Before you plan an extended stay in Europe, be sure you know the visa restrictions. “Can I stay in Europe for a year (or more)?”, “Do I need a Schengen visa from the USA?”, “What IS a Schengen visa, anyway???” are all questions a US citizen should ask.  Not knowing the answers could create problems during your trip.

One of the most common questions we’re asked is, “how do you pick destinations?” Certainly a large part of that decision involves places we want to visit. But it also involves visa considerations, how easy they are to obtain, and how long you can stay in each country. Europe has some rules that can be pretty confusing. After over 8 years of full-time travel (which includes a lot of bouncing in and out of Europe), we share what we’ve learned.

Visa requirements for US Citizens: can I stay in Europe for a year or more?

The short answer is “Yes.” The longer answer is, “Yes . . . but.” But . . . what, exactly?

All countries (including the US) offer short-term visas for travelers. This is essentially the passport stamp you receive when you arrive in a new country. That country is allowing you to visit for a specific period of time. Typically the term limit of these so-called “tourist visas” in Europe is 90 days. For most people taking a vacation, this is more than sufficient to cover their trip. But if you’re long-term traveler, these visa time limitations will impact how long you can stay in any given country.

And just to make things interesting, this 90-day tourist visa applies to staying within a 180-day period. (Spoiler alert: These are the sort of rules that make your head want to explode!) What this means is that the “clock” starts ticking when you enter, and it doesn’t reset until 181 days later. So you can’t enter Ireland (for example), stay for 90 days, leave on day 91, then return on day 92 and get a fresh new tourist visa. You would actually have to leave Ireland for the next 90 days, until day 180. Then you could return on day 181 and the clock would start all over again.

Iceland is part of the EU's Schengen ZoneIceland is part of the EU, and certain European visa restrictions apply when visiting

The next logical question would be, “what if I stay in Ireland for 10 days, leave for two weeks, come back and stay for 30 more days, etc?” Yes, that’s OK; the visa is valid for the TOTAL number of days you spend in the country within that 180-day period, not a consecutive 90 days. You can use up your 90 days all at once, or you can go in and out as often as you like in the next 180 days.

HOWEVER, after you’ve spent an aggregate of 90 days in the country (whether it took you 90, 138 or 164 days, whatever to get there), you must then leave the country. Failure to do so could result in deportation and a hefty fine. (You do NOT want to mess with Border Control in ANY country.)

You cannot return until 181 days after you received your initial visa (i.e passport stamp). So if you enter on January 1, for example, you can stay for any combination of 90 days until June 29, which would be day 180. June 30 would be day 181, when you then could re-enter the country and start the process all over again.

You may be thinking, “OK, I’ve got 90 days in each country, I’ll go to Ireland for 90 days, then head to France for 90 days, then on to Germany, etc. . .” Not so fast. We’re about to enter . . . The Schengen Zone. ( Yes, you can cue “The Twilight Zone” music here if you’d like.)

Western Europe and the Schengen Zone

Schengen Zone countries have open bordersThe Schengen Agreement allows for border-free travel between member countries in Europe

Okay, more head-exploding visa fun. Virtually all of western Europe (26 countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, etc.) is part of something called the “Schengen Zone.” It represents a collection of European countries that formed an agreement in 2005 to create a sort of joint international border. (The agreement was signed in the town of Schengen, Luxembourg, hence the name.)

This was a giant step in making intra-European travel easy and smooth. What this means for citizens of those countries is they can travel between the “Schengen” countries without needing a passport. No more border crossings when driving between France and Belgian, for example. Forget about customs and immigration on a flight from Greece to Spain. No railway checkpoints along the way between Germany and Italy. Yay!

Schengen visa from the USA

As an American citizen, your US passport is sufficient to enter the Schengen Zone. You do NOT need a special Schengen visa from the USA to enter the countries that are part of this agreement. Nor do you need something special for each country, such as a Schengen visa France. Your passport is enough. The stamp you get upon entering a Schengen Zone country will be your “tourist visa” for the entire region.

You can now travel between these countries without border controls, just like the local citizens-YAY again! This is terrific when planning a vacation that involves multiple European countries. It really does make intra-European travel simpler and less time-consuming.

HOWEVER, long-term travelers must take heed. What this Schengen Agreement DOES mean, is that entering the Schengen Zone is like entering a single country. As an American citizen, you only get a 90-day visa for THE WHOLE SCHENGEN REGION. Yep, if you enter France, your 90-day tourist visa clock starts ticking for Germany, Norway, Italy, etc. as well. You can enter and leave the Schengen Zone as often as you like, but you’ve only got 90 days within a 180-day window.

This Schengen Zone bit can really throw a monkey wrench into your plans if you’re looking to do extensive travel in Europe. Most Americans are unaware of the regulation because it does not impact them. The typical vacation to Europe is about 2 weeks. If you return to Europe the following year, the “visa clock” will have started all over again, and most American visitors are none the wiser.

That’s the bad news. The GOOD news is you still have 90 days within a 180-day period, and if you’re planning to travel for a year, you’d have two “visa clock” cycles.  That means you can spend 180 days per year in the Schengen Zone . . . which is pretty good!

Check this page on the US State Dept website for more information about visa requirements for US citizens.

Schengen and non Schengen countries

The following map, from the European Commission, shows countries in the Schengen Zone, along with non Schengen countries in Europe:

Map from the European Commission website, click for more info about the Schengen Zone

All the countries in green are part of the Schengen Zone. Those in brown are non Schengen. [The gray area represents countries that are not in the E.C. (European Commission) at all.] As you can see, the majority of Europe falls into this Schengen Zone. It’s also limportant to note that Iceland, the Azores, and the Canary Islands are included as well. Check the European Commission’s website for more information about the Schengen Zone.

GOOD NEWS: Each of the non Schengen countries [Ireland, the UK, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Cyprus] have their own visa requirements an allowances. This is good news for the long-term traveler. You can spend time in each one of these countries for up to 90 days after you’ve used up your time in the Schengen Zone.

Romania and Croatia are a particularly good value, have lots to see, English is widely spoken, and they are friendly to Americans. We’ve spent a LOT of time in Bucharest, Romania over the past few years, which is home of the world’s heaviest building (no kidding!) Read about the time we got excellent, affordable dental work, because it was easy to find comfortable, well-priced apartments to stay on a monthly basis.

The UK is a non Schengen countryAmerican citizens can stay in the UK for up to 6 months

BETTER NEWS: Our good friends in the United Kingdom are the exception to this 90-day rule. American citizens in good standing can stay in the UK for up to 6 months (!). It’s easy to spend 6 months there: explore free sights in London or check out spooky, foggy Dartmoor, which has a unique American history connection. With an extended amount of time to visit, you can learn to drive on the left, then take a Scotland road trip to see some stunning scenery. Rule Brittania! 🇬🇧

Planning a Europe itinerary for long-term travel

What all of this Schengen Zone and 90-day tourist visa stuff means is that you can’t simply pick a European destination and stay there for a year. You have to more or less play “visa hop-scotch” in Europe. This is what Michael and I do. We pick a place that is interesting to us, get an apartment for 1-2 months, then move on to somewhere else. In between “monthly stay A” and “monthly stay B” we might transit through another city and visit for a few days. Or we might rent a car and explore the countryside before moving on to a new destination.

With a potential 180 days/year in the Schengen Zone, 6 months in the UK, and up to 90 days in the 5 remaining non Schengen countries, you should have plenty of time to explore. The key is not to overstay your welcome in any one country or region.

Following is a summary of the various countries/regions in Europe and how long you can stay:

  • Schengen Zone (see map above for countries): 90 days per 180 days
  • United Kingdom: 180 days per year
  • Ireland: 90 days per 180 days
  • Croatia: 90 days per 180 days
  • Romania: 90 days per 180 days
  • Bulgaria: 90 days per 180 days
  • Cyprus: 90 days per 180 days

So if you literally went from one region/country to the next on the final day of your visa, and you added up the time, you could spend 2 years in Europe before repeating destinations! The reality is that would be a logistical nightmare, but what you can see is that with a little bit of planning, you really can stay in Europe indefinitely if you so choose.

When Michael and I travel in Europe we keep an eye on the visa limits in given countries/regions to be sure we’re not running afoul of our time limits. For example, we don’t rent an apartment for 3 months when we know we have a 90-day visit limit. That’s cutting it too close. We always give ourselves a week or so of “wiggle room” for unforeseen issues. For example, what if you’re planning to fly back to the US from Paris or Frankfurt on day 90 of your Schengen visa? And then the flight gets cancelled . . . uh oh! you find yourself in airport purgatory.

Planning long-term travel in Europe can be a little daunting at first, especially if you don’t know the visa limitations. But once you know the rules, you can plan accordingly. And even see some countries you might not have otherwise considered visiting.

Changes in Longitude Larissa & Michael Milne at Arctic CircleWe’re Larissa and Michael, your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive updates and valuable travel tips subscribe to our travel newsletter here.

It’s always a challenge to find good gifts for travelers. Those unique travel gifts–the ones that are really useful, or evocative of a journey, or just plain fun—can be tricky to get just right. Even though we’re nomads ourselves with few belongings, we still get excited about the perfect accessory, great luggage, or even a good book to spark our wanderlust.

So whether you’re looking for gifts ideas for someone going traveling, an armchair aficionado, or even yourself, read on. Inspiration is just ahead.

Note: If you’re interested in a gift that you see suggested here, please consider using the links we’ve provided below. We participate in the Amazon Affiliates program, where we make a small commission from these sales, at no extra cost to you. It’s one of the ways we keep things humming here at Changes In Longitude, while providing free travel advice to our readers. Thanks!

Unique Travel Gifts

Gifts for Photographers (under $50)

Scarf Camera Strap:

Scarf camera strapWe gals love to accessorize, and our camera is no exception. I was thrilled to discover this scarf camera strap this year, which is a fabulous combination of function and style! Not only is the scarf pretty (and oh, so chic!), it’s also softer around your neck than a strap. As an added bonus, there’s a good-sized hidden pocket inside, which is perfect for carrying a few extra doo dads, like your phone or passport or lipstick. I also love that it comes in over a dozen fabric designs, so you can choose one to suit your personal style! Available on Amazon:  Scarf Camera Strap

Versatile & Stylish Camera Bag

Stylish Camera BagMost camera bags are chunky and bulky, screaming “expensive camera equipment within.” Not so the Passport Sling by Lowepro: it looks like a large cross-body shoulder bag and is shaped to rest comfortably against your hip. The bag’s removable protective inserts allow you to stow as much (or as little) photo equipment as you need. And it comes in “basic black” as well as the “outback” shades pictured here. But what I really love is the clever expansion zipper: it gives me room to stow my purse when flying, which keeps me under the 2-carry-on-bag-limit. Available at Amazon: LowePro Sling Camera Bag

Best Travel Gifts for Him

Underseat Rolling Luggage:

A few years ago we discovered the joys of rolling totes. They’re the perfect carry-on–large enough to carry chunky items, yet small enough to fit under the seat of most aircraft. (Which means that no matter how full the flight is, you won’t have to check it.) Until recently, most of the totes available were of the “girly” variety (such as my Delsey tote). But Michael started using this Eagle Creek Wheeled Tote this past year, and loves it’s versatility (and its “manliness”), coupled with the legendary Eagle Creek ruggedness. Purchase on Amazon: Eagle Creek Rolling Tote

Versatile Men’s Travel Shoes

best travel shoes for menWhen you travel with minimal luggage (like we do) you need shoes that multi-task. Michael likes these loafers from Olukai. The nubuck leather is super-comfy, comes in a selection of (manly) shades and works well to jazz up an outfit. Best of all, the nifty fold-down heel converts them to a slipper or casual shoe in no time (which also makes them great for packing!). Get them on Amazon: Olukai Men’s Loafers

Roadster Guide to America’s Classic Car Museums 

Roadster Guide to America's Classic Car Museums(We couldn’t leave this one out!). Perfect for the gear head or classic car buff in your life, this book is the most comprehensive collection of car museums around. Including all sorts of quirky auto-related attractions such as the wacky Carhenge in Nebraska (yes, it is a Stonehenge replica made out of old cars!), the 2nd edition of this informative guide contains more than 300 museums and attractions. Perfect for your next road trip! Full disclosure: I know the author personally & he’s a good guy 😉. Available on Amazon: Roadster Guide.

