Finding the Right Rewards Credit Card for You

Did you spend hours trying to understand all the rewards credit card options but cannot work out which is best for you?

Well, life just got a little easier to find the best deal by using Mozo‘s new Rewards Revealer. Who is Mozo?

MozoMozo wants to provide a free, fair and user-friendly marketplace with all the info you need to research, compare and apply for financial services.

Simply tell the Rewards Revealer your annual credit card spend, the types of rewards that interest you and answer a couple of simple questions to get a customised list of credit cards. It gives you all the details about fees and rewards including the rewards value minus fees.

The rewards value minus fees is an important statistic, that lets you decide if the higher fee is delivering you the best value. For example, for a person spending $20000 a year Mozo recommended the Emirates Citi Platinum Card and Qantas American Express Discovery Card as the two best rewards cards. The Emirates Citi card has an annual fee of $229 but provides great value if you fly Emirates regularly with a rewards minus fee value of $437. The Qantas AMEX card has no fees, a rewards minus fee value of $234 and is the best deal for Qantas frequent flyers. (Check Mozo for the latest results)

With all the information presented in a logical format, you can easily decide which card is right for you and Mozo also highlights the latest deals available. Give it try and tell us if you found it useful.


Improve your Travel Experience with a Personal Guide

Florentine Artisan

Florentine Artisan at work

Independent travellers create their own itinerary, choosing where to go and what to see with the freedom to make changes if something unexpected occurs or the weather is bad. This also means that we use guide books or recorded walking tours to provide most of the back story for everywhere we go across the earth travelscape. This often means we get a superficial experience, we know it was beautiful but not why they built it, what happened to them or how it relates to our modern world.

How can we enrich our travels?

Use a personal guide.

By choosing independent travel, we forsake the ever present tour group guide but that does not mean we never want or need a guide while we travel. For our adventures I am the guide, assembling the information that will inform most of our journey but I need help, and one effective way is to hire a personal guide. In Venice we learned that as the nouveau-riche started to build their grand houses, the established aristocracy felt they had to outstrip their splendour. These, and other grand gestures and excesses, led them to impoverishment and in many cases the families no longer exist. They bred themselves out of existence. It is an insight that I would not have found in the general history themes that I studied for our trip.

A personal guide is also a local who can give you insights or advice that get lead you to other experiences. We had two great meals in Venice at restaurants recommended by our local guide, and bought a beautiful etching whilst on a guided artisan workshop tour in Florence.

How to pick a guide.

Whether you want a general overview tour or to explore a specific aspect of your destination, these guidelines will help you select the right guide for you:

  • Establish how much to spend on guides in your travel budget.
  • Find a well-established individual guide or company. How long have they been in business, and what qualifications and affiliations do have in your destination.
  • Pick a guide who has specialist knowledge in your area of interest. Many academics act as guides to supplement their income but a passionate amateur historian or a local artist may also be the answer to your need.
  • Read and understand their payment and refund policies, and decide whether to book ahead or wait until you get to the destination.
  • Look for recommendations and positive reviews on sites like Trip Advisor and in your guide book. Check travel forums and friends for recommendations but always cross check in different sources.

How much will a guide cost?

We took several personal guided tours in Italy, costing as little as US$70 each (2-3 hours) to several hundred dollars for an extensive day tour in Venice. Each guide took us deeper into Italian culture and history than our previous visits. For $70+ each, we took part in small group (no more than six people) tours with docents (academics) from Context Travel. In Venice, we engaged Venicescapes to take us deep into the decadence of Venice’s decline and open doors to rarely seen spaces and little understood history. This cost over US$400 for two people, and proved intellectually challenging but we now see Venice as more than a beautiful photo opportunity. (Watch for my Venicescapes review in the future.)

Depending on the length of your stay, one or two tours is usually enough for any one city especially if you are seeking out intellectually challenging guides. Knowledge is great but it is a vacation, and sometimes you just want a coffee while you watch the daily interplay of people.

