Sunday, April 29, 2012

Heavenly Hawaii: Dos and Don'ts

(CNN) -- Looking to get to Hawaii without blowing your son's college fund? Want to experience the islands but not sure when to go?
Here's how to avoid costly and exhausting mistakes during your Hawaiian vacation.
DON'T travel to Hawaii during school holidays. Tourists crowd Hawaii's stunning beaches in summer and winter. During school holidays, flight and hotel rates are off the charts -- between Christmas and New Years, condos and vacation rentals can run three times as much as rates in early December.
DO visit Hawaii in the off-season. Hands down the best values on visiting Hawaii can be found in May and October. With prices reasonably low and the weather at its peak -- not too hot, not too rainy -- take advantage of the perks of off-season travel to jet off to the islands. Current spring and fall flight deals from the West Coast are half of July rates. Additionally, hotels and condos generally slash their prices off-season, rewarding visitors with oceanfront accommodations that typically sell out in peak months.
DON'T blow your whole budget on a luxury resort. While staying in a luxurious Hawaiian resort where birds flutter through the open-air lobby and fresh papaya is served at the swim-up bar is nice, it is likely to cost between $400-$600 a night in high season. Instead, fork over the cash for a lomilomi massage and gourmet seafood dinner, and make your own poolside Mai Tai at a rental condo.
DO consider staying in a condo. Repeat visitors know to rent a condo. Kitchens, ample square footage, washing machines and privacy afford travelers a more authentic (and often less costly) vacation experience. It's common for numerous companies to manage individual units in the same complex, meaning one property may be decked out by a globetrotting interior decorator, while another may be awash in wicker. Be sure to see photos of the particular condo you're interested in and get specifics on the number and configuration of beds.
DON'T try to see everything. While each island has its own personality, it is too expensive (and exhausting) to island-hop the entire archipelago on one vacation. Inter-island flights generally run between $70-$140 each way and most travel to Oahu, so if you want to get from Kauai to the Big Island, you might have to stop in Honolulu and basically pay the equivalent of two inter-island flights each way.
DO stick to one or two islands. Each region on each island has its own flavor. The north and east sides of the islands are more tropical, while the south and west regions offer sunnier skies and a more arid landscape. Instead of island hopping, break your trip up by staying in a plush hotel within walking distance of a sunny south shore beach and then cozy up in a rental house near the more tropical (read: rainy) north shore. If you want to island-hop on the cheap, Maui offers ferry service to Lanai and Molokai.
DON'T fall for the luau. Most luaus are overpriced and far from the real thing (usually family events on a beach for a first birthday). While they seem like an authentic experience, you can actually piece together the highlights of a luau yourself. Grab a picnic of poke, lomi lomi, fresh pineapple, and poi from a local market. In the evenings at most malls on Kauai and Maui, and at sunset at Waikiki Beach, you can watch free hula shows featuring some of Hawaii's best dancers.
DO splurge on an adventure. Whether you fancy diving deep into the sea, soaring over waterfalls on a helicopter tour, or a kayak trip along the Na Pali Coast, treat yourself to at least one adventure. Be sure to book early in your trip in case of bad weather.
And lastly, DO NOT forget to relax on the beach. No need to be on a boat, or a horse, or a helicopter, or a zip line the whole time. Save time to enjoy Hawaii's world-class beaches. From the shore, you can walk right out into the sea and snorkel with sea turtles, angelfish and monk seals basically for free. As the sun descends over the Pacific, unwind under a coconut palm and watch the sky burst with color as surfers ride the last sunlit waves onto the white sand.
By Michele Bigley, Special to CNN


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tips for Staying Healthy In-Flight

By Allison Davis
It’s a cruel joke that the busiest travel time of the year is also high season for illnesses. Thanks to crowded flights with recycled air, catching a cold or other virus is a common post-flight fate. Here are some simple tips to help you survive the travel season relatively unscathed.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Ok, this may seem obvious, but it bears a reminder: Wash your hands regularly. To do it effectively, experts recommend scrubbing your hands with soap, under warm running water, for at least 20 seconds. But in a pinch, a hand sanitizer will do. Plus, it’s nice to have a quick-clean option after touching surfaces like sticky arm rests and tray tables. To avoid dry hands, we recommend Belli Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer with jojoba oil, or Burt’s Bee’s Aloe and Witch Hazel Hand Sanitizer Spray, both in travel-size bottles.

