4 international packing hacks

Part of the stress of any international trip is the packing process. Luckily, you can take the pain out of packing by using these easy hacks to bring instant function and organization to your luggage.

Use the cubes

Small square bags with nylon–often used for just shoes–are a quick and easy way to pack neatly and make it easier to find the right clothes once you land. Stuff each cube with same types of clothing. For instance, you can have a cube for tops, a cube for pants and a cube for swimwear.

Mine for multitask pieces

Take a close look at your wardrobe and identify which pieces can serve for multiple outfits. Black pants, for instance, can be paired with several tops and are a better choice than that green and pink pair which only goes with one shirt. If you pack clothes that can do double or triple duty, you won’t need to take as much and will be better off if you end up in an unexpected clothing pinch. Be creative, too! Your favorite wrap dress may just work as a beach blanket after you’ve already worn it.

Skip the matching mini-bags

Your small bags for toiletries, medicines, jewelry and the like shouldn’t all match each other. It’s a cute idea in theory but not very functional. If you use bags with different patterns or colors for each object group, you won’t have to open up multiple bags every time you need one thing.

Have at least one opposite-weather piece

Even the some of the warmest places in the world can have rainy, chilly weather, and the colder spots could see a warm day while you’re there. If you’re going somewhere cold, have at least one short-sleeved item in your luggage. For somewhere warm, take a light fleece or sweater. The last thing you want to do on your vacation is run to the store because you suddenly find yourself freezing or hot in the clothes you brought.

Make sure you’re only taking what you need and do a last-minute check for your passport and other important items before you head to the airport. With a little prep and planning beforehand, you can take the stress out of packing!

Why you should consider a cruise for your next vacation

The world is an amazing place, filled with incredible destinations. This is wonderful in the sense that there are so many places to go. At the same time, having that many options can be overwhelming. Should you see the mountains? What about a beach vacation? Should you go out of the country? Yes? Can you go to more than one country? This avalanche of options is just one reason why a cruise is the perfect way to travel. What are some others?

1. There’s a cruise for every mood

Do you want to lounge on soft sand every day, only taking breaks from the sun worship to cool off in the clear, blue sea? The Caribbean sounds like the best bet for you. Would you rather be in a new city or perhaps even a new country every day? The Mediterranean is calling your name. Are you the type to do something more off the beaten path? Maybe a Baltic and Scandinavian cruise is more your speed.

2. A cruise ship is a city in itself

What other vacation could you take that would allow you to visit foreign countries by day but sing in a piano bar with new friends or dance until you drop at night? If you feel like Italian food one night and then seafood the next, you’ve got options. There are ships with everything from water slides to movie theaters to comedy clubs. It’s the ultimate vacation buffet.

3. Child-friendly

If you have children, you know that a vacation is often not actually a vacation for the parents. With a child-friendly cruise, everybody is happy. The kids can go to the childcare and immerse themselves in themed activities and games while you take that time to yourself you so desperately need. What about the days you want to make lasting family memories? Shore excursions like snorkeling are sure to be a hit.

Are you sold on the cruise now? Perfect. All you have to do is book your trip, get a decent passport photo taken, and pack! And if you’re eager to book a last-minute cruise and want to verify your passport photos to prevent delays, Paspic are here for you.

Photo: Our cruise ship by ukanda licensed under Creative commons 2

Safety tips for a stress-free trip abroad

We all have a tendency to get lazy about security when we travel – it is a break from real life after all! But there’s nothing worse than running into problems when abroad. Taking a few simple cautionary steps can help prevent incidents, and ensure they won’t ruin your trip if they happen.

1. Have copies of important documents

Should something happen and you end up losing important documents like your passport, credit cards, national ID, and other sensitive documents, there are steps you can take to ensure you can get these documents replaced quickly. You should always travel with photocopies of these types of documents, and extra prints of your passports photos from Paspic. This will make getting replacements much easier. Having copies will also make it easier for your embassy or security abroad to help you get home.

2. Spread money around

When you pack, both for your trip and just when packing your backpack or purse for the day out, try to keep your money spread around. If you have two credit cards, leave one in the hotel safe. If you have a lot of cash, divide it up to put in different places. This reduces your risk of losing everything if you are pick-pocketed or robbed.

3. Invest in a good purse, bag, or backpack

Nothing makes travelers a better target than when they have their carrying bags open, loosely at their side, or not secured. The best purses for travel should have a zip, buttons, or magnets (or more than one of these things). Backpacks should also have more than just a zip, or at least not lots of smaller zip pockets that could be easily opened without you noticing. If you’re especially worried or going to a less safe area, invest in a money belt or other device that you can wear under your clothes to hold valuables.