Final thoughts

There are numerous options to get a general feel for your latest destination; walking tours, hop-on hop-off buses and your guide book will provide the basics so spend your money to go beyond the usual. Millions of people visit Venice but very few have seen inside an 18th century Venetian casino where the wealthy entertained small select groups. It is a memory I will cherish and a part of Venetian history that is alive in my mind rather than a dreary fact in a book.

A guide will take you places you never new existed, give you new insights and for that they are worth considering for your next adventure.


Create a Luxury Amenity Kit for your Flight

Homemade Luxury Amenity Kit

Home made Luxury Amenity Kit

Most travellers will only ever look with a tinge of envy into the Business or First Class areas of their flight before trudging to their cramped space in Economy but there is no reason you cannot have a little luxury in the back of the aircraft. One of the perks for flying in First or Business Class is the luxury amenity kit, filled with expensive perfume, aromatherapy products, an eye mask and pyjamas to make the trip more pleasant.

Well, why should the well-to-do or business traveller have all the luxury; you can create your own luxury amenity kit and pamper yourself without the expense of First-Class airfares.

What to put into your Luxury Amenity Kit

  • Moisturiser Aircraft air-conditioning creates a very dry atmosphere, so it is important to keep your skin hydrated and a good quality moisturiser will help keep your glow even after the most gruelling flight.
  • Lip balm Your lips will also suffer in the dry air, keep them moist with a good lip balm.
  • Perfume or After-shave Your favourite cologne or perfume will give you that just out of the shower feel until you reach the hotel.
  • Deodorant A little deodorant will make the close quarters of economy-class just that little bit more bearable for everyone.
  • Razor Your choice, personally I use travel as an excuse to grow a beard but you
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste Make your dentist and travel partner happy, and maintain your oral hygiene.
  • A comfy shirt You looked great boarding the aircraft but that outfit will look pretty shabby after 15 hours in your airline seat. Bring a light-weight shirt, perhaps silk for that added touch of luxury, to slip into after take-off. It will absorb the abuse of the flight, preserving your day-wear for your arrival.
  • Ear plugs Aircraft are noisy, not deafening but the constant hum of engines, air-conditioning and passenger noise will wear you down and conspire to prevent your sleep. Good quality ear plugs will shut out the noise and let you get the rest you need to tackle your first day in a foreign land.
  • Eye mask An eye mask will block out the ambient light and distractions of passenger and crew movement. Ensure yours is a comfortable fit.
  • Socks A pair of socks will keep your feet warm. To help prevent, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), get a pair of compression socks.

You can add or subtract items to suit your needs, for example a small pill box will keep your medicinal needs for the flight close at hand, and gather it into your personal toiletry bag (preferably a hanging bag with a built-in hook).

The luxury continues after the flight

Stepping off the aircraft refreshed, and feeling good will kick start your vacation, and mark you as a seasoned traveller. Look at that list again, everything has a useful life long after you flight arrives, add some basic make-up (for the ladies and Goth devotees) and it’s your toiletry kit. Thin walls, street noise and long days sightseeing make an eye mask and ear plugs wonderful tools to assist your sleep, and who doesn’t want a comfy shirt to slip into after the day is done.

What other items would you put in your luxury amenity kit?


Five Advertising Slogans to inspire your Travel Dreams.

Vernazza Fishing Fleet

Vernazza Fishing Fleet

Advertisers strive to make slogans a part of our lives but as we strive for minimalist lifestyle I am increasingly immune to advertising and their tricks to get us to buy products we neither need or use. Instead I use their slogans to inspire my travel dreams by twisting their meaning to suit my own purposes. Here are five of my favourites:

Just do it. (Nike)

Stop procrastinating, pick a destination and go. I spent years planning a trip to Europe, my Grand Tour started as a motorcycle trek across through the Germany, Austria and Switzerland then morphed into a vagabond journey with my young wife before going on hold while we raised the kids and paid off the mortgage. It took us 20 years finally see Europe, and I always regret not doing the motorcycle tour. Now we pick a destination and just do it by setting a goal, prioritising our budget and realising our travel dreams.

