Review: Beat the pickpockets with Presli anti-theft backpack

Who hasn’t heard horror stories of thieves opening or slashing backpacks in a crowded area?

It’s a thought that plays on the minds of travellers everywhere.

Well, we recently had the pleasure of testing a new backpack, the Presli Voyager, that is designed specifically to thwart pickpockets and give you piece of mind.

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Like many older travellers, we’ve been using backpacks for decades, largely because of our preference for low-cost, independent travel and the sense of authenticity that this gives.

We’ve seen backpacks change dramatically over the years – and we were, therefore, delighted to test the latest design in the form of the Presli Voyager.

Some background

Marcus Holmquist-Pollock, founder and CEO of Presli, says he noticed that, although there were plenty of “fashionable, up-market and clever backpacks on the market, none incorporated anti-theft design”.

So, he decided to design his own anti-theft backpack.

How does it perform?

Although the Presli Voyager is anti theft, which is the key point of the design, it still needs to be a functional backpack. And it certainly is!

The Voyager is practical; usable; nice looking; and light enough for even our old shoulders.

In keeping with its status as a new-generation backpack, Presli Voyager has a distinctly corporate look, in smart black or navy fabric.

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It might sound a trite snobbish, but this backpack is right at home with the most slick and eye-catching modern luggage. It looks so nice that we were a little disappointed to discover that the Voyager comes in two colours only.

And, the Voyager is surprisingly big inside, despite measuring just, 45cm high, 29cm wide and 15 cm deep – well within worldwide cabin baggage requirements that are generally 56cm x 40cm x 25cm.

Anti-theft features

The anti-theft design of the Presli Voyager is smart and effective, incorporating many of the benefits that prompt travellers to wear often-uncomfortable money belts.

The stylish exterior of the Voyager camouflages a range of anti-theft features, from hidden zippers to slash-proofing.

In fact, we’ve never seen a backpack this focused on security.

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For a start, reverse-design zippers are located snugly against your back, designed to stop anyone coming up behind you and easily opening the pack.

To further frustrate thieves, the Voyager is made from slash-proof and water resistant material.

And,  there are also two clever pockets tucked into the straps at the front to allow you to keep credit cards and transport passes secure yet easily reached.

Even Sue – a perennial worrier about security on the road – says the Voyager’s anti-theft measures make her feel calmer and confident.

Inside the Presli Voyager

For a start, the backpack is voluminous at 20 litres.

As well as the remarkable amount of space, we love the separate padded pockets to keep the laptop and tablet safe, as well as the pouch to store unfolded A4 documents.

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The roomy interior pockets comfortably fitted our daughter’s 13 inch MacBook Air and our iPad and iPad Mini tablets. Perhaps these could have benefitted from a top flap to keep them from moving, but our devices didn’t budge throughout testing.

There’s also multiple pen slots and business card pockets.

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Added interior smart features of the Presli Voyager are an easy-to-find key clip and two internal zipper pockets for storage of things like passports, mobile phones, charging cords and wallet etc.

Wearing comfort

The backpack is well padded and comfortable to wear.

Presli Voyager is easily adjustable to cater for a range of heights. Shoulder straps can be readily extended or shortened to give a snug and secure fit. This means that, with minimum effort, you can truly adjust the backpack to your stature for maximum comfort.

Side pocket and handle

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The Voyager also has a material side pocket ideal for storing water bottles and the like – and a a convenient ‘grab and go’ handle.

Summary

With the current trend toward travelling light, finding the right backpack is an important decision. And it’s nice to relax in crowded areas, knowing that your backpack is designed to keep valuables safe.

Overall, the Presli Voyager is a classy-looking, well constructed and roomy backpack with the added benefits of clever anti-theft features.

These features are invaluable for travellers of all ages, along with light weight and practical simplicity.

What we particularly liked

  • Voyager’s safety features give peace of mind.
  • It looks very nice. Certainly not your average backpack
  • Roomy with intelligent use of space
  • Padded pockets for tablets and laptop
  • Light weight, comfortable to wear and easily adjusted.

Based on our experience, we have no hesitation in recommending this backpack for travellers of all ages.

It would also serve just as well as a school bag – and as a smart-looking backpack for commuters.

