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The Best Gift Ideas for Mother's Day

Check out the best gifts for your favorite female traveler to give this Mother’s Day—bonus, most of these Mother’s Day gifts are under $100.

Travel-Related Mother’s Day Gifts

Bellroy Travel Folio

Help your mom stay organized while traveling with this chic passport holder and travel wallet. She can keep the whole fam organized since it fits two passports, four to eight cards, cash, and multiple boarding passes. This zip-up style also has RFID blocking technology, which protects documents, cards, and passports from RFID skimming, i.e. electronic pickpocketing. The environmentally-certified leather wallet also comes with a three-year warranty.

LifeProof Wake Phone Case

Give mom a protective and sustainable phone case, no matter what model phone she has. This case is both drop-proof (from two meters), easy to grip, and helps the environment through a donation on the company’s behalf to select charities.

iLive Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

If mom isn’t the most tech-savvy, then these affordable wireless earbuds might just be the perfect gift. This pair supports true wireless and Bluetooth capabilities and comes with a charging case of its own.

Keebos Crossbody Phone Case

Go totally hands-free with this useful and inexpensive phone case; it’s a crossbody bag, wallet, phone holder, and protective case all in one. This Mother’s Day gift is perfect for walking the dog, circling the park, or grabbing a coffee.

Mother’s Day Gifts for the Home

YETI Lowlands Waterproof Outdoor Blanket

From beach picnics to lining the back seat of the car for your family pooch, YETI’s outdoor blanket is an ideal gift for the no-fuss mom. It even comes in a convenient carrying case and is machine-washable. Other standout features are that this comfy blanket has a waterproof layer and that it easily shakes off pet hair.

Artifact Uprising Wood Block Prints

gift ideas for mother's day

Gift mom a personalized photo album with this simple yet beautiful woodblock stand. Send 12 of your favorite travel photos to Artifact Uprising and the company will print them on thick card stock and voila—you’ve got a personalized gift within days.

Other places to shop customized prints include Etsy, Framebridge, and Shuttterfly.

COSORI 12-in-1 Air Fryer Toaster Oven

Whether she’s cooking for additional family members in quarantine or perfecting some of her favorite recipes, this multi-purpose toaster oven will be a delightful surprise. Not only is it reasonably priced, but it serves as an air fryer, toaster oven, broiler, rotisserie, and more. The 12 presets include: pizza, roast, airfry, toast, bagel, bake, broil, cookies, rotisserie, dehydrate, ferment, and keep warm. Plus, there’s an included recipe book (featuring over 100 ideas) for even more cooking inspiration.

EcoVessel Wine Tumbler

Take your favorite drink on-the-go with these triple-insulated, stainless steel tumblers. Priced under $20, it’s an ideal gift for the mom who loves a park picnic or day at the beach.

ChappyWrap’s Places Blanket

While the jury’s still out on our summer vacations, remind mom of one of her favorite places with an ultra-plush blanket from ChappyWrap. With maps of locales like Cape Cod and San Francisco, you can keep her cozy during stay-at-home orders.

Mother’s Day Gifts, Clothing & Accessories

Keds Women’s Clipper Jute

This pair of stylish slip-on shoes from Keds make for the perfect understated, yet practical gift for mom. Wear them now around the house and save them for the next family beach vacation. The versatile style means they match with almost anything and the slip-on style makes them ideal for errand running and city walking.

Rothy’s Bag Collection

We’ve already expressed our love for Rothy’s latest bag collection, and we think the line of bags and pouches also make for great Mother’s Day gifts. All of the accessories are stylish and practical for both future travel and use around town.

Hari Mari Sydney Slides

Keep mom comfy and fashionable with these spring and summertime sandal staples. Between the premium leather, memory foam footbed, and on-trend style these shoes have it all. Not only do they match almost everything, they’ll be her go-to pair of shoes all summer long.

Plaka Slipper Socks

I’ve already raved about these in my review, but these slipper socks are the perfect inexpensive gift for mom this Mother’s Day. The sock-like upper is flexible and soft while the cushy rubber bottom lets you grab your mail, take the dog out, etc. without having to put real shoes on.

Cotidie Evelyn Drape Waist Shirt

Gift mom this classic shirt, with a twist. The moisture-wicking and stretchy material mean this shirt is the queen of double-duty. Whether she’s a frequent flier or just likes to look chic (but make it comfy) at the grocery store, this athleisure brand has got you covered.

Ministry of Supply Swift Wide Leg Pants

These lightweight pants are the stylish ideal travel pant, but can also be worn easily around the house. The stretch crepe material is airy and breathable and will look good with either a sweatshirt or blazer.

Bleusalt

Fair warning, you may want to steal this gift, but know it will bring the utmost coziness to your mom. So, let her enjoy it. Bleusalt’s environmentally-friendly and sustainable beechwood fabric is literally a dream, so anything you pick will be a win. But, if you need help choosing, The Classic Shirt and The 2 Yard Wrap are my go-tos.

MZ Wallace Metro Pouch

It’s a clutch, it’s a pouch, it’s a diaper holder, it’s anything you need it to be. We adore this line of bags (also available at Nordstrom) for its waterproof nylon quilted material and packability.

State Cashmere

Spoil mom with high-quality cashmere, but not at the expected price tag. State Cashmere offers dozens of styles under $100 as well as a wallet-friendly and lightweight spring line, made with cotton cashmere. Or pick something out from the travel section, think socks, blankets, and wraps.  

Mother’s Day Gifts, Beauty

Dyson Airwrap Hair Styler

Gift mom the latest in hair styling innovation, with Dyson’s minimal heat hair styler. It’s a smoother, curler, styler, and dryer all in one.

Pro Tip: Also check this product’s Amazon listing for potential price reductions and Dyson will price match.

TULA Skincare Best Sellers Travel Kit

Cult-favorite skincare brand, TULA, offers some of their best-selling products in a convenient and reasonably priced, travel-sized kit. It’s a perfect way to test out the facial cleanser, day and night cream, sugar scrub, and moisturizing primer. And while you’re at it, throw in the brightening eye balm and sunscreen to your cart for yourself (we won’t tell).

DW Home Candle

Remind mom of her favorite scent with a budget-friendly candle from DW Home. We love the Calming Waves and Tranquil Lotus scents for uber relaxation during this crazy time.

Athena Club the Go-Tos Set

Help mom make her skincare routine healthier with Athena Club’s the Go-Tos set. At just $25 this gift set includes the brand’s Dewy Body Lotion, Soft Face Wipes, and All Day Deo. Each product is made with good-for-you ingredients and smells fantastic.

Subtl Beauty Stack

Mom will thank you for this life-changing makeup gift. Meet Subtl Beauty’s stack, the ultimate travel-friendly makeup on the market. Build her a custom stack by choosing a lip stain, concealer, highlighter, bronzer, and/or shine control powder and voila, all her makeup’s in one place.

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Categories
Booking Strategy

OP-ED: Travelers Should Be Entitled to Airbnb Refunds During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dealing with canceled travel plans amid COVID-19 is frustrating for everyone: travelers, tour providers, airlines, hotels, and of course, vacation rental owners and hosts.

However, my recent experience with canceling an Airbnb for a 12-person group trip in early May (booked prior to the COVID-19 pandemic) was particularly off-putting, and it turns out I am not alone. Just look at the tweets and replies section of the Airbnb Help Twitter account and #Airbnbrefundnow.

Airbnb’s Refund Policy Due to COVID-19

When my travel partner and I made the appropriate decision to cancel (not postpone) our trip in early May (we have an international traveler in our group, an essential healthcare worker, and a group over 10 people traveling from five different states) we thought there would be no issue given the company’s statement that our trip dates fell within its current cancellation refund policy. And as much as we would have preferred to postpone and taken a credit, it wasn’t an option for us.

