Tag Archives: Portable Wifi

What symbolizes a magical Christmas more than freshly fallen snow, twinkling festive lights, Christmas market stalls, mulled wine and roasted chestnuts? Not much, we reckon!

In this second post in our festive series, Tep has put together a list of the most Christmassy places to visit around the northern hemisphere that could give you your dose of magic.

From real snow and reindeer rides to hot mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and dazzling Christmas markets, we’ve got you covered!

Here’s our list of the top 5 places to visit:

5. Nuremberg, Germany

German Christmas markets are known worldwide for their famous mulled wines, gingerbreads, glittering decorations and picturesque wooden chalets. Perhaps the most charming aspect of a German market is that it brings the holiday spirit to town with its aromas, sights and sounds. Yet, none of the imitations you can find across the globe come close to the original treats you will try at the original Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg.

The annual Christmas market, which dates as far back as 1628, descends yearly upon the center of Nuremberg and brings with it a wonderful festive atmosphere that is very contagious, joyful and family friendly.

Some of our favorite picks from the Christkindlesmarkt that just can’t be replicated include; the iconic stagecoach tour, a steaming hot mug of glühwein (mulled wine in German), the famous prune men, delicious Nuremberg lebkuchen (sweet gingerbread) and of course bratwurst. If you are looking for the real deal there is no better German Christmas market than this one!

For a short break in Nuremberg we recommend staying at Hotel Victoria that is perfectly placed to enjoy all the market has to offer!

4. Quebec City, Canada

Quebec City has been consistently named one of the world’s top destinations to visit during Christmas and for good reason. A metamorphosis takes place in the Old city during the holiday season as it transforms “into a Christmas village straight out of a story by Charles Dickens” (CNN, 2015).

There is an undeniable old world charm to this small Canadian town that lures tourists from all over the world to enjoy its Christmas markets, concerts and decorations. Visit the German Christmas Market for your mulled wine, gingerbread and bratwurst fix without having to step outside North America.

For a more quintessential French market head over to the Old Port Market or try the Gourmet Food Tour to get the best of both worlds. If you’re planning to stay inside the Old City, we can’t recommend the historic Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac enough. It’s a tourist attraction in itself (and is one of the most photographed hotels in the world) so even if you don’t get the chance to stay in one of its impressive rooms make sure you take a snap before you leave.

3. Vienna, Austria

The musical capital of Europe completely transforms during the run up to Christmas and is a great place to get your festive groove on. As you walk through the many markets the city has to offer, you will be greeted by the inviting aromas of Christmas punch, roasted chestnuts and the sound of trumpets playing advent songs.

If you want all your senses tickled by Christmas fever you should definitely start with the Vienna Magic of Advent Market (a.k.a. Wien Christkindlesmarkt) at Rathausplatz. The square in front of the city’s impressive Town Hall is transformed into a glittering fairy-tale world with Christmas stalls, glittering lights, pony rides and its very own ‘Christkindl Express’ train. Ice skating at Vienna City Hall is also one not to miss out on, with the gigantic 8,000 square meter ‘Ice World’ rink featuring as one of the most beautiful ice rinks in the world this year.

For classical music lovers Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Advent Concert at St Stephansdom are the best way to get submersed in the authentic sound of Christmas. If you want to stay true to the opulent classical Viennese style, check in to Palais Coburg Residence Hotel that is within walking distance from all of the main attractions.

2. Lapland, Finland

The official home of Santa Claus in the Arctic Circle was sure to be on our top list of Christmassy places to visit. With guaranteed snow, stunning scenery, views of the Northern Lights and plenty of outdoor activities, Lapland will definitely bring out your inner child-like awe – even if you don’t bring the kids.

If you do want to take the little ones to visit Father Christmas we suggest booking the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi. The highlights include elf workshops, sleigh rides, a Christmas carousel, Mrs. Claus’ famous kitchen and of course getting to meet the elusive Santa himself.

If you want to stay clear of Santa mania, why not take a day tour of Lapland’s picturesque scenery by going on a husky or reindeer excursion through the magical woodlands?

At night, the skyline over Lapland is transformed by one of the most spectacular natural light shows on earth, the northern lights. We recommend viewing the lights from the comfort of your own glass igloo or ‘kota’ at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort.

For the more adventurous and thick-skinned individuals, the Snow Village with ice bar and rooms is a once in a lifetime experience. Every year a new village is built out of 350,000 kilos of ice which will completely melt away come spring – enjoy its beauty whilst you can as it really is never the same twice.

Unlike the other Christmassy destinations we’ve focused on, Lapland has its own unique culinary delights that you won’t find anywhere else. Reindeer, bear, wild fowl and willow grouse are amongst some of the Lappish specialties – just be warned that Santa does not approve of eating Rudolf’s relatives for dinner!

1. Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg is known as the capital of Christmas for good reason, it’s home to some exceptional decoration displays, caroling choirs, stalls, festive delicacies and one of the largest Christmas markets in Europe. In the heart of the Alsace region, you will find the wonders of Strasbourg’s famed Christkindelsmärik, one of the oldest Christmas markets in France.

A dazzling Christmas tree sits in the center of the market, at Place Kléber, and marks the perfect starting point to begin your journey through the 300 stalls on offer. The must tries at the market include, hot mulled wine served in boot shaped mugs, bredeles, kugelhopf, Alsatian Christmas beer and foie gras.

For the best Christmas gingerbread you may ever taste head over to Mireille Oster’s Pain d’Epices in La Petite France (their recipe has been passed down through 3 generations and is the reason people flock there year round). The ice skating rink located on Place du Château is the perfect way to have some fun away from the market’s bustling stalls and take in the city’s gorgeous architecture.

