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Passionate experience junkie. Lover of the arts and architecture. Want to see and share the world, one village at a time.

5 Distilled Travel Tidbits for February, 2015





Do you have a drawer full of leftover foreign currency? Every time you come home, there’s always a few Euros or Lira you haven’t used. Right? Enter Travelers Box. At some airports around the world you can find this clever kiosk that allows you to convert that extra coinage and bills to a gift card, to your Paypal account, or donate to charity. Provide your email on the kiosk touchscreen, choose where your leftover money will go, and deposit the cash. Travelers Box takes a 5-15% fee and then sends you and email with redemption instructions for gift cards, for instance. See travelersbox.com for locations.

Conrad found one as we were leaving Turkey last year. What a cool idea!


Turkish VisaSpeaking of Turkey, U.K. residents no longer need to stand in long queues at Turkish airports to obtain an entry visa. Holidaymakers headed to Turkey from the U.K. can now apply for a visa online prior to travel. Travelers print out the completed form after giving personal passport information and a £10 fee. As of January 1st, 2015, online is the only place U.K. travelers can apply for the visa – and no longer once you arrive in a Turkish airport. See evisa.gov.tr to apply for the 90-day visa.



Cuba tourism

The latest Cuba travel guidelines offer more freedom in the form of a simple check mark. Yes, place a check mark on a travel form stating which of the 12 categories you fall under for travel to the Caribbean island nation, and you’re on your way. Categories such as journalistic or religious activities, visits to close relatives, or participation in performances are a few of the choices. Prior to the recent changes, travelers had to apply for a license to travel, which could take months to obtain. You may need to list your daily activities while in country also, to ensure you stick to the rules and don’t just soak up the sun on the beautiful beaches there. Are you headed there soon?


Erecting an antenna to boost cell signal in Northern Cameroon

Erecting an antenna to boost cell signal in Northern Cameroon

Did you know that in developing areas of the world, such as Africa, smart phones are the go-to device for computing when the availability of desktops or laptops doesn’t exist? Because of that, app developers target certain areas – such as health care – in order to assist at-risk populations. In Haiti, for instance, an app helps lay health workers better deal with therapy for millions of earthquake victims. Since there are fewer than 30 psychiatrists for 10 million people there, the phone app offers specialized resources to the local generalists. A great use of smart phone apps, don’t you think? Traveler Laura Zera sites more examples in this post.



In January 2015 Expedia.com acquired Travelocity – you know, the company with the little yard gnome mascot. And then just a mere month later Expedia Expedia logorounded out the deal by buying Orbitz for a tidy sum of 1.6 billion dollars. Mind you, Expedia already owns Hotels.com, Hotwire, Trivago, Venere, eLong, and CarRentals.com which now gives the parent company a 75% market share for online travel sites in the United States. The moving parts are many in Expedia’s world right now, among which could be an anti-trust suit brought about by Priceline, its biggest competitor.

My take on it is this: There have been too many booking sites, and this is a good correction to the whole system. Travelers have been confused and dismayed for a lot of years about getting the best lodging price.

Do you think the mergers are a good thing or a bad thing? Why?



Wishing you safe and happy travels always and all ways,


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30 Responses to “5 Distilled Travel Tidbits for February, 2015”

  1. Hey Josie, thanks for including me in your post! And as for the online booking sites, I didn’t know Expedia also scooped Orbitz! I’ve found Trivago to be useful for finding the lowest hotel room rates — it compiles all the sites and seems to be a bit more user friendly than Kayak, IMHO anyway.
    Laura Zera recently posted..The Desire Map: What It Is, Why It Might Call to YouMy Profile

    February 16, 2015 at 2:28 am Reply
    • Hi Laura,
      Trivago, huh? Have not visited the site — I appreciate the feedback!
      Hope all is well with you and yours,

      February 16, 2015 at 9:19 am Reply
  2. Thanks for the round-up – I love the tip on Travelers Box. I’ll definitely watch for it!
    Michele Peterson (A Taste for Travel) recently posted..12 reasons I’m tempted to drop everything and move to GrenadaMy Profile

    February 16, 2015 at 11:33 am Reply
    • Hi Michele,
      Travelers Boxes are not in very many airports, so I hope they expand. Leaving your leftover change is a win-win.
      Thanks so much for stopping by.

