The Best Noise Cancelling Headphones for Travel

** Editor’s Note: This article is guest written by Christy’s husband Dave in their review of Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones to be used primarily for travel. **

I love my Bose headphones.  Let me say that again.  I LOVE my Bose Headphones.

My wife and I like to travel.  Taking vacations are one of our favorite things to do.  One of our least favorite things, however, is dealing with the noisy annoying morons who always surround us on flights and in airports.  After a wonderful vacation in Hawaii (and the looooong flights that book-ended it) my wife and I decided we were ready for some serious noise cancelling headphones.

So the research began.  I did lots of Google searches and lots of review reading before deciding on the Bose QuietComfort 15.  I should say, right of the bat, that these are not cheap headphones.  They run about $300.00, but in this case, you definitely get what you pay for.  These headphones are one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.

The headphones are over the ear style.  This means that the ear portion covers your ears completely.  This can lead to your ears getting a little hot after long usage, but it never gets to a point where it is too much.  Usually it’s only once I’ve taken them off that I notice my head and ears were getting a little warm.  The ears and bar that goes over your head are both padded and very comfortable.  I should mention, however, that my wife has a slightly smaller head than I do and does find that they don’t fit her as snugly as she would like.  In fact, originally we purchased her a pair of the QuietComfort 3  from Bose that fit her much better.  However, we found that the QuietComfort 15’s blocked noise better than the other ones so she ended up trading them in.

The QuietComfort 15 works on two levels.  By themselves the headphones block quite a bit of noise.  But in additional to very good padding, they also include a microchip that produces sound waves to counter background noise.  It actively works against all constant noises, such as engines and fans.  The headphones work with 1 AAA battery that lasts for approximately 30 hours of use.  So it would be worthwhile to invest in a rechargeable battery.  Much better for the environment.

Once turned on, the difference is amazing.  Any droning noise, such as an airplane engine or fan is cut down to either nothing or close to it.  Most other noises are diminished a lot as well.  This does take a little getting used to as I found I had gotten used to background noise (like me breathing) and having it missing was a little strange at first.

One thing I did notice was that some voices actually came through more clearly with the headphones than without.  On planes, the announcements that came over the intercom were very clear when I had my headphones on because there wasn’t any airplane engine to drown it out.  All other noise, though, is basically faded to almost nothing.  Once you actually turn on your music or podcasts or whatever else you are listening to, you really don’t notice any ambient noises.  It allows you to really bury yourself in your own little world.  A MUST to have on any long flight.

One word of warning, though.  While it blocks ambient noises, this also includes anything your travel partner might be trying to say to you.  There were quite a few times when I had to take one of the headphone ears off and ask my wife to repeat herself.  But I suppose that’s what you want in noise cancelling headphones!

Bottom Line:  While expensive, the Bose QuietComfort 15 noise cancelling headphones are well worth the price.  While it won’t cancel absolutely ALL noise around you, it will cancel a significant amount and once you have your music on you won’t notice the residual.  Definitely a buy if you want to have peaceful flight among noisy annoying people.

Do you have a pair, do you feel the same way? Do you prefer another brand like Dr. Dre’s? Comment below.

Happy Travels!

Solstice Day 3

This continues my review/recap of my 7 day Eastern Caribbean Cruise aboard the Celebrity Solstice. If you missed the first one, click to read it from the beginning.

Our cruise was scheduled to arrive in San Juan Puerto Rico at 3 p.m. So for most of the day it was similar to a sea day on the ship. We started our day as always with breakfast on the balcony. After breakfast we decided to take a walk on the jogging track on the 14th deck. The jogging track on this ship would be nearly impossible to jog on. First it is terribly windy while the ship is moving. But the bigger problem is that anyone moving around on this deck has to walk through the jogging track- there is no other way to get around. It is also very narrow. And then there is the issue of inconsiderate passengers putting their lounge chair on a portion of the track. So, it was fine for walking, but a bit irritating at the same time. After our walk, we stopped in the Ocean View Cafe for a snack of fresh belgium waffles- they are the best I have ever had on a cruise.

