If you’ve ever reached into your carry-on only to find an empty space where your phone, computer, or camera used to be, you know how thoroughly a lost or stolen gadget can ruin your trip. Fortunately, there are services to help track down your missing gear and protect you against identity theft. GadgetTrak Mobile Security($19.95 per year) brings the features built in to Windows Phone and iOS to Android and BlackBerry users: it will locate your phone using GPS and Wi-Fi and can also lock the device or wipe your data—even if someone inserts another SIM card. CameraTrace($10 per camera) tracks a registered camera using metadata embedded in digital photos, so it can find any pictures taken with your camera that have been uploaded to one of many popular image-sharing sites.
Knowing the location of your device is useful if you’ve simply misplaced it, but in the case of theft, it won’t do you much good without the help of the law. Unfortunately, limited resources mean few police departments will bother pursuing stolen tech gear. But when a laptop enabled with LoJack for Laptops(from $19.99 per year) is reported stolen, the program’s forensic tools automatically contact LoJack for Laptops’s central command every 15 minutes, making it easy to collect evidence that police can use for, say, a search warrant. “We have about 60 ex-police officers working for us,” says Mark Grace of Absolute Software, the company behind this product, “and they know how to work with law enforcement authorities across the globe to get these cases solved.”
Is it true, or a myth? We tackle 7 conventional travel tips to reveal which will actually save you money on your next vacation.
1. If you have enough frequent flyer miles for your next flight, use them.
Myth. It isn't always a good value to cash in your miles. First, use the 1.4-cents-per-mile rule to calculate the value of an award ticket. If the cash price is considerably cheaper than the award ticket calculation, save your miles. For example, if a flight will cost you $300 cash or 50,000 points, you'll get more value out of paying cash since the 50,000 points equal about $700. You'll want to use those points on a ticket that's around $500 or more.
Last month, we introduced you to a new series on YouTube’s Reserve Channel called EX-PATS that took viewers to St. John, in the U.S. Virgin Islands in its premiere episode. This month, those daydreaming about moving to a foreign country can look forward to another great story from a neighboring island, St. Croix.
Traveling with the kids in tow can be quite the challenge. Where should you go? How do you guarantee a smooth flight? Can you make everyone happy? What about the adults? Is there something for them to do? It can be exhausting just planning the trip. That being said, there are myriad ways to smooth out the process and help guarantee a memorable trip for everyone involved. How? Well, just join us for a live tweet-up tomorrow, from 2–3 p.m. ET, hosted by T+L Senior Digital Editor (and mom of two) Ann Shields. (Or, as she’s known in the Twittersphere: @aegisnyc.) Joining her will be a panel of experts to help give you some essential tips to help you plan your next family getaway.
Priceline’s Name Your Own Price bidding system was once the most novel way to find a discounted hotel room online, but a slew of innovative new booking websites and apps make it easier than ever to prevent buyer’s remorse. The seven-month-old website BackBid turns the Name Your Own Price approach on its head: instead of guests bidding on hotel rooms, hotels bid on guests. After you submit your existing hotel reservation and travel preferences to BackBid, the site invites hotels in the same area to make you offers for less expensive rooms or upgraded ones at the same price. (A five-star hotel was recently offered in place of a three-star property in Washington, D.C.) As long as you have a refundable reservation, you can cancel and book the new room.
The idea of chucking it all and decamping to a new exotic land has surely crossed many a world traveler’s mind. This is a passing daydream for some, but for others, it’s a calling—a chance to truly immerse oneself in a foreign culture and community, and to reinvent one's life.
If you’re interested in what the experience of being an ex-patriot is all about, the risks and the rewards, we invite you to watch the new web-series EX-PATS on YouTube’s Reserve Channel. Created in cooperation with Travel + Leisure (our editors are advisors on the show), the series takes viewers around the world to profile ex-pats who’ve made the move and have some wild and wonderful stories to share.
The first time I ever flew into JFK was during a flight back to NYC from Los Angeles. I hadn't gone to bed until the sun came up earlier that day, was running on just a couple hours of sleep, and I was ready to get home and collapse onto my bed. So when faced with the decision to wait in the long taxi line or take up some guy on his car service option, my foggy brain decided the latter was a sound decision. I followed the guy to his “taxi” which was a rusty old pick-up truck, but thankfully had enough sense to stop, say “Absolutely not,” and turn back around to deal with the line for a legit cab.
If you’re one of the lucky ones to be attending the Olympics this year in London, but are a little nervous about navigating a foreign city—particularly during what will very likely become a rather chaotic time with the huge influx of travelers and athletes—there are a few apps out there that can help you out. (And most of them will still be useful outside of London, after the Games are long over.)