Best Jobs with Travel Perks and Travel Discounts

disney world cinderella castle


Best jobs with travel perks – No matter where you are going, travel is usually expensive.

Whether it is purchasing camping gear, or booking flights—it seems to add up quickly.

Thankfully, there are several jobs that offer great travel discounts and perks for frequent travelers.

If you’re a frequent traveler, then these may be the jobs for you.

Here are some of the best jobs with travel perks and discounts to enjoy.

Best jobs with travel perks

Theme Parks

An annual pass at Walt Disney World in Florida is expensive, for kids and adults.

If you love theme parks, but can’t handle the hefty park entry fees, try getting a job at one of the theme parks.

At Walt Disney World, not only do you get free theme park admission, so do your kids and your spouse.

best jobs with travel perks

Cast members get exclusive sneak previews of new attractions, parks, and resorts. Traveling to California?

Your cast member ID will get you into Disneyland for free and you also get discounts on Disney cruises.

You do not have to work directly in the theme parks to get all of these perks.

Whether you are a parking attendant or a Vice President, you get free theme park admission for you and your family.

If you have kids, or you are just a kid at heart, Walt Disney World may be the best place to work for you.


These days, on top of already expensive airfare, we get nickel and dimed by airlines like paying for each bag we check, but employees of many airlines are flying for free.

If you are looking for jobs with amazing travel perks or discounts, an airline is a great place to start.

Southwest Airlines employees fly free on Southwest Airlines flights on a space-available basis.

Travel is unlimited and starts your first day on the job.

Not only that, spouses, dependent children and parents all get the same travel benefits.

Traveling somewhere Southwest doesn’t fly?

The company offers discounted flights on other airlines as well.

Check out how to save money with Priceline bidding tips.
best jobs with travel perks

Luxury Hotels

Do you have champagne taste on a beer budget?

If so, a job at a luxury hotel may provide you with the opulence you are after, on a budget you can afford.

Employees of the Four Seasons receive complimentary stays at Four Seasons properties with discounted meals.

Is the Ritz Carlton more your style?

If so, starting on your first day of employment you can experience luxury accommodations with discounts at hotels around the world.

Your benefits also include dining discounts and discounts on spa treatments.


Do you prefer camping over hotels?

By the time you purchase a tent, sleeping bags, other camping gear, and the appropriate clothing–the cost of camping can add up quickly.

Thankfully, there are jobs that offer discounted camping equipment.

REI employees receive 50% discounts on REI gear and apparel.

In fact, some items end up being priced at or below the wholesale price.

Need to rent skis?

Not a problem, gear rental is free if you work at REI.

best jobs with travel perks

REI Adventures offers active trips around the world and employees get discounts on these trips as well.

Whether you want to climb Kilimanjaro or go on white water rafting trip, they have something for you.

As a bonus, REI is continually on Fortune Magazine’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For.

photo credits: Phillie Casablanca, Dennis Wong, mariachily

It’s great when you love your job and the company you are working for.

When employers treat their employees well and encourage them to become consumers of their brand, it’s a win for everyone.

These best jobs with travel perks will help you want to go to work everyday.

12 Awesome Hacks to Manage Money Traveling Abroad

Hacks to Manage Money Traveling – In most cases, planning a successful vacation requires focus but it is also a thrilling experience.

However, it is important to figure out the best ways to manage the funds once you have taken the vacation.

The safe and cheap access to your money is critical if you want to enjoy a getaway without worrying about security and sufficiency of the funds.

In this article, we’ll look into the various ways of ensuring you get the most out of your vacation money.

Manage Money Using cash

Depending on how you look at it, cash is great when in transit but it also comes with some setbacks.

Basically, cash is acceptable with most vendors and it gives you some bargaining power when you are transacting with local dealers.

On the flip side, if you lose the money chances of recovering the same may be quite slim.

To minimize this risk, you can keep the money at different places when traveling.

You can distribute the cash between different pockets, in the luggage and a strategic point in your hotel room.

This ensures that if someone stole your cash, you will still be having some backup cash with you.

Manage Money Traveling with Debit cards

A debit card gives you a convenient way of accessing your account when you are far away from home.

It also enables you to make purchases through electronic money transfers.

However, the fees associated with these cards can make it uneconomical to use.

At the same time, if criminals get hold of your card and PIN, you risk losing every dollar in your account.

Nevertheless, you can keep your money safe by protecting the personal details of your debit card.

When making purchases or withdrawals, always ensure the PIN isn’t exposed to bystanders.

At the same time, it is critical that you keep the funds in different accounts rather than the one linked with the card.

This means that your money will be safe just in case the account has been compromised.

Manage Your Money Using Online Finances Management

Today, online banking has become the norm.

After paying the bills, you probably need to check the transactions online.

Whether you are doing it on your smartphone or laptop, it is always important to stay safe.

If you are accessing the account from a café, always sign out and clear your browsing activity.

In addition, you need to use a two-factor authentication every time you use online accounts to make payments for services when traveling abroad.

As a rule of thumb, you should avoid using a public computer to make the transactions unless it is the only option you have.

Smart Credit Card Hacks

If you are a regular traveler, using a credit card is a great way of making purchases since you are going to get some cool rewards like airline miles.

Depending on your destination, using a credit card is safe especially after the magnetic strip cards were phased out.

Even if your card number is copied, the money is still relatively safe.

To make sure all your purchases are approved when shopping abroad, always let the credit card company know that you will be traveling with your card.

This way, you will be able to make the purchases since the system will clear your account for an offshore purchase.

If you ever lose the card, the first thing should be notifying the company so that you won’t be responsible for the loss.

This way you can protect your money as well as your reputation.

Consider initiating automatic payments

While you are lots of miles away, it’s likely that you still have several important payments to make like credit cards balances, realistic personal loans, utility bills.

Using automated payments is one of the best ways of meeting all your financial obligations while you are traveling abroad.

While you could also make online payments, it’s not always possible to predict if the itinerary will remain the same or not.

Create Travel budget Hack to Manage Money

When you are sure about your destination, creating a plan on how to spend the funds can be very helpful.

Take sufficient time to make conscious decisions on what is important during the vacation.

This will minimize the chances of overspending while abroad and you won’t have to deal with hefty credit card bills once you return home.

Depending on the length of time you will be staying abroad, you will decide the exact money you will need.

Although it is recommended that you only spend the planned amount, always be ready to cover some extra expenses just in case something else came up.

Consider travel insurance

When you are planning to go abroad, having good travel insurance is always a good idea.

Basically, anyone who isn’t in apposition to take a travel insurance is most likely not ready to take the vacation.

While it’s not obvious, an accident can occur when you are away.

It can protect you from the adversaries caused by an injury, disease, or some luggage loss.

Familiarize yourself with international rates

Just before you travel to a foreign country, always check the exchange rates.

This will help you know how much you need to exchange for your daily needs as well as protecting yourself from being shortchanged.

To make the process simpler, you can get an app that will help you keep track of the exchange rates on whenever you are.

Make sure your bank account supports multiple overseas transactions

Most banks have limitations when it comes to international transactions.

But this doesn’t mean that you won’t access your money.

If your bank supports the transactions, the only thing you need to do is notify them of your intended travel.

Nevertheless, some banks tend to charge more when you use the services from abroad.

If you want to keep the charges low, ensure you have opened an account that supports unlimited use from different destinations.

Get enough local currency early

While you can get some cash at the airport, it’s not obvious that you will get the best deal at the airport.

Besides, what if you are going to a destination where the service is not available on demand.

If you are in a hurry, you don’t want to waste time locating some ATM’s at the airport.

Besides, you can easily ask your bank to provide you with some currency of your target destination.

Keep track of your expenditure constantly

Once you’ve created a budget, it would be appropriate to keep an eye on your expenses just to make sure that you stay within the set limits.

It will also keep you from second-guessing whether you have enough money to participate in some great activities.

If you want to make this easier, try breaking the expenses into categories and monitor each category.

If you find it boring to write down the expenses, you can download an app that will help you track expenditure effortlessly.

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Final Hacks for Managing Your Money Traveling

When traveling abroad, taking a multifaceted approach towards managing your funds can prove quite fruitful.

It gives you several alternatives when faced with different problems making your life a little easier.

Having a combination of cash and plastic money eliminates the probability of getting stranded if one method fails to work.

Nevertheless, a great experience abroad requires meticulous preparation before leaving your home country.

Manage Money While Traveling – Save Cash and Be Green

Manage Money While Traveling – Whether you’re thinking about long-term travel or a week-long international trip, managing your finances on the road can be a challenge.

ATM fees or foreign exchange fees can add up quickly.

And it’s a nightmare if your wallet is stolen while you’re traveling.

After living overseas for several years, I have a few tricks for how to account for your travel budget, Earn Money from Home and manage your money while traveling.

Avoid ATM Fees

ATM fees can add up quickly.

One of the ways we have saved money over the years is by using credit unions.

My nationwide bank was going to charge me $5 each time I used an ATM.

And that doesn’t include fees from the bank that owns the ATM.

With my credit union, we didn’t pay ATM fees at all.

This will vary from bank to bank (or credit union to credit union), but it’s a good idea to shop around and ask about ATM fees.

Some banks will even reimburse you for the fee the ATM itself charges you.

Another option is to see if your bank participates in the Global ATM Alliance.

If it does, you can avoid ATM and bank fees.

For example, if you have Bank of America in the United States and are traveling to the UK, you can avoid bank fees by using Barclays ATM’s.

Call or email your bank to ask which ATM’s you can use in the country you’re visiting.

Regardless of what bank you use, make sure you know the charges before you leave home to avoid surprises on your statement.

Have a Back-Up Plan

I’ve traveled to over two-dozen countries in the last few years and managed to get by without having anything stolen—until earlier this year.

A few weeks before we moved back to the United States from South Africa my husband’s wallet was stolen.

Because we were headed back to America soon, we had allowed some of my cards to expire and hadn’t replaced them yet.

So, when his debit cards were stolen.

I didn’t have my cards either.

We didn’t have access to the majority of our money.

Thankfully, we were able to have someone deposit money into the one account I had a debit card for and managed to get by until we got back to the States.

Find the best travel debit cards on the market before traveling just to be prepared.

But, it was a big lesson learned.

It is important to always have multiple ways to access your money—especially when overseas.

Manage Money While Traveling Hacks:

If you share bank accounts with someone you are traveling with, make sure that you both have your cards.

Be sure to have an emergency card hidden somewhere outside of your wallet.

Getting a cash advance on your credit card is never ideal, but make sure you have your pin number in case there is an emergency and you need to get one.

Have both MasterCard and Visa cards.

There are some countries that will only take one or the other.

Check out this Chase Freedom Unlimited review as it features no annual fee and 1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases.

Avoid Travelers Checks

Even as recent as the late 1990’s, I went vacations and used travelers checks almost exclusively in stores and restaurants.

These days, travelers checks are much more difficult to use.

To avoid hefty fees, travelers checks need to be exchanged for cash at an American Express store.

And in many places it can be difficult to find anyone to accept them.

Using an ATM is typically a better option.

Exchange Money in Bulk for the Best Rate

I typically carry United States dollars with us while traveling for emergencies.

If I can’t access an ATM, I can exchange this for local currency.

I was thankful to have cash on us last year when there was only one ATM I could use in Rwanda.

But, exchanging money can get expensive fast.

Exchanging in bulk can help save on transaction fees.

Typically, it is cheaper to just use an ATM.

Especially if you are using a bank or credit union that isn’t charging you ATM fees.

Have a Budget…

Stick to it.

The best way to manage your money while traveling is to know where it’s going.

Whether you have an excel spreadsheet or use a app on your phone or iPad, make sure you are tracking all of your expenses.

Even the little things add up.

This is especially true when traveling long-term.

You want to make sure you’re going to have enough money to last you to the end of your trip.

The economy’s in a downturn.

Your cash isn’t worth as much.

And your must-see-before-I-die site has just been added to the endangered destinations list.

You can’t change or control a lot of things but you can do some things.

Here’s how to save cash with green travel.

So, how exactly do you get there without drowning in debt — or in glacier melt-offs?

46 tips to save cash and manage money while traveling

  1. Bus instead of flying
  2. Train instead of flying
  3. Take a ferry or ship
  4. Use Search Green Travel to save money on flights while saving the environment
  5. Buy your tickets online (since over-the-phone charges fees)
  6. Prepare your car for the trip by inflating your tires
  7. Take public transportation to the airport

Transportation: Getting Around

  1. Walk
  2. Rent a bike
  3. Buy a bike (if you’ll be in one place for an extended period of time)
  4. Hitchhike safely
  5. Take a bus
  6. Share a ride (also known as “slugging”)
  7. Drive to hypermile
  8. Take a tram
  9. Take the subway/metro
  10. Take a trolley car

Manage Money While Traveling


  1. Carry one bag
  2. Pack light when checking luggage
  3. Bring an extra foldable bag with you

Manage Money While Traveling Accommodations

  1. Camp
  2. Hostel
  3. Stay in an eco-lodge
  4. Take overnight flights, buses, or trains to avoid paying for one night’s accommodations

Hotel Specific

  1. Put housekeeping on hold (uses fewer resources and saves on the tip)
  2. Request to stop newspaper delivery to your hotel door


  1. Bring your own water bottle
  2. Bring a food carrier such as a wrap-n-mat to store leftovers and carry snacks
  3. Make your own food
  4. Skip the food on board plane/train
  5. Skip the drink on board plane/train
  6. Share a meal
  7. Eat from local food stands
  8. Buy food from local markets

In Public Places

  1. Recycle
  2. Use the air dryers and not paper towels
  3. Don’t litter (you’ll avoid fines, too)

Vacation Planning

  1. Plan a trip close to home
  2. Visit a park or forest
  3. Stay in one place instead of country hopping
  4. Volunteer
  5. Unplug all electronics and appliances before you leave home


  1. Share converters and other electronics so you don’t buy new ones
  2. Use a digital camera
  3. Use rechargeable batteries

Manage Money While Traveling by making smart Purchases

  1. Don’t buy souvenirs (if you do, buy sustainable souvenirs)

Start implementing some of these eco-friendly ideas, and it will be easy to save money as well as manage money while traveling.

What are helpful tips have you used?

How Can You Take Your Dream Vacation on a Budget?

There are so many places you dream about visiting, but every time you look at your bank account balance, your face falls and you wonder if it will ever happen.

Dreaming big is one thing—living big is another. Is it possible to take your dream vacation on a budget?

You actually may be closer to achieving your travel dreams than you think.

There are many ways you can save up toward a trip.

There are also a number of things you can do while traveling to cut your overall costs down.

If you plan carefully, you may very well be able to take your dream vacation within the next couple years.

Everyday Ways to Save and Earn More Money

The first thing you can do is go over your budget in detail and figure out where you are spending money unnecessarily and how you can reduce your ordinary everyday expenses in order to save for travel.

This may be possible even if you already budget pretty tightly.

You may not be getting the best deal on your utilities for example.

Or you may be wasting money on brand name products when you can buy generic goods for less.

You might be spending more money than you need to on alcohol or non-essentials.

If you are diligent and focused, you can laser in on these excess expenses and eliminate them.

For example, you might see credit card debt as an insurmountable drain on your cash flow.

However, many credit card companies offer limited opportunities to do a balance transfer to a 0% interest credit card offer.

But if you don’t start paying down your balance after you’ve transferred your balance, you’ll be right back to square one.

It takes discipline to stick with some of these changes, but it will all be worth it when you save up enough to go on that life-changing trip.

The easiest way to get started is to download a free budget template and tweak it to meet your specific needs.

Earn Money from Home – 12 Ways to Make Money as a Stay-at-Home Mom

What are the Best Ways to Make Money While You Travel?

5 Ways to Travel the World While You Work

Get a credit card that offers travel rewards

You probably already use a credit card for your everyday expenses.

It’s worth considering switching to a travel credit card.

With a travel credit card, your purchases allow you to earn points toward travel-related purchases.

This includes hotel stays, restaurants, and flights.

Some cards offer amazing promotions, like 100,000 bonus points after you spend your first few thousand dollars.

Some have restrictions you do it within months of opening your account.

If you anticipate a big expense coming up, this would be a great time to choose a credit card that offers rewards for travel.

Book Early and Travel Off-Season

If you know where you want to travel, and you have a pretty good idea as to when it should be possible, you can book your trip early.

Doing so can save you a significant amount of money on the cost of airfare, cruises, accommodations, tours, and more.

It also gives you the chance to check how rates fluctuate throughout the year.

There are many destinations where tourism is a seasonal industry, generally booming in either the summer or winter months, depending on the nature of the location.

Therefore, if you are open to traveling outside peak season, you may find incredibly reasonable rates.

Oftentimes this means saving hundreds of dollars a night on expensive hotel stays.

This can add up to thousands of dollars overall for your trip.

We just visited San Diego in the off season where we went camping.

We saved a lot of money not staying at pricey hotels by the beach.

Also, we ate healthier and were able to travel green by cooking our own meals.

Take the Road Less Traveled

Popular destinations around the world are always going to be among the most expensive to visit because they are in high demand.

Hotel owners, charter companies, and airlines know this, and price everything accordingly.

However, there are many exciting destinations which are off the beaten track.

They will often cost significantly less because they are not on everyone’s bucket list.

You will save money traveling to these lesser-known locations.

You will also enjoy greater seclusion and a more unique travel experience.

On that note, how much of your own local region have you explored?

Chances are good there are many opportunities for weekend breaks or longer trips within your own state to amazing destinations.

Because these locations are closer to where you live, you will not have to pay nearly as much to go and visit them.

Staycations support your local community.

Staying local also minimizes your impact and supports sustainable travel and green travel efforts.

Look For Cheaper Ways to Travel

How will you journey to your destination—and how will you get around and sleep once you arrive?

If you do your homework, you will find that there are many ways you can save money on transit and accommodations while you are seeing the world.

For example, instead of staying in hotels, you can try home swapping.

You can camp in a tent, a 4WD vehicle, or motorhome, any of which you can rent.

Tents for camping can now be rented online and shipped directly to your location.

For your flight, you choose an airline which offers bare bones service at lower rates.

Minimal service can mean no meals in flight, strict luggage requirements, etc.

Even if none of this was originally how you were planning on vacationing, sometimes taking your dream vacation requires rethinking your dream and envisioning it in a different way.

You might not have imagined camping under the stars while touring the countryside, but you might love every minute of it.

A budget flight may not sound like fun, but think of all the ways you could use the money you save at your destination.

You could spend it on gourmet meals, luxury accommodations, or souvenir shopping.

Or you could use it to extend your stay for a few extra days.

Taking Your Dream Vacation on a Budget

So if you still have not taken your dream vacation, get out your maps and start planning your itinerary.

Think carefully about how you are going to budget your money during your trip.

Consider how you could save up more beforehand to afford it.

If you keep an open mind and you remain disciplined and committed to your budget, you may well find that the trip of a lifetime is within your reach after all!

Establish a Travel Budget – Managing It and Sticking to It

When going on a vacation or taking a trip, it’s all too easy to spend, spend, spend. After all, it’s vacation, right?

Soon into your trip you may find that your hard-earned savings to fund the experience start dwindling away much more quickly than anticipated. Be proactive: set a travel budget and a vacation food budget.

It usually happens that we under-budget. This is usually due to higher than expected costs.

Large portions of your budget such as travel, accommodation and meals or unplanned expenditure can be difficult to calculate exactly.

As long as you perform due diligence during the initial planning of your trip, you shouldn’t be too far off.

Here are a few tips on what to include in the travel budget and how to make it work.

Advance Travel Booking

Do the research if there is a choice of destination for a vacation.

A trip to Europe, for example, needs a bigger travel budget than one to South East Asia because of the higher costs of accommodation and food.

A few online searches will indicate if it will be cheaper to arrange travel well in advance or to wait a few months until closer to departure time to get last-minute deals.

Shopping around for budget packages that include travel and accommodation options is also a good idea.

Daily spend

Setting a daily travel budget provides a useful guide and one that should govern how expenditure pans out.

Always build in a contingency to cover eating out, local transport costs, spending money, and unforeseen circumstances.

It is possible to use prepaid travel cards that can be loaded up with a set amount in the local currency before departure.

However, these can prove difficult if on a touring vacation and visiting countries with different currencies.

Cash alternatives may be too bulky to carry easily.

Online money transfers

In case of emergencies, it is best to have a number of different financial resources available.

It is equally important not to let this be a temptation to over-spend.

For example, when traveling on a budget it might be useful to take a supply of cash for most ordinary purchases.

It makes sense to keep a debit card or ATM for cash withdrawals, plus to carry a credit card.

Be strict, however, and use emergency funds only in an emergency.

Alternatively, set up the option to manage money online.

To find out how online money transfers work check out.

The great thing about online transfers is that they can be done quickly, and the facility is available worldwide.

Stick to the rules

Before setting off on a trip, decide what rules will apply when it comes to making choices about spending money.

If Italian shoes are irresistible, budget for a new pair when taking a vacation in Europe.

If local crafts are always tempting, make sure the budget includes an allowance for them.

Save in advance for what you consider to be must-have items.

Taking these precautions and sticking to your travel budget ensures that all your vacations and trips abroad will leave you with happy memories and not debt.

How to Save Money on Road Trips

My family and I are lucky enough to live in a beautiful region of the Pacific Northwest.

Since we’re a family of five and airfare is sometimes out of the budget, we often opt to save money on road trips.

While more economical than flying, road trip costs can add up, especially as gas prices and hotels often increase in the summer months.

Aside from traveling in a fuel-efficient car, what can you do to lower road trip costs?

Here are five key ways to save money on road trips, whether you’re traveling solo or with the whole family.

Plan your itinerary with gas prices in mind

Road trips (at least the pleasurable kind) aren’t about going the farthest possible distance in a given number of days.

Instead of seeing how far you can get, look for itineraries with lots to see and do in a smaller square mileage.

Drive only a few hours per day, and spend the rest of your time renting bikes at your day’s destination or exploring by foot.

California’s Highway 1 is a great area for a multi-stop road trip, which will help you save money on a road trip.

Tent camp

Camp in a tent or reserve a state park cabin or yurt.

Any of these options will be far less expensive than driving a gas-guzzling motor-home or hauling a camper trailer.

Plus, camping is far cheaper than reserving a motor inn or hotel room, and twice as much fun.

Going to California and want to spend time at the beach and the attractions?

Camping can be a cost effective and fun way to vacation.

Dine al fresco

Eat outside while on the road.

Stopping en route to pick up breakfast or lunch and eating them at recreation areas, rest areas, scenic overlooks, and even at a regional park not only saves you money, but is healthier and allows you to see more of the area you’ve driven to see.

If you’re traveling with kids, parks and recreational areas provide the additional benefit of being kid-friendly.

Let them run around and exercise before getting back in the car.

Tip: find parks and natural areas by using Google Earth on your smart phone while on the road.

Budget gas money by using a gasoline price calculator

We use Cost2Drive, which determines the estimated gasoline cost of any road trip, based on your beginning and ending destination and make and model of your car.

Cost2Drive is especially useful when several people or parties are sharing in the gas cost of a trip.

There is no need to split the cost at every pump. You can just divide the price ahead of time or afterward.

Park your car and use public transit while staying in cities

While staying three nights in San Francisco next month, we’ve decided to park our car at a BART station outside the city, take the train in, and enjoy our city touring car-free.

Not only will our visit be more relaxing (who wants to navigate unfamiliar city streets in a car?) but we’ll save over $100 in overnight and curbside parking fees.

We’ve traveled back and forth across the United States many times.

Pack up your car, give the kids something to do, and explore all there is to do in America.

Read all about great road trip ideas to Milwaukee, Chicago, and Iowa, Nebraska, fossil hunting in Wyoming, Utah, and Arizona.

Are you taking any road trips this spring or summer?

What do you do to save money on road trips?

Photo credit: brownpau.

Best green travel credit card Hacks

Best Green Travel Credit Card Hacks – Several companies have launched credit cards that focus on giving back to the environment.

But until recently, I hadn’t found a card that focused on the green traveler’s needs as both an environmentalist and a traveler.

Is there such a thing as a best green travel credit card?

I was invited to beta test the ZYNC Card from American Express, and I’ve been exploring its benefits for a few months.

Overall, I like what I’ve found.

The ZYNC Card has “packs” — essentially interest areas — that are aimed at twenty- and thirty-somethings and benefits that will appeal to eco-conscious travelers.

Give Back: Get Paid to Volunteer

You don’t quite get paid to volunteer with the Give Back Pack, but you can get up to hundreds of dollars worth of gift certificates (or hundreds of other rewards) each year just for volunteering.

And the ZYNC Card rewards you for donating to nonprofits.

The Give Back Pack is free to use.

Give Back Pack

Earn points for each logged hour of volunteer service

Earn points on your charitable donations, more using your American Express card.

Shop Green, Ask Green, Go Green

With the Eco Pack, you earn extra points when you shop at certain green merchants and you get access to an eco-concierge.

I know who I’ll be calling in my search for an environmentally friendly mattress.

Like the Give Back Pack, the Eco Pack is free to use.

Eco Pack

Earn twice the points when buying from 4,000+ green merchants — as rated by Greenopia

Points redemption discounts on certain eco-friendly merchandise enabling you to redeem 25% less points for qualified eco-friendly products and carbon offsets.

Travel Securely

The Travel Pack costs an extra each year, but you get additional discounts on rental cars (be sure to book a hybrid) and double membership rewards points on various travel purchases.

Green Travel Card Hacks and Benefits

2X points on airfare ticket purchases

Discounts at Avis, Budget and Hertz

Enrollment in Credit Card Registry, which allows you to easily cancel and replace all of your credit cards should they be lost or stolen.

And the ZYNC Card gives you other American Express benefits that will save you money and stress while traveling.

Emergency assistance when you are 100+ miles from home

Free car rental loss and damage insurance

24/7 roadside assistance

Baggage insurance plan

And because ZYNC is a charge card (not a credit card), you pay it off in full each month.

This means that you can set a better budget for your travel, and you won’t rack up hefty interest fees.

Downsides of ZYNC Card

For me, the big downside of the ZYNC Card (and other AmEx cards) is that many locally owned and small businesses don’t take American Express.

While that can be a bit of a hassle, I’ve just made sure to have a backup credit card with me at all times.

You also have to make sure the benefits you get from the card justify the expenses of the annual fee and the packs you choose.

But AmEx really does have great benefits that I didn’t know about before.

So I would recommend reading up on those to be sure you take full advantage of them.

There are lots of reasons to use a credit card while traveling.

Overall, I think the ZYNC Card is a great option for green travelers.

How to Prepare and Protect Your Identity Theft Protection

Identity theft is more prevalent than ever.

Learn what identity theft protection is and take measures to protect yours.

Identity theft continues to be a major concern as statistics show the incidents are on the rise.

Identity theft protection is essential.

Unfortunately, there are still many people who don’t realize the risks and dangers, which makes them even more vulnerable.

Yet, there are ways to protect yourself.

The best way to start is to learn what identity theft is, the dangers and what you need to do in case it happens.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a criminal act wherein an impostor steals your personal information.

This could include your Social Security number, credit card numbers or driver’s license.

The purpose is to impersonate you.

The information they steal is used to avail of services, credit and merchandise under your name, or it could be used to give the thief false credentials.

Aside from causing you to run up debt, identity theft also causes false identification.

This could lead to legal trouble; you could end up with a criminal record or have arrest warrants issued because your identification was used for committing a crime.

Types of identity theft – True name identity theft

The perpetrator uses your personal information to create new credit card accounts, open a checking account, get a bank check or set up a new cell phone service.

Account takeover identity theft

The thief uses your personal information to access your current accounts.

What usually happens is the thief changes the mailing address on your account and produces a huge bill before you realize there’s a problem with your account.

