Category: Travel gear

3 Accessories Worth Packing to Record Better Travel Videos

As you may have experienced, recording travel videos can be challenging. No matter how hard you try to frame and capture perfect videos, it is likely that the lighting, crowd, focus, and various elements may not be inclined to cooperate.

The good news is that if you do want to record better travel videos, there are several accessories that can help – a lot. In particular there are 3 that are definitely worth packing, as they’ll be able to help you record much better video footage:

Portable tripod stand or camera holder

One of the main problems with recording good footage for a travel video is keeping the camera steady while you do so. The best way to solve that is to use a portable tripod stand to keep your camera completely steady while it is recording so that the video isn’t shaky and doesn’t suffer from focus issues.

If you want to record footage while you’re moving you may want to look for a different type of camera holder that you can strap on. While it won’t keep your camera perfectly steady, it will still help.

High quality microphone

The built-in microphone on most video cameras leaves a lot to be desired, and if you want to record crisp and clear audio for your travel video it isn’t going to cut it. Instead of that you should invest in a high quality external microphone that is capable of recording better audio.

If you want to record your own voice you should be able to find a good clip-on microphone that you can use, whereas if you’re more interested in recording audio from a subject then a directional microphone may be best.

On-camera lights

Recording travel videos in poor lighting is never going to be ideal, but to help you could use on-camera lights. It is basically the video version of a flash, and is basically a powerful array of lights that will help illuminate the scene you’re recording.

Keep in mind that on-camera lights come in many different shapes and sizes, but if you want something portable you should find the kind that you can attach to your camera. While it may not be as powerful, it can help to provide just enough light for most of your needs.

An extra tip

In addition to the accessories that you pack, you’ll also want to have a good editor that you can use to process the travel video footage you record. On that front Movavi Video Editor will be a good fit, as it will ensure you have all the features that you need in a nice and user-friendly package.

Using Movavi Video Editor you can process footage and enhance its quality, trim out unwanted parts, merge clips together, apply special effects, add captions, include audio tracks, and more. On top of that you could learn how to make a video with pictures, so you can use any travel photos that you snap as well.


At the end of the day being able to edit your travel video footage should help to improve it further, and ensure that it looks impressive. In short Movavi Video Editor is a nice way to round out the accessories that you pack to help you come up with better travel videos.

Review: Anthony Bourdain DVD set – No Reservations Collection 7

This is a 3 DVD set, with each DVD consisting of 5 travel shows. Disc 1 has Haiti, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Vienna, & the Ozarks. Disc 2 has Brazil (the Amazon), Boston, Japan (Hokkaido), Cuba, & Macau. Disc 3 has Naples, El Bulli, Ukraine, Kurdistan, & Cajun Country.

There’s a lot of content here, and a lot of it covers places that aren’t real high on my list. In some cases it seems like hard travel (Haiti) and in some cases it seems like it would be pretty hard to get to know the locals on a quick visit (the Ozarks). And then there’s stuff that’s too far away (Macau) and stuff I’ve never heard of (El Bulli). I have actually been to Boston, and I’ve at least mentioned Cambodia and Vienna on this blog. But most of these travel destinations are pretty well off the beaten path.

So anyway, I was looking forward to these DVDs to get a glimpse of some places I’m unlikely to get to myself any time soon. And the DVDs did that. I got to see some food and a few locals from each place. So I enjoyed these in a recreational kind of way.

I did think something was missing, however. I kept waiting for some advice on travel planning. Anthony Bourdain goes to the Ozarks and does all this stuff with the locals – he eats coon with them, he tries to spear suckers in the river at night, he shoots ducks and teaches the locals how to cook them, and so on. Now let’s say I wanted to do these things because I was planning to travel to the Ozarks. These DVDs would not help with my travel planning. Maybe you have to have your own travel show to hang out with so many locals. Maybe there’s a way to do it but we won’t find out from the DVDs.