Additional bags

Presli Voyager is the first product in Presli’s lineup of premium bags, which was successfully funded through the crowd-funding website Kickstarter.

Marcus Holmquist-Pollock says the company aims to produce two new bag designs later this year.

Presli Voyager can be purchased in navy or black online here

Presli accepts PayPal and credit card. Australian customers can expect their bag in 2-5 business days, while international orders take approximately six business days for delivery.

Disclaimer: Presli was kind enough to provide a Voyager for this review. However, as always, this has not influenced our comments. If the product was poor, we’d tell you. This one certainly isn’t.

Beat the pickpockets

How we became ‘Age-Friendly’ reviewers

We literally fell into reviewing  how friendly hotels and travel products are for people of all ages – at a time in life when most people don their slippers and think about relaxing.

But, the experience has changed our lives in ways we could never have anticipated.

After lengthy careers in journalism, communication and administration – during which we had also managed to travel extensively and both write and photograph  our experiences – we retired in 2013, with absolutely no plans to return to full-time work.

However, we soon began to be approached by friends, former work colleagues and scores of people we had never met.

They wanted to pick our brains about how age-friendly travel; hotels we had tried and loved; and tourism destinations were.

It seems they trusted our word, partially because we were not making money out of the process and also because there were so few sources of information that appeared to understand the needs of senior travellers.

It was a shock! We’d never realised just how many people in their 60’s and older were thinking about travelling independently off the typical tourist routes; staying in hostels; using low-cost airlines; adopting the latest travel technology; taking to social media; and organising family reunions at far-flung places.

And they wanted our frank opinion about many of their ideas – pressing us for first hand reviews on what we had tried; why; and what had worked and what hadn’t.

Common questions, for example, involved the comfort of seating in the various airlines – and the wisdom of splitting flights into manageable pieces by including layovers .

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After numerous approaches, the idea for our website, memorabledestination.com was born – providing objective reviews of the senior-friendly travel, travel products and accommodation we’d experiencedsuitable for this growing trend of independent ‘grey nomad’ travellers.

So, for years now we have helped many hundreds of seniors with holiday planning, while learning a lot about accommodation and travel providers that offer products suitable for independent retirees.

Our website and social media channels have gone from strength to strength and we have met some wonderful travellers, accommodation and travel providers.

We’ve grown to love the task and find it heart-warming that so many seniors are determined that travel is not just for the young.

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Many of those who read our reviews do not fit neatly into the perception that retired people are primarily interested in so-called gentle travel such as cruising and luxury coach trips.

While they may not be lining up for white-water rafting or adventure racing, many seniors want travel that is off the usual tourist trail and involves lots of integration with the locals.

They usually don’t want the same type of itinerary that is standard fare for younger travellers.

A two-way process

And, it didn’t take us long to realise that there were not many channels for the travel and accommodation industry to reach these seniors.

We found that, often we were involved in a two-way communication process – suggesting accommodation that we had tried and tested while also informing accommodation and travel providers how to entice the retiree market.

This role is fine with us. We don’t mind helping the industry itself in any way that we can.

We believe that the strength of our reviews lie in the fact that we are direct and honest – sometimes brutally so.

Being retired ourselves and not aiming to carve out a career, we have no axe to grind. So, we tell it like it is!

We had already been doing this for many years on Trip Advisor, where we are long term contributors, and our website was simply an extension of this.

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We wear our ‘grey nomad’ label with pride – and we get a real kick out of helping others like us.

We also believe that accommodation and travel providers who offer products that appeal to seniors, should be acknowledged.

We’re probably the oldest travel writers on the planet, but like our readers, we certainly don’t let that stop us. And, we’ve found that such enthusiasm is a little like the fountain of youth.

If you’d like to join us on this journey, visit memorabledestination.com and subscribe to get news, reviews, deals and special offers emailed to you free of charge as they happen.

 

Aussie stories

New Zealand hotel upgrade

A multi-million dollar upgrade has transformed the luxurious Sofitel hotel and spa in Queenstown, New Zealand.

The project which included a new bar, event room, executive lounge and French-style bistro, represented a substantial investment in one of New Zealand’s best known visitor destinations.

A hotel spokesman said the project had transformed the ground floor of the centrally-located Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa, including the popular Left Bank Cafe.