The Internet has made identity theft easier because transactions are done minus any personal interactions.

How criminals get your information

Thieves use various methods to obtain personal information.

They may hack into a database. Some will sort through discarded mail and paperwork left unattended.

Another way is called “shoulder surfing.”

This is when the thief stands next to someone at the Bureau of Vehicles or other public office and take note of the information the person ahead provides as he/she fills out a form.

Ways people steal identification

Go through trash to find personal information

Obtain personal information from redundant office or IT equipment like hard drives, USB memory sticks, mobile phones, PDAs, servers and desktop computers that have been discarded in dumping sites.

If such equipment are not properly disposed of or sold without deleting private information, they may be obtained by an identity thief.

Use information in official registers to find public records about people

Mail theft, pick-pocketing and housebreaking are also used to steal credit cards, ATMs, passports, identification cards, etc.

Identity thieves sometimes pose as representatives of banks or government offices and ask questions like:

“What was your first pet’s name?”

“What was your first car model?”

“What’s your mother’s maiden name?”

Skim data from credit cards and bank accounts using card readers, producing clone cards in the process

Use contact-less credit card readers to obtain information in RFID passports.

Watch people input their login username and password, ATM numbers, calling and credit card numbers in public areas

Steal personal information off computers using Trojan Horses, malware or keystroke logging programs.

Such techniques are often used to hack into databases, systems and networks to steal personal information, usually in voluminous quantities.

There are other ways that ID thieves obtain data.

This includes taking advantage of breaches that result in the mistaken publication of persona data such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, addresses, names etc.

Be careful what info you share on a resume

In addition, some ID thieves work together and publish bogus job applications online.

Their purpose is to collect resumes and personal information.

Also, you need to be careful about the information you provide in your resume.

Aside from your name, resumes usually need to include email addresses, location, contact numbers and more.

To avoid ID fraud, apply only in legitimate companies and do not provide banking or financial information in your application form.


Reports also show that ID thieves are taking advantage of insider info and exploiting the access of IT users to snatch data.

There are a growing number of cases of hackers infiltrating IT companies to steal valuable personal data as it is being processed.

ID thieves also impersonate trusted and reputable companies via phone calls, SMS text and emails in an attempt to persuade you to divulge personal data or login credentials.

What they usually do is create a fake website.

If that doesn’t work, ID thieves might go after weak passwords.

Once they gain access to your account, your personal details will be at risk.

Social networking sites

ID thieves obtain data by going to social networking websites and searching for personal information that users post.

The information they obtain

Categories of identity theft

The Identity Theft Resource Center has divided identity theft into the following categories:

Criminal identity theft:  Someone poses as you

Financial identity theft:  Someone uses your name to purchase goods, services and credit

Identity cloning:  Someone uses your personal information to assume your identity in daily living

Medical identity theft: Someone uses your name and personal information to obtain drugs and medications

Child identity theft is becoming more common as well

There are many reasons for identity theft aside from money.

Several cases have been linked to funding and facilitating criminal activities such as espionage, phishing, terrorism and illegal immigration, among others.

There are also a growing number of identity cloning which have been used to go after payment systems, medical insurance and online credit card processing.

You need to monitor your email and check for any irregularities.

Some ID thieves try to divert emails and posts to gain access to personal information.

You should monitor your credit card statements, bank accounts, and bills regularly.

What to Do if My Identity is Stolen

If you discover that you’re a victim of identity theft, do the following immediately:

Call the national / local fraud department and inform them your identity has been stolen

Ask the relevant institution to freeze your account.

If you’re the victim of credit card theft, call your bank immediately.

Tell them what happened and ask to have your account frozen.

Change your pin number, login or password if they’ve been stolen, and notify your network administrator immediately.

The next step is to place a fraud alert and work on getting a credit report.

Contact your state or local credit bureau (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).

Contact your bank and file a report to the FTC.

Go to the FTC official website and fill up the online complaint form, making sure that you provide as many details as possible.

If you haven’t done so already, file a complaint with the local police and bring the following:

A copy of the FTC Identity Theft affidavit

A government photo ID

Proof of address (utility bill, rental statement, mortgage statement etc.)

Any other evidence you may have of the theft (IRS notices, bills, complaint letter you sent to the bank, etc.)

After you file an identity theft report

Once you have filed an identity theft report, get in touch with the fraud department for all the businesses where the theft occurred.

Before you call each one, remember the following:

Explain what happened and provide as much information as possible

Request the business to freeze or close your account

You should also ask the establishment to furnish you with a letter stating that the fraudulent account is not yours.

It should state you are not liable for what happened.

Be sure the illegal transactions are removed from your account.

Keep the letter the establishment sent you in case the fraudulent transactions appear on your credit card report later.

The next step is to have the bogus charges and transactions removed from your account.

This is something the business will help you with.

However, do your part by explaining what happened and showing them which charges are bogus.

If you’ve been the victim of multiple fraud, repeat the same steps above, and make sure to keep all confirmation letters that these businesses send you.

The business establishment might ask you to furnish them a copy of the identity theft report you filed or ask you to complete a complaint form.

In either case, keep a copy of the form.

You should keep a copy of all forms, letters and documents you submit to the establishment so there’s no confusion later on.

Writing a complaint letter Hacks

Specify in your letter who you have contacted and when

Always ask for a credit freeze.

Do this even if you haven’t noticed changes in your account.

This will make it harder for the thief to use your account or create an account in your name.

If you do request a freeze, know there will be extra steps needed when you apply for a cell phone service or a new credit card.

It will happen anytime a service requires a look at your credit.

Not asking for a credit freeze isn’t recommended, but if you opt for that, at least send out a fraud alert to the proper authorities and establishments.

File your taxes as early as possible before the scammer does it before you.

Otherwise you could become a victim of tax identity theft.

Tax identity theft occurs when someone utilizes your Social Security number to get a job or a tax refund.

If you get notices from the IRS concerning any irregularities, respond to them immediately.

Better yet, inform them that you have been the victim of identity theft.

They will then be prepared for any tax identity theft attempts.

Do not believe anyone who says you’ll be arrested by the IRS unless you pay for the debt or the taxes that were incurred.

Don’t listen to them even if they have your Social Security number.

There’s a process to be followed.

Once you’ve filed the reports, conduct follow ups regularly.

Although your bank will probably notify you of any updates.

Keep a close eye on your credit reports for any irregularities.

The most important thing to remember is not to panic.

However, the longer you take to do something, the greater the damage.

What Will it Cost Me if My Identity is Stolen?

The dangers posed by identity theft are real.

If you don’t handle it properly, it could lead to financial disaster and legal trouble.

The first thing you need to realize is that identity theft can happen to anyone.

It’s not just rich people who are targets.

Cases of identity theft have been rising.

It’s imperative you protect yourself.

Identity theft is not just a nuisance as it can do a lot more damage.

Financial Consequences of Identity Theft:

ID thieves usually go after your credit card.

This can lead to numerous financial ramifications.

As the FTC has noted, ID theft can result in you owing thousands of dollars in debt.

It can scar your credit score.

Also, it will impair your credit history.

ID theft could lead to denials in mortgages, loans and employment opportunities.

This will affect your ability to open a bank account.

It’s possible you could end up with errors in your financial statements for months or years.

There’s also the fact that losing your ID could lead to life threatening situations.

Medical ID Fraud Ramifications

Victims of medical ID fraud will have a difficult time getting prescriptions.

If you’re taking medications for a serious medical condition, the situation can be life threatening.

Medical errors may also occur because of incorrect data under your name.

Medical ID theft makes sorting out your health records very difficult and time consuming.

If you need constant treatment, this will have a detrimental effect.

You could even face legal charges if you can’t prove there was a theft.

Legal trouble with medical ID theft usually happens if the ID thief gets cited or commits a crime using your name.

If this happens, you could be liable for the crime even if you weren’t involved.

How to Protect Myself from Identity Theft

First of all, you must guard any and all personal information you use online.

Most people today do their banking and shopping online.

Therefore, your passwords and account numbers are vulnerable to ID thieves if you don’t take care of them.

Prevent ID theft Hacks

Use alphanumeric passwords. Jumble them up so hackers won’t be able to guess them easily.

Do not give your password to anyone.

Change your passwords and logins monthly.

Do not login to your bank or shop online on a public computer.

Pay with your credit card since they are under the protection of Federal Law.

Be wary of phishing, which attempts to trick you into giving personal information.

Phishing uses pop ups that appear like real banks or financial institutions.

They are accompanied by a letter requesting for personal information.

Ignore these messages because banks will never ask you to submit sensitive data in emails.

Check your bank and credit accounts regularly.

This way you’ll know immediately if something is amiss.

If you notice a purchase you didn’t make, notify the bank immediately.

Check your mailing address with the proper financial institutions and the post office.

ID bandits usually fill change of address forms to keep you off track.

Check your credit report during and after an ID theft.

It’s a good idea to check your credit score even if you haven’t been victimized.

If anything’s amiss, you’ll know it quickly.

Store sensitive files and documents in a secure place.

Shred outdated ones.

Don’t just throw these papers in the thrash.

Get a shredder and destroy outdated credit card applications, bills, bank statements and any document that contains personal information.

Check your junk mail because they might contain personal data too.

When to use a company for ID theft protection

Some companies, for a fee, will provide ID theft protection.

Is this necessary?

The answer depends on your activities and how vulnerable you are.

ID protection

If you spend a lot of time shopping online

You don’t have the time to check your personal information

Reporting and coping with ID theft is stressful and time consuming.

Investing in ID protection might be a good option.

If you’re interested in paid ID protection, keep in mind that this will cost you.

Remember, no matter what the ads may say, it’s not 100% guaranteed you won’t fall victim.

If you decide this is what you want, be prepared to spend time researching the various options available.

Things will be a lot easier if you opt for the ID protection services provided by your insurer or bank.

Most banks will notify you if there are any large transactions or purchases that transpire involving your credit card.

Some of them even offer to pay insurance or legal fees in the event of fraud or ID theft.

Some insurers bundle ID theft protection with auto or home coverage.

Keep in mind these offers usually have exclusions.

Therefore, read the fine print before agreeing.

You’ll also find specialty companies who advertise themselves as ID theft specialists.

They offer a wide array of reactive and preventive tools to keep your credit and identity safe.

Fraud alerts

Features vary among these companies.

However, they usually have some type of fraud alert built in.

They’ll notify the appropriate credit bureaus so action will be taken if you become a victim.

What makes this feature useful is it will force the bank to balk or proceed cautiously for any credit request.

Apart from fraud alerts, these companies can also conduct credit freezes.

These are far more effective than alerts.

When your account is frozen, it prevents companies from getting to your credit.

It effectively locks your records against a new creditor.

Credit freezing rules vary, and it’s certainly inconvenient.

However, if you’ve been the victim of ID theft, this is the best option available.

While this is something you can do on your own, having a company do it for you can be handy if you don’t have the time or don’t want to mess around with the paperwork.

Whether you get paid ID protection or do it yourself, make it a point to take care of your checkbook and other financial data so no one is able to access them.

Banks and financial institutions will do everything they can to protect you.

However, you also need to take steps to protect yourself from these ID thieves.

Identity theft protection is essential

Identity theft protection is a necessity and not something you should ever take for granted.

Usually, when we read about it the assumption is that “it will never happen to me.”

That’s not how you should think because as has been repeatedly stressed by the authorities, ID theft can strike anyone.

When you take measures to protect yourself, you reduce your risk.

It can seem to be hard to get a Credit Card with Bad Credit.

While a good credit history is vital in getting an approval on a credit card application, there are ways where you can still get a credit card with bad credit rating.

This article will explain your next credit card option.

It is very hard to effectively function these days without a credit card.

How can you make internet purchases?

How can you check in a hotel?

It is very unlikely for a modern person as to not have the experience of having a credit card.

A more realistic problematic scenario is a person may have abused his credit line.

This may result in applying for bankruptcy or having collection issues.

The real question is on how to get a credit card with bad credit rating. Earn Money from Home

Pre-Approved vs Pre-Qualified Credit Card

You can always try applying for an additional credit line.

You will encounter two terms that sound similar but have entirely different meanings.

These are the terms “pre-approved” and “pre-qualified”.

Understanding the difference between the two will give you an idea as to what stage of the credit application you are in and will avoid the build-up of high hopes, wrong expectations and emotionally draining disappointments.

Most lending companies offer pre-qualification services as a means to get you enticed on filing a loan or credit card application.

It basically involves supplying all relevant information about yourself so that the lending company can tell you what sort of credit card, specifically described by the amount of credit limits and other flexibility, that you can apply for that is befitting your financial credentials and situation.

By no means does a pre-qualification guarantee an approval as one’s credit rating has not yet been taken into consideration at this stage.

No inquiries have been made regarding your credit history.

The lending institution has no sufficient reference to your paying habits.

Most pre-qualifications are done on the phone or online.

And the basis of the pre-qualification are only with references to the information that you have supplied.

Regardless of whether the info you supplied were truthful, the lending company will still investigate on five important factors that will make up your credit score.

Did you make your due dates

Have you used up your credit lines

How long you have maintained your credit lines

Your most recent credit account or application

The diversity of your loans

Once the lending company has checked on these matters, they are now in a position to give or deny an applicant pre-approval.

In every sense, the term pre-approved has a very heavy meaning versus the term pre-qualified.

While a pre-qualification will provide you with the opportunity to apply, a pre-approval will ensure you of approval if you apply.

How to Get Credit Card with Bad Credit

Secured Cards vs Unsecured Credit Cards

If you know that you have been missing due dates, then even if you get pre-qualified, you know what’s going to happen after you submit your application.

The lending company will get your credit rating from Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.

And if your credit is as bad as you expect it be based from your credit misdemeanors, your application will be denied.

A credit rating is a three digit number, ranging from 300 to 850 points.

Credit approval and denial

A credit applicant with a credit score between 300 to 580 points will most likely get a denial.

One that has a credit score between 581 and 650 will have a chance of approval but only for the highest and most costly rates.

A credit rating in the range of 651 to 710 will qualify one for credit at moderate interest rates.

A credit score is from 711 to 750 will qualify an applicant for credit at competitive rates.

The best scenario of a score of 751 or higher will gain the lowest rates in the market.

If you have not been making your payments on time and have all your credit lines used up to their limits then, you’ll probably fall on the first category and will get denied but you can still have an option in getting a credit card. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion

Secured credit cards and unsecured credit cards

Unsecured credit cards are those credit arrangements that are based on trust which is founded by a sufficient paying capacity and a healthy credit history.

We already have identified what a healthy credit history looks like.

It ranges from a credit rating of 581 points to 850 points with the highest scores gaining the best credit deals and options and the worst scores getting the highest rates with the least flexibility.

Credit ratings from 300 to 580 are high risk borrowers and won’t be approved for an unsecured card.

But, never think of a denial as a punishment for your credit demeanor’s.

Lending companies are businesses that are out to make as much money as they can.

They want you to use their credit card but can’t simply trust you to pay when your bills are due.

They are more than willing to give you a secured credit card where they can simply pull out from your secured deposit an amount equal to your unpaid balance if you fail to pay for it on its due date.

A secured credit card works this way.

You make a “non-withdraw-able” deposit of say $500 dollars to secure a credit card that will also have a $500 credit limit.

You have to sign some documents allowing the lending company to withdraw an amount corresponding to your unpaid balance upon failure to pay it on its due date from your deposit and apply it to the loan.

In this set-up, the lending company will benefit from your business risk-free and you get to enjoy the advantages and convenience of a credit card for purchases and satisfy the credit card requirement on hotel accommodations, car rentals and the likes.

A secured credit card is not a post-paid or debit card.

While it offers the same safety features of a debit or prepaid credit card for both holder and lender, its transaction records are reported to the various lending bureaus to be incorporated in your total credit rating like a normal credit card usage.

In a way, you can use secured credit cards as a means to alleviate your bad credit reputation.

Giving banks what they want

For the risk of giving an applicant an unsecured credit card, the bank is basically looking for two things.

The applicant must be in a position to pay off the credit card to the full extent of the limit with his income.

This will take out the risk of non-payment due to insufficient funding.

You will need to show information about your employment or own business.

They will verify claims about years of employment and salary.

They will check and business tax reports if you own your own company.

Applicant must be in the habit of paying his debts and paying them on time.

When the bank is satisfied with the information and confident you have a steady enough income to be able to pay for the extent of the credit limit they have in mind, they will look at your credit history.

Credit rating

The bank will be very particular about your credit rating.

This system of describing credit health was developed by Fair Isaac and Company.

They established the idea of machine-generated data to determine credit worthiness.

By the 1989, the company was able to formulate the equation behind the credit rating that is still being applied today.

Fair Isaac and Company didn’t see the need to let the public know on the process and the components that make up the three-digit score.

It was only during the early part of 2000’s, with much pressure for the United States Congress and private industries and consumers that they revealed to the public how they come up with ratings.

We are going to discuss the five components while we discuss the topics on the details of what the banks are actually looking at.

As we said earlier, banks are not only looking at an applicant’s capacity to pay for a certain credit limit but would want to see a numerical description of how likely is an applicant going to pay a loan if he has the financial capacity to so because.

Being able to pay and wanting to pay are two different things.

7 Credit Items Banks look at

Payment history

The bank would like to see how true you are to your word, especially in the aspect of paying a debt.

It’s not just a matter of paying your credit card dues, paying them on time is very important as well.

When you receive you credit card statement you will notice that the lending company is giving you two options to settle your present billing.

If you cannot pay the total amount due for the cycle, they are giving you a minimum amount of payment and you can pay for.

Anything from that minimum up to the full balance will cover you for that cycle.

While paying the minimum amount or anything more is allowable, you will have a slight dent on your credit rating.

Even if the lending company is offering you this leverage, the original credit deal was that if you used your credit card for a purchase.

It’s only a deferred payment where you have to pay for the whole amount of the purchase at the end of the cycle.

If you fail to do that, it’s a case of breaking your word which creates a negative mark on your credit worthiness.

For purchases that you know you cannot pay in full by billing date, register them under installment credit where you can pay for the full price in installment basis.

These feature come with zero-interest anyway.

If you do this, the installment amounts will be spread in several cycles that you can handle.

Length of credit

The bank would like to see a genuine habit of prompt payment.

A good habit can only be established by years of good practice.

One year of prompt payments is not enough to establish that you are in the habit of making prompt payments.

It only tells the bank that for the past twelve months you have paid on time.

Three years of this practice will tell the bank that you are likely to pay on time.

Five years, can already be reflective of your personality that you are indeed a responsible borrower who make payments on time.

This is the reason why everyone needs a credit card more so if they don’t need it.

And that’s because, people need to establish a good credit score so that when the time comes when they have to make a major loan, an investment like a home mortgage, a car loan or a study loan that is life-changing.

They can have a high chance of approval for the best rates in the market.

Diversity of credit

There are credit card purchases that are on a deferred payment scheme and there are purchases on a credit installment scheme.

There are also cash loans that are drawn from your credit card.

How do you tell which purchases will go to what and monitor which billing will fall in which cycle?

Figuring all these things out require financial sensibility and organization skills which the bank is also looking for.

If you have a credit card, it would be wise to study each purchase carefully and try to figure out which credit card scheme it will best fit it.

Small recurring purchases like gas and grocery should paid on a deferred payments scheme.

Big one-time purchases like a washing machine or a cell phone will best be paid on a six-month credit installment scheme.

Emergency expenses like car repair is best placed on longer credit installment schemes like cash out which can extend up to two years of monthly installments.

Debt-to-credit ratio

According to John Ulzheimer, president of Consumer Education at, the debit-to-credit ratio is one of the most important measurements in your credit score.

To compute for it you have to divide the aggregate outstanding balances of all your credit cards by the total limit across all the cards.

With this computation, the more you use the cards closer to their limits, the lower your score will be.

It might seem a bit odd to discourage usage but if you look at it closely, it has nothing to do with it because the purpose of the credit card is really for deferred payment which a person is expected to pay off after every cycle.

There should be no balance in the first place.

If you look at it on the standpoint of a lending institution, it is very risky to extend a loan to someone who is also busy paying off other loans.

If the credit limit is reflective of what a person can pay based on his salary, imagine the impact of having multiple credit cards stretched to their credit limits to pay.

There will come a time when that borrower will have to choose which card he will pay and which ones he will ignore.

An approving bank would not want to do business with this guy at this stage in his credit career.

The truth is this; if an individual is not in financial difficulty, he won’t be paying minimum in each cycle and continue on using the card up to the full extent of its limit.

Chances are this person is already using the few remaining available balances in his cards to pay for his living necessities because his entire salary is already exhausted in paying minimum installments for his credit card billings.

And, you can tell a person is really desperate, when he decides to apply for another credit line at this particular situation to create an even deeper hole for him to get out of.

Debt-to-income ratio

The debt-to-income ratio is the way lending institutions measure an applicant’s ability to pay for the purchases he incurred on deferred payment.

To calculate for this numerical information, you have to add up all of the applicant’s monthly debt payments and divide the sum by his gross monthly income where the gross monthly income is the amount the applicant is earning before taxes and other deductions.

A credit card puts you in this scenario:

You will be placed in a situation where your monthly income should be enough to pay for your current needs as well as your monetary obligations from you previous month’s expenses which you chose to pay today.

It’s like paying for today’s and yesterday’s expenses all with your present month’s salary.

Lending companies would like to make sure that your financial condition can accommodate this duplicity because when a choice has to be made between survival and the credit card dues, a person will naturally choose to buy the current necessities versus paying debts.

It is very bad business for a lending company to extend a credit line to a person who is on the verge of making this decision.

Credit lines

The age of your credit lines also play a very important role in determining your credit worthiness.

If you have recently applied and have recently been approved by another credit card company, it is a bit suspicious why you would be applying for another credit card.

The point is this, if a credit limit is reflective of the amount that you can handle based on your income and credit score.

Wanting to have two of these limits in two cards will suggest that you have intentions on borrowing an amount which is double of what you can pay.

This scenario would be more exaggerated if you have several other cards that are full.

Credit score

All the items discussed in this section except for item number 5 about credit-to-income ratio summarizes what’s in the three-digit number called the credit score.

Components of the credit rating are as follows

Thirty-five percent (35%) weight is given to your prompt payments

Thirty percent (30%) weight is given to your debit-to-credit ratio

Fifteen percent (15%) weight is given to the length of you credit history

Ten percent (10%) is affected by new credit lines that you have opened

And the last ten percent (10%) is based on the diversity of your credit accounts

What if I’m under 21 years old?

The Card Act of 2009 imposes strict limitations to lending companies with regards to issuing credit cards to minors (issuing Credit Cards under 21 years old).

It states that an applicant must be at least 18 years old to qualify.

A person under 21 years old will have to show proof of independent income or assets to show that he will be capable of making minimum payments.

Or, he should have a cosigner who will share the obligation with him.

Otherwise his only choice is to be approved by his parents or guardian to be an authorized user of their credit card.

If it so happens that the young applicant’s income is enough to qualify for a credit under his name, he is solely responsible for making his payments.

In the case of having a co-signer or being an authorized user, the other individuals involved will share his financial obligations.

Whether the young credit card applicant gets an approval for an independent credit line, becomes an authorized user or gets a co-signer all transaction records and payments made will form part of his credit history that will affect his credit rating.

For parents who want to give their 18 year old son or daughter a credit card to use while he or she is out for college or want to start them off in creating good credit ratings.

Best option is to help them apply for a secured credit card that will help keep their credit card use at bay and ensure of positive marks for their credit score.

Their credit score that will help them in the more important loans they will need later on in life.

The challenge for parents is to figure out the right secured credit limit.

Before we end, it is important to stress one very important point.

Approving credit card applications is something every lending institution wants to do.

It is in these credit approvals where their business thrives.

If ever lending companies reject an application, both applicant and approving bank losses on the opportunity.

These are just some of the decisions that they have to make to minimize possible losses.

If you have honest intentions and all you need is the convenience of a credit card then you can still get a credit card with bad credit rating.

All you need to do is secure the line with a non-withdrawable deposit which you will authorize the bank to draw upon in case you default on your payments.

When you don’t qualify for a credit card, request for a secured credit card instead.

Travel Insurance How You Can Choose the Best Plan

Travel Insurance – It’s natural to presume that nothing could go wrong on a trip.

After all, you would have spent a considerable amount of time and money planning it down to every last detail.

From travel arrangements to accommodation, everything has been taken care of.

In your mind, you are already there, looking forward to the relaxing time you will spend on your holiday.

And then, someone in your family falls sick and you can no longer make the trip.

Why is that a problem?

You can just cancel the bookings, right?

It’s not as simple as that…but it can be if you have Good Travel Insurance.

In most cases, you can cancel your bookings and get a refund.

However, there is usually a deadline.

For instance, if you are booked on a cruise, you would have to cancel at least 7 days prior to the date of departure.

As far as plane tickets are concerned, you can cancel the tickets a couple of days before the flight in order to get a refund.

But, what if something goes wrong at the last minute?

And it is not just before you leave on your trip that you can experience such problems.

It is quite possible that you have to cut your trip short and return home.

In that case, getting a refund would be next to impossible.

You also have to take into account the possibility of lost luggage, medical expenses you have to bear in the place you are going to and of course, crime.

There is one solution that can help you prepare to deal with any such problem that occurs before or during your trip: travel insurance.

The problem with travel insurance has been the numerous myths and misconceptions doing the rounds.

People don’t understand the extent of the coverage the policy will provide them.

Hence, they avoid buying it.

What they don’t realize is that having travel insurance ensures their safety and also protects their money from unexpected loss.

Let’s look at some of the myths and misconceptions:

Travel Insurance: Myths – Coverage – Benefits

First off, there is a common perception that travel insurance is expensive.

This is not the case at all; you can get adequate coverage for $2 a day.

The cost depends on the extent of the coverage you opt.

The more exhaustive and extensive your policy is, the more you will have to pay for it.

Yet, compared to the loss you can suffer, it is a considerably small amount.

Most travelers believe that the coverage their credit card provides them is sufficient and that they don’t need to spend money on buying additional insurance.

You may be covered to a certain extent, particularly for medical expenses.

Yet, if you plan to embark on any adventurous activities, it is best to get a new policy.

It is a good idea to check the extent of the coverage provided by your credit card company.

Insurance companies are notorious for denying claims, but 99.9% of the time they have a genuine reason for it.

However, their clients believe that their claims are unfairly denied every time.

That is why most people don’t even consider purchasing insurance, travel or otherwise.

Perhaps the most common misconception about travel insurance is that it only covers lost luggage.

This is preposterous to say the least.

As mentioned above, there are many scenarios in which having coverage can help you out while you are traveling.

In fact, it is a good idea for you to know the different ways in which travel insurance covers you.

What Does Travel Insurance Cover?

Cancelled Trips

If your trip has to be cancelled (Cruise Insurance) for any reason, the insurance company will compensate you.

This includes the travel expenses, accommodation and any other amenities and facilities for which you have already made the payment.

In case the expenses are refundable, you won’t need to use your policy.

Therefore, this coverage only kicks in when there are any non-refundable expenses, usually prepaid, expenses you have made for your trip.

Reasons to Cancel Your Cruise

Sickness or injury to someone in the travel party

Sickness, injury or death of a family member

Work commitments

Travel provider going bankrupt

The destination is damaged by extreme weather (e.g. hurricane destroys the resort you were going to)

Weather makes travelling impossible

Involvement in legal proceedings or called for jury duty

These are some of the most common reasons why people cancel their trips.

If you have to cancel your trip for any other reason, the insurance provider will take the situation into account.

Interrupted Trips

Travel insurance also covers you in the event that you have to cut your trip short and return home.

The reasons for interrupting your trip might be similar to the ones listed above.