4. Look into travel insurance

If for whatever reason, you know you will be traveling with valuables, it doesn’t hurt to look into traveler’s insurance. You can often insure single items of value or insure yourself for any accidents that could happen while abroad. This can give you complete peace of mind while you travel.

Photo: Tourist by iantmcfarland licensed under Creative commons 2

3 major health benefits of traveling

There are even more reasons to travel than just trying new foods, seeing new things, and becoming a more culturally seasoned person. In addition to the benefits of travel in terms of personal enrichment, traveling has also been demonstrated to pose real health benefits. By making a point to get out there and build your frequent flyer miles up higher, you’re doing yourself a service that will make your primary healthcare provider proud. The following are three of the most significant health benefits of making sure to satisfy your wanderlust on a regular basis.

Increased calorie burn rate

Simply by getting out there and moving from destination to destination on your travels, you’ll naturally be burning more calories from the increased physical activity demanded by walking from place to place. You may not be going to the gym every other day, but by consistently staying on your feet, your overall net calorie burn will actually be greater than it would be with only designated hours for periodic exercise in an otherwise sedentary lifestyle.

You’ll fortify your immune system

By being exposed to new environments, foods and pathogens, your body naturally adapts by strengthening its immune system to accommodate a more diverse array of energy sources and mild ailments. Though you might experience a slight bug upon exposure to unfamiliar germs in unfamiliar countries, this can act as an organic “vaccination” process that helps your body develop new defenses against it.

Decreased stress and susceptibility to depression

Being exposed to new places and experiences will provide a wonderful boost to your mood by dynamically stimulating your reward center with new, pleasant sensations that it hasn’t been desensitized to. The monotony of staying in the same place can elevate stress levels and can leave you feeling anxious and unfulfilled. Taking a trip to a new and exciting place helps you become more deeply immersed in the moment, creating a sense of fulfillment that can linger even weeks after returning home.

Get your passport photo approved with Paspic

In order to enjoy all of the benefits that frequent travel has to offer, you need to make sure that your passport photo checks out before go. If you want a passport picture that perfectly does you justice, contact us at Paspic today so that we can get you on the fast track to photo approval.

Photo: Travel by Moyan_Brenn licensed under Creative commons 2

3 things to do when your first arrive in a new country

Your options for things to do between all of the different countries of the world are very diverse, but no matter where it is that you choose to go, there are a few things to always keep mind no matter what country may be on your itinerary.

You can make the most out of any international trip by going down a checklist of a few essential things to do as soon as you touch down on foreign land. The following are some of the best things to make sure that you do as soon as you arrive in a brand new country.

1. Get briefed at the airport desk

Stop number one should be the airport desk, where you can get brought up to speed on more than a few things that you can use to get yourself right into the swing of life there. The airport can give you a map of the city, the name and address of the hotel in the local tongue, the best directions to get to the hotel, and the rates for local transportation.

2. Start asking the locals questions

When you’re in an unfamiliar place surrounded by unfamiliar things, asking people questions to get up to speed can turn unfamiliar into familiar relatively quickly – it might seem obvious written out right here, but it’s an easy thing to overlook.

Even if you’re not necessarily a fluent speaker who can converse on a native level, there may be staff personnel who know enough rudimentary English to help out tourists. To make things easier, you can also make use of convenient apps that translate what you’d like to say into the native language to make a very simple back-and-forth every possible.

3. Hit the ATM

A lot of people have the idea that the first thing that they should do in a new place is hit up the local money changer, but that’s not completely necessary. You don’t have to take the costly and risky route of ordering a hefty amount of the target currency in advance either. Use your debit card at the nearest ATM and you can get a pretty accommodating rate for the local currency without having to drag around a pound of cash on your person at all times.

When you’re looking to travel abroad, regardless of the first steps you’re thinking of taking on arrival, your passport needs to be immaculate. The easiest way to obtain the perfect passport photo is with Paspic: contact us today to help get yourself ready for new adventures overseas.

Photo: airport by zoetnet licensed under Creative commons 2

Do I need a passport to travel by train to Canada?

Travel to Canada has become a new favorite vacation destination for American families and couples. In fact, it has been steadily growing in popularity over the past decade. The diversity of Canada’s ten provinces and territories has won over Americans looking for a new perspective on our northern neighbor. An emerging trend in tourism to Canadian is by train.

Why travel to Canada?

