Passport Renewal: Everything American Travelers Need to Know

The passport renewal process can feel daunting. But, it doesn’t have to. While it’s not quite “simple” (is anything with the U.S. government?), it’s actually pretty straightforward. You just need to understand the required paperwork, the costs involved, and — above all else — exercise a little patience. Here’s the low-down …

Passport Renewal for U.S. / American Travelers

Before Renewing Your Passport: Guidelines & Considerations

A good rule of thumb is to always ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the date you enter a foreign country. In the event that there are any issues with overstaying your welcome (or your visa), this provides a bit of “cushion.” This isn’t true for every country, but it’s a safe bet that I personally swear by. So, if the expiration date on your passport is less than six months away, now is a good time to renew. Especially if you’re eyeing any upcoming trips.

Be warned that any travel visa(s) currently attached to your passport will be voided, so plan your trip accordingly.

Step #1: Get the Correct Passport Renewal Forms & Documentation

Like all things with the federal government, make sure you’re starting with the correct forms. If you’re applying for passport renewal by mail, the form you want is Form DS-82: U.S. Passport Renewal Application for Eligible Individuals (PDF).

If you’re applying in person (much easier since the clerk can verify you have all the correct paperwork), however, you’ll need Form DS-11. You’ll also need this same form in any of these cases:

  • This is is your first passport
  • Your last passport was lost or stolen
  • Your previous passport was issued more than 15 years ago
  • Your last passport was issued prior to age 16

You’ll Also Need …

  • Your old passport
  • The appropriate passport renewal fee (see below)
  • An envelope and stamps if renewing by mail

All applicants, whether renewing their passport or applying for a new one, also need two color passport-sized photos that meet these requirements:

  • They must not be more than 6 months old
  • They must be taken in front of a plain white background
  • You cannot be wearing glasses or sunglasses
  • No touchup software (i.e. Photoshopping or Snapchat) is allowed
  • You can only smile “naturally” or not at all
  • No selfies allowed
  • The photos must be in pristine condition (no folds, stains, or tears)

These are available at most convenience stores, pharmacies, or photography stores. Here in the United States, AAA also offers passport photography services to members.

Because you’ll need to temporarily surrender your existing passport, that means you won’t be able to travel internationally while your passport renewal is being processed. You can, however, get a second U.S. passport assuming you qualify. If you frequently travel internationally, this is a great option that will allow you to continue to travel while your passport renewal is being processed.

Step #2: Renew Your Passport

Regardless of whether you choose to renew your passport at the post office or by mail, it’s a good idea to photocopy or take photos of all your documents. This is especially true for any original documents like your existing passport and proof-of-citizenship papers.

Online Passport Renewal

If you were hoping to renew your passport online, sadly, you’re out of luck. You can fill out the appropriate renewal form online. But it will still need to be printed, then mailed or submitted in person.

Passport Renewal at the Post Office (In-Person)

If it’s an option for you, renewing your passport in-person is almost always the best way to go. You’ll find passport renewal services at your local post office or at any official passport acceptance facility. This helps minimize transit times to mail your documents and allows you to ask the post office staff any last-minute questions you have before submitting your renewal application.

Passport Renewal By Mail

Renewing your passport by mail typically takes a few days longer. Only checks or money orders are accepted as payment; credit cards are not an option.

A few things to note before mailing in your forms:

  • Use a trackable delivery method like USPS Priority Mail or Certified Mail.
  • Use a larger envelope that can accommodate all of your paperwork without folding.
  • There are different mailing addresses for normal (non-expedited) and expedited services. Be sure to address the envelope to the correct address:
Standard Service
(if you live in California, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, or Texas)
National Passport Processing Center
Post Office Box 640155
Irving, TX 75064-0155
Standard Service
(if you live in any other state or Canada)
National Passport Processing Center
Post Office Box 90155
Philadelphia, PA 19190-0155

Expedited Services (for all applicants — write EXPEDITE on the outside of the envelope):

National Passport Processing Center
Post Office Box 90955
Philadelphia, PA 19190-0955

How Much Does It Cost to Renew a Passport?

Whether in-person or by mail, renewing an adult passport book costs a flat USD $110. For expedited renewal, there is an additional $60 fee plus any additional expedited shipping charges (around $15).

You can score an optional passport card for $30. However, this can be only be used as identification for some domestic travel by air, and travel by land/sea in Canada, Bermuda, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Just to be sure: while it’s a good backup, a passport card cannot be used to substitute a passport for air travel.

Step #3: Hurry Up and Wait … (But, Seriously, How Long Does It Take?)

The wait to receive your renewed passport can feel excruciating, especially if you’re itching to travel right now. But the federal government usually turns around passport applications fairly quickly. In general:

  • Standard passport renewals: 4-6 weeks
  • Expedited passport renewals: 3 weeks
  • Third-party passport agency: Usually 7 business days or less

These can change based on several factors, including the time of year, how busy the government is, and whether your application requires additional processing or scrutiny.

If you require guaranteed expedited service, there are third-party passport renewal services that can handle the entire process for you with lightning fast turnaround.

Bestseller No. 1

Passport Cover Clear Plastic Vinyl ID Card Protector Case Holder Pack of 5

Passport Cover Clear Plastic Vinyl ID Card Protector Case Holder Pack of 5

  • The cover has both a large and small pocket for easy loading
  • Extra Slots for boarding pass, id card, credit card
  • High quality vinyl
  • This protective cover fits US passport perfectly
  • Size: 5 1/4″ x 7 3/8″ (opened) 5 1/4″ x 3 5/8″ (closed)

Bestseller No. 2

GDTK Leather Passport Holder Cover Case RFID Blocking Travel Wallet (Rose Gold)

GDTK Leather Passport Holder Cover Case RFID Blocking Travel Wallet (Rose Gold)

  • Premium synthetic leather exterior and interior. Provides a comfortable feeling and protection from dust and abrasions.
  • Lightweight slim design, adding no unnecessary bulk or weight.
  • Built in RFID Blocking helps prevent personal account information disclosure.
  • Practical Slots to hold passport, business cards, credit cards, boarding passes sufficiently. Allows convenient access to information during boarding and transit.
  • A variety of bright and fun colors available for choosing.

SaleBestseller No. 3

Zoppen Rfid Blocking Travel Passport Holder Cover Slim Id Card Case (#21 Grape Purple)

Zoppen Rfid Blocking Travel Passport Holder Cover Slim Id Card Case (#21 Grape Purple)

  • Polyurethane and Faux Buck Leather
  • ECO-Friendly Material meets EU REACH Quality Standard, US EN71 and US CA Prop 65 Test
  • Snap Button Closure, 1 Passport Pocket, 2 Card Slots, 1 Wing Pocket for tickets and Boarding Pass
  • RFID Security, Protect your personal information safe with inside Rfid blocking shield material under frequency 13.56MH, prevents E-thefts unauthorized access to your privacy
  • Bright Color Cover, measure 5.9″ x 3.9″ x 0.6″ inches, Lightweight and Slim Protect case

Bestseller No. 4

GDTK Leather Passport Holder Cover Case RFID Blocking Travel Wallet (Rose Gold)

GDTK Leather Passport Holder Cover Case RFID Blocking Travel Wallet (Rose Gold)

  • Premium synthetic leather exterior and interior. Provides a comfortable feeling and protection from dust and abrasions.
  • Lightweight slim design, adding no unnecessary bulk or weight.
  • Built in RFID Blocking helps prevent personal account information disclosure.
  • Practical Slots to hold passport, business cards, credit cards, boarding passes sufficiently. Allows convenient access to information during boarding and transit.
  • Easy to close by magnetic closure, come with an Ball Pen as Free Gift.

