Traveling Abroad: 13 Tips To Roaming Freely And Safely

These days, it’s almost impossible to imagine leaving the house, not to mention traveling to a foreign country, without a smartphone. How would you avoid getting lost without your built-in GPS? Or know which neighborhoods to visit (and which to avoid) without a handy phone travel guide? And don’t forget everyone needs social media apps to share experiences with friends.

While your smartphone can help you keep in touch and stay street smart while traveling abroad, the costs of international roaming, data and messaging can make staying connected very expensive (just ask this guy). That’s why our friends at T-Mobile added global data coverage in over 100 countries at no extra cost to their Simple Choice plan.

So, now that it won’t break the bank to stay safe and make sure everyone knows your trip is going a-OK, we teamed up with T-Mobile to put together some other crucial, but very often-overlooked, traveling tips to protect you from worst-case scenarios. Read on for 13 safety tips every globetrotter should heed while traveling the world.

  • 1
    Enroll In STEP
    The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a government initiative to keep Americans safe abroad. This free service allows you to register with STEP to get travel warnings and alerts for a particular country, and will help the government assist you better in an emergency.
  • 2
    E-Mail Someone A Copy Of Your Itinerary
    Keep mom up to date while still maintaining your freedom by sending her a detailed itinerary of your trip beforehand. No need to call and check in every day, but try to post updates to social media sites or send quick e-mails so that everyone knows you are safe and happy.
  • 3
    Separate Your Money
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    Do not keep your credit cards and cash in the same place. Keep some cash in your wallet, and leave some in a zippered pocket in your luggage or another safe location. In addition, store credit cards in a separate pocket of your purse or day bag from your carry-around cash.
  • 4
    Scan Your Passport (And Other Important Items)
    If something happens to your passport or other documents while you are out of the country, it could take up to 6 weeks for a new one to arrive. Although you might already know to make a copy of your passport, consider downloading a scanning app, like TurboScan, to keep your important documents organized and safe in the cloud.
  • 5
    Give Charity Smartly
    In many large metropolises, beggars are everywhere. However, giving them your money directly may not be the smartest, or safest decision. Instead of handing money out on the street, donate to Kiva or another charity relating to the city of your travels.
  • 6
    Get Traveler’s Insurance
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    Accidents can happen anywhere — and your home insurance may not cover you abroad. Check out Lonely Planet’s traveler’s insurance quote tool to find the best plan for you.
  • 7
    Avoid A Cultural Faux Pas
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    Every country has their own specific customs and traditions. Although being immersed in a culture is the best way to learn what is appropriate and what is not, try to research some of the major faux-pas Americans commit in your destination. Even if it seems normal to you, it could be highly offensive to locals. For example, some places, like China and South Korea, shy away from tipping, while the French would be shocked by a hug (although kisses are totally fine).
  • 8
    Clear All Credit Card Hurdles
    Before your trip, call your credit card company and explain where you are going and for how long in order to avoid a freeze on your account. In addition, find out exactly how much credit is left on your card so that you do not exceed your limit.
  • 9
    Don’t Use Shortcuts
    Even if you are starting to feel comfortable in a new city, do NOT try and find a shortcut just to lessen your travel time. Download a travel guide, like the app mTrip, to keep you on the straight and narrow.
  • 10
    Keep Track Of All Local Emergency Numbers
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    Although your mom’s number may be etched in your memory, here are some important emergency contacts to store in your phone:
    — The nearest US consulate or embassy. You can find a list here.
    — Local police and fire stations
    — Nearby hospital or medical center
    — A local cab company
    — Any other numbers you may need in a pinch!
  • 11
    Stay Healthy
    Double-check that you have brought any and all prescription medications with you, including extras if possible. Get all necessary travel shots, and make sure you are aware of local medical laws that could differ from the U.S. (such as which prescriptions are legal or illegal in your destination). As mentioned, find the nearest hospital or medical center, and keep the phone number on you at all times.
  • 12
    Don’t Pet Stray Animals
    Even if you are an avid dog-lover, what may seem like a pet to you could be a very dangerous animal in another country. Romania, Thailand and Ethiopia are just a few countries struggling with stray dogs and other animals that have mauled and killed humans.
  • 13
    Invest In A Cellphone Plan With Free Roaming
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    Getting in touch with the people you love can be the most important part of staying safe, and a global data plan can make staying connected easier and cheaper than ever before. Check out T-Mobile’s Simple Choice and avoid a giant bill like the one this guy is racking up.