Think different. (Apple)

Travellers flock to the major sights, like the Colosseum in Rome, the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids of Giza, and if your travel dreams take you to those destinations they will be prominent in your itinerary. Heed the Apple’s wisdom and think different, and find an experience that bring a unique twist to your adventure. My son and I ride motorcycles, and enjoy watching MotoGP racing so we added the Assen TT MotoGP event to our visit to the Netherlands. It remains a highlight of that trip because we thought differently to the average traveller.

Can’t beat the feeling. (Coca Cola)

Travel is an adventure, no matter where, you can’t beat the feeling of exploring a new destination or rediscovering the wonders of an old favourite. The bustle, and to some chaos, of Rome welcomes Colleen and I back again and again. The feelings of familiarity and impeding discovery combine to exhilarate our senses every time. Embrace your feelings and discover travel adventure down the road or across the globe.

The happiest place on Earth. (Disneyland)

No matter where I wake up, I let the energy of the place run through me and embrace the local culture, and that makes it the happiest place on Earth for me that day. Speak the language, try a local delicacy or stroll with locals away from the tourist spots and you will find the happiest place right there.

Live unboring – Ikea

Life filled with travel is never boring, whether you are researching your next destination, trekking through a foreign land or gathering your journal entries and images into a permanent memory there is always something to excite you. Embrace travel, and live unboring.

Do these slogans inspire you to travel? What slogan would inspire your travel? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments.


How to Avoid being the next Schapelle Corby.

Schapelle Corby will spend most of her productive years in an Indonesian prison, and as a convicted drug smuggler is unlikely to ever travel outside of Australia again once released and deported. Although a high profile case in Australia, it is unfortunately not a unique story. There are many other foreigners languishing in prisons across the world for drug offences, some awaiting death sentences, and many could have avoided their troubles by following some simple rules.

Rules to avoid trouble with illegal drugs overseas

Follow these simple rules to minimise your chances of getting into trouble with drugs overseas:

  1. Obey the law; don’t purchase, take or travel with illegal drugs. I recommend abstaining even in countries with liberal drug policies to avoid any mistakes like forgetting the bag of pot you put in your jacket pocket.
  2. Do not leave your bags unattended in public areas  or in the care of a stranger. This includes the lovely lady you met last night or your local drinking buddy.
  3. Never carry anything into or out of another country for someone else. When I lived in Malaysia, the Government clearly stated that claiming no knowledge of the package contents would not necessarily save you from the gallows.
  4. Ensure your medicines are not considered illegal drugs overseas by checking their Government website or contacting their local embassy. Many over-the-counter medications are banned or strictly controlled in other countries, particularly in the Middle East.
  5. Lock your checked luggage to prevent tampering or theft. Better still, travel light enough to carry-on your luggage and avoid the check-in hassles and the baggage carousel shuffle as well. The United States has specific requirements regarding locks used on airline baggage. See the US Department of Homeland Security’s website for further details.

What happens if I get caught with drugs overseas?

In the event that you are arrested on drug charges overseas, be aware that:

  1. as soon as you arrived you became subject to that country’s laws, and your Government cannot intervene to free you;
  2. ignorance of local laws is not a valid defence;
  3. small quantities of so-called ‘soft drugs’ can lead to lengthy prison sentences or heavy fines; and
  4. countries like Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam impose tough penalties including the death penalty and life imprisonment.

Can your Government help you if someone is arrested on drug charges overseas?

Unfortunately, each year too many families discover a loved one has been arrested on drug charges overseas. If it happens to you then immediately contact your country’s consular officials who can help with general information about the local legal system and provide a list of English-speaking lawyers. They can also help ensure your relative receives fair and appropriate treatment whilst in custody, and help you provide assistance to them during their trial and imprisonment.

However, they do not provide legal advice, organise release from prison, investigate the crime or obtain better treatment than provided to the country’s own citizens. If found guilty, they will face the full force of local law.

One notable exception is for military personnel on active duty who are usually subject to a government agreement with the foreign nation that allows them to be tried under their own military legal system. However, military personnel on personal travel will remain subject to local law.

Remember, ignorance of the law is not a defence, do your research before you travel not while you sit in a foreign cell preparing for trial.

I have no personal position on the guilt or innocence of Schapelle Corby but I hope this article helps prevent others suffering similar fates.