Enjoy breakfast at Left Bank Cafe, Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa

Queenstown is an alpine resort on the shore of Lake Wakatipu in New Zealand’s south island.

The town is set against the dramatic Southern Alps and the surrounding Central Otago region is known for adventure sports and Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards.

Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa offers 70 Superior and Luxury rooms; 10 Prestige Suites; two Penthouse Suites; and an acclaimed spa.

Photos courtesy AccorHotels

New Zealand hotels

Do and don’ts of free wifi

We’ve never paid to use the Internet while travelling.

We rely on Internet access for reviewing; booking accommodation; organising travel and attractions; translation; currency conversion; keeping calendars; social media; and calling home.

But, for most of the time, the Mobile Data setting on our iPhone and iPad is switched off and we rely solely on wifi – making sure that we stick strictly to a few basic rules.

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How do we do it?

Firstly, we try to only book accommodation that offers free wifi. In the past, it wasn’t easy – but things have changed dramatically in recent years.

We also make a concerted effort to work out in advance where free wifi hotspots are located.

One good way of doing this is to download and use the Wi-fi Finder App.

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When you install and first run this app, it downloads a database of free and paid Wi-Fi hotspots around the world – so you can then open the app when you don’t have an Internet connection.

And, of course, there is a fast-growing trend of cafes, pubs, restaurants, airports and shopping centres offering free wifi – some with time limits.

For example, here are some UK and European hotspot examples we are aware of:

  • London – a public network called The Cloud offers free wifi in the CBD and in scores of pubs, bars, cafés and restaurants
  • Paris – ‘Paris Wifi’ offers 296 hot spots, including parks; gardens; libraries; and museums.
  • Edinburgh – free system being installed in city centre. Numerous cafes.
  • Barcelona – free connection at museums; parks; markets; libraries; shops; and the beach.
  • Rome  – ‘Roma Wireless’ free wifi throughout much of the city.
  • Vienna‘Freewave’ service across the city.

OK, so how safe is free wifi?

Security is the big downside of free wifi, so we find it vital to follow a few key rules.

We DO treat all free wifi as probably being unsecured.  If they are secure sites, that information is usually found in a security clause of the ‘terms of use’ that you typically have to agree to before use.

We DON’T do any form of Internet banking over a free wifi. If we need to do this, we make sure that we find a secure site.

We DO make sure that every website we use on free (or otherwise wifi) has an address or  URL that starts with HTTPS and not just HTTP. The S shows that the website is using a secure communication.

If a website isn’t using HTTPS then we don’t enter any information into it on the Wi-Fi hotspot. We just browse it and leave.

We haven’t done this, but we have been told that, as an extra security precaution, you can install a plugin for Firefox and Chrome browsers called HTTPS Everywhere.

This apparently encrypts communication with those websites.

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How about mobile hotspots?

We’re keen to trial the new generation of mobile wifi hotspots, such as Tep Wireless or Xcom Global, that rent a mobile Internet connection that fits in the pocket.

This gives you wireless Internet access for a number of devices wherever you travel.

 

 

Personal travel planning Technology on the road Tips travel

Avoid paying for phone calls while travelling

When travelling, we make a point of never paying for international phone calls.

This can be done easily – without worrying about getting local SIM cards; racking up expensive roaming charges; or puzzling over country codes and the like.

We are free-wifi junkies  and we also make use of apps that allow you to make calls at no cost.

Instead of using traditional phone networks, these apps  rely on the Internet to transmit your voice, so all you need is free wifi – widely available with accommodation and in cafes, restaurants, pubs, airports, train stations etc.

FaceTime for video or audio

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Our favourite app is Apple’s FaceTime.

Most people know FaceTime as a video-calling service, but it also has an audio only button. We’ve used it to make calls  – both video and audio – from our iPad and iPhone across Europe and the US.

As long as the person you are calling also has an Apple device with FaceTime turned on in its settings, the calls are simple, fast, free and crystal clear.

One of our most memorable calls was back home to Australia while we waited for a train in Chicago. We had free wifi – and made the most of it.

WhatsApp

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If a person you want to call doesn’t have an Apple device, you can use the popular WhatsApp.

Free to download, this is a favourite for both texting and calls across the globe.

We’ve never tried it, but some travellers have told us that they also use Facebook’s Messenger app for free telephone calls.