Last updated: 2019-03-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Are These “Magic” Socks the Best Odorless Socks for Travelers?

Travel can be dirty business — literally. On the go through airports, subway stations, city streets, urban parks, hiking trails, Trainspotting-style public restrooms — sometimes all in the same day. Who has time for pesky things like showering and changing clothes?

I admit to times on the road where I may have worn the same clothes for a couple (or six) days in a row. With traditional cotton clothing, things get ugly (read: funky) fast. Synthetic fibers and merino wool can help matters. But, for any clothing that touches your feet or nether-regions, it’s a challenge.

MP Magic Socks is looking to solve the stinky foot dilemma (you’re still on your own for odor-free underwear) for travelers with their newfangled MP Magic Socks.

The Skinny on MP Magic Socks

So what are MP Magic Socks? In the company’s own words:

MP Magic Socks are the world’s best odorless socks with three-metal infused: silver, copper, and zinc.

[They] incorporate a super comfortable design … integrated with mineral substance, antibacterial fabrics that work hard to make your feet odorless.

These innovative socks are odorless, comfortable, antibacterial, super durable, and breathable.

Woman in bed wearing MP Magic Socks
MP Magic Socks

The Traveler’s Take

MP Magic Socks are part of a new breed of activewear that relies on metal-infused fabrics to (literally) do your dirty work. They use a unique blend of cotton (for softness), nylon and spandex (for stretchability and quick-drying), and a proprietary yarn coated with zinc, copper, and silver.

But the most important feature — the one likely to cause travelers to seek out MP Magic Socks — is their antibacterial capability. The metal-coated yarn fabric ensures that bacteria can’t stick to the sock fibers. This means they’ll last for days, even a week, without stinking. Take them around the city, through the airport, on the subway at rush hour. Sweat in them all you like; they dry quickly and won’t smell.

I prefer to pack ultra-light (sometimes only 2-3 changes of clothing), to wash-and-wear my clothes along the way. These socks are incredible for my style of travel because they dry fast and I can literally go days without washing them.

Pricing & Availability

MP Magic Socks are available from in a wide variety of styles and colors for men and women. At USD $7-10 per pair, they’re definitely more expensive than a six-pack of Fruit of the Loom tube socks. But, in my opinion, they’re worth every penny.

Their Classic MP Ankle is a versatile all-around sock that should work for almost any traveler in a wide variety of situations. Personally, I’m partial to their Holiday Trip socks (the bold red pair at the top of this post) because, well, planes.

Oh … and, if you’re a frequent long-haul traveler, I highly recommend investing in a good pair of compression socks as well. After a few well-traveled friends shared their DVT-blood-clot-related horror stories with me, I wear these compression socks from CEP on every single flight.

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Can’t Sleep in Hotel Rooms? Here’s How to Turn Yours Into a Fortress of Solitude

I overnight in up to 20 different hotel rooms each month. So I’ve become something of an expert in “hotel stay-ology”. (That’s a real degree. University of Phoenix confirmed it.)

According to a prominent study that I just made up for this post, we know travelers (want to) spend up to two-thirds of their vacations sleeping. But many can’t sleep in hotel rooms or, at the very least, have a hard time. With less than 10 minutes of first-day prep, you can save yourself hours of precious sleep.

Can’t Sleep in Hotel Rooms?

Are you constantly stricken with insomnia every time you crash at a hotel? First, start with our 6 Tips for Sleeping Well in a Foreign Place.

If that doesn’t work and you still find yourself wide awake in the wee hours checking for hidden hotel wall art or learning to bake muffins with the hotel iron, try these tips to turn your hotel room into a fortress of solitude.

Ask for an “Isolated” Room

Be sure to secure a room away from noisy things like elevators, ice machines, or heavy foot traffic. The best location is often at the end of a dead-end hallway, near the stairs.

Note that if you book your room through a third-party website (e.g. Expedia, Hotwire, etc.), you’re not likely to get the hotel’s choice rooms or have a say in where your room is on the property. In most cases, you simply get what you get.

Your best bet is to book directly with the hotel’s website and make sure you’re a member of their (often free) loyalty program. Loyal customers always get preferential treatment.

Hang the Do Not Disturb Tag

Once you make it to your hotel room, hang the Do Not Disturb tag immediately. Above all else, this is the first thing I do upon arrival. Housekeeping and others who hate letting people sleep may flat-out ignore that request, but it’s worth a try.

In some corners of the world (and in some, let’s call them “hotels of lesser repute”), hotels may simply not provide DnD tags. Which is why I travel with a generic one of my own that I’ve borrowed from previous stays.

For shorter stays of up to three days, hotel housekeeping will likely leave you alone if you hang the DnD tag. Anything longer and the front desk will call at some point to make sure you’re not dead.

Women sleeping on a couch
(This isn’t me, but she does look comfortable, no?)

Unplug the Hotel’s Alarm Clock

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve awoken at 3 a.m. because the previous guest must’ve worked nights at the cemetery and never turned off their own alarm. And housekeeping didn’t do it either.

Save yourself the hassle by unplugging the alarm clock immediately. It’s 2019 anyway — just use the alarm on your smartphone.

… and Unplug the Damn Phone

These days, I find the front desk increasingly likely to call out of the blue just to say hi and make sure everything’s ok. It’s a nice bit of customer service, but they have a knack for calling 30 minutes after check-in, just as I’m dozing for an afternoon nap. If you aren’t expecting any phone calls, unplug the phone.

Pack Some White Noise in Your Pocket

This one’s all about personal preference. Few things help me sleep like a baby like white noise: the hum of an air conditioner fan, a hard rain, the sultry voice of the Forensic Files narrator.

If you’re the same, download one of the many free “white noise” apps available for Android and iPhone. Or, if you’re the sort of hotshot who can afford to shop at Brookstone, opt for a dedicated white noise machine. The smallest ones (like this one from HoMedics) are affordable and packable.

Draw the Curtains the Right Way

Draw the curtains — both the inner and outer if there’s more than one set. But, for those of you who can’t sleep in hotel rooms, you knew that already.

The not-so-obvious pro tip is to always travel with a few paper binder clips (like these with strawberries and flowers on them). They’re small, lightweight, and practically free. And they keep you organized. But, for sleep purposes, they also close the inevitable gap between the curtains in your hotel room, blocking out all semblance of sleep-depriving sunlight.

Switch the Hotel AC/Heater Fan to “On”

Again, if you’re a light sleeper and/or enjoy white noise, you probably loathe the constant switching on/off of your hotel room’s HVAC system. To me, this is the bane of my hotel existence. It’s nails on a chalkboard.

The solution? Switch the HVAC system fan to “On”. Most systems have two fan settings: “On” or “Auto”. I switch it to “On” to make sure it’s not clicking on/off all night (as is this case in “Auto” mode).

Ear Plugs. All the Ear Plugs.

Right after my passport and a couple of nips of bourbon, the next thing that goes into my carry-on is a pair of earplugs. Seriously, I don’t understand how anyone — particularly those who can’t sleep in hotel rooms — travels without them. They’re cheap, packable, and comfortable (I recommend these).

