Soldiers Standing Guard Outside The Carthage National Museum In Tunisia

In many ways this photograph sums up the state of Tunisia as I found it weeks after the Bardo Museum attacks: on edge and deserted of tourists. There were more soldiers than visitors are almost every famous tourist spot; which may have you wondering is traveling to Tunisia safe?

This Simple Tip Gets You Through Istanbul Airport Departures In Half The Time

October 22, 2015 by  
Filed under Advice, Air, Security

istanbul airport passport control

Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport is one of the world’s busiest (13th internationally) with over 56 million passengers traveling through in 2014. With so many people, long lines aren’t uncommon but this little tip can get you around big delays and on to your gate much faster than everyone else.

When you arrive in the departures area, immediately to the left of the large flight status display hanging on the wall is passport control, then airport security. Almost everyone goes through here and lines are 10-20 minutes or longer at peak hours.

Instead, skip this passport control and keep walking left, passin Nero Cafe on your right, following the restroom sign. You’ll notice not too much further down is another, nearly deserted, passport control and security check.

This alternate entrance is there to accommodate nearby check-in counters for Al Algerie and other lesser traveled African airlines. What this means is there’s is almost never a line at this passport control and you’ll get through it plus security on average in 3-5 minutes.

Afterwards you can use this password hack to enjoy free wireless near the Turkish Airlines lounge and look out for these famous landmarks on takeoff.

How To Get Travel Insurance Coverage When Traveling To Risky Locations

October 20, 2015 by  
Filed under Money, Security

bokur yemen

Although the answer to the question, “should you get travel insurance“, is almost always a reluctant “yes”, a lot of times providers don’t cover the scariest of situations. Countries that are considered dangerous, terrorist acts, and robbery aren’t always covered and while it’s not pleasant to think of such circumstances, for some parts of the world it is warranted.

Fortunately there are some options for you prior to leaving on a trip where you might want to be extra cautious.

What Is Dangerous?

Insurance coverage for risky locations and situations is likely less expensive than you may think but generally it isn’t cheap. Before you consider making a dent in your digital travel budget, check to see if you might be already covered and research whether or not your destination is much more dangerous in reputation than it is in reality.

carthage museum tunisia

Don’t assume that your regular travel insurance is going to cover you for everything, everywhere. All of the reputable companies will have a list of destinations that aren’t covered. You should also confirm what they define as acts of terror (not always as straightforward as it should be), putting yourself at risk (and out of coverage), plus any unusual circumstances.

Break Down Threats

Insurance companies typically break down what normal people consider dangerous into a few coverage categories: war, terrorism, kidnapping (plus ransom payments). You’ll need to decide or speak with a specialist to decide what coverage you need as well as how much. (It’s not easy to decide how much ransom you’re worth – or for some us – too easy.)

Having traveled to places like Iraq, followed protests in eastern Ukraine, and had dinner in remote roadside kitchen halls in Yemen, I’ve worked with a number of companies offering special security coverage. One of the easiest to work with in my opinion is Clements.

Quotes And Protection Online

Regular travel insurance is something you can purchase online but quotes on less orthodox situations typically mean a phone call. Waiting on hold isn’t fun and making calls isn’t always practical when you’re traveling around the world on a multi-city trip. Clements lets you get a full quote on coverage in case of terrorism, kidnapping, and a whole bunch of terrible events that hopefully don’t happen. Their specialists often get back within two business days – plus there’s no money you need to put down. Clements gives you a quote based on the type of specialty coverage you want for the specific country you will traveling to.

Specialty travel insurance only covers specific catastrophic events however, supplementing regular travel insurance. That means it won’t cover a sprained ankle sustained while trying to grab the best danish in Denmark or other commonplace claims like antibiotics. Additionally your electronics likely aren’t covered so make sure to check your regular travel insurance policy carefully.

How To Configure A VPN To Get Cheaper Airfare

October 13, 2015 by  
Filed under Air, Money, Security, Tech

orlando airport checkpoint

Virtual private network (VPN) software can do a lot for your digital life when traveling – like protecting your online accounts to helping you avoid regional censorship. But one of the lesser known benefits of using a VPN is finding cheaper airfare when searching for tickets online.

As Paul asked me recently on Facebook – how exactly do you use a VPN to find lower prices on airline tickets? Here’s the best way to turn your web browser into a digital travel agent with insider deals.

First, Choose A Good VPN

Most VPNs worth their 0s and 1s let you select a location where you’ll appear to physically be. So, for example, you might be traveling in Iceland but setting your VPN location in New York will make it appear to websites like Netflix, that you’re in the United States.

spinning globe

Start by downloading one of the 3 best VPNs for travelers or for those of you who don’t carry a laptop, check out TunnelBear.

Location Strategy

Using your everyday browser, starting looking for tickets and routes as you normally would (with VPN off). If you’re not sure where to look, one of the best flight search engines should turn up a good set of routes plus average rates.

eiffel tower

Next, it’s time to turn on your VPN – setting its location to the home country of the airline you’re most interested in. So, if Paris is the destination and there’s a decent Air France flight, change your VPN location to somewhere in France.

Before doing anything else, you’ll want to open up a ‘private browsing’ mode window. Here’s how to do that in Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer. What this does is ensures you’re IP address is stored in cache so the website you’re looking at can’t remember your real location.

Remember The Basics

For every new flight search, use a new private mode browser window. Don’t forget to use some low-airfare best practices, such as checking not only online travel agents like Kayak but also airline websites directly. Hopefully by now you’ve found a few discounts, even if small; however, in case your VPN searches aren’t turning up anything there’s one more option: use the U.S.

No matter where you’re flying, consumers in the United States are often offered lower rates on airfare, no matter the origin and destination cities. It’s worth a shot to set your VPN to any American city when all else isn’t working. For even more savings, look for multi-city flights, see if you’ve got enough frequent flyer miles for a free flight, and spread your searches out over a few days.

[Eiffel Tower photo from Wikipedia]