We highly recommend the Hotel Cour du Corbeau for a charming and historic stay within walking distance to all the Christmas attractions. Be sure to book ahead of time, as Strasbourg is extremely popular during the festive season!

We hope our list left you feeling warm and Christmassy all over. If you are yearning for a magical trip abroad and plan on staying connected on your travels make sure you read up on the costs of using your mobile phone abroad.

Tep offers unbeatable value for unlimited portable wifi in over 72 countries for just $9.95 a day and that includes up to 5 separate devices.

For more information on how to avoid getting ripped off for using your mobile phone check out our post on how to avoid data roaming charges here.

Tep wishes you Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

10 Christmas street markets to visit in the US and Europe

As Christmas approaches most people love nothing better than an event which embraces the colors, sounds and smells of the holiday season. One old tradition which retains enormous popularity to achieve this is Christmas street markets. These have been held since medieval times in Europe but have migrated with people across the Atlantic and become incredibly popular in North America as well. Let’s take a look at some of the best places to get some early festive cheer with friends and family.

1. Nuremberg, Germany

Let’s begin in the home of the Christmas market tradition: Germany. You’ll find these events on in every city in Germany so selecting just one is tricky. But we’ve opted for the pretty town of Nuremberg in Northern Bavaria. It’s one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets, dating back to the 16th Century and retains every bit of that authenticity right through to the present day. It’s even the place where Bratwurst sausage was invented, so you know the food is going to be good!

2. Arlington, TX, USA

Arlington hosts one of Texas’ most popular Christmas markets which runs from late November through New Year’s Eve. As well as the usual skating, shopping and food outlets it also claims to have the world’s largest light maze to explore and solve. Should keep the whole family entertained for a while!

3. Edinburgh, Scotland

Scotland is perhaps most famous for its own Hogmanay New Year celebrations, but it embraces the Christmas market tradition as well. So much so, that Edinburgh actually has two-street markets in different parts of the city. One focuses on local gifts and produce; the other is a more traditional German-style market, so it’s worth visiting both for the full experience.

4. Brussels, Belgium

The Belgian capital, Brussels, has a more modern feel to its Christmas market, established in 2000. It has definite eco-friendly and multi-cultural values and a little less emphasis on history. Don’t worry, it’s still definitely got the right Christmas spirit. They’ve even produced their own trailer video for this year’s event, check it out here.

5. San Francisco, CA, USA

San Francisco is a city that always manages to put a unique spin on things and their Christmas market is no different. Can’t make it to London? No problem, the spirit of a Victorian-era English Christmas, as evoked in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, is faithfully recreated in SF’s Dickensian-themed market. It runs until December 17, so if you like an experience brought to life by colorful characters, this is for you!

6. Strasbourg, France

Although Germany is often considered the birthplace of the Christmas market tradition, the biggest and best in Europe might well be held in Strasbourg. It’s not a large city but it deserves its moniker as the “capital of Christmas” and the market here has been around for hundreds of years. Rather than being in a single area the market is spread across 11 different “villages” spread out all over the city, each with its own theme.

7. New York City, NY, USA

What could be a more spectacular location for a Christmas market than in the heart of Manhattan? That’s exactly what you can experience at the Union Square Holiday Market. You’d expect a big market in the Big Apple and this doesn’t disappoint, with over 150 vendors, you can probably nail a good portion of the Christmas shopping in one go here!

8. Bath, England

If you’re in the UK over Christmas you’ll have plenty of choice of Christmas markets, they’re everywhere! But we’d recommend a visit to the historic city of Bath (so named for its Roman-era public baths). The market has grown to over 200 wooden chalets and is set amidst some stunning architecture. You get to visit a great market and visit a World Heritage Site at the same time. Bonus!

9. Washington DC, USA

America’s capital has one of the most popular Christmas markets in the country. The Downtown Holiday Market is an eclectic mix of stalls, performers, artists and other vendors. It’s handily located as the name suggests in the heart of downtown DC just in front of the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum so this one is a winner for a great cultural experience.

10. Copenhagen, Denmark

As you’d expect from the home of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales, Copenhagen loves the spirit of Christmas and the city hosts markets in various locations. From the pretty Nyhavn waterfront area to the famous Tivoli Gardens there are festivities going on everywhere. Try them all and find your favorite!

Wherever your travels take you and however you spend your holiday season, you can ensure you can share your experiences anywhere in the world in real-time by using a Tep portable wifi device. The device is only $8.95 per day for unlimited data usage, plus, you and your friends or family can all share one device (up to 5 gadgets can connect at a time).

Tep’s portable device is amazingly travel-friendly too, it will slip into a handbag, pocket or rucksack. Find out more or buy/rent a device here.

Top 10 skiing destinations for the 2018 season

Many of us will be looking to travel to enjoy the skiing season in North America and Europe in early 2018. So, we’ve scoured the northern hemisphere to bring you some top tips on interesting ski destinations. Some you may know, others may be new to you but provide excellent value or a quieter experience from the mega-resorts, if that’s your style. There are many ways of judging what makes a ski resort great, depending on whether you want the best challenge, a great après ski atmosphere or somewhere that’s family-friendly and good for beginners. Hopefully, you’ll find something useful in this list whatever your criteria.

Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada

skiing destinations

Photo Credit: Resort Quest Whistler

Whistler Blackcomb is well-known to most people with an interest in alpine sports having been the host ski venue of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It was a mecca for skiers long before that due to its unique coastal location and its sheer size, covering a huge area and a massive vertical drop of over 5000 feet. The Olympics brought investment in facilities but also made it massively popular so, combined with reliable snowfall and its proximity to Vancouver it’s busy most of the season.

