All of Deb’s tales of travel and tech

Pack an umbrella for travel?

Is it worth the space and weight to pack an umbrella for your travels? There were too many times having to carry my backpack was already bringing me to tears, so I resisted. But an umbrella can be so much nicer than a rain poncho at times, so I’d buy one, then discard it and buy another later.

This changed when I discovered the Fjord Folding Trekking Umbrella by Innate. It’s the thinnest in diameter and lightest umbrella I have found. Yet, it’s durable.

Now that I’ve put this Innate umbrella to the test, I can tell you about it and recommend it.

Stick Deb showing

How to shower while you travel

I know… the title of this post is rather odd. You know how to shower. What could you possibly have to do differently to shower while you are traveling — unless you’re camping out and your shower is a jug of water hanging in a tree?


The answer is nothing — unless you want to be sure you won’t get caught with a head full of shampoo or a body full of soap.

Picture this. You’ve been on the plane,  bus, or train for hours. Or you’ve been walking for hours. Or you’ve been at the black-sand beach or out gazing at pyramids in the hot air. You get back to your hotel, hostel, guest house, host, or the home of your far-removed long-lost relative.

You turn on the hot water….

Minimalist phone case for travel – RhinoShield bumpers

I have loved the RhinoShield (Evolutive Labs) CrashGuard™ “Bumper” protecting my iPhone. Light and minimal while doing a great job of keeping my iPhone from breaking — and keeping in my hand where it belonged when in use.

I didn’t have to worry about my phone sliding out of my pocket or handbag because the CrashGuard™ bumper keeps it from sliding. At the same time, it wasn’t thick and sticky, not difficult for me to pull the phone out or a pocket or my Lewis N.Clark Waterseals water-resistant pouch when I needed it.  This and a plastic (not glass) over the screen was a perfect combination for my phone’s protection while traveling.

I’m excited to have my new RhinoShield case coming! It’s called the Mod and it’s a next-generation bumper but with an optional backside too.

RhinoShield CrashGuard Bumper Case, RhinoShield's image

Returning home from your travels

There’s an interesting travel consequence you might not think of. It hits you when you return home from your first travels.

When we think of traveling, we think of the culture shock we feel as we experience new cultures. However, as a traveler, you come to expect the differences. In fact, you may welcome them and seek them out. But we don’t expect to feel a culture shock when we return to our home country, town, city, or even neighborhood. We expect to feel something… perhaps many things, but I’m not sure we expect to feel… well, read on.

Here’s what reminded me to finally write about this issue.
Recently a woman in an online women’s travel group posted a query stating that having returned to the United States after traveling for 9 months she has felt nauseous, headachy and exhausted. It’s been over a week but she still feels like she is jet-lagged and stuck with a cold, perhaps in an uphill battle getting re-acclimated to her home country.

Riding the tram in Bratislava Slovenia

When you’re new to public transportation in a new county it can be daunting so I’ve documented my tram ride in Bratislava, Slovakia. Your first tram or bus may be in any other country but it’s likely to have the same basic system. Not Bratislava bound? Just use this one as an example.

Each tram stop has a vending machine for you to purchase your ticket. You purchase a ticket that covers the amount of time it will take you to ride.


One of many fabulous dinners with La RosaWorks Tours.

Can an independent traveler find happiness on an organized tour? 1

Can an independent traveler find happiness on an organized tour?

After well over 6 solid years of days traveling on my own, traveling solo, going where I wanted when I wanted, seeing whatever I wanted on my own schedule — I signed up, paid for, committed to, an official 9-day tour.

I have to admit, I have been a bit of a tour snob. I’d watch groups of look-alike people follow a red umbrella or an orange flag, sticking together in a mini-mob, looking at what the guide said to, taking photos even when they seemed not to know why, standing in front of some monument for a photo just to show they’ve been there. That wasn’t my idea of fun or of cultural enlightenment.

Yes, I was going on a group tour. I was committing to travel with a group of people I didn’t know. I was facing the potential to be stuck with people I didn’t know, like, or have anything in common with.

I knew this tour organizer so I knew it would be a worthwhile experience full of great places, people, and experiences…

Deb in Prague train station

Side-trip from Bratislava to Prague

One of three popular destinations from Bratislava is Prague. It’s a relatively short train or bus ride. As I had not been to Prague or any of what was Czechoslovakia during my first travels, I decided that a couple of days in Prague, Czech Republic (as it is now called) would be a new experience and more worthwhile. So today, having relaxed and enjoyed much of Bratislava at my leisure, and knowing I needed to be back there for my friend Annaline to arrive and travel with me to Israel, it was the perfect time to take my side-trip.

I don’t always know where I’ll stay upon arrival to a new place but in this case, I had already selected and reserved my accommodations for the night. All that was left was to enjoy getting to Prague and making it my next home.

Take this towel when you travel long-term or short-term 2

When you travel, always bring a towel. (But the right towel — and I have one to recommend!)

“You got a towel with you?” were some of the first words said to Arthur Dent as he started his adventures through the universe. And so they went, towel coming in handy. Today, I ask you the same, and offer you the same advice.

Matador’s new Nano Dry Shower Towel ended my search for a great travel towel.

This is the story of finding the right towel and why it’s so good.

Our escorts took this photo of me. My first photo in Venice for this trip.