Top travel professionals rave about the benefits of vacationing in Canada. The country is home to sophisticated urban destinations and quaint countryside villages. The natural wonders of the Canadian landscape include mountain ranges, lakes, and forests. Rarely known fact: in addition to its arctic terrain, there is some desert in Canada, too. Camping, hiking, fishing, and snow sports are popular with locals and tourists. Events and festivals draw a large crowd and loyal following. Gardeners love the flower shows, and the arts and music aficionados gravitate towards the independent film and music events.

Ready to book your trip to Canada?

American citizens should note the passport requirements for entry into Canada. According to the United States Department of State, entry into Canada is bound by Canadian law. Regardless of if you travel by air, train or bus, the law requires that “all persons entering Canada carry both proof of citizenship and proof of identity.” There are several official documents that can satisfy the requirement. American citizens who intend to cross the United States-Canadian border must have of these documents: a passport card, a valid U.S. passport, or NEXUS card. Note: children that are younger than 16 only need proof of present U.S. citizenship.

Fortunately, obtaining the required travel documents to cross the Canadian border are easy. Whether you travel with a passport or passport card, PASPIC will quickly process your passport photo. PASPIC makes the procedure simple. Upload your photo, order your prints, check out and await delivery. Our passport photo experts manually review your uploaded photo to guarantee it meets the US Department of state requirements. Once approved, PASPIC will post your prints and ship first class within two days. Ordering passport pictures with PASPIC is the smart traveler’s choice for quick, quality passport photos at a competitive price. Get your passport photos today to start your adventure tomorrow!

7 tips for the first-time international traveler

First time leaving the country? Make sure you prepare appropriately with these seven tips for your trip.

1. Make sure you understand your money situation

What does the conversion rate look like, will you need cash, if plastic is preferred, will your cards work? It’s quite the headache to only realize AFTER your plane lands that you’re not equipped to pay comfortably.

2. Handle your passport early

Passport delays aren’t uncommon, especially for trickier applications with difficult passport photos, like child and baby passports. Get the paperwork submitted early and make sure you have all necessary passports in hand well before your scheduled trip, to avoid nasty surprises. And once you have them, secure some copies—just in case.

3. Look into extra fees

Some countries charge fees to enter or exit the country and some countries have hidden expenses you won’t know about at first, etc. Other expenses may not be mandatory but could be expected, like tipping in America.

4. Check in with your embassy

By registering with your embassy in the destination country, you add an extra level of protection to your travel—if something goes wrong, it’ll be far easier for your country to help you.

5. Confirm services will work overseas

Credit cards, phone service, health insurance, any or all of these may or may not work when you cross the border into a new country. You may need to sign up for supplementary overseas options.

6. Investigate the area in advance

Whether it’s social taboos to avoid, events to experience, foods to try, or sights to see, you’ll want to know about them in advance. Guidebooks, tourism sites and other sources will give you plenty of information.

7. Make sure your devices will work

Electricity isn’t configured the same around the world, from outlet shapes to voltage, so make sure you’re properly equipped to use your blow dryer or recharge your cell phone during your travels.

These aren’t the only things you should know for overseas travel, but they should give you a good leg up on your travels. Be patient, do your homework, and make sure your trip is one you’ll be glad to remember.

How to survive a long haul flight with a baby

We’ve all been there: the flight attendant just dimmed the lights, you close your eyes and attempt to have a snooze before you land… then a screeching sound erupts from the seat behind and you think “a baby on a flight? That’s insane!”

And yet, when you are that parent and that is your screeching child – what should you do? Babies cry, and some trips just have to happen, no matter if your child just started teething, or recently decided they don’t ‘do’ sleep.

Put your feet up and read our top tips to make traveling with a baby as stress-free as possible:

1. Be a savvy scheduler

When selecting your flight, opt for times that fit with your baby’s schedule. That way you have a better chance of them falling asleep naturally while surfing the clouds. Also, flights at off-peak times are usually quieter, meaning more space for you and your little one. And, if traveling with your baby for the first time, be sure to organise their passport photo in advance to avoid last minute panic.

2. Do your research

Most airlines these days make compensations for people travelling with young children, but there may be other premiums to benefit from. Ask the right questions when you book: can I upgrade? Do you have seats with more leg room? If you don’t ask, you don’t get!

3. Take the reins and pack light

If traveling with an adventurous toddler, bring some reins or a lead along to save you juggling bags, passports and tickets plus your bundle of joy.

And remember that while it’s good to be prepared for multiple eventualities while up in the air, don’t overdo it. Do you really need 20 diapers, or would five do? Avoid unnecessary rifling in the aisle where possible.

4. Learn to let go

When the day arrives, take a deep breath, give your little one a squeeze and go with it. Every parent knows there’s only so much you can control, especially when you’re flying at 50,000 feet. So if someone gives you a funny look; smile and carry on. You’ll be there soon!