Another that we haven’t spent much time on is Viber, which seems particularly popular for sending free text messages.

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Naturally, you need to remember that, for these calls to work, the person you are ringing also need to have the app that you are using.

 

 

 

 

 

Personal travel planning Technology on the road Tips Uncategorized

A traveller’s best friend

After a slow start, we’ve come to realise how helpful smartphone apps can be when travelling.

It wasn’t that long ago that we got by without our iPad, iPhone and their range of apps – but travelling is a lot easier with them.

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Our  hallelujah moment came at Berlin in 2013 when  we were forced to jettison our paper itinerary and stack of accompanying notes and photocopies to make the carry-on baggage weight limit at Tegel airport.

Before tearing up the pile of documents, we simply took photos of the most important ones with our iPhone – and then wondered aloud why we hadn’t done that in the first place.

Soon after, we also hesitantly discovered the ease of having our plane tickets and boarding passes sent directly to our electronic devices, rather than carrying and handling yet more paper.

From then, we became devotees of some of the travel apps designed to make life on the road easier. We have our favourites, most of which we keep on our iPhone and iPad when travelling only.

You might have your own favoured apps, but  these are some of ours:

iTranslate

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Free to download, this is good if you are going somewhere where you can’t speak the language.

Just start speaking and iTranslate recognizes your voice, converts your words to text and translates them into another language. The app works on 90 languages. There is also an up-market version that apparently repeats your words aloud in the selected language.

Yr.no

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We like new-age weather forecaster, Yr.no. This app issues something like 10 million weather forecasts – or simply uses GPS to find your location anywhere on the globe and provide comprehensive weather forecasts. And we’ve found them remarkably accurate.

Airbnb

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If you are happy using Airbnb to list, find, and rent accommodation, then this app makes access straightforward.

Uber

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As with Airbnb, Uber may not be your cup of tea for transportation. But, if it is, this app will help.

XE Currency

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We have found this app useful when we were thinking about changing money. You don’t need to be on the Internet at the time to use the app.

Free Wifi Finder

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This app is wonderful if, like us, you are reluctant to pay for Internet while travelling. It has a scanner that locates the nearest free wifi hotspots – in 50 countries.

Citymapper

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This free app is comprehensive, covers a stack of countries and is fairly easy to use.

FaceTime 

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Because our devices are Apple Mac, we also make use of the FaceTime video calling system. You can, of course, use Skype if you prefer.

Find my iPhone

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And the Find my iPhone device security app.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal travel planning Technology on the road Tips

Planes reduce jet lag

It’s correct: increasingly, modern aircraft are designed to help prevent jet lag.

That claim – in our recent column about the jet lag blues – sure caught the attention of travellers, even though the subject has been widely discussed for some time.

Some readers contacted us to suggest that it was merely hype from aircraft companies. Others were keen to know which aircraft we were talking about.

Either way, the reaction prompted us to do some digging.

As mentioned in our earlier article, we are yet to actually test the jet lag claim for ourselves. Until we are able to test this cutting-edge technology, we are relying on the word of others.

But we do know from experience that the issue is still generating quite a lot of interest among the travelling public.

plane lighting

So, what are these new-age aircraft that are said to be revolutionising the way we feel after a long haul flight? And, does it all come down to  LED mood lighting, as shown above.

If this sounds too good to be true, the Atlantic CityLab publication recently examined the subject in an article about the new Airbus A350.

It says there’s plenty of science to back up the claim of airline technology helping reduce jet lag.

With this science in mind, the LED lights on the Airbus A350 produce 16.7 million shades of color that simulate different times of day.

Conde Nast Traveler also had this to say about the AirbusA350

However, the new Airbus isn’t the only new-age player on the block.

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The acclaimed Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a long-range, wide-bodied plane that has caused buzz of excitement among travellers, airlines and aviation enthusiasts, is also said to use technology to reduce jet lag.

This is from Boeing’s website:

an experience like none other in the air, with more comfort and less fatigue.

And Conde Nast Traveler again – this time a review of the Dreamliner

So, that’s the story so far. In our next instalment, we’ll examine how smartphone apps are also helping people avoid flight fatigue and jet lag.

Related article: What is jet lag and how else can it be reduced.

Photo credit: main pic courtesy Cynthia Drescher, Conde Nast Traveler

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