Travel Gifts for Her

Lightweight Rain Jacket for Travel:women's travel raincoat

A raincoat is an indispensable travel accessory for me. I like one that looks good for city travel, yet is still functional enough for “light outdoorsy” activity. This one comes in a bunch of great colors, two different lengths, has a detachable hood, and an adjustable drawstring waist (perfect for layering). It’s reasonably priced, too! Available at Amazon:  Lightweight Raincoat

The Best Flip Flops EVER:

best travel shoes for womenFlip flops are incredibly versatile for travel. What makes the Fit Flops brand so special is the combination of comfort and durability–they seem to last forever. I have literally walked miles in these shoes for days on end. A slightly dressy pair is perfect for strolling through a European capital, scampering on the beach, or even as slippers in your hotel room. They weigh almost nothing, and fit easily into your suitcase. And they come in a TON of cute styles and colors, too! Available at Amazon: Women’s Fit Flops

Fun Travel Gifts

Framed Scratch-off World Travel Map

World travel mapTravelers love to keep track of where they’ve been, and what better way than this world map, where you scratch off destinations as you visit? We like this one because it includes US states as well as all the countries of the world. Once scratched-off, the map reveals cool local icons, such as the Eiffel Tower in France. Plus it’s already framed, so you can just pop up on the wall and scratch away! Purchase on Amazon: Framed Scratch-off World Map

Atlas Obscura: The World’s Quirkiest Travel Booktravel book, world travel guide

If you really want to get off the beaten path, this is the book for you. Jam-packed with sights all over the world that are quirky, curious or just downright odd (such as Carhenge in Nebraska), Atlas Obscura will have you pining to hit the road for all sorts of parts unknown or unexplained. They’ve also just released a kid’s version, perfect for fostering curious would-be explorers! Available from Amazon: Atlas Obscura & Atlas Obscura for Kids

World Countries & Constellation Globe:

World travel map and constellation globeAnyone who loves to travel needs a globe. We can never resist spinning one to see where we might land next! This one is especially cool: it shows the countries of the world by day, and then lights up at night to reveal the constellations above. This is a terrific way to get kids interested in the world around us as well as the skies above. (But let’s not forget the kids-at-heart: I would SO love to have this in my suitcase!) Available from Amazon:  Illuminated Constellation Globe

Ultimate Journeys for Two

A National Geographic guide written by the World’s Longest Honeymooners (aka our friends Mike & Anne of the blog HoneyTrek), Ultimate Journeys for Two is the best gift for couples seeking some adventure! Taking inspiration from their six-year journey across the seven continents, they’ve compiled their absolute favorite 75 destinations and savviest tips for couples adventure travel. With gorgeous photos, this book is inspiring, helpful, and FUN! Grab it on Amazon or have it personalized by the authors.

Luggage Gifts

Best Travel Suitcase: Our Fave LuggageBest suitcase for travel; best luggage gifts

For the past few years we’ve been singing the praises of the Travelpro Maxlite Series. (See our in-depth review here.) We love the 21″ spinner; it holds an incredible amount of stuff (and even has an expansion panel), is easy to maneuver, super-sturdy and ultra-lightweight. (Although it does come in larger sizes if you absolutely MUST pack that extra pair of shoes!) The newest version has managed to shave off another 1/2 pound! Available on Amazon: Traveler Maxlite 5 Luggage

Worldly (& Wacky) Luggage Tags

Luggage tags make fun travel gifts are a great way to differentiate your bags from all of the others on the baggage carousel. For that retro “grand tour” feel, check out the collection of tags that look like vintage travel posters from Pacifica Island. If something whimsical is more your style, how about Star Wars’ BB8 and R2D2 (or a whole slew of other comic book heroes)? Either way, your bags will stand out in a crowd! Find them on Amazon:      Star Wars Luggage Tags & Vintage Travel Poster Luggage Tags

Whatever your destination(s) for the coming year, may the Force be with you, & happy travels!😊🌎

If you liked our list (or want to send some not-so subtle hints), please share this post. Here’s a ready-made pin for Pinterest:Unique Travel Gifts, #funtravelgifts, #scarfcamerastrap, #uniquetravelgifts, #travelgiftsforher, #besttravelgiftsforhim, #giftsforphotographersunder50, #giftsforsomeonegoingtravelling

Larissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

His gums duly numbed with painkiller, Michael reclined in the cushioned chair as the dentist loomed overhead with a whirring drill in her hand. Michael was about to start dental implant surgery to replace a broken tooth, a fairly standard procedure, except he was in a dental clinic in Bucharest, Romania. How did we end up there?

The short answer: affordable dental implants.

Dental implant cost: A mystery in the U.S.

Two years ago, we practically had to scrape Michael off the floor when he learned he needed a dental implant that would cost approximately $6,000. We’d gotten crowns and had root canals in the past, but never anything that rivaled the price of a decent used car. The high cost prompted us to explore less-expensive options. This endeavor proved to be more difficult than we expected.

It’s not easy to find published prices from most U.S. dentists. The U.S. practices we found advertising “discount” implants priced only the implant itself; they didn’t include the extensive prep work, including removal of the broken tooth and often the need for a bone graft, in the total cost.

 

Dental tourism Bucharest Romania intelident, affordable dental implants

We recalled that during a visit to Bucharest a few months earlier, we had noticed many billboards — in English — advertising dental services. Upon further investigation, we learned that Romania is a popular destination for European dental patients; the quality is top-notch, and  the prices are very low. Would we actually consider dental work outside the U.S.?

According to Patients Beyond Borders, a guide and website for medical tourists,  more than 150 million Americans lack dental insurance and are increasingly seeking dental work abroad. Currently, the majority of Americans traveling outside the country to see  dentists venture to Mexico from the border states of Texas, Arizona, and California.

“Dental tourism has been going on for more than two decades,” said Amid Ismail, dean of Temple University’s Kornberg School of Dentistry.

Ismail had no statistical data — good or bad — regarding U.S. patients who had work done overseas. From our research, we learned it’s important to perform your own due diligence on any overseas provider.

“There is quality dental care everywhere, but the range is wider overseas, so you must be careful who you choose,” Ismail said. “Cheap care is most often not equivalent to good care.”

Affordable dental implants in Romania

Which left us still pondering the value — and risks — of using a dental clinic in Bucharest, Romania. We knew from our previous visit that English is commonly spoken in the capital city, so communication wouldn’t be an issue.

As part of our research, we contacted the U.S. office of Romania Tourism. The website addressed dental tourism and provided links to several dentists. Romanian law requires dental clinics to post their prices prominently — something we wish American practices would do.

We homed in on one dental clinic in Bucharest, Intelident, for several reasons. Its website was in English and provided detailed information about the education and work experience of the dentists. The clinic also posts prices online, which made our research easier. In addition, it is part of a network that provides dental services to U.S. employees of American companies (such as Citi and Oracle) that maintain offices in Bucharest.

affordable dental implants romaniaMost importantly, we liked that Intelident used top-notch materials. We were determined to get a standard of care similar to that of the U.S. or Western Europe; there was no reason to consider dental tourism otherwise. We had heard anecdotes of people getting “cheap dental implants” in Eastern Europe, but details about the materials (and potentially the dental clinics) were sketchy. We wouldn’t seek out some back-alley practice back home; we sure as heck weren’t going to go that route in Romania.

We communicated extensively with the manager of the practice by email and clarified prices and approximate timelines. Unlike the U.S., where many dentists price the procedure in total, pricing in Romania is more of an a la carte model. Therefore, it’s important to understand exactly what is required for your complete procedure; a front implant cost may be different than a back tooth, for example, or you might need to factor in tooth extraction. (All cost comparisons here are as “apples to apples” as possible.)

The total cost to install Intelident’s most expensive titanium implant, made by highly regarded Swiss manufacturer Straumann, was approximately $1,500, including a replacement crown;  1/4 the cost of the same procedure in the U.S.

Now that we knew we could obtain affordable dental implants in Bucharest, was a saving of $4,500 enough for us to fly to Romania? Perhaps not. But what if we considered additional work?

We both had several metal-based crowns that were nearing the end of their useful lives; the replacement cost of a nonmetal zirconium crown in the U.S. was estimated at $1,400. The cost in Romania for a similiar crown would be only $350; root canals were similarly priced. If we got a significant amount of preventive work done, the trip would be worth it.

The Procedure

Our first appointments entailed a general examination, including a review of new X-rays. The dentists then prepared a complete treatment plan for each of us. Michael focused on getting his new implant, and  Larissa addressed replacing her old crowns, some of which required root canals. We were given specific pricing upfront. They even said we should defer some work they didn’t feel was necessary, so we never felt “up-sold.”

Dental tourism romania bucharest intelidentX-rays are taken in another office, about a mile away, saving the dentist the investment in equipment that is not often used. The excellent prices ($18 for a full set of digital X-ray bite wings, $6 for a single tooth) at the state-of-the-art imaging facility offset the slight inconvenience of an extra errand for the patient.

Throughout all our work, the Romanian dentists used sterilized equipment and sealed products that they opened in front of us.

For Michael’s implant, his dentist even shared the packaging materials to demonstrate their authenticity. Straumann implants come with a unique serial number, and Michael was able to verify his through the company’s website. Tomas Konrad, a Straumann representative, agreed that best practices include sharing the package with the patient.

A verification document with details about the implant also ensured that Michael could have follow-up work performed by any dentist around the world trained to use Straumann implants — which includes the dental clinic at Temple University.

“That’s a good [standardization] model,” Dr. Ismail said.

The result

To date, there have been no complications with the dental work we had done. Three months later we were back in the US where Michael had the work reviewed by an American dentist, who was impressed with the high quality level.

In the end, we saved more than $18,000 by seeking work outside the U.S. Of course, travel expenses must be deducted from that amount, which is a different variable for everyone.

Visit Romania: Travel considerations

By European and American standards, Bucharest is an inexpensive city. We found a fully furnished apartment in the heart of downtown on Airbnb for $850/month. (For more information on places to stay, please see our detailed guide to lodging in Bucharest.) The dentist’s office was within walking distance, so there was no need for a car. There are no direct flights from the U.S. to Bucharest, but Delta’s SkyTeam alliance offers several connections through European gateways. We flew from New York to Bucharest via Amsterdam.

Dental Tourism considerations: Do Your Research

Dental tourism is not right for everyone, but with the increasing costs of dental procedures in the U.S., it’s an option worth considering if you are facing extensive work. The ideal candidate is someone without comprehensive dental insurance who has an open mind and time to travel abroad.

If you choose to explore this option, it’s essential to do your research. Consider the following:

  • Education: Where did the dentist study? How good is the school? Has he or she done specialty training abroad?
  • Experience: On how many patients has he or she performed this procedure? What’s the success rate? According to the Journal of Dental Research, success rates for most implant procedures are 90 percent to 95 percent; be wary of  dentists who  say they have a 100 percent success rate.
  • References: Ask for names of patients, and contact them  about their experience.
  • Pricing: Be sure to ask for all costs related to the procedure, including X-rays and any prep work.

Even with satisfactory answers to these questions, there are still risks involved. If there is a problem with the work, the burden of extra costs falls to you. We acknowledged that if there were any problems, we’d have to take care of them in the U.S.

“Health tourism in a global economy is a reality of life, but we prefer that patients stay in their home country for continuity and follow up care,” said Ismail.

Prospective patients also need to verify the timing of their procedure to determine how long they will be overseas. One or two weeks are usually needed for a crown; an implant might require two separate short visits. Michael had already had his tooth removed in the U.S., which allowed several months for the bone to grow back before having the implant procedure performed in Romania.

We planned a month for our work in Bucharest, which also gave us plenty of time to explore the city and surrounding area. Overall, our experience as dental tourists was pleasant, and we will consider having work done here again. Plus we miss the Romanian pastries!

If you’ve got further questions about dental tourism, please click the “contact” tab at the top of the page. We’re not dental care experts, but we’re happy to share more about our particular experiences.

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Dental Tourism Romania, Affordable dental implants

 

Larissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

We’ve written before about using Airbnb to book places on vacation, particularly for long-term stays. Then last week we were sitting at our Airbnb rental when there was a knock on the door. Outside was a young man on the porch with several pieces of luggage stating he was ready to move in. Uh oh. Fortunately, since we booked through Airbnb, we were fine; unfortunately for him, he had been scammed.