The insurance company decides on a case to case basis.

If there was a genuine reason you had to get back (why else would you?), you will be compensated for the prepaid, non-refundable expenses you did not derive any value from.

In fact, you will also be compensated for the flight you have to take to get back home.

Medical Emergencies

It is quite possible that you or a member of your travelling party gets sick or injured upon reaching the destination.

Most people believe that if they have medical insurance, they needn’t worry about the medical expenses.

This is not often the case.

Unless you are absolutely certain your policy will cover you, don’t rely on it.

If you have health insurance but your provider doesn’t cover you for treatment or the trip back home, your travel insurance will.

You will be covered for accidents and emergency medical and dental care.


There are some situations in which emergency evacuation is the only option available to you.

For instance, a person in your traveling party may have to be airlifted for medical reasons.

The issue is that emergency evacuations are expensive.

For evacuation due to medical reasons, the cost could be upwards of $50,000.

Not to worry as your insurance provider will cover the cost of the evacuation.

Lost Luggage and Flight Delays

These are some of the additional things for which you are covered by your policy.

It is incredibly frustrating to reach your destination and discover that the airline has lost your luggage.

In that case, the insurance company will provide the money you need to buy essential items, like medicines, toothbrushes, toiletries, etc.

Even if your luggage is delayed, this coverage is provided.

In the event your flight is delayed, your accommodation expenses will also be borne by the insurance company.

For instance, if your flight has been delayed by a day because of weather, you can stay at a hotel and you will be compensated for it by your insurance provider.

These are some of the things that travel insurance covers you for.

As you can see, you are safe against loss and many out of pocket expenses you would otherwise have to bear.

There are other situations in which the policy will cover you.

It depends on the policy and provider you choose.

This is why it is important that you choose a policy that suits your needs perfectly.

How to Select a Travel Insurance Plan

As you can see, travel insurance can get you out of tight spots on your trips and holidays.

You don’t have to worry about bearing any losses if something goes awry.

Therefore, there is no doubt that buying a plan is a must before you embark on your travels.

However, not all plans are made equal.

You have to pick the right insurance plan so that you receive adequate coverage and can enjoy your travels with absolute peace of mind.

Here are some tips on how to select insurance plan:

The first thing you need to do is ascertain the requirements of your trip.

For instance, if you are going on a cruise, the requirements will be different than if you are flying out to Disneyland.

Let’s say you are going on a cruise, you have to ensure that your insurance plan covers delays and cancellations because of weather conditions, emergency evacuation and lost or damaged luggage.

Check out the different things that are covered under the policy and choose accordingly.

Medical coverage is extremely important, regardless of the mode of travel you have selected and the distance you are traveling.

This is because you never know when someone might fall sick or get injured.

While you are at it, it is a good idea to add life insurance to your plan if you are going to a ‘dangerous’ or ‘adventurous’ destination.

Make sure there aren’t any items on your policy that you won’t have any use for. For example, you don’t need to get rental car insurance if you are going on a cruise.

At the end of the day, it comes down to how much you are willing to spend on travel insurance.

Keep a budget in mind so that you have sufficient coverage without having to give an arm and a leg.

Benefits of Travel Insurance

The extent of coverage you can get through an insurance plan for your travels has been described above.

Yet, that is not the only reason why you should consider buying a policy.

Key benefits of travel insurance:

First and foremost, you get absolute peace of mind that you are covered in case of any untoward incident or emergencies.

You can make the necessary arrangements to deal with the situation, whether it is flying back home or checking into a hospital.

Having the right insurance plan will ensure that each and every contingency is covered.

You won’t have to bear any expenses out of pocket.

More often than not, your entire trip would go smoothly.

The weather is perfect, you make the flight and the place you are going to is wonderful.

But, what if you are mugged or your luggage gets stolen?

If you are in a foreign land, recovering your lost belongings could be a major hassle.

Moreover, you will have to make extra arrangements to cope up while your items are found.

Your insurance plan ensures you don’t have to bear this hassle.

One of the, if not the, most important benefits of travel insurance is that the leading providers offer round the clock phone assistance.

You need only place a call to the helpline and a member of their staff will answer your queries.

The great thing is that they not only help you with matters pertaining to your policy but also if you need assistance finding a pharmacy or booking a last-minute flight.

This means that not only are your expenses covered, the insurance company will ensure you don’t have to bear too much hassle making the necessary arrangements.

In most cases, your current insurance plan will not cover you once you leave the country.

In that case, you will have to pay for any medical and associated expenses you have to bear while you are there, that is, unless you purchase a travel insurance plan.

Not to forget that the cost of insuring your trip will not be too high.

You will easily be able to afford the coverage.

Compare this to the loss you might have to face in the event something goes wrong and you can see how beneficial buying insurance will prove to be.

Regardless of how well you plan your trip, something could go wrong.

This doesn’t mean that you cancel your trip altogether and stay home just to avoid the inconvenience.

The thing you need to keep in mind is that travel insurance is a fail safe.

You will only have to use it should something go wrong.

If everything goes to plan (why wouldn’t it?) you won’t have to use your policy.

So, buy insurance just to be on the safe side.

You will enjoy your trip more when you know you are covered.

Good Travel Insurance Should Cover Financial Loss or Medical Expenses

Good Travel insurance may assist you in covering any financial losses or medical expenses that might occur during your trip.

Also, having travel insurance is regarded as the ideal protection for individuals traveling overseas or domestically.

However, there are certain factors any good travel insurance should cover (including cell phone) and you need to be aware of these factors prior to signing the policy papers as they’ll help you remain protected from the unpredictable.

Following are the few factors any good travel insurance should cover:

Medical Insurance

People are generally aware of their co-pays costs when it comes to their plan within the United States, but they usually lack the knowledge associated with international travel.

There’s a pretty good chance that your coverage will not last beyond borders.

Thus, your insurance plan should cover travel medical insurance along with major medical insurance.

These can help you when you’re injured or ill while traveling.

Travel medical insurance covers short-term medical requirements and may last from 5 days to a whole year (according to the policy) while major medical insurance is ideal for travelers wishing to spend more than just a few months abroad.

Having these insurances may assist you in covering various medical expenses along with locating hospitals, doctors, foreign-language services and healthcare facilities in the event of an injury or illness.

Thus, it is always a good idea to inquire the insurance company regarding medical care as it will help you decide whether you should buy medical insurance or not.

Trip Cancellation

Cruise fare, plane tickets, hotel rooms, golf green fees, tour packages and chartering fishing boats all require pre-paid investment and are mostly non-refundable and that’s why trip cancellation cover is a must for any travel insurance policy.

However, the cancellation coverage can reimburse your prepaid and non-refundable expenses.

Usually, insurance companies provide you with a list of cancellation covered reasons.

Travel Insurance Covered Cancellations

Flight cancellation or destination damage due to hurricane

In the event of terrorist activity in the destination city

Travel supplier bankruptcy

Injury, sickness, or the death of a traveling companion or family member

Jury duty

Work emergency or being laid off from work

Travel Delay, Delayed or Lost Bags

Your travel insurance should cover the delay of flights and baggage or along with baggage loss.

Any baggage lost, damaged, or stolen can be reimbursed with baggage coverage and if your baggage is delayed, the delay coverage can provide you with enough money to purchase essentials like a change of clothes, a toiletry kit or swimsuit until it arrives.

Also, if our flight is delayed, coverage for travel delay provides compensation for added expenses, such as a restaurant meal or extra night at the hotel.

Emergency Evacuation Coverage and 24/7 Phone Assistance

Emergency evacuation costs can be distressing and having coverage along with a 24/7 assistance lifeline to deal with such situations can provide some amount of relief for the traveler.

This coverage will make payments for emergencies like airlifts plus flights with medical facilities to transport the traveler to a hospital of their choice.

Also, in the event of losing baggage or medical emergencies, a 24/7 support should be provided by the insurance company.

The next time you’re planning a trip, considering the above factors any good travel insurance should cover can help you make the right choices and travel with peace of mind.

How to Choose Travel Insurance

Insurance — be it car, home, health, or travel — is always difficult to compare and buy.

One of the most frustrating aspects of our pre-trip planning for our 4 month excursion to Argentina and Belize was finding travel insurance.

Specifically narrowing down travel health insurance options.

We ended up choosing World Nomads (you can read our World Nomads Travel Insurance review roundup here) in part because it was just an easier process with more clearly communicated policies.

But, comparing travel insurance and deciphering health specific travel insurance options shouldn’t be complicated.

So, we’ve put together a short series about how to choose travel insurance.

Check out the next three posts to learn more about comparing travel insurance.

How To Compare Travel Medical Insurance

For me, the single most challenging piece of traveling for an extended time was figuring out medical insurance before I left.

Because I quit my job to travel, I no longer had medical insurance.

Because a medical issue can cost an enormous amount of money.

The number one reason people declare bankruptcy is because of medical bills.

It’s critical that you have some sort of medical coverage while traveling.

The trick is determining if you need just a basic travel insurance policy or a policy that is specifically medical.

This guides you through how to choose and compare travel medical insurance.

photo credit: ssoosay

Travel Medical Insurance Determine Your Resident Country’s Medical Insurance

Depending on where you live, it’s possible that your country’s medical care system will cover you while you’re traveling abroad.

If you a US citizen – the US government doesn’t provide any sort of coverage for you.

And, if you already have health insurance, there’s a strong possibility that your medical insurance won’t even cover you while you’re traveling internationally.

Check your policy.

Determine Coverage for While You Are Home and Not Traveling

Again, I can only speak to this piece from a United State’s perspective.

If you’re quitting your job to travel you have the following options for health insurance:

Travel Insurance Options

COBRA is an option if you want to stay on your current health plan.

However, it’s extremely expensive.

Check with your employer to find out more about COBRA coverage.


EHealth Insurance offers Short Term Health Insurance Policies.

However, note that pre-existing conditions are not covered for most short term plans.

Though this may be changing with the new health care bill.

If you’re a regular healthy person this probably won’t be a problem.

But if you have a chronic illness or injury, this may not be for you.

It’s important to have some sort of medical insurance for right before you leave to travel and for when you get home.

Note that these plans probably don’t provide coverage for you while you’re abroad.

But they are important for providing coverage once you are home.

Determine Your “Host” Country’s Medical Insurance

If you’re going to travel to a single country, such as New Zealand or France, it’s possible that if you get into an accident while there you’ll be covered by that country’s health care system.

You should look into health care in the country you’ll be visiting and how you would be covered.

If you’re going to multiple countries you should definitely buy travel medical insurance or at least travel insurance that covers emergency medical issues.

Buy Travel Medical Insurance

Most likely, after researching the above you are going to want to buy an international travel medical insurance policy.

What to Look for in a Travel Medical Insurance Policy

Pre-existing condition coverage

Many international medical insurance policies do not cover preexisting conditions.

However, some policies will cover “acute onset” or “unexpected recurrence” of a pre-existing condition.

This essentially means that if suddenly your knee goes out due to a football injury when you were in high school, you’re ok.

But if you’ve need continuous treatment for the condition then you’re not covered.

What’s the limit for pre-existing coverage conditions.

For plans that offer pre existing condition coverage I’ve seen ranges from $1000 – $100,000 in maximum coverage.

Emergency Medical Treatment

Does the plan offer emergency medical treatment coverage?

What are the limitations and exceptions?

See high risks sports section below and preexisting condition coverage above?

What is the limit to the most amount of money they will pay for emergency medical treatment?

Emergency Medical Evacuation and Medical Repatriation

Squaremouth defines as: “Emergency Evacuation arranges to medically transport a patient to an appropriate medical facility.

Medical Repatriation arranges for a patient to return home to receive care.

Repatriation of Remains arranges for return of deceased remains back to the place of residence.”

What are the maximum limits per person and per policy?

This may also include death/funeral/return of remains coverage.

Death/Funeral Expenses

Is there coverage for return of remains in case of death?

What about funeral expenses?

Yes, this is terrible to think about, but you don’t want your family to have to pay these expenses if you were to die while traveling.

Accidents for “High Risk” Sports

Skiing and snowboarding are considered high risk and not covered by many policies.

Evening if you get injured during something as low key as canoeing you might not be covered.

The World Nomad’s policies are known for covering most activities and adventures.

Where to Buy Travel Insurance


Squaremouth is essentially a search engine for travel insurance and travel medical insurance.

It has an amazing (the best I’ve seen) comparison chart for international medical insurance.

If you need coverage for a preexisting condition Squaremouth shows you good policies. excellent.

These policies may be more specific to medical insurance and may not offer basic travel insurance coverage for issues like trip cancellation or theft.

World Nomads

World Nomads Travel Insurance is used by many backpackers and twenty-somethings.

It has especially good coverage of high risk sports, easy to understand policies, and an easy to file claims system.

World Nomad’s policies tend to be general travel insurance policies.

Allianz Travel Insurance, is another that is worthy of checking and comparing

How to Protect Your Home When You Are Away

A vacation is a precious opportunity to escape the everyday cares that are a part of most people’s lives.

You can ensure your peace of mind by following some tips to protect your home while you’re away.

Nothing tips off potential burglars to the fact that you’re not home the way that piled up mail can do.

Arrange with the post office to hold your mail for the duration of your trip.

Also, make sure to suspend any newspaper subscriptions.

Another great way to protect your home is to have someone house sit for you.

You can ask a trusted friend, relative or neighbor to do this.

At the very least have them collect your mail or newspaper if you did place a hold.

Alternatively, a professional house sitting service can also be engaged.

Whether you go with a pro or not, a house sitter can make certain that the plants get watered and that pets are cared for in addition to simply making your house look occupied even while you’re not there.

If you’re going to be gone for a considerable length of time, ask your house sitter to periodically mow your lawn.

One of my favorite things to do when EVER I’m not at home regardless if it’s a quick run to the store or a month long trip is to leave a radio on.

It’s also advisable not to advertise the fact that you’re out of town.

Don’t post explicit travel plans on social media websites, and resist the temptation to alter answering machine or voicemail greetings.

Wait until your return home to post your amazing pictures and update your social media.

You never know who’s watching or listening.

Technology can be your greatest ally when you are seeking to protect your home.

Smart home technology makes it possible for you to double check your home’s security from the other side of the world using your cell phone or other mobile device.

Check in to making your home a smart home well before you leave as the installation of security cameras and other devices may be required.

These systems may enable you to turn lights on and off and do other things to make your house look inhabited, a valuable tool while you are far from home.

A monitored security system is another excellent means by which you can protect your home.

Whether it’s a break in, flood or fire, a monitored security system is always on the lookout for problems and can get in touch with you and the proper authorities, if necessary.

Vacations should be times of rest and relaxation that allow you to take a break from the worries that are a normal part of life.

By ensuring the security of your home, you’ll rest easier while you’re away knowing you protect your home while you’re away.

World Nomads Travel Insurance – Buying and Reviews

One of the things I posted about in my checklist of things to do before a trip was finding travel insurance.

Specifically, insurance that would cover health emergencies while I’m abroad, even though it’s not completely “travel health insurance”.

Like from World Nomads Travel Insurance.

After sorting through numerous websites and reviews, we’ve settled on World Nomads travel insurance.

World Nomads travel insurance

Has competitive prices and what seems to be a solid policy.

I’ve read a number of posts and reviews by people who have actually had to made claims on their travel insurance policies.

To me it doesn’t help to read reviews by folks who’ve never made a claim.

Turns out World Nomads travel insurance has, for the most part, been extremely helpful, according to the reviews.

That is, in the Travel Insurance Reviews, people said that they had good success on their claims.

World Nomads reviews included claims for a dropped camcorder, lost jacket, and other valuables.

Of all of the Worlds Nomads reviews I read, there was only one bad one.

There was one complaint by a person who was angry that World Nomads travel insurance didn’t pay a claim on a stolen backpack because it was “unattended.”

But the complaint was the exception, and most people had positive things to say in their World Nomads travel insurance reviews.

My Personal World Nomads Review

Update: We used World Nomads travel insurance for the entirety of our trip abroad.

My overall review is that it was good.

We luckily never had to make a claim, but knowing that the World Nomad reviews were positive we felt that if we had been in trouble World Nomads would have been there to help.

Thus, while our personal experience with World Nomads was positive, it’s probably more important to note that other World Nomads travel insurance reviews were good.

Buy World Nomads Travel Insurance

It was really easy (and quick) to buy World Nomads travel insurance.

We just went to their site, entered our information and credit card number and they emailed us our policy.

I was even happier to read that World Nomads Travel Insurance is doing their part to give back.

World Nomads offers you the chance to contribute to various social, health, and educational programs when you make your purchase.

On their website World Nomads writes:

“If you think you are too small to make a difference you haven’t been in bed with a mosquito.”

In 2007, and our customers funded 300 sight-saving surgeries, built a primary school and repaired another, trained over 200 teachers and helped 40 kids get through school, gave a whole village solar-lighting, installed water and sanitation facilities in 3 schools and 2 villages, provided educational supplies in 4 schools and medicines to 3 communities and 4 orphanages, helped create two kitchen gardens and buy 300 egg-laying chickens, built capture fog-nets for fresh drinking water and provided a safe-home for girls of sex workers.

Also from the World Nomads travel insurance site:

5 things you should know about World Nomads Travel Insurance

How do I make a claim?

With World Nomads Travel Insurance you can claim online even if you are still travelling.

And if you don’t entirely trust insurance companies, have a look at how World Nomads have helped some of their travelers.

Who can buy it?

World Nomads Travel Insurance is available to residents of over 150 countries.

Extend your cover Had a change of travel plans? Unlike other policies, World Nomads allows you to extend your policy indefinitely.

Because it’s online, you can do it 24/7 from anywhere in the world.

What can I do?

World Nomads cover most adventure sports from bungee jumping in New Zealand to white-water rafting in Colorado.

How do I buy it?

You can only buy World Nomads policies online using a credit card.

Should I Buy Travel Insurance?

Last week we found ourselves with a cancelled flight home due to a snowstorm.

It required an extra night in our destination, needing to extend our rental car reservation and with other travel expenses.

I found myself thinking “I should have bought travel insurance.”

But it was a short trip and I never even asked myself before the trip “Should I buy travel Insurance?”

Amount of Time You’ll Be Gone

The longer you’ll be gone the more likely it is that you’ll encounter some type of challenge or problem that would require insurance.

For trips of a week or more I would definitely consider buying travel insurance for your trip.

But even for weekend trips to a different country or a dangerous (or snowy) city, it might be worth it the added cost.

If you’re going on an around-the world-trip for a year, you should not even be asking yourself this question, just jump to the where to buy travel insurance section or to backpackers travel insurance.

Where You’re Traveling To

I always buy travel insurance when I plan an international trip.


Not because traveling overseas is necessarily more dangerous, but because I would prefer to have more comforts and reassurances if something did go wrong.

Also, the costs if something happened (from medical emergencies to needing an early flight back home) are exceptionally high.

Even if you’re going somewhere in country – if it’s an expensive trip or a family vacation it is likely worth it to buy travel insurance.

If You Have Special Medical Needs

If you have any sort of medical needs you should consider travel medical insurance plans specifically.

While the cost of medical care abroad may be cheaper, emergency medical evacuations are expensive, and more importantly, having insurance will make you feel better and relieve stress related to finances in cases of emergency.

Refundability of Your Trip

Is part of your trip non refundable if you cancelled unexpectedly?

Your airline tickets most likely are not refundable.

Hotel reservations and car rental reservations are likely the only things that you can cancel with just 24 or 48 hours notice.

Cruises (see note below) also require buying travel insurance.

Consider whether or not your trip is refundable to help you decide if I should buy travel insurance.

The Cost of Your Trip

The more your trip costs the more you have to lose if it got cancelled or interrupted in anyway.

Say, for example, that you paid $9,000 for a Galapagos Cruise, then due to weather delays you get there two days late.

You have to stay in a hotel for extra nights and pay the extra cost of meeting the cruise at the next destination point.

If your cruise was only tens days you’ve missed out on twenty percent of the trip.

Your Ability to Pay Unexpected Costs

If the trip you’re planning is a once in a lifetime trip that you’ve saved money for for a long time.

Or you’re on a fixed income and couldn’t afford the added expense of an additional night or two at a hotel or a cancelled cruise, then you should buy travel insurance.

The added security in case something goes awry is well worth it.

Are You Going on a Cruise?

If you are going on a cruise, buy travel insurance.

I have heard countless stories of people having to fight cruise lines for money back due to an unforeseen circumstance.

Had they purchased travel insurance they would have had a much easier time.

Compare Cheapest Travel Insurance: Price Comparison

After writing the previous posts about how to find and what to look for in backpackers insurance and travel medical insurance it’s now time to look at the numbers and answer the question: “How much does travel insurance cost?”

So, I’ve put together this guide comparing the cheapest travel insurance.

I came up with three different scenarios and then ran them through Allianz Travel Insurance, Squaremouth and World Nomads to get price comparisons and figure out which was the cheapest travel insurance.

Note that Squaremouth does not offer travel insurance directly, rather it is a travel insurance search engine (but it doesn’t search World Nomads.)

So, essentially by searching with Squaremouth I am searching 20+ policies at once.

Compare Cheapest Travel Insurance:

Person Needing Insurance: A 20-year old single male citizen and resident of Washington DC, United States.

Travel Information: Policy starting on September 5, 2009 and lasting for 2 weeks.

A worldwide policy with the majority of travel taking place in Argentina

(Squaremouth requires you to indicate where you’ll be spending the “most” time.)

World Nomads Insurance Price Results – Total Cost: $64

Travel Insurance Policy Includes:

Trip Cancellation: $5,000
Emergency Medical/Dental Coverage: $100,000
Emergency Medical Transportation $500,000
Travel Accident: $10,000
Baggage Coverage: $2,500
Sporting Equipment Coverage: $1000

Squaremouth Price Results: Cheapest Policy: $132

Travel Insurance Policy Includes:

Emergency Medical: $2,500 – covers preexisting conditions
Medical Evacuation: $10,000
Baggage Coverage: $500
Trip Cancellation: $5,000
Trip Interruption: $5,000

World Nomads Definitely provides more coverage at a cheaper price.

However, the policy that was cheapest with Squaremouth offers preexisting condition coverage as well as trip interruption coverage.

Scenario Comparison 2:

Person Needing Insurance: A 25 year old female from British Columbia, Canada seeking a family policy.

Travel Information: Policy starting on October 4 for 1 month of travel worldwide, spending the most time in Greece.

World Nomads Insurance Price Results Total Cost: $250 Canadian (equals $229 USD)

Travel Insurance Policy Includes:

Trip Cancellation: $1,000
Trip Interruption: $5,000
Emergency Medical/Dental Coverage: $1,000,000
Emergency Medical Transportation $500,000
Travel Accident: $10,000
Baggage Coverage: $2,500
Sporting Equipment Coverage: $2,500

Squaremouth Price Results: Cheapest Policy: $132 US

Travel Insurance Policy Includes:

Emergency Medical: $2,500 – covers preexisting conditions
Medical Evacuation: $10,000
Baggage Coverage: $500 per person
Trip Cancellation: $5,000
Trip Interruption: $5,000

World Nomads provides better coverage at a much more expensive price.

Scenario Comparison 3

Person Needing Insurance: A 30-year old single male citizen and resident of United Kingdom.

Travel Information: Policy starting on September 15, 2009 and lasting for 6 months.

A worldwide policy with the majority of travel taking place in Japan.

Coverage for lightest level of adventure (level 1 for World Nomads price comparison)

World Nomads Insurance Price Results Total Cost: 191 Pounds (equals $314 USD)

Travel Insurance Policy Includes:

Trip Cancellation: 5,000 pounds
Trip Curtailment/Interruption: 5,000 pounds
Emergency Medical/Dental Coverage: 3,000,000 pounds
Baggage Coverage: 1,250 pounds
Loss of Passport/Travel Documents: 600 pounds
Personal Liability: 2,000,000 pounds

Squaremouth Price Results: Cheapest Policy: $313 US

Travel Insurance Policy Includes:

Emergency Medical: $50,000 – does not cover preexisting conditions
Medical Evacuation: $50,000
Baggage Coverage: $250
Trip Interruption: $5,000
Deductible: $250

The two have prices that are comparable — nearly the exact same amount.

Even though the Squaremouth policy that is cheapest in this scenario comes up with higher emergency medical coverage, World Nomads still provides more coverage.

Travel Insurance Results

World Nomads travel insurance was the cheaper policy is 2 out of 3 scenarios and always provided more coverage for medical emergencies.

However, the trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage was not always better with World Nomads.

Clearly there is no “cheapest travel insurance” rather you will find the cheapest by comparing several options.

I really like Squaremouth because they compare prices and policies for you.

Any time you enter information you get a dozen or so policy options, many of which you can customize.

But, if you are younger, World Nomads generally provides more comprehensive policies for the price.

It pays to compare the policies — so just take a quick look at Allianz Travel Insurance, Squaremouth and World Nomads next time you’re searching for the cheapest travel insurance policy.

Where to Buy Travel Insurance Online

Most likely if you are asking yourself – should I buy travel insurance – the answer is probably “yes.”

So where should you buy travel insurance online?

We did a post about comparing the cheapest travel insurance and found that the best places are either from Allianz Travel Insurance, World Nomads or Squaremouth.

World Nomads was cheaper in 2 out of 3 of our scenarios.

It is easy to run comparisons on these two sites and determine what is cheaper.

We usually choose World Nomads Travel insurance – you can read our full World Nomads Review.

Is Travel Insurance Worth It? 5 Questions to Ask Before You Buy

As I contemplated future travel expenses, I found myself wondering: Is travel insurance worth it?

Travel can be expensive and travel insurance seemed like an unnecessary expense.

But then I talked to fellow travel writers and enthusiasts, from family weekend trippers to round the world travelers, and they all said the same thing: you need travel insurance for every trip, to any destination.

I turned to doctors and emergency personnel, and they said the same.

I also read lots of non-sensational but still frightening travel mishaps, and that really drove the point home:

For most people in most situations, travel insurance is worth it — but you have to do your research.

Here are the 5 questions you need to ask before you buy travel insurance.

Should I buy travel insurance?

Travel insurance usually covers three things: trip cancellation, lost property or luggage, and medical emergencies.

While the first two categories are convenient and will save your financial headaches, the third is crucial.

The health insurance you have at home likely won’t cover you abroad, and if it does, foreign health care systems rarely like dealing with it (would you?).

This leaves you with sky-high bills likely requiring out-of-pocket payment (and a lengthy battle for reimbursement as your holiday souvenir).

Of course, exceptions are out there, so the first thing you want to do before shopping for travel insurance is check what your standard health insurance already covers.

If you’re one of the lucky ones who enjoy comprehensive medical coverage abroad, you may only need a limited travel insurance plan to cover trip cancellation or lost luggage.

How expensive is travel insurance, really?

It’s not as expensive as I assumed! Cheap travel medical insurance can be found.

I personally requested quotes from three top travel insurance companies for my family of five for a hypothetical 15-day, moderately luxurious trip.

The rates varied only slightly, and all were under $300 total.

These days, you can barely check your bags for that!

Two of the best travel insurance companies are Allianz Travel Insurance, Squaremouth and World Nomads.

Travel insurance questions:

Will the policy pay upfront, or demand that I cover the bills and reimburse me later?

Remember, emergency bills can easily rise to the thousands, ten thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The last thing you want to deal with during a stressful time is covering the bills, even temporarily.

Be sure to carefully compare policies to find the best one for you.

Can I find one carrier to cover me for multiple trips?

Shopping for travel insurance isn’t exactly how most people like to spend their day, so pick an insurer (and policy) that will see to your needs down the road.

Round-the-world journalist Heather Greenwood Davis recommends researching how long of a trip a potential insurer will cover in her article What to Look for in Travel Insurance.