Keep Moving

Long-haul flights can do a number on the body, causing cramps, muscle pain, and neck strain. Taking periodic walks up and down the aisle is one remedy but there are other alternatives, like yoga poses. A Sun Salutation in the aisle may not be appreciated, so try these less space-consuming moves. Cat and Cow Variation: Sit at the front of your seat, with your back straight. Round your back and shoulders and breathe deeply, holding the pose for a few seconds. Then move in the opposite direction, slowly arching your back. Repeat several times. Seated Twist: Place one hand on the opposite knee and twist your torso towards that hand. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch. Hip Stretch: Cross one leg over the other and lean forward, folding over your legs. Hold, then switch legs and repeat.
 

Stay Hydrated

While flying, it’s best to avoid drinks that will dehydrate you. The list includes all of our favorite vices, from alcoholic beverages to caffeinated sodas and coffee. Try drinking water or juice instead, and don’t rely on the airline to provide enough during your flight. It’s always a good idea to bring a water bottle with you, filling it up at a water fountain before you board the plane. We like this alternative better than buying bottled water at the airport, not only for environmental reasons, but because you’ll want to stay hydrated on your trip too, whether you’re spending time on the beach or gallivanting around a big city.

Get Rest

Improve your mood and boost your immune system by staying as well-rested as possible before, during, and after your trip. To help aid sleep in-flight, pack your own travel pillow and blanket, like the plush Lug Travel Blanket and Pillow Set. A great set of noise-cancelling headphones, and an eye-pillow are also recommended. And if all else fails, a glass of warm milk is always an option.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tips for Exercise While Traveling


Vacations can throw a wrench in your fitness plans - but having a portable exercise routine helps!

Vacations allow you to get away from it all and help reduce stress. Regardless of intentions, it can be difficult to stick with your exercise program while traveling. Travel does not have to result in a complete interruption of your healthy habits. Since your home gym will not fit in your suitcase, be inventive and get a workout in between the rest and relaxation.

Accommodations

While booking your trip, check out the workout facilities in hotels. Many hotels offer fitness facilities as well as indoor or outdoor swimming pools. If you are staying at a hotel without these amenities, find out if there is a local park or gym nearby. Many gyms will offer day or weekly passes for a minimal charge.

Resistance Bands Travel Well

A few resistance bands will fit easily into a suitcase or carry-on. They are made out of strong rubber and some may come with handles. They range in resistance from extra light to extra heavy. Resistance bands can work every muscle group on your body. Exercises include chest presses, back rows, shoulder presses, tricep extensions, bicep curls, squats, and chops.

Tourist Attractions

Depending upon where you are traveling, some tourist hot spots may also be able to double as a workout. Try bicycling, hiking, surfing, group tours on foot, water-skiing, beach volleyball, a long walk on the beach, swimming, etc. Think outside your normal scope of exercise, you may be surprised at the new activities you will enjoy.

Eat Healthy

Don’t deprive yourself of trying new foods that are native to where you are traveling. Control your portions and try new things. Before you leave for your trip, eat a healthy meal. This way you will be less likely to snack the entire way there. Pack healthy snacks and avoid the temptations of eating fast food and gas station food along the way.

By: Exercise.com

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Honeymoon Planning: Honeymoon Road Trip Tips


Avoid Maintenance Mayhem

Before you put the pedal to the metal there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, get your car checked, especially filters, fluid levels, and belts -- also make sure you've changed the oil. Check your tire pressure and the condition of your wiper blades, turn signals, brake lights, and high and low beams. Examine your tire treads and make sure your car is prepared for any kind of weather you might be headed for. You might need more antifreeze, some snow tires, or to recharge the air conditioner -- you don't want to be on the road on a roasting summer day and find the AC on the fritz!

Wheeling Into Motion

Before you hit the road, bring out the suds and bucket for an old-fashioned car wash with your sweetie -- a clean car is a good way to start a long trip. Make sure you have a detailed map on hand and a planned route. Don't forget plenty of water and munchies for the ride -- it'll be much cheaper to buy at the grocery store than to pay convenience store prices. Blankets and pillows for a sleepy passenger is a must. In addition, pack an emergency kit, including a battery-powered radio and extra batteries, flashlight, jumper cables, first aid kit, spare tire, tire repair kit and pump, and flares.
You don't want to ruin your romantic adventure with road trip boredom, so prepare some on-road entertainment.

