Posts Tagged travel security
The Response Fake TV Burglar Deterrent is a kitschy, yet surprisingly useful, security precaution that travelers can use when on the road. If you do not have a timer feature on your lighting system at home, this is the perfect device that is only a fraction of the cost of paying for a timer setting.
It essentially emits a flashing light mimicking the effect of someone watching TV. This is a great way to show that someone is at home, even if you are away to help in deterring thieves.
It uses very little power, but emits a bright enough light to appear as if someone is watching a large-screen, high-definition TV. It has random flashing lights so that there is no distinctive pattern, which truly makes it look as if the TV is on. I can even see this giving pets some comfort when people are away at work during the day.
Setting it up took just a few minutes, and for someone like me with little ability to construct anything successfully out of the box, this was a cinch.
I am often traveling to destinations where security issues can be a concern, and this would be a great item to tag along in my carry-on for those hotels where my room is on the first floor or where I do not want anyone entering while I am gone. For example, I had this with me when in West Africa, and I felt a bit more comfortable leaving the room since it always appeared as if someone were there.
The device has its own timer with seasonal settings that can adjust to the varying patterns of light in winter or summer. Disappointingly, the timer is sold separately, but is worth the extra cost. It is available for under $30 on Amazon.
Just as all the money in the world couldn’t save Steve Jobs from cancer, all the money in the world is not going to save you from the army of lawyers running the entertainment and social media tech sites you would like to keep using when you travel. Even the richest expatriate is going to get stymied when trying to log onto Netflix, Pandora, iTunes, Spotify, or Amazon. In some countries (like Vietnam and China), you may not even be able to send a simple status update to Facebook or Twitter. Unless you have something like Hotspot Shield.
If you travel a lot, there’s one small investment you should make: a proxy service subscription. This will enable you to click a button or two and be surfing the web from what looks like Rhode Island or California, not Botswana or Bulgaria. Once you have made that connection, you can stream your Netflix film or download those songs you bought from iTunes or eMusic without a bunch of suits getting between you and your entertainment.
There’s a second part to this too, which is another layer of protection in your surfing. Google can’t follow your around your neighborhood and the globe so easily when you’re covering your tracks and neither can all those damn marketing companies trying to watch your every move. Neither can that squirrelly looking guy two tables over in the coffee shop.
Now don’t get the impression this is all some super-simple process where everything always works out perfectly. I’ve tried at least four of these services during stints traveling and living abroad and all of them had their bugs. Hotspot Shield is not immune from bugs either, but it has fewer than most and the price is downright crazy cheap: $30 per year. If you can’t justify that tiny amount and are tempted to go with the free version—don’t. It’ll only take you a couple days before you’re ready to throw something at your computer because of the annoying ads and hijacked browser. Trust me. Mine slips into free mode sometimes by mistake and I instantly turn into Mr. Hyde.
Overall though, Hotspot Shield is $30 very well spent. With it installed on the multiple devices it allows, I can be surfing away undeterred in one room while my wife is watching a Netflix show and my daughter is logged into Youtube. All from Mexico, no problem. I’ve downloaded songs, streamed Pandora, and logged into my credit card accounts no problem.
The bugs I just had to get used to and live with, after support solved a few but the rest were not to be. None of us can send an e-mail from Yahoo Mail while logged in and others have reported similar problems from other web-based e-mail programs. Sometimes I get a strange “service not available” message from some websites. Occasionally messages I send from Thunderbird will get hung up for no reason.
Overall though, this proxy server service works as advertised and unlike others I’ve used in the past, I’ve had very little downtime. You can even choose to log on from the US, UK, or Australia—a good backup and quite useful if you’re a webmaster and you want to see search results from other countries.
Get a trial run direct from Hotspot Shield and ignore that free option with ads. Trust me. And if you don’t trust me or this link, you can also get it from CNET.com in their downloads section. Here’s a link with the price since for some reason they hide that even though it’s a deal – $29.95.
