Category Archives: Tep travel blog

5 Essential Travel Apps to Stay Organised on the Road

Knowing what to pack when travelling is important, but have you also thought about what you need to pack your phone with to prepare for your trip? Travel apps can be key tools to help you stay organised and make the most of your travels, wherever you are. To help you with your next trip, here are 5 travel apps that we recommend.

 

TripIt

If you like to keep your itineraries and schedules well-organised as you travel, then TripIt is the ideal companion. Whatever you’ve booked, from flights, accommodation, event tickets, rental car, map routes, and more, TripIt can store it all for you. Once you receive a confirmation email for a booking, you can just forward it to TripIt and it will put everything in one place for you. This makes it so easy to keep track of where you need to be and when. It will also store all your important documents relating to your bookings.

Download TripIt on iOS or Android.

 

Roadtrippers

If you’re heading on a road trip, then this app is for you. You can use Roadtrippers to plan your route, simply by entering your start and end points, and any destinations you’d like to see on the way. If you’re looking for ideas, then the app can help you with that, too. It can give suggestions of nearby sights and attractions based on your route. It can even help you find accommodation and restaurants along the way.

Download Roadtrippers on iOS or Android.

PackPoint

When you’re going on a long trip, it can be hard to know what to pack, especially if you’ll be travelling through changing seasons and destinations. PackPoint is here to help with this. Based on your destinations, the weather forecast, the length of your trip, and the activities you have planned along the way, PackPoint will tell you what you need to pack.

Download PackPoint on iOS or Android.

 

Couchsurfing

If you’re looking for cheap (or free) accommodation on your trip, then Couchsurfing is perfect. You can use this app to pair up with like-minded people offering their couches for travellers and backpackers to crash on for a night or two (or more). This is totally free, and you can check verifications within the app to make sure the situation is safe. Couchsurfing also has information about events and helps you meet up with fellow travellers at your destination.

Download Couchsurfing on iOS or Android.

 

Citymapper

When it comes to getting around a city or travelling from one destination to the next, Citymapper is really useful. It provides you with information and directions about using public transport in the city to get to where you need to be. It covers all transport types – trains, buses, ferries, taxis, Uber, and more. Citymapper is currently available for more than 40 cities, and you can vote for which cities they add next.

Download Citymapper on iOS or Android.

With these 5 organisational apps in your pocket, your next trip is bound to go smoothly, letting you enjoy it rather than stressing out. Make sure you can always access these apps on your travels with pocket WiFi from TEP Wireless.

5 Smartphone Photography Accessories to Improve Your Travel Photos

You see so many amazing sights when you’re travelling that you want to capture it all. But it’s pretty inconvenient to travel around with a bulky camera in your backpack. Plus, walking around a new city with a camera strapped around your neck screams “tourist”. Luckily, smartphone cameras have come a really long way in the last few years.

With a few tweaks of the settings and the addition of the right smartphone photography accessories, you can be taking professional-looking photos right from your phone. Here are some accessories for you to check out…

 

Attachment lenses

One area smartphone cameras still lack in compared to DSLRs is the ability to change the shape, focus, or zoom of the lens, since smartphone lenses are typically fixed. Now, you can attach a range of lenses to your smartphone to enhance the quality of your photos. You’ll find macro lenses, wide-angle lenses, telephotos lenses, and more. Moment and Pixter are good brands to find a smartphone lens that suits you.

 

Waterproof cases

If your travels always involve a dip in the ocean, then a waterproof case or pouch for your smartphone is a must-have. Whether you’re going for a swim or taking part in water sports like surfing, a waterproof case allows you to capture the best moments in and under the water. The JOTO waterproof pouch keeps your phone dry while still allowing you to use its touchscreen and camera functions.

 

Smartphone stands

A stand or tripod for your smartphone helps you with camera stability and taking good quality selfies. Joby’s Gorillapod stands are one of the best examples of this for your smartphone. They mount your phone securely and allow great flexibility for camera angles, allowing you to take stable photos or set your timer for great selfies so you don’t have to ask strangers to do it for you.