Spray Your Bed

Some fancier hotels (Crowne Plaza comes to mind) are investing in signature scents. Partly for branding, but also because they have a measurable calming effect on hotel guests.

Find a scent that calms and relaxes you. Peppermint and other mint scents are a good place to start. Pack a small spray travel bottle of it and spritz your bed before lying down each night. It won’t work for everyone, but even a little sleep advantage is better than none.

(Full disclosure: I don’t actually use this tip because I only travel with Axe Body Spray and that doesn’t calm anyone. But, there is some science to back it up, and in the fancier hotel rooms in which I’ve stayed that do this, it seems to help.)

Still Can’t Sleep in Hotels?

If you’ve tried all of these tips, but still can’t sleep in hotel rooms? Sorry, there’s no hope for you. I’d try Ambien and a few glasses of Shiraz.

The post Can’t Sleep in Hotel Rooms? Here’s How to Turn Yours Into a Fortress of Solitude appeared first on Vagabondish.

A Mystery Cabin Getaway at Getaway House Boston

I woke in the woods. Bleary-eyed. In stillness and dark. Surrounded by evergreen trees and a modest snowfall. How I got there was, for the moment, a mystery.

I exhaled and everything went hazy. I pulled my head back to reveal a large picture window inches from my face. And a shrinking spot of condensation on the cold glass where the mark from my breath quickly faded.

Oh, right: New Hampshire. A cabin in the woods.

Such was the theme of our getaway at Getaway House. Our weekend here started with a mystery: we knew only that we were going to New Hampshire. Somewhere in New Hampshire with the promise of escape from Instagram and Spotify and Facebook and the 24-hour cable news cycle.

Book here and get $25 off your Getaway stay!

Getaway House Boston Cabins Review

Our Cabin at Getaway House Boston

A stay Getaway House is no ordinary hotel experience. There’s no lobby, no reception, no bellhop waiting to usher your luggage away on a brass luggage cart. The check-in process at Getaway is as simple as the cabins themselves.

On the morning of our arrival day, we received a text and an email with all the necessary details to find our cabin. After a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Vagabondish HQ in southeastern Massachusetts, we arrived at our jet-black Getaway cabin (nicknamed “Donna”) in the wilds of New Hampshire. I won’t say exactly where as that discovery is part of the fun. We punched in our check-in code on the cabin’s automated door lock and we were in.

Sign to Donna Cabin at Getaway House Boston
The Sign to Our “Donna” Cabin at Getaway House Boston

Inside, the design is crisp, minimal, and neat as a pin. There’s a distinct sense of having everything you need and nothing you don’t.

Interior layout of cabin at Getaway House Boston
Inside our cabin at Getaway House Boston

The open-concept layout is three-tiered. We entered into a small kitchen area that flows into a stepped, mixed-use space with chairs and bench seats for dining and relaxing. The kitchen offers everything you’d expect in a tiny house or a modest RV. There’s an electric cooktop, mini-fridge, and a sink with hot water, plus essentials like dishes, utensils, and cookware.

Cabin Kitchen at Getaway House Boston
The kitchen of our Getaway House Boston cabin

Free s’mores are provided to get the party started!

While most guests will want to bring their own food, basic cooking necessities like salt, pepper, and olive oil are provided. There’s even an a la carte “minibar-style” provisions drawer with snacks, oatmeal, bug spray, and the like for sale. Nothing costs more than $10.

Adjacent the kitchen is a tiny bathroom with a stainless-steel-wrapped shower stall and just enough floor space to do your business. A “spa bathroom” this is not, but we weren’t expecting that anyway.

The toilet uses some sort of newfangled, aluminum-foil-powered, space-age technology that must have been invented by NASA. We still don’t totally understand the wizardry behind it! Somehow it just worked.

Cabin Shower at Getaway House Boston
The shower in our Getaway House Boston cabin

Outside, we found a cozy campfire area with a fire pit, Adirondack chairs, and a picnic table. Free s’mores are provided to get the party started, and additional provisions like firewood and firestarter logs are for sale in a bin outside.

Our Experience at Getaway House Boston

Dawn. Fresh fallen snow.
A squirrel at the window.
We shared a moment.

Every aspect of Getaway House Boston is designed for quiet, tranquility, and escape. Upon arrival, we took advantage of the wooden cellphone lockbox provided to disarm us of our devices. Aside from a faint cell signal, there is no connectivity here: no Wi-Fi or television in the cabins.

A Bluetooth-enabled Tivoli radio allows you to tune in to a handful of local stations or stream music from your smartphone if you’re so inclined. A direct-line phone is provided in case you run out of s’mores or need to chat with the Getaway staff.

Cellphone Lockbox in our Getaway Cabin
Cellphone Lockbox in our Getaway Cabin

For two days, we occupied our time by winding down and appreciating the fine art of doing … nothing.

We read (a handful of nature, the outdoors, and living simply are provided), played Uno, cooked together, and spent a lot of time starting out that big, beautiful picture window. I wrote a Haiku. If you get stir-crazy, there are hiking trails and 20 acres of private grounds to explore.

Kelsey staring out the picture window at Getaway House Boston
Loving the giant picture window at our Getaway House cabin

“stars, innumberable”

The cabins are positioned far enough away to provide the illusion of seclusion, but close enough to ensure you never get that creepy “alone in a cabin in the woods” feel. Our campfire spot was cleverly positioned to look into the woods, away from our neighbors.

Inside, blackout curtains on most of the windows guarantee plenty of privacy. By shutting the right combination of shades, it was easy to feel like we were the only ones around for miles.

No matter what though, there was still that wide-open picture window to keep our view focused on the simplicity and beauty of the New Hampshire wilderness. It was a point of persistent calm that we never tired of in our two days at Getaway House.

The guestbook at Getaway House Cabin near Boston
The guestbook at Getaway House Cabin

There was no wind, no rustling of leaves, no traffic, no city hustle. We couldn’t remember the last time we’d experienced such quiet and stillness. At first, it was almost disorienting. Ultimately, we found ourselves more relaxed than we’d felt in a long, long time.

The Bottom Line

For (sub)urban dwellers seeking a blissful escape from the hustle of Boston city life, public transportation, and an always-on internet connection, Getaway House Boston is the near-perfect remedy.

Getaway also has outposts near Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington D.C. — and we anticiplate plenty more in the near-future.

Cabin at Getaway House Boston
Night Falls on Our Cabin at Getaway House Boston

Have you stayed at Getaway House Boston or any of Getaway House’s other locations? What was your experience?

The post A Mystery Cabin Getaway at Getaway House Boston appeared first on Vagabondish.

The Best Cold Weather Gear to Up Your Car Camping Game This Winter

Camping is awesome, car camping is awesome. And, while challenging, car camping in the dead of winter can be just as awesome, assuming you have the right gear. Packing the best winter car camping gear can make spending long nights in the back of your car or SUV not only tolerable but actually comfortable. Here are four of my latest, must-have recommendations.

Best Winter Car Camping Gear

BioLite FirePit

BioLite FirePit - Wood Charcoal Burning Camping Firepit

BioLite FirePit – Wood Charcoal Burning Camping Firepit

There’s nothing better after a long day of hiking than relaxing around a blazing campfire. This is 100 times truer in the dead of winter. BioLite’s FirePit is the perfect campfire companion for car campers.