He had found the cottage on Craigslist at a monthly rate that was half what we were paying. Too good to be true? As it happens, yes. The listing included the same description and photos as those on the (legitimate) Airbnb listing, but the contact information was different. He had signed a lease and mailed the contact a deposit check for $500.

A quick call to our Airbnb host confirmed that this was a scam—her Airbnb listing had been “scraped,” with a fake ad posted on Craigslist, lying in wait for an unsuspecting dupe. Our Airbnb host confirmed that this had happened before; she’s tried hard to stop the scammers, but they remove the fake internet listing before the police can take action.

avpiding

There are several lessons here. Following is our checklist for avoiding vacation rental scams:

1. If a property seems too good to be true, it’s probably not legitimate. Compare the listing to others in the area; anything that looks larger, more luxurious, or cheaper than the going rate should be suspect.

2. Work through legitimate rental companies. Booking sites such as Airbnb, Homeaway, VRBO or local established rental agencies offer a level of protection should there be an issue. They all have business reputations to maintain, it’s in their best interest to resolve any disputes to everyone’s satisfaction.

3. Stay within the system. Booking sites and rental agencies do charge a fee, but they also provide a service.

Avoid the temptation to save a few dollars by going around them—a trick scammers often use. Last year while booking an Airbnb apartment in Italy the “owner” contacted us directly and asked us to wire the payment to them rather than working through the normal Airbnb channels—something that is specifically outside the company’s guidelines. This set off warning flags—sure enough, we contacted Airbnb, who confirmed it was a false listing and took it down.

Vacation rentals are a fabulous lodging alternative when traveling. However, the Internet makes it very easy for scammers to create false listings. Don’t be that guy stuck out on our porch. Always do your due diligence, particularly when the property or price seems too good to be true.

Larissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

Please note, due to the high number of spam comments we receive, we’ve disabled comments on posts. If you’d like to reach out to us, click on the “Contact” tab at the top of this page.

After the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl this year (a fact we still like to repeat) what got a bit less attention was the fact that New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski returned from his team’s loss to find out that his house had been robbed in his absence. Unfortunately, for a public figure playing in the nation’s most watched sporting event, it was difficult to hide the fact that his house would be empty that week. But that shouldn’t be a problem for ordinary folk like you and us: but it is. There are definite social media risks to updating your status while away on vacation.

These days, many people are pretty loose with what they share on social media, and this behavior isn’t just confined to tweens. Older adults are active on Facebook and other social media platforms and think nothing of telling the world about their upcoming travel plans. How convenient that is for would-be burglars to know when a residence will be empty. It’s sort of like the couple below just handing their keys to you.

Lest ye think this is unlikely, police in Glastonbury, Connecticut recently arrested a Hartford couple that was robbing homes in the upscale community. How did they know the houses would be empty? They researched social media to see who mentioned upcoming trips or even posted vacation photos in real-time while they were away.

Could you imagine your parents taking out an ad in the local paper to announce when the house would be empty? We didn’t think so. The lesson here is do not share news about when you will be away on social media and never share photos while you’re gone. While you think only your friends can see your posts, that’s not always the case.

Don’t just take our word for it. According to the Philadelphia Police Force, “Do not post about your vacation on Facebook or any other Social Media site until after you get back. If that takes more discipline than you can muster, at the very least keep your location status off any public social networking pages.” Change your privacy settings before you travel; it’s safe to assume the default setting for most social networks is “public.” Your friends can still give your photos a “thumbs up” after you’ve returned.

For more ideas about keeping your home safe while traveling, read this post about vacation planning tips on the Philly Police blog.

Always assume that the default mode for social media privacy settings is to automatically share things. Which brings up Airbnb. While we love using this service, it constantly annoys us that the default mode for wish lists for places to stay is automatically public. That’s right, anyone in the world, they don’t even have to be an Airbnb member, can find you on Airbnb and figure out where you have stayed and where you want to stay next. We can’t imagine Marriott or Hilton doing that. So go in your account and change all your settings to private.

And while we’re on our tirade, we ask you to do something today: change your birthday on Facebook to one that’s not the actual day you entered the world. (Here’s a chance to make yourself younger.) Sure, you’ll get less birthday greetings on your actual special day, but you’ll also help foil identity thieves in the process.

Larissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

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Field-Tested Travel Tips: Should you pay in local currency while traveling?

We were using a credit card to buy a camera in Germany when when the sales clerk asked us, “Do you want that charged in euros or U. S. dollars?” Huh? We hadn’t been asked that question before and really had no idea of the right answer. We assumed that, as Americans, we’d want to be charged in dollars and not pay in local currency while traveling overseas. Wrong answer.

Be it euros, pounds, drachma or renminbi, always choose to pay in local currency. When your credit card company processes the transaction, they will convert the currency at a more favorable wholesale rate that will be much better than the rate used by the local store or bank overseas.

The same policy applies to withdrawals at international ATMs. Many cash machines offer a choice to convert the transaction into your home currency (in our case U. S. dollars). This is the electronic version of going to an exchange kiosk and paying a poorer rate.

Withdrawal from an ATM without conversion is the better deal.

Here’s an example. Recently in Bucharest we were given this option of conversion while making a withdrawal of 640 RON from an ATM. Based on the current exchange rate of 4 RON/USD we expected the amount to be about $160. Take a look at the photo above that shows the message that popped up saying “This terminal offers conversion to your home currency,” with a posted exchange rate of 3.7492 RON/USD, meaning the withdrawal would have cost us $170.99. This seemed like no bargain, so we chose withdrawal without conversion. Sure enough, our bank gave us the better exchange rate and we were charged with a $161 withdrawal. Going for that other choice on the screen would have cost us an extra $10.

The same thing would have happened had we chosen to be charged in dollars at that store in Germany. On a small purchase at a souvenir shop this might only amount to a dollar or two, but the exchange spread on a week’s worth of hotel and restaurant charges can really add up. Whenever possible, charge items or withdraw money in the local currency; doing so will save you money because of the better wholesale exchange rate that your bank or credit card company will apply to the transaction.

Like this? Share it on Pinterest!Tips to save money on currency exchange|should you use credit cards to change money|how to change money while traveling

28581550060_131210d7e7_mLarissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

After 5 years of full-time travel, it was time for a suitcase upgrade. After an exhaustive search with specific criteria, we both chose the same model (which is a first!). Following is our Travelpro Maxlite Spinner review.

Because we are permanent nomads, reliable suitcases are a requirement for us. Continuous transit from place to place warrants luggage that is both durable and easy to maneuver. For the past five years we’ve each traveled with a 2-wheeled 22-inch suitcase. They’ve been great, and are still perfectly functional, but pulling  them along was starting to wear on our middle-aged shoulders.

Michael’s old suitcase was a Travelpro, so upgrading to the same brand was a logical transition for him. I had been using a suitcase by Eagle Creek, and wanted to look at this brand as well as a few others before making a final decision. But, regardless of brand, we went through a pretty thorough analysis before making a decision. After all, suitcases are a vital component of our lifestyle.

Travelpro Maxlite Spinner review: 

The logical choice of suitcase style was 4-wheeled suitcases, also known as “spinners.” Spinners allow you glide the bags along on all four wheels, requiring less effort than the “tilt and pull” motion used with 2-wheeled models. Although spinners have been around for some time, when we last purchased luggage five years ago they were new and still not sturdy. Back then the specialty luggage shops we consulted didn’t recommend spinners for frequent travelers.

The technology has advanced quite a bit in the past few years, so we had plenty of spinner options this time around. But we still wanted the durability and features of our tried-and-true 2-wheelers. Regardless of brand, we knew there were several must-have features, so we created a list of specific criteria for our new suitcases:

  • 21-or 22-inch size: We wanted something small enough to fit into overhead bins on most aircraft, yet large enough to handle the rigors of the baggage carousel if we checked our bags.
  • Ultra lightweight: Even wheeled suitcases have to be lifted now and then. There’s no sense starting with a heavy suitcase, then adding more weight to it upon packing.
  • A sheltered wheel well: Many spinner suitcases have wheels attached directly to the bottom of the suitcase “box.” This works fine, however it makes the height of the bag taller, sacrificing storage space, since the body of the suitcase is elevated a few inches off the ground. Dimensions are critical for carry-ons, where every millimeter counts; you don’t want empty wheel clearance counting toward your space requirements. Well-designed spinners have the wheels counter-sunk into the main body of the case, making them lower to the ground. It keeps the outer dimensions smaller while preserving interior storage space, and also provides some protection to the wheels.

TravelPro Maxlite Spinner, counter-sunk wheels, Changes in LongitudeThis bag has more storage space than other suitcases of similar exterior dimension, thanks to counter-sinking the wheels into the body of the bag. 

  • “Convertible” wheels: Spinners glide easily along flat surfaces, but on bumpy surfaces (like cobblestoned streets) it’s still necessary to pull them along like two-wheeled suitcases. Rickety spinners don’t make this transition well and the result is dragging a reluctant suitcase that behaves like a rusty shopping cart, with wheels twisting awkwardly. Well-crafted spinners swivel into 2-wheeled mode with ease.

Well-designed spinners make a smooth transition from 4-wheel to 2-wheel mode, for traveling on bumpy surfaces.

  • Outside front pocket: This comes in handy for stowing items we want easy access to when passing through security, such as liquids or a tablet computer.
  • Soft-sided, with sturdy rip-stop fabric: Soft-sided luggage has a bit more “give” than hard-shell cases, which allows us to squeeze in that extra shirt or (in Michael’s case) dress. Hard-shell cases also don’t come with outside pockets (see above). Rip-stop fabric resists accidental tears and stains. If it does get torn or punctured, rip-stop will prevent the tear from blooming into a huge slash across your suitcase.
  • Large open interior compartment: We’ve learned from experience that this provides the greatest packing versatility, allowing us to fit more inside than bags divided into multiple “organizer” compartments.
  • Deep suitcase with a shallow lid: We find it easier to pack more into a deeper suitcase box. This configuration is also best suited to hotel luggage racks, where you can place the open suitcase with the lid up against the wall. “Half and half” suitcases, which basically split in the middle when opened, don’t work on a luggage rack. They must be splayed out on the floor, taking up valuable hotel room real estate.

Travelpro Maxlite Spinner Review interiorA large, open interior with a shallow interior lid pocket is the packing configuration we find the most versatile and efficient.

  • Durable telescoping handle, with dual posts: Telescoping handles have multiple stop points, making them sturdier than the slender tube handle with a single stop point found on cheap suitcases. Adjusting the handle height can also make the bag more easy to maneuver when switching from 2- to 4-wheeled mode. We don’t like bags that have a single-post handle, even if it does telescope  (surprisingly a feature on several good brands). It’s difficult to secure a carry-on bag with a trolley strap to a single-post handle; the carry-on ends up flopping around to the back of the suitcase, which is a tripping hazard and a general nuisance. (For more about the trolley sleeve, see our post about The Perfect Wheeling Tote Bag.)
  • Inside lid pocket that opens on the long side of the case: Although we don’t like interior organizers, a single pocket along the shallow lid does come in handy for separating dirty clothes, lingerie, or toiletries. The zipper of the pocket should run along the long outside spine of the suitcase–meaning access to the pocket will be at the top when the open suitcase is sitting on a luggage rack with the top leaning against the wall. We’re amazed at the number of manufacturers who put the zipper either at the top end near the handle, or on the inside spine, either of which makes whatever is housed inside slither out upon unzipping the pocket. We also avoid pockets where the zipper splits it into two separate pockets.

TravelPro Maxlite Spinner, interior pocket opening, Changes in LongitudeAn interior lid pocket that opens along the outer spine provides easy access to contents when the bag is sitting on a luggage rack. Pockets that open at the end or the inner spine cause clothes to slip out when the pockets are unzipped.

  • Moderately priced: We set a budget of $250 per suitcase. We believe in paying for quality, but we weren’t interested in getting anything too expensive or flashy. Cheap bags typically do not stand up to the rigors of travel; the zippers split, fabric is prone to tearing, and the wheels wobble or fall off. Designer brands scream “this is an expensive suitcase, and there are valuable items inside,” a beacon to thieves in airports and train stations. We’d rather be a little less obvious and slip under would-be crooks’ radar. (Plus our underwear and socks aren’t that valuable anyway.)