 

LED light attachment

Night time photos are another big limitation for most smartphone cameras. The flash and lighting settings available often don’t cut it, especially for distant subjects. There are a couple of different options for improving this. One option is a light-up phone case, like this LuMee Duo one with front and back facing LED lights. Or you could attach a light to your smartphone, like this one from Bower. Attach this to your phone and set its brightness level to suit the subject you’re capturing.

 

Gimbal

Here’s another great accessory for stabilising your phone when shooting photos or videos. Smartphone gimbals allow full range of motion when panning, tilting, and tracking to focus on your subject. This is especially great for shooting videos of moving subjects or panning across landscapes for fantastic panorama shots. A gimbal is the perfect accessory for smooth, quality videos from your smartphone.

 

Being limited to a smartphone camera doesn’t have to mean poor-quality travel photos anymore, especially when you employ the help of the smartphone photography accessories listed here. If you need reliable WiFi to share your travel photos abroad, then Teppy from TEP Wireless is another great tool to have with you.

Digital Nomad Interviews: Nat and Rob Cadore of Love and Road Travel Blog

Today, we sat down with Nat and Rob Cadore of Love and Road, a travel blog of a couple who are adventuring all over the world. They’ve been together for about nine years and have been through a lot of things: travels, parties, family problems, job problems, parties, more travels, dreams, realizations, more parties — so many things that made their partnership stronger and stronger. At the beginning of 2014, they decided to quit their jobs, sell their stuff, pack their bags and hit the road again!

Nat and Rob are full-time digital nomads and today, they will be sharing their life while working on the road! If you have questions for them, feel free to leave a comment below!

What was your life like before being a digital nomad?

 

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We used to have a pretty normal and good life in Brazil. Rob worked for 15 years in big corporations on foreign trade and logistics, and I used to run my own business. Life was on track, we built our house, we got married, Rob got promoted… but something was missing. To make a long story short, back in 2007 we moved to Ireland to study and work, during those 2 years we traveled around Europe and fall in love with a life on the road. When we got back to Brazil life was good, but our feet kept itching, and the only solution we found was to sell everything and hit the road. But this time we planed an adventure without a fixed destination neither time to stop.

When did you start being a Digital Nomad? 

Our nomadic life started on April 24th, 2014. It has been 5 years that we created a new lifestyle and a new business for us. We wanted the freedom to travel, be able to work on our own pace and projects, that’s how Love and Road was born. I’m a journalist who loves to tell stories, Rob is a super business orientated and avid planner, we joined our best assets to become digital nomads.

It wasn’t an easy decision. The first step was hard, but soon things started falling into place. Before hitting the road we sold everything we had to build up our saving so we could have money for one year of travels. During the first year, we had to make our business profitable, to be able to keep traveling. With ups and downs, we made it, and when I look back I’m sure this was the best decision ever.

Describe your typical ‘work day’ as a Digital Nomad

Our nomad life is usually divided in two scenarios: when we are based in a place for more than a month, and when we are full time traveling.

When we are traveling our routine is a mess. During the day we are out exploring the destinations, collecting information and taking photos. At night we stay awake until late posting on Social Media, answering emails and planning the next day itinerary. Usually, we do a maximum of 3 months of intensive traveling, then we need to stop and have a proper base to rest and create content.

After all the traveling we settle for a while, we need a place to call home and to sit in front of the computer for endless hours. But that’s the time when we can have a proper routine. Gym every morning, healthy food and tons of content to produce for the blog, photos to edit and more social media posts to share.

Tell us the top 5 things you can’t live without as a digital nomad?

Our computers, our hard drives, Tep wireless, phone, and camera. As content creators, we can’t live without our equipment. Rob has a huge bag of electronics, photo equipment, and hard drives and I need my computer to publish our stories.