There’s a lot to love about BioLite’s flagship product. First off, the fact that it runs on both wood and charcoal make it incredibly versatile so, no matter where you find yourself, you’re virtually guaranteed access to a proper campfire. Even with the FirePit at full blaze, patented airflow technology keeps it well stoked and smoke-free. You can even control the size of the flames manually or via a free Bluetooth-enabled smartphone app. The mesh design means you have a 360-degree view of your fiery handiwork. That it can double as a hibachi-style grill makes it all the better!

BioLite FirePit Outdoor Smokeless Fire Pit and Grill

  • A smokeless wood-burning FirePit that can go from spark-to-fire in less than 30 seconds, cook your meals, and give you a front-row seat to everything going on inside your fire. Burn charcoal or wood for a hibachi-style grilling experience.
  • Airflow system has 4 fan speeds to control the intensity of your flames. Control fan intensity from the FirePit’s powerpack or from the free BioLite Energy App for Android and iOS
  • 10,400 mAh rechargeable battery powerpack with USB outputs for charging your devices
  • Enjoy the feeling of a 360-degree floating fire with the FirePit’s X-Ray Mesh and up to 24 hour burn time
  • Can be utilized as a smokeless grill, or for BBQ, or just as an outdoor fire pit. It’s perfect on the go, or in the backyard.

Last updated: 2019-02-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

LEDLenser Flashlight

Of course, being surrounded by nature’s splendor does you no good if you can’t actually see it. It goes without saying that a proper headlamp is a must-pack for any camping trip. And a legit backup flashlight (“torch” for our U.K. friends) is every bit as important. It’s ideal for those tasks where directional lighting is critical.

LEDLenser MT10 Flashlight

LEDLenser MT10 Flashlight

For this, I’ve started packing LEDLenser’s MT10. It’s compact, puts out 1,000 lumens, is USB rechargeable, and features three illumination settings plus a strobe mode. Simple and straightforward. Because it’s manufactured under a subsidiary of the legendary Leatherman brand, it’s also durable as hell. For a beefier option, the LEDLenser MT18 pushes 3,000 lumens in case, ya know, you get really lost.

Ledlenser – MT10 Rechargeable Handheld Flashlight, High Power LED, 1000 Lumens, Lanyard and Sheath, Outdoor Series, Backpacking, Hiking, Camping

  • 1000 LUMENS STRONG: A powerful, high-performance flashlight built for the outdoors; Smart Light Technology features three programmable light functions (Power, Low Power, and Defense Strobe).
  • LONG-LASTING AND RECHARGEABLE: Provides 192 hours of light on a single charge; Quick recharge to 80% in 4 hours; USB charger for convenient powering up.
  • RAPID FOCUS: For seamless, crystal clear focusing on objects far and near; Patented Advanced Focus System provides optimal light transmission.
  • SMART FEATURES: Transportation lock prevents light from being turned on accidentally; Charge and battery indicator; Temperature Control System for maximum LED beam output.
  • 5-YEAR GUARANTEE: We take pride in the craftsmanship of our products – if your purchase has a defect in material or workmanship we’ll repair or replace it, at our discretion, with one of equal or greater value.

Last updated: 2019-02-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Outdoor Vitals Sleeping Bag

The old adage of why you should buy a decent mattress (“Because you’ll spend almost one-third of your life on it!”) is just as true for your sleeping bag. I never, ever scrimp on my bedding. When I’m car camping, I appreciate the luxury of being able to pack a little more to make my nights more enjoyable.

Outdoor Vitals StormLOFT Down MummyPod Sleeping Bag

Outdoor Vitals StormLOFT Down MummyPod Sleeping Bag

I’ve been loving Outdoor Vitals’ ultralight camp gear. Their StormLOFT Down MummyPod Sleeping Bag is everything you might need in a four-season sleeping bag. Most importantly, the 800 fill power hydrophobic down in the 15°F variety is good for all but the absolute coldest of nights (although Outdoor Vitals offers a 0°F alternative). Not only is it warm, but super soft and comfortable to boot.

I love the versatility of using it either as a traditional mummy sleeping bag or as an insulator for my camp hammock. And the YKK anti-snag zipper means you’ll never damage the sleeping bag or need to fumble with opening/closing it in the middle of the night because of a stuck zipper.

Outdoor Vitals Summit 0°F Premium Down Sleeping Bag, Certified Down, Ultralight, Compact, Free Compression Bag (Black)

  • NEW STORMLOFT DOWN INSULATION – UPDATED 2017: Certified 800+ fill power down both responsibly sourced and DWR treated. This means guaranteed quality down that is more resistant to moisture!
  • LIGHTEST WEIGHT MATERIALS: featuring our lightest weight fabrics and highest quality down. Just imagine the warmth when temperatures drop without packing more weight or bulk!
  • GRID BAFFLE DESIGN: the spacious grid baffle design locks the down into key places adding more down where you need it to optimize warmth!
  • SMALL IN YOUR PACK: not only will your back thank you for choosing premium ultralight materials, but these materials also compress smaller taking up less space in your backpack!
  • LIMITED LIFETIME WARRANTY: Here at Outdoor Vitals we believe you should get the high quality products you deserve. After you purchase, follow the simple instructions to activate your Lifetime Warranty!

Last updated: 2019-02-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Somewear Global Hotspot

Somewear Global Hotspot and Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

Somewear Global Hotspot and Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

I’ve been toying with the idea of a personal locator beacon (PLB) for a while now. Frankly, I’ve always shied away from PLBs because they’re typically expensive and often require pricey, long-term monthly/annual contracts. But, I was intrigued by Somewear.

While the unit itself is a not-unsubstantial investment at USD $349, they promise the most affordable Iridium data plans on the market. So, that takes some of the sting out of the initial purchase price. Plus, it offers global two-way texting, location sharing, weather updates, and SOS emergency services all with the touch of a few buttons. The device integrates with iOS and Android devices through a smartphone app that’s dead-simple to use. For a seamless, out-of-the-box experience, it doesn’t get much easier.

What are your recommendations for the best winter car camping gear?

Also, if you’re a travel or outdoor photographer, check out our picks for the best travel photography accessories of 2019 (so far …)!

The post The Best Cold Weather Gear to Up Your Car Camping Game This Winter appeared first on Vagabondish.

Gear Up with the Best Travel Photography Accessories of 2019 (so far …)

It’s only February, but 2019 is already shaping up to be another kickass year for innovative travel tech. For travel photogs, in particular, we’re practically living in a Golden Age. As proof, these four gadgets are among the best travel photography accessories of 2019 (so far …).

Best Travel Photography Accessories for 2019

Lume Cube AIR LED Light

Lume Cube AIR LED Light for Travel Photography

Floating Palm Feature Optional

Good lighting is critical to good photography. But, it can be tricky to find (or create) even half-way decent lighting while on the road. I’ve seen quite a few solutions, but none tackle mobile lighting as effortlessly as Lume Cube AIR. At roughly 1.5 inches square, it’s hardly bigger than a golf ball. It weighs next to nothing. It’s bright. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s inexpensive. It’s also waterproof down to 100 feet and drop-proof to boot.

All of which makes it one of the best travel photography accessories of the year. In my own experience, it’s a huge help with food photography as well (no more relying on your dinner-mates to “light up” your plates for all those Instagram shots!). Plus, the included white and orange (warming) diffusers make the latter a breeze with nice, soft lighting.