The winner: Travelpro Maxlite 21″ Spinner

As we reviewed our criteria, the Travelpro Maxlite 21-inch spinner kept coming out on top. We love the super-light weight (less than 6 pounds!) and easy maneuverability. And the clever counter-sunk wheels give the bag more interior storage than other bags of similar overall dimensions. As an added bonus, the bag has an expansion panel in front if we choose to really go hog-wild and pack a down parka or something.

Michael got his first; he liked the fact that it was slightly smaller than our old 22-inch 2-wheelers. I wasn’t quite sold: I have a pretty limited wardrobe as it is, and I wasn’t keen on eliminating any clothing items. I was worried that all my clothes (well okay, my shoes) wouldn’t fit into the reduced dimensions. I used Michael’s new bag for my wardrobe packing test. To my surprise and delight, I was able to pack everything from my old suitcase into this new, slightly smaller bag . . . and I didn’t even need to use the expansion panel. We had a winner!

Travelpro Maxlite 21 inch spinner reviewOur “his-n-hers” TravelPro 21″ Maxlite Spinners, don’t they make a cute couple? (Michael’s is “he-man” black, I opted for a more feminine blue.)

The bag has an MSRP of $280, but I purchased it on Amazon for about $120–well within my budget. They come in a few different colors, so we didn’t have to get the exact same bag (which makes things easier when packing).

After 4 months of traveling with these bags through Europe we can report they’re performing well. They’ve fit into overhead bins, and handled being chucked in the luggage hold with no problems. Wheeling them through airports and train stations has been a dream–and a welcome relief to our aging shoulders! We’re looking forward to several years–and many more interesting destinations–with these suitcases.

If you like what you’ve read, click the following link to purchase the Travelpro Maxlite on Amazon.

 

Like it? Share it on Pinterest!As full-time nomads we need rock-solid luggage. This TravelPro bag was a winner for several reasons--read our field-tested review|Best spinner luggage|spinner suitcase review|TravelPro luggage spinners|TravelPro Maxlite luggage|luggage review

28581550060_131210d7e7_mLarissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

Since we travel full-time, we’re always looking for creative lodging options. Staying in far-flung destinations around the world—particularly for a week or more—can get expensive. A few years ago we discovered house sitting, a solution that enabled us to visit exotic (or just plain expensive) destinations affordably.

What is house sitting?

House sitting jobs typically entail watching someone’s home while they’re away, in exchange for free lodging. In our experience, most assignments involve some degree of in home pet sitting; we’ve also taken care of plants for a homeowner. We’ve found house sitting to be a valuable way to visit a new locale, while also living like a local. There’s nothing like walking Fido around the block to feel like you’re part of the neighborhood!

But other than hearing about such an opportunity via word-of-mouth through friends, how do you find available house sitting jobs, or find someone to watch your home and pets while you travel?

best house sitting websites, long term house sitting jobs

We’ve discovered a site called Nomador that connects folks like us who are interested in house sitting jobs with those seeking someone to watch their home while they’re away. One of the aspects we like about Nomador is its sense of community; rather than simply being a generic site that offers a list of houses, the company adheres to a set of standards that includes trusting others, a sense of commitment, generosity of spirit, sharing, curiosity of other cultures, open-mindedness and global awareness.

Nomador’s values mirror our own; embracing new experiences is the primary driver for our travels. The company itself started in 2014 in Sydney; house sitting in Australia is a popular lodging option. The Nomador community has expanded rapidly since then to include more than 85,000 members worldwide today.

Nomador is protective of its community, and charges a small fee to allow access to its full complement of registered house sitters and house sitting job opportunities. However, they also offer a free “Discovery Option,” which allows you to apply for up to 3 house sitting offers. This is a great way to dabble on the site to see if house sitting might be for you.

The site is also helpful for homeowners who seek the freedom to travel with the confidence that their home, pet, or garden is properly looked after. They can list their home using the free option, or by using the paid option they they can contact potential house-sitters directly. Nomador also allows potential house sitters to have their profile listed in a directory for homeowners to browse when they seek a house sitter.

House sitters wanted: finding short- or long-term house sitting jobs

The Nomador site is a breeze to use; it’s well laid out and explains the benefits of house sitting while offering clear tips to start the process. While anyone can browse the house sitting jobs on offer, you must set up an account to make enquiries. For security, the site requires an approved form of ID to protect everyone in the system, ensuring that they are who they say they are. Michael found it was very easy to set up. He uploaded a copy of his driver’s license, and in less than an hour his ID was approved and he had created his profile and was exploring house sitting opportunities.

Since many of the opportunities involve in home pet sitting, the house sitter profile includes a listing of the types of animals you are willing to watch: dogs, cats, horses, birds, rodents, fish, reptiles, farm animals, and exotic pets. We chose dogs, cats, fish, and farm animals. (Yes, we’ve watched chickens, goats and even a motherless calf in the past! Well, that’s really more Larissa’s gig.) You can also select which region of the world you are interested in, dates you are available, and whether or not you’d take care of a garden.

House sitting Melbourne, House sitting Sydney

In home pet sitting (well, technically it’s outside the house!)

As long-time travel buffs, we were like kids in a candy store when we reviewed the available listings. Want to spend two weeks in the Bordeaux region of France? Yep, you can find house sitting opportunities aplenty. How about house sitting in Melbourne, Australia? You’ll be saying “g’day mate!” in no time. Interested in the Pacific Northwest region of the US? Nomador’s got it covered. In fact, the opportunities looked like a wish list of where we wanted to visit next.

The listings we liked best included a detailed description from the homeowner of their residence; opportunities range from simple apartments to luxury house sitting. Homeowners also list the responsibilities expected of the house sitter, along with nearby amenities. The website offers a detailed search function if you know the specifics of what you’re seeking. We like selecting a geographic area, and then scanning what’s available.

Nomador provides handy icons with each listing (like little cartoon kitties or plants), so you can perform a quick scan to see what might be a good fit. Some listings are only available to subscribers, so after your initial review you may be ready to make that commitment. (Nomador offers two paid subscription options: $35 for 3 months, or $89 for one year.)

The responsibilities usually involved caring for pets, so the homeowner provides details about their critters. They usually describe the pets’ personality, which is always helpful, along with photos and a list of daily tasks that are required. This is a good time to figure out what type time of commitment you want to make. Some pets are basically house pets and don’t go out much, while one listing required taking the dogs for a two-hour romp in the park every afternoon. Whatever the requirement, make sure you are up for it. We look at the dog walking as a good time for us to get some exercise ourselves.

House sitters wanted, best house sitting websites

Once you’ve found a listing (or two or three) that’s of interest, the next step is to contact the homeowner through the Nomador website. After you make an offer that’s accepted, you then sort out the details of travel, and any specifics regarding the house sit directly with the homeowner.

People often ask us how we choose destinations when we travel. Sometimes it’s as simple as finding a house sitting job that works with our schedule in an area that intrigues us. That’s how we ended up tending that calf (plus some chickens) in Australia, and watering a prize-winning gardenia in Savannah, Georgia. We don’t house sit everywhere we go, but with the wide array of destinations where house sitters are wanted available on the Nomador website, it’s always an option we consider.

Thanks to Nomador for underwriting this post. As always, our opinions are our own.

 

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Larissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

Every year readers ask our suggestions for gifts for travel lovers. Whether it’s luggage, gadgets, clothing items, or even nifty travel-themed doodads to have at home, we travelers have our favorites. When compiling a list of Christmas and holiday gifts for travelers, we like to include things we’d like (or already use) ourselves. So whether you’re looking for travel gift ideas for him, travel gift ideas for her–or just want some inspiration for yourself–read on for our 2017 suggestions.

Note: If you’re interested in a gift that you see suggested here, please consider using the links we’ve provided below. We participate in the Amazon Affiliates program, where we make a small commission from these sales, at no extra cost to you. It’s one of the ways we keep things humming here at Changes In Longitude, while providing free travel advice to our readers. Thanks!

Travel Gifts for Men

1. Portable Hair/Beard Trimmer

gifts for travel lovers 2017No one wants to look like a shaggy dog while traveling (or if they do, I can guarantee their wives aren’t happy about it). To stay groomed while on the road, Michael likes a cordless trimmer that can handle the intricacies of his beard, yet is robust enough to cut his hair. The internal adjustable settings means minimal extra attachments, making this a compact, lightweight multi-tasker. Available through Amazon: Travel Hair & Beard Trimmer.

2. Toiletry Kit/Organizer Gifts for travel lovers 2017

Michael’s been using this kit from Eagle Creek for many years. It’s got lots of pockets to keep his odds and ends organized, yet still manages to roll up compactly for easy packing. The attached hook is handy for hanging in a hotel bathroom or closet, putting all the pockets within easy reach. Eagle Creek products wear like iron; no fraying or tearing or stuck zippers. Purchase here on Amazon: Eagle Creek Slim Toiletry Kit.

3. Silk Thermals Base Layer Shirt

2017 Gifts for travel loversPacking for every weather eventuality can be a challenge if you don’t want to bulk up your suitcase. We’ve found the perfect solution to be a silk base layer shirt. They add a cosy layer beneath your clothes, but are ultra lightweight (both in your suitcase and on your person), take up almost no room in the suitcase, and dry quickly if you need to hand wash in the hotel sink. We wouldn’t travel without one. Available on Amazon: Silk Thermals.

4. The Roadster Guide to America’s Classic Car Museums

2017 Gifts for travel lovers | Guide to classic car MuseumsIf someone on your gift list loves cars, or road trips (or both), this is the perfect gift. Written by Michael (yes, the husband in this blog’s traveling duo), it covers over 250 museums and quirky attractions all related to cars. It’s really good, but don’t just take my word for it; the book has received rave reviews in Hemmings Motor News, Hagerty, ClassicCars.com, The Detroit Free Press and The Philadelphia Inquirer! It’s available on Amazon: Roadster Guide to America’s Classic Car Museums.

 

 

Travel Gifts for Her

4. Pashmina Scarf

Gifts for travel loversThis is probably my most useful–and versatile–travel accessory. It’s handy around the neck on chilly days, used as a fashionable wrap over a dress in the evenings, and is a cozy blanket or neck pillow on a long flight. After a few attempts at cheaper versions, I now won’t settle for anything but those made of a silk and cashmere blend. This combination produces a scarf that’s soft, warm, ultra lightweight, and resists snags and pulls. They come in a variety of colors to accent any travel wardrobe and are indispensable. Purchase it on Amazon: Pashmina scarf.

5. My Favorite Wheeled Tote

2017 Gifts for travel lovers | rolling tote for teachersTwo years after purchasing the Delsey Wheeled Tote, I still swear by it. It is the perfect carry-on. It manages to fit my computer, toiletries and lots of other goodies while still fitting under an airplane seat. After flying over 50,000 miles it’s still sturdy, and has saved my aching shoulders as I whiz through airports. As a bonus, these totes are also great rolling bags for teachers; I also use it when teaching at Drexel University. It’s a handy way to get across campus with my laptop and assorted books and papers. I bought my Delsey wheeled tote on Amazon. (Note: you can also read my full review of it here.)

6. Multi-Tasking Skin Lotion

We gals love our creams and lotions, but that can be a challenge when we’re trying to pack light. Fortunately, I’ve found one that’s multi-tasking: Everyday Coconut Replenishing Eye Cream by Alaffia. Don’t be put off by the name, this lightweight cream works well as a facial moisturizer under makeup, and is a wonderful night cream as well (I just apply a bit extra). It’s reasonably priced, jam-packed with natural ingredients, and sales go toward promoting female empowerment in Africa. All good stuff. Plus, it comes in a 3-ounce tube, which is just perfect for carrying on board your flight (and will multi-task for 3-4 weeks of travel). I love this stuff. Purchase it here on Amazon: Alaffia Replenishing Eye Cream.

7. Travel Make-up Kit

Space-saving is the name of the game when packing. One way to minimize bulk in your toiletry kit is to have all your makeup in one handy package. I love these compact kits, but they’re difficult to find in stores. Fortunately you can find them online; my fave is Lancome’s Absolu Au Naturel kit, which includes whatever I need in one slim, light case.  The tones are subtle, so I know they’ll match whatever I wear, including mascara (a rarity in these types of kits). Available on Amazon: Lancome Absolu Au Naturel Makeup Palette.

Unique Travel Gifts

7. Decorative Globe with Pins

We travelers love to reflect on our past journeys while we plan our next adventure. One way to keep the inspiration going is with a globe that helps you keep track. Our current fave is this metal globe with magnetic pins. We can color-code places we’ve been, want to go, etc. Just perfect for fueling wanderlust! Purchase on Amazon: Metal Globe with Magnetic Pins.