We also need internet on a 24/7 basis so we can keep the blog running. When we started it was way harder to buy SIM cards or to have wireless internet everywhere. Thank God things have changed, sometimes the connection is not that strong or fast, but now we can find internet almost everywhere.

What’s your favorite part of being a digital nomad?

The freedom to work from anywhere. I believe we do work more hours now than back in Brazil, but the freedom to do what we love, to be able to discover the world and meet awesome people on the way is priceless.

What’s the hardest part of being a digital nomad?

Is to keep a routine, especially towards exercising and eating well. Every time we change destinations we have to adapt our bodies and routine to new weather, new cuisine, costumes, new place… The freedom of travel is what motivates us, but it’s also a physical challenge.

On the entrepreneur side, as we work for ourselves and I tend to be a bit workaholic, sometimes it’s hard to find the balance between life, work, fun.

Where are you currently based and what are your future travel plans?

Right now we are living in Bangkok, Thailand ( we love this country). For the past years, we have been spending 6 months in Europe (summer time) and six months in Southeast Asia, using Thailand as our base. But things are about to change, for the first time we are thinking to stay in Europe for longer. End of May we are flying to Europe and this time we don’t have plans to leave, so we’ll probably stick around for summer and winter.

What are your tips for Digital Nomads if ever they are in a city without reliable WiFi?

Get a Tep Wireless! If you need internet 24/7 you must have pocket wifi with you. Second, is to buy a local SIM card, sometimes is hard to get the correct information because of the language barrier, but you can find reasonable data packages almost everywhere.

Another tip is to be part of digital nomad communities or apps where you can find cafes or coworking spaces. I like Workfrom and Flexpackrz, we have used them to find places with wifi in Europe and Asia.

How does Tep Wireless help you as a Digital Nomad?

Tep Wireless has saved our lives a couple of times. We always have it on our backpack even if we have local SIM cards or if we are staying in a hotel with good wifi. Because of it’s portable and easy to connect we used it a couple of time to do live videos on Facebook and Instagram while exploring a destination. I remember in Taiwan, we were cycling the island east coast and Tep was the only device that had wifi signal during the whole trip and as we could connect up to 5 people we could share it with other cyclists.

Also, every time we arrive in a new destination, we know we can have internet before arriving at a hotel or buying a local SIM card, no more stress about how to get around, call a Uber or use Google maps offline.

6 Best Viewpoints in Athens of the Acropolis (Including 1 Secret Location)

If you want to capture the best selfie while travelling to Athens, Greece this summer, then look no further.

This rocky outcrop has been at the heart of human civilisation as far back as the 4th millennium BC. The most iconic structure on the peak, the Parthenon, was completed in 438 BC as a symbol of the Athenian Empire’s power and victory over Persian invaders. Today it’s considered to be one of the most important surviving buildings of Classical Greece and one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments.

Here’s the places to visit to get the best view of the Acropolis:

 

Greek Flagpole

Athens 105 58, Greece | Paid

This observation deck is probably the most iconic close-up view of the Parthenon. In addition, the panoramic view over the city of Athens is worthy of a Greek god. Entry to the hill requires a €20 ticket. Get here early in the day, around 8am, to avoid the crowds.


Areopagus Hill

Theorias 21, Athina 105 55, Greece | Free

This rocky outcrop near the Acropolis served as a court in ancient Greece, and thanks to Instagram draws thousands of selfie aficionados each day. This angle captures a perfect perspective of the Propylaea and Temple of Athena Nike. Get here at sunrise for the best silhouette over the Acropolis or just before sunset to see the Acropolis light up in a golden hue. Note: 2 flights of stairs must be climbed to reach the summit and the surface is uneven so exercise caution.


Observatorio

Ethniki Odos 3 2, Thiva 322 00, Greece | Free

This viewpoint (known as the “Observatory”) on Filopappou Hill receives far fewer visitors – usually is completely empty – yet boasts even better views than Areopagus Hill. Half an hour before sunset on a clear day is the best time to view. Note: the short yet steep access path can only be reached on foot. In addition to this point, a 2-minute walk southeast will lead to the barren area known as the Pnyx which offers even more space and a beautiful sea of green trees in the foreground.