Lume Cube AIR LED Light for Photo, Video, and Content Creation

  • UNMATCHED LIGHT QUALITY & CUSTOM LENS – 5600K Color Temp, 90+/- CRI, 400 LUX @ 1M, 60º beam angle
  • COMPACT, WATERPROOF & DURABLE DESIGN – 1.625″ Tall, 2 oz, waterproof to 30 ft, made with tough rubber exterior
  • BLUETOOTH & APP CONTROL – Wirelessly control brightness, flash duration, mode, and check battery levels from the Lume-X App
  • BUILT-IN MAGNET – In addition to the 1/4 20 mounting thread, the AIR has a built in magnet to mount to new surfaces
  • IN-BOX ACCESSORIES (DIFFUSION INCLUDED) – Comes with both a warm and white diffuser, lanyard, and micro USB charging cable

Last updated: 2019-02-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Lensbaby Sol 45

Soft blur of the Lensbaby Sol 45

Lensbaby Sol 45’s Dreamlike Blur and Bokeh © Chris Zielecki

Lensbaby‘s line of creative camera lenses is a polarizing (pun intended) topic among photographers. Personally, I love the challenge of using them. There’s a steep learning curve, even for skilled photographers. But, the payoff can be tremendous. Sure, you can achieve similarly creative looks using mobile photo editor apps like VSCO and Lightroom. But, I’ve found that none quite capture the moody, dreamlike quality of Lensbaby.

River Rower Shot with Lensbaby Sol 45

River Rower Shot with Lensbaby Sol 45 © Leighton Phillips

One of the latest in their line is the Lensbaby Sol 45. The 45mm fixed f/3.5 selective focus lens creates a tack-sharp circular area of focus surrounded by pillowy soft blur and a heaping helping of bokeh. Even Lensbaby admits it’s not for everyone. But, the results are unlike any other creative lenses I’ve personally test-driven!

It’s available for every major camera brand, including Sony, Canon, Fuji, Nikon, and Pentax.


Lensbaby Sol 45 for Sony E

  • 45mm fixed f/3.5 Selective Focus Lens
  • Creative Bokeh Blades add creative effects and texture
  • 8.5º of tilt and center-focus locking ability
  • Focuses from 14inches to Infinity
  • 46mm Filter Threads

Last updated: 2019-02-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Peak Design Everyday Messenger 15″ (v2)

Peak Design Everyday Messenger

Peak Design Everyday Messenger

Of course, the gear bag you choose is almost as important as what goes in it. When I first tested Peak Design’s original Everyday Messenger bag, I absolutely loved it. It was the most handsome, best-designed, most durable such bag I’d ever tested.

Peak Design Everyday Messenger (interior)

Peak Design Everyday Messenger (interior)

Peak Design recently returned with a reboot of the original that basically started it all for them. I’m happy to report the Everyday Messenger v2 is every bit as awesome as its predecessor. Plus, it’s been upgraded with a luggage pass-through on the rear panel, better FlexFold dividers to keep your gear organized, more durable fabric throughout, and a better weatherproofing treatment on the exterior. Seriously, I can’t recommend this bag more highly!

If the messenger bag format isn’t your thing, the Everyday Line is also available in a backpack, a sling, and a tote.

Polaroid Pop Instant Print Digital Camera

Polaroid Pop Instant Print Digital Camera

Polaroid Pop Instant Print Digital Camera

Sure, an actual camera seems a curious choice for a list of “best travel photography accessories.” But, for most photographers, this is likely to be a quirky add-on to their primary photography gear kit.

If you’re “of a certain age,” the name Polaroid no doubt elicits tinges of vintage photographic nostalgia. The days of snapping photos on some of the world’s first instant cameras, then impatiently waiting for them to develop in your hand were so damn fun.

Polaroid gets this, which is why they’ve brought back their iconic instant camera. The all-new Polaroid Pop 2.0 Instant Print Digital Camera is just like those instant cameras of your (well, at least my) childhood. But, the company wisely added all the latest tech bells and whistles including a touchscreen display, built-in Wi-Fi, and 1080p HD video capability. With clever ZINK Zero Ink technology, photos print flawlessly and even feature the iconic, oversized white Polaroid border. Now, you can paper your fridge with all those amazing snapshots that would otherwise be “wasted” on Instagram.

Polaroid POP 2.0 – 20MP Instant Print Digital Camera w/3.97” Touchscreen Display, Built-In Wi-Fi, 1080p HD Video, ZINK Zero Ink Technology & NEW App – Prints 3.5” x 4.25” Classic Border Photos – Blue

  • 20MP Instant Print Digital Camera Lets You Snap 3.5″ x 4.25″ Pictures & Print On the Spot with Iconic Polaroid Border
  • No Printer, Computer or Ink Required
  • Use the Super Intuitive 3.97″ Touchscreen= Display to Frame & Shoot Everything from Fantastical Landscapes to Flattering Selfie
  • No More Shaking & Flapping Waiting for Faces to Appear! Zero Ink Technology Prints Vibrant Color Photos with Plenty of Room to Get Creative
  • Unleash Your Imagination & Customize Your Memories with Pretty Filters, Fun Borders, Silly Stickers, Emoji’s, Captions & Other Flair

Last updated: 2019-02-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What do you think are the best travel photography accessories of 2019? What bits of kit can’t you travel without?

The post Gear Up with the Best Travel Photography Accessories of 2019 (so far …) appeared first on Vagabondish.

Phiaton CURVE BT 120 NC: Bluetooth and Noise-Canceling on a Budget

I’m continually impressed by Phiaton. Over the years, their over-ear headphones are still among the best we’ve ever tested.

They’re latest earphones — the Phiaton CURVE BT 120 NC Bluetooth noise-canceling earphones — are a great option for travelers looking for earphones that are wireless, affordable, and — perhaps most importantly — noise-canceling.

Phiaton CURVE BT 120 NC Review

The Skinny

In the manufacturer’s own words, the Phiaton CURVE BT 120 NC earphones are:

Premium active noise-canceling earphones with fast charge and excellent sound quality. Get 1 hour of use from 5 minutes of charging. Featuring a sleek and portable neckband design that is ready to go wherever life takes you. Next Generation Bluetooth 4.2 is backwards compatible and blocks out distraction with up to 95% of ambient noise cancellation.

Phiaton CURVE BT 120 NC Bluetooth Noise-Canceling Earphones

Phiaton CURVE BT 120 NC Bluetooth Noise-Canceling Earphones

The Traveler’s Take on Phiaton’s CURVE BT 120 NC Earphones

My choice of headphones/earphones used to come down to sound quality above else. With as much travel as I do, that’s changed. I still care about how they sound of course and the CURVE BT 120 NC earphones do sound great. But, especially on long-haul flights, I care more about noise-canceling and noise-isolation.

Here, the CURVE BT 120 NC’s live up to the “NC” (in case it’s not obvious, that refers to “noise-canceling”) in their name, actively canceling out quite a bit of ambient noise, especially for a pair of earphones. According to Phiaton, when fitted properly, they’re able to cancel out up to 95% of background noise. While they’ll never quite live up to the same capability in a pair of over-ear headphones, they work quite well.

An inline controller provides full control over standard music functions (back, forward, play, pause, and volume up/down). The same buttons provide control over call functionality as well so you needn’t pull your phone out of your pocket if you don’t want to. With the latest Bluetooth 4.2 tech, you can connect to two devices (say, a tablet and a smartphone) simultaneously.

