Travel Trends: Safety Travel Apps

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By: Elliott Wenzler

We lovers of travel know that in order to fully experience a new place, we must keep our eyes peeled and our mind ready for new and budding experiences. Therefore, we often get turned off by the idea of using smartphones while discovering a new place. We look down at the travelers glued to their phones on iMessage or Candy Crush. How can they waste this precious time looking at a screen? I’m here to tell you a few minutes on your phone can make your next trip go from hectic-but-fun to well-planned and incredible! This new wave of travel apps is specifically designated to facilitate smart, safe and efficient travel.Each one in this section is specifically designated to assist in making your trip as safe as possible.

Companion, iPhone & Android, Free

This app allows concerned family and friends be a “Companion” to their loved ones on their walk home. Any time you are feeling unsure about walking alone back to your hotel or any other location, you can send a Companion invitation to a member of your contacts (even if they don’t have the app) and they will be able to virtually watch you as you travel from your starting point to your input destination. This is great for travelers if you’re staying in different parts of town than your friends or if you decide to head home earlier than the group. “If you start running, don’t make it to your destination on time, have your headphones yanked out or your phone falls to the ground, we will check in on you to make sure everything is OK. If you don’t respond in 15 seconds, we will automatically alert your Companions,” according to the app’s description. The app also has an emergency feature so that if the walker feels uneasy, they can call the police quickly and be connected to the closest dispatcher. This app was started by students at a large university who wanted to use technology to increase safety for students walking home alone from a party or the library, said an app representative.

Find My Friends, iPhone & Android, Free

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Find My Friends is an app that is great to use at large events such as concerts and festivals. It’s easy to get separated from the group in hectic settings with a lot of people. Find My Friends allows you to request your friends to share their locations with you and you with them. A scenario where you lose a friend and want to meet back up, you can see exactly where they are and find each other without the hassle of phone calls and the attempt to find tall landmarks.

US Embassy, iPhone & Android, Free


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The perfect app for international travel, US Embassy provides the locations of all United States embassies and consulates of the world. An embassy is the go-to place for international travelers in situations all the way from a lost passport to extreme weather conditions to an emergency evacuation. “The U.S. Embassy is your 911 when overseas,” according to the app’s page. The app gives a map with exact location, including directions on how to get there, contact information, and hours of operation so you have everything you need to contact or find the embassy in the case of a dire situation.

Speak & Translate, iPhone, Free

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Speak & Translate is ideal for those who don’t want to limit themselves to countries that they speak the native language. It’s the fastest way to have a conversation in an emergency or for something as simple as directions. According to Speak and Translate, the text translator “allows users to communicate effectively in any corner of the globe.” The app allows users to choose the language they’re speaking, and the language they want to translate to, making language barriers essentially non-existent.

Mobile Passport, iPhone & Android, Free


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Plain and simple, this app is authorized by U.S. Customs and Border Control as a way to scan their passport and fill out information as they enter the country. Travelers can fill out their customs declaration via iPhone or iPad and skip the line on the way into the United States. Convenience is key for a safe and fun trip.

Travel, Give Back & Make an Impact

By: Natalie Austin, TWIP

Artisan - Hand Weaving Silk

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There is a certain stigma that comes with tourists. We may picture a group of Americans dressed in sun hats and cargo shorts, obnoxiously taking pictures at popular landmarks. These tourists do not experience travel, only observe it; aggravating locals and perpetuating the ubiquitous tourist traps.  However, what many travelers don’t realize is that even if they are “blending in”, their travel habits may still be negatively affecting the local community. Traveling to exotic locations but not truly appreciating their culture and traditions happens all too often. Once destinations become popular in the travel world, travelers of all kinds bring high and often unreasonable demands. Big corporations take over and create adverse impacts on communities. Islands like Jamaica suffer as a hefty portion of tourism capital goes out of the country while the industry makes up 20% of their economy. If we travel to appreciate culture but are contributing to its degradation, what does that say about us as travelers? If you’re a Twipper, you will know that travel means more than simply picking an exotic place to spend your vacation days. Twippers are those who travel with purpose; to engage and absorb culture while making long-lasting connections. As passionate travelers, it is our responsibility to shape the industry in a way that does not harm the places we so admire. Whether it’s a donation to a local charity or an application of travel integrity, we as Twippers have the capacity to create mutually prosperous travel practices that can positively impact the travel industry.

Think Local

Economies grow when small business owners are supported; this we know. But we often forget it’s importance when we are in a foreign place. Shopping and dining locally have a direct impact on the communities we visit. As travelers, we are often influence local business, giving us great power in the marketplace. When local businesses are supported, we contribute to a growth of the economy and create a positive relationship between communities and tourists. Not to mention, dining at locally owned restaurants and purchasing goods from artisans deepens our understanding of indigenous customs.

“Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma.” -Anthony Bourdain

Floating Market, Thailand
Often times food is gives us the most intimate sense of what a culture is truly about. What they value, their cultural history and national pride can be expressed by the way in which they eat. Epicureans know that sampling local cuisine is often the best way to connect with the locals. This is why travelers must avoid tourist-targeted restaurants like the plague.  Eat Your World  is an online travel resource that helps travelers do just that. With over 130 city guides to local dishes and drinks, Eat Your World can pioneer your search for both native and responsible food. All of the dishes and restaurants on their guides are not only traditional to the area, but are always harvested, sourced or crafted locally. Eat Your World seamlessly benefits dining that is both ethical and authentic no matter where your Epicurean adventure leads you.

Shopping responsibility is just as important while traveling. In countless places around the world, artisans craft some of the most beautiful luxury items that can be bought. But with factories in China expediting processes and cheapening goods, local artisans are finding themselves unable to compete with these lowered prices. Mass-produced goods are of lesser quality, deplete local jobs, and are quickly bringing artistic industries into extinction. As travelers, we have the ability to change this. Shopping responsibly not only directly benefits economies and ancient trades, but can award you with souvenirs of the highest quality. Before you leave, make sure to do your research on industries, crafts and shopping spots of your upcoming destination. Learn what items are crafted in the area, particularly items that are made by hand with traditional techniques. This with ensure you’re getting the best quality items, unlike those outsourced by a local factory. When looking for authentic vendors, seek out is best to specialty stores or local markets. Ask vendors about the items available to learn more about the craft to appreciate and understand the livelihood you are supporting.

While we all love a good barter, it is best to avoid it when shopping overseas. Since handcrafted goods are made with such care and precision, vendors often sell these items at the correct market value; they know their product, they take great pride in their product and they’re not trying to rip you off. Vendors are also forced to compete with lower prices of factory produced goods, so unless items are ridiculously priced, there is little need to bargain. Although it is just a few more extra dollars from your pocket, it can greatly impact theirs.

Small But Significant

Globe Drop
As the dollar rests at a much higher value in many overseas countries, seemingly small donations can greatly impact local charities and organizations. With the rising trend of travel that gives back, it’s becoming easier than ever to make an impact in the places you venture to. Globe Drop is an organization that allows travelers to search for local charities in your travel area and make donations according to the organization’s wishlist. Once travelers are in the area of the charity, they are encouraged to buy all wishlist items locally to contribute to the regional economy.

is another organization changing the way charities function. Kiva allows individuals to lend as little as $25 to local entrepreneurs to help grow their businesses. The most amazing part: these are not donations, but loans. Those who choose to donate will receive their money back to either withdraw from their account or lend it to another person in need. This not only stimulates local economy but educates entrepreneurs on how to manage their money and create a profitable business.

Luxury That Gives Back

Guludo (1)
If you seek luxury but want to travel ethically, there are a number of resorts that cater to guests while employing and supporting surrounding villages. Guludo Beach Lodge lies on the Northern coast of Mozambique and marries breathtaking views with practical preservation. As a “beach lodge that’s heart lies firmly in the community,” Guludo was named is a virtually deserted beach and the host of an intimate tropical experience unlike any other. Take sunset boat rides, go on a whale watching excursion or buy quality handcrafted gifts from villagers. Every activity or service is provided or services by the locals. At Guludo, you have the opportunity to make real connections to provincial traditions while making a contribution to sustainable tourism.

Como Bali
The Como Group
, a luxury hotel and resort group, is pioneering the way hotel groups function with local communities. The group is comprised of urban hotels, island getaways, adventure retreats and wellness resorts. Each hotel and resort within the group are an integral part of the community in which they operate while still providing a heightened level of luxury for their guests. Whether you travel to Bali, Bangkok, Turks and Caicos, or Bhutan, The Como Groups ensures the luxury experience is not at the cost of local culture and economy.

You don’t have to build a school in a third-world country to make an impact. In fact, traveling ethically can often be more beneficial to local communities.  When we learn to travel in a way that truly appreciates the places we go, we are not only enhancing our experiences but creating travel that’s mutually beneficial.

Travel Trends for the Maverick Twippers: Spookiest Destinations in the U.S.

By Lauren Durden


Increase your heart rate with by visiting one of these spooky, creepy or thrilling locations on your next vacation.