Shot near the Pnyx.


A for Athens

Miaouli 2, Athina 105 54, Greece | Paid

If you prefer a drink with your view, then this enclosed rooftop restaurant and bar is one of the best views of the Acropolis, plus it overlooks Monastiraki Square. It can get very busy so make a reservation ahead of time to score one of the best seats. Late afternoon is the best time to soak the amber glow from the iconic hill. While access to the bar is free, it is expected that visitors will purchase drinks or food.


360 Cocktail Bar

Ifestou 2, Athina 105 55, Greece | Paid

Located across the road from A for Athens, this larger, leafy open-aired rooftop bar has more space and a wider range of drinks. Best enjoyed after dark.


Lycabettus Hill

Athens 114 71, Greece | Free

This is probably one of the most popular viewpoints in Athens. At an elevation of 277 m, it is the highest point in the city. The viewing platform gets very busy around 1 hour before sunset so get here early to stake your spot. While it’s free to access on foot (about a 20-minute hike from the base) you can also drive/taxi to the parking lot for a shorter climb or take the paid cable car. A restaurant/bar is located at the peak, aptly named Sky Bar.


Strefi Hill (secret location!)

Exarcheia, Athens 114 73, Greece | Free

Almost no one knows about this amazing viewpoint over Athens, even many locals. It has to be one of the best, and most beautiful to climb, surrounded by trees. A dirt path winds from the north side of the nearby outdoor basketball court up the steep slope. And you’re guaranteed to have the view all to yourself. Best enjoyed before late morning.


Don’t keep the best viewpoints in Athens all to yourself… share your vacation photos on social media anytime with a Teppy from TEP Wireless.

7 Ways to Secure Your iPhone While Travelling

Your iPhone is a prized possession. Not only did it likely cost you a lot of money, but it also contains private information and all your travel photos that you want to keep safe. So, you’ll want to keep your phone and, more importantly, everything it contains secure while you travel.

Here are our top 7 tips for securing your iPhone while you travel.

Password protection

If your iPhone isn’t already password protected, then make sure to set this up before you travel. Whether it’s a pin, a password, a fingerprint, or facial recognition, make sure a thief can’t get into your phone easily. If your phone is unfortunately stolen or lost while you’re away, then this will help to keep your data safe.

Choosing a secure password on your phone makes all the difference.

Avoid open WiFi networks

When you connect to a public WiFi network, there’s always a risk that someone else accessing the network could hack into your connected device. When the network is open – i.e. it doesn’t require a password – this risk is even greater. On an open WiFi, all your passwords, bank details, and other private data could be at risk. When looking for WiFi while you travel, try to stick to private networks and password protected ones. Even better, you could travel with your own portable Wi-Fi hotspot to stay on your own private network.

Use a VPN

Another way to protect your smartphone data when connected to public WiFi is with a VPN. These can be used to hide or protect your data while you browse. They can also hide or alter your IP address to make your location unknown. Here’s a roundup of the best VPN apps to secure your iPhone.

Watch what you do on public WiFi

If you do connect to a public WiFi without any additional lines of defence, then be wary about your activity. Regular browsing can be fine, but try to avoid accessing sensitive data, like checking your bank account or making a payment.

Public WiFi networks are an easy entry point for hackers.

Switch off your Bluetooth

It can be easy to forget about, but leaving your Bluetooth switched on could provide hackers a direct path into your iPhone. If someone knows what they’re doing, then they could use your Bluetooth signal to access your phone and its data without you even realising it. Don’t take the risk, and make sure you keep it switched off.