 

8. World Travel Map with Pins

If wall art is more your style, we recommend this framed World Travel Map. It’s mounted on foamboard, and comes with a set of colored pins for tracking your travels (and wannabe journeys), just like the globe listed above. We’ve spent many hours gazing at these maps to plan our next adventure. A perfect gift for home or office. Available on Amazon: Framed World Map with Pins.

 

9. A Shower in Paradise 

2017 Gifts for travel loversThere’s nothing like a nice hot shower for a quick imaginary getaway. Shower curtains can be whimsical and fun, but we particularly like this Curtain to Paradise: the gorgeous deserted beach scene framed through the image of a sliding glass door. It’s so realistic it’s easy to imagine you’re just a few steps from a dip in tropical waters. Purchase here on Amazon: Travel Inspiration Shower Curtain.

Old Stand-bys, Always in Style

10. Sturdy, Reliable 4-Wheeled Suitcases

2017 Gifts for travel loversSince we virtually live out of our suitcases, we’re very particular about our luggage. After going through an extensive evaluation last year, we both upgraded our luggage to the Travelpro Maxlite Spinner. It’s reasonably priced, light, super-sturdy, and has lots of nifty features, like an expandable pocket. (Check here for my full review of this luggage.) We use the 21″ size, but Travelpro makes 25″ and 29″ models if you are looking for something larger (or a whole set). If someone on your gift list is looking for new luggage, you can’t go wrong with this suitcase. We heartily recommend it. Purchase it here on Amazon: Travelpro Maxlite Spinner Suitcase.

11. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite e-Reader 2017 Gifts for travel lovers

Michael the Luddite resisted this one mightily, but now he’s glad he’s joined the 21st century. Instead of of carrying reams of books, he just loads them onto his Kindle. He recently upgraded to the Paperwhite model; the built in light is a boon to aging eyes (as is the non-glare surface). An added bonus is the ability to get books online anywhere in the world. (Note: we recommend buying the version without “special promotions.” Those are advertisements that pop up as you’re reading your book. We think it’s worth the extra few dollars not to have that distraction.) Available exclusively through Amazon: Kindle Paperwhite e-Reader.

Last, but not least

12. The Amazon Gift Card

If you’re still stumped about the perfect gifts for travelers on your list, consider an Amazon Gift Card. They’re always the right size, available in any dollar amount, and will give the recipient plenty of options for travel inspiration. You can purchase them here:

 

Amazon Boxed Gift Card (a physical card to be given in person or mailed)

Amazon e-Gift Card (delivered via email: perfect for last-minute gifts!)

Bonus Pick: The Perfect Travel Tip

The best trip–whether it’s around the world or around the corner–is the next one you take. Just go already!  And best wishes for happy travels in 2018. 😊 🌍

Something on this list you’d like yourself? Share it . . . Pin it!

gifts for travel lovers

If you’re looking for where to stay in Stockholm, particularly for a Stockholm Arlanda Airport hotel, consider Jumbo Stay Arlanda. It’s one of the coolest places we’ve stayed in our travels. The Jumbo Stay Arlanda is a Stockholm hostel parked at the edge of the Airport. But this isn’t just any hostel, it’s built into a retro-fitted 747 which was in service between 1976 and 2004. For airplane geeks this is the ultimate lodging.

JumboStay 747 hostel Stockholm

Jumbo Stay Arlanda: the ultimate hotel for plane geeks!

Boeing recently announced that in the not too distant future they may stop production of the 747. The iconic, humped airliner was the first of the Jumbo Jets and revolutionized air travel since PanAm first started flying them in 1970. For those who are fans of this airplane, the current crop of them will fly on for years. But with the Jumbo Stay hotel you have the opportunity to sleep on a 747, and not just in an uncomfortable coach seat while flying a red-eye over the ocean.

Where to Stay in Stockholm|Jumbo Stay Arlanda

Fly boy? Or just a plane geek?

Stockholm: Where to Stay

For travelers seeking a Stockholm Arlanda Airport hotel, the 747 is a marvelous sight. When you stand right below it you realize how enormous these flying machines really are. Guests take the elevator up to the former main passenger deck to check-in. The passenger seating area is now a long corridor with rooms on either side.

Jumbo Stay Arlanda airport hotel

You too can sleep in an engine cowling (or just walk on the wing) at the Jumbo Stay Arlanda.

More Than Just a Stockholm Hostel

Most of the rooms are simple, resembling cabins on a cruise ship with upper and lower berths, and shared bathrooms. For the full Stockholm hostel experience, a few rooms (four, to be exact) are actually contained in the former engine cowlings, resembling sleeping in a gypsy caravan. However, there are two separate “suites” for those who wish to have a private toilet and shower while staying at the Jumbo Stay Arlanda.

Jumbo Stay Arlanda cockpit suite

The Cockpit Suite, watch those controls!

The much-coveted cockpit suite is located, of course, in the former cockpit. It includes what used to be the first-class lounge. That was booked so we ended up in the “Black-Box Suite” in the rear of the plane. Yes, it’s where the infamous black box used to be located, a bit eerie, but we soon overcame that upon peeking out the window at airplanes soaring by.

Jumbo Stay Arlanda Stockholm Hostel room

The Black Box Suite

As a special treat the port wing is open for a stroll and some plane-spotting on the nearby runway. There are even a few tables to eat the breakfast that is provided. A shuttle runs regularly to the airport terminal, which is only five minutes away. We used the shuttle in the evening to have dinner at one of the airport restaurants overlooking the busy runway. They are conveniently located before security, so anyone can eat there, not just someone with a flight ticket.

Where to stay in Stockholm|Jumbo Stay Arlanda Airport

Enjoy breakfast, or just hang out, in the nose of the plane

Our Favorite Arlanda Airport Hotel

So if you’re seeking a Stockholm Arlanda Airport hotel (or if you’re just a plane geek), consider the Jumbo Stay Arlanda for a unique travel experience. It’s hard to imagine now, but at some point the groundbreaking 747 will be a vestige of another age, perhaps it already is.

How to book:

Check rates and availability at Jumbo Stay Arlanda.

Prefer a more conventional airport hotel? Check Arlanda Airport Hotels here.

Looking for something in central Stockholm? Check Stockholm Hotels here.

Note: If you’re interesting in staying at Jumbo Stay Arlanda, or somewhere else in Stockholm, please consider booking through one of our links above. We make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Just one of the ways we can keep things humming here at Changes in Longitude while offering valuable travel advice free to our readers 😊.

We paid for our stay. Opinions are our own. 

 

Larissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

We have spent more than 5 months in Bucharest during multiple visits in the past two years and love the city. Read on for our recommendations for the best hotels in Bucharest, Romania (plus apartments) in all price ranges. If you’re planning a trip, where to stay in Bucharest will depend on how long you’re planning to visit and which Bucharest attractions you’d like to see. Keep and eye out for Field-Tested Travel Tips sprinkled throughout–these are our personal recommendations based on our travels in Bucharest.

Hotels in Bucharest Romania|City hotel Bucharest|Capitol Hotel Bucharest

Where to Stay in Bucharest: Best Neighborhoods

Already know the area where you want to stay? Use these links for quick access to reviews of Bucharest hotels in each neighborhood:

  1. Bucharest Old Town Hotels & Apartments
  2. The Cultural District (along Calea Victorei)
  3. Palace of the Parliament Area
  4. Piata Universitatii-East (Including the Jewish Quarter)
  5. Dorobanti/Primavera Neighborhoods
  6. Bucharest Airport Hotels (Baneasa/Otopeni neighborhoods)

Before you choose your Bucharest accommodation, it’s important to understand the way the city is laid out. Many hotels and apartments will describe themselves in a particular sector. The 6 sectors are shaped sort of like wedges of a pie radiating outward. Old Town is at the point  all the sectors meet in the center (see below). The sectors extend to a ring road on the outskirts of the city.

Map illustrating the geographic sectors in Bucharest, overlaid with neighborhoods. (Map designed by Bogdan Giuşcă in XaraX, used by Creative Commons; it was enhanced with landmarks/neighborhoods by me ☺️)

These sectors are great for giving you an idea of whether you’re north/south/east/west of the city center. But they’re not particularly helpful when choosing your accommodation. Bucharest is a big city; you might select a hotel in the same sector as the sights you want to see. Then upon arrival you to discover you’re staying out near the ring road several kilometers away. Oops.

Rather than use the city Sectors, we’ve used Bucharest attractions as a guide and grouped lodging around popular landmarks. This will help you determine which are the best hotels in Bucharest for those sights and activities of interest to you.

The center point from where the Sectors radiate is very near to Old Town. Most of the Bucharest attractions of interest to visitors will be north of this.

Accommodation in Bucharest: Excellent value

No matter what your budget or preference in accommodation, Bucharest has plenty of options. Bucharest accommodation runs the gamut from 5-star luxury, to cheap hotels, to apartments. Romania is a good value for travelers from Western Europe and North America. You can “upgrade” your lodging standards while here.

Even if you don’t normally opt for a luxury hotel, Bucharest is the place to consider a splurge without busting your budget. With some advance planning, you can find a major 5-star hotel in Bucharest for under $200 per night. That’s virtually unheard-of in most European capitals. If your tastes run more toward a boutique hotel, Bucharest has plenty to offer in in that category.

For more budget-minded travelers, there are an abundance of midrange and cheap hotels in Bucharest city centre. Even if your lodging preference is for a hostel, Bucharest has them, but we suggest considering a hotel or studio apartment. It’s easy to find a simple hotel with a private bath for what you might pay for a hostel in other European cities.

Bucharest apartments for travelers are plentiful, and available throughout the city. They are a great alternative if you’re planning to stay for a week or more, or if you’re looking for a family option.

A note about pricing: whether searching for an apartment or hotel, central Bucharest offers an excellent value. That said, prices can fluctuate based on availability. For the purposes of this guide we have used US dollars and grouped accommodations into four general categories:

  • $$$$:  $150 and higher
  • $$$:    $100-150
  • $$       $  60-100
  • $          under $60

All price categories are based on double occupancy and include a private bath, unless noted otherwise.

 Best Hotels in Bucharest: Old Town

Best for: Sidewalk cafes, Bars, Nightlife

Old Town is very near the geographic center of Bucharest. It’s a cluster of narrow, mostly cobblestoned streets open only to pedestrians. The neighborhood has a few beautiful old churches and the remains of a medieval estate. But the majority of the streets are lined with restaurants, bars and cafes that are wedged in side by side, with seats spilling onto the street. It’s arguably the core of Bucharest nightlife. If you love being in the center of the action, this is the spot for you.

Hotels in Bucharest Old Town are tucked in amidst all of this. Keep in mind that you might have to walk a few cobblestoned blocks to reach the entrance of your lodging.

The Mansion Boutique Hotel: $$$-$$$$ Chic & Swanky

Mansion Boutique Hotel Bucharest|Best hotels in Bucharest Romania

Repurposed from an elegant 19th century home, the Mansion Boutique Hotel is one of the newest additions to bustling Old Town. A cleverly designed atrium brightens up the interior, and all of the 19 rooms in this 100% smoke-free property are uniquely decorated. Field-Tested Travel Tip: rooms at the back, facing the atrium, are quieter. Check prices and availability on Booking.com.

Europa Royale Bucharest: $$$ Traditional & Central

Best hotels in Bucharest Romania| Europa Royale Hotel Bucharest

The Europa Royale is a classic European hotel, 100% smoke-free with 92 updated traditional rooms at the southern edge of Old Town (which means taxis can get you close to the front door). Outward-facing rooms on the upper floors have sweeping views over nearby Unirii Square park; request an atrium room facing the interior garden for a quieter stay. Check prices and availability on Booking.com.

Tania-Frankfurt Hotel: $$ Comfort & Value

Best hotels in Bucharest Romania|Tania-Frankfurt Hotel

This small (17-room) hotel is perched on a pedestrian corner right in the thick of Old Town. Rooms are comfortably furnished, with a few singles offering excellent value for solo travelers; 100% smoke-free interior. Breakfast is included in the room rate. Field-Tested Travel Tip: Check out the 3rd-floor outdoor lounge, where you can watch all the Old Town bustle from high above. Check prices and availability on Booking.com.