Here’s the policy language updated on April 9, 2020 (the policy prior to this was even vaguer): “Reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made on or before March 14, 2020, with a check-in date between March 14, 2020 and May 31, 2020, are covered by the policy and may be canceled before check-in. Guests who cancel will have a variety of cancellation and refund options, and hosts can cancel without charge or impact to their Superhost status. Airbnb will either refund, or issue travel credit that includes, all service fees for covered cancellations. In order to cancel under the policy, you will be required to attest to the facts of and/or provide supporting documentation for your extenuating circumstance.

“The host’s cancellation policy will apply as usual to reservations made after March 14, 2020. 

“Cancellations will be handled according to the extenuating circumstances coverage in effect at the time of submission, and reservations that were already canceled will not be reconsidered.”

This was the Airbnb refund policy when we first initiated our cancellation request (prior to April 9)

At first glance, the refund policy seems reasonable enough. And the actual process for requesting a cancellation because of COVID-19 was easy and well-explained; travelers simply can choose the COVID-19 reason for canceling under their Trips page and request a full refund.

The Reality of Airbnb’s Refund Policy: Hosts Decide

However, this is where the policy becomes blurred as it turns out it’s actually up to the host to make the final decision in accepting or denying the cancellation and refund request, not Airbnb (the company) as the policy makes it seem.

I spoke with two other travelers, one with a late-April booking and another with a mid-June booking (this is even outside of the current policy’s date window), and both hosts accepted their refund request right away, no additional documentation needed. I also spoke with another traveler who even had her late-May booking get canceled by the host. However, we were left with our host declining to accept our cancellation and refund request.

I get it, this could be the host’s main form of income, and at the time of writing, Airbnb was only offering hosts 25 percent of what they would normally receive through their cancellation policy. What didn’t seem right, though, is that the company makes it seem like Airbnb would be issuing the refunds and travel credit, not the hosts.

For a company that was about to go public pre-pandemic, the fact that it’s letting its hundreds and thousands of hosts determine whether a traveler gets a refund for a trip is absurd. There should be a cut-and-dry policy in place like there are with airlines and hotels. At the very least, the company should be automatically refunding the profits it makes from service fees. And while these policies aren’t all perfect, it’s certainly better than leaving things up to the over 650,000 current Airbnb hosts, all who will have varying needs and opinions.

What to Do If Your Host Doesn’t Give You a Refund

According to the policy, “If the host doesn’t agree, you can still cancel and your refund will be determined by the host’s standard cancellation policy,” or “If your reservation doesn’t qualify for either the extenuating circumstances policy or your host doesn’t agree to cancel, you can always message your host to find out if they’re willing to give you a larger refund through the Resolution Center.”

So, based on this information, our options were to accept a 50 percent refund (if canceled before April 30, according to our specific host’s policy) or message our host and explain our situation again and potentially go through the Resolution Center. But these steps seem to only be necessary if your reservation doesn’t qualify for the extenuating circumstances policy. What we couldn’t easily figure out though, was how did our reservation apparently “not qualify”?

When you try to uncover what does qualify as an extenuating circumstance in relation to COVID-19, you’re rerouted around the Airbnb Help center, where there is no clear determination on what circumstances exactly qualify. No wonder our host didn’t want to cancel or give us a refund … there’s no clear outline on what should qualify as a refund, even though our travel dates and time of booking were within the policy’s time frame for valid cancellation. There is a separate, non-COVID related emergency and unavoidable circumstances page that lists travel restrictions and epidemic disease or illness as items that “require special review.”

Instead of accepting the host’s cancellation policy, we chose to message him and explain that we had a person in our group flying from overseas and that the traveler who made the original booking was an essential healthcare worker in New York City, but he still refused to grant us a refund. Since we couldn’t come to an agreement, the host was adamant that he didn’t want to cancel any of his May bookings (even though Airbnb clearly outlined that these bookings should be canceled or postponed) until the situation with COVID-19 was clearer, we had to go through the Resolution Center.

The Resolution Center is an automated chatbot and calling is discouraged unless you have a booking within 72 hours. Through the chatbot, we received information that we needed to prove our extenuating circumstances with proof of a canceled flight, a doctor’s note, government-mandated travel restrictions, or a signed letter proving that one of us is an essential worker. Finally, we had some sort of answer.

When we started the process, the travel restrictions that applied to us expired before our travel dates, so we weren’t able to use those as proof and we didn’t have proof of canceled flights yet. And while we expected both the stay-at-home orders to be extended and to encounter flight cancellations in our group, we were nervous that if we didn’t start the refund process request before April 30, we might fall under the guest’s normal cancellation policy and only receive 50 percent of our money back. 

Eventually, my travel partner had to get a signed letter from the hospital where she works to process the refund. We were beyond frustrated both that she had to take the time and energy to fight this process and that the hospital she works at, in the epicenter of the U.S.’s COVID-19 cases, had to spend time producing the letter for us. 

I do want to applaud Airbnb and thousands of hosts for their part in helping host heath care workers for free around the world. I also acknowledge that we’re all doing the best we can right now. But personally, this experience has made me decide to only use Airbnb as a last resort in the future.

Other Vacation Rental Booking Sites’ Refund Polices

For reference, HomeAway and VRBO’s current policy includes automatic refunds from the portion of the booking that they make, called the Traveler Service Fee, for bookings thru April 30. Both companies are also refunding the fee on bookings through May 31 (if booked before March 13). However, you do have to call to request the refund for May bookings. In addition, both brands are encouraging property owners and managers to issue refunds when credits are not an option, and are rewarding property owners and hosts who do so.

You Tell Us: Send us an email or share this on social media (tag @SmarterTravel) with your thoughts on how to handle vacation rental cancellations during COVID-19.

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Editor’s note: This story contains opinions of the writer and does not reflect those of SmarterTravel or Tripadvisor (our parent company).

Categories
At Home Fashion & Beauty

Plaka Slipper Socks Review: The Pair of 'Shoes' We're Living in Right Now

Give your feet some love with these super comfy slipper socks by the footwear brand Plaka. As most of the U.S. is in mild springtime weather, it’s just a little too hot for slippers but too cold to go barefoot all the time. Enter the slipper sock. With these slipper socks, you can check your mail, take the dog out, and work from home without having to change your shoes. And the best part is, they’re foldable and super packable, so we can take them with us once we’re traveling again.

Plaka Slipper Socks Review

Price and Where to Buy: Plaka Slipper Socks are available on Amazon and Plaka’s website for $29.95.

How the Plaka Slipper Socks Rate

  • Usefulness: 9/10. While in quarantine I find my feet getting too warm in my normal slippers, but I also keep having to put on socks and shoes when I go to take out the trash or check my mail. The slipper socks have solved both of these problems and are super comfortable while I’m sitting at my desk.
  • Durability: 9/10. I wouldn’t go for a long walk in these, but the rubber bottoms are very durable and even have some grip support.
  • Portability: 10/10. The slipper socks fold up super small so you can easily travel with them or throw them in your purse.
  • Style: 8/10. I bought the heather gray color, so the neutral color combined with the minimalist style means these slipper socks go with pretty much everything.

Final Verdict: If, like me, you’re struggling with which footwear to wear while working from home, these slipper socks are your answer. They are comfortable, have a minimalist style, and are the perfect fit: not too tight to the point that they’re heat-constricting, but also not so loose that they lack support.

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Our Favorite Items for the Home

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Airport Fashion & Beauty Health & Wellness Travel Technology Women's Travel

9 Travel Kits That Will Make a Long Flight Bearable

Before you resign yourself to suffering through your next red-eye or long-haul flight, consider packing something that can make the experience better: a comfort travel kit. With multiple travel essentials in each kit, it’s like opening a gift to yourself mid-flight.

