Product & service recommendations

There’s some stuff I like and have been recommending informally for a while. I’ve started to write it here because so many people ask me about it. More to come!


Health and safety

  • Travel insurance: I adore World Nomads. They offer great insurance (for citizens of almost every country) aimed at the real traveller and the stuff we actually do while travelling (e.g, some travel insurance doesn’t protect you if you scuba dive or bungee jump, things travellers are wont to do).

They’re also a great company, providing a forum for travellers to share information and advice (e.g. Ask A Nomad travel Q&A service), guides and tips, travel writing and photos. Plus really cool travel scholarships. Memorize this URL:

Johanna Read hamming it up at the Hanging Temple, Shanxi, China; photo  by Hilary Duff

  • As a frequent solo traveller, I’m perhaps more aware of safety than most. One of the things that gives my mum peace of mind is my RoadID bracelet.
    • Mine is a discrete black bracelet (see how discrete on my right arm, above?) with a stainless steel plate that has written on it: my name, nationality, a 1-800 number, website, serial number and PIN. If I’m ever found unconscious or worse, someone can find my health and emergency contact information easily. All for $10/year.
    • You can get anything you want printed on your bracelet, and choose whether you want just the basic bracelet ($10) or the web interactivity. Originally intended for long-distance runners and bikers, this is a traveller’s (and her mum’s) best friend. Also good for kids, patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s who might wander, etc etc. 
  • Cyber security: when doing banking and making purchases online, as well as to protect my identity on dodgy public wifi, I use a VPN. My favourite is TunnelBear because it is easy to install and use, and because I find the bear and his growling quite cute. A basic account is free, and you can get a free data top-up by sending out one tweet.


  • At $5 per withdrawal, foreign transaction fees can add up really quickly. In some countries, there is no way to avoid them (especially for Canadians). But by banking at a Global ATM Alliance member bank, you can avoid the fee in about 40 countries.
    • I’ve banked with Tangerine (formerly ING) for over a decade. Like Canada’s Scotia Bank, Tangerine is a member of the Global ATM Alliance so I save foreign transaction fees by using their affiliated ATMs. I also love Tangerine because I can easily do all my banking online from anywhere in the world, they don’t charge account fees, and have a higher interest rate than any other savings account I’ve found.
    • If you’d like to open a Tangerine account and get these benefits too, Tangerine has incentives for both you and me. If you quote my “Orange Key” number — 16353912S1 — we each get a $25-$50 bonus (varies depending on the incentive they have at the moment). Use this link: When you open an account, you can get an Orange Key to share too.

Info and advice

  • My favourite site for travel advice on Southeast Asia: Follow them on Twitter/Facebook and sign-up for their weekly newsletter to make sure you don’t miss a thing.
  • As mentioned above, World Nomads provides a forum for travellers to share information and advice (e.g. Ask A Nomad travel Q&A service), guides and tips, travel writing and photos. Plus really cool travel scholarships.
  • My fave source of info about tech from a traveler’s perspective is They have lots of independent reviews, plus simple instructions for buying SIM cards in countries around the world. I wrote an article for them about the tech I bring with me on the road: Working on the road without a laptop.


Note: There’s an affiliate link above for Tangerine banking. Anyone can get a Tangerine bonus when they refer a friend.

I received the Joey Jacket and Ably shirts, reviewed above, at a discount. But all views are my own and no one from the company reviewed or approved my text. 

What do you think? Your comments are most welcome.

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