From Riomaggiore (Cinque Terre) to Venice

A long day…
Today is the day my friend and I leave fabled Cinque Terre for storybook Venice. From one romantic area of Italy to another. I am still traveling with my friend A, ever since hitting mainland Italy after Sicily. Today we’re traveling on FlixBus. But before we can get to our bus, we need to leave Riomaggiore (our Cinque Terre home base) and get to La Spezia as that’s where FlixBus travels from.

Want to follow along with me for the full day’s adventure? Check-out, walk carrying luggage, short train ride, bus from one coast of Italy to another, walk through some of Venice carrying luggage, check-in, and then… explore a new city!

Killed my hair dryer

I was absolutely determined this time to carry a hairdryer and have hair that looks nice and polished each day. That was not meant to happen.

Be careful what you wish for. I am carrying only a 50-L carry-on duffel bag that converts to a small backpack and after logging in around the Miami airport for a day and walking 5 or 6 miles in one day just to find a plane out of Miami and another 5 miles the next day to get somewhere, I was feeling the load. I was wishing my backpack would be lighter.

Having finally escaped from Miami because of a sympathetic American Airlines staffer who fully understood the situation, I was in New York City JFK airport. But frankly, I smelled. I certainly did not feel good look decent. I had hoped American Airlines and their Ambassador lounge people would understand the errors made and in sympathy allow me to use their shower for five minutes but their rules didn’t allow for this. So instead I bathed in the public women’s room. And… I blew dry my hair. That was my downfall.

Catania to Palermo by train, finally going to start seeing Sicily

My first morning in Sicily wasn’t where I had planned it. I’d planned to arrive into Palermo, but due to circumstances had to end my into-Sicily travels in Catania instead. This morning I would continue onto Palermo with just enough time to start my first-ever organized tour — Sicily’s Beating Heart Tour with La RosaWorks.

I woke up at 10 — only because I’d set my alarm for the last possible minute that I could shower quickly and still make check-out. Still groggy and with my coordination not intact, I started my day.

Stranded in an airport 1

Day two of my third over-50 travel adventures.

Greetings from my corner of a group encampment in Miami International Airport, post-Hurricane Irma. But I am not stranded because of the hurricane. Have I mentioned that travel isn’t always glorious?


Less tech is more travel experience

This blog is called Tales of Travel and Tech, but I’d like to remind everyone that traveling doesn’t mean taking all your tech with you on your vacation.

Want to maximize your travel experience? Then skip the tech!
Most of the time, that is. Not all of the time.
There’s plenty a bit of tech can do to expand your travel, but not if it blocks you from experiences!

Getting ready to travel again 1

I’m getting ready to travel again. I’ve really enjoyed having the past year with my family. I must confess I had a bit of a dilemma deciding whether to travel again or to stay put in a comfortable apartment home close to my family and friends. But in the end, I chose the travel my soul craves over the comfort my heart craves.

I have been out of that apartment for a few weeks now and I have my ticket to fly to Europe.

The apprehension of the unknown in travel 4

Faced with the impending finality of giving up the apartment that has become my comfortable home over the past year, I am once again feeling the constriction in my throat and bouts of fear of what is to come. I am again starting to wonder if I’m crazy and if I should just stay comfortably where I am.

The reality starts to hit me whenever I leave “home” for the unknown. Where am I going to stay? Will I be invited into peoples homes? Will I be safe? Am I crazy for doing this?

For the most part on this blog I have shown you the places I have been and they are indeed exciting. If I have invoked your wonderlust or wanderlust, then I have done a good job of showing you how exciting travel can be. However. I’m not sure whether I have shown you the other side, the uncertainty of it. If I haven’t, I owe it to you to do so.

Untied and tied cables

Best cable ties for travel and tech

Traveling or not, how do you stash your cords, cables, and wired earpieces? Here’s my favorite solution of all time — the Cord Taco by This Is Ground.

I have four great ones to recommend.
For many cables, Cord Tacos by This is Ground.
For larger cables such as one to plug in your laptop, Gear Ties by NiteIze
For larger items and hanging items, Pixi by Blue Lounge or perhaps Bongo Ties.

Meet the Cord Taco, a durable, remains-beautiful, premium leather cable wrap that keeps your cables untangled better than anything else I have ever tried, and I have tried pretty much all cable organizers. This is on of the original Cord Tacos. I have been using it since January 2014, almost 3.5 years. This size is approximately 3.25 inches in diameter. And meet Gear Ties, a new and very welcome addition to my travels.

Best beach or picnic blanket for travel – Matador Pocket Blanket

As I have said several times, I have happily been using my sarong as a beach blanket, picnic blanket, or as a sheet at times. But recently, I realized that a larger length of ripstop nylon would be handy for the outdoors and not impact me greatly. I planned to get some next time I’m downtown LA. But then I met the Matador folks at the International Travel Goods Show — and they showed me their Pocket Blanket 2.0. I actually had no intention of considering the Pocket Blanket when I came to see Matador for their NanoDry Shower Towel. But then they pulled the corner out and handed it to me. When I first touched this pocket blanket, I just smiled. I couldn’t believe how thin it was. In a life of travel, that’s a major joy. The Matador Pocket Blanket 2.0 is brilliant. It packs tiny and light (98 […]

Going away? A pre-travel security checklist for your home

This is for those of you who do leave your home empty as you travel.

SimpliSafe, a new style, low-cost alarm system and company, created this pre-vacation checklist to give you — or remind you of — ways to protect your home while you’re out traveling. These are very basic but wise. Maybe it will get you started building your own list of ways to take care of and protect your home while you travel.