Rev Up Your Rental

If you are renting, agencies like Hertz (www.Hertz.com) and Avis (www.Avis.com) have lots of locations, while online travel sites like Orbitz.com, Travelocity.com, and Priceline.com can offer good rental deals (often in conjunction with booking a hotel and a flight).
If you need to rent a car abroad, get an international driving permit (IDP) at your local American Automobile Association (AAA) office or call (800) AAA-HELP for the forms. If you're renting a car overseas (especially in Europe), keep in mind that most models come with a manual transmission. Call well in advance to reserve an automatic if you can't drive stick shift (since they might not have many on hand), and be prepared to pay more. And if you book online, print out a copy of your confirmation number and all the particulars (like the price, model, length of usage, and whether it's an automatic or manual). Also, cars in Europe tend to be smaller than in the States, so don't expect much trunk space -- leave the bulky luggage at home!

Are We There Yet?

Planning for the time spent in the car together can be just as important as packing your essentials. The last thing you want is to ruin your romantic adventure with road trip boredom, so prepare some on-road entertainment. Include games and music, or even a few audio books. If you find yourself in a lull during your journey, here are some highway hints to keep the long drive interesting.
  • Car games They're not just for kids! No road trip is complete without a round of "I spy" or "the license plate game."
  • Story time Instead of curling up in a corner and reading to yourself, share the story with your sweetie, and read aloud.
  • Create an on-the-road scrapbook Take pictures of the funny sites you see from the car window. Then, create a scrapbook or photo album for your pics and fill your album as you drive along.
  • Tunes for the trail If you're addicted to your iPod, buy an FM transmitter to play your collection through your car radio. Griffin Technology's iTrip Auto fits any iPod model, so no matter which highway or country lane you're on you won't be without your favorite tunes.
By The Knot

Monday, April 9, 2012

Carry-On Essentials for Your 80 Degrees Beach Escape

By Rachel Felder



Along with the obvious warm-weather essentials like flip-flops and bathing suits, there are a few more must-haves to bring along on your sun-soaked 80 Degrees by the Sea vacation. Packing a handful of unisex beautifiers—all in small enough containers to fit inside a quart-sized transparent plastic bag—is an easy way to look great throughout your trip. (Even better: many are ideal to use on the plane, as well.) We've rounded up the best beauty items to throw into your carry-on bag before heading off on that much-needed beach escape.

Moisturizing Facial Spray

Your skin goes through a lot on a resort vacation: sun exposure, perspiration while you're soaking up those rays, and infamously dry airplane air to get there and back. Bringing along a moisturizing facial spray can help tackle all three. It's refreshing during the day (spritzed on periodically, all over your face and neck) and later soothing on tender post-sun skin. And on the roundtrip journey to your getaway, a mist is an easy way to keep skin hydrated during the flight, even if it's long haul.
The BestNeal's Yard Remedies' Organic White Tea Facial Mist ($18) contains essential oils from English lavender, geranium, chamomile, and bergamot, so it's naturally hydrating, plus the slightly herbaceous scent makes it nice to spray on before bedtimeĆ¢€¦or just a beach chair nap.
The Rest: The part-toner, part-serum spray Caudalie Beauty Elixir to Go ($16) and pleasantly scented Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence($65).

Disposable Cleansing Wipes

Cleansing wipes, which are great for swiping off everything from sunblock and sweat to sand, are always convenient to have on hand—essentially, they're a more versatile, gentle, liquid-free hand sanitizer. Instead of the alcohol-based versions designed just for hands (or even traditional baby wipes), choose disposable cloths that are infused with the same ingredients as high-quality face cleansers, since they're much less harsh and can help moisturize and calm the skin as they rid it of dirt and grime.
The BestSkyn Iceland Glacial Cleansing Cloths with Biospheric Complex ($15) are loaded with natural soothers like aloe, shea butter, and cucumber. They're mild enough for even the most sensitive skin, including kids' faces, so they're ideal for families heading away on spring break.
The RestOle Henricksen Truth to Go Wipes ($6), which are packed with vitamins, and green tea-infused Yes to Cucumber Soothing Wipes($2.99). Both come in extra-portable packages of 10 and 8 wipes, respectively.