Sainte Foy, France

skiing destinations

Photo Credit: Peak Retreats

A world away from the mega-resort madness of Whistler is Sainte Foy in the French Alps. It’s not far from the much better-known resort of Val d’Isere but Sainte Foy has a great reputation for being quiet, family-friendly but still offering some great off-piste challenges. It also has a sheltered location meaning when lifts are closed due to high winds at neighboring resorts it’s still possible to ski at Sainte Foy.

Beaver Creek, Colorado, USA

skiing destinations

Photo Credit: Travel All Together

Colorado has more choice of fantastic skiing destinations than any other state in the US, so picking just one for this list is difficult. People will certainly know of Aspen and Vail but 16km west of the latter lies the decidedly luxurious resort of Beaver Creek. Skiing here is a top-notch experience but comes with a commensurate price tag. The resort motto is “Not exactly roughing it” so you can be assured that you’ll get a beautifully designed experience with every little detail taken care of. At the same time, it’s more intimate and less haughty than Vail so you can just enjoy your skiing without any attitude.

Champoluc, Italy

skiing destinations

Photo Credit: Taxi Cervinia

The Monterosa ski area of the Italian Alps is home to three fantastic ski resorts. Alagna and Gressoney-la-Trinite each have their own unique characteristics but if you’re an intermediate or beginner level skier then you might find the perfect destination at Champoluc in the Val d’Ayas. It’s the largest of the resorts and caters for all, snowboarders will enjoy the free-riding across all three valleys and it’s great for cross-country skiers too.

Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont, USA

If you’re looking for a ski destination on the east coast of the US, then Vermont and New Hampshire are the states to focus on. Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont is great for families. It has a lot of variety, with some very good runs for beginners, but it’s also home to “The Black Hole”, the only triple black diamond trail in the East if you prefer a considerably harder challenge!

Sierra Nevada, Spain

skiing destinations

Photo Credit: @sierranevadaestacion

It’s not uncommon to get a confused reaction when you mention great skiing in southern Spain. Most people travel here for beach holidays, but between December and April, it’s a premier European skiing destination. Sierra Nevada’s secret is a combination of two factors, its southerly location which means a far greater number of sunny days combined with its height, (with a top station at 3300m it’s one of the highest resorts in Europe) which means it’s remarkably snowsure for its location. And it’s not far to the beach if you want to mix it up!

Heavenly, California, USA

skiing destinations

Photo Credit: Amped

A ski resort called Heavenly has to be good, right? Located in South Lake Tahoe spanning the California/Nevada border this resort has the scenic views to match its name. It’s the region’s largest resort with the highest elevation and largest vertical drop. You can stay on either the California or Nevada side and you’ll be able to truthfully claim you once skied from one state to another!

Borovets, Bulgaria

skiing destinations

Photo Credit: London City Voices

Bulgaria might seem an unusual location to make this list but it’s a country with a long and proud history as a ski destination. Borovets is the original, opening in 1896. Its quality is evident in its hosting of two World Cup events. It has a modern town center with great accommodation, restaurant and nightlife options and remains superb value for money compared to a lot of destinations in the Alps.

Snowbird, Utah, USA

skiing destinations

Photo Credit: Visit Salt Lake

We couldn’t ignore the western side of the Rocky Mountains for our final American resort to make this list. Especially when the resorts of Utah make the bold claim that they have “the best snow on earth”. Situated in the Little Cottonwood Canyon, conveniently close to a major transport hub in Salt Lake City, Snowbird is for powder fanatics, it gets over 500 inches of ultra-light snow every winter meaning it has a very long season. It’s a full-service resort so you won’t go without creature comforts as well as great skiing conditions.

Val d’Anniviers, Switzerland

skiing destinations

Photo Credit: Christophe Spitz

You didn’t think we’d forgotten Switzerland, did you? Probably the most iconic ski destination in Europe and home to legendary resorts like St Moritz, Davos-Klosters and Gstaad. We’ve chosen to avoid the celebrities and the hyper-rich and include a more traditional Swiss resort. Val d’Anniviers is an offshoot of the Rhone valley, which is overshadowed by more famous neighbours in Zermatt and Verbier. But it shouldn’t be, there are five small resorts here which offer a fantastic choice of activities for both skiers and snowboarders.

Wherever you choose to spend the ski season you can share your experiences anywhere in the world in real-time by using a Tep portable wifi device. The device is only $8.95 per day for unlimited data usage, plus, you and your friends or family can all share one device (up to 5 gadgets can connect at a time). Tep’s portable device is amazingly travel-friendly too, it will slip into a handbag, pocket or rucksack. Find out more or buy/rent a device here.

Top 10 beach destinations for winter sun

As winter begins to bite in the northern hemisphere and the excitement of the holiday season fades away it’s perfectly natural to crave sunshine and warm temperatures. Many of us choose this time of year to travel, especially to beach locations where we can relax and recharge. So here are 10 suggestions of beautiful beach destinations from around the world that should be on your radar for early 2018.

1. West Coast, Barbados

Barbados has a deserved reputation for some of the finest beaches in the Caribbean. The east and west sides of the island have very different characters, with the wild east coast more suited to surfing as it is battered by large waves from the Atlantic. The west coast is much calmer, most of the island’s resorts are located here and its nickname of “the platinum coast” derives from the number of celebrities who have holiday homes in this area.

2. Palawan, Philippines

Palawan is an island on the eastern side of the Philippines with a reputation for exceptional beaches and crystal-clear waters for snorkelling and scuba diving. The best area is El Nido, at the northern tip of the island. The surrounding scenery is stunning with dramatic karst rock formations surrounding a host of tiny offshore islands with many secluded lagoons and beaches.

