Think about all the times you travel, whether it’s for business or leisure.  Maybe you’re going home to reconnect with the friends and family you abandoned to pursue your dream of traveling around the world. Perhaps you plan to escape the concrete jungle for a few days, bounce around a place where you don’t speak the native language and see what happens.

In any event, chances are high that you’d like pictures to commemorate the occasion and to silence skeptical co-workers as to your incredible whereabouts.  There’s an equal chance that you instinctively reach for your smartphone anytime you feel a photo-op coming on. But is it really the best option to gather your friends and family to smile at an object you use to take trivial selfies and candid photos of people sleeping on the subway? It’s time to think about a getting a camera made for travelers.

What about the camera on my smartphone?

iphone

Image by Scott Swigart – Licensed Under CC BY-SA 2.0

Unless you are using the latest flagship smartphone like the iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S6, your average smartphone might not be able to deliver quality images in certain environments (like low-light conditions or action shots). While it is certainly true that smartphone cameras have come a long way and are fully capable of capturing vivid, defined images:  The ugly reality is an overwhelming percentage of smartphone cameras simply do not deliver the quality advertised.  Most of the images you see in promotional materials have been touched up by professionals using sophisticated software not available for your phones.

While it’s difficult to find a smartphone camera that holds up to scrutiny, it is fairly easy to land on a true digital camera that takes quality photos and doesn’t cost a lot of money.  You will benefit from larger image sensors, better internal computer components, and overall have more control over your image (provided you are daring enough to take your camera off the default “full auto” shooting mode.)

Point-and-Shoot Cameras – The “One Size Fits Most” Solution

digital camera

Image by Vernon Chan is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The first image most people think of when they think “digital cameras” are in fact point-and-shoot cameras. As the name implies, these cameras are engineered with an emphasis on user-friendliness. Once you’ve got a few basic preferences set, you truly can swing the camera out of your pocket and snap a photo anytime, anywhere.

While the performance level of these cameras varies from model to model, they tend to have a lot of features in common such as:

  • External LCD Viewfinder
  • 8.0 – 21.0 Megapixel Image Sensors
  • Quality Optical Zoom Range with Extended Digital Zoom
  • Optical Image Stabilization
  • Reusable Storage Media (Such as SD Cards)
  • Full HD Video Recording Capability (1080p)
  • Rechargeable Batteries
  • USB Data Transfer Cables
  • Wi-Fi Enabled for Sharing Photos on Social Media

Free Wifi SpotThe last feature (Wi-Fi) is an important one for many users.  For years, internet-connected smartphones were the only game in town that could shoot a picture straight to social media.  Now, digital cameras have caught onto the craze and enable users the same capability with a sharp uptick in image quality.

Do you need something that’s weather-sealed or waterproof?  What about a longer zoom, or better low-light capabilities?  These additional features are available from companies you definitely recognize like Sony, Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Kodak, and more.  Best of all, with an average sticker price between $99 – $299, you won’t break the bank to get what you want.

DSLRs / Interchangeable Lens Cameras – For Power Users

Image by 600D is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Professional photographers never leave home without their DSLR bag.  Tucked away in this carry-on sized tote can be a couple of lens options, extra batteries, memory cards, lens cloths, and perhaps even a collapsible table-top tripod.  These performance-minded models can pick up fine details in any scene, giving even candid shots a professional “magazine” quality.

To obtain that level of quality, you will be investing thousands of dollars and dozens of hours pouring over books and online training materials to master even a single model of DSLR camera.  Many people will find this option to be cost-prohibitive or too complicated when compared to a point-and-shoot experience.

However, straddling the line between prosumer models ($799.99 and beyond for just the camera body) and consumer models is a line of all-in-one DSLR solutions offered by many of the top manufacturers mentioned in the previous section.  These models are bulkier, more suited to hanging off the neck than they are stuffed into a pocket, but they are certainly travel-sized nonetheless.  These value DSLR models can be had for $399.99 – $599.99. They combine the user-friendliness or point-and-shoot cameras with the professional results of prosumer interchangeable lens cameras.