The Best Travel Kits for Your Next Long Flight

Here are nine travel kits that will make your next flight more bearable.

Cashmere Travel Set

If you take frequent long-haul flights, consider investing in an ultra-soft cashmere travel set. Jet&Bo’s comes with a blanket, an eye mask, socks, and a carry-all case that doubles as a pillow. Bonus: You can use the blanket as a scarf if you’re headed somewhere cold. 

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Pinch Provisions® Tech Kit

Containing eight essential items to ensure you’re bringing everything you’ll need on your next trip, the Pinch Provisions® tech kit is an easy-to-pack bestseller that’s designed to be thrown in your carry-on bag.  From earbuds and charging cables to a phone/tablet stand and microfiber cleaning cloth, being bored and accessory-less for a long flight will be a thing of the past with this compact kit.

Perricone MD The Jet Set Kit

Because a full-on skin-care routine can be quite the burden in the air, the easiest way to keep your beauty regimen in check is to have it all in a single kit. The Jet Set Kit from Perricone MD features a collection of its best-selling and top-rated formulas, so you can make sure your face, neck, and eyes are getting the treatment they need on your flight.

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Scentered Aromatherapy Travel Kit

Scentered makes one of the best aromatherapy travel kits for long flights, especially if you get claustrophobic or are prone to headaches. This travel-friendly set includes one of each of its aromatherapy balms that have various uses, ranging from stress alleviation to inducing good moods. They all come in an easy-to-pack tin that you can toss in a carry-on or personal bag.

Pack Simply Customized Travel Kits

Make a DIY travel kit with Pack Simply. Choose from hundreds of products to create the ultimate in-flight kit that suits your particular needs. With everything from toiletries to hair ties to Advil, you’ll love the convenience. Select your products and the company puts together your travel kit and ships directly to you.

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Tisserand Essential Survival Kit

Essential oils are a popular natural remedy to fight everything from jet lag to insomnia—which is why roll-on oils can be a frequent flyer’s best friend. I love Tisserand’s Essential Survival Kit; this vegan oil kit comes with a de-stressing oil, an energizing oil, and a sleep-improving oil.

Snack Packs

Check out Amazon’s snack packs for when those stale peanuts just won’t do. Options include everything from energy bars to gourmet trail mixes.

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The Laundress Travel Pack

Designed to combat wardrobe malfunctions on the go, the travel pack from The Laundress has everything you need for fast-acting attention. Containing crease release, stain remover, air freshener, and even a special detergent for delicate fabrics, stains don’t have to be the travel-wardrobe ruiner they used to be.

The Carry-on Cocktail Kit

You’ll get to a different level of comfort with this Carry-on Cocktail Kit. Its tin case is filled with everything you need to make an Old Fashioned: a muddler, bitters, cane sugar, and a recipe card. Order the booze from your flight attendant, mix, then sit back and relax.

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Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2018. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

Categories
Arts & Culture

Amazon Is Offering Nine Free Kindle Downloads for World Book Day

Amazon is helping us celebrate World Book Day (Thursday, April 23) in quarantine with nine free Kindle downloads. Take a look at the free books you can download … we’re especially excited because many of the downloads are travel related.

Your Perfect Year, Charlotte Lucas

This romantic comedy’s plot involves a lost planner and second chances. It was an instant bestseller when it came out in Germany last year.

The First Mrs. Rothschild, Sara Aharoni

This biographical fiction saga takes place in a German-Jewish ghetto and is about a couple who rise to financial power.

The Price of Paradise, Susana Lopez Rubio

This historical fiction novel is set in 1950s Cuba and revolves around a forbidden love affair.

Along the Tapajos, Fernando Vilela

Follow a pair of siblings as they take on a mission along the Tapajos River in Brazil. This is one of the first children’s books published by the Amazon Crossing Kids program.

Out of the Silence: After the Crash, Eduardo Strauch

You won’t want to put this well-told memoir down; it’s about the story of the 1972 plane crash in the Andes Mountains that was carrying the Uruguayan rugby team, as told by one of the survivors.

Check out the other four free books on Amazon’s World Book Day page. Note that the downloads are only free until the end of the day on Thursday, April 23.

Amazon is also offering two free (normally $9.99 per month) months of Kindle Unlimited, which hosts over a million e-books, magazines, and audiobooks. To use Kindle Unlimited, you don’t need an e-reader, just the Kindle app. To take advantage of the two free months, use this link to sign up before the offer expires at 11:59 p.m. PST on April 30. Note that you’ll need to cancel your free trial before the two months are over if you don’t want to be automatically charged $9.99 starting in the third month.

Interested in learning more about Amazon Prime? Click here to sign up for a free 30-day trial to score the free reads and all the Prime Day deals.

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Categories
Budget Travel Packing

10 Underseat Carry-On Bags You Can Take on Any Flight

If you’re worried your carry-on could be gate-checked on your next flight, check out these 10 top-rated underseat carry-on bags. Whether you’re a chronic over-packer or tried-and-true business traveler, there’s an underseat luggage option for every type of flyer.

Samsonite Spinner Underseater with USB PortSamsonite spinner underseater with usb port

This underseat carry-on bag from Samsonite is divided up into two main compartments, one larger section for clothes and shoes and one smaller section for your electronics and other in-flight essentials. This bag also has a USB port (battery not included) so you can charge your phone on the go, as well as 360-degree spinner wheels and a 10-year warranty from Samsonite.

AmazonBasics Underseat Luggage

AmazonBasics underseat luggage

This simple and affordable underseat carry-on bag comes in 10 color options and textures. It’s on the smaller side, weighing less than five pounds. It has more than 1,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, and travelers love it for its value and thoughtful design.

Samsonite Wheeled Underseater

The Samsonite Wheeled Underseater (available in both small and large sizes) is one of the top-rated underseat carry-on bags on Amazon—and for good reason. The difference between the two sizes is a few inches in height, plus about $25.

Both bags have in-line skate wheels and a retractable handle, internal packing compartments, a removable 3-1-1 pouch, a hanging organizer pouch, and a side water bottle pocket. Reviews say both sizes comply with all major domestic carriers for underseat carry-on luggage requirements (and yes, that includes Spirit).

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Aerolite Carry-on Underseat Wheeled Trolley Luggage Bag

Aerolite carry-on underseat wheeled trolley luggage bag

If you’re looking for a compact and lightweight bag that fits under your seat, look no further than Aerolite’s Carry-on Underseat bag. This bag is stylish and has multiple outer zipper compartments for essential travel items, plus a strap to hook over a larger suitcase. Both styles meet the underseat carry-on luggage requirements on American, Delta, Southwest, United, and Frontier.

Travelon Wheeled Underseat Carry-on Bag

Travelon makes an anti-theft underseat carry-on bag that fits a decent amount in the main compartment and has a retractable handle. It has an RFID-blocking pocket for cards, technology pockets, a laptop sleeve, and locking zippers to prevent theft.

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Travelpro Maxlite5 Rolling Tote

Travelpro luggage maxlite5 rolling tote

The Travelpro Maxlite5 Rolling Tote is the perfect investment if you’re looking for a long-term and durable carry-on bag that fits under your seat. It comes with Travelpro’s lifetime warranty and has a water- and stain-resistant coating. Reviews note how much fits inside despite the bag’s small size. It has plenty of pockets to keep you organized.

Olympia Deluxe Fashion Rolling Overnighter

Olympia deluxe fashion rolling overnighter

This Olympia Rolling Overnighter is perfect for business travelers who are looking for a carry-on bag that fits under the seat. It is extremely durable and can handle items like folders, binders, and laptops. It has a separate padded laptop compartment and a roomy main compartment, as well as a front zipper pocket and two side Velcro pockets. Available in five colors, it has an option for every kind of traveler.