3. Mauritius

top beach destinations

Photo by Dan Freeman

The Indian Ocean island of Mauritius lies about 2,000 kilometres off the east coast of Southern Africa. It’s a very popular honeymoon destination with good reason, it has a perfect blend of fantastic beaches around its entire coastline and a dramatic, mountainous interior that’s easy and fun to explore. The west coast has to be one of the best places to sit on the beach and watch sunsets anywhere in the world.

4. Harbour Island, Bahamas

top beach destinations

Photo by Jared Rice

Harbour Island is just a short hop by plane from the Bahamian capital, Nassau. If you’re looking for a subtle change from white sand beaches, perhaps the pink sand of Harbour Island will intrigue you. The east coast’s main feature is it’s stunning 5 km beach protected by an offshore coral reef. The colours of this beach are like nowhere else!

5. Oahu, Hawaii

top beach destinations

Photo by Guille Pozzi

Hawaii needs little introduction as a beach destination, but it’s worth doing a little research depending on whether you want great surfing or gentler sea conditions for swimming as many of Hawaii’s beaches are not for the faint-hearted. We love Lanikai beach on Oahu for the latter category, it’s consistently rated as one of the very best in the world.

6. Langkawi, Malaysia

Langkawi, the “jewel of Kedah”, lies in the Andaman Sea off the west coast of Malaysia close to the border with Thailand. The interior has large areas of remarkably untouched wildlife-rich mountainous jungle, with the main beaches on the south-facing coast (although Tanjang Rhu is a spectacular exception in the north). Best known is the 2km long Pantai Cenang beach, which has numerous accommodation options along its length to suit any budget and easy access to local restaurants and facilities.

7. Coral Coast, WA

With so many visitors to Australia keen to explore the cities of the eastern coast of this huge country and the famous Great Barrier Reef, our tip is to look west and the spectacular Coral Coast if you want somewhere a bit different. This is a huge area of 1100km with hundreds of beautiful empty beaches stretching north from Perth. The Exmouth area at the northern end contains the famous Ningaloo Reef, where you can swim with gentle giant Whale Sharks at certain times of year.

8. St. Lucia

As with Barbados, all beaches on St Lucia have unrestricted public access so you won’t be short of choice on this beautiful Caribbean island. Reduit Beach at Gros Islet is one of the better-known beaches, but best avoided when large cruise ships visit as the numbers of visitors increase hugely. Many other beaches are much smaller but worth hunting for, you may get one all to yourself!

9. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

French Polynesia has a deserved reputation as an idyllic paradise, its small size and remote location ensuring it remains unspoilt. The tiny coral island of Bora Bora is one of its jewels but unlike some other destinations on this list, most of the island’s beaches are private. The one exception is the stunning Matira Beach at the southern end of the island, it’s the quintessential South Pacific beach, just as you imagined it, with fine white sand and impossibly azure water.

10. Mahe, The Seychelles

The Seychelles are another Indian Ocean destination, northeast of Madagascar. It’s an archipelago of 115 small islands with Mahe as the main hub. Beaches like Anse Royale and Beau Vallon have calm waters, perfect for snorkelling, while Anse Intendance offers huge breakers for surfers. Outlying islands have even quieter beaches fringed with granite boulders that make images from the Seychelles instantly recognisable.

Wherever your travels take you and whatever beach you relax on, you can ensure you can share your experiences anywhere in the world in real-time by using a Tep portable wifi device. The device is only $8.95 per day for unlimited data usage, plus, you and your friends or family can all share one device (up to 5 gadgets can connect at a time). Tep’s portable device is amazingly travel-friendly too, it will slip into a handbag, pocket or rucksack. Find out more or buy/rent a device here.

The history of humanity is a history of exploration of our planet. Our ancestors have undertaken incredible feats to reach every corner of our planet on every continent. Now we can map our world accurately we all have a bucket list of places we’d love to travel to, but if you’d like to know you’ve been as far as you can go, here are a few suggestions, some better known than others!

High and lows

Highest point: Summit of Mount Everest
Lowest point: Shore of the Dead Sea

We’ll start with an easy one. Most people are aware that Mount Everest is the highest point on the surface of the earth and every year a few hundred people successfully complete the challenge of standing there. The lowest land point is on the shore of the Dead Sea, 418m (1,371 ft) below sea level which straddles the border between Israel, Jordan and the State of Palestine.

Getting away from it all

Remotest land point: Bouvet Island
Furthest point from sea: Near Hoxtolgay, China

The most remote piece of land on earth is a small uninhabited island in the Southern Ocean called Bouvet Island. It’s a territory of Norway, but the next nearest land is the shore of Antarctica 996 miles away. The nearest inhabited neighbor is the island of Tristan da Cunha (1,404 miles away) and then the coast of South Africa (1,603 miles away). If you’d rather stay away from the sea, your ideal location is Hoxtolgay, China close to the border with Kazakhstan. Close by is the Eurasian Pole of Inaccessibility, the furthest point from the sea anywhere on earth. The nearest coastline is 2,645 km (1,644 miles) away at the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh.

Remotest neighbours

From: Rosario, Argentina
To: Xinghua, China

If you want to undertake the ultimate city-to-city trip (defined as places with a population of over 100,000 people) then you’d need to go from the port city of Rosario in Argentina to Xinghua in China (or vice versa). Your total distance travelled would be 19,996 km (12,425 mi).

Longest continuous land journey

From: Greenville, Liberia
To: Wenzhou, China

The longest continuous distance in a straight line in any direction you can undertake on land without crossing a sea would start on the west coast of Africa and end at the far side of Asia on the East China Sea coast. Total distance is 13,573 km (8,434 miles). It does require crossing the Suez Canal but that’s a man-made waterway, so apparently ok!