Here at TWIP, we know that our Maverick Twippers like to get their blood pumping with action packed adventures when they travel. Rather than lounging on the beach, you are catching the biggest wave and riding the currents. You never back down from a challenge and love to live life on the edge, especially when you travel. What if you could get your heart racing and the adrenaline pumping through your veins from something other than activities involving bungee jumping and kite surfing? After all, you can get your thrills in many forms – especially by visiting some of the creepiest, spookiest and downright scary places in the world. Read ahead for five of our favorite spine-tingling locales to check out, and maybe even stay the night in, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast in Fall River, Massachusetts – Starting at $219 per night


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In 1892, Lizzie Borden’s stepmother and father were murdered in this then private residence with an axe. Although the case has gone cold and is still unsolved, it was widely suspected that Lizzie was the culprit of the crime. Throughout questioning, Lizzie’s behavior was at time erratic and other times completely calm – though her story kept changing.  As the story goes, Lizzie burned a dress in the oven of the home only a few days after the murders, though she claimed she had only done so because she spilled paint on the dress. The house is now a bed and breakfast that welcomes visitors for tours throughout the day, or overnight stays – even in the room where the crime took place. Guests are served the same breakfast that the Bordens supposedly had the morning before the crime and have reported a number of strange activity in the home, ranging from strange voices to apparitions.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, Weston, West Virginia – Tours range from $10 – 150 per person

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The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, also known as the Weston State Hospital, was a hospital for treating patients with mental illnesses from 1864 to 1994. The hospital was rife with overcrowding and as such, the facilities suffered under poor sanitation, insufficient supplies facilities and inhumane care for the patients. Since closing in 1994, the grounds have sat vacant – aside from the many reports of paranormal activity including ghost sightings, voices and strange events. While you can visit the grounds of the abandoned hospital on 2-hour tours to the main areas of paranormal activity, those seeking an extra thrill can opt for the 8-hour, overnight tours.

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado – Starting at $200 per night


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You may recognize The Stanley Hotel from Stephen King’s The Shining. The hotel was originally built in 1909, and even without the spookiness attributed to it from by the famous novel and movie, is believed to be haunted in its own right. The ballroom holds somewhat of an infamous level of creepiness as a hot spot for unexplained activity, even when professional ghost hunters were brought in to debunk the paranormal activity taking place in the hotel.

The property is still a fully functioning hotel, hosting events and guests throughout all seasons. You can even stay in the famous rooms 217 and 237, if you dare.

Lemp Mansion, St. Louis, Missouri – Starting at $180 per night

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The Lemp Mansion was the family home of the Lemp family, who owned and operated the William J. Lemp Brewing Co. in the early 1900’s. Tragic events within the family initially began when Frederick Lemp, the favorite son of patriarch William Lemp, died of mysterious circumstances in 1901. William, perhaps out of the heartbreak of losing his son, shot himself in the home in 1904. While the brewing company enjoy success for many years as one of the top beer companies in St. Louis, as prohibition progressed and the brewing company began to lose business, many more tragedies took place in the home as daughter Elsa and son William Jr. also shot themselves inside the family home. Due to the huge amounts of tragedy that had plagued the family and the home, the mansion has a reputation for being haunted. However, despite the haunting rumors and tales of paranormal activity, the house now operates as a hotel, restaurant and event venue, where guests can stay or eat along with the spirits of the Lemp family.

Travel Trends for the Epicurean: 5 of the Hottest Food Festivals to Visit Around the World

By: Lauren Durden


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Details on the best food festivals worldwide.

Epicurean Twippers are known for their love of all things culinary – from the pursuit of the next great bite to the search for that special ingredient. They wholeheartedly celebrate food holidays, seek out farmer’s markets when traveling and take snaps of their plates to add to their stacks of photos from their travels. Sound familiar? You may be an Epicurean Twipper yourself.

While celebrating food holidays may be fun enough, food festivals offer days of delectable treats, meet and greets with culinary celebrities and a peek into the culinary traditions of different cities and countries around the world. You may know of the New York City Wine and Food Festival or La Tomatina in Spain, but what about a festival dedicated to truffles, or one all about hot chicken? These five food related festivals are TWIP’s  picks for some of the best culinary celebrations our Epicurean Twippers can visit on their next travels. Don’t forget to mark your calendars!

LuckyRice Festivals

The LuckyRice Festival celebrates the cuisines and cultures of Asia through a gastronomic lens.Originally the festival began in New York City, but the tastings, dinners and culinary events surrounding the festival have also recently spread to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, and Toronto.

With big culinary names like Anita Lo, David Chang, Masaharu Morimoto andSang Yoon on their culinary council, festival attendees know they are in for a treat. Guests of the festival can learn the proper slurping technique at LuckyRice’s ramen Slurpfest or enjoying a cocktail inspired by Asian ingredients at the Moon Festival Cocktail Feast, among other events. Events are now ongoing throughout each city.

Music City Hot Chicken Festival


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While fried chicken has always been a much loved dish, hot chicken is a regional specialty of Nashville that has been steadily gaining national popularity. Hot chicken is made by frying chicken, then saucing it with a spicy paste made with cayenne pepper, chili powder, garlic, brown sugar and paprika to give it a special kick and serving it over a slice of white bread with pickles atop the chicken.

