Just Wanderlust Blog » A discerning, food-loving, & culturally curious road warrior seeks the world's beautiful and bizarre destinations.

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Travel Tip Tuesday: Use Google Maps Offline While You’re Abroad

paris map

If you won’t have cell phone reception abroad, save a copy of Google Maps on your cell before you depart so you can access it during your trip.  You won’t be able to use the map for automated navigation assistance, but it will be available like a good ol’ paper map.  Saved maps are stored on your device for 30 days.

If you don’t know how to save a map for offline use, you can find the directions here.

Help me keep this series going!  If you have any travel tips, please email me at diana@justwanderlustblog.com and your tip may end up in a future post!

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How We Took Baby Passport Photos

Oh my, how the last few months have flown by. Traveler #3 is now almost four months old. Between all the diaper changes, nursing sessions, and rocking her to sleep, I totally underestimated the energy levels I’d have to apply for her passport. Actually, the application was the easy part. The hard part was taking her passport photo.

All you need is one photo to attach to the application.

The basic passport photo must:

  • be 2″ x 2″ in size
  • be between 1″ and 1 3/8″ from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head
  • be in color
  • be taken in the last 6 months
  • have a white or off-white background
  • show your full face

Additionally, for babies:

  • there must be no other person in the photo
  • the baby should be looking straight at the camera (e,g., you can see both ears). If you have a newborn, however, it’s okay if their eyes are closed although the preference is for their eyes to be open.

Sounds simple enough, right?  Only if you’ve never tried taking photos of a baby.

The day we decided to take Traveler #3’s passport photo, we planned it for after both a solid nap and a good feeding in order to maximize her awake time (and by “awake time”, I mean her “non crying time”). To prep, Mr. T laid a white poster board on the ground next to a large window so we could get as much natural light as possible.  Then we placed Traveler #3 on it, I held down her arms so they wouldn’t be flailing about her face (which often happens especially when I’m trying to take photos of her), and Mr. T snapped photos with the iPhone.  At this point, the strategy was to take as many photos as possible in the hopes that we’ll get a couple of photos that meet the passport requirements.

We easily took hundreds of photos which is a lot easier than it sounds since you can take photos in “bursts” on the iPhone. We got a lot of photos that looked like this:


All of those photos were nixed since her face isn’t straight on and you can’t see her ears.  After a few minutes, she started fussing so we tried propping her up in a seated position instead. By a stroke of luck, we got this photo:


(She’s not centered in the frame, but that won’t matter once the photo is cropped to specs.)

With that photo on the iPhone, I went to CVS and used their kiosk to print the photo. Their machine is great because it automatically crops the photos to meet the requirements and prints a 2″ x 2″ for you. The best part is that because we took the photo ourselves, we only paid for the printing which was a whopping 28 cents. Woohoo!

A few days later, we submitted the application and we’re currently waiting to get Traveler #3’s passport. Once we have her passport and my energy levels return, an international getaway may be in order.;)

For more information on the passport application process and requirements for children and babies, click here.

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ingrid - September 11, 2014 - 2:58 am

Aww! She’s adorable. Where’s she going on her first international adventure?!

Mark - September 12, 2014 - 9:14 am

hahah nice DIY!! :)

We took the little one’s photo on DAY 4. lol.. went to costco and the dude at the photo area seems surprisingly experienced at dealing with babies..
we can’t get her to open her eyes.. but he hummed something and in 5 mins got it done.. lol.. we’re like wow baby photo whisperer!

where’s the first international location for M?

Travel Tip Tuesday: DO NOT Use the Glasses In Your Hotel Room

If you care at all about your health, do not – I REPEATdo not use the glass cups or stemware you find in your hotel room! If you want know why, check out the video below:

If you think that’s just what happens at a few hotels, think again.  I recently read Jacob Tomsky’s book, “Heads In Beds”, where he talks about what really goes on behind the scenes at big hotels and one of the secrets he reveals is that the room cleaning staff at the hotels use Pledge (yes, that thing you use to polish your furniture) to clean the glasses.  Why?  It’s the only thing that ensures no smudges or streaks will be left on the glasses, the criteria that hotel management cares about.

If you’re in dire need of a cup, ask room service to bring one or bring your own.  The only cups safe to use in your hotel room are the disposable plastic ones that come pre-wrapped.

By the way, if you watched the video, doesn’t it make you think twice about the cleanliness of the towels, too?

Help me keep this series going!  If you have any travel tips, please email me at diana@justwanderlustblog.com and your tip may end up in a future post!

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Tiffany - September 9, 2014 - 8:57 pm

Yikes!! I would’ve never thought. Definitely won’t be using hotel glasses again in the future..

That book seems interesting..I think I’m gonna get it!

JustWanderlust - September 11, 2014 - 9:08 am

Tiffany – It was a fun read, check it out! :)