Travel Gadget Reviews

An IT professional by day, this HappyFlyer is a self-proclaimed tech enthusiast with a passion for travel. Hailing from the East Coast, she will be writing about her interest in travel gadgets and sharing her best travel tips and unique perspective on travel experiences.

T-Mobile $5 International Pass: Is the Pass Worth Buying When Traveling Abroad?

I had long raved about T-Mobile’s free international roaming plan, which offers unlimited texting and “data at up to 2G speeds in 210+ countries”.  This is a great perk if you travel abroad and don’t feel like dealing with SIM cards. The per minute calling rate jumped to $.25 USD/min (from .20/minute) earlier this year. Is T-Mobile Throttling Data? When I first started out with T-Mobile, I thought the data speed was good enough and I was able to pick up better than 2G speed. In my more recent travels, the data is throttled to 2G.  Rendering a simple...

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Hotel Chains Apologize After Hidden Video Exposed Room “Cleaning” at Luxury Hotels

A blogger in China revealed a 11-minute video from a hidden camera of cleaning practices at 14 luxury hotels in China. At least four major international hotel chains have apologized, including Hilton and Marriott.  These include: Le Royal Méridien Shanghai Shangri-La Hotel in Fuzhou Park Hyatt in Beijing The Waldorf Astoria in Shanghai Sheraton in Guiyang city Mandarin Oriental Pudong Bulgari Hotel Shanghai Four Seasons Shanghai Ritz-Carlton Shanghai The PuLi Hotel and Spa Aman Summer Palace Luxury Resort At least 7 of the luxury hotels named in the video are in Shanghai. The city’s health inspection agency are investigating. How...

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Using Miles and Points: 4 Tips When Planning Award Travel

Some people say that booking award using miles and points can be complicated.  Blackout dates. Program rules.  Lack of availability.  While it can be time-consuming to understand some of the nuances, award travel can open up a lot of options.  When you are looking to book travel using miles and points, there are four tips that I think is helpful to keep in mind: 1. BE FLEXIBLE ABOUT YOUR TRAVEL DATES Have flexibility around your travel dates. Plan ahead.  If desired dates are not available, see if you can work with other dates. Award availability can also open up...

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Why Airline Seat Selection Fees Are a Sham

Earlier this week, I was looking into booking an international flight on American Airlines.  I was quite dismayed when I got to the seat selection process.  Why? Because the seat availability option looks like this:     Do You See A Problem? The problem isn’t that there aren’t any seats. The problem is that the only seats I can potentially pick are all middle seats.  Any aisle or window seats will cost more. You could make a case that Main Cabin Extra seats should cost more because those seats at least offer a tangible difference.  Those come with “extra...

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The Best Earplugs for Sleeping

Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links. A couple of years ago, I had the unfortunate experience of living a floor below someone who was heavy-footed. I expected some standard level of noise in an apartment/condo style of living, but he really took things to another level. It was like giant elephant feet meets the pounding force of a gorilla. I called him a “stomp-er”. I know he didn’t do it intentionally, but oh my lord, the incessant stomp, stomp, stomp became grating over time.  I might have developed sound sensitivity as a result of his stomping.  I am...

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How to Combine Marriott and SPG Accounts (and Reset your SPG password)

How to Combine Your Marriott and SPG account I received an email this week reminding me to combine my SPG and Marriott accounts.  I linked the two accounts months ago, and there’s really no point in keeping two accounts.  Given that Marriott is the “parent” account in the merger (and I have a higher balance in my Marriott account than SPG), I decided to keep the Marriott Rewards account.   A Word About old SPG/new SPG Number If you had a Marriott account, nothing’s changed there. You still have the same Marriott Rewards number. If you had a SPG...

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50 Million Users Affected by Facebook’s Hack: Everything You Need to Know

When Did it Happen? A security issue was discovered by the Facebook engineering team this week, Tuesday, September 25.  To Facebook’s credit, it promptly reported the issue, patched up the vulnerability, and disabled the “View As” while they continue to investigate the matter. How Did It Happened? According to Facebook’s security update, there was a security vulnerability in Facebook’s “View As” feature that allowed hackers that steal access tokens.  The access tokens essentially allow the hackers to login as other users. “Our investigation is still in its early stages. But it’s clear that attackers exploited a vulnerability in Facebook’s...

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Congress Dropped Provision that Would Have Allowed DOT to Limit Airline Fees

The airline industry lobbying groups won big on this one. The legislation that reauthorize the funding for the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) had a provision that would have allowed the “DOT to decide whether airline fees were “unreasonable” As of yesterday, that provision was dropped, meaning that airlines could continue to charge fees.  Ancillary airline fees are big businesses for the airline industry.  According to Reuters, the “U.S. airlines revenue from baggage and reservation change fees increased from $5.7 billion in 2010 to $7.5 billion in 2017”. My Thoughts On one hand, there is a case to be made...

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Back to Basics: 5 Fundamental Things that I Think Every Hotel Should Have

I was somewhat amused when I read a fellow blogger’s post on a hotel upgrade that ending being more of a downgrade, because it was quite relate-able.  We all have things that factor into our decision as to whether a stay at a hotel is comfortable. These are 5 basic things that I look for: 1. A working toilet.  Or, at least one that doesn’t look like it’s going to fail at any moment. You think this is a given, but it’s not.  Way back when, I wrote about an experience here: “You can’t comfortably stay at a place...

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Why THIS is the Absolute Best Time to Travel (Or Get Anything Done)

Is There a Best Time to Get Anything Done? I’m not saying it in jest, but the best time to travel is NOW. Of course, I know that most of us aren’t in a position where we can just up and go on a whim due to commitments and certain constraints. Then again, why not?  Why not plan for it now, at a minimum? I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth, so my personal philosophy is that you should always work hard for the things you want in life.  If you are passionate about something,...

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