Travel Tips – The Barefoot Nomad Travel. Tech. Family. Fun. Wed, 07 Feb 2018 20:25:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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.

Best countries to teach English. Want to teach English abroad? With six years of experience teaching abroad, travel expert Jessica shares her experiences teaching English in China and Thailand, and gives some great tips! | best countries to teach abroad | Where to teach abroad | Best countries to teach English | 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

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.

How to get airline deals. Ready to save some money on flights? Sign up for a flight subscription service like Cheap Fly Club to get the best deals in your email everyday. How to find cheap flights | airfare deals | airfare cheap plane tickets | cheapest flight | Cheapest flights airline tickets | cheap airline tickets | #travel #traveltips #deals #flights #vacationtips Use this one easy tip to find the cheapest flight. Booking cheap flights can be really easy if you know the tips and tricks. It can be exhausting to constantly by scanning airlines and booking sites for the best deals, so I've learned to let someone else do the work. Read to learn my secret. | How to find cheap flights | airfare deals | airfare cheap plane tickets | cheapest flight | Cheapest flights airline tickets | cheap airline tickets | #travel #traveltips #deals #flights #vacationtips

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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

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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

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 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 ]]> 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. ]]> 7
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.

Need some more help?

Check out our post on how to get travel insurance if you’re already abroad, or our article on travel insurance for Canadians.

Do I need travel Insurance Travel Insurance do I need it ]]> 2