Apartments in Bucharest Old Town

CityLife Suite: $$$$ (Sleeps 6)

This Bucharest Apartment at the edge of the Old Town boasts 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms, making it an excellent option for a family or several couples traveling together. It has a central living area, along with modern kitchen and big dining table. Field-Tested Travel Tip: a large Carrefour supermarket is about 2 blocks away. Check prices and availability on Booking.com.

Antic Apartments: $-$$

Best hotels Bucharest Romania

These 10 newly renovated (2017) apartments occupy the 4th-6th floor of a building right in the center of Old Town. Sizes range from studios with basic kitchenette facilities to 1- & 2-bedroom apartments. They are furnished in a simple, comfortable style, with modern bathrooms. Field-Tested Travel Tip: check out Carturesti bookstore around the corner, which is in a beautifully renovated old theatre building. Check prices and availability on Booking.com.

Best Hotels in Bucharest: Cultural District

Best for: Art Museums, Concerts, Revolution Square

Many of Bucharest’s cultural museums, concert venues and beautiful Belle Epoque buildings are located in this neighborhood. Calea Victorei, one of the city’s main north/south streets, is the common thread that unites them all. This area is slightly north of Old Town, and houses the majority of 5-star hotels in Bucharest (although there are some moderate options as well.) If you choose this area for your city hotel, Bucharest and most of its main attractions will be within walking distance. Stay in this area if you like the sophisticated ambiance of a European capital.

A centerpiece of the neighborhood is the Athanaeum, a magnificent old concert hall that is one of the prettiest buildings in Europe. Field Tested Travel Tip: attend a performance at the Athanaeum to experience this magnificent building as it was intended. With its pocket park and nearby genteel sidewalk cafes, this is the area that earned Bucharest the nickname “Little Paris.”

Field-Tested Travel Tip: Check multiple dates around your intended travel time. Hotels here offer excellent deals on non-busy dates. A recent search yielded prices as low as ~$135/night for 5 star hotels. Bucharest is truly a rarity for affordable luxury hotels in a European capital.

Athenee Palace Hilton Bucharest: $$$-$$$$ Grand & Traditional

Best hotels Bucharest Romania

Cited by many as the Grande Dame of Bucharest hotels, the Athenee Palace Hilton occupies pride of place adjacent to the Athenaeum. It has been welcoming guests since 1914. Despite an exterior renovation in the 1930s to give it a more updated Art Deco look, the interior retains its Belle Epoque elegance. There are 272 rooms (some in a more modern wing), and all the amenities you’d expect from a 5-star hotel. Field-Tested Travel Tip: Try French Revolution pastry shop just up the street. They specialize in eclairs in a variety of flavors that are tres magnifique! Check hotel prices and availability on Booking.com.

Radisson Blu Bucharest: $$$-$$$$ Sleek & Contemporary

Best Hotels in Bucharest Romania|Radisson Blu Bucharest

The Radisson Bucharest is a large (487 rooms) hotel. It’s Bucharest’s “Rich Playboy Nephew” when compared to the historic Hilton across the street. The atrium lobby bar/cafe, with its cool under-floor water feature, is often abuzz with activity and looks out onto the swanky pool area. The adjacent casino is a magnet for young bucks looking to strut their stuff. Field-Tested Travel Tip™: Caffé Cittá, the restaurant just off the lobby, serves up some of the best pizza in Bucharest (our fave is the Pizza Cittá, with prosciutto and arugula). Check hotel prices and availability on Booking.com.

Grand Hotel Continental: $$$-$$$$ Regal & Understated

Everything about the Grand Hotel Continental Bucharest oozes Old World elegance. The Belle Epoque architecture, stately entrance courtyard and gilded furnishings are reminiscent of 19th-century Paris or Vienna. With only 59 rooms, guests have the feeling they are staying at the country chateau of a rich relative, rather than a hotel. An excellent option if you like luxury in a calm, understated atmosphere. Check prices and availability on Booking.com.

Mercure Bucharest City Center: $$-$$$ Edgy & Subtle

Best Hotels in Bucharest Romania|Mercure City Centre Bucharest

The 114 rooms at the Mercure Bucharest City Center are decorated in a modern, edgy style with nice amenities and great rainfall showers. This 100% smoke free hotel is a great choice for someone who wants a central location, but on a quiet side street, about 1 block from the Athenaeum. Field-Tested Travel Tip: check out m60, one of our fave Bucharest cafes, just around the corner. Check hotel prices and availability on Booking.com.

Hotel Capitol: $$ Traditional & Comfortable

Hotels in Bucharest Romania|City hotel Bucharest|Capitol Hotel Bucharest

The Hotel Capitol Bucharest is a pleasant 3-star hotel in a wonderful old building that is an excellent value. Located right on Calea Victorei midway between the cultural attractions and Old Town, the Capitol Hotel is a super convenient. The hotel’s 80 rooms were renovated in 2014 and are comfortably furnished. Field-Tested Travel Tip: the hotel restaurant serves an all-you-can-eat buffet lunch on weekdays. Each day features a different cuisine from Eastern & Central Europe, along with live music. The quality is excellent, and at €5.50, it’s one of the best values in town. Check hotel prices and availability on Booking.com.

Hotel Amzei: $$ Boutique & Discreet

Housed in a former early 20th-century residence, the Amzei Hotel has the feel of a country house hotel tucked into central Bucharest. The 22 rooms are elegant without being stuffy, and the public rooms off the simple reception area are a nice spot to rest and read up on the nearby sights. The location is a pocket residential area and fairly quiet. Field-Tested Travel Tip: an excellent bakery with a simple walk-up window is just outside the hotel entrance. Be sure to try the polonez cu nuca, a pretzel-shaped walnut danish that’s the best we’ve ever tasted. Check hotel prices and availability on Booking.com.

Bucharest Apartments, Cultural District 

Coming Soon!

Best Hotels in Bucharest: Parliament Area

Best for: Visiting Palace of the Parliament, Attending Conferences

Palace of the Parliament Bucharest|Best hotels Bucharest Romania

Palace of the Parliament is hard to miss. The massive structure dominates the neighborhood southeast of Old Town. Despite its name, only part of the building is used for government purposes. The complex also houses a contemporary art museum and a large exposition hall for conventions. With huge surrounding grounds, there’s not much of a conventional “neighborhood,” and lodging choices are limited. However, if you have business with the government, or are attending a conference here, this is the best area to stay.

JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel: $$$-$$$$ Stately & Palatial

Best hotels in Bucharest Romania

With 402 rooms, several restaurants, a pool, spa, casino and shopping arcade of exclusive boutiques the 100% smoke-free JW Marriott Bucharest is practically a resort! Its location directly behind the Parliament complex makes it convenient for conferences there. Field Tested Travel Tip: this hotel is a bit of a walk to Old Town & the Cultural District, so plan to use taxis (which are plentiful and cheap in Bucharest). Check prices and availability on Booking.com.

Best Hotels in Bucharest: Piata Universitatii-East

Best for: Proximity to Sights, Local Neighborhoods

Best hotels Bucharest Romania

Piata Universitatii is the main traffic circle north of Old Town with a metro stop on the main north/south line. It is one of the busiest intersections in Bucharest (so busy that pedestrians must use an underground passageway). Hotels east of the Piata are also walking distance to Old Town and the Cultural District, but a bit farther away. This added distance provides some quiet neighborhoods and affordable options. Stay here if you are looking for good value and don’t mind walking a bit.

Hotel Intercontinental Bucharest: $$$$ Classic & Omnipresent

This hotel is hard to miss–at 24 stories high, it’s one of the tallest buildings in central Bucharest. Perched right at the Universitatii intersection, it offers excellent access to most major Bucharest attractions. Despite its wonky 1970s exterior, the interior is hushed and genteel, with rooms befitting this luxury brand. Field-Tested Travel Tip: check out the rooftop health club for spectacular views of the city. Check rates and availability on Booking.com.

Boutique Hotel Monaco: $$ Comfy & Quiet

Best hotels Bucharest Romania|Hotel Boutique Monaco

If you are seeking a city hotel in Bucharest that’s a bit removed from the hustle and bustle, the Boutique Hotel Monaco is a good choice. The hotel is set on a leafy side street across from the Hungarian Embassy, in a renovated Belle-Epoque style building. The mansard roof and the neo-19th-century French decor in the super-comfy rooms will have you feeling like you’re in a Parisian arrondissement. Field Tested Travel Tip: surf the internet al fresco at nearby Gradina Icoanei Park–the city of Bucharest provides free WiFi in all public parks. Check hotel prices and availability on Booking.com.

Flower’s B&B: $ Cozy & Affordable

Best Hotels Bucharest Romania

Flower’s is a traditional B&B in a converted early 20th-century home on a quiet street southeast of Universitatii. Rooms are folksy, clean and comfortable. Breakfast is available in the walled garden in warm weather. Field-tested travel tip: there is ample street parking adjacent to the hotel, making it a good choice for departing/returning from a road trip to the Romanian countryside. Check hotel prices and availability on Booking.com.

Apartments in Universitatii-East

Coming Soon!

Best Hotels in Bucharest: Dorobanti/Primavera

Best for: Parks, Outdoor Museums, Embassies

The neighborhoods of Dorobanti and Primavera are arguably Bucharest’s “gold coast.” Located at the northern end of central Bucharest, the leafy streets are filled with pretty homes and many embassies. Herestrul Park (the city’s largest) is nearby, as are both the Peasant and Village museums. Because of the residential atmosphere, hotels are located on the periphery; there are more options for apartments on the residential streets. Stay here if  you like a quieter location with a bit of greenery.

Sheraton Hotel Bucharest: $$$-$$$$ Classic & Modern

A classic big-city hotel, the Sheraton Hotel Bucharest is a good option if you’re seeking a full compliment of amenities and hotel services with well-known standards. Its location just off the bustling Piata Romana provides easy access to Old Town via the metro. Check rates and availability on Booking.com.

Hotel Christina: $$$ Stylish & Eco-Friendly

A member of the Bucharest boutique hotel scene, Hotel Christina is tucked away on a quiet street north of Piata Romana in an area with chic apartments and private homes. The smoke-free interior boasts some unique design features with clever lighting and eco-friendly materials. Field-Tested Travel Tip: For a taste of local cuisine, try the traditional Romanian communal dinner offered in the hotel restaurant every Monday night. Check hotel rates and availability on Booking.com.

Apartments in Dorobanti/Primavera

Coming Soon!

Best Bucharest Airport Hotels (Baneasa/Otopeni)

Best for: Airport, American Embassy

Bucharest city center is fairly close to its airport. As a result, there aren’t many hotels near Bucharest airport (Henri Coanada International). However, if you have an early flight, there are a few good options. The American Embassy is located on a compound in the Baneasa neighborhood just south of the Airport. If you are doing business with the Embassy, this area might be a good choice for a hotel.

Vienna House Easy Angelo Bucharest: $$$ Contemporary & Convenient

Yes, it’s an unusual name. But that doesn’t take away from from the modern, well-fitted rooms and convenient amenities at this hotel, Bucharest Airport’s nearest lodging. The hotel has conference facilities and is popular for business meetings, so be sure to book ahead if you have an early flight. Check rates and availability on Booking.com.

Best Western Plus Hotel Briston: $$ Classic & Reliable

Traditional airport hotel with comfortable rooms and good service with a smoke-free interior. Check rates and availability on Booking.com.

 

Note: If you found this information useful, please consider booking your hotel through one of the links provided above. We receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps us keep things humming here at Changes in Longitude, while providing valuable travel tips free to our readers 😊.

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Best hotels Bucharest Romania|hotel Bucharest Airport|luxury hotel Bucharest

 

Larissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

London is one of our favorite destinations in the world to visit. One of the reasons is that there are so many hidden sights in London that we’ve never heard of before. But with each visit there’s less and less new, or in London’s case, old, to explore. That’s why I was so intrigued with a new book by David Fathers called London’s Hidden Rivers: A Walker’s Guide to the Subterranean Waterways of London. It’s that last part that intrigued me. Sure, we all know about the strolling along the River Thames through the heart of London, but there are also underground waterways? This was worth checking out.

The book highlights 12 ancient rivers that helped form the city into its current layout. In medieval times these waterways were used for drinking, cleaning, powering industry, and sewage disposal. Due to this latter use, they were not pretty. In fact, as Fathers points out, by the 17th century the water wasn’t even drinkable.