The fast-charge capability is a huge plus for me. Even in these glory days of being able to travel with a handful of backup battery packs, I seem to always be rushing to find the nearest outlet. Five minutes of fast-charging the CURVE BT 120 NC’s secures a full hour of playback. On a full charge, they’re good for 8.5 hours of wireless playback. While that’s not going to get you from LAX to Sydney, considering their diminutive size, that’s impressive.

I love the CURVE BT 120’s durability as well. They’re designed to IPX4 standards, so they offer decent sweat resistance for working out and water resistance for everything else your travels might throw at them.

Phiaton CURVE BT 120 NC Wireless Noise-Canceling Earphones (white)

Phiaton CURVE BT 120 NC Wireless Noise-Canceling Earphones

What’s in the Box?

Each package includes the CURVE BT 120 NC earphones, USB charging cable, quick guide, two RightFit+ ear wing sizes that apply the right amount of pressure to keep the earbuds in place (M, L), three ear tip sizes to ensure the perfect fit (S, M, L) and a wire clip to keep cables in places.

Pricing + Availability

Phiaton’s CURVE BT 120 NC noise-canceling Bluetooth earphones are available now in Black or White on Amazon.


Phiaton BT 120 NC Black Wireless Bluetooth and Active Noise Cancelling Neck Band Style Earphones with Mic

  • ANC: Active noise cancelling technology cancels ambient noise by up to 95%.
  • SWEAT AND WATER RESISTANT: IPX4 splash resistance certification protects earphones during heavy workouts or light rain.
  • INTELLIGENT: Vibration notification signals when a call is being received or you have stepped outside the communication range.
  • FAST CHARGE: Get 1 hour of battery life with just 5 minutes of charging. 8.5 hours of total playtime on full battery
  • WARRANTY: Continue to enjoy your Phiaton bluetooth wireless device long after the Amazon return period expires. All Phiaton earphones come with a One Year Warranty and we stand behind all of our products with a US based customer service.

Last updated: 2019-01-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The post Phiaton CURVE BT 120 NC: Bluetooth and Noise-Canceling on a Budget appeared first on Vagabondish.

Holiday Gear Guide: 5 Must-have Gifts for Active Travelers

It’s that time of year when it seems the whole world is blanketed in one big, fat, holiday-red-tag sale. Whether you’re buying for someone else or treatin’ yo’ self to gifts for the holidays, now is the best (read cheapest) season to buy.

Here are five must-have gifts for the active traveler in your life (even if that active traveler is you) …

Best Gifts for Active Travelers

LG V30+ 128GB Smartphone (Unlocked)

LG Electronics V30+ Smartphone

LG V30+ Smartphone

It wasn’t long ago that I never left home without my entire DLSR camera kit — full Nikon body, several lenses, a bevy of filters … the works. Now, I’m a little more lax. Smartphone cameras (both photo and video) are lightyears ahead of where they were just a few years ago. The one camera that turned me on to the possibility of traveling “smartphone-only” was LG’s V30+.

There’s a lot to love about this smartphone. The 6-inch QHD+ OLED display is crisp, bright, and absolutely beautiful — perfect for reviewing my just-taken photos and video. The F/1.6 glass camera lens takes awesome shots in even super low light, while the wide-angle option means it’s great for landscapes.

The shell is lightweight yet ultra-durable with IP68 dust and water resistance. It’s rugged enough for even the most active travelers to take on the road (or way, way off). For all of these reasons, the V30+ was my go-to hip camera for my entire two weeks in Antarctica. I took it kayaking with me every day and it performed like a champ.

The best part? Since the release of the new LG V40, the LG V30+ is now discounted as a “previous generation” smartphone. No matter though! For travelers, I highly recommend hitting up Amazon for a deeply discounted V30+. Choose the 128GB unlocked version, and you’ll be ready to travel with it almost anywhere in the world with whatever SIM/carrier you choose.


LG Electronics LGUS998U V30+ Factory Unlocked Phone – 128GB, 6″, Black (U.S. Warranty)

  • Enjoy 128 GB of onboard storage and free LG Quadplay Earbuds as part of the upgraded plus package
  • 6.0″ OLED FullVision Display
  • Premium Video Capture
  • Superior Hi-Fi Sound Experience
  • 16 MP Standard-Angle and 13 MP Wide-Angle Rear Cameras/ 5 MP Wide-Angle Front Camera

Last updated: 2018-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Suunto 9 Baro Titanium Sports Watch

Suunto 9 Baro Titanium Multisport Watch

Suunto 9 Baro Titanium Multisport Watch

“Three things will be left at the end of the world … Twinkies, cockroaches, and this watch.”
— Runner’s World

Any hardcore adventure traveler (myself included) loves to keep tabs on their outdoor activity. For that, Suunto has fast become my favorite, go-to brand for sports watches. The flagship Suunto 9 Baro Titanium is their most durable multisport watch which features an almost absurd level of versatility, flexibility, and customization options.

The 9 Baro Titanium tracks your GPS coordinates, distance traveled, heart rate, barometric functions, weather alerts, and has 80 built-in sports modes. The big get for avid outdoorsmen, however, is the durability and battery life. I threw everything I could at this watch for the last three weeks and it barely blinked. The battery is good for up to 120 hours, but the watch is smart enough to throttle usage based on your activity. It’ll even provide alerts when it needs to be charged, and let you know if your next workout/activity requires more juice than the watch is currently charged with.

It’s damn pricey, but I’ve long believed that you get what you pay for and this is the single best GPS multisport watch on the market right now.

Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch with BARO and Wrist-Based Heart Rate (Black)

  • Three predefined battery modes – Performance, Endurance and Ultra – deliver from 25 hours to up to 120 hours* of recording time with GPS tracking on. When you start a recording, you’ll get an estimate of how much battery you have left with the current mode. If it’s not enough, switch to another mode at any time.
  • On long ultra runs, battery life is often the limiting factor for recording distance and track accurately, as GPS is a heavy drain on the battery. Suunto’s unique FusedTrack algorithm combines GPS and motion sensor data to improve track and distance accuracy. This allows you to extend battery life by lowering GPS power without significantly compromising accuracy.
  • Suunto 9 is designed and built to meet the demands of professional athletes. Tested to the extreme with thousands of hours of real use in the toughest conditions by Suunto’s internal testing team and athletes all over the world, it is your trusted companion to confidently see you through any adventure!
  • Pair Suunto 9 with the new Suunto app to track all your adventures, as well as follow your long term trends, including daily activity and sleep. Easily share your greatest achievements and connect with others in the app community.

Last updated: 2018-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Henty CoPilot Messenger Bag

Henty CoPilot Messenger Bag

Henty CoPilot Messenger Bag

Wheels were one of the last truly “revolutionary” additions to modern luggage. Not a whole lot has changed since.

So, I was pretty excited to check out Henty’s clever line of luggage. Their CoPilot Messenger is an ingenious design that offers all the versatility and portability of a traditional backpack, but with the added capability of keeping your clothes wrinkle-free while on the road.

Once unfurled, the design allows you to lay out enough clothing for a long weekend (or even longer, depending on how much of a packing ninja you are), then “roll” it up around the single, inner, waterproof chamber in which you store 20L worth of toiletries, shoes, booze, etc. Separate exterior pockets provide for easy-to-reach storage for your passport, travel documents, and laptop. The smart, built-in hanger makes it a snap to stow in the closet once you get where you’re going.

The Henty CoPilot is also available as a backpack.

