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Traveling Abroad? Leave Your Cash at Home




Times have changed, and it’s no longer necessary to exchange cash as soon as you arrive in a foreign country. In fact, you can save time and money – and prevent theft – by using your bank card or credit card, which will usually give you a more competitive exchange rate. But, before traveling abroad, it pays to research banks and credit cards so you can avoid foreign transaction fees.

Exchange Booth Visits Unnecessary, Unsafe When Traveling Abroad

Traveling abroad, you often overhear stories of first-time travelers who have been ripped off at local money exchanges or, worse, pick-pocketed out of large sums of cash. Many travelers, it seems, are unaware of how far and wide global banking and the cashless society have spread, and falsely believe they need to manually exchange cash the moment they arrive on foreign soil.

The reality is that most travelers should never need to visit the exchange booth – and doing so is actually risky.

Your Bank is More Regulated than Money Exchanges

This is not to say that you can always travel out of the country without obtaining local currency. In all likelihood, you’ll want to have some cash on hand when traveling abroad. But the places that you would think are regulated to give you a fair market rate are often the worst of all.

Airports, in particular, are notorious for their horrible exchange rates – and there’s no guarantee that the guy a few streets away is any better. And even then, you’ll want to carefully count the coins and dollars while the line is building up behind you.

By and large, the most convenient and affordable option when traveling abroad is simply to pull your money out of an ATM with your bank card. American banks are highly regulated and have to give you competitive exchange rates, and the most they can ding you on is an ATM fee (more on how to avoid these later).

The expert traveler himself, Rick Steves, recommends avoiding money exchanges altogether and taking money out at the airport ATM upon arrival.

Pay with Plastic for Comparable Exchange Rates

Paying directly with your credit card or bank card are good options if you want to avoid cash altogether when traveling abroad, although this is more feasible on a short trip to a developed country. Nearly everyone accepts credit these days, and the exchange rate will be comparable to your bank’s at the ATM.

If you decide to go this route, it’s a good idea to purchase more services online in your domestic currency where possible, like mobile taxis and hotels. With credit cards, you have to watch out for foreign transaction fees, which we’ll discuss more below.

Bank Cards and Credit Cards Are More Secure Than Cash

Both credit and bank cards offer more security than cash when traveling abroad because you can dispute fraudulent transactions and cancel your cards if stolen.

With bank cards, you can take out what you need at the time, rather than exchange everything all at once, so you won’t have to exchange as much money back to your currency when you leave (and lose money in the process).

One strategy is to keep a card and small sums of cash on your person and leave a backup card at the hotel. If one card disappears, you can report it immediately and stop any fraudulent transactions from going through.
If your cash is taken, nobody is going to reimburse you. Often the thought of a big stash hiding back at the hotel, even if it’s locked, can cause a lot of stress when you should be enjoying yourself while traveling abroad.

Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees

While most reputable banks and credit card companies offer decent exchange rates and low-ish foreign transaction fees, it does pay to shop around, especially if you plan on traveling frequently. The Points Guy gives a rundown of some quality cards, with Chase Sapphire coming out on top. Capital One cards are also associated with low or zero foreign transaction fees.

Foreign transaction fees for bank cards and ATM withdrawals can be more difficult to determine. Usually, it’s best to call the bank and ask about their foreign fee schedule. If the foreign transaction fees are high, you may want to look into getting a new checking account. In general, online banks like Charles Schwab and Ally tend to be more generous about refunding ATM fees, even when you’re abroad.

Don’t be duped into thinking that you need to rely on cash and the local money exchanges when traveling abroad. ATMs are available in the far-flung corners of the globe and credit is accepted most everywhere.

Just one big reminder before you go: Inform your bank of your travel dates and locations. This isn’t always necessary, but you don’t want to risk getting locked out of your account when you try to withdraw money on the other side of the planet.

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Cruise Stocks Get Pummeled Amid Government Warning, Coronavirus Worries




Cruise Stocks Get Pummeled Amid Government Warning, Coronavirus Worries

There was more bad news yesterday for cruise line stocks, after an already brutal sell-off last week continued amid new warnings from the very top of the US government.

The State Department issued a statement that “U.S. citizens, particularly those with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship.”

Shares of the three largest operators – Carnival, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings – dropped significantly on Monday in the latest blow to the troubled industry.

Carnival closed yesterday at $21.74, down nearly 20%. Royal Caribbean was down 25.75% and Norwegian fell 26.90% to $19.81. 

This comes after a brutal sell-off last week that saw the Carnival lose 17%, Royal Caribbean lose 20.2% and Norwegian drop a stunning 27% in just 5 days.

Year-to-date, Carnival is down 57.63%, Royal Caribbean is down 64.15% and Norwegian is down 66.32%.

Adding to investor fear is the news that at least two cruise ships, one the Carnival Grand Princess and the other the Carnival Regal Princess, are being kept at sea while crew members are being tested for COVID-19, the coronavirus.

The Grand Princess, floating off the coast of Oakland, California, has already had a former passenger die from the coronavirus and 21 people aboard the ship have tested positive.