      February 16, 2015 at 12:54 pm Reply
  3. Donna Janke #

    Interesting roundup of travel tidbits. Travelers Box sounds like a fantastic idea.

    February 16, 2015 at 11:50 am Reply
  4. Thanks for the great information and tips. How interesting that Expedia now owns some of the other sites I’ve used to search for hotels and fares – at least I won’t have to compare so many companies!
    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go recently posted..The Kunuku Homes of CuracaoMy Profile

    February 16, 2015 at 5:54 pm Reply
    • Hi Anita,
      Expedia’s reach makes it a monopoly. The pricing of hotel rooms makes no sense to me — like gas prices lately! They go up and down so arbitrarily!
      Wishing you happy travels — and low lodging costs!

      February 17, 2015 at 7:24 am Reply
  5. This is such a fun post. Love the Traveler Box idea! Don’t we all wind up with loose change when transitioning? And I don’t know about the whole Expedia thing. Getting a little big for their britches maybe? I think maybe I’ll stick with skyscanner.net and individual hotel sites for points redemptions. 🙂
    Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru recently posted..Become Location Independent: Ultimate GuideMy Profile

    February 16, 2015 at 7:55 pm Reply
    • Hi Betsy,
      Very good point — to stay with the hotels where you have their reward programs.
      Thanks for stopping by!

      February 17, 2015 at 7:26 am Reply
  6. Fun and informative post, thanks. I agree that there are too many booking sites so glad to see some consolidation.
    The GypsyNesters recently posted..Do People Live in the Galapagos Islands?My Profile

    February 16, 2015 at 9:38 pm Reply
  7. Thanks for all the travel tidbits! I studied international business and read about the cell phone use and apps in Africa – they are miles ahead of the rest of us when it comes to using mobile phones for transactions, health care, etc.
    Susan Moore recently posted..Going Nomadic – Pros and Cons – Should I Go Nomadic?My Profile

    February 16, 2015 at 9:41 pm Reply
    • Hi Susan,
      This is a fantastic comment! How cool that you are familiar with the use of cell phone apps in Africa — and that their use is advanced. Thanks so much for your addition to this discussion.

      February 17, 2015 at 7:29 am Reply
  8. So nice that your travels are always filled with new information and that you share it with others! Love the coin box idea especially~
    Irene S. Levine recently posted..Solo travelers finding their way to all-inclusive resortsMy Profile

    February 18, 2015 at 9:21 am Reply
    • I know Irene! Travel box needs to be in every airport.

      February 18, 2015 at 5:46 pm Reply
  9. Lots of interesting tidbits! I think the acquisition of Orbitz will erode competition and not benefit consumers. I’m personally not in favor of it but that probably won’t affect the outcome much! I’m a direct booker when I travel on my own dime so I guess I won’t get my knickers in a knot over the whole thing!
    Kay Dougherty recently posted..Oh, Say Can You See?My Profile

    February 18, 2015 at 10:26 pm Reply
    • Right Kay, Expedia’s acquisition of Orbitz will erode competition. The hotel booking market is evolving. I hope consumers can stay aware and not get screwed!
      I’m with you, too, in that I never book through those sites anyway!

      February 19, 2015 at 10:21 am Reply
  10. Currently, I just give my leftover currency to a charity. I used to save it, but so many currencies change and then you have coins worth nothing to anyone. Of course, I do enjoy having a box full of varied coins but at this point I would like to just donate it all to charity. Do you know how I can do that?
    Carole Terwilliger Meyers recently posted..Things to Do: Alapay Cellars, Avila Beach, CaliforniaMy Profile

    February 19, 2015 at 6:04 pm Reply
    • Hi Carole,
      A quick google turned up many charities that will take foreign coins. Nice idea!