AxisGO Waterproof Housing for iPhone X

AxisGO X Waterproof Housing for iPhone X

AxisGO X Waterproof Housing for iPhone X

A decent waterproof housing for your DSLR camera can sometimes cost as much as the camera itself. If you’re looking to get into the underwater photography or videography game for far less and you already own an iPhone, AxisGO’s purpose-built housing is a great alternative.

To be clear, the AxisGO waterproof case/housing isn’t the first and only such underwater iPhone case on the market. But, from what I can tell, it’s one of the best designed. The feature set is incredibly solid for photographers looking for something more than just a way to waterproof their iPhone:

  • Functional touchscreen membrane
  • Interchangeable Lens port
  • Robust top and bottom mounting brackets
  • Pistol Grip kit
  • Professional quality accessory lenses
  • Optical glass
  • Anti-reflective and hydrophobic glass coatings

Tenba DNA 15 Messenger

Tenba DNA Messenger 15 Laptop Bag / Carry-on

Tenba DNA Messenger 15 Laptop Bag / Carry-on

For the last two years, Peak Design’s Everyday Messenger was my go-to carry-on. It held exactly what I needed it to — my camera gear, water bottle, reading material, electronic cables, and all the other bits and bobs that my travels require. I still love it. But, it was starting to fray. So, I figured it was a good excuse to try something new.

Tenba DNA Messenger 15 Laptop Bag (open)

Tenba DNA Messenger 15 Laptop Bag

In my case, that something new was Tenba’s DNA 15 Messenger. It holds an ample amount of gear: a 15-inch MacBook Pro, 1 DSLR or mirrorless camera body, 2-3 lenses along with plenty of additional space for documents, cables, memory cards, my passport, and a water bottle on the side.

The zippers feature oversized pulls that are easy to grab, even with gloved hands and the Velcro uses some sort of space-age technology (my words, not Tenba’s) to make it almost completely silent when opening.

Plus, I love the dark, cobalt, denim-ish look. It’s stylish, but stealth enough not to make me feel like a mark for pickpockets while I’m traveling. I prefer the standard DNA 15 Messenger, but if you want something a bit more streamlined, the DNA 15 Slim Messenger is comparable but not quite as deep.

The post Holiday Gear Guide: 5 Must-have Gifts for Active Travelers appeared first on Vagabondish.

The Best Home Safety & Security Gadgets for Techie Travelers

Savvy travelers know to lock down their physical and digital valuables while on the road. But, with young travelers spending more and more time away from home on each trip, it’s more important now than ever to lock down all the things you leave behind at home too.

Here are the best high-tech home security gadgets for travelers looking to keep their homes safe and sound while they’re gone.

#1: Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt

Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt

Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt for Home Security

The IoT (Internet of Things) has promised and delivered a whole lot of awesome, high-tech conveniences. Smart locks now allow us to access our homes without the need for pesky keys. For travelers, that also means providing streamlined access to our homes while we’re away — whether it’s for the delivery driver, the neighbor who’s walking our dog while we’re away, or someone stopping by daily to housesit.

The Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt does all of this and more. Pair with the Schlage Sense Wi-Fi Adapter to check on the lock’s status from anywhere, so you never have to wonder if the front door was left unlocked

You can simply enter an access code on the touchscreen to unlock the door instead of searching your pockets for keys. Pairing the lock with a smartphone over Bluetooth is as easy as pairing your phone with your car, and the free Schlage Sense app makes setting up and using the lock as simple as checking email. Once it’s installed, you can setup and manage all of your access options with a few smartphone taps. No matter where in the world you find yourself, you can keep tabs on your home.

It works with all major home automation kits including Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant. It even provides smartphone alerts if it senses an intrusion attempt.

#2: Tapplock one Smart Padlock

Tapplock one - Smart Fingerprint Padlock

Tapplock one – Smart Fingerprint Padlock

We love the idea of the Tapplock one smart padlock so much that we included it in our round-up of clever car-camping gadgets. Its versatility makes it just as useful on the go as at home. You can use it to lock down your camping goods, your car’s rooftop cargo carrier, or any number of things around your home like your shed or outdoor gear.

The padlock’s state-of-the-art capacitive fingerprint sensor allows you or anyone you trust to access your items in under a second and features unbreakable durability. The Tapplock smartphone app can also be used to open the lock and give temporary, remote access to others (if you happen to be renting your house out on Airbnb, for example, while you’re traveling).

#3: Airthings Wave Smart Radon Detector

Man examining Airthings Wave Smart Radon Detector

Airthings Wave – Smart Radon Detector for Home Safety

There’s nothing especially “sexy” about household gases like radon or carbon monoxide. But, the fact is, if you’re a homeowner, these are two things you absolutely should be worried about. High levels of radon, in particular, can be difficult to detect, especially if you’re not home. Levels can vary daily so constant monitoring is recommended.

But if you have pets waiting for you at home or someone who’ll be housesitting while you’re away, a device like the Airthings Wave Smart Radon Detector could literally save a life. It starts delivering results — including radon analysis, plus temperature and humidity readings — within an hour and the integrated smartphone app provides real-time data and alerts no matter where in the world you are.

The battery is good for a year and a half with constant Bluetooth connectivity. Plus, it features a sleek, futuristic design that looks damn cool in just about any home.

#4: SimpliSafe – Hearth Home Security System

SimpliSafe Hearth Home Security System

SimpliSafe Hearth Home Security System

Not long ago, home security systems were a hassle. They required a professional to install and buyers were locked into long — sometimes multi-year — contracts. SimpliSafe scraps all that nonsense. Their state-of-the-art home security kits are easy to install for most any layperson, and they’re far more affordable than their previous generation counterparts. Of all the home security gadgets you can invest in, this is likely the most important because it’s the most comprehensive.

For your home safety and security, our money is on the SimpliSafe Hearth which includes a key fob, three entry sensors, a motion sensor, a siren, and a smoke detector. It offers smoke and intrusion detection, all monitored by the company’s professional monitoring service (USD $14.99 monthly with no contract).

If anyone is stupid enough to attempt a break-in, the device sounds a 105dB alarm (about as loud as front row at a Stones concert) to scare the holy hell out of them and probably half your neighborhood too. If you do have pets at home, it’s even smart enough to know the difference between your dog taking a midnight stroll and a burglar stumbling through your kitchen. All of which helps to eliminate false positives.

What home security gadgets do you recommend? Let us know below!

The post The Best Home Safety & Security Gadgets for Techie Travelers appeared first on Vagabondish.

Holiday Gift Guide: The Best Bluetooth Headphones for Travel [2018]

It’s that time of year: Halloween is fresh over. Time to throw out the candy corns (again) and, assuming you’re a lunatic, put up the holiday decorations.

It also means you need to start thinking about holiday gift shopping. If you’re looking to buy a gift for that favorite traveler in your life, there’s only one thing they’re going to be happy with this year: Airbnb gift cards.

OK, two things: I guarantee they’d also love a new pair of headphones — wireless headphones, in particular. Here are the best Bluetooth headphones for travel …

Best Bluetooth Headphones for Travel 2018

Sleep-friendly Bluetooth Headphones: SleepPhones Effortless

SleepPhones Wireless Headphones for Sleeping

SleepPhones Wireless — Best Headphones for Sleeping

Almost every night, I fall asleep listening to podcasts or an audiobook. Problem is: most earbuds just aren’t designed to be worn while you’re sleeping. Enter SleepPhones — the “world’s most comfortable headphones for sleeping.” Think of them as pajamas for your ears. The difference between SleepPhones and other travel-friendly headphones is the plush headband which, honestly, after a few minutes of wearing, you completely forget it’s even on your head.