The festival, which takes place every 4th of July in Nashville, is free to the public and offers festival attendees free samples of hot chicken, endless vendors of hot chicken, beer, a parade and even an amateur hot chicken cook off.

Acqualagna Truffle Festival


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Though Acqualagna is home to both a Black Truffle Festival and White Truffle Festival, it is the National Truffle Festival in late October through early November that the town is known for worldwide. For two weeks in fall, the luxurious and delicious tuber is celebrated for its importance to the Marche region surrounding Acqualagna. The Marche region produces two-thirds of Italy’s annual crop of truffles, with more than four varieties found throughout the area.

During the festival, the small town of Acqualanga bursts with visitors and vendors alike. Guests can peruse vendors offering truffle tastings, classes to learn more about the elusive treat, food stalls and art exhibitions. If travelers are a bit more adventurous, they can even tag along on a truffle hunt, for a fee.

Fête de Vendanges de Montmartre


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Many visitors of Paris visit the city without ever knowing their close proximity to a vineyard. The butte de Montmartre, where the beautiful Sacre Coeur cathedral sits, is surrounded by more than 1,200 grape vines and plays host to the Fête de Vendanges de Montmartre, or the harvest feast of Montmartre, during the first days of October each year.

The festival includes a week of events featuring visits to the vineyards on the sloping hillsides of Montmartre, a parade, talks on food sustainability and preservation of traditional methods of winemaking, and over 100 food and wine stalls for guests to taste the fares of the local Parisian vendors.

Tales of the Cocktail

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For those that are serious students of the bar, the annual Tales of the Cocktail festival in New Orleans offers cerebral, informative boozy events for attendees who are more obsessed with bitters than baking.

The five day festival began in 2003 as the art of crafting a cocktail had begun to sweep throughout the United States. Today, the festival brings together some of the best mixologists, bartenders, distillers and purveyors of all things related to liberal libations to show off their skills and fares. There are tastings, distillery and cocktail tours, and opportunities to learn more about everything from the latest garnish trends to the history of the daiquiri. The festival culminates with the Spirited Awards, which crowns the best mixologists, bars, brands, writers and spirits in the industry – and gives guests a sneak peek into upcoming trends and which bars and restaurants they should be visiting in the coming year.

Travel Trends: The Travel Jacket Everyone is Talking About

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If you haven’t heard of the BauBax Travel Jacket yet, you probably will. That is because the internet has been abuzz with talk of this travel jacket design, catapulting it to viral status within a few weeks. Now, with only two days left of their Kickstarter campaign, the new take on a travel jacket has crowdfunded over $8 million dollars via the online platform, more than any other clothing idea has managed to raise on a crowdfunding site, ever.

What makes this travel jacket so amazing? BauBax touts the jacket as the travel accessory you’ve “always needed, but never existed,” until now. The jacket comes in four designs – a cotton sweatshirt, a waterproof windbreaker, a fleece lined bomber and a wrinkle free blazer, in styles for both men and women with 15 travel-ready features.

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Some of the greatest features of the jacket design are those that minimize the amount of other accessories you might otherwise pack on your travels.

Built in Eye Mask

The built-in eye mask, attached to the hood, blocks out any annoying ambient light when you’re on a long haul flight or car ride while trying to catch up on your sleep.

Built in Gloves

These gloves slide out easily from the sleeves of each of the jackets, and help keep your hands warm. While these are a great feature for travel on trains or planes, they’re a smart addition to a runner’s windbreaker during the cooler months.

Insulated Koozie Drink Pocket

This insulated drink pocket may seem a bit unnecessary at first, but the area on an airplane tray is valuable real estate often needed for your book, magazine or laptop. This drink pocket can keep your drink hot or cold, with the help of the neoprene insulation, and out of the way.

Built in Stylus and Pen

The zipper tag of the jacket fully extends to a four inch pen, perfect for filling out customs forms before you land. It also includes a soft tip on the opposite end for use as a stylus on any touchscreen.

Built in Neck Pillow

The built in neck pillow inflates in two seconds and features a one touch deflation feature, helping you fall asleep at ease while traveling.

With four versatile styles, a detachable hood and endless features it’s no wonder the BauBax travel jacket has captured the attention of travelers around the world. In smashing their original fundraising goal by millions of dollars, the brand has now reached even beyond their Kickstarter stretch goals. There are now plans to turn those built in gloves into touch screen-friendly gloves and to waterproof the smartphone utility pocket.

To learn more about the BauBax travel jacket, and contribute to their Kickstarter campaign to secure one for yourself, visit their fundraising page here.The jackets are set to deliver in November, perfectly positioned just before the holiday gifting season.

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