Be vigilant

Another risk for your phone while travelling is pickpocketing. Criminals tend to target the big tourist hotspots, where it’s so busy you wouldn’t think twice of someone “accidentally” bumping into you. Next thing you know, your phone or purse is missing. Always be vigilant while travelling, especially in these kinds of areas. Don’t leave your phone hanging out of your back pocket or lying on the bar while you order a drink. Be sensible and overly cautious.

Install OS updates

Operating system updates might seem like an annoyance whenever they pop up, but they could be crucial to your device’s security. Outdated software is much more vulnerable to hacking. A new version of iOS typically arrives once a year, so make sure you’re up to date to help keep hackers and malware at bay.

Don’t risk the security of your private data while you travel. Stay safe with a private, secured network on your own Tep Wireless hotspot.

What Is the Difference Between 3G, 4G & 5G Networks?

It doesn’t feel like long ago that we all relied on 3G internet on our smartphones. Now, if we’re “only” connected to 3G, it feels unbearably slow. We’ve all become accustomed to the fast speeds of 4G, but now 5G is just around the corner.

What does 5G mean for us as smartphone users? And how does it differ from the networks that came before it? We answer these questions to help you understand the difference between 3G, 4G, and 5G networks.

Do you remember these types of mobile phones?

3G vs. 4G networks

We first gained access to 3G connections in 2001, allowing us to use our phones for more than just calls and messages. This opened avenues for browsing the web, sending emails, and sharing media on the go. The speed of a 3G network must meet at least 200 kbps (kilobits per second) to be classified as such.

In 2009, we saw the advent of the next generation in smartphone technology; 4G-enabled devices and 4G networks. However, the networks themselves were not very widespread at this point, so we were mostly still accessing 3G networks until the technology developed further.

As you can guess, 4G was basically a faster version of 3G. A 4G connection ranges from 100 megabits per second to 1 gigabit per second. The difference between a kilobit and a gigabit is massive, so this equated to incredible speeds, although most networks do not reach this upper limit. Another difference between 3G and 4G is supposed to be greater security and reliability of connection.

4G allowed mobile applications to become more complex while still being usable on the average smartphone. We could play mobile games, video call our friends, shop online, stream our favourite TV show, and much more, without getting annoyed at our slow internet connection.

4G mobile network tower

Introducing 5G networks

Now we’ve all got used to 4G networks, we can expect the next generation of mobile networks to be introduced as early as next year. As you might expect, 5G will be an even faster and more reliable version of the 4G network. Since it has not yet been released, nothing is known for certain about 5G, but it is expected to reach speeds of between 1-10 Gbps. It could even reach a maximum speed of 100 Gbps according to some sources. 5G is expected to surpass the internet speeds of our home broadband connections.

These impressive speeds will make communications, downloads, and uploads almost instant. No more waiting for a movie to buffer or for a conference call to connect. 5G will also make connecting your smartphone to the Internet of Things much easier and more viable. This will mean you can easily connect to other electronic and smart devices that you own, such as your TV, home security system, or your car.

With the speed and reliability expected of 5G networks, they could replace fixed systems altogether, meaning landlines and home broadband could become a thing of the past. It will also be extremely beneficial to companies with remote workers, making this option more practical and perhaps more common.

Will 5G networks deliver the speeds promised?

Are you looking forward to the advent of 5G networks? Make sure you’re always connected in the meantime with pocket WiFi from Tep Wireless.

4 Easy Tricks to Take Better Travel Photos with Your Smartphone

We make so many great memories when travelling, so taking high-quality travel photos to remember these times is often a priority. Luckily, we no longer have to carry around bulky camera equipment to achieve this, because our smartphones are the perfect tools for taking great photos.

If you want to up your travel photo game without upgrading to an expensive new smartphone, here are some tips for taking better smartphone photos.

Understand your camera settings

There are lots of settings in your smartphone camera app, some of which might seem a little complicated. But there are some quick things you can do to improve your photos. By simply tapping on your screen, you can identify the subject of your photo, helping your camera to automatically focus on that and adjust the settings to highlight it in the best way. For more manual adjustments, you can select the pro setting where you can adjust brightness, contrast, and more. Increasing or decreasing the brightness for the desired effect is a simple trick, but here are some more tips for understanding the pro settings of your camera.