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My SWW Commercial!

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Stratford Top Town Holiday Park

bbq05Stratford Top Town Holiday Park is the perfect place for your visit to Taranaki.

Whether you are here on holiday or for business, the Stratford Top Town Holiday Park has a wide range of accommodation from Motels and Tourist Flats to Camp Sites and Cabins.

We are the closest Holiday Park to Mount Taranaki.

Fully serviced Motels, modern first class self contained Tourist Flats, Tourist or standard Cabins, Backpackers Delight, Sheltered individual hedged Motorhome/Caravan bays are all surrounded in a beautiful, friendly setting for your perfect stay in central Taranaki.

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Top 5 alternative New Zealand road trips


Who can resist the urge to hit the open (and almost empty) road in New Zealand? Certainly not us…but don’t forget that the country has urban adventures aplenty, too. Check out our selection of lesser known (but no less wonderful) road trips, then head over to BBC Travel to find out about the changing face of Auckland’s markets.

New Zealand is best experienced at your own pace and with your own vehicle. Explore the country’s secondary routes on these off-the-beaten-path Kiwi journeys.

 Image by swifant. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licence

Wildlife-spotting in the Catlins

Start: Kaka Point Finish: Porpoise Bay Distance: 86 km (53 miles) Essential tip: pack binoculars to make the most of wildlife viewing opportunities. Overnight in sleepy Kaka Point so you can spy yellow-eyed penguins and blue penguins returning at dusk to nearby Roaring Bay after a day’s fishing. The following morning, visit Nugget Point for marine mammal action including sea lions, fur seals and elephant seals, before continuing west to the Lost Gypsy Gallery at Papatowai; look for the whale sculpture out the front. Owner Blair Sommerville’s always up for a chat, and his quirky and idiosyncratic sculptures are all made from discarded and found objects. Stop at the Florence Hill lookout and detour to the rugged sweep of Tautuku Bay for spirited evidence of one of New Zealand’s wildest coastlines. Continue west to Porpoise Bay’s compact surf beach, home to blue penguins, and a haven for endangered Hector’s dolphins during summer.

 ‘New Zealand sea lion – Catlins’ by travelwayoflife. Creative Commons Attribution licence

Matakana Wine Country

Start: Auckland Finish: Pakiri Distance: 86 km (53 miles) Essential tip: purchase a few bottles of wine so your non-drinking designated driver can enjoy a tipple later in the day. Detour east from New Zealand’s main highway north at Warkworth ( to begin exploring the Auckland region’s newest area for wine-making.  Just 4km from Warkworth, Ascension Wine Estate ( channels a Mediterranean ambiance, and laid-back concerts featuring iconic Kiwi bands often echo around the leafy grounds during summer. Continue to the adjacent Heron’s Flight ( and Runner Duck Estate ( vineyards, maybe stopping for lunch at Plume ( restaurant, before easing into the foodies’ haven of Matakana village. Local artisan produce is showcased at Matakana’s Saturday morning farmers’ market, including craft beers from the nearby Leigh Sawmill Cafe (  Meander past Leigh to good snorkelling at the Goat Island Marine Reserve (, or for horseriding along the rugged surf beach of Pakiri.

 ‘Waitaki River’ by brownsdj.Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licence

Rock art and quirky geology in the Waitaki Valley

Start: Omarama Finish: Ngapara Distance: 118 km (73 miles) Essential tip: wear sturdy walking shoes to explore the region’s interesting outdoor sites. From Omarama’s sleepy rural vibe at the base of the mountainous Lindis Pass, travel 14km north to the lunar landscape of Clay Cliffs, the silt and gravel laden result of two million years of erosion along an active earthquake fault line. Return to Omarama and travel southeast along SH83 through the Waitaki Valley, skirting shimmering Lake Aviemore. Continue to Duntroon, and pick up a Vanished World Fossil Trail map at the Vanished World Centre. More than 20 different locations around North Otago are featured, including the bizarrely-eroded limestone boulders at Elephant Rocks near Ngapara. If the formation looks familiar, the rocks featured in the battle scene in The Chronicles of Narnia (2005). The Vanished World Centre can also advise on nearby Maori rock paintings at Marewhenua and Takiroa.