London's hidden Rivers book review

 

As the rivers became literally toxic, they city started to bury them. An 1849 cholera outbreak that cost 49,000 lives also led to the creation of a city water works to provide clean water to Londoners. Over time the buried rivers were largely forgotten, but much of the path of development in the city can be traced to their prior uses. In fact, many of the city’s borough borders were defined by the rivers. These days, that’s more often a road that rides over the covered stream below.

Book Review London's Hidden Rivers Wilkinson Sword Company

The book features 75 miles of walks along 12 of these former rivers. The illustrations that accompany the maps of these walks were also drawn by the multi-talented Fathers. I particularly enjoyed learning about little anecdotes like walking along the track that Sir Roger Bannister used while training to be the first human to run the mile in under four minutes.

London’s Hidden Rivers is a great book for anyone who thinks they know London and is looking for something else to explore. Despite its compact size, it also makes for good reading about the history and development of London.

28581550060_131210d7e7_mLarissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

Note: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites like in the book review above. We earn a very small commission on these sales and it does not affect your price for the item. These commissions are one very small way we can continue this blog and provide readers like you with valuable travel advice for free.

One question that keeps cropping up in our global travels is, “How do you handle language barriers while traveling?” As full-time global nomads, we can’t become fluent in the language of every country we visit, that’s just impossible. We used to feel bad about this but the reality is that, as people whose native language is English we are fortunate, which can also make us a little lazy if we are not careful.

English is now the international language of the world, used as the common ground for individuals from far-flung locations. We’ve witnessed an Italian communicate with a Vietnamese shopkeeper in English, similar with Germans traveling in Romania. However, we still learn some basic expressions to show we are making an effort. It’s incredible how these attempts, in our admittedly terrible local accent, often break down barriers. They certainly draw a smile.

Helpful phrases include: “yes/no,” “please/thank you,” “where is…,” “how much” “I’m sorry, I don’t speak _______ [fill in the blank of the local language],” and “where is the bathroom?” Although pantomime often works with the last one.

Language barriers chinese menu

But there are times it’s handy to have a pocket translator. For this we use the Google Translate tool that we’ve downloaded to Michael’s iPod Touch. (Someday he may get a phone, but until then . . .) The app works offline on both Android and IOS devices—which is especially useful while traveling, when you might not have local cell or WiFi coverage.

The tool is simple: type an English word into the built-in dictionary and get the word in the local language. The reverse is also true. You can also play the word to hear the correct pronunciation, or speak a phrase for translation.

But the feature that blows us away is the photo scanning tool. Hold your phone up to a sign in a foreign language and it will translate it into English, or whatever language you choose.

Translating a sign in Oslo with the Google Translate tool. Photo by Larissa Milne

Here’s the tool in action at a construction site in Oslo. Notice how the app translates the word and even keeps it in the same font. This comes in handy while translating storefront signs, menus, bus and train info, and even road signs.

Using the Google Translate tool—and learning a few core words in the local language—makes communication while traveling a mostly seamless experience.

When we know we’ll be in a particular country long-term, and don’t want to rely on the kindness of strangers speaking English, we use the  _____ in 10 Minutes a Day series of books. We like their feature where you put stickers all over the house to learn what certain objects are. Twenty years after using this book to brush up on Italian, we still know the Italian words for everyday objects.

28581550060_131210d7e7_mLarissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

Our friends tell us, “You’re living the dream.” Well . . . yes and no.

In 2011, when Larissa was 52 and Michael 51, we walked away from our jobs in, respectively, life sciences and commercial real estate. Heartbreaking personal circumstances made our careers, and even our home, seem irrelevant and we needed a major shakeup in our lives.

So we sold our house in the Philadelphia suburbs, gave away our possessions and began crisscrossing the world, following a lifelong dream of becoming travel writers. More than five years later we’re still on the road, global nomads with no permanent address.

For the most part our grand experiment at reinventing our careers and ourselves has worked well. Our travel blog at ChangesInLongitude.com won a Lowell Thomas award, which led to a contract to write Philadelphia Liberty Trail, a new guidebook to the city’s historic district. We also write the “Field-Tested Travel Tips” column for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Along the way we’ve visited all 50 states and 6 continents. Last year Michael’s book, the Roadster Guide to America’s Classic Car Museums was published.

That said, “living the dream”—particularly when you still need to earn  money—has its distinct downsides. We gave up the security of a monthly salary and benefits, we have no home to return to, and we are establishing ourselves in a totally new field: we had really stepped outside our comfort zone. At an age when we should be on a comfortable glide path to retirement, we live in cramped quarters and often report to editors half our age.

We’re not alone. Many Americans in their 50s are at a crossroads due to downsizing, buyouts or general dissatisfaction. If you’re considering personal reinvention, here are some lessons we’ve learned:

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–A dramatic change can lead to dramatic challenges. Taking a chance on completely overhauling your life might sound like a great idea, but the transition may be tougher than you think. Just selling all we owned and dismantling our prior lives took an emotionally charged year. With no prior experience, breaking into the travel writing field was not easy.

Starting our travel blog was a good first step, but that meant working for free and building up a following. Eventually a friend introduced us to the travel editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who was intrigued by our tale of chucking it all and agreed to look at a few stories.

We agonized for hours over the wording of our first spec article, about bucolic Beihai Park in Beijing; we probably made about 50 cents an hour on it. But when we saw our names in print for the first time it was a rush that allowed us to imagine making a go of this new career.

larissa Buenos Aires
–Full-time travel doesn’t mean permanent vacation. At first we spent all our time exploring, eager to soak up a new destination. But that was exhausting; we had no time left to write about our experiences—the very activity that would bring in revenue. We soon realized that jotting a few notes in a café is not the same as writing an article on deadline so we applied the brakes and slowed down.

We now spend several weeks to a month or more at most destinations, touring less than half that time. We’ve taken “working from home” to a nomadic level. There are days we never leave the apartment, which might seem strange when Buenos Aires or Hong Kong is right outside the door, but the work needs to get done.

Our accommodations aren’t plush; we often stay in lodging we would have once considered quite rustic. During our remote stay in the Australian bush country, we gingerly used the outside bathroom at night, well aware that a deadly snake lurking there had killed a cow the previous week. But such inconveniences seem minor when kangaroos come loping through the yard at dusk.

Traveling the world

–If you’re joined at the hip, marital bliss can turn to blisters. That’s the dilemma we faced. Since we live, work and travel together, all that “togetherness” 24/7 can get old. In fact, we spend much of each day only a few feet apart from each other as we work on our various stories. That’s not a problem for Michael, but can you imagine how trying that is for Larissa? While visiting Singapore, about four months into our journey, we realized we each needed some alone time. Michael wanted to tour World War II sights in the city while Larissa was interested in gardening and food tours.

So we split up to pursue our separate interests for a day. The result was we had more interesting stories to share, both with each other and in articles. Now we occasionally spend time apart, last year Larissa visited Machu Picchu while Michael explored abandoned auto factories in Detroit. (Talk about different interests.)

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–A dream can fall flat, at least for a while. And that’s okay. Unfortunately the 50 cents an hour we mentioned isn’t widely off the mark for a travel writer these days. Our biggest challenge in our new career is earning a living. When we realized freelance writing alone wouldn’t pay the bills, we drew on our business backgrounds and leveraged our now extensive travel experience to pursue other interests. Michael has branched out into writing about classic cars for several publications. Larissa started teaching at the Close School of Entrepreneurship of Drexel University. Some of this work is done for on-line courses, still allowing her the freedom to travel.

–How long can this go on? People often ask, “don’t you miss home, and your stuff?” The answer is no. After years of accumulating things, we’re focused on collecting experiences. Instead of a new car or the latest flat-screen TV, we’re gaining a more enriching life learning how to surf in Hawaii or taking a self-drive safari in Namibia. Our lives are now too full to ponder about the possessions we’ve given up. As long as we can earn enough to make ends meet you’ll find us somewhere in the world, still living the dream.

Hover over these images to quickly pin them!

Here are some tips we’ve learned about how to live a nomadic life.

As demand for flying has increased, seating occupancy on planes (known as the load factor) has increased to more than 80%. Travelers who end up in the middle seat, with elbows on ether side protruding into their space and a child kicking their seatback, can be forgiven if they thought it was even higher. With airplane usage rising there is little relief in sight to full flights and cramped planes. Other than springing for First Class tickets, here’s how to get the best seat on an airplane.

It helps to plan ahead and strategize before making your seat assignment. Much depends in your personal preference. Do you like the aisle or the window? (We’ve yet to meet someone who prefers the middle set.) Bulkhead? Exit row? There are plusses and minuses to each choice.

Traveling together? Split the difference

We used to think it was important to sit next to each other out of some misguided notion that that’s what couples traveling together do. But this would end up with Michael occupying the coveted aisle seat with Larissa squished in the middle. Granted, she doesn’t take up as much space as he does but it’s still uncomfortable for her.

But then we noticed couples with a tad more gray hair than us separating on board so each occupied an aisle seat. They’d get one across from each other so they could chat if they needed to, but usually they’d be buried in a book or a movie anyway. So that’s how we travel now and it works out best for both of us.

Ryanair airplane seats interior

Exit row and bulkhead tradeoffs

Both exit rows and bulkhead seats (those in the front of each section that face a wall) generally offer extra legroom but the seats are slightly narrower due to the tray tables being located in the armrest. The exit row offers more legroom but at the expense of a narrower seat that does not recline. Since Michael doesn’t recline his seat anyway, he’ll go with the extra leg room and choose the exit row when he can. Unfortunately, airlines are now wise to this and charge extra for the exit row. For a domestic flight it’s not worth it but he’ll consider it for an overnight flight.

Overnight flights require additional strategy. The bulkhead is generally where the lavatories are located, which, although convenient, are also busy, noisy and potentially smelly. Airlines often place families traveling with babies in the bulkhead so they have more room for all their infant paraphernalia. Trust us, this often does not bode well for surrounding passengers on a nine-hour overnight flight. The phrase “sleeping like a baby” can be taken two ways, in the air it often means continual crying through the night. Bulkhead seats also don’t offer an area under the seat in front of you (because there is no seat in front of you) to stow personal belongings in-flight, so you’re constantly reaching for them in the overhead bin.

How to pick the best plane seats airplane in sky

Optimal seating configurations

On long-haul flights we try to choose aircraft with a seating configuration 2-3-2 (Boeing 767, 787 Dreamliner) or 2-4-2 (A330, A340, some A380s) across if possible. (Note verify that the flight you are taking has this configuration. For example, Norwegian and United, among others, squeeze in a 3-3-3 configuration on the 787 Dreamliner so the seats are narrower.)

With two seats by themselves along the window we can choose the two seats together on either side and have our own “mini row,” allowing one of us to lean against the window to sleep while the other is along the aisle. With only two seats we’re not climbing over anyone else or have them climbing over us during the flight. This particularly comes in handy on red-eyes.

Like it? Share it . . .Pin it!Use these strategies to choose the most comfortable (or the least uncomfortable) seat on a flight

We’ve also had good success flying Emirates. They fly all big planes that in our experience have been only half-filled, giving us each our own row. We’ve noticed that the airlines headquartered in the United Arab Emirates don’t seem to have as much pressure to be financially successful, so maybe that accounts for their ability to fly with less passengers. They dispute this fact, which is still playing out in the airline business world.

DC3 War Eagles Air Museum

Seating aboard a historic DC-3.

Each airline offers different seating configurations for the same exact model airplane. Before making your seat assignment go to one of our favorite travel web sites, www.SeatGuru.Com, which provides detailed information for every seat on every plane. You input your airline and flight number and the seating chart for that exact plane configuration will pop up.

It even knows which seats don’t have under-seat storage due to in-flight entertainment system consoles being stored there. On some configurations there isn’t a window where there should be one. (That happened to me once years ago. It’s a very confining feeling.) SeatGuru tells you on which row this occurs so you don’t spend the whole flight staring at a blank wall next to you.

Choose the right seat and your days of playing elbow hockey with fellow passengers are over.

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28581550060_131210d7e7_mLarissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

Michael Western North Carolina air Museum

After five years on the road we’ve developed a list of items that will make perfect travel gift for the voyager in your life (or even yourself!). All of them are products we use ourselves, so we can attest that they do the job. They’re things that are practical, but still fun for travelers. (For most items, follow the links or click on the photos to purchase them on Amazon.)