The afternoon involved reading for a bit, having lunch and then sitting out on the balcony as we approached San Juan. Once we saw land, we turned on our cell phones to check for service. We had a text from our realtor asking to call. From this call we learned that my husband’s condo was finally set to close- WHILE WE WERE ON THIS CRUISE. Apparently it could not be extended and it needed to close on that Friday. We learned that we could close by Power of Attorney (POA) which is just another reason that people should have their estate plan up to date before leaving for a week-long vacation out of the country- you never know when you will need it. Our POA’s were at my law office, and my assistant was able to get them over to the realtor.

Finally after doing a little work dealing with the sale, we debarked the ship in San Juan. The Solstice was docked at Pier 3. We headed out to the Coach store to see if there was anything worth buying (there wasn’t.)  Then stumbled into the Linen Shop that is so well-known. Finally, I was craving guacamole and chips (because apparently when I am on a cruise I want to eat every 2 hours.) We asked someone where to go and was lead to Lupis. It was not that impressive. One beer, 1 virgin daiquiri, and an order of guacamole and chips was $19 without a tip. In terms of the ports, it was the least annoying in terms of pushy island people trying to get you to buy things from them.

After walking around San Juan, and up 9 flights of stairs (our attempt to keep moving and help with the weight gain was to take the stairs) we relaxed a bit in our cabin until cleaning up for dinner.

Dinner tonight was at the Tuscan Grille around 6:45 p.m. In hindsight, I would not have ordered a guacamole snack prior to going here for dinner. There was so much amazing food and there was great service. The Tuscan Grille is one of the specialty dining restaurants on the Solstice. It is located on deck 5 (with all of the specialty dining locations) at the back of the ship. We asked for a table by the window, and were lucky to be seated at the last table. Since we were in port, we had a view nice San Juan.

Our meal started with a bread basket and some spreads, one of which was roasted carmelized garlic cloves. They had a roasted red pepper bread that was great. They then brought us an antipasta plate with prosciutto, melon, roasted veggies, mozzarella and olives. It was so good and we still hadn’t ordered yet.  Finally on to the ordering, I did not have room for an appetizer after the antipasta plate, but I was offered a choice of one. For the salad course, I ordered an arugula salad with pine nuts and fried goat cheese. It was definitely the best salad I have ever had. It was so flavorful. My husband ordered the caesar salad made table side which he really enjoyed. We each ordered the filet mignon for our main course. One of the meals offered baked mac and cheese which I asked for. This SHOULD NOT BE MISSED if you like this dish typically. It was so good, a little salty, but GET it!! We were already full, but were not about to miss dessert. We ordered gelato which was excellent of course. We also ordered the fondue, which was also good. We were just so full by the end of this meal.

I honestly enjoyed every bite of food from this meal. It was all so good. I am not sure, however, if I feel it was worth the surcharge. Would I come again? I am not sure… An extra $60 ($30 each person) above what the cruise cost… But I loved the meal, so maybe it is worth it… I don’t know. We received this meal complimentary because we were in a suite. If dining without paying the surcharge, make sure you tip the staff because otherwise they are not compensated for serving you. $10 (for 2 people) appears to be customary.

The evening show was Jason Bishop. According to the Celebrity Today he performs “stunning, state of the art magic and illusions.” I wouldn’t know as I did not attend. But both my spouse and our dinner companions thought that the show was good. My lack of going is one of the things that I enjoy best about cruises- I can decide that I do not want to do something, and my travel companion can attend the event, without any ill-will on either of our parts. Instead of going to the show I returned to the cabin to relax and watch a little tv.

We made it an early night since we would have a full day in St. Maarten the next day.

Until the next post – Happy Travels.

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A Good Pre-Cruise Hotel in Fort Lauderdale

The Holiday Inn Express, Davie Rd, near Ft. Lauderdale was perfect for a one night pre-cruise stay. Clean & comfortable, with a free airport shuttle and wifi. The bed and bedding were VERY comfy. It is in an industrial area, so this is probably not where you would stay for a “vacation.” But for work or a short stay- it is perfect. The airport shuttle was great, even on a busy Saturday night. (The Airport shuttle area was PACKED! You call and let them know you are there, and they will be there to pick you up within 10-15 minutes. Then make sure you look out for the correct shuttle.)  The hotel check-in was fine. There was only one person on duty for our 9:30 pm check-in. There were 4 other rooms of people that arrived with us on the shuttle. As a way to avoid a long line, my husband waited for our luggage, and I went ahead to get us checked in.

