Amazing Airbnbs That Still Fit Your Budget

September 3, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Airbnb has not only brought some big changes to hotel travel, it has even introduced travelers to some very exotic and wondrous properties.

Yahoo Travel recently discussed Airbnb rentals that are truly amazing places to stay. Although Airbnb is considered a budget travel site, it doesn’t always have to be a place to find hole-in-the-wall accommodations. In fact, there are quite a lot of nice places to stay.

Dairsie Castle, Scotland

Dairsie Castle, Scotland

And some places are amazing and affordable. Three particular places the article calls out include a glass tree house in the Tuscan forest, a Scottish castle, and a restored windmill in Santorini.

Who wouldn’t want to stay in such a place? And even if you’re not looking to stay in someplace quite so over the top, you can still find really nice spaces right in the heart of expensive cities for quite a bit less than you’d pay for a hotel in the exact same area — and with more amenities, like a kitchen or an actual separate bedroom.

We especially liked the boot house in New Zealand and all of us around the office want to stay at some of these places. They look very enticing.

Airbnb is something of a wonderland. You could create quite a unique getaway just in the properties, staying only in the places with a lot of charm and unique settings. Or you could even try a tiny house and see if you would actually enjoy joining the tiny home living trend. Since it’s a major lifestyle change for most people, diving in through Airbnb might be a good way to try it out.

On the other hand, a castle would be at the other end of the spectrum. You could get a party together to stay and split the cost in order to make staying in such a huge space affordable for everyone. (Or if you wanted to join the less popular living-in-a-giant-Scottish-castle trend, you could check that one out as well.)

The options on Airbnb are almost without limit. If you haven’t checked it out yet, try it out on your next trip and tell us what you think. Or if you’ve already stayed in an Airbnb, let us hear from you. Did you like it? Would you recommend it to friends? Or are you happier in a hotel? Leave us a comment below, or on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Andy Hawkins (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Travelpro Introduces Its ‘Back to School Essentials’

September 2, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

One-Of-A-Kind Lunch Totes, Backpacks and Duffels Make Fall Fun for Students

Students won’t mind returning to school this fall once they are outfitted with Travelpro’s Back to School Essentials, consisting of cool backpacks, lunch totes, messenger bags and duffels from the T-Pro Bold and National Geographic Explorer lines. Kids and teens will attend classes in style with these uniquely crafted pieces that help them stand out from the crowd, providing comfort and ease as they travel from home to school and all the activities in between.

National Geographic Explorer Lunch ToteAlways ‘first in class’ are the National Geographic Explorer Lunch Totes, that are emblazoned with stunning photo images from the iconic magazine. Made of durable polyester with an insulated lining to keep food cool, the totes have an adjustable shoulder strap and carry handle for boys and a fixed strap for girls. There is also an extra roomy inside compartment on the girl’s tote. The lunch bags go the extra mile with a mesh water-bottle pocket and removable lining on the boy’s bag and outside zippered pockets for both boys and girls. Kids will enjoy choosing between Leopard, Shark, Beach and Flower designs.

The National Geographic Explorer theme continues with backpacks, duffels and messenger bags from the savvy and smart Cape Town Collection. Around the world or around the block, it brings together vintage styling with abundant storage and durable canvas fabrics that are perfect for today’s students. The Daypack features a padded sleeve which holds laptops up to 15.6″ and a spacious main compartment ideal for the storage of a tablet, file folders and power cords. Padded and adjustable shoulder straps provide extra cushioned comfort. Available in khaki and navy, these school essentials have an outer pocket organizer for pens and other educational supplies, while interior zippered pockets ensure smaller items won’t get lost.

National Geographic Cape Town duffelThe 21″ Carry-on Duffel ensures smooth travel for your children via an over-sized main compartment with a rear zippered pocket perfect for holding clothing, toiletries, electronics and more. A padded and adjustable shoulder strap, made of sturdy cotton webbing, gives them back and shoulder relief just as multiple exterior pockets provide easy access to needed items. With a heat-embossed map lining, capturing the spirit of National Geographic, the duffel also has cushioned carry handles for ease of travel.

When adventure calls, the National Geographic Explorer Cape Town Collection Messenger Bag is up for the job. Available in khaki and navy, it has many of the features of the duffel bag plus a flapover design with antique buckle closures that keeps contents secure. Its versatility makes it perfect for the high school or college student on the go.

