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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

3 Ways F-Secure Freedome Can Save Your Vacation

I don’t know about you, but the fewer things that can go wrong on a trip, the better I feel. Of course, I’ve taken vacations where it was one big learning opportunity (ahem, Ecuador), but not in the way where I had to just give up and go home or spend my whole trip trying to take care of some horrible problem that occurred. F-Secure’s Freedome can help prevent some of those terrible things from happening. Here are just a few of the reasons why you should install it into your web-enabled electronics before leaving home:

Avoid Computer Viruses
First of all, getting a virus is highly annoying, because it can wipe your computer or just take over so you can’t use it. It’s happened to the best of us, but that’s also why we have anti-virus protection. Believe it or not, those don’t keep all viruses at bay, but F-Secure Freedome gives you an extra level of protection and shows you just how many viruses and hacks it has deflected. When you’re on vacation and something takes over your computer, it can really mess up your trip.
  • You’ll have to spend your time and money looking for a place that can – hopefully – fix your laptop.
  • If you use your laptop/netbook for work, you’re pretty much screwed if you have files on your actual computer you need to access.
  • You either have to use your phone, use the hotel’s business center or find an internet café to be able to check/send emails, access your travel info and confirmations or look up your bank or credit card accounts. This is just as safe as not using any protection on your laptop, too.
  • You’re basically now carrying around a useless block. You may as well have left it at home – except if you did that, you probably wouldn’t have gotten that virus.

Keep Your Personal Info Hidden
So, if you’ve ever had your identity stolen, or even just a credit card, you know it sucks. Ten years ago I was unfortunate enough to have someone steal my debit card info and then proceed to use it to go online and purchase a computer. After several phone calls, I was able to convince the bank that I didn’t buy that thing and had no idea who the person was who did, but it wasted everyone’s time, plus I had to wait for a new debit card and for my money to be returned. Freedome blocks your ISP and internet activity to the world, so if you keep any of those personal things on your computer, tablet or phone, it’s safe from those nefarious folks who want to use it for themselves.
  • Keep your money in your bank account for you to use. If you log into your bank account online, those keystrokes won’t be able to be swiped and reused to drain you dry.
  • You won’t spend hours on the phone – and possibly hundreds of dollars in foreign call fees – trying to sort out all your issues when you could be out having fun.
  • No one will be able to hack into your computer and find all the info they can use to steal your identity and make you super sad when you get home, or possibly even before then. It wouldn’t be awesome to find out that none of your credit cards work and you have no money to finish your trip or get home.
  • You can use unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots without fear, because you never realize how much you rely on free internet while you’re out in the world, especially when you travel and need to find directions and such. 
  • Less annoying than a stolen identity, but just as irritating and time consuming is having someone access all your passwords to your accounts and having to change them all…again. I bet I’m not the only one who yells at their computer when they see one of those “Please change your X password” emails. 

Be Able to Connect to All Your Accounts
Have you ever gone somewhere and tried to log into a site you use all the time only to be told that no, you can’t, because you aren’t in your home country? I have, and it sucks. Freedome works as a VPN (virtual personal network), so you can trick the internet into thinking you’re anywhere in the world. While this isn’t really something that can ruin your trip, it helps to have the option to use said websites, especially if you’re in a country that blocks normal things, too, like Facebook.
  • Access your Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services wherever you are. I’m not always outside of my hotel doing things. Sometimes I like to relax. Maybe eat in my room and do some laundry. There’s nothing better than catching up on a movie or show when I have the time. 
  • Be able to watch streaming TV on the channel site. Once when I was in Nassau, we were stuck inside due to a hurricane warning, so we were tired of watching the news and playing Gameboy. We attempted to get online to watch some CBS shows we had missed while we were away and were blocked. Bummer. With Freedome, I can set my location to the U.S. and watch whatever I want that’s available online. On the other hand, I can set my location to other countries and watch shows I liked when I was there.
  • Maybe your kids like to play games online or have a show they can’t live without that you stream and haven’t downloaded. Well, prevent a breakdown when they are cranky and just want something they are used to by using the VPN function of Freedome. 