Using third-party apps

There are lots of apps available to help you edit your photos to make them look even better, from simple things like adding filters to more complex and comprehensive editing options.  Apps like Snapseed and VSCO are great free apps that allow you to play around with and fine-tune your smartphone photos. Here’s a rundown of some of the best photo editing apps if you want more ideas.

Boost your lens power

You could spend hundreds of dollars on a new smartphone with a better camera, or you could buy a much more affordable camera lens to clip onto your smartphone. Products like wide lenses and macro lenses can help you take better travel photos, as if they’ve actually been taken with a fancy DSLR camera. TechRader compiled a list of some of the best clip-on smartphone camera lenses for you to try.

A good quality smartphone lens can make all the difference to your travel photos.

Basic photography techniques

Finally, it all comes down to improving the way you choose your subjects and use your smartphone camera. One important tip is to make the most of natural light. The flash on smartphones doesn’t meet the grade of traditional cameras, so framing your subject with natural light is the best way to get a quality photo. Also, experiment with angles and perspectives to get interesting, unique shots.

Another tip that sounds so simple is to hold your camera straight. Yet, somehow, when I look back through my photos, I see that they’re all slightly crooked. To help you keep your photos straight, try turning on the grid assist, which you can find in the settings of your camera app. This overlays a 3×3 grid over your camera screen, helping you to stay in-line. This grid is also designed to demonstrate the rule of thirds, which is a technique for perfecting your shot composition.

Mastering smartphone photography basics

Do you have any other tips to help readers take better travel photos with their smartphones? You can share them with us on Twitter. And of course, to share your best photos with friends and family while you travel, rent a WiFi hotspot from Tep Wireless.

Do You Need a WiFi Antenna Booster?

They say that the four basic components for human survival are air, shelter, water, and food. It seems like, in this day and age, we need to add a fifth item to this list – WiFi!

We rely on WiFi for a lot of things, especially while travelling. Where would we be without Google Maps, a translation app, a currency converter, and various social platforms to keep in touch with our friends back home?

WiFi coverage continues to grow, but you might find yourself in more remote areas where fast Internet is difficult to come across. Having a WiFi antenna booster in your travel arsenal is a great way to get around this problem.

What is a WiFi antenna booster?

Your laptop typically detects wireless Internet signals using a wireless card built into it. This allows you to connect to the WiFi in cafés, for example. However, the range on wireless cards is quite limited, meaning you’ll easily find yourself out of range of local WiFi signals. This will leave you either disconnected or with a frustratingly slow connection.

Seriud Wifi Antenna Booster

A WiFi antenna booster helps you to boost the WiFi connection range of your laptop. This has two key benefits – it allows you to connect to a WiFi that would have otherwise been out of reach, and it boosts the connection speed of signals you are in range of. They can help you extend to a range of 200-300 yards further than your wireless card alone.

There are different kinds of WiFi antennas, but most are really easy to use, simply plugging into your laptop’s USB port. You can find ones that are ultra-lightweight and perfect for travel.

Why might you need a WiFi antenna booster?

There are lots of times a WiFi antenna booster can help you out, especially when you’re travelling. Maybe you want to work outside a café but the signal is weak outside. Or you could go even further and work in a park or on the beach, extending your reach to nearby hotspots.

WiFi boosters can also be useful in hotels and hostels. Some have good signal throughout the hotel and all its rooms, while others are strong around the reception area but don’t reach the rooms very well, especially in hostels. If you want to do some work or watch a movie in your room, then a boosted signal can make this possible.

Sometimes, cafés and hostel common rooms simply have slow WiFi, but you’re comfortable working from there or you really like the coffee. A WiFi booster could help to speed up your connection or connect to a faster public WiFi down the road.