Planning to take advantage of the coverage offered by the credit card you used to book the trip is tempting, but most limit coverage to a maximum of 15 days.

Do your homework and figure out exactly what a potential insurer will cover and how long they will cover you.

Read our post Travel Medical Insurance: How to Compare for more on this.

Does the medical coverage include evacuation?

Most people never think of the need of medical evacuation unless traveling to a very remote region.

In truth, medical evacuation can be needed in developed areas, and can cost over $100,000 a flight.

Find out before buying: does your coverage include evacuation?

If not, consider buying a membership with a service such as MedJet.

Does the coverage include my entire travel party, including children?

Knowing when to seek medical attention while traveling is hard for any parent.

You don’t need the stress of wondering whether you’ll be charged for the full cost of a hospital stay or emergency room visit on top of caring for your child.

The good news: most travel insurance companies include free coverage for children with every paying adult.

If coverage is through a credit card company, do you need to pay for all or a portion of the trip with the card in order to qualify?

Be sure to ask!

If you plan to charge only a portion of your trip on your credit card with travel insurance benefits, make sure you still qualify.

If not, consider paying with a card that gives you air miles or cash back instead, and put the savings toward a travel insurance policy.

Do you travel with travel insurance?

If so, we hope you haven’t needed to use it!

Comparing the Best Backpackers Travel Insurance

Backpackers are typically young, unemployed, and healthy.

So, if you’re looking for backpackers travel insurance, you most likely want a plan that fits your demographic and not that of a wealthy couple going on a cruise to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

So, we’ve put together this guide to help you choose the best backpackers travel insurance.

Backpackers Travel Insurance: What to Consider

Backpacking Health insurance Price

Obviously the price of the travel insurance policy matters.

Compare several cheap backpackers travel insurance plans to find a price that works with your budget.

If you can’t find a travel insurance plan that you can afford, you probably can’t afford to travel.

Medical Coverage and Evacuation

When comparing backpackers travel insurance take a close look at the medical coverage policy.

Does it cover pre-existing conditions?

Most don’t. So if you know you have asthma, and you suffer from an attack, you’re not going to be covered.

You’ll need a separate policy.

Hospital costs for emergencies are extremely expensive.

Take a close look at the maximum coverage limits.

Also look at what happens for an emergency medical evacuation.

Your Stuff, Baggage, and Theft

What happens if you accidentally break your camera?

If your luggage gets lost in transit?

Or if someone steals your backpack out of your hostel locker?

What if someone takes your backpack while you’re looking the other direction?

Most travel insurance policies won’t cover theft if your bags are unattended.

And “unattended” can mean if you’re looking the other way.

How to Make a Claim

How easy is it to make a claim if you need coverage?

Do you have to call a number?

Is it a 24 hour hotline?

Can you file a claim online?

What sort of proof do you need?

Countries Covered

Most backpackers travel insurance companies will provide coverage for the majority of the countries of the world. (World Nomads covers 150.)

But, if you’re planning on going someplace obscure or dangerous, double check that you’ll be covered while you’re there.


See if your policy has trip cancellation insurance.

If a family member dies or you get extremely ill, will your policy repay you for unused tickets?

To get this coverage you have to buy the policy when you book your tickets and not wait until you’re leaving and suddenly need to cancel.


Accidents happen. What if you knock over a case of expensive wine while browsing a hole-in-the-wall-specialty-wine-shop in Bernkastel, Germany?

Someone has to pay for this.

Read this section of your policy carefully to know if you have personal liability coverage.

Activities Covered

What sort of traveler are you?

Do you like extreme sports? (Or even regular sports?)

Not all policies cover injuries incurred from sports – or certain types of sports.

For instance, if you’re hurt while cave diving, World Nomads won’t cover it.

But hang gliding?

You’re covered.

If you know you’ll be participating in some exciting adventures, make sure your policy covers you.

Best Backpackers Travel Insurance

If you’re looking for cheap backpackers insurance, to find the best backpackers travel insurance policy you need to consider your needs.

Go through the list above and see what your policy needs to include.

Carefully compare insurance policies.

We recommend World Nomads and use them for our travels.

Lonely Planet and Rough Guides also recommends World Nomads, in case their endorsement is more important than ours.

Allianz Travel Insurance and SquareMouth are solid websites for comparing travel insurance plans.

However, they don’t cater to the backpacker the same way World Nomads does.

So, there isn’t a best backpackers travel insurance, there’s only the best backpackers travel insurance for you.

Photo credit: Ell Brown and EuropeDistrict.

Cruise Travel Insurance: Is it Worth It?

Travelers so often ask, “Should I buy travel insurance?”

that we’ve written about the subject more than once.

And if you’re going on a cruise, you’ll probably find yourself wondering about cruise travel insurance.

Is it worth it for you and your travel companions?

The short answer is yes.

Why Buying Cruise Insurance

Cruises are expensive

Never is the adage ‘time is money’ more apt than while on vacation.

Cruise vacations are expensive, and missing 1-2 days of your sailing time due to unforeseen or unavoidable circumstances can mean a loss of 20% of your 10-day cruise.

Chances are, you shopped around for the best price for your cruise, and 20% isn’t an amount you’re comfortable throwing away.

Cruise vacations typically require several legs of transportation to and from the ship’s port

Everyone knows that the more layovers a traveler has on an itinerary, the more things can go wrong.

Even if you’re able to book a direct flight to your port, you still have to drive there, either by renting a car or taking a shuttle service or taxi.

This may or may not require an overnight or rental agreement, either of which could get delayed, overbooked, or lost, leading to a potential late arrival to your ship.

I don’t want to sound like an alarmist, I’m a positive person and choose to believe things will go right on 99% of vacations, but why invite stress on what should be a relaxing trip?

Unless you’re able to drive your own car to your port, travel insurance is a smart purchase.

Cruises don’t wait for travelers

Cruises tend to stay on schedule, a favorable trait, provided you’re on the ship when it departs.

But if a weather emergency has delayed you, or a medical problem has caused you to take an extra day elsewhere, you’re out of luck.

You can’t stop the ship from departing, but you can be reimbursed for the time missed with cruise insurance.

Most travelers book cruises well in advance

Advanced planning when it comes to travel is a good thing, of course, but it also means that there’s plenty of time for unforeseen problems to arise.

When you booked that cruise last December, the following August seemed so far away, but now it’s rapidly approaching and you’re stuck in a cast.

If you’re booking a cruise last minute, cruise insurance may not be crucial, but if a lot of time will pass between your booking date and your cruise date, be on the safe side.

What Cruise Travel Insurance won’t cover:

Bad weather:

While your cruise insurance will cover weather-related incidents that prevent you from getting to your cruise, it will not cover 10 straight days of rain in Fiji. Sorry.

A change of mind

To cancel your cruise without penalty, you need more than ‘I just decided not to go’ on your side.

This includes circumstances that cause the cruise to be unexpectedly too expensive, such as the loss of a job.

Make sure the cruise is really the vacation you want to book before buying, and that you have enough set aside for it.

‘Free’ aspects of your itinerary, such as frequent flier miles

It hardly seems fair, since you earned them, but frequent flier miles or other loyalty program perks are not covered by cruise insurance.

Ditto for comped items for any reason.


They’re not considered to have ‘value’.

What type of Cruise Insurance to buy:

You know you need it, but what type to buy?

Skip the insurance offered directly from your cruise line.

Yes, it’s convenient, but it’s likely overpriced.

Also pass by secondary insurance that only kicks in after your primary pays out.

You could be waiting a long time for your claim to be settled.

Don’t rely on your homeowner’s insurance, it will only cover your possessions, not your medical needs.

Pick a primary cruise insurance that covers medical (including evacuation) and covers your children (if applicable).

Insurance bought through your credit card company can be a good choice, but make sure you can pay bills with any card, not just theirs.

We recommend travel insurance any time your trip will take you out of the country, is planned far in advance, and is of considerable expense for your budget.

In most cases, insurance is less than 5% of your vacation cost, making it well-worth the peace of mind it brings.

Also be sure to read 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Travel Insurance, which covers topics like the cost of travel insurance, whether travelers need to pay costs up-front, and what — exactly — the insurance in question covers.

Rent Apartment with Bad Credit ~ Why Do Landlords Check Your Credit?

How to Rent Apartment with Bad Credit – Maybe someone has told you that trying to rent apartment with bad credit is a waste of effort, but that’s not necessarily the case.

It’s true that bad credit can result in a denial of the application.

Not all landlords will automatically reject you as other factors are taken into consideration.

Such as your salary and previous rental records, if any.

Landlords check your credit score (How Credit Reporting Agencies Work) because they’re looking for evidence that you are predictable, consistent and stable.

For these reasons, it’s very important you learn how to have a good credit score.

You prove your consistency by doing the same thing over and over, so if your credit score shows that you’ve had late payments, then it isn’t going to build confidence and can make them doubt your ability to handle the financial obligations.

Landlords determine stability in different ways, including the number of years you’ve been working for a company, how long you have had a job, your payment history, the number of accounts you have and so on.

If you’ve been working with the same company for a long time and have had no problems there, it’s a sign that you’re stable and can be relied upon.

Given these facts, it’s easy to understand why landlords want to check your credit score.

That being said, there are a lot of strategies you can use to overcome this problem.

Strategies to Get Your Rental Application Approved

The first thing you need to do is check your credit score and figure out what’s wrong with it.

Is it really as bad as you think it is?

Read the score before you go hunting for an apartment so you’ll know what you’re dealing with.

Since your landlord is going to review the information there anyway, you might as well check the credit score.

If there’s any inaccuracy, now is the time to settle that dispute, rectify those mistakes and improve your credit score.

Rental Application Approved Hacks

If you don’t want to deal with credit score issues at all, then look for a landlord that doesn’t check credit scores.

Usually, apartment complexes are run by large, complex management companies and demand a credit check.

So you’re better off renting apartments operated by individual landlords that don’t check credit or who are willing to take a chance on tenants that don’t have a solid credit history but has a steady income.

Check online classifieds for individual landlords: online classifieds is one of the best places to find apartments run by individual landlords rather than by large companies.

Just go to the housing section in the classified ads where there are townhouses, condos, apartments and houses and make sure you look in your area.

There used to be a time when only companies were listed there, but that’s no longer the case as individual landlords are now listed online regularly.

While you’re looking for locally available apartments for rent, inquire from the landlord about the criteria used to approve a tenant’s application.

Knowing what to ask a landlord is important so make sure you know what to do.

Your chances of being approved go down if you have unpaid balances to utility companies or landlords, so pay those debts now and ask the company to write a letter indicating that your debts are now fully paid.

Write a letter to your prospective landlord explaining why you had financial problems in the past, be it medical bills, divorce, job loss etc.

However, make sure that your letter points out that you are now financially settled and capable of making payments.

If you have a steady source of income now, chances are the landlord will overlook a bad credit score.

If your income is three to four times the required rent then you’re in good position, but you do need to present evidence of your income such as two months’ pay stubs.

That ought to be enough to convince the landlord to take a chance on you.

You may also consider getting someone to cosign the lease agreement, but make sure the co-signer has a good credit standing.

Just remember that if you get evicted or skip on the rent payment for whatever reason, the landlord has a legal right to go after the co-signer as well.

Pay more upfront

even if you do get approved with a poor credit score, you’re likely going to be asked to pay a higher security deposit or anywhere from one to three months in advance.

If you don’t have a good credit score and plan on renting an apartment soon, save money now since you’re going to need it for the advance payment.

What if I Have No Credit?

Having a good credit history helps in renting an apartment, but what if you don’t have any credit at all?

Suppose you’ve just graduated from college and haven’t established any credit history?

Your situation is actually a bit simpler compared to those who have a poor credit score, but your approach will be similar to them in many ways.

Rent an Apartment With No Credit Hacks

Look for an Individual Apartment Owner:

As has been pointed out earlier, individual owners are receptive to these situations and allow people with no credit to rent their property.

What’s important is that you prove that you have a steady source of income.

If you can prove this then your chances of getting approved will be high, and in fact it’s probably going to be a lot higher than those with bad credit.

Offer to Move in Immediately:

An empty apartment takes its toll on landlords because they have to shoulder the utilities and mortgage without getting compensation because nobody’s renting.

If the apartment is empty and the demand for renters is low in that area, you’re likely to get approved if you offer to move in quickly.

In short, look for apartments in places where there’s little demand.

Show Your Savings Balance:

Even if you don’t have a credit history, you could get approved if you can show the landlord your savings is more than sufficient to pay the rent.

Balancing your finances will be much easier if you keep the rent expenses to a maximum of 1/3 of your monthly income.

So if you’re bringing in $3,000, look for apartments with a monthly rent of no more than $1,000.

If you don’t have a stable job yet, try to convince the landlord by showing him your savings account.

The amount that will be needed to “impress” the landlord depends on how much the monthly rent is and on other requirements.

To be safe though, your savings have to be such that you can pay several months of rent.

If you can afford it, you should pay a few months’ worth of security deposit, around two to four months will be nice.

This will provide some assurance to the landlord that you’re not going to run off for the next few months.

Second, it increases your credibility and demonstrates that you’re willing to pay.

Make certain that your payment is properly documented so there won’t be any misunderstandings later.

If you’re going to rent the place for a while, keep copies of all the payments you make as well as other documents so if there are issues later on you’ll have the papers to back you up.

There are other ways to boost your credibility even if you don’t have any credit history.

One of the best ways to do this is to show your would-be landlord that you have a solid reputation with your previous landlords and business associates and employers.

While landlords can be strict with requirements, most of them will be happy to give you a chance if you show them that you have a good reputation at school or work.

If your employers or former teachers say that you are of good character then it’s going to help convince the landlord that you’re responsible with money and can be trusted.

Your character reference can be as important as your financial standing so don’t discount that element.

You can also talk to the landlord and offer to go on a short lease or start month to month.

Usually it takes landlords several months to complete an eviction of a tenant who doesn’t pay.

If you offer to sign up for just three months or month to month, you give the landlord the option not to renew you if you don’t meet the required standards.

Even if you know that you have the capability to pay the rent every night, this approach will give him more flexibility, and it also demonstrates your willingness to be flexible.

For many, the idea of trying to rent apartment with bad credit seems impossible, but really it’s not, provided you have the know-how.

Even if you have bad credit or no credit at all, just following the tips given above will increase your chances of having your application approved.

How Credit Reporting Agencies Work

The business of lending money entails a lot of risks hence the importance of the Credit Reporting Agencies.

Financial institutions like banks and insurance companies take a lot of risk in lending to people for various purposes like acquisition of homes and vehicles, or payment of their children’s tuition.

These companies try to minimize the risks of extending loans by looking at the credit history of their prospective clients.

Borrowers who have been found to have a good credit history are usually given low interest rates, while those with a poor credit history are subjected to high interest rates, if they get approved at all.

How do financial institutions know about the credit history of a borrower?

They approach credit reporting agencies, also called credit bureaus.

These are companies that compile and maintain the credit history of all citizens in the country.

If you have a credit card or have taken out a loan from any financial institution, then you have your credit history.

Credit reporting agencies collect and maintain the credit history of a borrower by gathering all your activity or involvement with financial institutions like banks, mortgage firms and credit card companies.

These firms then create a comprehensive credit report which is the basis of a person’s credit score, a three-digit grade that can affect your financial plans.

Fair Credit Reporting

In the past, the credit history and credit score of borrowers were revealed only to financial institutions such as banks and credit card companies.

Consumers back then had absolutely no idea of what their credit history and score was, and how these bits of information affect their financial liabilities.

Everything changed in the 70’s with the enactment of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

This law basically gave U.S. citizens the freedom to ask for a copy of their credit reports for free, and to receive a copy of the report with adverse findings if they are denied of a loan.

Under the same law, you can also report errors on your credit report and have the credit bureau respond to your complaints in 30 days.

If it is proven that there are indeed errors in your credit history, the credit bureau is required to correct these issues within 30 days.

On the other hand, if all the information on your credit history is correct and you have adverse credit findings.

This information will be removed from your credit history after seven years.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act is one of the many laws passed during the 70s that protected and promoted the rights of consumers.

Other laws that were also passed during that time include the Truth in Lending Act.

The Truth in Lending Act basically shields you from unfair and untruthful billing processes employed by banks and other financial institutions.

3 Credit Reporting Agencies and Credit Bureaus

In the United States, there are three credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Collectively, they are referred to as the Big Three. The 3 credit bureaus, however, are not the only credit reporting agencies in the United States.

There are also other smaller and industry-specific agencies that provide credit reports and similar risk management services.

The 3 credit bureaus are the most popular since they dominate the consumer credit information industry.

For example, Experian has credit information of at least 66 per cent of the total U.S. population.

This gives you an idea of how big the operation of the Big Three is.

The Big Three  have two basic services.

They gather and process credit information of all U.S. consumers.

In gathering credit information, these companies receive monthly consumer credit information from all lending institutions in the U.S.

The information may pertain to the total debt of individual consumers and their repayment history.

Information like your monthly income and contact details are also sent to the credit bureaus.

Similarly, the Big Three also gather public records on financial information like court records regarding bankruptcies.

Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can get all of these pieces of information by requesting for a copy of your credit history from any of the Big Three credit bureaus.

Your request for information is called a soft inquiry, which pertains to all requests by consumers and employers.

Hard inquiry, on the other hand, pertains to requests by financial institutions.

The Big Three are independent from each other, and thus collect information on your credit history in different ways.

So a credit report from Experian is very different from one issued by TransUnion, in the same way that its report will differ slightly from the report of Equifax.

Also not all lending institutions report to these credit bureaus which lead to more discrepancies.

Credit Score

Credit bureaus don’t just gather information about your credit history.

These companies also process the details to come up with the credit score, a three-digit grade that can affect your ability to avail of the loan.

The credit score ranges from a low of 300 to a high of 850.

Basically, a low credit score prevents you from getting a loan, or subjects you to high interest rates.

On the other hand, a high credit score gives you benefits most remarkably low interest rates.

If you have a high credit score, you can apply for a housing loan or auto loan and pay lower amortizations compared to another consumer with a low credit score.

Think of a credit score as your grade in school.

Credit rating agencies look into different variables in coming up with the credit score.

These variables include your payment history, outstanding debt, length of time you have been part of the credit system, and your new credit.

Your payment history comprises the biggest bulk of your credit score at 35 per cent.

Creditors would want to know your track record in paying off your loan obligations.

If you are habitually late in paying your bills, or if you have bankruptcies before, then you can expect to have a very low score in your payment history.

In turn, your credit score suffers.

The next component that credit bureaus look at in computing your credit score is your outstanding debt.

The total amount that you owe all your creditors will be considered here by the credit bureau.

Other components in calculating credit score include the length of time that you have been part of the credit system (15 per cent).

Your new credit (10 per cent) and the types of credit that have been extended to you (10 per cent).

How Credit Score Affects You

The credit score computed and reported by credit bureaus can have a huge impact on your life.

Your plans like purchasing your own house or getting a new car may be derailed if you have a poor credit score.

Banks and other financial institutions may still give you a car loan or a home acquisition loan, but chances are high that you’ll be subjected to high interest rates.

To cite an example, say you are applying for a vehicle loan. If your credit score is within 500 to 589 range, then a bank may  give you an 18 per cent interest rate for 36 months.

But if you have a credit score of 700 to 850, the interest rates may go as low as six per cent.

Of course, there are other factors that may affect interest rates aside from your credit loan.

These factors include your equity, the type of property that you are acquiring, and so on.

How to Improve My Credit Score at Credit Reporting Agencies

Now that you have learned how your credit score affects your quality of life, then you should also be aware of ways to improve your credit score.

Financial advisers have many tips on improving credit score such as reviewing your credit history and correcting any errors.

Studies have shown than 1 out of four U.S. consumers have incorrect information on their credit history, affecting their credit score in the process.

You should also limit your use of credit cards.

Keep your total credit to 75 per cent or less of your total credit limit.

If you can keep it to as low as 25 per cent, then the better.

You must also make it a habit to pay your bills on time.

As mentioned earlier, payment history comprises 35 percent of your credit score.

Prompt payment of your credit card bills will improve your payment history and positively affect your credit score.

Generally speaking, frequent inquiries on your credit report can negatively affect your credit score.

So don’t inquire on your credit report unless you really need to.

If you are interested in applying for a loan, it would be best to make multiple inquiries with banks first before requesting for your credit report.

This way you can limit the inquiries on your credit history.

The bottom line is that Credit Reporting Agencies and credit bureaus have a significant impact on your life.

So make sure that you are aware of your credit history and more importantly, if you have a less than stellar credit rating, you should learn the different ways to improve your credit score.

What is a Credit Score?

You’ve probably never heard people talking about their credit scores to others.

Just like a social security number, your credit score is one of your most important metrics.

A good score opens more financial options for you.

Your credit score is a measurement of your financial capacity to pay off a loan.

Lenders from banks, credit card companies and even government agencies use this score to determine how credit-worthy someone is before they award someone credit.

This score is reported in the form of a number between 300 and 800.

The higher the score, the better the status. Ideally, everyone would want a high score.

That is found in between 700 and 850.

If your score falls in this range, that means you present a low risk for creditors because of your good payment history and high creditworthiness.

If your score falls below 600, that means you’re a high risk.

But this wasn’t always the case a long time ago.

Before the inception of this system, lenders and banks in the 1980’s had to rely on their experiences in the industry to judge if lending a particular consumer money was good enough for it.

This caused a myriad of problems that stemmed from human error.

Standardizing credit scores

When the time came that the losses in the industry were too high due to failure of payments, an organized system was constructed in order to protect lenders and provide consumers with an accurate idea of where they stand in terms of credibility.

While it may seem demeaning to compare people to a mere number, this system has allowed both lenders and borrowers to review their chances before they make a financial decision.

Creditors have the chance to screen applicants.

Consumers have the chance to improve their score using the system.

As of today, many countries use this standardized system to review their applicants.

The United States, the United Kingdom and Japan use this system.

However, your credit score doesn’t just affect your chances of getting a loan or credit.

This score is also used to determine a suitable interest rates for loans.

If you have a good enough credit score, lower interest rates are afforded for you because of your standing.

If your credit score is low, you will have trouble getting approved for a loan.

You’ll also be given higher interest rate so you’ll be “encouraged” to immediately settle your balances.

It’s essential to keep track of your score.

But doing so isn’t as easy as always paying your loans on time.

It pays to understand where your score comes from and what factors affect its growth or declines.

And the first place to look for answers is at your credit report.

What is a Credit Report?

Your credit report is a compilation of all things related to your financial background.

It also includes basic personal identifying information about yourself.

When a creditor needs to obtain someone’s score, they contact organizations known as credit bureaus or credit reporting agencies.

These agencies then pull up your records to determine your score.

Therefore, it is important to understand your credit score is a separate entity from your credit report.

While a credit report is a collection of your history and actions with money, your credit score is merely an interpretation of this history illustrated in the form of a numerical value.

In line with that, creditors may use just your credit score. Or they may use both your score and your report to assess if you qualify for a loan.

It depends on their screening process.

Equifax, TransUnion, Experian

The various financial institutions you use do business with these organizations to help protect them from poor lending habits.

In the United States, there are three Credit Reporting organizations that sculpted their business model on credit scores.

These are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Banks, lending institutions and other creditors do business with these agencies via requests of credit scores.

As a consumer, you also have access to these reports.

They are also up for contention if you feel that something is amiss with the way your data is treated.

Part of the things that make up your credit report is a record of all your loans, mortgages and payments.

These details will also include which balances were settled on time and which ones came overdue.

These overdue balances are even segregated based on how long they’ve been overdue until the moment that they have been absolved or settled.

Keeping good payment records

When you’re able to keep a good payment record on your loans and balances over a long period of time, that contributes positively to your score.

That means you’re punctual with your payments and plenty of creditors would love to give you more loans and credits for you to use.

Apart from your actions, your age in the financial industry is also accounted for in your credit report.

It would be unfair if all consumers were graded on the same bases.

That would mean a fresh, new borrower would be the same as an excellent borrower who has worked hard to maintain their good credit score.

This is why credit reporting agencies compare scores of people who share the same length of financial history.

You are graded in comparison to how well other people have fared who are just as “financially young” as you are.

On the other hand, if you have a poor payment history, creditors will see you as a liability that might cost them more money than they invested in you in the first place.

This is especially true if you’ve had any balances that have gone into collections.

When a loan comes into collections that means your payments have become so overdue that your creditor has resolved invest more money in a collection service agency to recover the debt you’ve made from them.

Collection agents

Have you ever been pestered over the phone by agents reminding you about your balances, those are collections agents who are called when you’ve gone long overdue.

And when a collections agency becomes involved, rest assured that your overdue payments have also been reported to the credit reporting agencies, severely pulling your score down.

Depending on the places where you do business, your actions may end up getting reported or not to the various credit score agencies.

Some companies or banks choose not to report petty late payments or unpaid fees that you might have forgotten.

On the other hand, there are also companies that make it a point to be as transparent as possible, reporting every single payment you’ve made, whether it’s on time or late by a day.

This is why phone, internet and even cable TV subscribers always ask about their service provider’s credit reporting habits before signing up with them.

Creditors use these as risk factors in order to see if you have a history of missing your payments or if you have erratic spending habits.

Ideally, you would want to present yourself as someone who isn’t a high risk.

That would mean creditors can entrust you with higher credit and more benefits.

What are Credit Scores Used For and Why are Credit Scores Important?

Fortunately, the answer to both of these questions are the same.

Credit Scores are important exactly because of what they’re used for.

Primarily, Credit scores are used to approve loans such as mortgages and car loans.

As mentioned earlier, you can also get these loans at lower rates if you show yourself to be a low risk with a high credit score.

If you have a good enough score, the loan is given to you.

When you don’t, you might end up being advised as to how to improve your score in order to get the loan approved.

If in the case that your initial application did not pull through, going to a different lender or company isn’t going to be any easy nor will your chances improve.

This is because your score stays with you wherever you go.

That means the next creditor will be looking at the same score even if they’re in a different state or locality.

You scores are also used for various services that require monthly payments like phone lines, cable TV services and internet services as well.

Service providers also do business with credit reporting agencies before approving these applications.

Credit scores

But credit scores aren’t just used for loans and subscriptions.

Apartment rentals and even job applications sometimes require a review of your credit score.

And in these cases, having a good score can actually save your life.

This is because you’ll never know when you’ll be needing a loan.

Emergencies can happen at any time.

If you’re short on finances, a good credit score can make it easy for you to obtain loans or apply for jobs when you need them the most.

On top of that, today’s economy is growing into a credit-based environment.

People are now carrying cards in their wallets instead of actual money.

Everyone’s wealth is now going into banks where their money is safe.

People are now buying appliances, vacations and even houses with credit cards instead of bank transfers.

There’s a lot you can’t do without a credit card or a good credit score.

Credit cards

Credit cards are starting to become the foremost choice when it comes to making payments.

They’re used in almost every establishment.

From your local coffee shop to the grocery store, people are now paying through their credit cards which give them benefits and bonuses as compared to paying with cash.

And with a bad credit score, you’re missing out.

Even professionals are beginning to carry portable card readers to help make their business more accessible to their consumers.

Finally, the most important thing you have to remember about your credit score is that it takes time to repair.

If in the case you have a low score or you’ve been hit by a severe negative action, it could take you at least five years to repair the damage that’s been done to your credit score.

So you may be looking at years of rejected loan applications before you can apply for another one.

And if it’s hard to improve on a score, it’s unfortunately easy to ruin one as well.

A few months of overdue payments are more than enough to negatively impact your score and pull it down by several hundreds.

And when this happens, you might have to work on this setback for a few years to get your score back up.

What is My Credit Score and What is Good Credit Score?

