Big Bad Quito

“You’ll get robbed” they said.
“Quito is a hell hole full of mugs, low life’s and degenerates.”
“You’ll be lucky to leave with both kidneys intact, let alone your laptop.”

Everyone seems to have an opinion about Quito, and it’s generally not pleasant. ‘The most dangerous place in South America’ had been bandied about while I was in Ecuador, and based on what I had heard, I was pleasantly surprised to get out alive.

[Read more...]

Protecting Your Belongings and Valuables While Traveling

With the subject of hostels last week I started thinking more about protecting your belongings while traveling.  There are very few real dangers around the world that you actually have to be worried about.  People love to exaggerate claims of violence and terrorism around the world (thanks media) but the truth is that your biggest concern is petty theft.  Here are a few ways you can fight back.

Money belt

moneybeltThese have become pretty popular over the last few years.  If you’re going to crowded places where pick pocketing might be a problem, a money belt is a good answer.  They’re made of soft fabric that won’t irritate your skin.  You were it around your waist and under your clothes and it’s nearly impossible to know you’re wearing it.

Here’s a tip though: I once traveled with a girl who wore one every day but she held all of her money in it.  So every time she had to pay for something, she had to open it up in public.  Not a wise idea.  Instead, keep a little bit of cash in a separate pocket so that you don’t have to reach into your money belt every time.  It is supposed to be hidden, right?

Pacsafe

pacsafetravelsafe100Pacsafe has a few great solutions for securing your valuables or luggage in your room while you’re away.  It’s difficult to enjoy your traveling if you can’t leave things back in your room.  While many hostels are offering lockers, some leave you without a way to secure your valuables.  Hostels are, for the most part, very safe, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure your things are secure.  Here’s where Pacsafe comes in.

The Travelsafe 100 is essentially, a portable safe.  It’s a small pouch that is virtually indestructible.  Just put your money, passport, or even small camera inside and lock it to a bedpost or other secure place.

pacsafe55The other popular product by Pacsafe is Pacsafe55.  A small bag contains an expandable eXomesh cover that will wrap around your backpack and make it nearly impossible to get anything in or out of it.  Same as before, you lock it up to a bed post and it’s not going anywhere.  I don’t believe your clothes are in very much danger in a hostel, but this is a good option for people traveling with cameras or other expensive equipment that has its own bag.  These come in various sizes for different types and styles of backpacks.

If you have any other tips or recommendations on protecting your valuables while traveling please feel free to share them in the comments below.

If you like this article please consider subscribing to our RSS or Email feed or following @HavePack on Twitter.

article photo by squacco

Top Travel Resources on the Web

We have a little bit of a theme going this week which all about travel and the internet.  Today I’ve outlined a few of my favorite travel resources online.

Kayak

To me, Kayak is simply the best airline search engine out there.  Plug in where you want to go and they’ll automatically show you a list of recently found fares for many specific dates.  You can easily browse the calender and get an idea of what dates have the lowest fares.  In addition, they do a great job of piecing together flights on multiple carriers if your destination requires several legs (although expedia.com might do a slightly better job at that).  Best of all, Kayak will direct you to the carrier’s booking page so you can book it with them, rather than through Kayak with an additional fee.

Lonely Planet

Most travelers know and love Lonely Planet guidebooks. Sure, you can criticize some of their books, but no matter how you look at it, their website is a great resource for initial travel planning.  They offer great overviews of nearly every country in the world, weather statistics, basic transportation information, and recommendations on the top areas to visit.

U.S. State Department

Going somewhere with questionable political stability and possible danger? The U.S. State Department does a good job of providing information on these topics with recommendations on whether or not it’s safe to travel.  They err on the side of caution though and just because they say it might not be a good idea, doesn’t mean it’s a bad place to go.  Check it out, but don’t use them as a final say.

One Bag

OneBag.com is a great resource to teach you to lighten your load whether you are heading out for adventure travel or simply business.  They have great packing lists, tips on how to pack, and even luggage recommendations.  The amount you can learn about packing from OneBag is truly unbelievable.

TripAdvisor

Over the past few years I’ve had small hotels and tour companies ask me to give them a review on TripAdvisor which, unfortunately, has actually made me use the site less.  But when I am interested in a hotel or hostel but can’t find much information on it elsewhere, I’ll check it out on TripAdvisor and see what kind of reviews they are receiving.  One of the nice things is that they allow users to upload photos so you can get an idea of what the hotel looks like.  I’m not too picky usually but it doesn’t hurt to check out.

Hostel World

Hostel World is a huge directory of hostels all over the world.  You can even book right on the website.  There are reviews and photos which, like Trip Advisor, I like very much when trying to decide on a hostel if there are many to choose from.

CouchSurfing

If you’re using CouchSurfing you’re a different kind of traveler and I’ve written about that in the past.  There are people all over the world who are willing to share their living space with you.  Sure, it’s a way to get free accommodation, but that’s not the point.  Meet people, make friends, and experience the area’s culture from a different perspective.

I hope these links help you in your travel planning.  If you have any to add please feel free to list them in the comments below.

If you like this article please consider subscribing to our RSS or Email feed or following @HavePack on Twitter.