A good example of this is the Canon Black EOS Rebel T5.  At the time this article was written, this DSLR can be found readily in stores and online packaged with an 18-55mm zoom lens for under $400 and the results you will get easily outclass a typical point-and-Shoot camera.  You may need to watch a YouTube tutorial (like the one below) or two to get the hang of a camera like this, but in this age of rechargeable batteries and reusable storage media, it literally costs next to nothing to master a basic DSLR.

 

Final Recommendation

It all comes down to your preferences. Some people may own a phone with a great camera but choose a point and shoot camera since they may have a different phone these use for traveling. If you prefer to travel like a minimalist and have as little items on your person as possible, a cell phone might be all you need.  If you want a camera that captures HD-quality images, you may opt to buy a quality DSRL camera.  Luckily, quality cameras are plentiful and offer features that ensure your photos capture your memories exactly how you remember them.  Many digital cameras are super tiny (like a smartphone) and can easily be slipped into a pocket, ready to pop out and immortalize your adventures this holiday travel season.

Article courtesy of offshore-mag.comoil prices reach 2016 high oilfieldlodging.com

NEW YORK CITYOil prices rose one percent in volatile trading on Thursday with US crude hitting a six-month high, according to a Reuters report.

The increase in prices came as investors weighed a forecast for tighter global supplies against signs of another storage build. Worries of a major outage in Nigerian crude also boosted the market, some traders said.

Brent crude futures settled up 48 cents at $48.08/bbl, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures rose 47 cents to settle at $46.70/bbl. During the day, WTI futures hit a six-month high of $47.02/bbl.

With that, Brent was on track for a weekly rise of 6% and WTI 4%, continuing a broad uptrend that has added about $20/bbl from lows in January and February.

WTI could advance to almost $51/bbl in the near-term “on pure technical merits,” Jim Ritterbusch of Chicago-based oil markets consultancy Ritterbusch & Associates was quoted to say in the report. “But from a longer-term perspective, we still see this market setting up for a hard fall next month” from a potential dollar rally or weak Chinese economic data, he added.

WTI initially rallied early after the International Energy Agency raised its 2016 global oil demand growth forecast to 1.2 MMb/d from 1.16 MMb/d in April. Brent also jumped as the IEA noted a combined decline of 450,000 b/d in Nigerian, Libyan, and Venezuelan output from a year ago.

Is travel insurance a waste of money – or essential for smart travelers? The truth lies in-between, and will depend on several factors. In this article, we’ll find the best answer for you.

What Is Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance is made up of two basic parts: trip insurance and medical insurance. You can purchase the parts individually or together, and most insurance companies will let you customize your coverage piece by piece to fit your needs. The basic components of a travel insurance plan include:

  • Trip Cancellation: If you have to cancel your trip for a valid reason before your departure, you will be reimbursed for the pre-paid, non-refundable portion of your trip. Insurance companies vary wildly in their definition of a “valid reason,” so it is essential that you ask. If you need coverage that lets you cancel for any reason whatsoever, you’ll need to spring for a premium plan.
  • Trip Interruption: If you must return home in the middle of your trip due to a “valid reason” – such as your house burning down – you will be reimbursed for the additional expenses you incur for returning home early.
  • Emergency Medical Expenses: If you are injured or fall ill during a trip, you will be reimbursed for your expenses.
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation: If you become seriously ill or injured during a trip and need to be transported to an adequate medical facility, you will be reimbursed for the cost of transportation.
  • Baggage Loss: If you lose your baggage or possessions, you will be reimbursed for the value up to a certain amount.
  • Baggage Delay: If your bags are delayed and you have to purchase a change of clothes/toothbrush/etc., you will be reimbursed for your expenses up to a certain amount.
  • Accidental Death & Dismemberment: If you die or lose a limb or two in an accident, you would receive this additional coverage.
  • Repatriation of Remains: If you die abroad, the insurance company will pay to ship your remains back home.

Although these are the main components of most travel insurance plans, you can opt for additional services and coverage including: extreme sports, travel delay, rental car coverage, ID theft, concierge services, emergency cash transfers, and flight accidents.