So if you want to see what a place looks like, these DVDs are pretty good. If you want to plan a trip, the DVDs are not very helpful.

A few other notes – He curses a lot and they are all beeped out. I don’t love cursing (unless I’m watching the Sopranos), but I don’t mind it half as much as I hate the beeps. Is there a way to turn the beeps off? I couldn’t find it but DVD remotes befuddle me.

The focus is usually on talking with a prominent local and eating the local food. This is not always interesting for 45 minutes. the show on the Ozarks was interesting throughout, but the one on Cambodia talked to a politician who just wasn’t real interesting. Well she was a bit but their conversation wasn’t. And in Cambodia there were some spicy noodles – no surprise there. The happy pizza (think herbal pizza) was a funny Cambodian surprise though.

So to conclude, not good for travel planning but most of these places are not going to be tops on your list of vacation spots anyway. You can still watch for fun, of course, and while it’s not always tremendously entertaining, it is usually fairly entertaining.

Galaxy Tab owners – better than a laptop for traveling?

First, I haven’t been posting much the last few days because we’re spending a week at my wife’s parents’ house in Jinju. But last night, my wife saw a thing on home shopping – $30 a month and you get a Samsung smart phone and Galaxy Tab.

I currently pay $20 a month for my non-smart phone so a few extra bucks for a smart phone and a Galaxy Tab sounds pretty good. I’d especially like the Galaxy Tab for traveling – I currently bring my Macbook when I travel but I do wish I could pack lighter and a Galaxy Tab is lighter / smaller than my Macbook (which is probably 5 years old and showing signs of age anyway).

Anyone here travel with a Galaxy Tab? It looks much smaller than the Ipad so is it too small? Or is it just right for traveling?

Also, this stuff is 3G – at least one person has said to wait for 4G and the better performance that comes with it. As long as I get a decent WiFi connection on the Galaxy Tab I don’t think I care. My cheapo plan doesn’t include data for the smart phone anyway so I don’t think I’ll be using any of its functions that might really slow it down.

Book review: Taking Root in Provence

Taking Root in Provence by Anne-Marie Simons is the travelogue of someone who lived in Washington DC and then retired in Aix-en-Provence, a small city in southern France. It is kind of a second edition of Ten Years in Provence by the same author.

The book is organized into brief chapters on retired life in Provence; most are 4-5 pages long. Although an interesting look at retired life in Aix-en-Provence, if you actually wanted to retire there the book might not help you much at all. For example the chapter, “A house in Provence,” says that real estate is getting expensive and your best bet may be a modern gated community (though the author bought an apartment in the city itself). We’re left with no idea about the prices of either kind of home though – or about how difficult it is to actually buy a home if you’re not a French citizen.

Similarly, the teaser I got in my press release implied that the book would reveal some secret swimming spots. I read that there were secret swimming spots known only to locals but the book doesn’t seem like it will help me find them.

But as long as you’re not looking for practical advice, Taking Root in Provence is a fun look at life in the south of France. I especially like the chapter on cultural differences (and wish it were more than 3-4 pages long) that talks about how roads are one way and narrow so if a kid stops to pee in the road or if someone stops to grab something from a store, traffic stops (and waits patiently – no honking). Good stuff.

Book review: The Privileged Pooch; Luxury Travel With Your Pet In Southern California

I’ve read the first section of The Privileged Pooch; Luxury Travel With Your Pet In Southern California, which is on luxury pet friendly hotels, restaurants, and places to see / go in San Diego. Other chapters follow the same format for Palm Springs, Orange County (2 parts), Los Angeles (5 parts), and Santa Barbara / Ojai.

Fun dog travel pictures from the book, the Privileged Pooch, by Maggie Espinosa.