Continental endpoints (mainland apart from Oceania)

If you’d like to be able to say that you’ve stood on the endpoints of each continental mainland, your bucket list would look like this (we’ve included islands for Oceania for obvious reasons)

Western

Eurasia Cabo da Roca, Portugal
Americas Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska, United States
Africa Pointe des Almadies, Senegal
Oceania Dirk Hartog Island, Australia

Northern

Eurasia Cape Chelyuskin, Russia
Americas Murchison Promontory, Canada
Africa Ras ben Sakka, Tunisia
Oceania Kure Atoll, United States

Southern

Eurasia Tanjung Piai, Malaysia
Americas Cape Froward, Chile
Africa Cape Agulhas, South Africa
Oceania Jacquemart Island, New Zealand

Eastern

Eurasia Cape Dezhnev, Russia
Americas Ponta do Seixas, Brazil
Africa Ras Hafun, Somalia
Oceania Easter Island, Chile

Wherever your travels take you and however far you have to go, you can ensure you can share your experiences anywhere in the world in real-time by using a Tep portable wifi device. The device is only $8.95 per day for unlimited data usage, plus, you and your friends or family can all share one device (up to 5 gadgets can connect at a time). Tep’s portable device is amazingly travel-friendly too, it will slip into a handbag, pocket or rucksack. Find out more or buy/rent a device here.

Being on the move between destinations is one of the times we are most at risk of using WiFi access with poor security. Trains, airports and coffee shops are all examples of times we occasionally access the internet via a router without using any sort of password. We should all be very careful of the types of information we access at those times. But if you’ve used a password to log into WiFi, you’re protected, right?

Mary’s story

“I always felt so cool, so smart because whenever I traveled, I could manage to stay connected by jumping from public hotspot to public hot spot without paying a penny”, says Mary, a 31 years old digital media executive from New York. Now, after a horrific incident during a trip last year, she fees silly and betrayed because a Public WiFi “stalker” managed to steal credit card and bank account information from her smartphone while quietly sipping a latte in a coffee shop in Europe. After the robber managed to shop successfully with her debit and credit cards, the bank was forced to freeze her accounts and suddenly she was without means to pay for her daily expenses overseas. She was forced to ask the airline to push ahead her flight reservation and returned home sad. It is not the end she had hoped for what should have been a wonderful trip.

Ever since, she rents a secure pocket WiFi product from TEP Wireless and she has recovered her faith in traveling connected and secure. Dr. William Nazaret, an expert in mobile internet and co-founder of TEP explains: “Mary was not doing anything unusual. As she understands now, it was crazy but not unusual to trust Public WiFi hotspots”. He continues to explain: “For the last 6 years we have been providing travelers with personal, secure WiFi connectivity for their travels abroad and we have never heard of a horror story like Mary’s among our customers”.

A revelation from the cyber-security industry this week has made this issue even more important, with the news that a loophole has been discovered allowing someone to intercept data even when using a password-protected WiFi network.

What is the KRACK vulnerability?

Most routers use an encryption method called WPA2 which has been around a long time but which was thought to be robust from attack. However, it’s been revealed this week that WPA2 can be exploited so that traffic sent between that router and your device can be viewed IF the traffic is not also being encrypted by an SSL protocol (i.e. web services using HTTPS at the start). This is the vulnerability known as KRACK.

What’s affected and how?

Both routers and the client devices they connect to are at risk. Most routers use WPA2 and it’s known that Android 6.0 and above devices are also especially at risk. Remember that an attacker must also be physically in range of your WiFi network to be an issue, they can’t threaten you remotely, so you are at less risk in an area with few people around, but more so in a city. They also can’t determine your WiFi password via this method so you don’t need to change it, but they can access data going back and forth between your device and the router.

As in Mary’s story, a typical example of a dangerous situation for a traveler might be using a website form to book a hotel, restaurant table or excursion. If you include any personal or financial information in that message it could be intercepted by someone when you click submit.

What can I do to stay secure while travelling?

At home, you will know when your devices and router are patched. But for travelers, you can’t easily find out whether you are accessing a safe or unsafe router now that even a password-protected one is vulnerable. Mobile data is not subject to this vulnerability so you can use that safely but of course, if you are abroad that could incur huge costs.

TEP’s device, which users call affectionately Teppy, gives you two crucial advantages over using a fixed WiFi network.

  1. You and your device are always on the move together. WiFi hotspots are easy to eavesdrop on because they are fixed and all the stalker need do is sit within range of the hotspot waiting for the next victim to enter. Our Teppy is in your pocket or purse and moves around with you wherever you go. This mobility complicates the task of eavesdropping on your internet connection when you travel.
  2. You always know how many people are connected to your Teppy. You can easily detect the presence of stalker because it shows how many people (devices) are connected to your WiFi personal spot. If you see one more connection than normal, it is a sign someone may be WiFi stalking you. Because your Teppy is personal and only you or your travel partner know the password, it is harder for a stranger to invade your connection and your smartphone, tablet or laptop.

To avoid the risks of using public WiFi and create your own hotspot that travels with you by using a Tep portable wifi device. The device is only $8.95 per day for unlimited data usage, plus, you and your friends or family can all share one device (up to 5 gadgets can connect at a time). Tep’s portable device is amazingly travel-friendly too, it will slip into a handbag, pocket or rucksack. Find out more or buy/rent a device here.

Talking to most sports fans, a recurring theme is that the travel and experiences surrounding the event are just as much a part of the entertainment as the game itself. There’s such a huge variety of sporting occasions happening across the world in different environments and over different periods of time, that “sports travel” has become a sector all its own. Of course, we all love different sports and that would largely dictate our choices but we thought it would be fun to look at it as a neutral, providing the most interesting travel experience for spectators in 2018.