Do You Need Travel Insurance?

Mountain Climbing

Extreme sports are one reason to consider travel insurance.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you in poor health?
  • Are you traveling to a destination with inadequate medical facilities and/or emergency services?
  • Are you planning to engage in extreme sports or dangerous activities?
  • Are you anyone’s primary caregiver?
  • Are you a natural worrier that would value peace of mind over the expense of an insurance plan?
  • Are you booked on a tour that requires travel insurance?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then travel insurance may be the right choice for you.

How to Choose a Travel Insurance Plan

Nikon Camera

You may need to purchase additional coverage to cover lost or stolen property

Check your existing insurance coverage. Find out if your health insurance plan provides protection in foreign countries – most domestic insurers do not. Your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance may cover losses or theft away from home. Your life insurance policy probably covers you anywhere on the planet, and your car insurance may cover you in a rental car. You may also have existing coverage through your credit card company or auto club such as AAA.

Buy insurance from a third party. If you purchase the insurance offered by your tour operator, cruise company, or airline, you won’t be covered if they go bankrupt. Here are some reputable travel insurance providers to check out:

Consider additional insurance. If you travel with expensive electronics, sports equipment or jewelry, you may need extra coverage. Extreme sports often require additional coverage as well.

Cover the basics. Look for a plan with at least $100,000 for emergency medical expenses. Make sure the company has a 24-hour helpline that is available by collect call from anywhere in the world.

Read the fine print. Every insurance company is different. For example, if unforseen weather (such as a hurricane) forces you to evacuate your hotel or resort, basic travel insurance may not cover those costs.

Long flights can be dreadful. Especially when Wi-Fi is down or the in-flight movies are less than appealing. You can always read a book, listen to music, or sleep, but for long flights, those three things can get old fast. Below are 10 productive things (well, except for number nine) you can do on a flight.

1. Organize your phone.

Free up some memory by getting rid of apps you never use and embarrassing photos of yourself you accidently snapped with your front facing camera. You can also organize your apps based on categories like travel apps, fitness apps, music apps, etc.

phone apps

2. Create music playlists.

Using Spotify, 8Tracks or your own tunes, create playlists based on your interests or activities: Travel playlists, workout playlists, party playlists, road trip playlists–the options are limitless.

create playlist

Offline tip: If you have Spotify Premium, you can make up to 3,333 songs available offline.

3. Listen to Podcasts.

Podcasts are a great, free source of entertainment. The best part about podcasts is that you can download them and listen to them offline. The hit series Serial helped to popularize podcasts and due to its success, many more podcasts have emerged.

podcasts

Popular podcasts include:

4. Plan out your trip.

On your way to explore a new place? Plan out the details of your trip like where to eat, where to grab a drink, and map out the sites you want to see. You can even use TripCase to help you plan out your travel itinerary.

blog-feature-tripfeed

5. Create an exercise or diet plan.

A successful exercise or diet plan requires planning. First, Take a moment to write out your goals. For workouts, plan out which exercises you’ll do on what days. Include sets, reps, and duration. For your diet, make a list of foods you like and dislike. Decide which of those foods you’ll eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (don’t forget snacks).

diet plan

6. Learn to draw.

Pack a small sketchbook and pencil in your carry on and try out your drawing skills (or use a stylus and tablet). Save a few photos to your phone that you can use as a reference or find an app or ebook that will walk you through the steps.

drawing

7. Learn to code.

Coding is a great skill to learn and there are hundreds of programming languages you can explore. There are thousands of free references like W3Schools or Code Academy. For many languages, like HTML and CSS, all you need is a simple text editor like Notepad (but check out Notepad++ or Sublime for a better learning experience).

learn to code

Offline tip: For offline learning, bring a book or save your favorite lessons from the web as a PDF.