While they come in three different varieties, I’m partial to the SleepPhones Effortless. They easily sync/pair with your smartphone, PC, or most any other Bluetooth-enabled device with a wireless range of up to 30 feet. The battery is designed to last 10 hours — more than enough for a decent night’s sleep or a moderate flight. Plus, for travelers on the go, the battery reaches a full charge in just three hours using the wireless, induction charging functionality. There’s also built-in play/pause and volume controls so you needn’t dig around in the dark for your smartphone in the middle of the night.

AcousticSheep SleepPhones Effortless | Bluetooth Headphones for Sleep, Travel & More Flat Speakers | No-Fuss Rechargeable Battery | Quiet Lavender – Fleece Fabric (Size S)

  • HELPS WITH BETTER SLEEP, INSOMNIA, RELAXATION, MEDITATION, TRAVEL, TINNITUS & MORE. Everyone from shift workers, people who share a bed with a snorer, tinnitus sufferers, athletes & many more have benefited from getting a better night’s sleep by using these innovative sleep headphones that are the original & most comfortable sleep headphones on the market.
  • NATURAL SLEEP AID CREATED BY A DOCTOR. Invented by a family physician to help patients fall asleep faster & stay asleep longer, naturally & without drugs. SleepPhones come with a 1 year manufacturer’s warranty.
  • ENGINEERED & DESIGNED FOR COMFORT. The ultra-thin, high-quality flat headphone speakers are comfortable enough to wear while lying down or sleeping on your side. They provide true sound and block out ambient noise without using earplugs that are painful and fall out. Built-in volume & play/pause controls. Ultra-low power, safe RF emissions.
  • WIRELESS BLUETOOTH CONNECTIVITY, LONG LASTING BATTERY, & CORDLESS INDUCTION CHARGING. The headband headphone has Bluetooth technology to wirelessly connect with compatible devices so you never have to worry about getting tangled up in cords. Wireless range of 15-30 feet (5-10 meters) for easy connectivity. Rechargeable battery lasts up to 10 hours and easily pairs/syncs with smartphones, computers & most other Bluetooth compatible devices. Battery charging time of 3 hours with included cordless.
  • CHOOSE YOUR SIZE & COLOR. Sizes S, M, L. Size Medium (M) is the most common size that fits most. This model is available in two types of fabric for optimum comfort: FLEECE fabric in soft gray, quiet lavender & midnight black & BREEZE moisture-wicking fabric in pitch black & royal blue. All fabrics are 95% polyester, 5% spandex.

Last updated: 2018-11-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Rockstar Style at a Rockstar Price: Marshall Major III Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

Marshall Major III Bluetooth Wireless On-Ear Headphone (Brown)

Marshall Major III Bluetooth Wireless On-Ear Headphones for Travel

There’s something about Marshall’s headphones that I’ve always loved. There’s a little vintage rockstar style in the look, they’re well-built and durable, and they sound great. What’s more: they don’t cost a fortune.

Among their latest offerings are the Marshall Major III Bluetooth. I’m hard-pressed to pick a single pair of cans to tag as “The Best Bluetooth Headphones for Travel,” but these are the ones I always travel with. I wear them at home and on the go.

The Major III headphones are a slight reboot of Marshall’s Mid Bluetooth and Major III (sans Bluetooth). They feature a multi-directional control knob to control play, pause, shuffle, and volume as well as directly power the headphones on and off. The 40mm dynamic drivers are enhanced for bass response, crystal clear highs, and smooth mids. And the best part: 30+ hours of wireless playtime on a single charge! That’s almost enough to get you from NYC to Sydney and back!

Marshall Major III Bluetooth Wireless On-Ear Headphone, Brown

  • Bluetooth aptX gives you exceptional Audio quality and the freedom and convenience to move with 30 feet of wireless listening range
  • 30+ hours of wireless playtime on a single charge
  • 40 mm dynamic drivers that are custom tuned for enhanced bass response, smooth midst and crystal clear highs that draw on over 50 years of sound heritage.
  • With the multi-directional control knob you can play, pause, Shuffle and adjust the volume of your device, as well as power your headphone on or off.
  • Easy to use phone functionality makes the major III Bluetooth the perfect everyday companion. Wirelessly answer, reject or end a call with the control knob

Last updated: 2018-11-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Earbuds for Minimalists: Wicked Audio Arq True Wireless Earbud Headphones

Wicked Audio Arq True Wireless Bluetooth Earbud Headphones

Wicked Audio Arq True Wireless Bluetooth Earbud Headphones

Above all else, Wicked Audio offers some of the most affordable Bluetooth headphones/earbuds on the market. But, their latest — the Wicked Audio Arq True Wireless Earbud — is budget-friendly without scrimping on features.

Like all of Wicked Audio’s Bluetooth/wireless products, Arq features Wicked’s unique “Triple Battery Protection” to prevent the risk of malfunction. The exterior is sweat resistant with a rubberized finish to travel easily and withstand active lifestyles. They come with three cushion sizes and hands-free features like pause/play and answer/hang up. Plus, with high-fidelity sound, enhanced bass, and noise isolation the sound quality is solid to boot.


Wicked Audio Arq True Wireless Bluetooth Earbud Headphones

  • TRUE WIRELESS | The Arq are the true wireless Bluetooth experience, with a small and comfortable fit.
  • TOTAL CONTROL | The Arq feature mic and track control built in, so you don’t have to fumble with your device when you want to change your tune or take a call.
  • POWERBANK | The Arq features a power bank so you can charge your devices even when you are left stranded.
  • NOISE ISOLATION | The Arq are noise isolating, so you won’t be bothered by outside sounds filtering in.
  • CUSTOMIZED FIT | Our stellar Arq earbuds feature three different sized cushions in the package, making it easy to find a custom fit and feel.

Last updated: 2018-11-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Money Is No Object: JBL Everest Elite 750NC

JBL Everest 750 Over-Ear Wireless Bluetooth Headphones (Gun Metal)

JBL Everest 750 — Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

If you’re looking for the best Bluetooth headphones for travel, forget the fancy hip-hop-mogul-branded headphones. You don’t need ’em. Spend your hard-earned social media influencer money on a legit pair of feature-rich cans. The JBL Everest Elite 750NC are some of the best I’ve personally tested.

Just as important as the sound is the battery life: for long-haul flights, they last up to 20 hours on a single charge. In ANC mode, control what you truly want to hear for up to 15 hours. They also boast a 3-hour quick recharge, Legendary JBL Pro Audio Sound, and ergonomic comfort so they’re guaranteed to be comfortable no matter how long your travel day. Adaptive noise-canceling allows you to tune out the world, including that screaming kid in the row behind you. Plus, the minimalist design — especially in Gun Metal — is sleek, sophisticated, and classy.

JBL Everest 750 Over-Ear Wireless Bluetooth Headphones (Gun Metal)

  • Built-In Microphone With Echo Cancellation Technology For Crystal Clear, Hands-Free Calls
  • A Sleek Fold-Flat Design And A Premium, Hard Carrying Case Allow Maximum Portability And Protection
  • Adaptive Noise Cancelling Over-Ear Bluetooth Headphones
  • Legendary JBL Pro Audio Sound
  • 15 Hour Battery, Quick Recharge In 3 Hours

Last updated: 2018-11-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Do you travel with wireless headphones? What do you recommend as the best Bluetooth headphones for travel?

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