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Lucas Wheeled Under the Seat Cabin Bag

LUCAS 16" wheeled underseat cabin bag

This top-rated bag on Amazon is great for travelers who are super organized packers. The Lucas Wheeled Under the Seat Cabin Bag has a large main compartment with a zippered fold-down flap for organizing items. The bag also comes with a hanging toiletry case, travel slippers, and a travel neck pouch. It’s on the larger side, so if you’re an over-packer, this is a great piece of underseat carry-on luggage.

Some reviews say the bag doesn’t always fit under an aisle seat, so be wary when selecting your seat on some airlines. Read the SmarterTravel review on the Lucas Wheeled Under the Seat Cabin Bag here.

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Delsey Quilted Rolling Underseat Tote

Delsey quilted rolling underseat tote

The Delsey Quilted Rolling Underseat Tote has a roomy main compartment coupled with lots of interior and exterior pockets for organization. It’s also a stylish, rolling carry-on bag that fits under your seat and has two shoulder straps as well as a sleeve on the back so it can attach to a larger suitcase.

High Sierra Endeavor Wheeled Underseat Carry-On

High sierra endeavor wheeled underseat carry-on

The High Sierra Endeavor underseat carry-on bag has superior organization features as well as extras like an expandable zippered side shoe pocket, a fully padded laptop compartment, and a mesh beverage pocket. The in-line wheels don’t take up precious space either, so this underseat bag is larger than most.

What to Pack in Your Underseat Carry-on Bag

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016. It has been updated to reflect the most current information. Codey Albers contributed to this story.

Categories
At Home Fashion & Beauty

The Best Products for Stress-Free Nighttime and Morning Routines

There’s no better time than now to invest in your self-care routine. For the most part, each of these steps can easily be replicated while traveling, and most products are available in TSA-compliant sizes.

Products That’ll Improve Your Morning Routine

Start your day off on the right foot with a healthy meal and an energy boost. Here are some of my favorite breakfast products.

Next, rejuvenate your skin with these morning routine skincare essentials. All of the below are unisex bath, body, and face products like deodorants, facial cleansers, and deodorants.

Depending on your personal preference, your hair and beauty morning routine might be more refined, but I like to stick to these staples. Depending on how my hair decides to look, I’ll either calm it down with oil or spruce it up with dry shampoo.

Products That’ll Improve Your Nighttime Routine

Relax both your mind and body as you start to wind down your day. I like to have a cup of tea while reading or doing a few light yoga poses.

Your skin repairs itself while you sleep, so make sure you help nurture it with serums, masks, and moisturizers.

Personally, I think comfortable sleepwear is the ultimate sleep inducer. Here are my favorite PJs and what’s on my bed that makes it uber-comfy.

Last step? Some dreamy meditation music or an adult bedtime story. Thankfully, we just launched Virtual Vacations, a series of dreamy audio tours of some of our favorite destinations. Tune in and drift off …

Our favorite products to improve your morning and nightly routines:

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Want to share your thoughts on this article? Have other travel ideas you want the world to know? Join the conversation with us on our social channels: SmarterTravel on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@SmarterTravel).

Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

Working From Home? Make it Comfy

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Categories
Active Travel At Home Outdoors Trip Ideas

Explore the Great Indoors: Virtual Hikes and Natural Wonders You Can See at Home

The world remains a big and beautiful place, even when we’re not out there enjoying it. Whether you have a treadmill at home or are just walking circles around your living room, grab your fitness tracker and start earning steps with these virtual hikes from around the world.

See the World with 360° Video

You could spend days exploring Air Pano’s hundreds of panoramic videos of landscapes as varied as Patagonia and the Sahara Desert. This is the perfect way to go couch-trekking in Bhutan and kitchen-table exploring in the Caribbean. Explore while running on a treadmill to take your own virtual hike. 

Transport Yourself with 4K Virtual Outdoor Hikes

The 4K Relaxation Channel on YouTube has become one of our favorites during this stay-at-home period, and the playlist for virtual hikes has over 45 videos. Transport yourself to Lithuania, Washington State, Hawaii, and more for your next virtual hike.

Stake Out to See the Aurora Borealis – Northern Lights

Add watching for the Northern Lights to your daily “quaran-tine.” Explore.org’s live cam is set up in Churchill, Manitoba, which is directly beneath the aurora oval. While the peak season ends in March, you might get lucky to see them in early April.

Walk the Camino de Santiago at Home

Hundreds of thousands walk “the Camino” in Spain each year, and while many are unable to this spring and summer, the tour operator Duperier’s Authentic Journeys is bringing the experience to your home with its Facebook group. Track your own walks as if you were going on the pilgrimage and share photos of the experience if you’ve done it before.

Cherry Blossoms Around the World with Google Earth

mt fuji in the spring

See spring cherry blossoms bloom from home with Google Earth’s imagery from 10 sites around the world. From Japan to Brazil, stream this on your TV and picture yourself reading on a park bench.

Costa Rica’s Volcanoes with Google Earth

Arenal volcano in clouds Costa Rica.

See five of the country’s volcanoes up close and personal with Google Earth footage: Arenal Volcano (don’t miss the nearby waterfalls), Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, Poas Volcano, Irazu Volcano, and Miravalles Volcano.

See the Faroe Islands with a Local Faroese

faroe islands remote experience video control

This virtual experience is more like a video game, and it’s pretty incredible. The Faroe Islands have outdone themselves with this online experience, which lets you control a live experience. The live tours are set at specific times and locally-based volunteers roam around with a live camera attached to them. Each trip is about an hour-long and viewers have one-minute each to control what they do.

Hike France’s Countryside

Explore France, and learn French while you’re at it, with this series on YouTube. There are three seasons that will take you from the Loire Valley to the Alps, and beyond, to tiny villages deep in the countryside. At seven minutes each, these are the perfect backdrop for a quick treadmill jog or language lesson.

Explore Machu Picchu

Experience what it’s like to view Machu Picchu from all its angles with this interactive, panoramic view of the famed ancient site. Learn more about Peru and other South American sites, with an online course with an archeologist and explorer.

South Africa National Parks with Google Street View

family destination winner south africa

Discover South Africa through its national parks and reserves on Google. There are over 170 trails to explore in all of the country’s 19 national parks and 17 nature reserves, including tourist attractions like Kruger National Park, Table Mountain, and Cape Point.

U.S. National Parks with Google Earth and Live Cams

acadia national park autumn.

With Google’s latest technology, you can explore over 32 national parks and DIY your own virtual hike. From the Grand Canyon to Acadia or the Badlands, virtually explore U.S. natural wonders without the crowds.

Yellowstone National park alone has nine different webcams for your viewing pleasure. Watch Old Faithful via a live stream with helpful predictions on timed eruptions and more. Read more about other national park webcams, here.

And don’t forget state parks! You can take an online course with a travel journalist and writer about 24 of the nation’s best state parks and help plan your next domestic vacation.

VR Hike

Started by two high schoolers, this website has external links of virtual hikes you can take across the U.S. with its partners: HikingGuy, Treadmill TV, and Nature Calls. Search hikes via the interactive map feature. (Don’t miss out on the Hawaii trails.)

Virtual Hikes for Treadmills

Transport yourself to Alberta, Oregon, or even a giant Redwood grove forest with Tall Sky Walker’s virtual hikes playlist on YouTube. Whether you want a 15-minute or hour-long hike, jog, or walk, you’ll find a relaxing virtual hike for you.

Pro Tip: Use the settings tool on YouTube to speed up or slow down the playback speed to go at your own pace.