Basically, The Privileged Pooch; Luxury Travel With Your Pet In Southern California is 200 pages of reference / travel guidebook for dog travel in the places mentioned above. The focus is on luxury travel – the hotels section especially is not for the budget traveler. The restaurants are also on the expensive side but the activities often apply to everyone, not just the luxury travelers the book aims to serve. And it is mostly for dogs – I didn’t see cats mentioned much.

As you might imagine for a niche book with no competition (so far as I know) if you are taking your dog on vacation in Southern California or if you live in the area and want to go to restaurants and such with your dog, this book is basically a must-have as your only option for a guide book.

If you’re a dog lover that lives elsewhere (like me), than this is a fun book that will make you smile at some of the indulgences certain places offer dogs. And it might even help you start planning a trip with your dog to Southern California. I don’t plan on reading the book cover to cover – it is a reference book. But my wife and I had some fun as I shared interesting pictures and bits of information. Like, did you know that NY Jets football player Ladanian Tomlinson has a doggy daycare / retreat in San Diego? Or that dog massage specialists charge $130/hour?

Any Romero Britto (luggage) fans out there?

I’m a fan, and I just learned that Romero Britto does luggage:

Of course, it’s more than I usually pay for luggage and I doubt it has the warranty or the high quality of say Briggs & Riley luggage but if you like colorful…

This set will run you just over a grand on the Britto website.

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2011 Book Review

Lonely Planet has made their 2011 picks for the ‘best places to go and things to do all around the world’.

Ten countries, ten regions & ten cities make the list, with some enticing pictures and some info such as ‘most bizarre sight’ , ‘recent fad’, & ‘life-changing experiences’ to whet your appetite. There are also some specialty lists to tempt your travel budget and a calendar of events to help you plan.

The countries range from small (population 215 thousand) to large (population 200 million). There are a few countries you might have guessed would be in the top 10, including a long time favorite of this blog, as well as the country of this year’s summer vacation. But some of the other choices just might surprise you.

The regions, like the countries, are literally all over the map. One region includes a place visited & blogged about here in 2008, and another is on the wish list (and about to be checked off!). Some are busy, some lonely, all are interesting.

The city list starts with a popular travel destination we’ve talked about quite a few times like in this travel plan from a Hankuk University of Foreign Studies student, and in this plan for a Christmas trip.

The seventeen specialty lists offer a variety of experiences to consider. There’s the ‘top 10 places to learn how to cook local cuisine’ which is a category this blog’s also interested in. Another choice is the ’10 best things to climb’, one of which you may recall seeing a picture of last May. There’s a list of ‘secret islands’ that includes a South Korean volcanic island that I may get to in 2011, Plus you’ll find destinations for dance enthusiasts, vampire spotters, and more.

As I looked through this book, it was cool to see other places that have been highlighted or mentioned in this blog, a few places that I visited before this blog started, and many more destinations for the future. This book gives the traveller lots to think about and may inspire exciting new wish list entries.

Unwind relaxation drink review

This review is a family effort so while I’m posting this, it was my mom and sister who actually did the taste testing and writing. The contest we ran here is over and the 3 winners have been notified via Facebook – hopefully they will be kind enough to post their Unwind experiences here.

As mentioned on this blog previously, Unwind (TM) is a low-calorie, low-sugar, relaxation aid containing melatonin, rose hips, and valerian root. It is aimed at helping travelers reduce travel stress. With 40 calories and 10 grams of sugar per 12 oz. can, Unwind is the healthiest of its class and is available in three lightly-carbonated flavors – Goji Grape, Pom Berry, and Citrus Orange.

I tried Citrus Orange Unwind after a long (12 hour) day driving on busy highways, over bridges where there are almost always backups, through city streets known for their double parkers and aware that there was no legal parking at my destination. It tasted great! Orange-y and just sweet enough for me.

Next, I tried the Goji Grape Unwind after a 6+ hour car ride through three high traffic cities. Its taste was perhaps a little sharper than the Citrus Orange but it tasted like grape and was good as well.

