Backpackers Not Spending As Much As Other Travelers Is A Myth And Why That’s Important To Local Economies

May 3, 2016 by  
Filed under Luggage, Money, Travel

istanbul cafe laptop

One of the biggest travel myths is that backpackers are cheap tourists who don’t provide economic incentives for tourism boards to focus on catering to them. At first glance, it’s easy to see why many make this assumption, most backpackers take great efforts to spend as little as possible, trying to stretch every cent efficiently at the cost of numerous comforts. The opposite perception is that luxury travelers pay top-dollar for resorts, dumping loads of cash into local economies over packed weekends at seaside resorts.

For a long time, backpackers weren’t really studied in terms of their spending habits but growing evidence shows budget travelers spend as much as luxury ones. Additionally, figures indicate a larger percentage of backpacker money spent goes to benefiting local economies. Tourism boards around the world: take note.

Time Versus Money

Many people in sectors of the travel industry often harbor a slight disdain for backpackers, complaining they are practically useless for their overall bottom lines since they “don’t spend.” According to researchers from MIT, people around the world tend to spend the same percentage of their overall time, and budget, traveling. Called the “Time Travel Budget” Theory, anthropologists have determined that the more free time we have – the more we travel; independent of our economic class.

kosovo clock tower pristina

Spending The Same Over A Longer Period Of Time

Even in the most liberal of European nations, vacation times around the world for full-time workers tends to top out at around a month. The average backpacker travels for nearly twice that time – about 58 days. Although these figures vary from country to country, it’s estimated the average American spends about $3,251 for a 12-day vacation.

bogota journalist park

According to budget travel expert Nomadic Matt, $50 a day for a backpacker is a reasonable goal. (Keep in mind all of these numbers include transportation, meals, lodging, etc.)

Adding it all up, backpackers and regular travelers spend about the same amount on traveling annually; just over different periods of time.

Spreading The Wealth

There’s also growing evidence that larger percentages of money spent by backpackers goes to local economies. Most resorts and international hotel chains in third-world countries are owned by foreign companies. The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) estimates that only 20-60% of first world income makes it back to local economies from traditional travel expenditures. Studies like these on the tourism leakage effect are why nations like Malaysia and South Africa are focusing more on enticing backpackers.

bogota fruit vendor

Getting off the beaten path is also a backpacker trait and when they do, they also spread the money they’re spending outside of large cities and traditional tourism hubs according to this study of Australia. (Backpackers add 3.2 billion U.S. dollars annual to the tourism industry there.)

Why It’s Important

Backpackers are often under the perception of being economic leeches. Such misconceptions have lead tourism boards globally to dismiss catering to this growing portion of travelers; plus all the money they spend locally. Like the myth that Americans travel less than other people around the world, backpackers not having a positive economic impact has lead many poor countries to focus on luxury travelers – a group of visitors who might spend a bit more in less time but whose cash goes a little further out of local range.

Dell Might Have Made The Best Electronics Backpack For Travelers

March 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Luggage, Tech

dell premier backpack

The Dell Premier Backpack is one of the best designed, protective, and practical backpacks for travelers who pack a lot of gadgets so good, it has me reconsidering the computer bag I’ve used for 10 years. Once you get your hands on one, you might consider changing too, particularly if you like getting through airport security lines a bit faster.

Pretty, Powerful Package

Dell recently sent me the latest XPS 12 2-in-1 laptop-tablet hybrid (you can read my full review here) but before I had a chance to notice its slick frame, the Premier Backpack stood out. What you pack your electronics in is important; to protect from the elements but mostly the constant putdown-pickup-shove-in-an-overhead-smash-smash-squeeze our hand baggage gets subjected to. (How many times have you trampoline-jammed a backpack under an airplane seat as if there isn’t hundreds of dollars worth of electronics in it?)

dell premier backpackDell Premier Backpack (1PD0H)

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For starters, the exterior of the Premier Backpack (which really needs a cooler name) has a synthetic fabric exterior, lined with fleece. The Premier Backpack isn’t officially waterproof but keeps out water sufficient enough to protect its guts on a rainy day. Dell has also reinforced the exterior with extra padding in the places most likely to get scuffed, like corners and around the zippers.

dell premier backpackPockets For Laptop Cushion

I’m not sure why more electronics bags don’t feature a soft fabric interior for laptop and tablet compartments but the Dell Premier does. Each of the three compartment pockets big enough to fit a 15 inch laptop have a fleece lining, so you don’t need an extra case for your XPS 2-in-1, for example. There are also key, phone, pen, digital camera, SD card, and other pockets to fit all of your tech gear with accompanying charging cables. If you like pockets, the Dell Premier Backpack is a great carry-on option for you.

Checkpoint Friendly For U.S. Travel

The Dell Premier unzips into two flat compartments that are Transportation Security Administration (TSA) friendly, meaning you shouldn’t have to take out your tablet or laptop for the bag at security checkpoints. Unfortunately that’s a feature only useful in the United States but time-saving if you live or travel there frequently.

Being TSA-friendly is a feature my beloved SwissGear SmartScan backpack doesn’t have – neither is being light. The Dell Premier weighs 2.6 pounds (~1.18 kg) versus the SmartScan’s beefier 3.2 lbs (~1.5 kg). For something that’s filled with expensive metal clinging to your jet-lagged back, those grams can feel like a big difference.

The SwissGear is still a good option for a laptop backpack but now not the only one. The Dell Premier Backpack is one your should seriously consider if you’re looking for a new laptop backpack or decide to purchase the XPS 2-in-1. By now you might be wondering if I got paid to write this glowing review but no, I didn’t, and don’t take money to say nice things. Simply put, if you want a bag as good as your electronics, the Dell Premier is one of the best backpacks to buy for frequent travelers.