Trek the Appalachian Trail with Walk the Distance

Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park

This activity tracker app uses the steps recorded in your phone’s Health app and puts them towards walking a selected route. Virtually hike the Appalachian Trail, national parks, or cities; or run a virtual marathon. Currently, the app is free during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World’s Oceans

Missing out on your beach vacation? Explore the world’s magical oceans with underwater Street View imagery through Google. See sea lions in the Galapagos, coral reefs in Bermuda, and shipwrecks in the Florida Keys.

Take your learning a bit further and take a journey to the polar regions with a National Geographic-led online course.

Share Your Virtual Vacation or Travel Inspiration with Us:

Are you itching to travel? So are we … that’s why we started the #GoLater campaign on social media. We want to see which destinations YOU are dreaming of. Head over to our Instagram channel (@smartertravel) to learn more. 

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Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

Our Favorite National Park-Inspired Buys

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Arts & Culture At Home

20 Binge-Worthy Shows on Popular Streaming Services

No more excuses for “having nothing to watch”. We’ve rounded up the most binge-worthy shows on popular streaming services to help keep you entertained while stuck at home.

The Best Shows to Binge Watch on Hulu

We love Hulu for its variety of shows, affordable pricing, and integration with cable networks: You can get a streaming bundle package with ESPN, Hulu, and Disney+ for under $15 per month. Right now, Hulu is offering a free 30-day trial.

Here are our picks for the best binge-worthy shows on Hulu:

Little Fires Everywhere

little fires everywhere tv show.

The new series adapted from the best-selling novel (of the same name) features two megastars—Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington— as the main characters. All it takes is one episode to get hooked. New episodes air every Wednesday. Tip: Read the e-book first if you’re really looking to kill some time.

Shrill

shrill tv show.

You’ll quickly fall in love with this comedy starring SNL’s Aidy Bryant. There are two seasons available to binge, totaling 14 episodes.

Family-Friendly Pick: Steven Universe

steven universe tv show.

Kids and parents will love this animated coming-of-age story from Cartoon Network. All four season (126 episodes are available to stream).

Travel Pick: Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations

anthony bourdain no reservations tv show.

No binge-able TV show roundup from a travel website can omit an Anthony Bourdain show. Seasons seven and eight of fan-favorite No Reservations are available on Hulu.

The Best Shows to Binge Watch on Netflix

Netflix’s original content can’t be beat, and the streaming network gets bonus points for its incredible culinary content. Netflix is currently offering a free 30-day trial.

Here are our top binge-worthy shows on Netflix:

Ozark

ozark tv show

Transport yourself to the mysterious and gloomy world that is the Lake of the Ozarks. Netflix just released the third season of this original drama, so you have 30 episodes to binge.

Schitt’s Creek

schitts creek tv show.

If you’re in need of a pick-me-up comedy during this time, Schitt’s Creek is the perfect fit. There are five seasons currently on Netflix, and the sixth is currently airing on Comedy Central and Pop networks.

Family-Friendly Pick: The Big Family Cooking Showdown

big family cooking showdown tv show.

This family-oriented cooking competition comes from the BBC. Binge two seasons of heated fun on Netflix.

Travel Pick: Ugly Delicious

ugly delicious tv show.

Binge this documentary series on Netflix with James Beard Award-winning host, David Chang. Each episode takes you on a culinary journey and explores how a well-known food dish is made around the world. There are two seasons available to binge.

The Best Shows to Binge Watch on Amazon Prime Video

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you have free and immediate access to original Amazon Prime Video content and you can link up other networks, like Showtime, Cinemax, HBO, and more to your account with Amazon Channels. You can also try Prime free for 30 days. 

Here are our favorite binge-able shows on Prime Video right now:

The Widow

the widow tv show.

Fans of Jack Ryan will love this thriller series with the lead character, Georgia, played by Kate Beckinsale. Based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the show takes you on a series of twists and turns as Georgia searches for her presumed-dead husband.

Family-Friendly Pick: Just Add Magic

just add magic tv show.

Mystery follows when three friends discover a magical cookbook. Follow along for the three seasons, currently on Prime Video.

The Best Shows to Binge Watch on Disney+

If you’re a Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, or National Geographic fan, then this is the streaming service for you. With Disney+ you get access to full collections from each brand and franchise for your binging pleasure. Don’t forget, you can save on a bundle package that includes ESPN, Hulu, and Disney+ for under $15 per month.

Here are our favorite TV shows to binge on Disney+:

Travel Pick: Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted

gordan ramsey uncharted tv show.

Explore the world with famed and outspoken chef Gordan Ramsay as he explores destinations like Peru, Alaska, New Zealand, and Hawaii through food in season one.

Travel Pick: Lost Cities with Albert Lin

lost cities with albert lin.

Channel your inner archeologist with this incredible docuseries, streaming on Disney+. Explore ancient ruins and landscapes with 3D-scanning and other hi-tech technologies and transport yourself to another world with a captivating National Geographic host.

The Best Shows to Binge Watch on HBO Now

HBO perhaps created the concept of binging, bringing you classic series like Sex and the City and The Sopranos long before other networks. Check out old favorites and new series with HBO’s streaming service. Thankfully, HBO is streaming hundreds of episodes for free right now.

Our favorite shows to binge watch from HBO:

The Wire

the wire tv show.

For those that didn’t get a chance to watch this fascinating series air the first time around, you can binge all five seasons for free with HBO Now. Set in Baltimore, this crime drama was created by a former police reporter.

Westworld

Currently in its third season, Westworld keeps you wanting more as it transports you to an alternate universe and an amusement park filled with robotic characters where you can live out your wildest dreams without consequence … or so it seems. The show is an adaptation of the 1973 movie, and features a recognizable and award-winning cast.

The Best Shows to Binge Watch on CBS All Access

Watch live TV, stream thousands of network episodes, and gain access to original content with a CBS All Access pass. You can even try it free for 30 days right now.

The Good Fight

the good fight tv show.

This three-season series is the first original scripted show for CBS’s All Access streaming service. The legal drama is spin-off sequel to the hit TV-series, The Good Wife (so binge that first if you haven’t seen it already). Catch up now as season four is set to premiere soon.

Star Trek: Discovery

star trek discovery tv show.

Created specifically for this streaming service, Star Trek: Discovery is the first series in the franchise to air since 2005. Set about a decade before the original series, it’s a fun TV show to binge for both those new to the franchise and die-hard fans. There are currently two seasons available to binge with a third expected this year.

The Best Shows to Binge Watch on Apple TV+

If you’re loyal to your Apple TV, then you most likely have access to a free month of Apple’s streaming service. For non-Apple TV users you can easily access these original shows with the Apple TV app to stream on your devices, and try a free seven-day trial.

Here are binge-able TV shows on Apple TV+:

For All Mankind

for all mankind tv show.

If you’re a fan of history and outer space, then this original TV series is for you. The show takes place as if the great “space race” never ended. Currently, there’s one season available to binge.

Oprah’s Book Club

oprahs book club tv show.

Oprah’s binge-able TV show really will help time fly by. Read the book for each episode and then watch Oprah interview the author and facilitate conversations about each novel.

The Best Episodes to Binge Watch on Masterclass

Ever wanted to take guitar lessons from a rock star, a business course from the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or a cooking class from a Michelin-star chef? With a Masterclass membership you gain access to hundreds of courses taught by celebrities and professions ranging from Steph Curry to Natalie Portman.

Here are a few standout lessons on Masterclass to binge:

Martin Scorsese Teaches Filmmaking

martin scorcese master class.

Get a personal look at Martin Scorsese’s inner mind with this series of 30 lessons (about 12 minutes each) that range in topics from working with actors to production design. You’ll also get a downloadable workbook after.

Steve Martin Teaches Comedy

steve martin master class.

Learn a new skill, like comedy, with this series of 12 lessons (at 12-minutes each) by Steve Martin. From tips and tricks on how to start your act to writing faux paus, the lessons themselves are pure comedy

How to Stream New Movies

Movie-buffs, we didn’t forget about you. While movie theatres might be closed, you can still watch new releases from the comfort of your couch.

