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!
Speaking 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.
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?
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 rounded 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,