8. Edit your photos.

Chances are, you have tons of photos on your phone–some may need more attention than others. Keep it simple with basic edits like brightness and contrast or play around with cool filters and special effects. Check out these photo editing apps for iPhone or these apps for Android.

phone photos

9. Color in a coloring book.

Adult coloring books are all the rage right now. Aside from being a fun activity to kill time, there are claims that coloring has therapeutic benefits such as relieving stress or anxiety. If you prefer not to carry on a bunch of crayons or colored pencils, you can even download coloring books on your tablet.

colored pencils

10. Learn a new language.

This is a perfect option if you are traveling internationally. There are tons of websites and apps, likeDuoLingo or Loecsen, that can help you conquer even the toughest languages. And in some instances, learning a new language or two can really help your career.

bonjour

Summer Travel Tips

As summer kicks into gear, you’re likely heading out on some awesome family vacations, getaway trips, or just more sales meetings and conferences. No matter the purpose of your trip, we’re here to help you travel smarter with some summer travel tips that we’ve picked up through our travels.

  1. Use those weekdays – as creatures of habit, it’s easy to book your trip over a regular week. However, you’ll get better rates and travel more smoothly if you can schedule with the weekend in the middle. Try to leave on a Thursday and return on Tuesday or Wednesday, for instance.
  2. Raise the roof – when you book your hotel, request a room on a higher floor. Most vacationers will book lower floors to be closer to the pool, so a higher room may reduce the noise, and probably give you a better view, as well.
  3. Get a rashguard – instead of slathering sunblock on every few hours, buy a long-sleeve rashguard. These lightweight “swim shirts” will protect your skin from the sun, dry quickly, and come in a huge variety of sizes and colors.
  4. Stay Connected – a portable power pack is one of our favorite travel gadgets, and fits easily in your pocket or bag. You can get them in all different shapes, sizes, and capacities, so choose one that fits your needs and you’re good to go.
  5. Use TripCase – obviously, the best thing you can do is put all your trip details into TripCase. We’ll keep you up-to-date with free flight alerts, seatmaps, and weather forecasts, and you can even use TripCase on your fancy new smartwatch. We’ll even help you remember that awesome dive bar you found while strolling along the beach.

Globally, business travel spend will reach an astounding $1.25 Trillion by the end of 2015. That’s trillion with a “t” for business travel alone, not counting personal travel. Clearly, businesses continue to see the value of meeting in-person.

The growth is especially strong in China, which is forecast to grow 61% by 2019. Other emerging countries expecting to reach new heights included Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia, Poland and Malaysia.

We put together the infographic below to keep you updated on some of the highlights:

business travel infographic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: http://www.gbta.org/PressReleases/Pages/rls_072615.aspx

We have exciting news for our business travel partners, which means it could be a big deal to you, too. We’ve announced a corporate travel industry breakthrough, and thought you might like to get details from us. In a nutshell, we’re putting a direct line between you and your company’s travel department.

“The consumerization of business travel continues to put pressure on corporations to meet employees’ expectations for simple tools to help them shop, book and manage their business trips,” said John Samuel, senior vice president of Sabre Traveler Solutions. “TripCase Corporate closes the gap between the company’s need for efficiency and control, and the traveler’s desire for flexibility and choice.”

Straight up — you’ll be even more taken care of by your travel department and not have to do any more work. You’re welcome. Learn more from your travel manager and watch as new features roll out early next year.

I’ve had the good fortune of traveling the world for business. I’m not one of those travelers who have only seen the airport, the backseat of a cab, and a white-washed hotel room.  In the hundreds of cities around the world I’ve visited, I get out and experience it…whether it’s a new city or my own backyard!  I’ve been to the theater in London, had the best Uruguayan wine in Montevideo, taken a Segway tour of San Diego, shopped my way through Hong Kong, added a love lock to the Hohenzollernbrucke bridge in Cologne, and had my own personal New York vs. Chicago pizza throw down (I won’t tell you who won!)

That’s why TripCase works best for me!  It allows me to mix business with pleasure, in one easy itinerary view, and now with my company using TripCase Corporate, I can let my corporate travel manager know where I am, even when I have to book segments outside of our program.

How you ask? It’s easy! My account associates me with my company, so now when I send a segment to [email protected] or manually add a segment to my TripCase trip, I simply click the box next to “For Business” and I’ve given permission for TripCase to share that with my travel manager.  She’ll see the segments I want her to see in order to keep me connected and safe on an easy-to-read dashboard.  Even better, trips that are automatically imported into my account from my travel agency or my company’s online corporate booking tool are already marked as business. Magic!