African Nations Football Championship

Where: Morocco
When: January – February 2018

If you can’t wait for the FIFA World Cup in the summer then a trip to Morocco in January will fill the gap. The African Nations Football Championship (not to be confused with the similar but definitely different African Cup of Nations) is being held across 4 cities, Agadir, Casablanca, Marrakech and Tangier. What better way to spend a few weeks exploring the country than to follow matches in all those locations?

Super Bowl LII

Where: Minneapolis, USA
When: February 2018

Nowhere does sports entertainment better than the Super Bowl. If you’re lucky enough to be able to get a ticket to THE game of the year then there’s a lot going on to make a worthwhile trip with the Saint Paul Winter Carnival scheduled to coincide. OK, we do realize that Minneapolis in February is pretty cold, but we’ve checked and it’s definitely an indoor stadium for the Super Bowl!

Winter Olympics

Where: Pyeongchang, South Korea
When: February 2018

2018 happens to be on the four-year cycle of Winter Olympic Games and the venue this time moves to South Korea and the city of Pyeongchang near to the country’s east coast. There also events taking place in Gangneung and Jeongseon. It’s less than 3 hours travel to the capital, Seoul so there’s a chance to explore the country during the 18-day duration of the Games.

The Masters

Where: Augusta, USA
When: April 2018

There surely can’t be a more beautiful place to watch a sporting event than the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. Every April crowds flock to see the world’s best golfers take on a course renowned for its sometimes-brutal challenges but set in the context of the loveliest scenery imaginable, with magnolias and azaleas in full bloom. There’s also a mystique around the exclusivity of the Club which makes the annual opening of its doors to us mortals irresistible.

Cycling Grand Tours

Where: Italy, France, Spain
When: May 2018 (Italy), July 2018 (France), August – September 2018 (Spain)

From the 17th to the 19 century there was a coming of age tradition for noble young people in Europe to undertake a Grand Tour, a sort of cultural education and adventure. The modern version can still involve all the culture you can handle as it visits the great cities of Europe, but this time it involves a love of two wheels. There are three cycling grand tours, the Giro d’Italia, the Vuelta a Espana and, most famous of all, the Tour de France. Each tour lasts around 3 weeks and crisscrosses almost the entirety of each country so you can be sure to catch a stage wherever you are. Bizarrely, the 2018 Giro d’Italia is starting with a few stages in Israel, the first time ever a Grand Tour has ventured outside Europe.

FIFA World Cup

Where: Russia
When: June – July 2018

The biggest global sports event of them all is back in 2018 with a first-time host country in Russia. The tournament is spread over a huge area as you might expect in the world’s largest country, from Kaliningrad in the west between Poland and Lithuania, to Ekaterinburg 3000 kilometers to the east, and to Sochi in the far south on the Black Sea coast. The final will be in the capital Moscow on 15th July.

Wimbledon Tennis Championships

Where: London, England
When: July 2018

The British, who let’s be honest are fairly British most of the time, truly play up to their stereotype during the 2 weeks of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships. Eccentric behavior, outdated dress codes and strange customs become perfectly normal in south London as the few weeks where the sun actually shines in England coincides with the nation’s favourite sports tournament. It’s a great time to visit the UK, you might even get a tan!

Invictus Games

Where: Sydney, Australia
When: October 2018

For sporting inspiration, the Invictus Games is a remarkable multi-sports event for injured armed services personnel and veterans. After being held in Toronto, Canada in 2017 the event moves to Sydney, Australia in 2018 where 500 competitors from 17 countries will take part. Sydney was an amazing host to the 2000 Summer Olympics and Paralympics and will undoubtedly fully embrace and celebrate the heroism of everyone involved.

F1 Brazilian Grand Prix

Where: Sao Paulo, Brazil
When: November 2018

The Formula 1 World Championship tours the globe and can be visited in many iconic locations, but for atmosphere and passionate fans, the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos takes some beating. Brazilians are nuts about F1 and drivers from the country are idolized. It’s also the penultimate race of the season so there is usually added excitement as the Championship comes down to the wire.

Triple Crown of Surfing

Where: Hawaii, USA
When: December 2018

Surfing might not be famous as a spectator sport but it’s certainly an experience worth enjoying. The ultimate location to do so must be Hawaii where the Triple Crown of Surfing is held each December. Take in some surf culture, be amazed by participants taking on the world’s mightiest waves and enjoy it all on some of the most beautiful beaches anywhere. Not really a hard sell this one is it?

You can ensure you can share your experiences at great sporting events anywhere in the world in real-time by using a Tep portable wifi device. The device is only $8.95 per day for unlimited data usage, plus, you and your friends or family can all share one device (up to 5 gadgets can connect at a time). Tep’s portable device is amazingly travel-friendly too, it will slip into a handbag, pocket or rucksack. Find out more or buy/rent a device here.

It’s always fascinating to imagine what our futures might hold as technology changes our world. Travel is an area where innovation is always occurring, but it does feel as though the next 20 years might see a step change in how we take long-distance journeys that is far bigger than the changes we’ve seen in the last 20 years.

You might well feel as though the fundamental processes of travel aren’t really so different from how they were in the 1980s or 1990s. We still travel by cars, trains and airplanes that are still largely the same type of vehicle, it still takes a similar amount of time to get from point A to point B and a lot of the frustrations of travel (delays, luggage, security) are much as they always were.

Innovations like Concorde, the airplane which reduced flight times across the Atlantic significantly have come and gone without becoming mainstream. So, what is going to change and how is it going to really impact us as travelers?
Let’s look at three facets of travel to see how they might be radically different in the future.

How will we choose and book our vacations?

The internet has already given us an information revolution that has fundamentally changed our ability to choose and tailor our travel experiences. 20 years ago, we were still reliant on the limited information in a glossy brochure and the advice of a travel agent. Now we can call up real-time information from fellow travelers on the ground, watch vlogs capturing their experience or get a street view of just about any town or city and see it for ourselves as if we were stood right there.