Prime Video is offering members the ability to purchase “Early Access” movies that would normally be showing in theatres, starting at $20.

In addition to offering TV shows to rent or purchase, Fandango Now is releasing “Home Premieres” as well as a selection of movies that are direct from theatres.

More from SmarterTravel:

Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

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Active Travel Adventure Travel Fashion & Beauty Health & Wellness Outdoors Packing Travel Technology Travel Trends Women's Travel

10 Best Workout Clothes and Tools for Travel and Home

Finding the motivation to work out while on vacation is no easy feat. I try and stick to my normal exercise routine as much as I can while I travel, and this list of the 10 best workout clothes and tools helps me stay in shape on the road—and at home between trips.

Vi Headphones and Fitness Tracker

Say goodbye to tangled headphones, wearing a Fitbit, and paying for expensive fitness-tracking apps—the Vi headphones and corresponding app are the ultimate travel workout companion. With a variety of earbud sizes and clips, these wireless headphones are comfortable and won’t fall out once you get the right size.

If you run outdoors at home and on the road, the Vi Fitness app is a great way to track your runs and mileage. Hikers and cyclers can also benefit from the activity tracker. Dubbed a “personal trainer,” the activity monitor tracks things like speed, heart rate, and distance. It also adapts to your fitness level and personalizes workouts. Plus, the app links to your favorite music streaming service.

Takeya Water Bottle

A reusable water bottle is an essential workout item for travelers, and I especially love Takeya’s insulated stainless water bottles. The handle is great for travel, since you can hook it onto the outside of any bag, and it’s easy to carry around the gym. The double-wall vacuum insulation keeps water cold for hours, and the narrow mouth is great for grabbing a quick sip mid-workout.

Zella Live In High Waisted Leggings

Built from moisture-wicking fabric and fitted with a no-slip waistband, these stretchy, figure-sculpting leggings keep you cool as your workout warms up. They’re comfy enough to wear in other situations as well, including on the plane or while working from home.

Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Wipes

Don’t forget one of the most important things to do after working out, even on vacation: taking care of your skin. I am obsessed with these facial cleansing wipes from Burt’s Bees for a post-workout refresh. Whether you don’t have time to hit the shower or you need some immediate rejuvenation, these wipes, made from white tea extract, cucumber, and aloe, are a must. I even use them over my whole body sometimes if I need to skip a shower.

Adidas by Stella McCartney Sports Bra

This mesh-backed sports bra is one of the best workout clothes you can travel with because it doubles as a bathing suit top. The full coverage bra is quick-drying and moisture-wicking, so it won’t stink or stay wet for long after sweating or swimming.

 

Nike Dri Fit Head Tie

Nike makes a great moisture-wicking headband that fits any head size. I typically find myself shifting any sort of headband during a workout because it sits too far forward or back—but you won’t have that problem with this one because it ties.

L.L.Bean Coolmax Nano Glide Multisport Socks

I swear by L.L.Bean socks (with styles for both men and women) for working out. The quick-drying, breathable fabric and thoughtful cushioning on these moisture-wicking socks will keep your feet cool and dry during any activity. These socks are also designed to reduce friction inside your shoe to prevent blisters.

Hoka Bondi 6 Running Shoes

I always travel with my Hoka Bondi 6’s, because I can wear them to the airport with a travel outfit or put them into my carry-on, where they don’t take up too much room. These shoes (available for men and women) are extremely flexible and comfortable for workouts and provide incredible sole support; that’s actually part of Hoka’s mission as a shoe company.

Salomon Agile 250 Running Belt Pack

I cannot say enough how much I love this running belt pack from Salomon. It miraculously fits a phone, keys, and some cash or cards. It doesn’t move while running, and I’ve worn it for stationary workouts as well to hold my phone. It takes up zero room in your suitcase and helps make your workouts annoying armband-free.

[st_related]25 Things to Make Working Out on Vacation More Fun[/st_related]

Lululemon Break a Trail Jacket

This Trail Jacket from Lululemon is an ideal choice for hikers and others who love to exercise outdoors. The fabric is both water-repellent and wind-resistant, so the jacket will hold up in any climate. The hood is designed not to bounce when you move, and there are vents in the fabric so you don’t overheat. There’s even a hidden pocket for your phone.

More from SmarterTravel:

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information. Codey Albers contributed to this story.

Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product.

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Travel Technology

The Best Travel-Friendly Cases for the New iPhone 11 Models

With the release of the three latest iPhone 11 models, we rounded up the best cases you can get for the new buzzed-about phone. This iPhone update might be the best yet for travelers, as the new and improved camera systems are great for mobile photo and video shooting while on vacation. Plus, these models are supposed to have much longer battery life and are splash-, dust-, and water-resistant. So, if you’re investing in the latest phone craze, make sure you protect it with a travel-friendly case.

Otterbox Cases for iPhone 11, 11 Pro, & 11 Pro Max

iphone 11 cases.

Otterbox has already released new cases for most of its already-popular lines like Commuter, Defender, Symmetry, Viva, and more for the new iPhone 11 models. The Otter + Pop series offers both standout protection and a secure grip that’s built in. Or, combine your wallet with your phone case with one of Otterbox’s tough but slim folio cases. No matter which case you choose, pair it with the ultra-strong Amplify Glass Edge-2-Edge Screen Protector which covers every inch of your phone’s fragile screen.

Incipio Stashback 2.0 Case

Incipio Stashback 2.0

Incipio’s Stashback 2.0 case slides down to reveal a secret storage space that can hold up to three cards or cash. The case itself is made from a slim, shock-absorbing material that will protect against any drops.

Lifeproof Cases for iPhone 11, 11 Pro, & 11 Pro Max

iphone 11 cases.

Lifeproof’s Flip case has a hidden back panel with two card slots plus a cash pocket. This rugged yet slim case will protect your phone, but won’t interfere with mobile payments or wireless charging. Looking for a simpler phone case? Lifeproof has a wide variety of options for all models of the iPhone 11, from minimalist to colorful. 

Ekster Cases for iPhone 11 & 11 Pro

iphone 11 cases.

Get your hands on one of the sleekest wallet phone cases out there for your new iPhone. Ekster’s leather wallet cases can hold one card and some cash.

Casetify Cases for iPhone 11, 11 Pro, & 11 Pro Max

iphone 11 cases.

New iPhone model cases are available now in the brand’s fun prints. Casetify has up to 9-foot drop protection, so these cases are durable for travelers.

[st_related]12 Best Travel Gadgets for Any Trip in 2020[/st_related]

Grip2u Cases for iPhone 11, 11 Pro, & 11 Pro Max

iphone 11 cases.

Grip2u’s multi-functional cases are available for all three new models. The case has a built-in grip handle and some models also have a built-in kickstand. I use this case on my older iPhone model and most definitely will be purchasing this case with my upgrade.

Nomad Cases for iPhone 11, 11 Pro, & 11 Pro Max

iphone 11 cases.

For rugged toughness, look no further than Nomad’s new iPhone cases. Available in all three new models, these cases are tough and come in a variety of wallet options.

smartish Cases for iPhone 11, 11 Pro, & 11 Pro Max

iphone 11 cases.

These affordable cases are available in plenty of travel-friendly options: crossbody cases, wallets, and more.

[st_related]10 Cheap Travel Gadgets Under $20 That Are Surprisingly Useful[/st_related]

Zagg Brands’ Cases for iPhone 11, 11 Pro, & 11 Pro Max

iphone 11 cases.

For all of the new accessories and cases you’ll need for the latest iPhone, check out Zagg brands which have everything from shatterproof screen protectors to innovative cases. Always running out of phone battery? Invest in the mophie juice pack, a case with a built-in battery.