If you haven’t heard of P^Cubed Pick-Pocket Proof Pants, take a second to click on the ad to the right of this page and check out the company behind them, Clothing Arts. Editor and reviewer Tim tried these pants out first, back when they were only available in one men’s style, and created this great video on P^Cubed pant features and how they look after a week of straight wear. (I promise it’s not gross.) In the time since this video, you can read more Practical Travel Gear reviews on P^Cubed clothing, including men’s shorts and a men’s shirt. Obviously, this is a brand we stand behind.
Finally, it’s the women’s turn. At the request of a female Practical Travel Gear reader, I reached out to Clothing Arts to review the new women’s P^Cubed pant now available. Out of the box, I enjoyed playing with all the cool anti-pick-pocket features. Like the men’s pant, the women’s version is made of soft nylon that repels stains and is water resistant. You get multiple secure pockets, all with theft-deterring zippers or flaps. The women’s pant is a bit more streamlined than the men’s: the two front pockets lie completely flat when zippered, and the two side cargo pockets are relatively small as well.
The pant comes in three inseam lengths, which ensures that they will fit almost anyone right out of the box. As a shorter person, I appreciated the 28″ length, and 30″ and 32″ are also available. The women’s cut is flattering over the hips and down the thighs, and the waist is adjustable with the two-button belt-less system. The only style feature I found fault with out of the box: the waist is a bit too roomy in relation to the leg cut, even with the belt-less buttons pressed into service. The roominess is fine for general travel, but for any serious trekking, I’d still need a belt. (And trust me, it’s not like my waist is Scarlett O’Hara tiny or anything.)
Let’s talk about the security pockets. On the women’s model, you get two front pockets that zip closed upward instead of downward (a small, simple measure that deters pick pockets) each with a smaller hidden pocket inside. These pockets are ideally sized for credit cards or spare change. Because these pockets feature zippers and not flaps with buttons, they’re your go-to place for items you need secure but also need to get at often, like cash, a credit card, or a phone.
Below these pockets you get two streamlined cargo pockets, each with flaps that button. The left cargo pocket includes a secret, zippered pocket on the inside (in addition to the cargo pocket) that fits a passport, small wallet, or ID. On the back, you get two more buttoned, flap pocket on the rear, one of which again features a double-secure zippered pocket. No pick pocket is going to manage to unbutton your pocket, find the zipper, unzip it, and steal your stuff. Oh, and did I mention the pant folds up to be a capri? That’s a nice extra feature.
I took my P^Cubed pants on a week-long trip to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico to try them out. I don’t necessarily feel unsafe in Mexico…actually, the two times I’ve had items stolen from me–a wallet and a phone–the crimes occurred in my own driveway of my suburban American home. I guess I need Clothing Arts to make me a pick-pocket proof Toyota. Maybe some flaps over the windows. But I took the pants with me, filled the pockets with my cash and my wallet and phone, and headed out to tour Mayan ruins and the busy pedestrian streets of Playa del Carmen. If anyone targeted me for theft I didn’t know it, but I do know that the pants were comfortable even in heat and humidity (in capri mode) and spills, dirt, and sweat wicked off the nylon. The pants didn’t wrinkle easily, and they packed down small. They’ll be coming with me to tour Alberta, Canada national parks next month, more for their travel-compatability than for their anti-theft features.
At $99.95, P^Cubed pants are an investment, but I consider them gear rather than clothing. They’ll perform for you time and again as go-to pants for travel all over the globe. Pick them up directly from Clothing Arts in khaki, olive, or gray in sizes 4-20, but be advised: they’re already popular! At the time of this post, sizes under 10 had temporarily sold out.
Want to have the advantages of one of those travel wallets that hang around your neck without the neck thing? The pockets on this Pickpocket Proof Shirt will keep your valuables next to you and safe.
These shirts aren’t quite as heavy-duty Pickpocket Proof as the P^Cubed pants because they’re not meant to make you look like you’re wearing a ScotteVest. Instead there are just two chest pockets that look normal.
