Airplanes are the magic machines that allow us to travel around the world and pilots the magicians who fly them. Despite taking over 40 flights a year, I know little details about how those experts keep 400,000 kilos of aluminum (and all of us passengers) in the sky and landed safely at out destinations. A fear of control can foster many of our flying anxieties, so today you can ask my live chat guest what it’s really like to fly, and the lifestyle of an international airline pilot.
Alejandro flew for a US based airline for 4 years before being offered to fly the Boeing 747 internationally for Eva Airways. Now based in Taiwan, he jets around the world delivering passengers and cargo to various destinations. Flying is his passion, but being a pilot isn’t as glamorous as it seems.
The chat is open today, April 16th from 3:00pm-4:00pm US EST (7pm-8pm GMT; 12pm-1pm Los Angeles). Scroll down or click here to join the chat below!
In addition to jet-setting, Alejandro and his wife Zeina recently launched the Habby Travels, a trip organization service. You may be curious whether or not planes come close to crashing without our knowledge (am I the only one who wonders that?), how “close” pilots and stewardesses really are, or want to get into piloting yourself. Alejandro is all yours to discuss the life and job of a pilot for the next hour in the comments.
The best travel budgets aren’t those you whip up before a trip and then pray to warlocks and wizards you’ll be able to stick to – especially if you want to continue traveling on a regular basis. Traveling is distracting for our brains, which aren’t very good at keeping track of details to begin with, yet that’s where software and web apps excel.
Here’s how you can create a travel budget from the planning stages of your next trip to arrival, and then back again.
First Know What’s Coming In And Out
It’s incredibly difficult to come up with any sort of useful budget without calculating the amount of money you earn and spend on a regular basis…accurately. Start by using the free online budget tracker Mint and adding all of your bank, credit card, and other financial accounts.
- How To Choose The Right Bank Before Going Abroad – Avoid fees, earn frequent flyer miles, and save even more cash.
Mint not only tracks what you spend, but it also notifies you of any fees you’re paying, recommends alternative accounts (e.g. credit cards with lower interest rates), and breaks down where your money is going. Aside from food, rent, utility bills, and other common spending categories, Mint lets you create your own (e.g. iPhone apps).
Keeping track of cash spending is a little more difficult however, and while Mint lets you add cash transactions, you’ll have to remember to enter them after a day of exploring the heights of Quito. To do so, download the free (previously mentioned) mobile app Remember The Milk. Anytime you make a purchase using paper money or coins, simply add the amount and set up a daily reminder to enter the amount in Mint. Since Mint doesn’t do currency conversions, (previously mentioned) free app Currency can for you instead.
Finally, Mint has a budget creation tool you can set up to save for specific purchases – like plane tickets to spend 96 hours in Granada, Spain.
Take Your Budget Mobile With These Apps
Although Mint does a fantastic overall job keeping up with your finances and is available in for iPad, iPhone, and Android, these other apps can help you fine tune your travel spending on the go. Easy Envelope Budget Aid (EEBA; free for Android/iPhone) gives you the ability to create joint accounts to track group savings for a trip with family and friends.
- Splitwise – Have roommates, travel buddies, or anyone else you regularly split bills with? Free on iPhone and Android, this app keeps everyone updated on who owes what.
Lastly, Travel Pocket is a powerful budgeting app that does currency conversions for you automatically as you enter your expenditures from country to country. It’s free for Android devices and $1.99 on iOS.
Use Automated Alerts So You Don’t “Forget” That $5 Latte You Drink Everyday
Most banks and credit cards let you set them up so you can get weekly, daily, or (preferably) instant email or text alerts whenever you use them to make a transaction. Doing so not only puts your spending in your face (as we tend to neglect guilty pleasures like Angry Birds Star Wars) but also alerts you immediately in case of a fraudulent transaction. Such added protection is especially prudent if you tend to use plastic at shops far and wide around the world.
- Find Out If Your Plane Tickets Will Get Cheaper – One of the best flight search engines, Kayak, now gives you advice on whether you should buy now or wait to purchase tickets.
Projected airfare is also a longstanding feature on with Bing Travel’s Price Predictor and you can set up email alerts to track airfare – plus get refunds if prices drop – using the previously mentioned Yapta.