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Fashion & Beauty Outdoors

The Best Walking and Running Gear

We’ve rounded up the best walking and running gear for people who are finding themselves working out outside more than in the gym these days. Read on for our top brand picks in running gear and walking gear, including everything from leggings to water bottles.

The Best Leggings for Workouts: Outdoor Voices TechSweat Leggings

Outdoor Voices TechSweat Leggings.

Cult-favorite workout brand Outdoor Voices takes the cake for the best leggings for walking and running gear with its TechSweat leggings line. Available in two different waistband styles—Core Band and Flex Band—you choose among different comfort options. Both have pockets to hold phones and things like snacks, dog treats, or keys.

The Best Sneakers/Trainers for Workouts: On Running Cloud

On Running Cloud sneaker.

Use On Running’s shoe finder to find the perfect sneaker or trainer for your walking and running needs. The signature lightweight styles are also available in waterproof materials, which is ideal for temperamental spring weather. I trained for the Boston Marathon in these and can attest to their superior comfort and support.

The Best Hiking Shoe: Vasque Clarion ’88 GTX

For those hitting the trails, look no further than Vasque’s heavy-duty Clarion ’88 GTX styles for men and women. The shoe is waterproof, provides fantastic support, and has superior traction. For those looking for lowcut styles, check out the Breeze III (for women’s sizes) and the Juxt (for men’s sizes).

The Best Hiking Pants: Coalatree Trailhead Pants

Coalatree Trailhead Pants.

Eco-conscious brand Coalatree makes an ultra-useful pair of water-repelling, unisex hiking pants, called the Trailhead pants. Also available in Slim Fit, the pants have plenty of pockets but are lightweight and comfortable enough for everyday wear.

The Best Water-Repelling Gear: Marmot PreCip Lightweight Waterproof Rain Jacket

Marmot PreCip Lightweight Waterproof Rain Jacket.

This lightweight running jacket is ideal for inclement springtime weather. The jacket protects against everything from mist to downpours. The NanoPro technology keeps water out but still allows sweat to escape. The waterproof jacket is available in men’s and women’s sizes.

The Best Day Pack: Osprey Trail Running Packs

Osprey Trail Running Packs.

If you’re headed out for longer runs or walks, we love Osprey’s trail running packs for their functionality, security, and hydration capabilities. For those day hiking or camping, the brand’s line of hiking packs are just as tactical.

The Best Running Accessories: Lululemon

lululemon headband.

Whether it’s a headband, water-repelling hat, foam roller, microfiber towel, or running gloves, Lululemon’s line of accessories is my go-to for running and walking extras.

The Best Layering Tops for Running and Walking: Smartwool

The most important items for walking and running gear are your layering pieces and fabrics. Smartwool is one of our favorite brands for both, as the merino wool fabric is naturally moisture-wicking and temperature-regulating. Any of the 150 base layer tops are ideal walking and running gear.

The Best Socks for Outdoor Workouts: Bombas

bombas athletic socks.

Bombas’ high-performance athletic socks are breathable and moisture-wicking, plus they come in tons of fun colors and patterns to brighten up your exercise routine. Our favorite feature, though, is that the brand donates one pair of socks to homeless shelters for every pair purchased. Shop women’s athletic styles and men’s athletic styles.

The Best Water Bottle for Running and Walking: Bottled Joy

bottled joy water bottle.

The one necessary feature in a water bottle for running or walking? An easy way to hold it. Bottled Joy’s line of water bottles offer handles, wrist straps, or a carabiner hook. All water bottles are BPA-free and affordable.

The Best Sports Bras for Running and Walking: SHEFIT

shefit sports bra.

No matter your size or activity level, you’ll fall in love with SHEFIT’s sports bras. The auto-locking zippers and adjustable straps allow for maximum comfort and styles range from high to medium impact. My favorite part is the zippered front, so you can easily remove the sports bra after your sweat-inducing workout.

More from SmarterTravel:

Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product.

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Travel Technology

How to Keep Your Phone Sanitized: Antimicrobial Phone Cases and Other Accessories

It’s no wonder that some refer to cell phones as a third hand. Think about it, your phone touches everything, and then makes direct contact with your face, so you want to keep your phone as clean as you can. I won’t even get into all of the studies about the number of germs that live on your phone, just know that it’s a lot.

At this time of heightened health and safety warnings, it’s more important than ever to keep your phone clean. Luckily there are phone cases and phone accessories out there to help protect your phone’s surface against damaging microbes.

So, what exactly does it mean for a phone case to be antimicrobial? According to Microban International, a company at the forefront of developing this built-in technology, antimicrobials prevent the “growth and reproduction of harmful bacteria, mold and mildew.” They differ from disinfectants by “[working] to continuously minimize the presence of microbes throughout the entire lifecycle of a product,” according to the brand. Note that the company says antimicrobial technology is not proven to have any antiviral properties.

For the latest health and sanitizing recommendations surrounding COVID-19, check out the CDC and WHO webpages on disinfecting methods.

Phone Cases with Antimicrobial Technology

Speck Presidio Pro

presidio pro

This is my phone case of choice. Not only does it provide superior protection without making the phone too bulky, but it also comes with the antimicrobial technology that still allows for wireless charging.

Otterbox Defender Series Pro

Otterbox Defender Series Pro

Otterbox’s antimicrobial technology uses silver ions to reduce the number of common bacteria that normally lives on a phone’s surface. Plus, it’s a heavy-duty case with drop protection.

Otterbox Amplify Glass

Otterbox Amplify Glass

A glass screen protector with anti-microbial technology by Otterbox, Amplify Glass is set to release in mid-April. Combine this with either of the above phone cases for full-on protection.

StayWell Copper Phone Patch

StayWell Copper Phone Patch

Copper is naturally antimicrobial, and this adhesive copper patch attaches to the back of your cell phone or case to help fight off the spread of germs to your hands when you’re holding your phone. This one, in particular, is made with pure and chemical-free copper.

Other Ways to Keep Your Phone and Touch Screen Clean

HANS Swipe – Clean

HANS Swipe – Clean

This touchscreen cleaner makes it easy to disinfect your phone every day. The cleaning solution on one side is antimicrobial, which thoroughly clean your touch screen, while the polishing side is antibacterial and safe to use on screens.

UV-Cleaning Phone Sanitizers

UV-Cleaning Phone Sanitizers

PhoneSoap’s products use UV-C light to kill bacteria and germs that surface on your cell phone—or other household products like keys, credit cards, and tablets. While many of the brand’s products are currently only available on a pre-order basis, it’s worth investing in one of these phone sanitizing products for your future travels, house, or office. HoMedics also makes a similar version that’s in stock here.

Touch Screen Wipes

Touch Screen Wipes

Another simple way to keep your phone clean is with screen shine wipes. These ones by Whoosh! are in stock and come with an antimicrobial cloth.

Keebos Crossbody Phone Case

Keebos Crossbody Phone Case

Take an extra step in avoiding phone-to-face contact with a crossbody cell phone case. While this one in particular doesn’t have antimicrobial technology, it keeps your phone handy while getting your daily dose of exercise and not touching anything to your face. Plus, by wearing your phone you’re less likely to set it down on a multitude of different surfaces where it can absorb germs.

Is Hand Sanitizer Safe for Your Phone?

While putting any liquid directly on your phone is ill-advised, there are ways to sanitize your phone safely in addition to the above.

AT&T says that “spraying a non-abrasive or alcohol-based (70 percent isopropyl) disinfectant directly on a soft lint-free cloth” is a safe way to sanitize your phone. The telecommunications company also recommends using Bluetooth headphones or a hands-free headset when talking on your phone and to limit passing your phone around to others.