You will almost always want to ask for your FICO score.

Although it sounds like an acronym, FICO is the name of a company that deals in a concept known as “predictive analytics”.

This is an approach that takes your current financial data and computes what your future financial actions will likely be in the future.

Your FICO score is probably the most important reading you’ll get as far as credit scores go.

This is because more than 85% of American businesses and banks deal with FICO scores more than any other type of credit score.

It is important to remember that although FICO gives credit scores, it is not a credit reporting agency.

It’s a separate business entity that provides other financial services to its clients.

Obtaining your credit score

You can request a copy of your score from them as well, but it will come at a price.

In fact, the most direct approach would be to contact these credit reporting agencies and request for your scores yourself.

Of course, this will come at a price.

You might also have to surrender your credit card information to these agencies so that they can pull up your data.

But there are more affordable solutions as of today.

Instead of going to the agencies directly, some credit card companies afford their card owners regular credit score reports as part of their memberships.

You can ask for this before signing up with a credit card company.

There are also online subscriptions to websites that offer free reporting for their members as well.

Another efficient and affordable way to check your scores is to go online.

There are several internet sites that will allow you to request your scores for free.

Some of these places are Credit Sesame, Quizle and Credit Karma.

When you get your credit score, you’ll be given three ratings.

Each of these ratings comes from the each of the different credit reporting agencies.

Different credit scores from different agencies

The first thing you will notice is that these your score from each is different from the other.

This is nothing to be worried about, though.

Remember that each agency uses different measures to check your creditworthiness.

But in the case that the difference is very large, this might mean that one score might not have been updated as of the moment.

You would need to contact the credit reporting agency to have them update your scores.

The first thing you want to look at is the three digit number that represents your rating.

As mentioned earlier, the higher the number, the better.

And depending on where you get your report, you might find different values with little variations among each other.

This is because different reporting agencies and sites use different computation methods to translate the data from your credit reports into your credit score.

Depending on where you get your score, it will also come with comprehensive data about your credit report and other notable things that have contributed to the score that you’re seeing.

You could have gone down several points because of a balance that went into collections.

You could have pulled up a few points because of that payment you sent in early.

Some scores and reports could pull these details to give you a better picture of your score.

If in the case that your score is low, the next best thing to do is to look at your own finances.

Have all your balances been paid off?

Were all your payments on time?

Did you change your buying behaviors?

These things could have caused a negative change in your score.

And if you think that there’s a problem, you can contact your creditor and have them correct the error or investigate.

Why You Need to Check Your Scores Regularly?

Unlike exams that you only take once, your Credit score is an ever-changing measure of your creditworthiness that is affected by all your financial actions.

With that in mind, monitoring it on a regular basis only makes common sense.

The first thing you accomplish by checking your credit score regularly is an update on your progress.

You’ll know if your actions have improved your score or if they’ve pulled you down.

You may also detect abnormalities within your score that could have been brought about by fraudulent activities.

Other people could have been using your name to apply for loans you’ve never authorized.

People could be taking out a mortgage with your credentials without you even knowing it.

And looking at your credit score on a regular basis will help you catch anything out of the ordinary.

Errors in credit scores

You can also find errors in some reports that might have been made on your account.

A machine error from your bank might still show on your report, causing a dent in your score.

You can find these anomalies and have them corrected if you check your score regularly.

You can also check to see if your scores are regularly updated by the different credit reporting companies by regularly checking your credit score.

By checking your score, you’ll also become accustomed to what actions help you and what actions don’t.

Seeing your raw score is a good way to recall your actions during the past period that might have put a dent on your score.

In addition to that, it’s always a wise option to know where you stand.

You will be able to approach lenders with confidence if you’re already aware of your score and its contents even before anyone requests to have it pulled up.

On the other hand, you’ll also become aware that you need to start working on a low score long before you need to apply for any loans or credits.

It’s always good to be prepared and informed.

But you have to be careful about how regularly you check your scores.

This isn’t some simple statistic that you could pull up every week without consequence.

You can potentially hurt your score by requesting for it too often.

The ideal time frame on which to do that is every 365 days.

This is the ideal period of time long enough for you to see visible improvements in your score.

It is also short enough for you to quickly detect anything that’s harming your score before it does any more damage.

Credit reports show responsibility

In totality, your credit report is your representative to the financial world.

You can have a million dollars in your bank account but have a terrible credit score.

This could be because of all the bill payments you’ve missed.

Your credit score is not a measure of wealth.

It measures the skill in handling the responsibility of credit that has been afforded to you by your creditors.

And if you can take good care of your credit score today, your credit score will take good care of you tomorrow.

How to Improve My Credit Score

If I improve my credit rating, I get approval with the best interest rates for housing loans, car loans and study loans.

Here is how credit ratings are computed and how they work for your advantage.

You want approval for credit and the best rates for the most significant loans you may need.

Everyone has heard the terms “debit” and “credit” before.

Your financial stability is based on a Credit Rating.

Even if you have over a million dollars in the bank, you need to be able to demonstrate credit worthiness.

You do this by using credit options and pay them when due.

This helps you to establish credit and improve your credit rating.

Yes, it’s important for a person to have the means to pay their obligations.

However, it’s equally important to show he/she is in the habit of paying them.

It’s about establishing a character or an image of credit worthiness.

What a lending company wants to know

On the part of the lending company, it all boils down to three questions:

Should I extend credit to this applicant?

What does his credit history show?

How did he pay his previous debts?

Now, you may think that loans and credits only concern those who are lacking in funds.

However, you will see this is everyone’s concern.

It may be even more important for those who have money.

Why should I improve my credit score

Everyone stands to benefit from the financial flexibility which a credit line can provide.

It allows people to invest on assets that they cannot afford.

Examples of who needs credit:

Take the example of the family’s bread winner who can generate two sources of income by having the mobility to jump from one job to another with the convenience of an auto loan.

Perhaps there is a family who will eventually save on rent when they finish the mortgages on their newly acquired property.

Through student loans, a young rank and file employee can improve his chances for attaining supervisory and managerial status or a blue collar worker can improve on his employment options.

For small bakery businesses, a credit line can be a means to purchase a bigger oven that can satisfy the increasing demand.

For a mega business venture, it could be used for the construction of a gigantic mall that could satisfy the needs of a growing community.

Reasons to improve credit ratings

There are basically two important reasons why you everyone should improve their credit score.

Your credit rating will determine the loans that you will qualify for.

Your credit rating determines the interest rates you will need to pay.

The credit score or credit rating is a three-digit number that helps lenders predict how likely you are going to repay a loan and make those payments on time.

The credit score was formulated by Fair Isaac and Company.

During the initial stages of its application, they decided it would create more confusion to explain how it worked to the public.

Therefore, they kept the formula and its components exclusive to lenders.

However, due to pressure from U.S. Congress, private industry and consumer groups that started in 2001, everyone can now view their credit rating for a fee from credit monitoring and reporting agencies.

The credit rating is a three-digit number that ranges from 300 points to 850 points.

How a credit score is determined

Lack of funds, negligence and absolute refusal to pay are not the only factors that will cause overdue payments.

A person can simply forget about an installment payment.

You may get confused with the dates.

A person who can show that he’s had a lot of experience with various types of loans may be less of a risk in terms of default.

Majority of your score is made up of two things:

35% of the score is acquired from your payment history

This will show a lender if you are paying your loans promptly.

It shows how many times you were late in your payments.

It shows how many of your loans had to be sent out for collection, and if you filed for any cases of bankruptcies to be saved from collection and litigation.

The most recent of these incidents will work worse for your overall score.

This is obviously very important for lenders because, as a business entity, they want only to extend loans to those you are most likely to pay them.

30% is based on your outstanding debt

All credit lines have limits.

The agency checks on all of your available credit lines and if they are maxed out.

The more credit lines you have which are fully extended to the limit, the lower your score will be.

This tells if a person is living beyond his means.

A person who keeps on getting credit lines and exhausting its limits is bound to reach a point where all his income won’t be able to pay for the monthly minimum fees for the lines and will eventually file for bankruptcy.

15% of the credit score is based on the length of time you’ve had credit

The longer you’ve had a credit line, the better for your overall rating.

This factor is very important because it describes your habit.

As this stretches for a longer period of time, it defines your character as a borrower.

Long years of statistics will give lenders a more accurate picture of how you are as a borrower and more importantly as a payer.

10% is affected by new credit lines that you have opened

If you have recently opened a credit account, it will have a negative impact on your credit score.

A credit line is based on your paying capacity.

It is supposed to be a representation of the maximum amount of debt that you can pay with your current income.

Imagine you have been recently approved by another lender for a credit line.

Then you apply for another one.

There is concern you might exhaust your credit line on both accounts.

Then, you would end up with a debt that is double than what you can actually pay.

10% is based on the types of credit accounts that you have

This speaks of your financial management abilities.

It would be very good to have several types of loans.

You can have both revolving credit loans and installment loans.

Being up to date with several loans with several due dates will show how mindful you are on your obligations.

It speaks of your financial discipline, experience and organizational skills.

It demonstrates you can mix and meet your financial obligations.

Improve My Credit Score

It is wrong to conclude the best way to improve your credit is to stop using credit cards.

If you refrain from using your credit cards after their approval, you are not providing good info about your creditworthiness.

You are providing zero-basis.

This will discourage lending companies from approving major loan applications even if you can show proof of paying capability.

Improving your credit information simply means using your credit card for purchases you manage to completely pay off when they fall due.

Or, allocate the purchases to installment credit if they need be and pay the installments as they fall due.

Credit card companies and commercial establishments will lure you into purchasing luxury items on credit.

Remember, credit cards should be reserved for items you purchase for investment.

This will bring forth the opportunity for more earnings.

Try to maintain a good credit score for those more important investments.

These include a car, house or student loans.

These will can be significant improvements in your life.

The worst situation is when you rely on credit for the essential basics of daily life.

If you pay the credit cards each month on time, it’s fine. Then you are using the credit cards as a convenience.

However, when you need them when you don’t have the money — for gas and groceries — then you are using them out of necessity and not by choice.

How to Eliminate Debt

If this information about getting a good rating has reached you at a stage where you have fully exhausted all your credit cards and would want to remedy the situation to get a good credit score for a major loan, you have to start over by getting your balances to zero.

You have to eliminate your debt.

4 Hacks to Get out of Debt

Fix one credit card at a time

Pay the minimum amount due on all other cards.

Focus on putting all your money on one credit card at one financial institution to get it back to zero balance.

When this is done, you can work on another credit card.

Follow the same procedure for the rest until all cards have a clean slate.

Ask for lower rates

It seems credit cards are standardized and formal.

Yet, you are actually dealing with a person.

You can call and ask for lower credit interest rates.

With lower interest rates, you will be able to pay a larger portion of the entire balance.

The lower the interest rates, the faster you can pay down the balance.

Transfer your balance

Another good strategy is transferring all balances to the credit line which has the lowest interest rate.

The logic follows the same principle or could be the next wise step after you have done option number 2.

But, this will only work if the lowest charging interest card’s line is not fully exhausted and can accommodate more.

It would be a perfect scenario when the lowest charging credit card has just been approved and has a clear balance.

This will be a rare stroke of chance and you should avail of this advantage.

Make two minimum payments a month

Avoid being stuck in monthly cycles of interest-only payments.

Instead, try paying the minimum payment twice a month.

The first payment you make would have paid for the interest charges.

This will probably be just a small slice on the total balance.

The next minimum payment you will make after two weeks will be eliminated from your balance.

This will reduce it considerably.

You will notice as you apply this principle, your monthly minimum payments will reduce.

This will eventually give you the capability to pay minimum payments on a weekly basis.

This will take your total balance to zero faster.

It’s hard to eliminate all debts because you have to pay for current needs and past purchases.

You may need to put off your yearly family vacation and other luxuries.

It is hard but it will make you cautious as to what purchases to buy on credit.

Ways to build my credit

To get information on your credit report, you can check with three agencies; Equifax, Experian and TransUnion by going to

For a fee, you can get your actual credit rating.

You can get a free credit report as well.

What do these scores mean?

With a score ranging between 300 to 580 points, there is minimal chance for approval.

Your loan application has a 100% chance to be denied.

For scores anywhere between 581 and 650, you’ll have a chance for approval.

However, this will be for the highest rates.

With a credit rating in the range of 651 to 710, you’ll qualify for credit at moderate interest rates.

If your credit score is from 711 to 750, you’ll qualify for credit at competitive rates.

With a credit rating of 751 or higher, you’ll get the lowest rates in the market.

Immediate steps to build credit

Apply for credit lines even if you don’t foresee a need for it.

If you are planning to apply for a major loan, say a housing loan, in five years’ time, you need to start using smaller types of commercial banking lines, like credit cards, so lending companies will have a record to inspect.

Even if you have a stable high paying job, a lending company has to see your credit and paying habits.

Then they can have confidence to approve your loans.

It’s not enough to show that you have the ability to pay the installments.

They have to see you have it in your character to actually make the payments when they fall due.

Open at least three credit accounts

One credit line has something to say about you and more credit lines will have more accounts vouching for your credit worthiness.

Having multiple credit accounts in good standing with good track records will work for your rating.

A new one will be an open book that has nothing to tell.

This uncertainty will pull down everything positive your other accounts will tell about you.

If you want a good credit rating for any major loan that you have to make, refrain from opening a new credit account up to two years before you are planning to apply for that major loan.

Keep your credit usage to all accounts at a maximum of 25%

If your credit limit is up to $5,000, maintain nothing more than a $1,500 balance.

Never go beyond this.

This will show lending companies your financial status is not stretched to the limit.

Remember, the credit ceiling given to the individual is based on the paying capacity of that individual.

All lending companies want to maximize on their clients’ business through manageable credit.

If you use all your credit lines to the limit then, you are hovering within the fine line between being financially capable of meeting your debts and starting to have over dues.

Another credit line will likely tip you over to the delinquency list.

Make your due dates

Whenever you make purchases on your credit card, you are expected to pay for these items on the maximum  45 day float.

For all purchases you make during a given month for the 1st day to the 31st, those purchases will have to be paid on the 15th day of the following month.

The exact amount of your purchases will appear but so will a figure that will represent a minimum amount of payment that you have to make in case you cannot pay for the whole thing.

For the purpose of getting a good score on this category, you should pay for all of your purchases on deferred payment.

If you know you cannot pay for the entire amount, you should apply that purchase under a credit installment option.

Diversify on the type of your credit loans and make the payments

For credit card purchases, study each purchase.

Decide which ones to apply on an outright payment on a deferred scheme and which ones to pay on credit installment.

Use both credit schemes on the totality of your purchases.

Being able to mix these and successfully pay all obligations demonstrates you are a smart borrower and a dependable payer.

It shows you are most likely to be able to handle your new loan approval with the same diligence.

Credit Building Strategies

There is a way around the system if all you want is a good credit rating without the actual credit card.

You can get a secured credit card.

If you don’t want the temptation of falling into the uncontrollable urge to exhaust credit limits, use a secured credit card that will only allow you to purchase an amount equal to what you have deposited.

This is different from prepaid cards and debit cards that don’t report your transactions to credit bureaus.

A secured credit card provides you with the safety of a debit card and the credit history building advantages of a credit card.

Or, you can be an authorized user of another good credit account.

If your parents, brother or sister have a good credit rating, you can benefit from their good credit practice if you are one of their authorized users.

This means that their good credit scores will also be yours as you are sharing in the account.

It may be a little hard to win this trust but maybe if you let them keep the actual extension card, they will be convinced of your non-malicious intent.

If you already have a credit card then, these tricks will help you get a better credit rating.

You can apply for an increase in credit limit and not actually use the available credit.

This will improve you scores dramatically in that 30% component of your credit score which refers to your available credit line.

Increased credit limit

An increased credit limit will win you more points for as long as you don’t.

Increase your usage as well.

Also, one of the most effective ways of ensuring that you make those payments as they fall due is to apply for an automatic paying system or automatic debit system against your bank account.

You are not likely to forget to supply your deposit accounts with the sufficient balance especially if this is your salary and family savings account.

Lastly, you can always pay multiple payments.

This system will work best for people who get bi-monthly and weekly salaries.

Your current pay check may only be sufficient to pay the minimum on your monthly credit billing.

There is no rule against making another payment one week or two weeks after when you receive another paycheck.

Of course, this scheme will only work if you also work on limiting your credit card usage as well.

The rule is very simple, if I improve my credit, I will have better chances of getting approvals on the significant loans from the best lending companies that offer the lowest rates.

It is all a matter of setting the right perspectives in life.

Use your credit cards for less important purchases for credit rating sake so you’ll get the best chance for being approved for life-changing investments.

Best Travel Water Bottle for Kids

travel water bottle for kids


Best Travel Water Bottle for Kids – Parents who travel green are among the most responsible consumers: not only are they committed to eco-friendly products, but they demand the highest standards when it comes to the safety of their kids.

I’d like to think I’m no exception, which is why I did extensive research before purchasing stainless steel water bottles for my children.

The good news is that there are so many safe, non-plastic lined or coated options now available. Best Water Bottles for Kids (Ultimate) Guide

The bad news is that it’s still hard to know which bottles to invest in for your family.

Below, you’ll find my picks for the best travel water bottle for kids.

How to Be Responsible to the Environment with Green Traveling

Klean Kanteen: best travel water bottle for kids

Best Travel Water Bottle for Kids

Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Bottle

This classic (and one of the first stainless steel options to arrive on the scene) continues to be the most durable in our household.

My kids have been carting Klean Kanteens back and forth to school daily for 2-3 years, and they always survive drops and crashes.

Kleen Kanteen bottles will dent slightly like all stainless steel bottles, but because they’re not lined, no damage occurs from a health perspective.

For families with kids of multiple ages like mine, it’s nice that they come in the most sizes of any stainless steel bottle brand (including the small 12 oz).

As an added plus, additional tops can be purchased and interchanged; my kids prefer the sports tops, but families with babies and toddlers will love the sippy cup top option.

Klean Kanteens has a great variety of colors and sizes for kids.

They are usually less than $20.

Camelbak Better Bottle

I love that Camelbak’s Better Bottle comes with inserted “bite valve” straws for easy drinking (and less spilling!), and it doesn’t hurt that they come in such nice patterns and colors.

Even with their bite valve feature, the Camelbak Better Bottle has no moving parts, which makes cleaning easier, too.

You can get an insulated version as well (though they’re pretty hefty, and therefore a bit less travel-friendly).

A lighter insulated pick is the Hydro Flask, though they’re pricer than most families care to pay and only come in two sizes.

Pick up a Camelbak for between $14-$32, depending on size and features.

Crocodile Creek water bottle: best travel water bottle

Crocodile Creek Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Besides being cute as button, the Crocodile Creek Stainless Steel Bottle, which is made just for kids, has a nifty little cover over the top.

This cover not only reduces spills, but is more hygienic, as kids tend to let their bottles rest in the dirt, sand, and other places I probably don’t want to think about.

The bottle holds over 13 oz. Depending on the pattern and where you buy them, these range from as low as $10 to around $20.

Stainless steel vs plastic water bottle best for kids

While most water bottle brands are featuring BPA-free plastic options now, we still believe in using stainless steel day in and day out.

We’re just not all that comfortable with how the plastic may break down after use.

Also, it’s always in the back of our minds to not drink water from plastic when it’s been sitting in the sun.

So we typically choose stainless steel for kids. 

Our one exception?

Air travel.

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When we travel by air, our kids bring their BPA-free bladder-style water bottles.

They pack very easily (and lightly), making them perfect to carry through airport security empty to be refilled on the other side.

The downside: the cheaper brands tend to leak and use the non-safe plastics, so you definitely don’t want to bargain shop in this department.

Our favorite, which uses only Polyethylene (PET) plastic (which is not known to leach any chemicals into water), is the Platypus.

Do your kids use stainless steel water bottles? Which is your child’s favorite?

Please share your favorite brand and style in the comments!

Photo credit: cogdog and I Love Water Bottles

Best Vegan Shoes for Walking and Travel

vegan shoes for walking


Best Vegan Shoes for Walking and Travel – As a vegetarian, I am always looking for great vegan and vegetarian travel gear.

I also like packing light, which means that I can only bring a couple of pairs of shoes when I am traveling.

So I love vegan shoes I can wear whether I am walking on the beach or exploring a new city.

Here are a few of my favorite vegan shoes for travel.

All are light-weight, comfortable, and can be worn with a variety of outfits — making packing a breeze.

Best Vegan Shoes for Walking and Travel

Sanuk Rasta Brisbane

Sanuk sent me a pair of their Rasta Brisbane shoes to review.

They call these sidewalk surfers, and they are comfortable for light walking.

Whether you’re roaming the streets of Paris or navigating tiny alleys in Zanzibar, you’ll love these shoes if you’re looking for vegan shoes for travel.

Since Sanuk shoes were created as an alternative to flip-flops, these are meant to be worn without socks.

Which just means one less thing to pack.

Made from hemp and lined with printed canvas, these are breathable and light.

With a 48% recycled rubber outsole, these Sanuk shoes are definitely eco-friendly.

In addition to being comfortable, these look nice with pants, shorts, or even a cute summer dress.

Even though many of Sanuk’s shoes have a pattern, they are usually subtle enough so they match other designs and colors in your wardrobe. This eliminates the need to pack and carry multiple pairs of shoes while you travel.

Available in two colors, dirty kauki (shown) and green, these shoes are made for women.

Also, there are some great options for vegan men’s Sanuk shoes as well.Best Vegan Shoes for Walking and Travel

Jambu Barefoot

Like the Sanuk shoes, you are meant to wear these shoes without socks.

Jambu sent me a pair of their vegan shoes to review, and I think they may become one of my favorite pairs of vegan walking shoes.

These vegan shoes are incredibly lightweight, which is a huge plus for travel.

The upper part of the shoe is made with mesh, making them very breathable and great for travel during hot weather.

Often while traveling, I set off exploring and end up far from the hotel, then have to face the long walk back. So I really appreciate the memory foam that adds extra comfort for long treks.

The partially recycled rubber outsole has a fair amount of traction, especially considering how lightweight the shoe is.

These Jambu vegan shoes are available for women. They also have a line of vegan shoes just for girls.

They come in white (shown), as well as black, light grey and tan. You may want to go up half a size if you are between sizes.
Vegan Shoes for Travel

TOMS Vegan Shoes

With every pair of shoes you buy, TOMS gives one pair to a child in need.

The majority of their shoes are not vegan, but they do a have a growing line of vegan shoes that are ideal for travel.

They’re easy to pack and because most pairs are canvas, they’re also easy to clean.

I like that a basic pair of TOMS works well with a variety of outfits. You can wear them with thin socks when the weather is a little cooler.

The TOMS vegan line is available for both men and women and comes in variety of colors and patterns.

The shoes boast a canvas insole with cushion for comfort and a one-piece outsole for flexibility.

I have found that TOMS are not the most durable shoe, but they are nice for light walking. We don’t recommend them for hiking.

If you are going on a long trip, I would definitely suggest choosing a more durable option.

TOMS make buying a pair of vegan shoes for travel affordable.
Vegan Shoes for Travel
Also be sure to check out our list of the best travel shoes and walking sandals and our review of Simple’s vegan ecoSNEAKS.

These vegan shoes for traveling are comfortable. You will find you wear them at home around town as well.

Yurt Camping Guide: Year-Round Yurts in State Parks

lady sitting outside camping tent during winter


Thanks to yurt camping, the newest camping craze taking off across the U.S., you don’t need to own a gas guzzling RV or camping trailer to enjoy state parks and campgrounds all year long.

Park systems in nearly every state now feature these fun, functional, and cozy shelters in at least a handful of their state parks.

Some states, such as Oregon and Washington, offer yurts in nearly all their coastal state campgrounds.

Yurt Camping Guide

Tips for Camping with Kids

What Is a Yurt?

The word “yurt” originally referred to the circular tents used by nomadic people in Asia.

The yurts you’ll find in the U.S. nowadays are strong, semi-permanent structures based on that circular design.

Typical “rustic” yurts are 16 feet in diameter, and offer beds and mattresses for five to six people, table and chairs, electricity, and heating.

Deluxe yurts in state parks can include TVs, kitchenettes, and even bathrooms.

Yurt camping in the off-season allows travelers experience year-round camping.


Advantages to Yurt Camping

Yurts are a great way to get away from it all without having to completely rough it.

With yurt camping in state parks, you can:

Travel Cheaply

Nightly yurt rentals cost approximately $45 per night in summer, and can dip as low at $30 in winter (depending on location and amenities), making them far more cost effective than the hotels or lodges located in rural or wilderness areas.

Yurts are ideal for long-term or spontaneous travelers who don’t want to pack extensive camping gear: no need for a tent, lantern, or heavy bedding.

Experience Nature in the Off-Season

Winter or spring in your favorite state park may offer a completely different experience than in the summer.

For instance, spring is the only time to observe the seal rookeries (baby nurseries) in the caves along Oregon’s central coast near Sunset Bay State Park.

At other parks, fall may provide the best leaf peeping or winter the only cross-country skiing.

Enjoy Seclusion

We love reserving state park yurts in the off-season because we’re nearly alone in the park!

Yurt camping in fall or spring is ideal for families:

Kids can enjoy the run of the park without parents worrying about disturbing fellow campers.

And s’mores taste just as good (if not better) in the cold!

yurt camping

The inside of a yurt

How to Find and Reserve a Yurt

Browse available yurts through your state’s park system website (as opposed to nation-wide sites).

From the site, I can click on Yurts and Cabins and see all available units at an array of state parks.

Reserve early for May-September yurt vacations.

Most state park systems allow campers to book nine months in advance, which may seem extreme for a camping trip, but is absolutely necessary to ensure a yurt reservation in the summer months.

On the flip side, yurts are usually available with a week’s notice or less during off-season travel!

Bring only the essentials.

Yurt campers need sleeping bags, cooking supplies and tools, and seasonal clothing.

At most state parks, cooking must be done outside the yurt over a fire or using a camp stove.

What you can skip: tents, mattresses, lanterns, and camping furniture such as canopies or tables.

yurt camping

Few Things to Note About Yurt Camping

While some yurts are now pet-friendly, be sure to check your state park’s policy before bringing dogs.

Check your email before departure.

Most state park systems will email you your yurt site number and lock code, so that no check-in is required.

At the end of your yurt stay, remember to sweep up and pick up after yourself for the next camper!

Usually basic cleaning tools are provided.

Tips for Green RVing: Reduce Your Impact on the Road

My dad has worked at an RV company for years, so growing up, my only experience camping was in a 30-foot Winnebago Motorhome.

I have branched out a little bit since then; my husband and I spent three months camping throughout Africa last year, but I still like the comforts of a home that you can get in a RV.

Unfortunately, a gas guzzling RV doesn’t always make me think green.

But, thankfully, there are ways to make it a more eco-friendly travel option.

Stay Close to Home

Growing up, this is one of the ways my parents saved money on RV travel — we didn’t venture far from home.

Staying close saves money on fuel and is more eco-friendly than a long-distance trip.

Check out the campsites near your home — you may be surprised to find hidden gems within a short drive.

As an added bonus, if you’re traveling with kids they will love the camping experience and you won’t have to hear as many “are we there yet?” questions from the backseat.

Bring Bikes

If you’re traveling by RV, consider bringing bikes.

This is a green way to travel to the store or around your campground without having to use the fuel to drive the RV.

If you need to travel further than you’d like on a bike, consider bringing a Vespa or small vehicle that will use less fuel and get you where you need to go.

Practice Green Living on the Road

Many of the eco-friendly things you do at home to reduce your carbon footprint will also work on the road.

Open the windows in the RV rather than using the air conditioning and take shorter showers so you don’t use so much energy on hot water.