‘On the way to Omarama’ by chee.hong. Creative Commons Attribution licence

Giant trees and rugged beaches of the Kauri Coast

Start: Dargaville Finish: Waipoua Forest Distance: 72 km (45 miles) Essential tip: pack a swimming costume for a dip in crisp lake waters or in Tasman Sea surf. From Dargaville – the self-proclaimed ‘sweet potato capital of New Zealand’ – escape north on SH12. Make time for two essential diversions to the west, firstly to sand dune-shrouded Baylys Beach (, and then to the Kai Iwi Lakes. A 30-minute walk from the lakes leads to the spectacle of the Tasman Sea rolling incessantly into New Zealand’s North Island. Continue up the Kauri Coast, named after the giant trees that once blanketed this coastline. The Waipoua Forest is an 18km-long remnant of these once extensive forests, with some towering kauri trees reaching 60m in height. The absolute master of the forest is Tane Mahuta, named after the Maori god of the forest, and reckoned to be up to 2000 years old.

 ‘Huntly and the Waikato River, New Zealand, 1991’ by Phillip Capper. Creative Commons Attribution licence

Maori culture on the East Cape

Start: Maraehako Bay Finish: Whangara Distance: 218 km (135 miles) Essential tip: don’t wander on to a marae (Maori meeting place) before first seeking permission. Kick off with a stay at the waterfront Maraehako Bay Retreat, an easygoing Maori-owned hostel that’s overflowing with manaakitanga (Maori hospitality). The laid-back owners can arrange visits to local marae, and also introduce visitors to traditional woodcarvers. Continue on SH35 to Tikitiki and the stunning St Mary’s Church, frugally decorated on the outside, but with a wonderfully ornate Maori-themed interior. Divert east to the sleepy coastal settlement of Rangitukia, and sign up for beach and bush horseriding with Eastender Horse Treks ( They can also arrange bone-carving lessons, after-dark eeling adventures, and a traditional Maori hangi (underground earth oven). Return to SH35 and continue south through Tokomaru Bay and Tolaga Bay, finally reaching the tiny village of Whangara, the ancestral home of Paikea from the Maori legend – and 2002 film – of Whale Rider.

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An Intimate Tour of New Zealand

 A view of the harbor on the way to Akaroa, 
a former French settlement on 
New Zealand’s South Island. By

“You can get tuatuas here,” Anne Moore says, brightly.

“A tuatua,” she adds by way of explanation, “is like a pipi but not as big as a toheroa.”

I have no idea what she’s talking about but the sound of the words makes me happy. Tuatuas and pipis and toheroas, Anne explains, are types of mollusks. You dig them up at the beach as snacks.

Anne points out a sign by the road that says hot hangi. That’s a Maori stew, she says, cooked in the ground.

“Have you ever seen a kumara?” Anne asks. It’s a purplish sweet potato grown around here. And where is here? I’m trying to remember.

Anne is a new friend. We met the week before, at another pal’s wedding on the island of Waiheke, near Auckland. Now she’s our guide on a road trip somewhere far north of there, driving with the sunroof open across the very top of New Zealand. From the backseat of her silver-blue BMW jalopy, I watch the dreamy place-names pass by. Opononi. Kerikeri. Pakaraka. Kawakawa. I repeat these words to myself and lose track of where we are on the map. Outside, it’s all lush greens and sparkling blues. There is a warmth, a pacific—lower- and uppercase—quality to the light in the north of the North Island.

At Russell, on the Bay of Islands, a little seagull follows us around. He waddles behind the car as we drive out of town with a look that seems to say, “What’s your rush?” Sorry, little bird. Nothing personal.

