Let's Connect!


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Things Not To Pack In Your Carry-On

I talk a lot about what you should pack and how to pack it, but some things you don't think are weird may get you stopped at security and your bag flagged. Not that they won't check it and let you go, which has always been my experience, but there was a thread in a Facebook group I'm in about those things you may pack that will look wonky on the x-ray and may get you stopped.

On my last trip, I was stopped and my bag searched because I had a bag of laundry detergent that had to be tested. That makes sense, though I've traveled with that bag for quite a few trips (because buying detergent at my destination is sometimes inconvenient, especially if they don't sell it in the laundry room). I had to let the TSA agent know that I had a very fluffy pillow in my bag that I had to sit on to get my bag zipped, so it might jump out at her. She appreciated that. 

photo credit

A ziploc bag of cough drops

I'm not sure why this is a problem, but we usually keep them in the original bag or Eric puts a handful in his jacket pocket with no issues.

photo credit

A lot of snacks

So, apparently this is only a problem if you don't keep them all together. Don't just shove snacks willy-nilly into the free space in your bag, or it looks suspicious for some reason. Also, put them in clear plastic bags. This has happened to several of my friends.

photo credit

Cheese or other brick-like food

I assume this must look like a bomb. It's not actually an issue to take on the plane with you.


You might have gone to the beach and inadvertently tracked sand into your carry-on, but if you do, not only will you end up with sand on the floor when  you get home, but you may be stopped to have it tested

photo credit

A slab of meat

This may or may not look like "organic remains" to TSA. 

Quartz, rocks and gemstones

I have no idea why these get flagged, but they do.

photo credit

Bath bombs

I routinely bring these back home for my mom, but they can look like actual bombs in your bag. 

Poker chips

And things that are like poker chips. When they are stacked or piled together, they look weird in the scanner.
photo credit

Cards, games and soap in metal containers

Since the x-ray can't see through metal, they need to know what's inside. This shouldn't be surprising, but I always forget when I bring one of my favorite travel games with me.

Perfumes and colognes

Sometimes just wearing your favorite scent can get you flagged and your hands, belt or shoes swabbed. I'd advise against wearing fragrances when you fly, not only because this is annoying, but because as someone with terrible allergies, it makes being trapped in a metal tube extremely miserable.

Other things that have gotten me stopped: homemade food in food containers, chocolates, fried chicken I bought at an originating airport, a selfie stick, a little bendy tripod, and a stash of quarters for laundry. As long as it's not on the list of "definitely not" items from TSA, I wouldn't not pack any of these things if I needed to bring the back with me, because unless items don't fit in my bag and I can easily ship them, I won't waste money on checking a bag.

What weird thing have you gotten stopped at airport security for?

Monday, January 14, 2019

How To Stay Organized When You Work And Travel At The Same Time

Working while you travel is a great way to make your trips more affordable and stay on the move all of the time, but there is a big downside. Organizing your work while you’re traveling around can be incredibly difficult and if everything is a bit of a mess, your work is going to suffer. But there are some easy ways that you can keep things in order while you travel. These are some of the best ways to stay organized when you’re working and traveling at the same time.

Know Your Time Differences

Time difference trips a lot of people up when they’re trying to work from a different country. If you need to be in contact with people back home when you’re traveling, you don’t want to be calling or emailing them in the middle of the night because it looks incredibly unprofessional. That’s why you need to double check the time differences before you get in touch with anybody so there aren’t any slip ups. You can use this time difference calculator if you’re a bit unsure.

Organize Your Travel Documents

This doesn’t relate to your work directly, but it can have a knock on effect. When you’re trying to juggle work and travel, it’s essential that your schedule is airtight. If someone is expecting a call from you, for example, but you aren’t available because you missed a flight, that doesn’t sit well with them. That’s why it’s essential that you organize all of your travel documents properly. That way, if somebody asks what your schedule is going to be like next month, you’ve got all of the information there. But if you tell them that you don’t really have a clue, that tells them that you’re not a reliable person to do business with.

Virtual Mailing Address

Getting mail is one of your biggest problems when you’re traveling and it’s frustrating for people if you’re giving them a different postal address every couple of weeks. But there’s a simple way around that; the virtual mailing address. There are some great online address mailing services that you can use in place of a normal mailing address. All of your post will be sent to one address and then they’ll scan it in and send it over to you. That means you can always get your mail wherever you are and anybody that is sending things to you doesn’t have to go through the hassle of trying to work out where to send it.