Now, don’t think for a minute I always explore alone!  When my coworkers travel with me, I share my itinerary with them so they know what I have planned and can come along for the fun.  They’ll receive a notification that I’ve shared my trip and have a timeline view of my itinerary in the “Following” tab of the app. I can also set up my colleagues, family, and friends as “Always Share” contacts-perfect when you want to keep your Administrative Assistant in the loop or just taunt your sister with all of your adventures!

Traveling for business can be fun – it’s a great way to see the world and experience the different cultures of your partners, coworkers, and clients. However, it can also be a big drain on your productivity if you’re not prepared. Here are a few ways you can maintain your productivity while you’re on the road.

1. Setup an email auto-response or out-of-office message – if you’re constantly traveling, you may be tempted to skip this. However, a properly created auto-response can help funnel inquiries to an assistant or coworker who may be able to respond more quickly than you. It can also set proper response expectations for your contacts, freeing you from the urge to respond immediately.

2. Choose a hotel with the right amenities – instead of looking for a hotel with a great pool or on-site sauna, look for hotels with an on-site office center, dry cleaning, or other business-centric offers. Being able to work properly and have the support you need will help you feel more relaxed in the long run.

3. Keep an ethernet cable in your bag – don’t gamble on the hotel WiFi – it may be a slow connection, or you may not get a strong signal in your room on the 20th floor. Most hotel rooms have an in-room ethernet port, and a wired connection is usually much more stable, reliable, and faster than wireless. A 6-foot ethernet cable won’t take up much room, but it’ll give you enough slack to get comfortable while working.

4. Use TripCase – OK, so this is a bit of an obvious one, but TripCase can keep you focused on work, since you won’t need to waste time shuffling through various confirmation emails or worrying about whether your flight is delayed or on time.

One of the travel trends that have been increasing in popularity over the past few years is the merging of business and leisure travel. As younger professionals begin traveling for work, they’re increasingly adding a couple of days of leisure travel, in a phenomenon some have dubbed “bleisure” (we really hope the name doesn’t stick). In fact,  according to a recent survey, 56% of travelers aged 18-34 have tacked leisure time onto a work trip, compared with only 36% of travelers aged 35-44. Here’s a few tips to help you save money by combining business and leisure travel.

1. Check Your Corporate Travel Policy

How To Save Money By Combining Business and Leisure Travel

Some companies allow their employees to book personal travel at negotiated corporate rates. Depending on your company, these rates might be better than even discount hotel websites. Keep in mind, it’s typically still up to the employee to pay for these nights, but this can result in big savings, especially at some of the larger hotel chains.

2. Switch Hotels

How To Save Money By Combining Business and Leisure Travel

If you’re not allowed to use your negotiated corporate rate for personal travel, it might be worthwhile to switch hotels mid-trip. Often, a hotel’s weekend rates are lower, particularly in less leisure-focused cities. Switching hotels might even mean heading to a suburb – if your meetings are in Manhattan, check Brooklyn for lower leisure rates.

3. Build Up Loyalty Perks

How To Save Money By Combining Business and Leisure Travel

Most hotel chains have a loyalty program that includes amenities such as free access to fitness centers, in-room WiFi, discounts on spa treatments, or even free nights. Be sure to sign up and register your business travel with the hotel’s loyalty program. It might also get you a free room upgrade when you extend your stay.

4. Explore nearby

How To Save Money By Combining Business and Leisure Travel

Beyond just switching hotels, travelers might be able to explore a new city within range of their business destination. For instance, if you have meetings in San Francisco, you could rent a car and drive south along the California coast for a few days in Monterey, then drive back for your flight out. This is a great way to see more of the country and explore locations that might otherwise be out of reach.

5. Use Connections Wisely

As a reminder, when you’re adding leisure days to a business trip, it’s always a good idea to check your corporate travel policy or talk to your travel manager, to make sure you know your company’s specific policies.

Property Management