Imagine how much grief F-Secure Freedome can save you in your everyday life and on your travels. I know that my security is more important to me than saving a few bucks a month. In fact, Freedome is only 29.90€ for a year, which comes out to less than $2.80/month. But don’t just take my word for how good Freedome is. Take my challenge and try it for yourself for free:

Use Freedome for 90 days by using code qsf257

Make sure your devices are safe wherever you are and head off those snags that can happen before they do, because there are some things you can control.

Disclaimer: As a brand ambassador for F-Secure, I am being compensated for my time, however I fully support this company and product.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Eating Healthy Wherever You Go

When I go out to eat, which is at least twice a week, I don't often think about how healthy I'm eating, but when I cook at home, my meals are almost always balanced and nutritious. Unfortunately, when I travel, I have to put a little thought into my choices, otherwise I won't be able to fit into my pants by mid-trip. So, I tend to make my own breakfasts and snacks and then make sure that I have fruits and/or veggies represented in most of my meals. Amazingly, it’s not hard to work fruits and vegetables into your travel diet. Think of it as your mission each day. Make it fun. Try new foods in order to get them incorporated into your meals. So, how to do it on a budget? Believe it or not, it’s pretty easy.

Farmers’ Markets are where it’s at! I love an open-air market, whether it showcases antiques, handmade goods, vintage clothing, food or all of the above. Markets that sell food are fantastic, because they have super fresh, local produce. Usually you can try new foods at fantastic prices and not even realize how much goodness you’ve eaten. When in Hawaii, we stopped at a roadside fruit stand and picked up a big bag of fabulous new fruits, like dragon fruit, apple bananas, papaya and coconut. Not like I’ve never had papaya or coconut, but I never buy it at the store and just cut it up and eat it. But seriously, dragon fruit? How can you pass up trying that? And yes, I said apple banana. It’s a banana that kinda tastes like an apple. Intriguing!

Now, I look for farmers markets to visit on my trips before I leave home and it's on the list right after going to the grocery store. In Virginia Beach, we picked up some homemade bread, apple pears (pears that look like apples) as well as some pantry items that we mailed home.

Eat local. Local is almost always cheaper. If traveling in a foreign country, look for restaurant signs written in the local language (assuming you aren’t in an English-speaking country). If you can’t find something like that, just go a bit off the main path and look for the busy dining establishments. If it’s packed, you know it’s delicious!

Go shopping. Always have a stash of fresh items on hand. The first thing I do when I arrive at my destination is scope out the nearest grocery store. I also bring my own reusable shopping bags(s), because they are so useful for things besides food. We stock up on diet soda, bottled water and fast and easy foods that can be eaten in the room or on the go, like granola bars, bananas, apples and whatever local snack I’ve never seen before and must try, or treats I’ve had before, but usually can’t find at home. Jaffa Cakes anyone?

Order an appetizer. Want something not so great for you? Order it as an appetizer or two and then split a healthier entrée with a travel companion. You can do it the opposite, too. If you find something totally divine on the menu, then order a salad to start or something chock-full of veggies, like a crudité plate, stuffed mushrooms or similar. Now, I know stuffed mushrooms aren’t the best for you, but they are mushrooms! Get creative, but don’t try to justify how potato skins are actually a vegetable. As wonderful as they are, you might as well just eat a deep fried stick of butter.

Look for vegetarian restaurants. Even if you aren’t a vegetarian, it doesn’t mean you won’t find anything to your liking, plus all veggies! I am a fan of many a vegetarian dish. In fact, I sometimes buy vegetarian meats at home, like the awesome products from Quorn. I love, love, love their cranberry and goat cheese chik’n cutlet. So yum! Also, have you ever tried a soy ham and cheese sandwich? You can’t even tell it’s not ham. If they can make h’am taste like ham, then I think they make almost any vegetable taste awesome.

Hopefully, these tips will help you eat better and feel better when you make it back home. Eating healthfully on vacation can give you the motivation to continue to do so once you get home. In fact, by the time I get home, I'm usually ready to eat some real food that I made myself.
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