If you own your RV you can also install solar panels and use energy efficient light bulbs to reduce your energy usage.

Driving at, or under, the speed limit will save on fuel.

While it may be more convenient to stock up on disposable plates and silverware for your vacation, go green by washing your own dishes.

Go Small

Once you see the luxury of some of the newer motorhomes on the market today, it can be tempting to rent a 43-foot RV for your next vacation.

However, a smaller RV will be more fuel-efficient and reduce the overall carbon footprint of your vacation.

Many of the smaller motorhomes are great options for green RV’ing.

You may have to pack light, but your vacation will be more environmentally friendly, and you will probably have a little extra cash in your pocket from the money you save on fuel.

Practice Green Camping

Just because you’re in an RV doesn’t mean that the basic rules for camping don’t apply.

Be sure to practice leave-no-trace camping; take all of your trash with you when you leave.

If you’re camping with your dog, remember he has an environmental impact too — so plan accordingly.

Only camp in designated campsites and make sure that recycle everything you can.
Road tripping across the United States
Learn more about the progress green RV’ing is making.

Road tripping across the United States

For many, a road trip across the US is the ultimate vacation, allowing the kind of freedom that no organized excursion can match.

Experienced wanderers value all aspects of a road trip, including the terrain they cover, the diverse people and cultures they encounter, and the food and music they enjoy along the way.

First-time road trippers might want to check out some of the classic historic routes before moving on to trips of a quirkier nature.

Here are some ideas for experiencing an unforgettable drive…

East-West Pilgrimage

New York to San Francisco is a fabulous, if demanding, cross-country journey.

Direct routes cover some 2,900 miles.

However, interesting diversions along the way can easily increase the total to 3,500 miles of travel, and a minimum ten days is needed to do justice to this kind of trip.

The original pioneers journeyed in this direction from east to west, and the landscape becomes more rugged, dramatic and imposing as the trip proceeds.

Along the way, spend time admiring the national parks and the majestic Rockies, looking out for bears and wolves, and experiencing the character and atmosphere of the wilderness.

Further along the road, Utah and Arizona beckon.

A little southerly dip in the route means road trippers can bypass the flat plains of the Midwest for the charms of the South, where the music, storytelling and barbecued cuisine in neighborhood bars and diners are endlessly appealing.

Route 66: Main Street of America

This is truly the quintessential road trip in American history.

The route extends from Chicago to Los Angeles, though it’s no longer possible to travel the entire 2,400 miles without switching roads.

However, it’s a great adventure to spend time enjoying the iconic destinations found along the way, some of which are being restored to their former glory.

Rent a car in Chicago and drive diagonally through Illinois to St. Louis.

The Meramec Caverns in the Ozarks, near Stanton, Missouri are worth a pit stop.

This is a 4.6-mile network of caverns created over millions of years by the erosion of limestone deposits.

The ongoing route passes through the southwest corner of Kansas and continues into Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle.
this point, I-40 replaces the former Route 66.

As road trippers continue their drive, there are two important stops to make in Arizona, at the Painted Desert and at the Petrified Forest, before catching a glimpse of the Grand Canyon en route to California.

Pacific Coast Highway

Running north to south along most of the Californian coastline, the Pacific Coast Highway makes for a wonderful scenic road trip.

Set out on the 101 south from Eureka in Northern California and head towards Fort Bragg.

The road will then join Route 1, which meanders along the coastline and offers views of the Pacific Ocean on the right and valleys and mountains on the left.

Destinations along this route include state beaches and parks.

Ideal places to picnic, rest up or do some hiking or swimming.

This zigzagging, twisting road leads south to the spectacular harbor-front sights of San Francisco.

Many people like this part of California so much that they decide to settle down in one of the many San Francisco condo rentals in the area for a week or two.

Memorable road trips are slow journeys where every moment is savored.

Taking the time to meet people, learn about local culture and sample the cuisine will make for an unforgettable experience.

(photo credit: 1qwrrty – Fil.Al, uniteddiversity

Creative Ways to Share Travel Your Photos

great ways to share your photos


Creative ways to share travel photos – I brought my DSLR and point-and-shoot camera on vacation and took lots of great shots.

Even after a short trip, I end up with hundreds — sometimes thousands — of photos.

I’m always looking for new ways to share them with my friends and family without completely overwhelming and boring them.

Who wants to look at 300 photos of an elephant?

Don’t let your travel photos perish in purgatory on your external hard drive.

Do something practical and fun with them instead.

Here are 7 creative ways to share travel photos

Best Ways to Share Travel Photos

Make photo books

There are dozens of companies that offer photo books.

These digital scrapbooks are great and affordable ways to share your travel photos.

You can customize them as much as you want.

Ranging from just dropping your photos into the templates or creating designs in Photoshop and importing them.

Companies like Shutterfly have great promotions and coupon codes when you join their mailing list.

You can even create the book and wait until you get a coupon code to print.

For online coupons, you should visit

They have coupons and deals for lots of online retailers.

Creative ways to share travel photos
Creative ways to share travel photos

Create a gallery wall

If you’re looking for a way to display travel photos in your home, a gallery wall is a great way to show off some of your favorite photos.

Websites like Pinterest and Apartment Therapy offer creative ideas for layout and composition.

Whether you use black and white or color photos, this can be a fantastic way to share some of your favorite memories with guests when they come to your home.

Creative ways to share your travel photos
Creative ways to share your travel photos

Use Instagram

Sometimes the most memorable travel moments happen when you don’t have your camera with you.

Instagram is a fun way to share travel photos taken on your smart phone with your online community, and it has a chance to increase Instagram followers.

One of the great things about Instagram is that you can instantly share it with Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and even via email—all at once.

Share your Travel Photos on Instagram
Share your Travel Photos on Instagram

Get crafty

Between Pinterest and all of the DIY blogs, you can find great ideas online for how to show-off your photos around your home or office.

Whether it’s using mod podge to put photos on canvas or creating customized coasters, there are endless fun and creative ways to display your travel photos.

Check out Flickr

While there are plenty of photo sharing sites, Flickr is my personal favorite.

A free account has limited storage, and a pro account charges an annual fee for unlimited storage.

This is a great way to backup photos, but also to share them with your friends and family.

backup your Travel Photos
backup your Travel Photos

Make personalized gifts

We’ve taken some of our favorite photos and used them for gifts for friends and family.

Some we’ve had printed and framed.

After traveling through Africa for a few months last year, we made calendars for our parents.

Whether it’s a photo on a mug or photo printed and framed, your travel photography can make great gifts.

Share Travel Photos

Create a best-of album

When you start going through your photos after a trip, make sure you put a handful of your favorites in a folder for easy access.

Your best-of album makes it easy to find photos when you want to remember your travels.

What do you do you with your travel photos?

What are some of your creative ways to share them?

Start Your Nature Photography Journey

Are you a green traveler who’s passionate about exploring new cultures, as well as nature and wildlife in exotic locations?

Consider preserving memories of your travels through photography.

By using a digital camera during your trips, you can discover new features, textures, and colors in the natural environment.

However, if you’ve never tried your hand at nature photography (an umbrella term that includes wildlife and landscape photography), you may feel overwhelmed by the different cameras and lenses that are available.

You may also be completely clueless when it comes to choosing your subjects and crafting your first photos.

Just as importantly, you may worry that your first venture into nature photography might harm the wildlife and natural areas you’ll be exploring.

Read on and you’ll soon be armed with the know-how and confidence to tackle nature photography like a boss.

Capturing the Beauty of the Natural World

Nature photography is all about capturing the beauty and grandeur of the natural world—landscapes, wildlife, and plants or close-ups of textures, scenery, and wildlife.

Unlike other photography genres (like documentary photography), nature photography places greater emphasis on the aesthetic value of the photographs.
Ethical Nature and Wildlife Photography
As a result, many nature photographs have marked artistic and painterly qualities such as intense colors, unusual contrasts between light and shadow, and other creative enhancements.

This maxim is best expressed by Ansel Adams, who said that “beauty comes first” in his images.

Ethical Nature and Wildlife Photography

Of particular concern to green travelers is the ethical aspect of nature and wildlife photography.

While photographers should be free to explore themes and subjects that inspire their creativity, they should also avoid causing any harm to the animals, plants, and natural areas they photograph.

As some photographers are prepared to do almost anything to get the shots they want, conservation groups and photography associations have published a number of codes of conduct for wildlife photographers.

Key points to remember when photographing wildlife:

  • Always photograph the animals from a safe and respectful distance.
  • If the animal shows any signs of stress, move further back or leave the scene altogether.
  • Be patient when photographing animals and never force an animal to do something.
  • Never encroach on nests or dens during breeding season.
  • Always treat the animals and their natural habitat with utmost respect.
  • Respect local cultures and customs.
  • When baiting wildlife, use only organic food that’s part of the animals’ natural diet, and avoid baiting animals that are potentially dangerous.

As for photographing the natural environment, common sense rules prevail.

Nature photographers should avoid polluting and littering the natural environment, and stay on trails that are forged to lessen impact on fragile ecosystems.

Best Entry-Level DSLRs for Amateur Nature Photographers

While it’s acceptable to begin your nature photography journey with a smartphone or point-and-shoot camera, these cameras offer limited functionality and lesser technical image quality.

If you want to fully realize your creativity and capture professional grade images, then consider investing in an entry-level DSLR.

Entry-level DSLRs have simpler user interfaces with a greater emphasis on automation.

Aside from being easier to learn than the more complicated mid-level and pro-level DSLRs, they’re also more affordable than their upmarket counterparts.

Unlike point-and-shoot cameras, DSLRs offer larger, sturdier camera bodies and interchangeable lenses.

With interchangeable lenses, nature photographers can switch to telephoto zoom lenses when photographing wildlife from a distance and macro lenses when taking close-ups of insects, tree barks, and other subjects.

Great entry-level DSLRs for amateur nature photographers include the Canon Rebel T6i and the Nikon D3300.
Canon Rebel T6i

Canon Rebel T6i

The Canon Rebel T6i is great for amateur nature photographers who want an affordable camera with great features.

It has an easy-to-use interface, built-in Wi-Fi (for quick transfers to a computer or instant sharing on social media), and an upgraded autofocus.

Other key specs include a 24-megapixel resolution, an APS CMOS sensor, an ISO range of 100-12,800, shutter speeds of 1/4000-30 sec, and continuous shooting at 5 fps (great for shooting wildlife in action).

Moreover, the Canon Rebel T6i gives nature photographers access to Canon’s extensive line of EF and EF-S interchangeable lenses—including ultra-wide-angle, super telephoto, and macro lenses.

Top lenses Canon users should consider investing in include the Canon 10-18mm IS STM and the Canon 10-22mm.
Nikon D3300

Nikon D3300

The Nikon D3300 is an outstanding budget DSLR that combines a 24-megapixel DX-format (APS) CMOS sensor (measuring 15.4mm x 23.2mm) with a feature set that’s designed to please shutterbugs looking to upgrade from point-and-shoot cameras to entry-level DSLRs.

Other key specs include an ISO range of 100-12,800, an 11-point autofocus system, continuous shooting at 5 fps, and shutter speeds of 1/4000-30 sec.

Choosing the Nikon D3300 gives users access to Nikon’s more than 70 current-production lenses and teleconverters.

Including close-up, fisheye, superwide, long zoom, and Vibration Reduction lenses.

Top lenses Nikon users should consider investing in include the Nikon 10-24mm and the Nikon 18-300mm VR.

Art of Taking Nature Photos

Once you own the best DSLR camera, you’re ready to start taking nature and wildlife photos, right?

Not so fast.

Check out the following sections to help you conceptualize and snap better nature photos.
Taking Pictures of Eagles

Know Your Subjects

While serendipitous discoveries are always welcome during nature photo shoots, it’s vital to get some basic information about your intended subjects—whether it’s flowers, forests, antelope, or colorful birds.

Doing so will spare you a lot of mistakes.

For example, if you want to photograph flowers, you’ll need to know when they’re in bloom and where they’re most likely to grow.

If it’s animals you intend to capture with your lens, find out where they live, what they like to eat, and what time of the day they’re most likely to be accessible.

As for more dangerous wildlife, it’s best to embark on your photo expeditions with the help of an experienced woodsman or wildlife guide.

Don’t forget to observe all safety precautions, and inform family members and friends of your whereabouts before going on your photo expedition.

Composing Your Shots

When it comes to composing your shots, the general rules of photography apply.

How the elements in the photograph are arranged is of immense importance.

Observe the rule of thirds:

To create more dynamic and interesting nature photos, observe the rule of thirds.

Start by drawing four sets of lines.

Two equally spaced vertical lines and two equally spaced horizontal lines.

The end result will be nine equally sized squares.

Pay attention to where the lines intersect, and place your subject at one of these intersecting points to create more interesting results.

Center your subject:

Consider placing your subject in the center of the frame for a more balanced composition.

Avoid distracting the eye:

Remember to focus on elements that attract the eye to the main subject and exclude those that distract the eye from the main subject.

If it’s the background you wish to place out-of-focus, consider using a 200 mm telephoto lens to bring the subject into sharp focus.

Frame your subject to achieve balance:

You can frame your subject so that the overall photograph feels balanced.

For example, if you place your subject on the right vertical 1/3 line, then consider placing another subject on the vertical 1/3 line on the left as well.

Using Exposure

Exposure refers to the amount of light that the camera uses to process each photo.

Cameras manage exposure by controlling three things: aperture size, shutter speed, and ISO.

DSLRs provide more exposure choices than point-and-shoot cameras.

These exposure choices include aperture priority, shutter speed priority, program mode (wherein the camera chooses the aperture and shutter speed for you), and manual mode.

Adjusting your ISO value and exposure compensation value will enable you to fine tune your exposure.

Amateur photographers should start with aperture priority, and should also experiment with other aperture settings, ISO values, and exposure compensation values.
Elephant Photography
Examine your shots carefully. If any areas of the photo are blinking, this means that these areas are over or underexposed.

To get rid of these blinking areas, adjust the exposure compensation and ISO settings and try again.

You can also use your DSLR’s histogram to determine if your photos have been properly exposed.

Using Post-Processing Software

You can enhance your captured shots using post-processing software like Adobe Photoshop Elements and Adobe Photoshop.

Photoshop Elements is Adobe’s entry-level post-processing tool for beginners.

Aside from being easier to learn, it’s also more affordable than Adobe Photoshop.

Once you’ve mastered the basic functions in Photoshop Elements, you may then consider upgrading to Adobe Photoshop to gain access to additional features and tools for even greater functionality.

Take Culturally Sensitive Photos Each & Every Time

Being a green traveler means more than just taking public transportation, sleeping in an eco-hotel, respecting one’s surroundings, and using a reusable water bottle.

It also means being respectful and responsible when taking pictures.

Every traveler who takes photos and every photographer who travels needs to be sensitive to the local culture.

Learn to take great travel photos with these tips to take culturally sensitive photos as well.

It is essential to be mindful of the local culture, customs, and etiquette.

Here’s how to do it!

Has a stranger ever taken your picture?

If so, how did it feel?

Did you turn around to see if there was someone or something interesting behind you that that person was photographing?

How did you feel when you realized you were the subject?

It is a weird feeling to be photographed without your consent or knowledge.

Be mindful of this feeling always.

Understand the cultural context

Before taking pictures, it is worth your time and is especially easy with the internet, to learn in advance about the local culture including religion and customs.

Check for laws or policies prohibiting photos

For instance, churches, temples, mosques, and museums may prohibit photography.

Also be conscious in high-security buildings and structures, including military bases, which might also ban photography.

It is forbidden to take pictures while through Customs in an airport.

When we visited a Greek Orthodox monastery, we learned from their website in advance that we could take pictures of the grounds and churches but not of the monks.

Get permission

You may want to get permission before taking someone’s photo.

Digital Photography School has a great post about asking permission to photograph people.

Two key points from that post are:

  • Ask permission of someone if they are the main focus of the photo.
  • Asking doesn’t have to be verbal. It can be a smile and a gesture that indicates you are asking, with them smiling or nodding in response.

If the person says no, respect that

If anyone says they don’t want their picture taken, respect their request.

Go somewhere else for a photo opportunity.

Watch body language

A person doesn’t have to say “no” to mean they don’t want their photo taken.

If their body language indicates they are uncomfortable, leave.

Be mindful of children

Shots of children tend to really capture a scene.

However, be careful when taking kids’ photos.

If they are the main subject of the photo ask the parent’s or guardian’s permission.

Consider the implications of the photo for the person or site pictured

This is so very important when you are trying to take culturally sensitive photos.

Could the person in the picture be subject to violence or political repercussions because of the photo?

If so, you should not take his or her picture.

Common sense always dictates whether or not you should even think to take a picture.

If it seems appropriate, ask, and be ready for a “no,” which you must abide by.

In the meantime, capture the sights and scenes, and locals as best and respectfully as you can.

Before leaving from our vacation, we do try to remember to have taken one excellent, frame-worthy shot, as one of our sustainable souvenirs.

Just remember to always take culturally sensitive photos with these tips.

Liz Pekler travel photographer

Taking great travel photos: What you need to know

Whether you have several thousands of dollars worth of professional camera gear or just a point and shoot camera, you can take great travel photos.

In fact, photography is one of the best ways to capture memories from your travel experiences.

After much research, experience, and trial and error, we offer our top tips for taking great travel photos.

Think outside the box

If you are traveling somewhere touristy, sometimes it can be difficult to get photos of recognizable landmarks that don’t feel cliché.

But make an effort to think outside the box.

Often travelers try to capture everything in the shot at once, stepping back and getting the landmark, the sky — and other tourists.

While that method can create wonderful perspective shots, try looking at the details.

Rather than using your camera to take dozens of photos of buildings, focus on some of the unique architecture.

Book travel around national holidays and events

While you’re planning your trip, try to book it around national holidays, spiritual or religious events, or even carnival-like celebrations.

In addition to providing unique cultural insights, these events offer a variety of opportunities for great photos.

Take un-posed photos

Often, posed shots lack authenticity.

When taking travel photos of people, try to take photos of the subjects doing something from their daily life.

Whether they are at work, or doing chores, photos of people in their natural environments are often more interesting than posed pictures.

Your photos should tell a story

After getting back from a few trips, I have felt like my photos were missing something.

While I got a few great shots, I felt like the photos didn’t tell the story of my travels.

Be sure to get plenty of photos of the people you are traveling with and where you stayed.

Remember to take pictures of people you met and even what you ate.

Often, these are the photos that people will be most interested in seeing as you share your photos with friends back home.

In the 1990’s we stayed at some very interesting rooms while touring Italy.

I wish I had pictures of them to remember them more clearly.

Gain understanding of culture and traditions

Make sure you spend time understanding traditions and cultures of the places you are visiting.

Every traveler should strive to be respectful, but photographers have an extra burden because photography can feel a bit invasive.

In some cultures, photography isn’t common so it’s essential that you make sure that you’re not being rude or offensive.

Go above and beyond.

People will be more responsive when you ask to take their photos if you are making an effort to understand their culture and have learned a few phrases of their language.

Get permission to photograph people

Often travelers lack confidence when taking travel photographs.

Everyone wants to take beautiful portraits, but people are often nervous to ask someone if they can photograph them.

Instead, they stand far away with a zoom lens.

This is not the best way to take culturally sensitive photos. Instead, ask people if you can take their photos.

The worst thing that can happen is that they will so say no.

If they do say yes, be sure to show them the photos on the LCD screen.

Generally speaking, if someone is the main subject of a photo, I try to ask permission before taking the photo.

The same goes for children, if they are the main subject, I try to ask permission from their parents.

Keep a journal

If you have done any sort of long-term travel, you know that by the time you get home you may have forgotten many of the details.

Keep a journal close to your camera and make notes of the names of places and people you photograph.

Often, my favorite photos are the ones that have great stories that go with them.

Remember that after taking great travel photos that you also have to enjoy them. (Our 8th tip: Enjoy them!)

For so many years, after taking hundreds of pictures on my digital camera or phone, I never even looked at them, much less ordered them, framed them, cherished them.

Especially having kids, putting the pictures into a digital photo book or in a classic-type photo album, or a few in a frame will help your entire family remember the fun they had on that vacation.

So be sure to enjoy and share travel photos as soon as you can after your trip so you will be more motivated.

What are your tips for taking great travel photos?

How to Backup Photos While Traveling

My husband and I spent 3 months traveling through Africa last year.

As we were planning, one of my biggest concerns was figuring out how we would backup our photos and videos on the road.

With only one computer on the trip, we knew that we would quickly fill up the internal hard drive.

We had two DSLR cameras and ended up taking thousands of photos as we traveled through over a dozen African countries.

We used a few methods for backing up all of the photos and videos, and we were able to have 2 backups of most of our files.

Even if you aren’t going to be going on an extended trip anytime soon, figuring out how to backup photos while traveling can be a challenge.

Here are my top tips for backing up your photos.

How to Backup Photos While Traveling Buy the Right Memory Cards

Memory cards have gone down in price significantly since I bought my first digital camera.

While traveling, it’s helpful to have a large memory card.

If your memory card has enough space, you may just be able to leave photos on it until you get home.

Periodically during the trip, you can copy your photos over to your computer or a hard drive for backup.

You can get a 128 GB memory card on Amazon for $174.99.

Even if you shoot in raw, you should be able to take about 8000 photos with this card.

You can also get memory cards with built in Wi-Fi.

If you know you’ll be traveling in places with internet, this is a great option because it can wirelessly backup all of your photos to your computer.

The downside is definitely the price: an 8 GB memory card with Wi-Fi is currently about $78.

Bring a Pelican Case

Depending on where you are going, a Pelican case can be helpful for backing up photos because you can store hard drives and other camera equipment in a safe place.

We used a small one to hold our external hard drives so they would be protected from water and the bumpy ride.

They come in a variety of sizes, and you can trim the padding to fit, so all of your equipment and hard drives can fit securely in the case.

Delete as You Go

Editing down your photos as you go can save a lot of room on your camera’s memory card and your hard drives.

This was a big thing for us as we were traveling.

As time consuming as it was, we spent time after each country going through the photos we’d taken.

We deleted the photos we knew we wouldn’t use.

Whether it was because they were duplicates, blurry, or just poor quality.

It saved space, and it was also great because it was one less thing to do when we got home.

Invest in a Solid State Drive

We haven’t bought a solid state drive yet, but I know it’s on my husband’s wish list.

A solid state drive is much durable than a regular hard drive because it uses flash memory, so there are no moving parts to be damaged.

Even though we had a pelican case, we were constantly concerned about our external hard drives, so a solid state drive would have been a huge help on our trip.

Unfortunately, they’re expensive.

For a 240 GB solid state drive, you’ll pay about $280.

But, depending on where you are traveling, a solid state drive would be a great option for how to backup photos while traveling.

Upload When You Can

We had internet periodically on our trip, and we made sure to upload photos to Flickr when we could.

Reviewing our photos on the road was great because we would also select our favorite photos and put them in a separate folder to upload to Flickr, just in case something happened to our other storage.

Because our internet access was limited and not very fast, we weren’t able to do this with all of our photos.

But we felt better knowing that our favorite photos were safe online.

To speed up the upload process, we also reduced the file size.

How do you backup photos while traveling?

What tips do you have for how to backup photos?

DSLR vs Point-and-Shoot Camera: Which Should You Buy?

Last March, I attended a media event with Sony, where I was fortunate enough to spend three full days on location in Park City, Utah learning how to use a variety of their newest cameras, video cameras, and tablets.

I now have enough knowledge to make a decision about bringing my DSLR vs Point-and-Shoot Camera wherever I go.

I traded in my trusty Nikon point-and-shoot for the duration of the trip, and absorbed the information and in-the-field tutorial of Sony experts.

I’ll tell you, I was a bit nervous.

I’m not especially tech-savvy, despite using cameras in my line of work as a travel writer for years.

I was sure the Sony experts were going to push me out of my comfort zone (the world of point-and-shoots) and make me leave mine behind.

So what is really the best DSLR vs Point-and-Shoot Camera

Instead, I came away from the experience buoyed by two facts:

While DSLR (which stands for digital single lens reflex) cameras are often the go-to choice for specific functions and results, they don’t have to be complicated.

Point-and-shoots still have their place in my day pack or purse.

DSLR vs Point-and-Shoot Camera

What a relief! I didn’t want to give up the convenient size of my point-and-shoot, which fits so nicely in my pocket.

And those intimidating DSLRs?

They’re not so scary as you might think.

Oh, and plus?

Video cameras can be quite small now, and I’m not just talking about the one on your phone.

Best camera for…Taking pictures of kids and action-packed vacations

If you’re trying to capture intense action while on-the-go, it is best to use an action cam.

It can be mounted on your helmet, bike handlebar, or even strapped to your chest.

Turn it on, record the action, and turn it back off.

After being introduced to Sony’s Action Cam, I’ve been able to actually keep up with my skiing kids.

Whereas I used to be way behind, trying to film with one hand and hold my poles in the other.

Because action cams (not just the Sony version) have waterproof casing, they can come along for the ride in kayaks, through mud puddles, and in dirt.

Even when you’re not traveling, an action cam is the best camera for taking pictures of kids.

Which type to buy?

Sony’s Action Cam features WiFi, which can be used to download videos directly to phones and Facebook as well as for you to see the angle of your shot via your screen as you’re filming.

The well-known Go Pro HERO does not feature WiFi, but does enjoy a on-camera screen and more intuitive programming.

Waterproof camera for outdoor travel

If you’re planning to take photos while rafting, swimming, backpacking, or hiking, you need a camera that will fit in a pocket or waist-belt pocket of a day pack, is immune to dust and dirt getting into the lens, and is waterproof.

Opt for a waterproof, dust-proof point-and-shoot like the Sony rugged Cyber-Shot with both video and still shoot capability.

I’m planning to take mine swimming with whale sharks; horseback riding through the Tetons; and kayaking in Alaska.

The Olympus Tough compact digital camera has similar features for a similar price tag, and like the Sony, also claims to be shockproof and freeze-proof.

Night shots, landscapes, and portraits

This is where a DSLR and interchangeable lens cameras really shine.

Maybe the point-and-shoot will suffice while you’re trying to grab a shot while riding behind sled dogs or navigating a Class III rapid, but when you can take your time to set up your shot, you’ll want a manual lens.

And if you’ve tried to take really great night shots or interior shots with your point-and-shoot, you know that you really need to know what you’re doing to be successful.

After only a few days with a Sony NEX-6, an interchangeable lens camera that has the features of a DSLR without the weight or bulk, I was able to take great shots of city lights, close-ups of food and faces, and gorgeous landscapes.

The key?

Being able to adjust shutter speed, and frame my shot in a viewfinder.

For a great overview of DSLRs, read the Best Digital DSLR Cameras for Every Traveler’s Budget.

If you want the best camera for night shots, landscapes, and portraits, a DSLR or high-quality interchangeable lens camera is the way to go.

Below is a shot I took of the perfect snow at Park City’s The Canyons while ‘on location’ with the Sony NEX:

photo with DSLR

If you can’t afford a DSLR or other high-quality interchangeable lens camera (they are pricey!), a nice almost-hybrid point-and-shoot is the Nikon Coolpix.

This is the camera I put aside during my tutorials in Park City, but which I do still use and find to be a trusty camera.

I use mine to carefully set up landscape shots and grab action on the go.

If you’re tech-impaired like I am, here’s what to look for in your first DSLR or Interchangeable Lens Camera:


Yes, cameras still have them.

No, your point-and-shoot hasn’t boasted one for quite a few years, and I know you don’t think you need one, but you do.

I was amazed by the different in my ability to frame a good shot when I was looking through a view finder.

Screen in addition to a viewfinder

Sometimes, you do need to see the ‘whole picture’ or be able to see your view at a different angle.