This kind of advance experience is only going to become richer and more immersive in the next 20 years as virtual reality and augmented reality take us on journeys that never actually involve us leaving our homes, with the potential to use all our senses to experience a place before we are physically there.

The other change which is inevitable is the rise of artificial intelligence to help us navigate the enormous amounts of information at our disposal. Do you ever feel at the moment when you’re looking at travel options that there is just too much choice? Hundreds of hotels to select from, multiple flight options and thousands of reviews to read and consider. Computer algorithms will undertake a lot of this work in the future, with the ability to understand our needs and desires ever more intuitively and recommend the perfect itinerary. The travel agent we rely on in future may not be human at all.

How will our travel experience be different?

If our pre-travel experience is already undergoing its revolution, the process of physical travel feels as though it’s the area with the most potential to change in the next 20 years. Airport queues are still vast, economy class aircraft seats are still a cramped, horrible experience and we still have to cope with hauling our luggage by hand. Does it have to stay that way?
The answer for sure is no, you’ll be pleased to hear. We are starting to understand how to use technology to improve real-world processes. We’ve already seen it happen with Uber and others revolutionizing the possibilities of a simple cab journey. Just because it still involves another human and a vehicle with four wheels doesn’t mean it can’t feel very different as an experience.

The same will happen with long-distance travel. Freight will be increasingly delivered by drones so our luggage can be collected from our homes, travel separately to us but arrive and return simultaneously. The need to rely on human checking of physical documents (i.e. your passport) at airports will also disappear, whether via facial recognition or a tiny microchip implant under our skin.

Gone will be the need to sit in an airport lounge staring at departure boards, all our travel information will be delivered straight to our mobile devices. Once we’re in transit, by whatever means, we’ll need less human involvement. Driverless car technology is now moving swiftly forward, pilot-less planes will follow. The same streamlining of processes will mean journey times are reduced, experiences will be more relaxing, even in-flight food will improve!
Artificial intelligence and robotics will enable non-human flight attendants and holographic hotel concierges. The “Internet of Things” will deliver smart hotel rooms which can personalize our stay and the very ambience of our experience. It’ll be up to us to ensure that we still retain some humanity to our travel experience, but the efficiency will surely be taken care of.

Where will we go?

Our planet has now been explored and mapped in amazing detail. There are relatively few places where people have never been so are there any new destinations left to explore? It seems safe to say that we’ll rediscover some old places anew as geopolitics changes and different parts of the world become more or less accessible. Today, countries like South Africa are massively popular destinations, when for much of the 1980s they were shunned. Ancient cultures currently off-limits due to instability in places like Iraq and Afghanistan may once again be peaceful and open to visitors. Let’s hope so.

The new frontiers of travel in the future may well involve our oceans. They remain full of mystery (perhaps that’s why we haven’t always treated them as well as we should). But we are a blue planet and as we seek to protect our seas from the effects of global warming hopefully we’ll develop the benign technologies that will allow us to spend more time coming to know the underwater world in person.

We can’t end without mentioning the final frontier, travelling outside our planet. The concept of space tourism has been around for a while but progress has been painfully slow, as is inevitable with such an enormously ambitious undertaking. Of course, it will happen, but even 20 years is likely too short a span of time for this to have become mainstream. But let’s keep dreaming!
However you want to connect and share your travel experiences in the future, you can ensure you stay connected with home by using a Tep portable wifi device. The device is only $8.95 per day for unlimited data usage, plus, you and your friends or family can all share one device (up to 5 gadgets can connect at a time). Tep’s portable device is amazingly travel-friendly too, it will slip into a handbag, pocket or rucksack.

However you want to connect and share your travel experiences in the future, you can ensure you stay connected with home by using a Tep portable wifi device. The device is only $8.95 per day for unlimited data usage, plus, you and your friends or family can all share one device (up to 5 gadgets can connect at a time). Tep’s portable device is amazingly travel-friendly too, it will slip into a handbag, pocket or rucksack. Find out more or buy/rent a device here.

The global travel industry is huge. In 2016 the direct economic impact of the industry, including accommodation, transportation, entertainment and attractions, was approximately 2.3 trillion U.S. dollars and it’s still growing. Any industry worth that amount of money has an enormous amount of power, the power to influence governments, the power to influence our own consciences, the power to fundamentally affect how the world works.

Ultimately that power lies in our hands, as the people who pay to travel. So, what should we be asking of the industry to make our experiences richer and ensure they are sustainable and beneficial to the communities we visit?

Our world is always a mixture of inconsistencies and inequalities. While someone is thriving, someone else is suffering. Sometimes it’s hard to balance the needs of people and the needs of nature and the environment. But often, tourism can be a powerfully positive force to bring balance to these issues. Let’s look at 5 ways responsible tourism can address difficult subjects and bring positive benefits.

Populations and Housing

We think of concepts like eco-tourism as being entirely benign, bringing nothing but good to local people. But that’s not always true. As an example, in India and many countries in Africa the creation of national parks, to protect wildlife and draw in tourists, displaces many local people.

Recognizing this in Uganda, research was done into the attitudes of local people to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to understand how profits should be spent to meet the needs of local people in the immediate area who had been impacted by the park’s creation. This meant any potential resentment or conflict between locals and park authorities could be avoided.

Conservation organizations are increasingly realizing that they cannot ignore the needs of local communities in preserving nature. They need those people onside and being part of the solution rather than the problem. Tourism requires the exact same approach.

