexico

Be prepared for delays

Unfortunately, since the holidays often bring poor winter weather and busier airports, delays become more common. You may end up having an extended wait at your gate, or even a delayed flight.

Be prepared by having a movie on your phone or laptop (Netflix now lets you download many shows for offline mode!) in case airport WiFi is overwhelmed or spotty.

Strongly consider buying trip cancellation and interruption insurance that covers you for itinerary changes or cancellations.

hanging out at the departures board

Choose alternative airports

Want to save even more money or get a more direct flight?

When selecting your destination on, check the little box that reads Nearby Airports at the top of the drop down menu. You’ll automatically see results for airports close to your original choice, which can help you snag a flight with a chance of fewer connections or at a better price. Miami and Fort Lauderdale are perfect examples of this. We’ve saved hundreds per ticket by flying into one airport and departing from the other.

We’ve also saved by flying into one place and renting a car and driving down to another. The nice part is that we’ve often incorporated the drive into the journey. Like the time we flew into Las Vegas, stayed for a few nights then rented a car and drove to Arizona to visit family. Not only did we get to check out Hoover Dam but we also had the opportunity to see the Grand Canyon and the picturesque town of Sedona. The nicest part was that we saved so much on our tickets by flying into Las Vegas that it paid for the cost of our rental car and a few nights in a hotel.


For Canadian flights, depart from the USA instead

For Canadian departures or arrivals, you can save a fair bit of money choosing an alternative airport at a border city in the United States. It’s common practice for Canadians to do this, but it’s not common practice for other nationalities flying into Canada.

You’ll need to drive, or grab a bus or taxi from Canada, but you can save a lot of money. We did this for a trip to Oahu, Hawaii back in 2012, choosing to depart from Bellingham, Washington instead of Vancouver, Canada (the cities are 56 miles or 89 km apart). We saved hundreds of dollars on that flight, plus we got a better direct flight, and had a chance to do some shopping in Bellingham on the way back.

Common US border cities are:

  • Bellingham, USA for Vancouver, Canada
  • Grand Forks, North Dakota for Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Detroit, Michigan for Toronto, Ontario
  • Burlington, Vermont or Syracuse, New York for Montreal, Quebec

Book two one-way flights

Surprisingly, booking two one way flights with different airlines can save money over a round trip ticket with the same airline. At KAYAK, they call these Hacker fares, and they can get you more affordable fares, and better flights.

Warning! Be cautious if you’re booking with two separate airlines in one direction. If your first flight is delayed or cancelled, the second airline isn’t obligated to reschedule your next flight. If you can, allow plenty of time for delays and cancellations and if delays do occur, contact the next airline as early as possible so they can arrange alternative flights.

Fly on the actual holiday

We’ve found some smoking hot airfare deals by being willing to travel on Christmas Day and even New Year’s Day.

Since most flyers want to be at their destination early, tickets for flying on the actual holiday are often more affordable. We’ve flown on Christmas day and New Year’s Day several times over the years when trying to see both sides of our family during the holiday break and have found it to be one the quietest times to fly. As a bonus, companies often include holiday perks like special snacks and holiday themed meals. We even had the president of Canadian airline Westjet join us on our December 31st flight to wish the passengers Happy New Year!

Christmas in Playa del Carmen Mexico

Ready to book?

Start your travel planning at, and try out some of these hacks.

Want to share your best hacks? Hit up social media with the hashtag #KAYAKTravelHacker!

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