Look for a camera (like the Sony NEX) that offers an adjustable screen.

This really comes in handy when you have your camera on a tripod (or set on a ledge or bench) and need to see your view.

Auto feature

Yes, your DSLR will have a zillion settings, but even the experts I talked to at the Sony event recommended that as a novice, I use the auto feature 90% of the time.

And I got great photos.

The auto feature takes the guesswork out of a DSLR for when you need to capture a moment without over-thinking it.

That’s our roundup of a DSLR vs point-and-shoot camera.

If you’ve never considered a DSLR or interchangeable lens camera because all the settings and user-control intimidate you (as it did me), I hope you’ll reconsider.

They really are only as complicated as you want them to be.

And if you’ve been trying to use a DSLR while in the midst of action, don’t be leery of giving a point-and-shoot a chance.

Many perform better than you’d imagine.

Think about your activity, the pace of the action, and the conditions (water, etc.) and go from there.

Photo credit: Gwenael Piaser and Amy Whitley.

Best Digital DSLR Cameras for Every Traveler’s Budget

Whether you are going on a staycation or planning a long-term overseas trip, it is definitely easier to capture those legendary travel moments with a great camera.

Up until the last few years, it was difficult to get a great camera for a good price.

Many professional DSLR cameras seemed off-limits for travelers.

But thankfully, there are now cameras that fit with every price range.

As the cameras on smart phones continue to improve, we have ditched our point and shoot digital camera.

Instead we travel with our DSLRs and our iPhones.

We love that this helps us travel light–which is one of the easiest ways we’ve found to travel green.

Here are the best digital cameras for every budget.

Entry Level: Rebel T3i

While the $749 price tag may not seem entry-level, the Canon T3i is a great camera for the money.

It is an inexpensive DSLR that produces high quality photos.

We bought this camera before going on a three month camping trip through Africa and were really happy with our photos and the camera itself.

My husband appreciated that it takes video, as well as photos.

The flip-out screen allows you to look over crowds and take self-portraits.

One of the disadvantages of the entry-level cameras compared to the high-end DSLRs is that they are cropped frame.

This camera with a 17-55 mm lens.

Nikon equivalent: Nikon D5100

Mid Range: 60D

The Canon 60D is definitely a step-up from the Canon T3i.

The Canon 60D is a more professional camera, but the price is still manageable.

Right now, you can purchase a 60D you will also receive a 18-135 mm lens.

Like the T3i, one of the biggest disadvantages of this camera is the cropped frame.

Canon developed this camera with the photographer in mind.

Someone that is looking to upgrade from a camera in the Canon Rebel series.

Nikon equivalent: Nikon D7000

High-End: 5D Mark III

The Canon 5D Mark III is definitely on my husband’s wish list.

With a price tag of $3899 this camera is top of the line.

With full-frame image quality that gives you wider angle photos, this camera is a big upgrade from both the T3i and the 60D.

While the other two cameras come with plastic bodies, the 5D Mark III has a metal body, which makes it a more durable camera.

If you are hoping to get into professional photography, this is a good option because it is ideal both the studio and shots in the field.

It is also great for still photography.

Nikon equivalent: Nikon D800

These three cameras are all Canon because that is what we have always used and what we prefer.

Both of cameras are Canon which makes for lighter (and cheaper) traveling because the lenses are interchangeable.

We have been extremely happy with both of our DSLRs, but we have friends that swear by Nikon.

It is definitely a matter of preference.

So, I listed the Nikon equivalent for each camera.

What camera do you use for nature travel

Inspiring Places Around the World for Writers

Image credits: chris_ford_uk, mklipovsky, theogeo

Priceline for Car Rentals ~ 10 Tips to Save Money

Priceline for Car Rentals


Priceline for car rentals – You are in the midst of making all the arrangements for your next great adventure and it’s time to finalize your transportation and arrange for a rental car.

Although people have been using Priceline’s Name Your Own Price function for years to find great deals on flights, many of us don’t think to do the same for our car rental reservations or don’t feel confident that we can name our own price without missing something and ending up with a non-refundable reservation that isn’t what we needed.

Because the discounts Priceline offers through this program can result in a significant cost savings, it is an excellent way to get more for your travel budget.

To help make sure you do, here are ten tips for using Priceline for car rentals.
priceline for car rentals, Priceline Car Rental

Priceline for Car Rentals to Save Money on Priceline Car Rental

Priceline offers solid discounts

Part of their standard reservation process without the restrictions and limitations associated with naming your own price.

Start out by checking Priceline’s regular price and work out your optimal car rental scenario including what locations you are willing to accept for pick-up/drop-off, times, the number of days you need the car, and the type of car you want.

You might find a price that meets your budget without having to worry about restrictions.

Do your research on Priceline

Make sure you understand what the different categories of cars offer in terms of amenities and capacity, both for passengers and luggage.

Some brands “economy” category cars don’t have radios and the passenger seating availability in one company’s mid-size might be different than that of another company.

Check the prices

Check prices offered at the national brands websites and other consolidated travel websites like Travelocity.

This will give you a good idea of the average price for the exact rental you need, ensure you are comparing apples to apples to apples, and help you pick the right bid amount when you are ready to bid.

Compare weekend vs weekday rates on Priceline

While researching standard pricing, make sure you are accounting for differences in weekend rates versus weekday rates versus full week rental rates.

Picking the right rental period may result in additional cost savings and is a key piece of information you will need to name your own price.

If you are flying into a major airport, it may be worth it to check into the rates available if you pick-up and drop-off at a city location rather than the airport.

Although you will have to arrange for transportation from the airport to the pickup location and it may not be as convenient, it might save you enough money to make the extra hassle and the cost of a cab more than worthwhile.

Priceline Bidding Hacks

As you get ready to make your bid, write out all the details of what you need to ensure you are getting the exact reservation your vacation plans require.

Remember that Priceline’s name your own price program has severe restrictions around changes, cancellations, and refunds.

Taking a minute to plan out your bid before you commit to anything will help ensure you don’t inadvertently pick the wrong vehicle type or arrival date and end up paying more than you bargained for.

Set your initial bid for 20-30% lower than the best price you found during your standard rate research.

You can also check on Priceline to see the most recent winning bids for reservations similar to the ones you are trying to make.

Use this information to validate your bid price and adjust up or down if needed.

Priceline Taxes and fees

The cost of taxes and fees will be shown as part of your total bid before you finalize and lock yourself into purchasing.

Make sure you review this confirmation carefully and understand the full cost you will incur if your bid is accepted.

Get most out of Priceline Discount

In order to get the most benefit out of the discounts Priceline can offer on car rentals while also averting any unintended costs or consequences, it is important to remember that the discounts are available because of the strict rules Priceline imposes on name your own price reservations.

According to Priceline policies, once the name your own price bid is accepted, you cannot change the reservation in any way, you cannot extend the reservation at the same discounted price, and you will not get any refund for cancellations or if you return the car early

Priceline Policy’s

Lastly, be sure to read Priceline’s policy on delayed/cancelled/rescheduled flights so you know what you need to do in the event you find yourself in one of these situations.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled and then rescheduled, your reservations will be held for 24 hours and extended by one day.

If your flight is cancelled and you will not be taking a rescheduled flight, you will need to contact Priceline’s customer support team to determine what options you have based on your specific circumstances.

Priceline Car Rental

When it comes to car rentals, using Priceline to find the right reservation at the right price can save you a significant amount of money but you need to be prepared and informed in order to get the rental car you need at the best price available.

The extra time and effort you put in may help you save enough money to splurge on sampling the local cuisine or taking a once-in-a-lifetime adventure while you are away from home.

Another of our favorite posts are: The Ultimate Guide to Priceline Bidding Tips and Find Cheap Airline Tickets: Cheat Sheet

Ways to find cheap rental cars

The very best travel coupons that you’ll find on the internet are car rental coupon codes.

I have been able to use some sort of car rental coupon every single time I’ve had to rent a car; whereas it’s a rarer occasion when I’ve used a coupon for airfare or hotel.

This post first provides a list of car rental coupon codes and then goes through the best method for getting a good deal on a rental car.

Use a travel search engine (aggregator) for an initial search

Like with airlines – which may have hubs in some places and thus be cheaper – car rental companies may have “hubs” in certain cities.

Because of this, there is no reason to have any loyalty to a particular car rental company based on price.

You may be loyal to one company based on customer service or something else, but you shouldn’t think that one company always has the best price.

I like to start with a search on a travel search aggregate like Kayak and see what companies are coming up with the best price in the area I’m visiting.

Use rental car discount codes and coupons directly on the company’s website

Once you’ve determined which car rental company or companies are offering the best prices for your location or dates, look for coupons for those particular companies.

We will regularly update this page (so bookmark it) with coupons we have available, but sometimes the coupons are listed directly on the company’s site.

You can also Google “(name of company) car rental coupon code” to see what turns up.

Finally, some auto service clubs, insurance agencies, schools, and other affiliation groups or clubs may offer discounts.

Watch for any offers through promotions you get from those clubs and companies.

For instance, I get discounts through USAA, my insurance company, as well as my Amex card, and an alumni association I’m a part of.

Sign up for preferred car rental clubs (if they’re free)

Avis Preferred Service is completely free to sign up for (and well worth it because you don’t have to wait in line) Hertz also has a #1 Gold program that offers similar benefits.

I was able to get into the Hertz program for free with my Amex card.

Unless you’re an extremely frequent car rental (which hopefully you’re not as it’s not the greenest of transportation options) it’s probably only worth it to sign up for these preferred car rental clubs if it’s free to sign up.

Use these tips for using Priceline for car rentals and save every time you travel.

Be sure to check out our other travel coupons posts for more great coupon codes.

Save on car rentals every time you travel.

Green Car Rental Hacks – Eco-Friendly Way to Travel Green

Green Car Rental Hacks – Regardless of what you drive at home, renting an eco-friendly car while traveling is a great way to travel green.

These days, many rental car companies are making significant efforts to add hybrids, electric cars, and other fuel-efficient vehicles to their fleets.

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, you’ll appreciate these tips for a green car rental.

Look for SmartWay Certified Vehicles

The EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide scores vehicles on a scale of 1 to 10 based on air pollution and greenhouse gas emission.

The vehicles that receive a better than average score in both are designated as SmartWay certified.

So, in comparison to the other vehicles on the market, these are the most environmentally friendly vehicles.

SmartWay Elite status is given to the vehicles that get the highest scores in both categories.

All SmartWay certified vehicles are listed in the EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide.

Before you rent, you can check to see how your rental car ranks.

Many rental car companies will let you know which cars in their fleet have this EPA certification, making choosing a green rental car even easier!

guide to green car rental

Go Small Rental Car

Between the extra legroom and the added truck space, it can be tempting to go for that upgrade at the car rental counter.

But resist if you can.

Smaller cars are typically much more fuel-efficient, making them more environmentally friendly.

In fact, 100% of the cars in Budget’s economy, compact, and intermediate categories are SmartWay certified.

Plus, you’ll save money on the rental fee and at the pump!

Book Early for Hybrid Rental Cars

Most large car rental companies in the United States (like Avis) now offer hybrids.

But it’s best to book early since they’re considered specialty vehicles.

The downside is that the actual car rental is more expensive, but the gas savings can help make up for the difference in price.

A few years ago, it was difficult to find companies to that offered hybrids.

Thankfully, now you can search for “green cars” on sites like Travelocity, which makes it easier to find a hybrid rental.

Especially when you book early!

Find a Green Rental Car Company that Specializes in Eco-Friendly Cars

A few rental car companies that specialize in renting eco-friendly cars are starting to pop up around the country.

eQocar in Burbank, California rents only hybrid vehicles.

They have an impressive range of compact cars, luxury vehicles, and even SUVs.

Bio-Beetle in Maui, Hawaii offers cars that use bio-diesel.

Their most popular car is a Volkswagen Beetle. Traveling to Key West?

Check out Conch Electric Cars for a selection of electric cars for sightseeing in the Florida Keys.

Green car rental is easy when you find a company that specializes in it.

Join Zipcar

Zipcar is a car-sharing program in bigger cities and on college campuses across the North America and the UK.

My husband and I joined in Boston and we’re able to rent cars by the hour when we need them.

If you live in a city that has Zipcar, it’s a great alternative to owning a vehicle.

While Zipcar is not necessarily an option while traveling since it only works in the city where you live, it can be a great option if you need to rent a car for a staycation or a day trip.

Zipcar offers a variety of hybrid vehicles to choose from.

Skip the Rental Car

If you were thinking about renting a car this summer, you might find that if you look over the itinerary you really don’t need to after all.

Many cities offer effective public transportation and walking is a great way to explore a new area.

Have you rented an eco-friendly car on vacation?

What are your tips for a green car rental?

Best Way Save Money Renting Car

Best Way Save Money Renting Car Traveling To Europe

There are many things to consider when renting a car in Europe.

You have to ensure that the car that you are renting is fuel-efficient.

Hybrid Car Rental Low Emission Zones

This will save you a lot of money on gas.

Also, you have to make sure that you have the necessary insurance for the rental car.

Here are a few things that will help you rent the Best Way Save Money Renting Car within your budget:

Diesel Fuel Consumption

One of the best ways to save money is to get a small car that runs on diesel.

Firstly, a small car will have a smaller engine.

Small engines usually deliver great fuel mileage.

You will find it easier to get around if you have a smaller car.

One of the best things about getting a small car with a diesel engine is the fuel cost.

Small engines give a good mileage to begin with.

Also, a diesel engine will give you better mileage than a petrol engine.

Moreover, you are more likely to find a car with a diesel engine in Europe for a good price.

This will save you a hefty amount of money.

You will save fuel since the small car is more likely to travel in high gears.

If you want to rent a good car which will prove convenient, you should book the car in advance.

Renowned car rental companies allow you to make advance bookings online, even if you are coming in from a different continent.

Make the booking before you board the flight.

However, you should call and confirm your booking in addition to the online booking.

Insurance For Rental Car Europe

When you rent a car from any car rental service, you should make sure you carry a Green Card.

This is a document that is paired along with each and every rental car.

If your rental vehicle does not have this document, be sure to ask for it as it is extremely essential.

This document will need to be produced in the event you are stopped by the authorities.

You may even need to produce the document if you travel to a different European country.

In the event of an accident, the Green Card becomes an absolute necessity.

Only when you have all the necessary documentation should you drive away with the rented car.

Good Travel Insurance Should Cover Financial Loss or Medical Expenses.

Travel Insurance How You Can Choose the Best Plan

Rental Car Safety Equipment

One important thing to consider before you leave with the car is the safety equipment.

There are quite a few essentials that you will need on the road.

The first and foremost is a spare wheel, lifting jack and a safety triangle.

Always check the car that you have rented for this equipment.

If the equipment is not there, you should ask the company to provide it.

In addition, you should verify the type of fuel the car runs on.

If you specified a diesel vehicle or a gas vehicle, make sure that service provides the same car to you.

You may end up stranded if you end up using the wrong fuel in the car.

Rental Car Controls

Another thing that you have to check before driving off is the car controls.

European cars often have different controls.

Make sure you understand where all the controls and knobs are before you drive off.

A great idea is to take a test drive to see if the car feels right.

Rental Car Pickup Locations

Another aspect that will greatly affect the rental price is the pickup location.

If possible, you should consider visiting the car rental service outlet to collect the car.

This proves to be the cheapest option as you will not be charged extra for a pickup.

You will be charged an extra amount if you have the car transported to the airport.

If you have to have the car transported to a particular location, you can always do so in a small town.

Any car you pick up in a big city will cost you a hefty amount.

There is convenience to consider.

If you drive off the airport to a location, you will not encounter much traffic.

However, if you pick up the car from within a town, you will have to account for traffic.

You may end up being stuck in traffic.

It may be a good idea to pay a little extra money and beat the traffic.

Price during Peak Season

If you want to rent a car, you should consider doing so during the off-season.

This is because the rates charged by car rental services are high during the peak seasons.

You can always book the car a couple of days in advance and make sure you can beat the holiday price.

In fact, if you want to rent a car at the last minute, you might not be able to find any.

During the seasons, rental car services are overbooked and they usually do not have cars available.

As soon as you have your air tickets confirmed, you should consider reserving a car for yourself to the European destination you are travelling it.

You should make online reservations and then confirm them over the phone to avoid any inconvenience.

Gas Prices and Gas Mileage

Gas prices in Europe are high.

This is one reason you should consider going for the most fuel-efficient car possible.

The tax rates in Europe are quite high.

This directly affects the gas prices there.

You will find a substantial difference between the gas and diesel prices in Europe as compared to other continents.

Renting a fuel-efficient car will ensure you don’t have to spend too much on fuel.

When you rent a car in Europe, you have to make sure that you do not rent a large car.

Part of the reason is the roads in Europe.

However, you also have to consider the gas mileage.

Larger cars consume more gas which will prove to be very expensive.

This is why you should make it a point to rent the most fuel-efficient car possible.

Use these tips when renting a car in Europe and you will be able to save a considerable sum of money.

Where to Rent Green Rental Car Hybrid

Green Rental Car Hybrid – Visiting new places is exciting.

There’s so much to see and do, and so many memories to be made.

Travel also involves planning.

With itineraries to create and hotel reservations to make, it’s easy to overlook the environment.

However, many companies are making it easier to be eco-friendly while on the go.

Resorts are catering to a green conscious public, and people can be even more environmentally responsible by renting a green car.

If you are looking where to rent a hybrid rental car in the United States, it might pose a bit of a challenge.

Though it is getting easier with each year, it is not as easy as one would expect in this day and age.

An environmentally-friendly rental car isn’t a given unless you seek one out.

But most of the big car rental companies are currently working on stocking hybrids, but there are still few that do.

Travel Green On Your Next Vacation to Reduce Impact
10 Tips for Using Priceline for Car Rentals to Save Money

Rent a Green Rental Car Hybrid for an Eco-Friendly Getaway

Chance to try a different type of car

The majority of drivers still stick with the gas-powered car for their everyday transportation.

Vacation provides an opportunity to try out a car that’s powered by a different source.

Whether it’s bio-diesel, hybrid or electric, these cars take advantage of the latest technological developments to deliver performance that is efficient while also helping to preserve the environment.

Think of an eco-friendly car rental as a chance to enjoy an extended test drive.

Many people have chosen a green car after experiencing how wonderful it is to avoid frequent, expensive trips to the gas station.

It’s getting easier and more convenient to rent green cars.

Many of the major rental car companies in the U.S. now offer green options.

Independent rental car companies are springing up that boast fleets that are exclusively powered by alternative fuel.

Searching for Green Rental Car Hybrid rentals online

Perhaps the simplest way to begin the search for a green car rental is to look online.

Big rental car companies that have an environmental initiative in place are usually vocal about their practices.

Travelers wanting even more variety might consider conducting an Internet search for their destination that specifically references environmentally friendly car rentals.

Many of these smaller, independent companies are a bit more difficult to find, but their personalized services and expanded fleets of environmentally responsible vehicles makes them worth seeking out.

Read the fine print of your Rental Agreement

The larger car rental companies have recognized a definite trend as far as consumer demand for green cars.

That’s why they’ve shown themselves willing to add eco-friendly choices to their automobile lineup.

However, consumers should read the fine print and proceed with caution when renting a car.

Many automobiles that are part of a green car rental initiative do rely on alternative fuels, while others are merely recognized for providing excellent fuel efficiency.

Either vehicle is a good option, but the traveler who is determined to be as green as possible may want to double check that they have chosen a true electric or bio-diesel vehicle instead of one that’s just more efficient.
Green Rental Car Hybrid - Hybrid Rental Car

Benefits of renting a green rental car hybrid

Some travelers haven’t quite gotten on the green rental car hybrid bandwagon yet.

It’s not unusual for a tourist to choose a high powered sports car or an SUV when they are far from home.

While these cars certainly are fun to drive, they can have a significant environmental impact, especially if travelers plan to do quite a bit of driving during their stay.

Vehicles like these emit a lot of greenhouse gases and contribute to the amount of atmospheric pollution.

When it comes to deciding whether or not to go with a green car, drivers might consider that some cities that have a significant smog problem might ask people to restrict driving at certain times.

Choosing a green rental car hybrid allows the tourist to continue their sightseeing without worrying about contributing to a particularly smoggy day.

Renting a green car can also help travelers save money.

Some rental car companies do charge a bit more for choosing an environmentally friendly car.

However, most people who go this route discover that they more than make up for the extra cost in fuel savings.

In addition to saving gas money, alternative fuel cars can also provide peace of mind.

While driving through unfamiliar territory where gas stations may be few and far between, the driver of the alternative fuel vehicle doesn’t have to worry.

They usually have more than enough “fuel” to get them where they are going.

People traveling for business may also derive benefits from choosing a green rental car.

When trying to impress a client or other new business associate, being perceived as environmentally responsible may be particularly desirable.

Some companies only like to do business with organizations that are trying to make a difference in the world.

Demonstrating concern for the environment through a green car rental is a wonderful, real world way for a company to show where their heart is.

SmartWay vehicles

Many cars that are included in green car rental initiatives are certified SmartWay vehicles.

SmartWay is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program that is aimed at improving fuel efficiency in all vehicles and reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.

Since the program’s inception in 2004, many vehicles have received the SmartWay certification.

Some of these are true hybrids or rely solely on some kind of alternative fuel source.

However, SmartWay cars may also be gas powered vehicles that are more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly than other cars.

Each year the EPA establishes new guidelines and reviews the latest models from all major auto manufacturers.

A traveler who is having difficulty finding a car rental company at their destination that has a green car initiative might consider renting one of the models that has received the SmartWay certification.

This way, the tourist can still travel as green as possible.

Eco-tourism destinations are ideal places to rent a green rental cars

Environmentally friendly car rentals are becoming a hot trend in places where eco-tourism is popular.

Diverse destinations like Costa Rica, Kenya and the Norwegian Fjords attract thousands of visitors each year.

These travelers long to see pristine natural beauty, and to do so in as responsible a way as possible.

Choosing green transportation options is just one way to make eco-tourism more planet-conscious than ever.

To make their trip even more environmentally responsible, many tourists are choosing to rent a car for only a portion of their trip while relying on public transit, bicycles and their feet for the duration of their stay.

Compare rental car companies’ other green practices

Travelers might also want to take a look at their car rental company’s practices before choosing which one to go with.

From the smallest electrically powered car to the largest gas guzzling SUV, car rental agencies have a huge fleet to maintain.

That means endless rounds of repairs and cleaning to keep each vehicle operating at top efficiency.

Many rental companies have completely revolutionized the way they do business on a day-to-day basis, opting for biodegradable, non-toxic cleaners and using recycled materials whenever possible.

They’ve updated how they maintain their vehicles, making their practices far more environmentally friendly than they were before.

Happy Earth Day

That commitment to the environment also reaches into the office at some rental car companies.

Administration might have decided to go paperless, and they may have an extensive recycling program in place.

Maybe they encourage employees to carpool, take public transit or opt for reusable shopping bags.

Renting from companies like these shows an even greater commitment to keeping the earth healthy.

Affordable Car Rental in England

More advantages of renting green rental car hybrids

Whether traveling for business or pleasure, anyone can make choices that contribute to sustainability or could be detrimental to the environment.

Travelers can feel good about renting a green car, knowing that they are taking active steps to improve the planet.

They are making a choice that’s better for them and their family.

They are also choosing to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and actively trying to reduce their carbon footprint.

Tips for driving smarter and more green

No matter what kind of car is rented, travelers can also take steps to ensure that their driving habits are as green as possible.

Believe it or not, simply being a patient driver can seriously reduce pollution rates.

Driving aggressively and stomping on the gas pedal emit far more carbon monoxide than slow and steady driving.

Some experts recommend using cruise control whenever possible, as this helps even out the demands on the car’s systems.

Additionally, sticking to the speed limit can significantly improve fuel economy.

Even using a GPS can unit can make a difference.

GPS helps drivers find the quickest route to their destination.

Moreover, it can provide drivers with alternate routes to help them avoid congestion that only promotes bad air quality.

It may even be beneficial to try opening some windows instead of using the air conditioner.

Air conditioning units tend to hurt fuel efficiency and emit harmful nitrogen oxide.

Limiting idling time and choosing not to warm up a car on cold mornings can also prevent greenhouse gas emissions.

Green Rental Car Hybrid rentals are becoming more widely available in all corners of the world.

It’s not unusual for U.S. car rental agencies to offer energy efficient cars, many of which run on alternative fuel sources.

However, agencies tend to only have a limited number of alternative fuel cars available.

This makes it imperative for drivers to make reservations well in advance of their travel dates.

If an alternative fuel car is unavailable, drivers can still be environmentally conscious by choosing a car model that has received SmartWay certification or selecting a rental company that follows certain green operating practices.

Choosing eco-friendly cars

Let’s face it.

It pays to be green these days.

Climate change issues aside, the cost of fuel alone makes you want to choke at the pump.

Sure it’s nice to be there humming and saving in your electric car you just unplugged, but what if you want to be able to unleash 6.2 liters of V8 and 550 plus horsepower?

Maybe there’s a bit of ego involved, but some people really enjoy driving and appreciate the experience a well engineered machine provides to its pilot.

Is there a middle ground here?

You love eco-friendly cars but you love speed too.

Green or mean… or both?

In the Green Corner: Hybrid Roadsters

Even though we might not like to think about it, environmental concerns are real.

Cars use up fossil fuels and spit out carbon monoxide which accelerates global warming.

Being a car enthusiast doesn’t mean that you don’t care.

Some shout that we should go for the best fuel efficiency possible, and the automakers have not turned a deaf ear.

On the contrary, some of these green models have taken a place among the centerpieces of many automotive lines.

Green Car Journal’s Green Car of the Year contender, the Toyota Prius V Hybrid, for example, is a petrol-electric hybrid.

Nearly single handedly, this baby catapulted Toyota to the top spot among car makers and made a big difference in the company weathering the economic storm of 2008-2009.

There is huge consumer interest in this car so Toyota puts a big chunk of R&D resources here all for under family car money.

We are talking 45-mpg.

It’s what the environmentally minded driver demands.

Save cash at the pump and save the planet?

Sure, with these cars you can do both.

In the Mean Corner: The Muscle Car

Despite surging fuel prices, the car lover lives – and, therefore, so does the muscle car.

Maybe you prefer to drive well into triple digits.

Digits like 200-mph and 650-bhp, that is, as offered by the impressive Ford Shelby GT500.

There is no mistaking what’s going on under the bonnet here.

This beast is for the driver who just wants to drive.

This isn’t about commuting or heading out to buy groceries, but it is about the throaty roar and the pull you feel from all those horses pushing you toward the horizon.

Then, in perhaps the ultimate expression of indulgence you could slide into the Aston Martin One-77.

Let’s let the numbers do the talking: only 77 to be made, 750-bhp, 7.3 litre, V12 and a cool £1.2 million (or $1.5-2 million) sticker.

Running costs are likely to be high; to just replace a tire may cost the same as many economical small estates.

And the Winner is…

There are convincing arguments on both sides.

The green camp would cite that the environmental concerns alone are reason enough for eco friendliness to drive design and choice.

The enthusiast would counter that with stricter emissions regulations and high fuel prices the performance car is also making strides in environmental consciousness.

Take the new Mustang which has a 305-bhp V6. It maintains the muscle car feel, and it gets a respectable 31 mpg thanks to better valve operation and timing adjustments.

There are many science and technology centers as well as national parks, etc. that are displaying information about eco-friendly cars so even kids can learn about how important they are.

Even though green technology can be found trickling down to many conventional models, very few drivers want to go puttering along at a snail’s pace.

Performance matters to everyone. But where do you draw the line?

For the time being it appears that there are still choices, especially as more companies come on board with eco-friendly cars.