They’re not just useful for those who travel, though. Some homes have a certain room or corner of the house where the WiFi suddenly drops out or slows down, especially in houses with attic rooms. If you can never load a YouTube video in bed because of your distance from the wireless router, a home wireless booster is a great way around this problem.

With the help of Tep Wireless, you can keep WiFi with you wherever you go. Find out how you can stay connected with Teppy and save 15% with the discount code “tepbooster”.

5 Creative Alternatives To Love Locks This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to express your love for that special someone in your life.

There are so many ways to say “I love you”, and one of the fastest growing trends around the world is “love locks”. This involves attaching a padlock to a bridge, statue or fence in a prominent location, optionally with the lovers’ names scratched or written on the side.

While love locks have risen in popularity over the last 15 years, many people do not realise the damage caused – to bridges, the environment and the view. The backlash has been strong, with trending hashtags like #lovewithoutlocks and organisations like No Love Locks trying to discourage tourists and locals alike from leaving their mark.

In 2014 a section of the famous Pont des Arts bridge in Paris collapsed under the weight of love locks. And as part of the repairs, the City of Paris had to cut off 700,000 locks weighing 44 tonnes – all at considerable expense to taxpayers.

So, what can you do for your special someone this Valentine’s Day to commemorate your love in a timeless yet socially responsible way?

Here’s 5 alternatives to love locks:

Toronto, Canada – Lock Art

The Distillery District is one of the most romantic neighbourhoods in Toronto. Along Tank House Lane, a creative steel art installation spells out the word “LOVE”. Lovers are encouraged to add their lock and share a photo on social media using the hashtag #DistilleryLove.

Moscow, Russia – Love Trees

Along the Luzhkov Bridge, lovers do not attach their padlocks onto the bridge, but instead onto dedicated metal “trees”. These were setup in 2007 as an alternative to vandalising the bridge, which means love locks isn’t just okay, it’s encouraged. Now the trees are blooming with thousands of locks, the bridge itself is almost love lock-free.

Seoul, South Korea – Love Trees

Korea is really big on romance, and nowhere is more apparent than the love lock trees at the base of the Namsan Tower. Staff have installed “love boxes” for couples to drop their keys into, rather than discarding them which protects the environment. As with Moscow, this initiative has reduced unwanted locks in undesirable locations.

Everywhere – Virtual Love Locks

What if you’re not located near Toronto, Moscow or Seoul? No problem! Founded by married couple Matt and Trish, The Love Lock website provides a digital alternative to cluttering the world’s most romantic cityscapes with padlocks. The process is very simple, just select a date and add your virtual “inscription” and a photo, and it will be memorialised forever on the Internet. You can also see other visitors’ love locks by date for a little inspiration.

Everywhere – Buy A Star

Why stop at a padlock? Aim for the stars… literally! You can name a star in the heavens after your loved one at Star Registration. For a modest fee you’ll receive a personalised certificate and celestial map to make it easier to find your star. And chances are that star will still be there long after the padlock has rusted away.

Stay in touch with your loved one wherever you travel, and pick up a Tep portable WiFi hotspot before your next trip. Use the “Teplove” discount code for a 15% discount in February only!

How dependent are we on smartphones and the Internet when traveling?

Humans have an irrepressible need to move and to discover. We are infinitely curious. We have an irresistible desire for anything new. We find ourselves in the mercy of our insatiable thirst for knowledge.

Our early ancestors left the forest canopies to fearlessly delve into the jungle floor. Great human migration led to the formation of settlements all across the globe. Trade and innovation became an inevitable byproduct of thriving civilisations. And so is travel.

Early travellers (literally and figuratively) endured discomfort, weathered storms, and battled adversary all for the sake of uncovering what is not yet known. Travel gave our ancestors the means to satisfy this innate human yearning for exploration and discovery. It provided concrete answers to our practical and existential inquiries.