Transportation and Pollution

It’s inescapable that tourism requires infrastructure. Hotels and airports need to be built, road and rail networks need to be maintained and extended and more vehicles are required to use them. Technological advances mean we are gaining ever more electric or hybrid vehicles to cruise around our towns and cities, but planes and 4WD vehicles aren’t going to be electric anytime soon. We’ve seen a backlash against carbon offsetting, with people pointing out that reduction is what we really need.

We can all contribute to that in many ways. Should you stay somewhere that doesn’t require such a long transfer from the airport? Could you explore the local area by bike rather than being driven in a taxi? Often these small choices have either no downside for us, or are actually a more fun experience.

Preservation and respect for cultures

Ancient traditions and cultures are disappearing in many parts of the globe. Tourism can be a very valid reason for communities to retain those cultures and pass them down to the next generation. But if we’re not careful, mass tourism can destroy the very thing tourists hoped to come and experience. This has been true in places like Bali, where rampant development has changed local attitudes and the feel of the traveler experience.

Sometimes it’s also important to retain and share the knowledge of why cultures haven’t been preserved. You won’t find many lists of tourist attractions in Johannesburg, South Africa that doesn’t rank the Apartheid Museum at the top.

Preserving culture might also seem free from any negative consequence. But so-called “Tribal Tourism” can be exploitative. It’s important we examine the impact of our travel and expect it to be arranged responsibly and ethically.

Fair distribution of economic benefits

We’ve become familiar with concepts like Fairtrade when choosing products to ensure that local producers get a fair price. That same thinking is also growing within the travel industry although to date there is, as yet, no equivalent international mark. But comparison sites and marketplaces like Eco Companion and The Ethical Travel Guide are becoming more popular, where we can rank holiday locations and operators by their sustainability, not just their popularity.

Most of us can relate to the idea that it’s local people who often provide us with the most memorable and unexpected aspects of travel. Whether it’s the local nature guide who shows you something amazing you wouldn’t have found for yourself, the driver who takes you somewhere by a more interesting route or just a simple act of kindness by someone in the community to share their life experience with you. It’s those people who we hope can benefit in some way from the money we spend visiting their country.

Promoting peace and understanding

Lastly, the world in 2017 feels like it needs all the harmony, communication and respect that we can each spread as we travel. Perhaps the most depressing travel experiences are those where you return home feeling “I went there, but I could have been anywhere”. In those circumstances, we can only look to ourselves. Were we passive observers rather than active experiencers of that place? Did we look out from behind hotel or car windows rather than walk in the streets and use all our senses to create a true experience, to listen to others and share what we love and what unites us?

At Tep, we believe in the power of communication and of sharing our experiences wherever we are in the world. We use technology to connect you to local people as well as those back home.

A Tep portable wifi device allows you to experience and share travel as it’s meant to be. The device is only $8.95 per day for unlimited data usage. Find out more or buy/rent a device here.

As a specialist in travel communications, much of what we do at Tep is about allowing you to share the excitement and wonder of your travels, wherever you are in the world. But sometimes our travels take us to places which might be a little riskier, or at least where we feel a little more out of our comfort zone. At those times, it’s very reassuring to know that you can quickly tell people whether everything is fine and you are safe or that things might not be going to plan and you may need help. That’s why we made Kitestring part of the Tep product family.

What is Kitestring?

It’s a personal safety service. Ask Kitestring to check up on you at some future time, and Kitestring will text you to make sure you’re safe. Reply to the message or check in on the website and all is well. If you don’t check in, Kitestring alerts the emergency contacts that you set up ahead of time. Of course, you can always extend your ETA or check in early.

Tep - Kitestring

Why should I use Kitestring over other services?

There are some great personal safety apps and services out there, but there are a few reasons why we decided to create Kitestring.

Too many people don’t use personal safety apps because they’re inconvenient. We put a lot of time and love into Kitestring to simplify it into something people could activate quickly before they head out, rather than having to remember to do it during their journey.

A lot of safety apps are triggered by some action, like pushing a big red button or shaking one’s phone. We suspect that a lot of bad situations do not afford a victim the opportunity to take these actions. Kitestring is a little different—it triggers itself when you don’t do something you thought you would be able to.

Many of these apps are not free – after all, their creators need to eat. But any price tag, no matter how small, is enough to deter most people. Kitestring has a “forever free” version because we want people to use it. You only pay if you want bonus features.

Do I need to install an app?

No, to make it available to almost anyone, Kitestring is designed to be an SMS-based service. If you can send text messages, you can use Kitestring. That’s it! Kitestring can also be accessed via the Tep+ app.

If someone took my phone, couldn’t they check in as me?

You can designate additional secret code words to prevent someone from using your phone to check in for you. You can also set a special password which, if enabled, is the only word that can be used to check in. You can also designate a code word to indicate duress should you get into trouble. If you respond with that code word, the app pretends you have checked in successfully while secretly alerting your contacts that you may be in danger.

How does it work for my emergency contacts?

They don’t have to set up anything at their end. It’s always handy to let them know you are using the Kitestring service so they understand what’s happening if they receive a message, but you can customize the message they receive so it makes sense to them.

Can I use it anywhere?

The fact that Kitestring relies solely on SMS, rather than a data connection or standalone app, opens it up to millions of users across the globe who don’t have smartphones. The service is available in 217 countries, although English is the only language currently supported.

We want all your travel experiences to be memorable for all the right reasons. We also want you to be as safe as possible and, if things do go awry for whatever reason, to know that someone will be alerted if you don’t reach your destination.

There is lots more information about Kitestring on our FAQ page including details about setup and usage as well as pricing plans and billing for advanced features.

Kitestring is just one aspect of the Tep product family along with the Teppy personal Wifi hotspot, the Tep+ international messaging app and lots of other additional services.

The device is only $8.95 per day and don’t forget you get unlimited data usage on each day you rent from us.

Find out more about renting a device here.