Turkey

Preparing for Protests in Turkey

Our trip to Turkey is exactly one month away and I could not be more excited! However, due to the civil unrest that broke out in Turkey a couple of months ago, many people have asked me if I am worried about traveling there during a somewhat tumultuous time. The short answer: No, I am not worried.

Anti-government protests erupted in Turkey in May and resulted in thousands of injuries as well as at least five deaths. The protesting began in Istanbul and quickly spread throughout other cities in Turkey. While the situation has calmed down tremendously since June, there are still sporadic pockets of civil disobedience throughout the country. But I am not deterred! Someone find me a “Turkey or Bust” bumper sticker pronto! I am happy the situation appears to have quieted down considerably, but I think it is safe to say that I would still be packing my bags even if it hadn’t.

Sound crazy? You might think I’m off my rocker, but I’m chalking it up to the fact that my husband and I are pretty savvy travelers with a keen sense of situational awareness. There are very few places that I would be afraid to travel to, especially when there is a coveted new passport stamp on the line! With that being said, I do believe traveling “smarter” can go a really long way. So that is why I just enrolled in STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) through the State Department. STEP is a free service for travelers living in or visiting a foreign country that allows the State Department to better assist you in the event of an emergency. The program also provides travel alerts and warnings that pertain to any country you are visiting. In short, this program will help you stay informed, stay connected and stay safe! If you have an upcoming foreign trip planned, you can enroll in STEP here.

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Photo from theblaze.com

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General, Random

Trust the Turtle

Since I recently bought a shiny new camera, I also had to buy a new camera bag to keep her cozy and warm. Luckily, this purchase didn’t require any research (very much unlike my camera purchase) because I knew immediately what brand I would buy! About a year ago I discovered Pacsafe products and they are now my go-to brand for all of my travel baggage needs. Pacsafe offers high-quality travel gear with a boat load of built-in anti-theft technology. Most of their products include features such as: slash-proof straps, RFID blocking pockets, locking zippers, & exomesh slash-guards.

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photo from google images

Have you ever had your gear stolen? If it has never happened to you personally, I’m sure you have at least heard stories from friends or family about getting ripped off while traveling. Having your passport or credit cards stolen can really ruin your vacation. Becoming a victim of identity theft could cause you to freeze all of your accounts while still in a foreign country. And those amazing photographs you shot, well they could be gone forever because of someone with sticky fingers! I like to think that I am a savvy traveler and I try to always maintain my situational awareness. Hauling my gear in a Pacsafe bag does not mean that I get to completely let my guard down while traveling, but it does provide added peace of mind. I am by no means suggesting that Pacsafe products will guarantee the security of your belongings, but I will say they add a few more barriers between your precious cargo and those pesky thieves.

The newest addition to my Pacsafe arsenal is the Camsafe 100 Camera Shoulder Bag.

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photo from amazon.com

This bag has plenty of padding, as well as anti-theft features that will keep my camera well protected. This bag also has lots of separate gadget pockets that are perfect for battery chargers, spare batteries, memory cards, cell phones, even a water bottle. This bag has enough room to carry all of my essentials while day tripping, thereby eliminating the need to also carry a purse. Score!

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photo from amazon.com

I also own (and love!) the Pacsafe Slingsafe 300 Gii Backpack and Slingsafe 250 Gii Handbag.

Why the turtle? Pacsafe’s products were initially inspired by the independent global wanderings of the sea turtle. They now have their own turtle foundation to help the dwindling turtle population. And we all know how much I love to help the turtles! If you don’t know…click here and here.

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Destinations, Nicaragua

Should You Travel to Nicaragua?

When talking to people prior to our trip to Nicaragua, I got the same question over and over again, “Is it safe there?” To which my reply was always the same, “It’s safe enough.” When I say I want to see the world, I really mean I want to see all of it, not just the places that have a Four Seasons. With that being said, there are many things a tourist can do to travel safely. Here are a few tips should you ever decide to visit Nicaragua:

Language: I have been to several Spanish-speaking countries before, even though I do not speak Spanish. During my other travels, I never felt like it created too much of a problem with communication as many of the locals spoke a fair amount of English. However, that was not the case in Nicaragua. Luckily, Rob and Tami both spoke Spanish so it was not an issue during our vacation. But, if you don’t speak Spanish, and neither do your travel companions, Nicaragua might not be the best choice for you.

Transportation: As I mentioned in a previous post, police corruption is definitely an issue in Nicaragua. This can make driving in a rental car a bit stressful; and let’s be honest, not everyone can afford to charter a helicopter! A good solution to this problem is to hire a driver rather than renting a car. This can be done at a reasonable cost. You won’t have the same amount of flexibility as you would with your own rental, but you also won’t have the headache of paying off the police for your traffic “violations.”

Safety: According to Wikitravel, Nicaragua was rated the safest country in Central America. I definitely felt much more “at ease” in Costa Rica, but I still thought Nicaragua was fairly safe. With that being said, common sense and good situational awareness will go a long way! Previously, I mentioned our neighbors at Playa Coco were robbed by a guy with a machete, but I doubt they were savvy travelers. Walking around after dark, in an isolated area, is just asking for trouble no matter what country you are visiting. Don’t make yourself an easy target.

Our trip to Nicaragua was an adventure, to say the least. The country really does have a lot to offer for tourists, so don’t write it off just yet.

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