Except that in New Zealand, everything has a way of feeling personal, intimate, connected. The country’s image handlers have done a great job positioning the place as a kind of holy land for extreme-sports seekers, as well as for those who seek extreme pamperedness at grand pleasure palaces known as super lodges. But what pulls me back is something more essential, a feeling I get from the people here. They’re friendly and open, but more than that there is this sense of an entire country where everyone seems to know one another, a sense of community you don’t get in bigger countries. Aotearoa—the country’s Maori name, meaning Land of the Long White Cloud—has an area slightly larger than the United Kingdom but one-fifteenth the population. Nearly a third of the 4.2 million Kiwis live in Auckland. Outside the city it’s a big-sky, small-world place.

Looking to explore these connections, I devised a kind of travel challenge for myself, an experiment in serendipitous social networking. What would become of me if I arrived in Auckland knowing nobody and let myself be guided only by the introductions of people I met along the way? There would be rules: I couldn’t just ask someone to recommend a place they’d heard or read about. They had to hand me off to friends or colleagues, people they actually knew. And I would keep moving. Landing in Auckland, I’d head roughly south with every suggestion to see how far down the length of the country I could get.

Read the rest of the article here

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Wotif loses ground to Expedia – Top New Zealand travel websites

The gap between Expedia and Wotif at the top of the list of leading travel websites in New Zealand has widened between June and July.

Both brands may have gained market share month-on-month, but Expedia’s 0.75% increase (compared to just 0.25% for Wotif) was enough to put 1.75% between the pair.

Most popular travel websites in New Zealand for July 2013:


Rank Website Domain Percentage of Visits Previous Position
1 10.48% 1
2 8.91% 2
3 Webjet New Zealand 8.64% 3
4 Flight Centre New Zealand 7.39% 5
5 House of Travel 7.37% 4
6 Skyscanner New Zealand 3.00% 7
7 Bookme – nz 2.58%
8 Jet Abroad – NZ 2.45% 9
9 FareCompare 2.24%
10 1.92% 8

Destinations and Accommodation

Rank Website Domain Percentage of Visits Previous Position
1 TripAdvisor 9.48% 1
2 7.31% 2
3 – Travel 4.66% 3
4 Yahoo!xtra – Travel 3.64% 4
5 Mt Ruapehu 3.11% 8
6 2.83% 6
7 2.10% 10
8 Viator 1.95% 7
9 1.71% 9
10 New Zealand Tourism Online 1.70%


Rank Website Domain Percentage of Visits Previous Position
1 Air New Zealand 36.26% 1
2 Air New Zealand – grabaseat 20.73% 2
3 Jetstar 12.21% 3
4 My Air New Zealand 6.07% 4
5 Qantas 4.00% 5
6 Virgin Australia 2.87% 6
7 Emirates 2.72% 7
8 Singapore Airlines 1.62% 8
9 Malaysia Airlines 1.58% 9
10 Air New Zealand – Global Site 1.22%

NB: Data courtesy of Experian Hitwise

NB2: Auckland image via Shutterstock.


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King Edward Park, New Zealand

1311846283Kind Edward Park has its beginnings in 1875 when the Hawera Town Board set aside a section comprising of 28 acres as a recreational reserve. From there the park has become a very attractive and well-kept facility in the district.

It is home to a number of interesting historical items. The large wrought iron entrance gates on the corner of Camberwell Road and High Street commemorate the Industrial Exhibition of 1904 and the smaller side gate was erected in memory of those troops from the Hawera District who died in South Africa during the Boer War.

Inside the gates a marble statue of Arthur Albert Fantham a former manager of the Egmont Farmer’s Union, an auctioneer and chairman of the Hawera Road Board at various times.

The cannon standing further into the park was sent to Hawera in 1885 for the Hawera Volunteer Rifle Company to train on. It was used in a training day that year but then lay neglected for many years. Finally after several temporary homes it was placed in the park in 1912.

The wife of a late Mayor of Hawera donated the Wendy statue near the playground. The Royal College of Sculpture in London organised a competition for the design of a suitable statue. The Wendy statue is the companion piece to the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens, London. It was unveiled on 16 July 1951.

King Edward Park contains a number of special features including a scented garden for the blind, a rhododendron dell, a willow pattern Chinese garden and a spectacular rose garden which is nationally renowned for some of its rarer species. Also King Edward Park has a spectacular Children’s Play ground with a pirate ship for the children to enjoy.

A comfortable 20 minute bush and riverside walk (Three Bridges Trail) beside the Patea River can also be enjoyed.,2704,

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