Water- and Sweat-Resistant Sunblock

Sun protection is, of course, a beachgoer's must-have, but with the variety of textures and SPF strengths that are available, it's worth bringing along a product that you know you like. Bring a few tubes, since most sun worshippers typically use much less sunscreen than they actually need. A formulation that's resistant to water and sweat is ideal, since it will stay on longer as you're outdoors and active, as is broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
The BestSupergoop SPF 30+ Everyday Face & Body Moisturizer($14) is ultra protective and water- and sweat-resistant, but still gentle, so it's great for even young children. Plus it comes in an super-portable 1.6 ounce tube that's as easy to put in a purse as a beach bag.
The RestNatura Bisse SPF 30 Daily Defense Oil-Free Fluid ($95), which is packed with indulgent anti-aging ingredients, and the oil-free, matte textured Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid-lotion Sunblock ($10.49).

Soothing Skincare

Even when you're away from home, it's important to maintain a diligent cleansing routine, particularly when you're in a warm, humid holiday climate, when perspiration and dirt can clog pores. The easiest strategy is to bring along a skincare kit, filled with small-sized containers of an entire regimen of products. Usually these minis last longer than your vacation, but their shrunken dimensions are perfect for a makeup case, purse, or office desk drawer when you get back home.
The Best: The unisex British brand REN is a cult-favorite for a reason: its products do what they promise (like clean and moisturize) without harsh chemical ingredients or any frills or fuss. The REN kit ($36) includes tiny sizes of some of the line's most popular products for the face, like Vita-Mineral Radiant Day Cream.
The RestEve Lom Travel Essentials Kit ($95)—a worthy splurge that may make people think you just had a facial, and Fresh's limited-editionCliquot in the Snow set ($60) of best-sellers, tucked in an adorable bag that you'll want to use way after the trip is over.

High-Quality Hair Care

Your hair's got a lot to contend with on vacation—sun, chlorine, humidity—so it's smart to pack a few heavy-hitter products to handle those caustic effects. Some of the best haircare brands offer travel sets that packed with a few shrunken essentials from their collections, just enough to get you through about a week on the road. Particularly suited for beach-based trips are products that deal with frizz, which is a common issue for many types of hair in warm-weather destinations.
The BestPhillip Kingsley Jet Sets ($34) are travel-friendly kits with customized products (there are 8 versions) to tackle everything from discolored gray hair to excessive frizz. Each kit comes in a reusable clear plastic bag, so just throw them in your carry-on and go.
The Rest: Luxurious, olive oil-infused Frederic Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Travel Faves Kit ($43) and smoothing, floral-scented Oscar Blandi Jasmine Frizz Fighting Discovery Set ($30).
Photo Credit: Woman on Tropical Beach via Shutterstock

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Samantha Brown on Traveling Chic

As a Travel Channel host, Samantha Brown is on the road about 230 days a year.
While she generally dresses casually for travel, she also makes a point of looking stylish. "First impressions work in travel as they would in the boardroom," she says. "If you walk into an airport and you look sloppy, you're certainly not going to get upgraded into business or first class."
Before going on a trip, Ms. Brown makes sure to do research on the norms of her destination.
"I like to dress the part and be as immersive as I can," she says. While at home she might wear shorts and sleeveless tops for warm weather, in tropical Asian locales she wears long pants and lightweight cotton blouses with long sleeves.
"When you travel, you're always depending on the kindness of strangers," she says. "If you look like a respectable person, people will want to help you more."
When she travels, Ms. Brown typically brings one large suitcase.
Her basics include two pairs of jeans (one lighter-colored and one in a more "sophisticated" darker color), black slacks, at least one silk blouse "that's sort of dressy," three T-shirts, a lightweight cashmere sweater, a cropped jacket, three tank tops, two fitted, button-down collared shirts, one flared black skirt in a stretchy jersey fabric and one "very versatile sun dress that I can pair with sandals or heels," she says.
"With all my clothes, I'm looking for something with a little elasticity, like Lycra or Spandex—you want something that will not lose its shape," she says.
When packing, Ms. Brown usually lays out all her clothing on her bed.
"It's like an audition for a chorus line," she notes, saying that she'll pack only items of clothing that can be paired with at least two other pieces.
Ms. Brown expects the same versatility from her shoes: She brings just a pair of running shoes, "very comfortable but nice" walking sandals, a pair of heels and a pair of loafers, which she wears on the plane.
To spruce up her outfits, Ms. Brown brings three scarves, which she calls her "favorite accessory—they take up no room and they completely change an outfit."
She usually brings one in a solid color, another that's striped and a third made of silk and more decorative and formal.
Ms. Brown also brings a few pieces of jewelry—a thin necklace with a pendant, a multi-chained necklace and a set of bangles.
She brings only gold jewelry so the pieces can be worn together in different combinations.
While many travelers often see vacations as a time to live in flip-flops and shorts, Ms. Brown says there is a very practical reason for avoiding that look.
"You don't want to stand out" as a tourist, she says. "You could be a target for theft and muggings."