Hopefully the technological advancements will reach the point where someday we can grip the wheel of a muscular machine that goes fast and far on only a few drops of fuel.

We can certainly dream.

Pros and Cons of Buying Electric Cars What You Should Know

Cars using electricity instead of petroleum is definitely an attractive invention.

Though the presence of electric cars has been there since many years now, people are still concerned about deciding whether they should go for it and buying electric cars or a conventional one.

If you are having a similar confusion, then knowing the pros and cons of electric cars can help you finalize your decision.

Buying electric Cars

Here is what you should know about electric cars:

Quick and Quite

Even if you are riding an electric car for the first time, you will feel the difference:

It provides you a much smoother, quick, and quite ride as compared to the car using engine powered by petroleum.

The most surprising factor of an electric car is its high torque.

The higher the torque is, the better is its axle twisting power.

You Can Recharge Your Electric Car At Home

Who likes going to the gas station repeatedly?

And if you have an electric car, then set your fueling worries aside! Since you can recharge this vehicle at home, you can save a lot of time.

Recharging your electric car in a driveway or your garage means that you can drive it to eighty to one-hundred miles.

This is a lot for everyone, except those who need to commute long distances.

It Is a Cheaper Option

In various regions, electricity is said to be cheap and ubiquitous.

This gives the dwellers a huge advantage in terms of cost.

So, in countries where the petroleum prices are very high, electric cars can be the best alternate.

Secondly, electric cars do not require oil changes, which keep maintenance costs away.

Electric Cars Have a Good Future

Still, not all vehicle manufacturers have tapped into the market of electric cars.

However, within a couple of years, it is predicted that an increasing number of automobile companies will show serious interest in producing electric cars.

This is great news for electric car lovers!

Cons of Buying Electric Cars – Electric Cars Have Limited Range

Those driving electric cars often complain about their range anxiety.

So, when it comes to driving through long miles, these cars will not deliver you more than 100 miles.

However, the cost as well as range of batteries used within electric cars is said to be improving.

Refueling Takes Longer Electric Cars

The limited range issue is linked with the refueling concern of electric cars.

Since refueling an electric car takes a lot of time, many people prefer taking their petroleum car to the gas station.

Expensive Buying Electric Cars

For some people, initial costs matter a lot.

Having high cost of purchase, electric cars are said to be more expensive.

Consumer’s Choice Is Limited for Electric Cars

No matter how luxurious an electric car from a popular automobile company is, the designs and styles of electric cars are rare.

This makes many people out of choice.

So, these were the pros and cons of electric cars.

Since the industry of these eco-friendly vehicles is seeing growth in terms of consumer preference as well as technology, there are high chances that the newer models of electric cars will contribute positively in terms of increasing the market share of companies producing and selling them.

5 Things to know about Hybrid Car Rental

Have you heard of Low Emission Zones (LEZs)? It stands for Low Emission Zones.

Travelers should also be aware that in Europe there are many countries that have instituted Low Emission Zones.

Low emission vehicles are not always readily available for rental especially when traveling abroad.

What are Low Emission Zones?

Common in London and other congested areas abroad, Low Emission Zones are areas that the government tries to protect by regulating the types of vehicles that can access and use that area.

If a vehicle has a higher emission output, it cannot enter the area.

In some LEZ areas, the offending vehicles have to pay to access it.

The goal is to improve the air quality of the area.

The industry’s move toward greener alternatives has been stifled by the downturn in the economy, the concern being that travelers may not be willing to pay a premium for this service.

For many of us, the desire to have a less negative impact on the environment outweighs the additional cost when considering that it makes up a relatively small fraction of the amount that a family would normally spend on a vacation.

Although the travel industry has been slow to respond to the needs of its more forward thinking customers, advances are being made in the area of hybrid car rental.

Because hybrid car rental is being actively sought by consumers, car rental companies and travel brokers are working to make it more accessible.

Renting an electric or hybrid car can also be a good opportunity for a test drive before making a final purchase.

Toyota and Honda have worked diligently to market their hybrids as status symbols, and in most markets this means maintaining exclusivity to enforce that type of branding.

In some regions (surprisingly enough: Japan) there are waiting lists over six months to get your hands on a Prius.

So, while you wait, why not try one?

Environmentalists and technology enthusiasts are not the only ones that may have an interest in these vehicles.

Travelers renting for several weeks and driving for long distances may also benefit from the fuel economy of a hybrid fleet.

5 Low Emission Zones While Traveling in Europe

Driving a hybrid rental car can be exceptionally helpful when driving in these zones.

Here are the top five things you should know about these Low Emission Zones while traveling in Europe:

Low Emission Zones are in effect in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Austria, with more being added all the time.

Low Emission Zones are not country wide, they are centered around major metropolitan areas.

Ignorance of the rules will not save you from being penalized.

Make sure you do the research before you travel.

The best resource for this is

A low emission or electric vehicle could exempt you from any fees, which is another reason to rent a green car.

The rules for Low Emission Zones are not standard throughout the EU.

Different fees and standards apply to each.

It is important to learn what you can about Low Emission Zones (LEZs) in advance of your trip so you can plan accordingly.

Know what to expect, and avoid penalties.

12 Things You Need to Know about Carbon Offsets

As I navigated the world of carbon offsets, I learned that they are even more complicated than I could have imagined.

Here are the 12 lessons I’ve learned about carbon offsets that any traveler, especially a green traveler, should know.

Carbon Offsets are Give and Take

The idea is this: in return for your actions that harm the environment, you give money to a program that will improve the environment by an equal amount.

According the to Tufts University Climate Initiative, a carbon offset is:

A credit for negating or diminishing the impact of emitting a ton of carbon dioxide by paying someone else to absorb or avoid the release of a ton of CO2 elsewhere.

Carbon Offsets are Highly Controversial

Some people love carbon offsets, but many despise them.

As you read more you’ll understand why.

The bottom line is there’s very little accountability for companies offering carbon offsets.

The company could be taking 80% of your donation for “operating costs” and just giving the leftover 20% to a non-profit.

Carbon Offsetting Occurs by Funding Projects

These projects, in theory, give back to the environment to offset the amount of damage you have done.

For example, the project you give money to may go toward providing solar panel roofs to households in India.

No Accurate Way to Measure Carbon Emissions

According to The Guardian:

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found a margin of error of 10% with measuring emissions from making cement or fertiliser; 60% with the oil, gas and coal industries; and 100% with some agricultural processes. Measuring emissions from aircraft is especially fraught with disagreement about what exactly should be measured and aggravated by variations in each flight’s height, cargo load and weather conditions. When TuftsUniversity in Maine analysed offsetting websites, it found emissions for flights between Boston and Frankfurt being calculated at anything between 1.43 tonnes and 4.14 tonnes.

Fees Vary Widely

The amount you pay to offset your carbon varies substantially based on the carbon offsetting organization you choose.

For example, according to TravelPost, for a trip from New York City to Los Angeles you could pay anywhere from $4.69 to $42.92 in offset fees.

Companies Can be For-Profit or Non-Profit

Organizations that offer carbon offsets are not exclusively non-profits.

In fact, only 6 of 21 carbon offsets providers listed at EcobusinessLinks are non-profit companies.

Projects Funded Vary

The range of projects that carbon offsets fund ranges from planting trees to providing wind power to distributing energy efficient light bulbs.

You should take the type of project into consideration before choosing a carbon offset organization.

You Can Choose the Projects You Want to Fund – Sometimes

Many of the carbon offsetting organizations allow you to choose which project you want to fund.

Others don’t, so do your research before committing.

Don’t Choose to Fund Projects that Plant Trees

This may come as a surprise to you as it did to me.

The outcome of planting trees is still unknown.

You should look for projects that make a difference now, and not 40 or 50 years from now.

Tufts University on protecting forests:

Although protecting forests is very important, protecting them so they absorb carbon is an iffy proposition. We know little about how forests store carbon in the long run, especially with the predicted climatic changes. By all means, donate money to organizations that help protect forests but for carbon offsets, invest in projects that help us transition away from fossil fuels, such as energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

The Guardian on tree planting:

Some tree-planting projects in Guatemala, Ecuador and Uganda have been accused of disrupting water supplies; evicting thousands of villagers from their land; seizing grazing rights from farmers; cheating local people of promised income; and running plantations where the soil releases more carbon than is absorbed by the trees. The founder of Climate Care, Mike Mason, told the environment audit select committee in February: “I think planting trees is mostly a waste of time and energy.” And yet Climate Care relies for some 20% of its online sales on forestry. Mr. Mason explained apologetically: “People love it unfortunately.”

Choose Projects that Wouldn’t Happen Without Your Help

When you choose a project you should look for one that would not occur naturally, without the organization’s assistance.

This concept is also known as “additionality.”

Here’s a good example from The Guardian:

One of the biggest UK offsetters, Climate Care, which is used by the Guardian, distributed 10,000 energy-efficient light bulbs in a South African township; offered the carbon reductions as offsets; and then discovered that an energy company was distributing the same kind of light bulbs free to masses of customers, including their township, so the reduction would have happened anyway.

Look for the Gold Standard

The Gold Standard is the strictest standard around. Look for offset providers that adhere to it.

They do, however, only give their okay to “renewable energy and energy efficiency projects because we are ultimately focused on a fundamental change in behavior.”

So if energy isn’t your thing, this label probably won’t help you.

Carbon Offsets Shouldn’t Make You Feel Guilt-Free

Just because you buy carbon offsets doesn’t mean that you can continue globetrotting the world, taking 20 minute showers in showers with multiple shower heads, and snacking on food that traveled 6,000 miles to get to you.

You still need to be a conscious consumer.

Recommended Companies

Two studies make recommendations based on their research.

We at Go Green Travel Green do not necessarily endorse these organizations.

From Tufts:

myclimate a non-profit company based in Switzerland

atmosfair a German non-profit company focusing on offsetting air travel

climate friendly an Australian-based for-profit company

NativeEnergy a US-based for-profit company

From the Guide to Offset Emissions:

Ag Cert / Driving Green (Ireland)

Atmosfair (Germany)

CarbonNeutral Company (UK)

Climate Care (UK)

Climate Trust (US)

Co2balance (UK)

Native Energy (US)

SustainableTravel / MyClimate (US)

Clearly, carbon offsets are complex, and we haven’t even touched on some of deeper issues here (like the Kyoto Protocol and the Voluntary Carbon Standard).

Great resources:

Tufts University Climate Change Initiative’s Consumer Handout on Carbon Offsets and Full Report on Carbon Offsets

The Guardian’s “The Inconvenient Truth about Carbon Offset Industry

A Consumers Guide to Retail Carbon Offset Providers

Treehugger How to Green Your Carbon Offsets

Travel Post Guide to Carbon Offsets

Treehugger Through the Jungle of Non-Profit Carbon Offset Providers

Grist A guide to offsetting your carbon emissions.

Carbon Catalog – Location, whether the organization is non-profit, price, and a number of other criteria for 81 businesses.

Carbon Emissions Offset Directory Includes price, whether the organization is non-profit, types of projects (i.e. methane, renewables), project choice, offset types (i.e. car, home, air), and certification for dozens of carbon offset businesses across the world

Photo credit: Beige Alert

Best Microfiber Travel Towel Numerous Towels on the Market Today

tangerine microfiber towel


Best microfiber travel towel – What do you expect from the best microfiber travel towels you buy?

You want softness, which is why microfiber is so fantastic.

You may want a stylish color to match the other towels you have.

You may want something that is absorbent, durable or just plain cute.

When it comes to options, you do have numerous towels to choose from on the market today.

These travel towels are super absorbent.

I carry two of the Micronet (below), a small and a large on longer, hostel-staying, trips.

Best Microfiber Travel Towel

To know what your options are, rely on these tips.

You will find that the following are the top three microfiber travel towels on the market.

That comes from the customers who bought then and reviewed them.

These are your best overall bet for quality and style.

Rick Steve’s Travel Towel

One of the top rated products, as reported by consumers, are the New Microfiber Travel Towels from Rick Steves.

Use them for hair drying, babies or for virtually anything you want and need.

This company sells these in a set of seven.

They are super absorbent in that they hold seven times the weight of the towel in water or other liquid.

In addition, these dry quickly, which means they are able to reduce bacteria growth.

You can use them for any wet or dry application, too.

Customers who bought them loved that they were a good quality and that they were lightweight.
Microfiber Towels

Design Go Luggage Travel Towel

For those that love to splash and play in the water, having a travel towel that allows for easy drying is critical.

A good option is the Design Go Travel Towel.

These are perfect for scuba diving, surfing or other wet sports where you need a fast way to dry off.

There are several reasons that consumers like these.

First, they are a high density knit material that is highly compact and it is super absorbent.

This means they can help you to dry off quickly.

In addition, they are durable enough to scrub with.

These towels will hold up to five times their weight in water.

Micronet Travel Towel

These towels come with a net that allows you to more easily carry and store them.

I own a hand-size towel and an extra large travel towel from this company and love them.

Aquis Adventure Towel

This manufacturer makes a number of different towel options, with and without microfiber, that are perfect for sports situations as well as other activities.

The Aquis Adventure Travel is a unique option because it blends a material called Aquitex, which is super absorbent, with ultra fine micro fibers.

This unique combination makes these towels super lightweight, but they are very effective at drying off surfaces.

They are able to draw in the water quickly so that you can dry off fast.

These are great for drying hair quickly and come with a special closure to keep the towel in place.

For those looking for a fantastic microfiber travel towel, do consider these options.

You will also find larger towels able to do many of the same features.

The customer who bought the above products say these products work as described and where perfect for camping or swimming, or just any use.

How to Pack Lighter and Smarter For Traveling

Best Water Shoes: Sandals, Hiking, Running for Men and Women

black water shoes


Best Water Shoes: Whether I am heading to the beach, the lake, or to a kayak trip down the river, choosing the right footwear can be a make or break decision.

There are a variety of shoes made specifically for enjoying water-based activities, some are made to meet the needs of a specific activity while others can handle most any wet and wild adventure you are planning.

Best Water Shoes

To help you decide which are right for you, we put together the following list which highlights some of the best options in each category.

If you’re interested in travel shoes, check out Best Travel Shoes: Walking Sandals

Best Hiking Water Shoes

These are the shoes that will take you from a hike in the forest to fording a stream to boogey boarding at the beach.

The Mackenzie by Keen and the Churn by Teva are both great for women who spend all their spare time enjoying the best nature has to offer.

For men, check out the men’s version of the Churn and the Boulder by ECCO.

These shoes will take you anywhere you want to go and keep your feet safe along the way.

Best Water Sandals

For some of us, it just isn’t summer if we aren’t wearing sandals.

Even better than sandals in the summer, sandals on a sunny beach while it is the middle of winter!

Keep your feet protected from sharp rocks or shards of shell with a pair of stylish water sandals.

Keen makes several of the best-selling options for women including the Venice H2 and the Whisper.

Other popular options by Teva like the Hurricane and the Tirra have a different look and fit, but all the same function.

Keen and Teva also offer some the best-selling sandals for men like the Hurricane and the Newport.

You might also like the fit or styling of the Cambiran Stretch from Merrell or the TechSun 2 from Columbia Sportswear.

Best Traditional Water Shoes

For many people, when we think of water shoes, we don’t think sandals or multi-purpose, we think old-school water shoes like the ones we had when we were kids.

The ones with the rubber bottom and the mesh top.

These are still essentials for people who love to spend their time water skiing on the lake, jet skiing in an ocean bay, or chasing children along the beach.

Speedo provides super-stylish options for both sexes, the Beach Runner for women and the Cruiser for men.

The unisex Aqua from Aquatik combines the traditional look with a more adjustable fit.

Best Running Water Shoe

A dear friend of mine can’t say enough great things about her FiveFingers Trek outdoor shoes by Vibram Check Prices Here.

Although they have an unconventional look, think shoe-shaped toe socks, are made to protect your feet while offering your body the benefits of walking barefoot like strengthening muscles and improving posture problems that can be caused by wearing shoes all the time.

Perfect for land and sea adventures or just a day-trip to your favorite amusement park, these non-traditional shoes might be just what you need for all your outdoor fun.

Vibram makes several options for women and men including the Trek, the Sprint, and the Bikila.

Fila offers the same concept with different styling in their Skele-toes brand which are less expensive than Vibram’s options.

Customer reviews indicate that this may be a case of you get what you pay for, Vibram costs more but often fits better and lasts longer.
Best Water Shoes five fingers

Best Lightweight Slip On Shoes Patagonia Advocate

Patagonia has a new line of shoes out – and one of them is by and far the best lightweight travel shoe I’ve ever come across.

The Patagonia Women’s Advocate MJ is a slip on shoe (that has a elastic strap so it doesn’t slip off), and thanks to Patagonia I’ve been testing a pair out for the last month.

Here’s what I like about the shoes:

Patagonia Advocate are Super Lightweight Shoes and Exceptionally Comfortable

The Women’s Advocate MJ is definitely the lightest shoe I’ve ever owned.

The shoe is made of microfiber which not only makes it comfortable and breathable, but unbelievably lightweight.

It almost feels as though I’m not wearing any shoes at all.

But, they aren’t so thin that they are uncomfortable.

There is built in arch-support.

These aren’t just your typical flat shoes.

Instead they are well constructed.

There is both padding and support.

I’m not sure how they are so lightweight given how supportive they are.

The Advocate MJ shoes are great for throwing in your suitcase as they won’t add any extra weight.

Patagonia Advocate Slip On – but don’t Slip Off

I have very narrow heels, and most slip-on shoes slip off my feet and I can’t wear them.

However, the Advocate MJ has an elastic strap across the top that holds your foot comfortably in place.

I’ve tried a lot of slip-on shoes and these are the first I can say won’t slip off if I’m walking fast or jogging to get somewhere in a hurry.

They just stay on my feet.

Plus, because they don’t tie or require any extra work to strap on, you can slip on the shoes without bending down.

Perfect for when I’m carrying a bag or my son in my arms.

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The MJ is made from Recyclable Materials

Patagonia is a sustainable company – and their shoes are no exception.

The various components of the shoe are made from recycled material (from 15-50% recycled depending the on the part.)

They are vegan shoes.

Finally, the shoes are part of 1% for the Planet, which means that 1% of sales go to environmental programs around the world.

They are Cute

I got a pair of the shoes in black as I tend to use a black color scheme when packing.

Choosing a color scheme is one my favorite tips for packing less.

They are quite cute and look great with jeans, khakis, and shorts.

Patagonia Advocate are Perfect Travel Shoes

Because the shoes are lightweight, supportive, and have great traction, I wouldn’t hesitate to pack them for any trip where I need a casual shoes for walking around all day or light hiking.

Downsides of the Patagonia

Honestly, I love these shoes.

The only downside that I can think of is that they are a little pricey.

That said, because they are so versatile, comfortable, and well constructed, I’m even considering buying them in another color.

Patagonia Advocate MJ

The Patagonia Advocate MJ is an awesome shoe.

It’s lightweight, comfortable, cute, and easy to put on. I would highly recommend them.

If you’re wondering about size, I wear a size 9 in most shoes (9.5 in Nike and Asics running shoes for comparison) and a size 9 of the Advocate MJs fit me perfectly.

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Best Noise Cancelling Headphones – Best for Airplane Rides

Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones


Best Noise Cancelling Headphones – Best for Airplane Rides and Life

Best Noise Cancelling Headphones – Whether your travel includes a family road trip, a business flight, or a day at the beach, ensure you are ready to enjoy the scenes but not the sounds.

Here are the best noise cancelling headphones to make sure you are not bothering your fellow travelers no matter where your travels take you.

Plantronics BackBeat PRO Wireless Noise Canceling Hi-Fi Headphones with Mic

We never heard of this brand but were thrilled with this product as it is considerably more affordable than other noise cancelling headphones with all the same features.

Plantronics BackBeat PRO Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones are exceptionally comfortable.

They eliminate background noises with super-soft ear cups.

The Plantronics technology offers up to 24 hours of listening while providing 330 feet of Bluetooth range, like all class 1 Bluetooth devices.

These work great for audiobooks, movies and music.

What’s great is that you don’t need to have the cord plugged in.

There are dual microphones built into these headphones so you can use Bluetooth for calls without any wire.

There is a cable for a physical connection, and using them both ways works well.

One minor complaint is while they fold flat, they don’t fold “up.”

Audio Technica Active Noise-Cancelling Closed-Back Headphones

With a design created around providing a hi-fidelity experience and noise reduction features that eliminate 90% of the background noise, it is easy to see why these noise cancelling headphones are on our list.

The ear cups are soft and flexible and the set folds flat for easy storage.

Ideal for traveling, these Audio Technica lightweight headphones include an adapter that is compatible with most airlines in-flight entertainment systems, meaning you can plug your headphones directly into the seat jack if you want to watch movies during flight.

They can’t quite duplicate the battery life of Bose, but 40 hours of entertainment is still a bargain.

Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

When it comes to sound, nobody beats Bose.

And when it comes to noise cancelling headphones, they even take the prize for the absence of sound, as Amazon’s customers have selected the Bose QuietComfort 15 as the top rated choice.

If you are planning to fly this year and want to sleep on the plane but seem to have difficulty falling asleep in a strange noisy place like a plane, these headphones can be your salvation.

Great for business travelers, they reduce noise across the spectrum, covering a number of frequencies.

The over-the-ear fit and comfort styling make them ideal for plane rides.

These must-have headphones can also act as a remote control for your iPod/iPhone and provide hands-free calling functionality.

With a 35 hour battery life and weighing barely more than half a pound, these headphones are worthy of the Bose name.

Beats Studio Wireless Over-Ear Headphone – Noise Canceling Headphones

Although you might not normally associate legendary rapper Dr. Dre with an absence of noise, who better than the “Master of Mixology” to create top rated headphones, even if they are as good at cancelling noise out as they are for letting you listen in.

In fact, by blocking the external noise, the Beats Studio wireless headphones bring more life to the music and allow the listener to hear is as the artist intended.

The over-the-ear style headphones are designed for comfort and focus on providing a balanced, full-depth music experience.

Compatible with iPod/iPhone, the built-in mic allows you to take calls effortlessly.

They weigh in at less than a pound.

Beats Studio headphones require two AAA batteries.

They come with a rugged case to protect your Beats wherever the music takes you.
Best Noise Cancelling Headphones

Best travel headphones

When you are looking for the best travel headphones and best noise-canceling headphone, you want to be sure it’s convenient to take with you.

It needs to be the ultimate travel companion.

These all are lightweight and collapsible.

They also all offer a long battery life.

These offer a flexible ear-cup designs to ensure a comfortable fit for any face.

These noise cancelling headphones are excellent at blocking out low frequency noise like automobiles and airplane engines.

They offer a good value.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your music and movies without disturbing anyone around you with these best travel headphones.

Your fellow travelers will thank you for using noise cancelling headphones.

Then enjoy them in other situations “on land” as well in noisy situations.

They will be great to use when mowing the lawn.

Using Your Cell Phone when traveling:

How do I use my cell phone while traveling to Asia

Best Portable DVD Player Review for Travel

portable dvd player


Best Portable DVD Players – Every year, families across the country pile into their cars or get on planes to set out, see the sights, and participate in that time honored tradition – the family vacation.

One of the most popular diversions for kids on a long trip, are the best portable DVD players for travel that helps keeps kids entertained.

Check out these top-rated portable DVD players that are tailor-made to ease the trials and tribulations of traveling, no matter how far you have to go.

Best Portable DVD Players for Travel Reviews

Coby 7-Inch Portable DVD/CD/MP3 Player

This full featured DVD player also doubles as a CD player and an MP3 player.

The 7-inch screen offers a clear, concise picture and is just the right size to make viewing easy without losing portability.

Don’t forget the headphones, which easily plug into the unit, so your daughter can watch The Princess and the Frog over and over without you having to listen in.

It weighs less than 3 pounds and can easily be handled by children as well as teens.

With a family-friendly price, this deal can’t be beat.

We bought it for a trip but now use it primarily for home.

Our preschools can safely operate it to watch their videos.

We have taken it with us for road trips and for airplane rides but our primary use has been to use it at home.

Which our kids do almost daily!

Sylvania 13.3-Inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player with USB/SD Card Reader

Before we ever considered buying a portable DVD player for travel, we wanted one for home.

We donated our DVD player years before having kids.

After having kids, we found that sometimes we (or they) wanted to watch a video.

We were out of luck until we found this portable DVD player by Sylvania.

The 13.3 inch screen makes it much larger than traditional portable DVD players so we can view it from farther away than our laps.

Several people can watch it at once, and we all see it fine.

Our kids mostly use the Coby (above), so we (the adults) use this for watching movies elsewhere in our home.

We’ve also taken it on trips to a relative’s cabin where there isn’t internet.

The kids gather around at night to watch DVDs while the parents relax without worrying about them.

There is great picture quality and resolution.

We are also very happy with the sound which comes from the two internal speakers.

It also comes with earbuds.

The buttons are straightforward and easy to navigate.

It is very lightweight and is convenient for travel.
best Portable DVD Players

RCA Twin Mobile DVD Players

Similar in form and function to the Philips dual player, this RCA mobile DVD player comes with two separate remotes.

Ensure no one will fight over the remote controls!

Both players can be mounted on the back of a car headrest and have a 7-inch LCD screen.

Each unit has separate built-in speakers while the headphones or earbuds can be plugged into the convenient jack for quiet enjoyment.

The package includes A/C adapters and car adapters for both units.

This will enable you to split the two players up, using one it the car and one in the house.

You can even use them in two different locations while traveling.

All in all, these twin players are double the fun.

If your son wants to watch a different movie than your daughter or your hubby is into action and you are craving romance, each of you can watch your own movie since the player can play the same movie for both screens or a separate movie on each.

It is lightweight and stores easily.

It is almost like getting a two for one deal.

Sylvania 13.3-Inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player with USB/SD Card Reader

This portable DVD player has a 13.3-inch screen.

We bought this Sylvania large screen DVD player after our beloved Coby 7-inch — after hundreds (maybe thousands?) hours of use — played its last video.

It had a good run but we wanted a larger screen because most of the time we found ourselves used the DVD player for home use much more than for traveling.

When we all squish together on the coach to watch a video, we have definitely enjoyed this larger screen.

It has good resolution and sound.

It takes a little over three hours to fully charge.

There’s a green light so you know when it’s charged.

Our kids can watch DVDs for about two and a half hours before we plug it in again.

Sylvania Portable DVD Player 7-Inch, Swivel Screen

For the price, this is one of the best portable DVD players around.

This model from Sylvania is easy to tote, and its no-nonsense price will make you happy too.

It’s another one of the smaller ones, with a 7-inch screen, yet it includes all the bells and whistles of the more expensive competitors, including the swivel screen.

We’ve taken this with us in the car 12 – 15 times and found it easy to use with the standard plug and car lighter adapter.

We’ve gotten between 4 – 5 hours of use on a charge, depending if we fully charged it before using it.

The only thing that we might be critical of is the tote bag it comes with.

It doesn’t offer any padding or protection.

Best portable DVD players for travel

These portable DVD players can also be a treasure for business travelers, retirees and moms and dads on the go.

They would make a great addition to a summer cottage or house boat.

They are great for use at home for relaxing or during an illness or recovery.

Our kids love using it for watching movies at home.

No matter your budget, these are the best portable DVD players available.

What’s best for you?

A 13.3 inch screen or one that is 7 or 9 inches?

Get one for your next trip and get through the stress of traveling easier.

It will keep the kids entertained for hours while you get to finally read that book you’ve been carrying around.

It may even help preserve your sanity when you’re stuck in the airport or on the tarmac.

Please all the kids in the backseat or on the plane with this one while the adults enjoy some quiet time!

Whether you plan to use it in the car or in an airplane, you will be so glad you bought one.