The complementary breakfast in the morning was good.  There selection was HUGE. Literally they had it all. Juice and Coffee of course. Hard-boiled and scrambled eggs. Sausage. Biscuits and gravy (only so so.) Various breads and pastries. And a little machine that made on-demand pancakes, that were GOOD! There was limited seating on busy cruise departure days. And some people just “hang out” taking up precious table space.

As for heading for the cruise pier in the morning, we opted not to use the cruise shuttle (available at the hotel for a nominal per person charge), instead optioning to pay and pre-arranging our own car, so that we did not have to arrive at the pier with a van full of other people- we are always looking to stay efficient while on vacation. If we had chosen to take the hotel shuttle, we would have arrived at the pier with 10-15 other people. We would be in line to check-in with those people. Have to wait for the luggage for all of those people to be loaded and unloaded. They probably made a couple of stops. Having our own transportation eliminated a lot of waiting.

My only complaint at the hotel had to do with other guests and the lack of soundproofed rooms.  At night the people above us were clearly not in the mood for sleep. At 11:30 p.m. you could hear the pitter-patter of feet running above us. There was also jumping, and other noises. As I wanted to sleep, we called the front desk. The noise appeared to stop for a while. However, one hour later, I still heard little feet, and noise.  We called again. Eventually I fell to sleep. But that was annoying. I should have attempted to move rooms earlier. If you are like me and cannot sleep with pounding feet noises, ask for a room on the top floor. The 2nd noise complaint had to do with hearing a little dog bark in a room across the hall.  It would bark randomly at the housekeeping in the halls…  So, the rooms were not very noise-proof.

Within walking distance there is a greasy spoon looking restaurant. A 5 minute walk across the street there is a Piggly Wiggly or some other southern grocery store.  You can ask the front desk for the specific location, but it is the opposite direction of the highway. So, if you are flying (and decide not to check luggage) and want to buy sun block or wine before your cruise, you can walk down the street and get it! They also have liquor if you wanted a little bottle of something for yourself. Be careful taking this on a cruise though as you do not want to be denied entry for trying to “smuggle’ something onboard.  Overall it was a fine hotel and I would stay there again.

Happy Travels!

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Making your Vacation Safer

When going on vacation, especially when traveling abroad, it is always important to keep safety first!! Here are some tips to make your trip a little safer. These apply for travel to any location, although some are specific to leaving the country.

  1. Sign your passport before leaving home. Simple but necessary. You could be detained for hours if you don’t.
  2. When traveling overseas, photocopy the inside informational page of your passport. Place one copy in your luggage and leave a copy with a trusted friend/family member. This would be helpful if you lose your passport.
  3. Leave a copy of your itinerary with the trusted friend/family member.  If you lose track of connecting flights or travel times/reservations you can contact them to get the itinerary information.  Additionally, this way someone at home will know where you are “just in case”.
  4. Take two credit cards with you on vacation, leave one in the safe in the hotel room/stateroom, and carry the other with you. If your wallet/purse is stolen, you will still have a means for funding the remainder of your trip. Keep a photocopy of the front and back of the 2 credit cards with the trusted family/friend that has the copy of your passport. If your wallet/purse is stolen before reaching your vacation spot, the person at home can get your credit card number, etc. to you and you can make arrangements to get a replacement while on your vacation.
  5. Use your business address on your luggage, as opposed to your home address. This prevents you from advertising that you are “away from your home” to those that come in contact with your luggage.
  6. Do not advertise on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) that you are going out-of-town. Especially if you are loose with whom you accept as “friends”.
  7. Bring a current picture of any minor children you may be traveling with. If the unfortunate happens and your child goes missing, it allows the authorities to have quick access to work from.
  8. Another tip if traveling with minor children, make a little laminated card with important information that can stay with your child in case he/she gets separated from you. The card should have their name, your name, cell phone number, the name of the hotel/ship, and a telephone number for a person at home.
  9. When traveling in large groups, and especially with small children, research any airports you are traveling out of/through ahead of time. It will make getting to connecting flights a smooth and safe process. All airports provide maps of their terminals online.

Feel free to share this page with those that can benefit from it. For more tips on traveling, “like” www.facebook.com/vacationsbychristy.  Safe & Happy Travels!