Monday, April 2, 2012

Losing It All...and Bouncing Back


You're winging your way across Europe, having the time of your life, when you make a simple mistake. You set your bag down as you slurp an extra-large gelato, and before you know it...your bag is gone. Unfortunately, today's the day you tucked your passport, credit cards, and extra cash in your bag instead of in your money belt. That sinking feeling is the realization that — except for the euro or two in your pocket — you've lost everything.

What to Do if You Lose It All


Don't panic. First of all, take a breath. Panic clouds your judgment. And don't beat yourself up: Even the most careful traveler can get ripped off or lose a bag. I once met a family in Amsterdam who managed to lose all their bags between the airport and their first hotel, and went on to have a very successful trip. A positive attitude can be a great asset.
Ask for help. If you're in a country where little English is spoken, enlist the help of a local English-speaker to assist you in making phone calls or explaining the situation to officials. Try your hotelier or someone at the tourist office: Even in the smallest towns, someone is likely to know at least a little English. Fellow travelers you've met and even family or friends back home can also be sources of help.
File a police report. Find a police officer and report the theft or loss. Having a police report may help with replacing your passport and credit cards, and is a must if you file an insurance claim for a lost railpass or expensive travel gear. The police may be able to direct you to a local travelers' aid office or Red Cross-like organization. And if you're extremely lucky, someone may actually turn in your bag.
Use the Internet. Get online at your hotel (if they don't have a public Internet terminal, explain the situation and ask sweetly if you can use their office computer). If you're between hotels, look for free Internet access at the tourist office or a city library. Use the Internet to find contact details for the nearest US embassy and your bank, retrieve information you have stored online, or solicit help from folks back home.
Replace your passport. This is top priority. Without a passport, you can't leave the country, and you'll find it difficult to check in to a new hotel or receive wired funds. To replace your passport, you'll need to go in person to the closest American embassy (usually in the capital city) or consulate (in major towns). A helpful list is atwww.travel.state.gov, or check a local phone book. The US State Department's Office of American Citizen Services and Crisis Management (ACS) has a US number (tel. 202/501-4444; from the US, call 888/407-4747) that aids Americans traveling abroad in natural disasters, receiving money, and replacing passports.
You may be able to make an appointment at the embassy or consulate, or you may need to show up during open hours and wait your turn. If you have access to the Internet, printing and filling out the required forms before you go saves time. Having a photocopy of your passport can help. (I recommend traveling with a copy tucked deep in your bag in case you lose the real deal. For extra protection, give a copy to your travel partner, or scan a copy and store it online in a password-protected account. You could also give a copy to a trusted friend at home, who can email or fax it to you overseas.) If you don't have access to a copy of your passport, embassy staff can look up previous passport records, interview you and your travel partners, and even call contacts in the US to verify your identity.
A replacement passport costs $140 and can generally be issued within a few days, or faster if you make a good case that you need it right away. If you don't have the funds, the embassy will help you contact someone at home who can wire money directly to the embassy. If no one can wire you money, the embassy staff may waive the fee, or they may give you a "repatriation loan" — just enough funds to cover the new passport and get you back home.
Cancel debit and credit cards. Within two days, cancel your lost or stolen debit and credit cards (limiting your liability to $50) and order replacements. Visa, MasterCard, and American Express all have global customer-assistance centers, reachable by collect call from anywhere (see sidebar). You'll need to tell them the name of the bank that issued the card and the type of card (classic, platinum, or whatever); the full card number; whether you are the primary or secondary cardholder; the cardholder's name exactly as printed on the card; billing address; home phone number; circumstances of the loss or theft; and identification verification (your birth date, your mother's maiden name, or your Social Security number — memorize this, don't carry a copy). If you are the secondary cardholder, you'll also need to provide the primary cardholder's identification-verification details. (Some people like to travel with an encrypted list of credit card numbers, or store them online — though be aware that this poses some security risk.)
Your bank can generally deliver a new card to you in Europe within two to three business days. Some may even be able to wire cash to keep you going, or pay for your hotel room directly. Ask about these extra services. It's also possible to transfer money from a bank in the US to a bank in Europe, but this may take several days to accomplish — you'll probably have the new cards faster.
Replace other travel documents. Point-to-point rail e-tickets can often be reprinted from any computer or at the station, but tickets purchased at the station and printed on special ticket paper probably can't be replaced. Unfortunately, you can't replace a railpass — you'll need to purchase new tickets or a new pass to complete your trip. If you bought railpass insurance, you may be able to get a partial refund when you get home. There's no need to replace printed copies of airline reservations — once you have your new passport, the airline can easily look up your e-ticket when you arrive at the airport.
Many other documents you probably had stuffed in your pack can be regenerated easily. It helps if you've saved hotel and car rental confirmations online, memorized your log-in ID and password, or emailed a copy of your itinerary to yourself (or at least left one at home with a friend). Or use an itinerary-storage websites such as TripIt to gather all this information in one place.
Rearrange travel plans. Depending on how long it takes to get your passport replaced — and how far you have to travel to get to an embassy or consulate — you'll probably need to rearrange your travel plans. Call or email to cancel and reschedule hotels and flights as soon as possible to avoid losing deposits or paying change fees (explaining the situation may help). If you're stuck without cash or credit cards for a few days, see if your bank or a family member back home can pay for your hotel stay.
Replace travel gear. Once you've started the process of replacing your passport and credit and debit cards, you can think about restoring gear such as your camera, phone, laptop, or iPod. Depending on your insurance policy, you may be able to get reimbursed for part of the replacement cost when you get home. Decide which items are critical enough to your trip to replace immediately (flea markets and cheap department stores are great for bargains).
Refill prescriptions. Pharmacies in Europe have the same medications as in the US (though they typically have different brand names — it helps to know the generic name). Pharmacists generally speak English, but you'll need a copy of your prescription — try contacting your doctor's office by phone or email. They can usually fax or email a copy to you in Europe. Your optometrist can do the same for your prescription eyewear.
Replace a rental-car key. If you lose the key to your rental car, call the car-hire company with your rental agreement number and your exact location. Be prepared for considerable expense and a delay: You will be charged $200 or more for a replacement key, and you may need to wait 24 to 48 hours for delivery of new keys or even a different vehicle.
Make the best of the situation. Getting everything straightened out can take a while. Be flexible and patient. It may not help at the time, but try to remember that your loss will make for a good story when you get home. Like a friend of mine says, "When it comes to travel, Tragedy + Time = Comedy."