3 Weird Habits I’ve Developed From Traveling Full-Time

March 10, 2016 by  
Filed under Luggage, Travel Journal

This post is brought to you by USB Memory Direct which specializes in producing custom flash drives for marketing and promotions. [What is this?]

chicago bean

Recently counting back 8 things I’ve learned from traveling the world made me realize that while traveling has become my normal, some habits I’ve adopted are not. Although this isn’t a particularly useful list, you might find these weird habits I’ve picked up from traveling to over 80 countries somewhat enlightening, mildly entertaining, and revealing of one universal truth.

1. Everything Fits In One Bag Plus Carry-On

Instead of a closet, I’ve got an Osprey Sojourn 25-Inch 60 Liter roller-convertible bag that fits my entire wardrobe. Having a luggage-limit-weight-constrained portable closet means many of the things I wear have become multi-purpose clothes. You learn to shop this way to maximize the versatility of each article of clothing for various occasions.

london street market

osprey sojourn 60 literOsprey Sojourn Wheeled Luggage (25-Inch/60 Liter, Metal Grey)

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2. Priority To The Gadgets Bag

If one piece of luggage filled with clothes is my closet, the other Swissgear computer backpack is my office, living room, telephone and television. Receiving packing priority to make sure nothing is forgotten begins and ends with a bag I’ve noticed for many is more of an afterthought.

dell xps 12 2016

swissgear backpackSwissGear Travel Gear ScanSmart Backpack 1900 (Black)

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3. In With One Shirt Out With The Other

When something is added to the collection, another is discarded if damaged or donated if not. Shopping for new clothes means concurrently thinking about what’s inevitably being replaced. Living out of such a small area has, over time, made me notice how little one actually needs. Like a gas, we tend to fill up our living environment primarily based on its size, with increasing pressures whether it’s zippers or apartment walls we’re cramming with stuff.

london petticoat lane market

Remember, packing for two weeks is no different than packing for two months.

Rearranging Randomness

There are a number of other peculiarities I could over-pack here, like the slight uneasiness of not having a trip to planned to several countries or always booking one-way tickets, but whatever our habits are, they are in the pursuit of routine. The world is an unpredictable place whether we’re traveling around it or not. Our passions drive us to indulge in excitement to varying degrees of risk, with the familiar keeping us grounded. Keeping the balance between the two is important, whatever funky ways we go about it.

What are some of your weird travel habits? Let me know in the comments below!

Why You Don’t (Ever) Need To Show Up To The Airport 3 Hours Before A Flight

August 25, 2015 by  
Filed under Air, Luggage

waiting airport 3 hours

There are two types of flyers in the world – those that leave for the airport at a reasonable time before a flight and everyone else who thinks those kind of people are risk-taking-maniacs who want nothing more than the thrill of almost missing a flight. For many, the notion of arriving at the airport 3 hours before an international flight is one airline commandment that can’t be broken – except that even most airlines don’t recommend you get to the airport that early.

Where Does The 3 Hour Rule Come From Anyway?

There are two factors the airlines use to determine their recommendations on how early you should show up at the airport before any flight: the time it takes for a checked bag to get to the plane from the counter and how long it takes a passenger to get to the gate from the counter. (The airlines see a lot of passengers giving them a huge data set with which to base these times.) It turns out the total time between the two have varied over time, they have remained equal to one another over time.

  • So, the time it takes for you to get from the counter to your gate – passing through security, walking, etc. – is roughly equal to the time it takes your checked bag to get on the airplane.

clock melting

Despite what it feels like to us, getting through security now is a lot quicker than it was 20 years ago and our bags also get to the planes faster too. (As most experienced ramp agents will tell you.) The 3 hour rule may have been practical for most flights in a time when all bags were routinely opened for searches, passports couldn’t be scanned electronically, ticket records weren’t computerized; but not so much now.

Save Yourself An Hour

The sweet spot for getting to the airport before an international flight is actually two hours before scheduled take off. Two hours isn’t an arbitrary time I’m just making up, it’s based on how the airlines calculate the time you’re recommended to show up. (For some, it’s even as little as 90 minutes.) Again, the airlines base their recommendations according to the amount of time it takes for a checked bag to get from the check-in counter to the gate – which is roughly equal to the amount of time it takes the passenger to get to the gate.

macquarie park sydney australia

For most airports this time is calculated as 45 minutes – the minimum amount of time it takes for your checked bag to get to the gate. For those of you who traveling with checked bags, this is the absolute latest you can get to the check-in counter. Otherwise, you won’t be allowed to check bags which might be a deal breaker for your flight depending on your backpack or suitcase.

Add in 30 minutes in line to get to the counter (as the airlines do), totaling 120 minutes. Remember, this time varies by airline, airport, and destination so be sure to check on the airline’s site for last check-in times.

More Time If You Don’t Have Checked Luggage

Traveling without checked bags not only saves you a lot of time upon arrival since you can skip baggage claim, it also generally means you can get to the airline 30 minutes later (around 90 minutes) before an international flight. Again, this isn’t an arbitrary time – it’s what the majority of airlines recommend. Not having checked luggage often means you don’t need to see an agent at the check-in counter and pick up your tickets directly from a kiosk.

Also, some destinations with strict visa or security controls (e.g. Israel) often mean you need to get to the airport earlier than 2 hours before your flight.

Cut It Efficiently Close

Some airports are small enough where you can show up even an hour before a scheduled flight but unless you know it well enough it’s best not to get carried away with procrastination. Inside the United States you can check security wait times with the TSA, use What’s Busy for future flights, plus see how long a walk to your gate will take with Gate Guru.

Despite all of your best efforts, in case you do show up too late you can try missing your flight for free without paying for re-booking.