Many people are also wondering if it’s safe to use an alcohol or disinfecting wipe on technology products. According to Apple’s website: “Using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the exterior surfaces of your iPhone. Don’t use bleach. Avoid getting moisture in any openings, and don’t submerge your iPhone in any cleaning agents.” Apple also notes that iPhones have a fingerprint-resistant and oil-repellent coating and that cleaning products may diminish that.

Other industry recommendations include using only lint-free cloth, avoiding directly spraying cleaners on to the item, avoiding excessive wiping, and unplugging any devices while you’re sanitizing.

More from SmarterTravel:

Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product.

Favorite Smartphone Accessories

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These five smartphone essentials will protect and improve how you use your precious phone on the road. Never lose it, break it, or run out of battery life again!

Categories
Packing

The 23 Best Travel Accessories for Type-A Personalities

If you, like me, have a small panic attack at the thought of packing for a trip, then these travel accessories are for you. Not only do they keep your suitcase and items organized, but they’ll also make packing easier for every trip.

The Best Travel Accessories for Stress-Free Packing

Packing Cubes

Pro Packing Cubes, 6-Piece Lightweight Set
Packing Cubes Compression Set

Packing cubes are an overwhelmed traveler’s best friend. They help with outfit organization, folding, and fitting everything in your suitcase. Plus, once at your accommodations, all you have to do is unzip the packing cubes and neatly place their contents in the dresser.

I recommend these two from Amazon:

Pouches

SimpleHouseware Mesh Wash Bag
Rezip Reusable Storage Bag Kit
Lekors Travel Space Saver Compression Bags

Like packing cubes, organizational pouches are great packing hacks for folding and organizing clothes.

You can use good old plastic baggies, or invest in some sturdier, reusable and washable options, like these:

Undergarment Organizer

Origami Unicorn TUO
JJ Power Travel Undergarment Organizer

Undergarments can take up precious packing space, and just throwing them in your suitcase risks damaging or tearing the delicate material.

Here are two travel organizers specifically made for packing undergarments:

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Toiletry Bag

ODESSA Hanging Toiletry Bag
JJ POWER Toiletry Packing Cube Set
Tancendes Waterproof Travel Bag

If you travel with lots of travel-sized beauty and toiletry products, you might want to make sure they stay organized and don’t spill out.

These three travel organizers are ideal for storing and traveling with toiletries:

Electronic Cord Organizer 

JOTO Electronics Organizer
BUBM Electronics Organizer Bag

Every time I take a trip it seems like I’m packing more and more electronics.

To help manage your devices and chargers, I recommend traveling with a cord organizer like one of these:

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Pill Organizers

Silicone Cream Jars Set of 3
LazyMe Weekly Pill Box Set of 3

If you’re traveling with medication, a pill organizer can save space and help keep your medications organized.

These two travel accessories are great for both prescription medication or for a traveler’s first-aid kit:

Passport Wallet

RFID-Blocking Leather Passport Holder
Multi-Purpose RFID-Blocking Travel Passport Wallet
Mygreen Waterproof Document Pouch

Keep your boarding pass, passport, money, cards, and identification all in one place to streamline your time at the airport.

I love these three travel organizer options:

Car Seatback Organizer

Backseat Car Organizer

For busy families and those who take frequent road trips, a seatback organizer is one of the best travel accessories out there:

Laptop Case

Laptop Handbag Sleeve
Mosiso Laptop Tote Bag

Help organize business travel items with a travel organizer laptop case.

These two bags fit everything in one compact space:

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Bags and Luggage

ASA Headphone Nest Bag
Genius Pack Carry-on Spinner
Laptop Backpack

These bags make packing and organizing a breeze:

What to Wear While Traveling This Season

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More from SmarterTravel:

Shop the Best Travel Accessories on Amazon:

Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2018. It has been updated to reflect the most current information. Codey Albers contributed to this story.

Categories
Booking Strategy Budget Travel Money Travel Technology

The 12 Best Budgeting Apps for Travelers

While you’re stuck daydreaming about your next bucket-list vacation, why don’t you get a hold of your finances and make it a reality by first budgeting out your travel expenses? Whether it’s a road trip or international vacation that you’re planning, easily forgettable items like parking fees can add up. That’s why you should use a travel-specific budgeting app to help streamline your costs on your next trip. Here are 12 budget apps to help you plan your expenses.

PocketGuard

PocketGuard App

Link all of your financial accounts and cards to this app, and it will automatically update and categorize your spending in real time. It then tells you what spending money you have with the “in my pocket” feature. It also automatically builds you a spending budget based on income, bills, and the goals you set. It even finds ways to lower some of your monthly bills for you … sign us up.

Download: iOS | Google Play

Tripcoin

Tripcoin

Tripcoin lets you enter in your expenses per day and even works offline. It then processes your spending to give you a spending summary of your trip, which you can export for other uses. This lets you see how much you’re spending on each category of your trip, broken down by day, so you can monitor your vacation expenses in real time.

Download: iOS

Trip Expense Manager

Trip Expense Manager

The Trip Expense Manager app is ideal for large traveling groups that need help planning and monitoring travel expenses. For each trip you take, you can add Google users, a list of places to go, and expenses, and even mark who paid which bill.

Download: Google Play

TravelSpend

TravelSpend

I love TravelSpend for its easy-to-use features and simple design. How it works: You add expenses as they happen (the app works offline and even converts foreign currencies) and the app tracks your spending by total and by day. You can even follow your spending on a map throughout your vacation.

Download: iOS | Google Play

Wally

wally app screenshot

Wally connects to your current financial accounts and tracks your spending so you can get a handle on your cash flow and spending by category. Wally is useful because unlike some of the other budgeting apps, it lets you use private groups for managing trip spending or other budgets. You can even add reminders, notes, lists, documents, and comments.

Download: iOS | Google Play

TripMate

TripMate

Users love TripMate for its simplicity and easy-to-use features, plus it’s all free. This travel expense tracker app lets you create a trip and then add and remove users as needed. You can add expenses, receive a personalized summary, and even get hotel, and other booking-related information.

Download: Google Play

Trail Wallet

trail wallet travel budget app

If you’re looking for a travel-specific budget tool and expense tracker, this is your best bet. Input your expenses into Trail Wallet and the app will split them up based on category so you can get a closer look at your spending. Note that only the first 25 items you enter are free.

Download: iOS

Tricount

Tricount

This travel expense app makes splitting costs a breeze. Simply invite your travel partners to the trip you’ve created on the app, and each person can enter in his or her expenses. Once the trip is over (and all expenses have been entered) you can see who owes whom what amount.

Download: iOS | Google Play

Splitwise

Splitwise

Splitwise is another useful cost-tracking platform that easily lets you split group expenses while traveling. You can split by percentage or shares, and it’s even available in offline mode. It’s great for international trips, too, as the app is available in seven languages and over 100 currencies. Plus, it’s integrated with Venmo and PayPal for easy payback.

Download: iOS | Google Play

Mint

Mint is so much more than just a travel expense app—it connects with all of your bank accounts to give you an overall summary of your cash flow. You can then easily create a budget for different categories, like saving for a vacation.

Download: iOS | Google Play

The BACH

The Bach

For those who have been involved in the planning of a bachelor or bachelorette party, you know the trials and tribulations that come with splitting large group expenses. This app was created specifically for those organizing large group trips and includes building an itinerary, polls, and chat features as well as ways to track payments and bar tabs within your group.

Download: iOS | Google Play

YNAB

YNAB (You Need a Budget)

YNAB (You Need a Budget) is a popular software used for budgeting. While it’s slightly pricey ($84 annually), the positive reviews are endless. On the app version, you can set savings goals and itemize your vaca expenses. There is a free 34-day trial to get you started.

Download: iOS | Google Play

More from SmarterTravel:

Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.