Tpro Bold 2 Group Photo

Tpro Bold 2 line of bags

As with all Travelpro products – and especially for students on the go — the T-Pro Bold 2.0 collection is ready to travel anywhere, over rough terrain or city streets. Amazingly durable, lightweight and versatile, this 9-piece set is perfect for kids of all ages with a sense of adventure. Loaded with extras, creature comforts and flexible packing options, this sporty line is Travelpro’s next generation of action luggage.

The T-Pro Bold 2.0 Backpack has an ‘intelligent’ interior for today’s student, including padded laptop and tablet pockets, an organizer for pens, pencils, keys and other small items and a spacious open cavity for books and papers. On the outside are a series of quick access pockets for electronics and other essentials. The 26″ Drop-Bottom Rolling Duffel is ideal for packing flexibility, with a zippered divider panel that allows for two separate packing spaces or, if opened, one large main compartment.

“As the originator of Rollaboard luggage, Travelpro has always been a leader in the travel industry for people of all ages,” said Scott Applebee, Vice President of Marketing for the Travelpro family of brands. “The items featured in our 2015 “Back to School Essentials’ make the grade in every sense of the phrase – from great warranties to exceptional versatility and style.”

About Travelpro

For over 25 years, Travelpro International has prided itself on design innovation and durability in crafting the highest quality luggage for travelers worldwide. Since transforming the ease of modern day travel with The Original Rollaboard wheeled luggage, Travelpro has been the brand of choice for flight crews and frequent travelers on every continent. The company is dedicated to building a lifelong relationship with its customers by consistently meeting and exceeding their expectations. Travelpro was honored to once again be voted as the “World’s Best Luggage” by Premier Traveler Magazine in 2014.

Please visit the Travelpro website for a full list of the latest products and retail locations. You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @Travelprointl.

USTA Study Shows Open Skies Is Crucial to US Airlines, Economy

August 27, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article on Travel Pulse discusses a study commissioned by the US Travel Association on the Open Skies Agreements. These agreements foster open international policies regarding travel. The study says they not only help the U.S. air travel economy, they help the U.S. economy in general.

Some major U.S. carriers recently challenged the agreements. The recent influx of some Persian Gulf airlines, among others, has brought more competition into the U.S. market, which doesn’t thrill American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines.

Delta Boeing 747-400

Delta Boeing 747-400 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“When the Big Three first embarked on their lobbying campaign against Open Skies, they had our attention because they claimed that their position was about protecting U.S. jobs,” said USTA president and CEO Roger Dow. “But it took about 30 seconds of reflection to realize that breaking those agreements is likely to have terrible consequences for U.S. employment, and now we have research in hand conclusively illustrating that.”

Since there are now three large legacy carriers in the U.S., they’ve developed a bit of a stronghold on the U.S. market. There’s less competition and therefore, looking from the consumer standpoint, if some of these other airlines come in, maybe we’ll get better fares.

The article says that research indicates that the Open Skies Agreements are very much pro-traveler and that these agreements support competition.

“The travel community weighs every policy proposal against a very basic set of criteria: is it pro-competition, pro-growth and pro-traveler? The Big Three’s move against Open Skies epic-fails every part of that test,” said Dow.

The challenge seems to be focusing mainly on Persian Gulf airlines that fly into the U.S., but the study, which was conducted by Oxford Economics, indicates that the airlines cited actually pump quite a bit of money into the U.S. economy.

Bring This, Not That: Backpack, Rollaboard, or Duffel Bag for a Carry-On?

August 25, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

We’ve talked before about the different benefits of backpacks, rollaboards, and duffel bags and we definitely think that each one has a particular area where it shines. The regular business traveler might favor the rollaboard, while the college student would enjoy the backpack. And travel writer Mark Eveleigh has waxed rhapsodic about the duffel bag.

So is there a “best bag” to bring on your next trip?

It depends on the size of the particular bag and the length of the trip.

On the business side, the backpack has almost been a replacement for the briefcase, especially among younger people, particularly when you’re talking about the business-style backpack. When you actually do travel, you can use your backpack and a rollaboard at the same time.

Tpro Bold 2 Group Photo - Blue

Our Tpro Bold 2 line – duffel bags, rollaboards, and backpacks.

The backpack will carry your work essentials for a business meeting, to visit a client, or to give a presentation. The rollaboard takes your clothes and toiletries. And if you have a Travelpro backpack, there’s even a strap to slide over the rollaboard’s extended handle.