Concepts and ideas are redefined over time and travel is no exception to that. The success of the age of exploration and the romantic accounts of early explorers drew the attention of rich patrons. Then came the dawn of traveling for leisure and pleasure. Travel started to become a luxury only the wealthy and privileged could afford. It became an emblem of affluence and enlightenment.

Today’s modern and globalised world have mainstreamed travel. With enough resources, we can be halfway across the globe in less than 24 hours in the most luxurious and comfortable way possible. Gone were the days of pest and disease-ridden, year-long global traverse.

The advent of cheap airfare and tourism made long distance excursions more accessible to the layman. We are attracted to places that have been beautifully photographed or filmed. We choose the commonly traveled “safe” routes. We check out available lists of where to go and what to bring. We tend to plan our itineraries based off of what has been said and done by other people. The amount of streamlined information online makes travel as easy as it is now.

Social media have made it easy for people to exchange opinions and observations about a certain destination. We are able to predict our spending based off of the information we find online. We are now able to gauge the amount of safety and security we have upon travelling to one place. There are forums and blogs that give us an idea of what sociocultural norms should be observed. We do our research so we can figure out which type of clothing and gadgets are allowed in each country. Different platforms online even provide us with lists of where and what to eat. Smart phones have made everything from language barriers to navigation seemingly trouble-free. We are never not prepared when we embark on a journey towards unfamiliar territory.

There is nothing wrong with gaining courage and inspiration from others. But in this day and age, don’t you think we tend to model our experiences off of others’ personal accounts?

We post in accordance to other people’s expectations. As much as we all hate to admit this, we share whatever we think will get the most likes. Once we get to our destination, we go to places and we want to have our picture taken at a spot that would be considered worthy of likes. We tag our locations for us to boast that we have been there and have done that. We share information that we think will attract people. We’re inclined to censor ourselves when it comes to real and less pleasing observations. We curate our experiences online. And doesn’t that reduces the credibility of the information sharing we all depend on?

We react and respond differently to information. Some people enhance its potential and some people take it for granted. Information sharing is valuable. Discourse is great. Sharing experiences on social media is an important part of interconnectivity. There is nothing wrong with wanting safety and security. Some people travel for rest and relaxation. Some travel to be challenged. You define how you want to travel. To each his own.

But what do our technologically dependent lives say about our inherent craving for growth, wisdom, and discovery?

Despite the convenience and the grandeur associated with it, modern technology have made us all vulnerable to the negatives of being technology and information dependent. We end up questioning and second guessing our own experiences. It’s tempting to be glued to our smartphones to be aware without making the effort to observe. But what about asking questions and having social interactions with the locals? What about allowing yourself to get lost and then spontaneously stumbling upon something unique and unforgettable?

Let’s not forget, there really is something about traversing the less travelled path. Yeah, there’s the safety issue. But it should not outweigh our desire to learn. Instinct and common sense are still valuable travel companions. With everything readily available at the tip of our fingers, we have become lazy to uncover things by ourselves. If you travel to illuminate yourself about different perspectives and norms then don’t expect traveling to be all grand and easy. There are valuable lessons to be gained from the less than perfect experience. Learning something new provides you with the notion that there is more to learn about this world. And that exact mindset is what prompted our ancestors to learn more and to explore more.

Traveling provided a platform for our quest for knowledge. Technology enhanced our ability to properly utilize information and not exploit the worst of it. Traveling in this technologically advanced age is an enlightening experience. This combination elevated our experiences in every aspect of human life. It expanded our awareness and broadened our perspectives.

I hope you ask yourself why you travel. I hope you think twice as long and twice as hard what you do with this privilege. I hope we don’t lose the real essence of travel. I hope we don’t trivialize courage and curiosity and patronize frivolous thought. We now have a chance to inspire and ignite something in our peers. We have a chance to do good. We have a chance to raise awareness about things that matter the most to us. We have a chance to have our voices heard.

With all this in mind, why don’t we start traveling with our eyes, ears, and palettes wide open again for learning?