Since I liked the Citrus Orange and Goji Grape Unwinds, I was curious about the third flavor. I didn’t wait for another stressful travel situation to check out Pom Berry. Nice to have a sweet fizzy drink that is low cal and carb. It’s a little syrup-y though that’s not entirely bad. Pomegranates were not in the ingredients which I expected from the ‘Pom’ in the name. There are other berries in it though. Not sure how to describe what it tastes like… sweet mixed berry I’ll say.

The Unwind can says you shouldn’t mix it with alcohol or operate heavy machinery. That could be the melatonin but I’m not sure if that is also why you can’t have it if you are pregnant or nursing.

All in all, Unwind has a very pleasant taste and the light carbonation gives it just enough fizz. It’s hard to measure the relaxation effects. Certainly, making a point to ‘unwind’ with a tasty, non-alcoholic drink is calming, and even the name puts you into a relaxing mood before you even open the can.

In the end, I’m not prepared to say that Unwind will relax you if you’re stressed – well it does, but so does sitting down and relaxing with other good tasting drinks. This one may help more than just relaxing – the ingredients say it should – but I can’t say for certain. I will say that it’s worth a try – there’s really no downside to giving it a shot.

BRX Explore 19 from Briggs & Riley review

I promised a review a couple of days ago when I mentioned the packing tips so here is a preliminary review!

I sent it on a weekend trip with my parents (who were going to an antique car show a few hours away) and the bag passed this test perfectly. The next step is to see if it survives a flight from JFK which boasts the roughest luggage handlers in the world. At least that’s what a JAL (if I remember correctly) person told me as they were giving us some money to pay for our damaged luggage after a flight from JFK.

Anyway, indications so far are that this BRX Explore luggage will survive. The bag turns real nice (my mom says it’s the best rolling bag she’s ever tried), but the wheels don’t swivel so it can’t do a 360.

It looks sharp too:

It also comes in gray and tan but the blue matches this 1955 Nash.

The Explore 19 sells here for $260. I did search and check out about 5 other sites – the price was always exactly the same. I don’t think I can compare that and determine the value but I know I have a lot of luggage pieces that haven’t lasted so if this one does I guess it’s worth the money.

And if it doesn’t the warranty seems about as good as it gets:

If your Briggs & Riley bag is ever broken or damaged, even if it was caused by an airline, we will repair it free of charge. Simple as that!

Just call your nearest Authorized Repair Center, no repair number is needed. You can find an Authorized Repair Center here on our website. Please note that you are responsible for any freight charges incurred when shipping your bag to a repair center.

Travel gear updates: Sony, Ubrand & Travel Chic

I first wrote about Ubrand luggage labels over 2 years ago. I recently bought a pair of black Samsonites and put my “Stick Tagz” on them. Mine says JT and my wife got the paw print. Well we traveled From new York to Seoul, Seoul to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to paris, Paris to Luxembourg, Luxembourg to Amsterdam, and Amsterdam to Seoul. The luggage labels seem to be pretty good quality – no signs that they’ll be coming off any time soon.

They are also pretty helpful when it comes to making our luggage easier to identify. The only complaint is that my wife’s paw print is red and white. Somewhere along the line the white part got some dirt smudges and this kind of bothers my wife. I think we’re happy with them overall though I think my wife will be avoiding white in the future.

One not so positive note is that we ended up throwing out our Travel Chic handle wrap. The little monkey face made it easy to identify the first time we used it. The second time the ticket agent said we should remove it. We figured if we wouldn’t be bale to use anyway there was no real point in keeping it.

One of these days I’ll be writing a more comprehensive review of our new camera, a Sony Cybershot with their “exmor” technology. My wife loved taking panoramic pictures and she loved that you can take pictures in low light without the flash. We haven’t quite figured out the focus yet as you can see in the picture from Angelina’s but we’ll work on that a bit longer before finalizing the review. Overall we’re very happy with the new camera though!