The Regal Princess, sailing in circles off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, is being held at sea while two crew members who previously worked on the Grand Princess are being tested for the coronavirus.

Can the Cruise Industry Survive the Coronavirus?

The question that investors now have to ponder is can the major cruise lines survive this latest outbreak?

Bookings are down and cancellations are up. Without ships sailing, and particularly without full ships sailing, the companies can’t generate revenue.

A Japanese cruise operator, Luminous Cruise, filed for bankruptcy protection a week ago, citing a drop in demand since February 1st due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

If the coronavirus drags on through the summer cruise season, things could get quite scary for the major cruise lines.

The quick ratio is a simple ratio that measures a company’s solvency, or their ability to meet their short-term obligations with cash on hand. Anything less than 1.0 is problematic as it means the cash coming in from their operations isn’t enough to cover their current liabilities.

Looking at each of the major cruise lines quick ratio, we get the following numbers:

Carnival: 0.17

Royal Caribbean: 0.125

Norwegian: 0.177

And these were the numbers before the coronavirus outbreak. The numbers going forward will likely get worse as the drop in bookings and increasing cancellations take a toll on the companies ability to generate cash.

Bankruptcy or Bailout

If the State Department warning leads to a prolonged slowdown in the cruise industry, it might not be long before we have a major cruise line file for bankruptcy protection. 

The alternative is that Washington could step in and give the industry a bailout to prevent massive job losses and keep the vital tourism industry afloat, particularly in President Trump’s (new) home state of Florida. It’s been reported that the bailout could come in the form of deferred taxes for companies in the travel industry.

Either way, the short-term future for the cruise industry looks bleak and we wouldn’t be calling a bottom in cruise line stocks just yet.

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Samsara Introduces World’s First Smart Suitcase With Wi-Fi Hotspot Technology [VIDEO]




Samsara Smart Luggage
Samsara’s next generation of smart luggage is ready for take off, shown here in polycarbonate yellow. New tech features includes GPS and Bluetooth 5.1 tracking and Wi-Fi Hotspot. Now available for pre-order. (Photo: PR Newswire)

Samsara Luggage announced today the launch of its online pre-sale for their next generation of smart carry-on suitcases with Wi-Fi Hotspot capabilities, making Samsara the first to market this innovative technology.

Samsara launches pre-sales for groundbreaking new generation of smart carry-on suitcase, introduced to the market at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

Samsara unveiled its new generation of smart luggage at this year’s CES. Forbes broke the news to its online audience calling the new product line “incredible.” The review continues with, “A competitor of Away, Samsara wasn’t content to stick a battery in their bag and call it smart.”

The new Samsara smart carry-on features more breakthrough innovation including WiFi . Hotspot, IoT tracking solution that offers consumers the most accurate location data for their smart-case.
The new Samsara smart carry-on features more breakthrough innovation including WiFi . Hotspot, IoT tracking solution that offers consumers the most accurate location data for their smart-case.
Samsara’s next generation of smart luggage is ready for take off, shown here in polycarbonate yellow.

Samsara’s next generation of smart luggage is ready for take off, shown here in polycarbonate yellow. New tech features includes GPS and Bluetooth 5.1 tracking and Wi-Fi Hotspot. Now available for pre-order.

The new Samsara smart carry-on features more breakthrough innovation including an IoT tracking solution that offers consumers the most accurate location data for their smart-case. The new generation builds upon the original model’s ergonomic on-the-go workstation design with a sleeker smart unit that is accessible from the exterior of the case and features a portable wireless charging dock for cell phones. This new generation is currently available for pre-order on the Samsara website for $199 without the Hotspot feature or $279 with it.

“I’m so excited to offer our new generation of smart luggage at such a competitive price point during the pre-sale,” says Atara Dzikowski, Co-founder and CEO of Samsara Luggage. “Adding durable polycarbonate to the product line in vibrant colors and styles offers our diverse clientele the options they want leading into peak travel season. As part of the company’s continued efforts to create an effortless travel experience, we brought together exclusive tech features with an enhanced design to show our customers a better way to travel.”

Samsara Luggage recently announced its partnership with Monogoto, an affordable and reliable cellular provider, to enable its new Wi-Fi Hotspot feature. Customers will be able to subscribe to Monogoto at a preferred rate and enjoy access to a secured Wi-Fi Hotspot while traveling.

About Samsara Luggage

Samsara Luggage, Inc. (OTC: SAML) is a global luggage and lifestyle brand with a deep belief in creating a world where travel isn’t a hassle, but rather an effortless experience. By combining smart features, including IoT technology, with innovative design and quality materials, Samsara is dedicated to transforming the luggage industry with its products.

Samsara Luggage recently unveiled its next generation product line at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The Next Generation Samsara is the first to market a Wi-Fi Hotspot technology for travelers to access a secured network globally. The smart unit also features a portable and removable wireless charging dock to easily charge cell phones. Equipped with a powerful USB-C connector, the smart unit is also able to charge laptops. Using GPS and Bluetooth (5.1) technology, the IoT tracking solution gives users the most accurate location data for their smart-case.