The duffel bag could be, depending on its size, a replacement for the rollaboard or backpack. These are very useful for non-business type trips, but could require some more energy and forethought.

In terms of plane travel, the rollaboard usually can’t fit under the seat in front of you, so it would have to be stored in the overhead bin. Also, rollaboards have wheels, which are great for pulling the bag behind you, but you can easily set duffels down, and as long as you’re carrying them, they’re all-terrain bags.

Mark Eveleigh and his girlfriend, Narina Exelby, are adventure travel writers who have a strong preference for duffels because they don’t like toting backpacks around on their backs, and instead look for duffels with heavy-duty wheels.

As is often the case, you need to think about the nature of your trip. Make sure you have the right piece for the particular trip you’re going on. They can all be useful in different situations: rollaboards are great in the city, while duffel bags are better for weekends in the cabin or if you’re going to do a lot of hiking. And backpacks are just great all around for your smaller items and work essentials.

Which is your favorite? Let us hear from you. Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Indian Airline IndiGo Removes Check-In Process for Domestic Passengers

August 20, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Indian Airline IndiGo is making air travel easier for its domestic passengers within India. According to a Future Travel Experience article, IndiGo is using something called an “Integrated Travel Document”, which means passengers don’t have to check in manually.

Instead, they choose a seat and meals when they purchase tickets and are immediately emailed a boarding pass along with their travel itinerary without needing to check in on their own.

IndiGo AirlinesThis is a great way to allow passengers to avoid waiting in lines at the airport. We’re not sure that this is something that would “fly” in the U.S., but on the other hand, many U.S. carriers do allow passengers to print out boarding passes the day before a flight, or check in with their mobile phone.

On the other hand, there are not a lot of automatic bag drops here, so passengers who need to check a bag will still need to go through the bag check-in process. We’re also not sure how IndiGo is handling that process.

Future Travel Experience notes that it had previously reported on automated check-in making strides last year. “The likes of JetBlue, Finnair, Air France, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss, ANA and Flybe have either trialed or implemented auto check-in, but IndiGo has now taken it a step further by integrating it into the booking process,” it notes.

We’re looking forward to seeing how this plays out within the U.S. and whether automated luggage drops will being to make travel a bit easier within the U.S.

What do you think? Would you like to receive an automated boarding pass right when you book your flight instead of having to mess with checking in 24 hours before your flight leaves, or even standing in line at the airport? Tell us in the comments section below or by leaving a comment on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Kurush Pawar (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Luggage Testing Facility Ensures Highest Quality for Travelpro and Atlantic Brands

August 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

As the original inventor of Rollaboard luggage and a market leader in innovative luggage design, Travelpro has continued to develop their state-of-the-art testing facility at their Boca Raton, Florida, headquarters to ensure the highest quality luggage for flight crews and frequent travelers.

Travelpro’s in-house testing team conducts a full range of rigorous qualification protocols across all their luggage brands. It is designed to support all the performance testing needs of their Product Design and Development process by replicating real-world usage conditions.

Platiinum Magna 2 bags“Quality and innovation are the cornerstones of the Travelpro brand and our testing facility ensures our continued commitment to providing the finest, most durable luggage worldwide,” said Scott Applebee, Vice President of Marketing for the Travelpro family of brands. “When we offer a comprehensive warranty on our bags, it means we’ve thoroughly tested each product to our demanding testing standards. If a bag fails even a single test, it is sent back to the factory for improvements and then tested again, until all tests are passed.”

Travelpro has continued to grow its reputation of innovation, style and durability by ensuring that its products meet or exceed testing standards throughout the product life cycle. This commitment to quality through product testing has spanned close to three decades, since the days when Northwest Airlines pilot, Robert Plath, invented the original Rollaboard luggage in 1987 and founded Travelpro.

Numerous professionally designed industry leading tests are applied to Travelpro and Atlantic branded products to guarantee state-of-the-art workmanship and quality of materials. Extension Handle Testing subjects the retractable handles to 10,000 up and down movements to verify its reliability during repeated use. The Zipper Test activates outer and interior zippers thousands of times to replicate ‘real-world’ usage over the life of the bag. The Wheel Tester thoroughly tests luggage wheels to provide a smooth and effortless roll with long-term reliability. Fabrics are tested for seam strength, resistance to wear and tear, color consistency under different lighting conditions and color stability under wet and dry conditions.