Calculate International Costs Better For Realistic Spending Goals
You should always pad your estimates but don’t overestimate how “cheap” a place is – a delusion many backpackers tend to fall into. The website Budget Your Trip (original post) uses crowd sourcing to give you updated information on common expenses in countries around the world. For longer trips or a better gauge of what locals pay for the things you do at home, check out Expatistan.
Make More Money And Fly For Free
It’s more fun to have more money than to cut your travel budget from the other end. You can save more for travel if you don’t live on a first world income and earn frequent flyer miles without getting more credit cards. When you do have to spend, the free app Checkpoints can give you award points for stuff you’re paying for already (like groceries) while Yowza alerts you to specials and coupons directly on your mobile. (Yowza is free for iOS and Android devices.)
The better you track your expenses, the more efficiently you’ll be able to save and use low budget travel tricks to overcome big budget problems. Which ultimately means you can travel more and spend less.
Last year around this time I made my annual predictions about travel and technology in 2012. Although the results of my 2011 guesses were a very mixed bag, it seems this time around I filled my hobbit pipe with the good stuff. We’re paying less but more for airfare, finding a rotten Apple, and going to more interesting places. 2012 was certainly a year for the techno-explorer and here’s how you and I saw it coming.
Airlines Fees Down, Airfare Up (Verdict: Yup)
Overall, the revenues airlines earned from baggage and similar fees was down nearly 700 million US dollars in 2012, from 3.36 billion to 2.6 billion, compared to 2011. It seems bad press isn’t worth a dubious pricing scheme but one thing almost every airline in the world did agree on in 2012 was that ticket prices needed to come up.
Both to cover rising fuel prices as well as revenue from fees. So, while fees lessened, globally we’re paying about 5.2% more per ticket now than we did 12 months ago. (Americans have it slightly better at 4.8%.)
Ipads Putting Out Fires (Verdict: Unfortunately Yes)
Those of you who’ve read Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson know what a tight and personal control over Apple Jobs had on the world’s most profitable company. So sadly, not surprising, since his passing Apple hasn’t quite had the same character. One of those personality changes is the iPad Mini, a product (7-inch tablets) Jobs was certain to be a doomed wasted time for competitors like the Barnes & Noble Nook HD and Amazon’s Kindle Fire. And while Mini sales arguably strong, it does seem that Apple and Samsung are muscling out some of the Fire’s fire.
Amazon and Barnes & Noble (whose Nook HD is a much better product than the Fire in my opinion) have their bookstores in their favor, but if Apple or Samsung find a way to thoroughly enter that space, it could be a painful death.
A Real Rival To Skype Appears (Verdict: They Never Showed Up)
Skype is one of the best free programs you shouldn’t travel without but it’s not perfect. Or, it’s just so close that it hasn’t really changed much since it began hitting mainstream Internet users in 2006. Last year I was convinced Google or Facebook might try to move into this space. They’ve taken fetus steps toward something I’m still thinking might help make communicating while traveling more fluid, but in 2012 I was wrong on this one.
On a brighter note however, we might be getting a holodeck one of these days.
Caucasus Rising (Verdict: More Than I Thought)
More and more people are heading to Turkey every year and tourism scatter shot from that boom is helping the countries of the Caucasus. Georgia had 53% more visitors in 2012 than the previous year and Azerbaijan‘s government reported increases (but haven’t released statistics). Elsewhere in the world, Oman had a slight drop (I was wrong on this one, I predicted a 5-6% increase in tourists), Colombia saw a 30% gain in 2012, and Chile 15%. On those last two I was right about the increases but didn’t expect them to be that dramatic.
More Pets In The Sky But Less Travel Bloggers Fly (Verdict: Yes And No)
I wasn’t able to find any good numbers on how many people are traveling with their pets, so I’m calling neutral on this one. I didn’t think there would be better options for traveling with your cat or dog but am fairly certain more people are and will be doing it.
- In case you might happen to be one, here’s The Ultimate Guide To Traveling Internationally With Your Pets.
As for travel blogs – there are many more of them in the travel blogosphere – as a quick peek at my links page will reveal. And I believe that many, particularly those who’ve been around a while, will begin to slow down or change their travel pace. That certainly was the case with some other high profile travel bloggers in 2012 and I suspect it will lead to some more interesting developments here and elsewhere.