      February 20, 2015 at 7:28 am Reply
  11. I like hotelscombined.com for hotels – combines most of the main hotel websites, including a few Hotels.com, booking etc.
    James recently posted..House Sitting in Los Altos de Cerro Azul, PanamaMy Profile

    February 20, 2015 at 12:25 pm Reply
    • Hi James,
      I’ll have to check that site — Thanks! I appreciate your comment.

      February 20, 2015 at 10:07 pm Reply
  12. Loved this “round up”. I really do want to go to Cuba. I have heard that it still has retained the charm of long ago. I love the idea of the Travelers Box, I would love to see it ALL go to charity. There is never enough money for everyone and every little bit helps. Great post!
    Suzanne Stavert recently posted..A Postcard Perfect Visit to FlorenceMy Profile

    March 9, 2015 at 5:04 pm Reply
    • Thanks Suzanne,
      I agree, all of that extra change could do a world of good for charities. If only you were queen of the world to make it so . . .

      March 9, 2015 at 5:08 pm Reply
  13. Great travel tidbits! I didn’t know about the Expedia takeovers. It was confusing with so many players, but I like to see some competition, so maybe Expedia is getting too powerful? The Travellers box is a great idea!
    Shelley recently posted..Letting Go of Our Inhibitions at a Historic Turkish BathMy Profile

    March 10, 2015 at 2:37 am Reply
    • Hi Shelley,
      Expedia being so powerful has the potential of being detrimental to travelers, but we’ll have to see. Expedia’s true colors will begin to show . . .
      Hope all is well in your corner of the world,

      March 10, 2015 at 8:53 am Reply
  14. The Travel Box sounds like a great idea but completely unnecessary when you fly in to Sydney Australia. Here you will find a charity box which takes money of any denomination – your money goes straight to UNICEF without anyone taking a percentage as I understand it.
    Lyn aka TheTravellingLindfields recently posted..How to wreck a bike! (part 2).My Profile

    March 23, 2015 at 5:21 pm Reply
    • Hey Lyn,
      I swear, Australia’s ahead of the pack on most things! Thanks for that fine tidbit.

      March 23, 2015 at 6:02 pm Reply
  15. Alba #

    Hey Josie – Great notes. There was an airline that for a while was collecting up passengers extra foreign coins for UNICEF a few years back. I loved the concept. Happy to see that someone has figured out a way to make some money AND create a benefit to this idea. Love your posts. As for the merging of all those travel sites – not wild about one organization monopolizing 75% of the travel websites. Not good. I rely pretty heavily on TripAdvisor for reviews – but I’ll often go direct to a business once I’ve figured out what I want via Expedia, etc. because often hotels give direct-customers better rooms than the ones that book via a service which charges them a fee. You won’t save money – usually – but generally you’ll get better treatment!

    April 13, 2015 at 4:01 pm Reply
    • Hi Alba,
      Yes you’re right — American Airlines still does collect leftover currency for UNICEF. Traveler’s Box contacted me after I wrote this post and said they are hard at work to expand into more airports.
      I like Tripadvisor also. I think your booking methods sound logical and useable.
      Thanks so much for your kind words! I appreciate you!

      April 13, 2015 at 6:31 pm Reply
  16. Traveller’s Box a great idea – we’ve been on the road almost a year and I’ve got a bag of coins that I don’t know what to do with. Havn’t see it anywhere but now that I know will keep eyes open.

    We’re big Cuba fans, have been many times. Things will be changing for sure and fast…happy for the average Cuban but also selfishly sad because many of the unique aspects of Cuban travel will disappear.

    Frank (bbqboy)
    Frank recently posted..A Day Trip to Trogir, CroatiaMy Profile

    April 23, 2015 at 5:07 pm Reply
    • Hi Frank,
      Traveler’s Boxes ARE hard to find because there are only a few of them out there — so far.
      I’m envious of your long experience in Cuba. You are so fortunate to have seen it before tourism opened up.
      Wishing you safe and happy travels,

      April 24, 2015 at 7:41 am Reply

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