Set A Strict Work Schedule

When you’re traveling and working at the same time, it’s tempting to do more sightseeing and less work. But you’ve got to remember that you can only afford to travel because you’re working, so you still need to put the hours in. That’s why it’s important to divide your time properly so you’re dedicating enough time to working before you get out and do the fun stuff.

Staying organized while you’re working on the move is tough, but it’s important if you’re going to be able to fund your trips.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

How to Tip Around the World

In America, we are so used to tipping for everything, we don’t even think twice about it when we go to restaurants or have services performed, like getting a haircut. We just figure it into the bill. Tipping is not customary everywhere in the world and in some countries it’s even considered rude. So, where should you keep your money in your pocket and where should you tack on a few extra bucks?
  • China does not practice the art of tipping and so no tips are expected unless you have an experience that is above and beyond your expectations.
  • India may include a 10% service fee to your check, but 15% is appreciated for good service. 250 rupees (or $5) per night for the housekeeper and 50 rupees per bag for porters is the norm. Keep plenty of small bills on hand in India, because it may be hard to get change.
  • Japan isn’t big on tipping either and a tip is not anticipated anywhere, unless you allow the porter to carry your bags, then the yen equivalent of a dollar per bag is the norm.
  • South Korea is a non-tipping society, with the exception of drivers and tour guides who should receive $5 and $10 respectively and $1 per bag for porters.

photo credit

Australia and New Zealand have similar tipping practices as the U.S. 10-15% for your waiter in restaurants is now acceptable, 10% for cab drivers, $1-2 per bag for porters and $1-5 per night for housekeeping.

  • France, in general, does not expect tips to be given when dining out, but if your service is excellent, up to 10% is appreciated. A euro or two for cab drivers is common, as is one to two euros per bag for porters and per night for housekeepers.
  • Germany has hefty tipping practices for hotels: five euros per night for housekeeping and three euros per bag for porters. Only 10-15% gratuity is expected at restaurants. Cash is expected.
  • Italy has a cap of 10% tipping at restaurants, though gondoliers are not expected to get tips. Five euros for porters is customary and one to two euros per night for hotel housekeeping.
photo credit

Middle East
  • Dubai is a very friendly country with overachievers in the customer service department. The standard here is 10%, but only tip with cash. At hotels and restaurants the tip is figured into your bill, so no need to add extra unless your service was exceptional. Tipping your taxi driver is not really done, except to round up your fare.
  • Egypt has an easy 10% tip rule. Ten percent for dining is already included in your bill, but it is customary to add 5-10% extra to that total. Tipping your cabbie is appreciated, as is any guide who takes you on a tour.
photo credit

North America
  • In Canada, like the U.S., it is standard practice that 15-20% is tipped in restaurants and a few dollars per day of your hotel stay if your service was satisfactory.
  • Mexico expects tipping 10-15% in restaurants, five pesos for gas station attendants and 20-50 pesos for hotel staff per day. It is appropriate to tip in the local currency rather than dollars.

South America
  • Argentina generally assumes that diners will round up their bill and add a 10% tip to the total. Dollars may be difficult to spend, so carry some smaller bills in Argentinian pesos for purchases and tips.
  • Brazil includes a 10% gratuity on all restaurant checks and no additional is expected. Round up your fare for cab rides and a dollar or two is a suitable tip for bag porters. Dollars are preferred, as the exchange rate is better than Brazilian currency.
  • Colombia may or may not add gratuity onto your restaurant check. Make sure to look to see if it has, though it’s customary to add extra for a 15% total. Many small hotels are family-run, so expect to leave $5 per guest per day. The usual dollar or two per day is fine at larger hotels. Colombian currency is preferred.
photo credit

The United Kingdom often includes a tip on your restaurant bill. Often, it will be under “optional”. If it is not figured in, then 10-15% is standard. Tipping in pubs is not customary. Add up to 10% for a cab driver and a pound or two per bag for porters.

It’s easy for Americans to get in the habit of tipping and do it wherever we go, but in some countries it can be a major faux pas, so it’s always best to check requirements for each place you visit to know what is customary and what is not. It’s better to feel a little awkward, but save your money, than offer a tip and offend someone. Plus, you'll have some extra dollars to spend! Here are more tips from Budget Travel on who we always tip and probably shouldn't, as well as who we don't tip that we should.

Pin It button on image hover