Samsara’s safety features are unparalleled with any smart suitcase on the market today. The updated Samsara phone app sends real-time notifications to customers when the suitcase is moving out of range or opened. Partnered with the two-separate built in combination locks, this suitcase was made to give travelers the peace of mind they want to enjoy their travels, whether for work or pleasure.

The Samsara Next Generation will be available in 23″ the maximum size for US carry-on luggage and 21″ for international travel. The new product line is available in both durable polycarbonate and the same lightweight and fireproof aviation-grade aluminum that was used for its first generation.

Samsara’s Next Generation shares the same ergonomic design as the current model, with a flattop surface that doubles as a mobile desk.

Samsara’s first generation smart carry-on suitcase was named by Forbes as Best Smart Luggage of 2019, calling it the “it” bag when it comes to smart luggage.

Samsara continues to become one of the fastest growing smart luggage brands in the industry, always looking for ways to stay ahead of the tech curve. The smart luggage company continues invest in the development of new and innovative product lines with improved safety features.

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How the Future of Travel Looks in 2040




How the Future of Travel Looks in 2040
Image via Shutterstock

By the year 2040, international travel will be a faster, easier and more ecologically sustainable activity than ever before, according to a report commissioned by Allianz Partners to help prepare for the travel-related needs of their customers in the future. Allianz Partners is a world leader in B2B2C assistance and insurance solutions, delivering global protection and care, and offers dedicated travel insurance services through the Allianz Travel brand.

Authored by internationally renowned futurologist, Ray Hammond, ‘The World in 2040’ futurology series presents likely future developments and trends that will impact international travel and the traveler experience over the next 20 years. The report identifies key trends which will, collectively, revolutionize the travel landscape by 2040:

1. Virtual & Augmented Reality

Multi-sensory virtual reality technology will allow armchair travel planners to ‘step into’ virtual hotel rooms, visit street carnivals, explore museums or walk into restaurants, from the comfort of their own living room. This trend is expected to fuel an appetite for more real-life travel, rather than hinder it.

2. Instant check-in thanks to new technology

Facial pattern recognition systems are already in experimental use at airports and within 20 years, computer systems that can reliably identify your face will be in widespread use to check-in seamlessly.

3. Hotel software assistants

While some luxury hotels will greet their guests with a human face, many business and budget hotels will use automated check-in and guidance to rooms provided by software assistants. Some hotels will even provide robotic baggage carriers to move luggage.

4. Super-fast trains

Cross-border train journeys will be smoother and much improved in many parts of the world. Computer networks and the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) will manage national and international rail networks, allowing trains to run faster and closer together. Train speed will also increase on most rail networks, with most high-speed trains running at speeds above 125 mph.

5. On-site 3D clothes printing

In 2040, it will be possible to send your measurements to your hotel in advance of your arrival and heavy or bulky clothes (e.g. raincoats or shoes) will have been printed out to await your arrival, reducing the amount of luggage the tourist of 2040 will have to transport. The low cost of 3D printed garments means travelers will be able to leave the clothes behind for local recycling.

6. Sustainable cruises

Cruise ships will be far more environmentally friendly than today’s giant ocean liners. Vessels will be powered by Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), a light fossil fuel with almost no greenhouse gas emissions, transforming cruise vacations into one of the greenest ways to travel the world. The range of cruise destinations will also continue to grow, with Asia proving particularly fertile ground.

7. Space as a regular destination

For some travelers in 2040, the world may not be enough as it may not offer a sufficiently large choice of destinations. By that time, it’s likely that tourists will be flying to and from the Moon on a regular basis as they seek the experience of seeing the Earth from space.

Commenting on the transformation expected for travelers by 2040, Ray Hammond said: “The face of travel as we know it will change dramatically over the next 20 years. Airline passenger numbers are forecast to double by that time and the travel industry is coming under increasing pressure from travelers for faster and more efficient travel experiences. By 2040, personal software assistants will be sufficiently intelligent to help travelers book their trips online and they will be able to cope with all the complexities of multi-destination travel planning in order to meet the needs of the traveler. Travel will also become more about rejuvenation, adventure, fulfillment and learning new skills rather than just ticking off places to see from a list.”

Speaking about the impact of the report for the business, Joe Mason, Chief Marketing Officer at Allianz Partners, Travel Line of Business, said: “The ‘Future Travel Experience’ report allows Allianz Partners to foresee the trends and changes in travel so we can work towards redefining travel insurance. This includes the delivery of new innovative products and services, while also building more value for our partners and customers. We are already shifting our focus from travel insurance to travel protection as we move from a reactive customer service approach to a more proactive care approach. Our customers will benefit from this shift through more responsive claims processes, more sophisticated mobile solutions, and a greater sense of safety, security, and overall well-being when Allianz Partners accompanies them throughout their journeys.

“Though some aspects of travel should be much less stressful by the year 2040, there will still be some familiar risks for travelers to contend with, along with some new ones. Unforeseen trip cancelations, delays and emergencies abroad will continue to happen, meaning that travelers will continue to need travel protection and assistance services to travel with peace of mind.”

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