They’re not quite normal though, because both are two pockets in one. The outside pocket is secured with a button, while the inside pocket is a hidden zipper one that’s not visible from the outside. It has a tiny zipper pull the same color as the shirt, plus the seam seals up when it’s zipped closed, so even with the button flap open nobody is going to know it’s there without pulling your pocket open and looking.
These shirt pockets would be the ideal place to store your cash and a credit card you need immediate access to—in several different spots. Or you can keep your passport and the rest of your valuables safely stored away in the P^Cubed pants. For once a matchy-matchy outfit would serve a real purpose. These look similar to other travel shirts you’ve seen though, so it’s not like anyone is going to know they’re the same brand as your pants.
What sets these apart from the competition is the feel of the fabric. Clothing Arts’ “Nature-like Nylon” is softer and more comfortable than the usual rugged but swishy nylon. The fabric has the same properties you want in a travel shirt though: moisture wicking, quick drying, and lightweight. It just feels better.
I’ve worn my sample long-sleeve shirt on a couple trips to cool climates and have been really happy with how it felt and performed. I like how it doesn’t scream “I’m an explorer,” even if that does mean there’s no button on the sleeve for rolling it up and converting it to a short-sleeve. It’s just a nice shirt with a secret.
These Clothing Arts travel shirts are just rolling off the production line and getting into the marketplace, but you can buy direct at that link for $70 (in white, tan, or dark gray) or wait until fall and find them in more locations.
Keeping your valuables safe and packing light now go together better thanks to some soft and comfortable—but significantly lighter—P^Cubed Adventure Pants.
We’ve checked out quite a few items from our supporting partner Clothing Arts over the years, from the original pants to their Pickpocket Proof business pants and shorts. In a few weeks we’ll review one of their new travel shirts they’re branching into.
The company made their name with some innovative pants that I was impressed with the first time I saw them many years ago, as they were just getting into the marketplace. I loved everything about them except for one issue: they were heavy. Made out of thick canvas treated with Teflon, they were rugged and comfortable, but weighed as much as some pairs of shoes and were suited better for cold climates than hot ones.
Now the P^Cubed Adventure Travel Pants are out in a new nylon fabric that’s much lighter, but is also rugged and solidly constructed. This “Nature-like Nylon” is also a much softer synthetic than you’ve probably felt against your skin too. It doesn’t feel slick and it doesn’t make the swishy sound many travel pants do when your legs rub together.
Naturally these will dry faster, whether that’s after being caught in a downpour or after they need a sink washing from a week of heavy wear. They’ll also wick the sweat coming off your body if you’re not in the humid tropics. And they can sit in your stuffed carry-on for a flight over the ocean and not be wrinkled on the other end.
The best part is, you don’t give up anything choosing these over the original heavy cotton ones except for weight. The nylon ones even have a “diamond gusset crotch” to allow more free movement. You still get all the terrific features that enable you to leave the money belts, money pouches, and hidden zipper products at home. It’s next to impossible for a pickpocket to get in and steal your valuables when you’ve got these pants on unless you’re passed out and drooling on the sidewalk.
Every pocket has multiple layers of protection in the way of zippers (that go up, not down), pockets within pockets, and button flaps. See a video running down the various features no YouTube or under “features” on their website.
If you’re in an area you don’t have to worry, you can just zip or button a pocket and get at your money easily. If you’re in a notorious pickpocket area like Rome or Barcelona though, you can go into lockdown mode and be sure you won’t suffer the same fate as so many others around you suffer each day, with double or triple protection.
The new nylon Pickpocket Proof Adventure pants come in three colors and will cost you around $110, but they’ll probably hold up for at least the next 10 years of travel and as I’ve said before, they’re also like buying insurance for your valuables. With a pair of these on, you’re not going to lose your money, credit cards, phone, or ID. How much is that worth?