Finally, as for that large outside force that would have jumped into the travel blogging world (making things very interesting for myself personally), it didn’t happen in 2012. That’s not to say there aren’t surprises in store for 2013 – though we’ll have to wait and see what those are exactly.
Traveling as a dual citizen can reduce the number of visas you have to deal with from country to country but can leave you with many questions before booking your next trip. The rules are often murky at best and vary widely from each paired nation whose passports you may happen to be carrying. These are the simple answers to the more intricate questions dual citizens tend to ask when considering to take advantage of their multiple passports.
Before digging into this list, I recommend you brush up on the basics of how to travel with two passports if you’re a dual citizen to make sure you’ve got the fundamentals covered. Then, run down these most frequently asked questions to find out how to handle common scenarios that many dual citizens will face at some point in their travels.
How Should I Check In At The Airport?
This is easily the most common – yet misunderstood – process travelers using two passports come across when crossing multiple borders.
Here are the basic steps to follow starting with number one: check in with the airline at the airport using the passport for the country you will be heading to. So if you’re a U.S. citizen with dual French citizenship heading to Brazil (which requires a visa for Americans but not the French) at the airline desk you’ll show your French passport. The airline is more concerned with where you’re going and if you’re legally allowed to do so. Passport control on the other hand works in reverse, checking to make sure you entered the country legally and didn’t overstay your travel visa. (Here’s what happens when you do.) Back to our U.S.-French example, at passport control in say, New York, you’ll show your American passport. Get stamped and on your flight (when boarding again if asked, show your French passport). Upon arrival, at passport control in Rio de Janeiro, you’ll present your French passport. Repeat in reverse to return to the United States.
You’ll want to follow this basic formula when switching between your various nationalities, keeping in mind not to do so (and stick with one passport, visas and all) if either of the countries you’re traveling to doesn’t either of your dual citizenships.
Will My Home Country (Or Countries) Be Suspicious If I Don’t Have Corresponding Stamps For Places Nations I’ve Visited?
They shouldn’t, unless there’s some sort of restriction your country places on travel to the places you’ve been (e.g. Americans going to Cuba). The other caveat is if your country doesn’t allow dual citizenship – admitting to having one can cause problems. In either of the latter examples, do your specific research prior to traveling. Otherwise, remember that your country of citizenship doesn’t care as much about what you did abroad so long as you didn’t break any of their rules.
Which Country’s Embassy Should I Visit If Needed?
Generally speaking, you go to the embassy of the country whose passport you entered a nation on, if you need assistance when traveling. When in either country where you possess citizenship however, the Master Nationality Rule applies. That means your other country of citizenship cannot provide you diplomatic protection when you’re visiting another country you’re a citizen of.
Is It Legal To Switch Passports To Avoid Visa Fees?
For the most part, yes, however the practice is not encouraged by any government. (And the countries whose visa fees you’re trying to get around aren’t exactly excited about you doing it either.) Follow my dual citizen check-in formula above.
Can I ‘Switch’ Passports While In A Country? (For Example To Extend A Schengen Visa Stay?)
No. You’re recognized as the citizen of the passport you entered a country on. Legally, citizenships are always separated, you can’t blend them. Nice try though. There are other ways however to extend your Schengen stay and other visits elsewhere in the world.
What If My Name Is Different In Each Passport?
That my friend, can cause problems, if that name doesn’t match your transportation (i.e. air) tickets. But like all things, it depends on how big the differences actually are. If your middle and first name happens to be reversed or you were recently married and have documentation to prove a maiden name change, it’s almost never a problem. Otherwise, try to get all of your documents with the same name.
Where Is The Best Place To Get Definitive Answers For My Specific Situation?
Your embassy. Here’s how to find the contact information for embassies all over the world and the place to begin is the one in the nation you’ll be visiting. The office or government department that issued your passport should have the domestic answers you need as well. Although it takes time and effort to get an answer, they’re the only places that can give you information with certainty, so stay on them until you get what you need.
Finally, What Are Some General Guidelines I Should Follow?
Aside from what’s listed above, realize the limitations of dual citizenship for your travels. Sometimes switching passports may not be feasible or recommended and you’ll have to simply use one passport, paying the fees for visas that may entail. Also, always enter a country you’re a citizen of with their passport and whenever in doubt – go to an official government source to get the complete details.