1: The Perfect Travel Purse (for gals)

Perfect travel purse: The City Safe 100 Bag by PacSafe I like not having to worry about my purse while traveling through crowded cities and busy airports. My CitySafe CS100 bag by PacSafe is simple and elegant without being flashy, and is loaded with all sorts of nifty anti-theft features to foil would-be purse snatchers.

2: The Perfect Travel Pants (for guys)

Michael refuses to carry a purse, but loves his Clothing Arts Picket-Pocket Proof Travel Pants. They make him feel comfortable in crowds when wandering hands can filch a wallet. They have so many hidden pockets he’s still finding them. Now if he can only find where he put the car keys.Perfect travel pants: Pick-pocket proof pants by Clothing Arts

3: The Perfect Travel Fabric: Merino Wool

We recently discovered travel clothes are lightweight wool-based. They take up minimal room in our luggage and are perfect for layering when the weather turns chilly. Our favorites are long-sleeve wool t-shirts made by Icebreaker of pure non-itchy New Zealand merino wool. We’ve never seen a sheep shiver, and neither will you. Darn Tough socks, knitted in Vermont by a family-owned company, Perfect travel fabric: merino woolcome in a wonderful kaleidoscope of colors. Not only are they cozy in any weather; they carry a lifetime money back guarantee. Best of all, because wool is lightweight and breathable you can wear these items in warmer climes as well.

4: The Perfect Travel Case(s) for Smartphones

Do NOT go on a trip without a protective case for your smartphone; and make sure it’s shock-proof. Perfect travel smartphone case: thule-shock-proof-phone-case-milneSmartphones are terrific as compact cameras, but without handles or straps they can get jostled and dropped easily, cracking the screen and rendering them useless until repaired or replaced. I learned this the hard way on a trip in the Caribbean, when my phone slipped off a chair and my pretty (but ineffective) cover failed to do the job. Now I use a Thule case, which is shock-proof from a drop up to 6 feet; Speck and Otterbox also make reputable models.

Perfect travel guide for vintage car lovers: Roadster Guide to classic car Museums

5: The Perfect Travel Guide for Vintage Car Lovers

If you know someone who loves vintage cars, or road trips (or both), Michael’s new book: Roadster Guide to America’s Classic Car Museums & Attractions is the perfect gift. It covers over 225 museums and quirky car-themed attractions all over the US. As the patient wife who spent 2 years criss-crossing the country while Michael did his research, I can attest to the thorough coverage and the nifty treasures he unearthed in the process.

6: The Perfect Travel Suitcase

Perfect travel suitcase: Travelpro 21" four-wheeled suitcase handling the streets of Oslo. Photo by Michael MilneAs full-time travelers who literally live out of their suitcases, we know a good bag when we find it. After an exhaustive search, we each selected the Travelpro Maxlite 21″ Spinner as our go-to luggage. It’s light, durable, fits a ton of stuff in a small space and has 4 wheels so we can practically push it along with two fingers. Check out my full review here if you want to know more.

7: The Perfect Travel Tote with WheelsPerfect travel tote with wheels: Delsey quilted rolling tote

Tired of hauling a heavy shoulder bag through the airport? We were, so we found the perfect rolling tote by Delsey. It’s small enough to fit under airplane seats, with quilting that offers some padding to protect our computers. Unlike typical computer bags, it has a large open compartment to house a slew of other stuff, making it an excellent carry-on bag–or a weekender on it’s own. Click here for my complete review.

8: The Perfect Travel Camera

Perfect travel camera: Canon EOS Rebel SL1Travelers looking to up their photography game beyond using a smartphone–without adding a lot of bulk–will love the Canon SL1 DSLR. We chose it because it’s billed as “the world’s smallest and lightest digital SLR camera” and gets great reviews from the pros. It offers the features of bigger models, but also has a slew of automated settings. (So now we can take fancy shots without actually knowing a whole lot about photography.) We travel with the standard 18-55mm lens, which covers most of our needs, keeping our photo equipment light and portable.

9: The Perfect Travel Camera Case

Most camera bags are chunky and bulky, screaming “expensive camera equipment within.” Not so the Passport Sling by Lowepro: it looks like a large cross-body shoulder bag and is shaped to rest comfortably against your hip. Perfect travel camera bag: lowepro-passportsling3_withinsertThe bag’s removable protective inserts allow you to stow as much (or as little) photo equipment as you need. And it even comes in a range of nifty colors if you want something beyond “basic black.” But what I really love is the clever expansion zipper: it gives me room to stow my purse when flying, which keeps me under the 2-carry-on-bag-limit.

10: The Perfect Travel Shoes (for Gals)

The Perfect Travel shoe-Keen Sage Slip-onI love shoes that multi-task since I keep my packing to a minimum. So I was thrilled to discover the Keen Sage Slip-on, which covers all my “active” needs while traveling. This lightweight shoe has bouncy sole that works for light hiking and city walking; the waterproof mesh upper makes it suitable for water sports as well. With stretchy fabric and elastic laces, this shoe is also comfy for wearing on long flights.

Perfect travel guide to Philadelphia: Philadelphia Liberty Trail by Milne (cover)11: The Perfect Travel Guide to Historic Philadelphia

In the shameless self-promotion department, we recommend our first book. Philadelphia Liberty Trail: Trace the Path of America’s Heritage takes a revolutionary approach to our home town’s historic district. It provides 5 distinct walking tours that take you to both well-known and un-sung spots, revealing many surprises about the founding of America at more than 75 unique sights. It also won a 2015 Book-of-the-Year award from the Society of American Travel Writers.

12 & 13: The Perfect Travel Food Guides

how-to-grillroadfood-guide-sternOverseas we travel extremely light. But we when are driving on US road trips, and have a trunk we can store stuff in instead of just our suitcases, we bring along two indispensable food guides. Roadfood by Jane and Michael Stern and How to Grill by Steven Raichlen. Roadfood provides tips about regional foods and hidden spots that make tasty travel more memorable. Because we usually rent places for a month or more, and Michael always travels with BBQ tongs, a grill is often available at our rental apartments. How to Grill is the best guide we’ve ever seen to creating perfect barbecue and also learning about regional types of barbecue across America. The sauce splattered pages attest to its extreme use.

14: The Perfect Guide to Plan Your Next Journey100-countries-5000-ideas

We’re often asked how we decide where to go next. Here’s our favorite book for learning about travel destinations. 100 Countries, 5,000 Ideas: Where to Go, When to Go, What to See, What to Doby the good folks at National Geographic, provides succinct yet evocative descriptions of many potential travel spots. It’s fun to read and dream about your next journey.

Bonus Pick: The Perfect Travel Tip

The best trip–whether it’s around the world or around the corner–is the next one you take. Just go already!  And best wishes for happy travels in 2017. 😊 🌍

The Best Men’s Travel Shoes

Larissa has written about the best travel shoes for women, but now it’s my turn to talk about the best mens travel shoes.

I have only two pairs of shoes with me, both by Ecco. I’ve worn Eccos almost exclusively for about 20 years. They are cut slightly wider in the toe box so they accommodate my size E foot (somewhere between wide and regular).

The pair that I wear almost daily is the Track 5 plain toe low. It’s a brown nubuck style that’s generic enough to go with anything. They were already several years old before the trip started so I thought about getting a new pair. But I figured they’d just get beat up anyway so I decided to wear them as long as they’d hold up. So far they’ve held up great.

best mens travel shoes

The Eccos were great for a steep hike up to the Tasman Glacier on the South Island of New Zealand.

They started their journey in August, 2011 at the top of the Rocky Steps in our hometown of Philadelphia. Some of their adventures so far have included: hiking along the Great Wall of China, climbing to the top of the ancient ruins at Angkor Wat, spending the night in a cave at a Bedouin camp and yet still looking stylish enough to wear on the streets of Paris.  They even survived being left outside during a torrential downpour in Bali where the next morning they were as full as bathtubs. They dried out by evening and were ready to wear to dinner.

For warmer weather I wear their Cerro yak leather sandals. I bought them at The Walking Company store in Philadelphia. The salesman explained that yak leather is soft but highly durable. The Ecco web site sounds like it is describing the latest in fighter plane gizmos with these shoes: full length Receptor Technology and side stabilizer frames. I wondered where the ripcord was. Ecco does not recommend them for water use but they’ve gotten soaked and lived to talk about it.

If you’re looking for durable, comfortable shoes that aren’t so bulky they look like you forgot to take them out of the box, I highly recommend Ecco shoes.

Please note: These shoes were my own purchases and I am not paid to endorse Ecco. (Oh how I wish.)

UPDATE: February, 2017. After a decade I am still wearing the Ecco Track 5 Plain Toe but I’ve been wearing them so long the model is now called Track 6.  The pair I’ve been wearing were made in Europe. I notice that some Ecco shoes are now made in China, so check first on the model you’re interested in. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t pay a premium price for Chinese made shoes.

Like this? Share it on Pinterest!Mens travel shoes|best travel shoes for men|review Ecco shoes for men

28581550060_131210d7e7_mLarissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

Unlike strategies for men carrying wallets, here are my favorite tips for women to avoid pickpockets. I’ve seen all sorts of wacky gadgets for protecting valuables, including the mind-boggling “bra stash,” which must be uncomfortable (not to mention awkward when purchasing souvenirs). But with common sense and a few simple strategies you can keep your valuables safe.

Tips for women to avoid pickpockets

  1. Keep it simple: I use a simple basic purse suited for travel. Bags by PacSafe offer many clever safety features to foil would-be thieves and are my favorite traveling purse. However, even a thief-proof bag can be stolen from a distracted tourist so always be aware of your surroundings.Pascal city bag-Perfect for avoiding pickpockets while traveling
  2. Ditch the big wallet: Only bring the few credit cards you might use on vacation, along with some ID. Wallets full of store credit cards and other home-based necessities add useless bulk while traveling and are a nice chunky target for pickpockets.
  3. Use a bag with a zippered closure: Never carry a bag with a simple snap or flap closure. It’s too easy for prying hands to slip inside. And remember to keep that zipper closed.
  4. Or better yet, clip your purse shut: Thanks to Debra in Philadelphia who suggested this tip. She uses a paper clip to lock her zipper tag to the metal loop thats holds the shoulder strap, creating an additional barrier to entry.
  5. Never put your bag down: Even at a nice restaurant bags can disappear. (It happened to me years ago.) I keep mine slung over my shoulder and in my lap (another reason for the small size), or loop it around my leg when I place it on the floor.women pickpocket banner
  6. Wear your bag crosswise: Bags simply slung over the shoulder or carried by the handle make it easy for purse-snatchers to grab and go. Backpack-style bags are a ready target for slash-and-grab. Get a bag with a long strap that will fit comfortably crosswise across your torso, resting on the front of your hip. In busy areas keep your hand on the bag.
  7. Don’t get pickpocketed electronically: New credit cards with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) can be scanned while still in your pocket. Purchase cheap RFID sleeves to slide your cards into and foil electronic pickpockets.
  8. Forget designer names: You might like Tory Burch bags, but so do thieves. High-end purses also send a signal to robbers that you’re a worthwhile target. Keep Tory at home 🙂
  9. Keep it small: It’s easier (and more comfortable) to guard a small bag than something big and bulky. I use a separate tote or daypack to hold water, guidebooks, etc.
  10. Planes, trains and automobiles: Anytime you’re in transit the odds are increased of being pickpocketed. A friend of ours was dealing with a stubborn turnstile in the Paris Metro when she noticed a man reaching into her purse. Fluent in French, she yanked her purse away and chastised him. Train stations and airports are likely places to be flustered over a connection. It’s easy to place your purse on a seat next to you without watching it carefully. No matter what mode of transportation (even taxis) make sure your wallet doesn’t slide out–another reason for that zippered closure!

These strategies soon become second nature, allowing you to enjoy your vacation without constantly worrying about your valuables.

Like it? Share it . . . Pin it!Ten tips women can use to avoid pickpockets while traveling--and in everyday life!

Please provide any suggestions from your travels below. Here’s Michael’s guide for how men can avoid pickpockets. And here’s our cautionary tale about encountering pickpockets on the Buenos Aires subway.

28581550060_131210d7e7_mLarissa and Michael Milne are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

Please note: There are links to Amazon and other companies on this blog to purchase items, most of which are travel related. We earn a very small commission on these sales and it does not affect your price for the item. These small commissions are one way we can continue this blog and provide readers with valuable free travel advice.