An Ounce of Prevention

Here are some tips on how to travel safely and smartly.
  • Wear a money belt or risk spending a couple days of your cherished vacation in bureaucratic purgatory. Keep a few $20 bills in a separate bag or hidden somewhere on your person. When using the ATM, be methodical about putting your debit card back in the same place in your money belt.
  • If you're traveling with a partner, carry photocopies of each other's passports and other important documents. Each adult should have their own credit and debit cards and stash of emergency cash (ideally in a money belt).
  • Before your trip, make two sets of photocopies of your valuable documents and tickets. Pack a copy and leave a copy with someone at home. Or store important documents in a password-protected account online (though be aware that, especially for financial information such as credit-card numbers, this does pose some security risk).
  • Keep track of your stuff. You're more likely to inadvertently lose your bag than to have it stolen. I've heard of travelers leaving passports under pillows, bags on the overhead rack on the bus, cameras in the taxi, and once even a backpack under a bush beside a hiking trail. Always check behind you before you leave any place or form of transport. Look behind the door and under the bed. Have a mental checklist: moneybelt — check, passport — check, credit/debit cards — check, camera — check...
  • You're especially vulnerable when you're tired, confused, or using public transportation. Take turns watching the bags with your travel partner. Don't absentmindedly set a bag down next to you while you wait in line at the train station; always be in physical contact with your stuff. Be vigilant anytime there's a commotion — it's likely a smokescreen for theft.
  • Never leave a money belt "hidden" on the beach while you swim. It's safer left in your hotel room. In hostel or dorm situations, where your money belt shouldn't be left alone in your room, shower with it (hang it — maybe in a plastic bag — from the nozzle). Nicer hotels have safes in the room, and sometimes the front desk will keep valuables for you.
If you do lose something, don't let it ruin your trip. Many trips start with a major loss, recover, and with the right attitude and very light bags, finish wonderfully.
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