Every test given is monitored and recorded by quality verification testers. Moreover, the process doesn’t stop there. Throughout the life of a product line, Travelpro will randomly select bags for testing to ensure they continue to maintain the same level of quality over time and usage. Thanks to this focus on quality through constant testing, Travelpro luggage lasts longer, maintaining customer loyalty.

About Travelpro

For over 25 years, Travelpro International has prided itself on design innovation and durability in crafting the highest quality luggage for travelers worldwide. Since transforming the ease of modern day travel with The Original Rollaboard wheeled luggage, Travelpro has been the brand of choice for flight crews and frequent travelers on every continent. The company is dedicated to building a lifelong relationship with its customers by consistently meeting and exceeding their expectations. Travelpro was honored to once again be voted as the “World’s Best Luggage” by Premier Traveler Magazine in 2014.

Please visit the Travelpro website for a full list of the latest products and retail locations. You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @Travelprointl.

4 Tips to Never Losing Your Luggage Again

August 18, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article in U.S. News travel notes that lost airline luggage has become something of a rarity. You have a less than 1 percent chance of losing your luggage. However, it’s still worth your while to make efforts to keep yourself out of that 1 percent. Here’s how.

Give the airline plenty of time to deal with your baggage by arriving early to your flight and not booking yourself into connecting flights that have extremely tight windows. If you have to rush to go from one flight to the next, so does your luggage, and the baggage handlers may not be as fast as you. (Plus, you can save yourself the headache and anxiety of racing to make that next flight.)

A baggage handler unloading bags from the moto...

A baggage handler unloading bags from the motorized ramp underneath an recently-landed airplane in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Make sure your bag is clearly identifiable. You can do this as easily as tying a colorful sock or ribbon to your handle. Next, avoid putting anything of high value into it. Placing a Monet painting into your checked luggage is a great way to ensure someone steals it en route. If you need high-value items at your destination, or want to take them home, have them shipped via courier and get the replacement insurance.

You can also add a tracking device to your luggage. These days, such devices are easy to come by and using one is a great way to better ensure you’ll be reunited with your bag after your plane lands. The devices use GPS tracking and your smartphone to make sure you find your luggage, so at the very least you can tell the airline representative where your bag is.

And finally, know your rights when it comes to lost luggage. There are a lot of rules around lost luggage and many of them benefit the airlines (for instance, there is a list of items that they will not replace, including that Monet painting). Know them before you ever leave the house, so you know what you can and can’t take, should and shouldn’t have, and what you can do to protect yourself if you ever become one of the 1 percent.

How do you keep track of your luggage when you fly? Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Bring This, Not That: Poncho Versus Umbrella

August 13, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Should you bring a poncho or an umbrella when traveling? Are there situations where you would take one and not the other?

One of our co-workers always takes an umbrella when he travels, particularly on a business trip. He just feels that an umbrella is a better choice. The umbrella is easier to deal with. It just seems like a better choice because it’s there when you need it and you don’t have to put it on or deal with folding it back up after using it.

English: The SENZ umbrella, develloped at the ...

The SENZ umbrella, developed at the Delft University of Technology, withstanding stormy winds. Picture taken at the Kunsthal exhibition on Dutch Design (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re planning on attending any sporting events on your trip, you should take a poncho as stadiums tend to discourage umbrellas. Or if you’re going on an outdoor expedition, a poncho might be more realistic because it provides more coverage and you’re more mobile; an umbrella can tend to limit mobility a bit, and doesn’t cover you adequately if there are high winds.

Ultimately, it just depends on your situation and what you’re doing. In terms of everyday life, I would prefer an umbrella.

One exception might be when you’re traveling to a place where space is limited, and you can’t just pop out an umbrella. One of those small pack away ponchos can come in handy, because you’re still covered, even in close quarters.

On the other hand, you can take a small umbrella and pack it into one of the pockets in your luggage or backpack so it’s there if you need it. A very small compact umbrella is the one you want to go with when you’re traveling. Just don’t count on it in a heavy storm.

Figure out the situation before you go, of course, but we ultimately recommend an umbrella if you’re going somewhere on business and a poncho if you’re expecting to be more active during your vacation. And either one can work as a small pack away as long as you go with the smaller versions suitable for that situation.

How do you keep dry when the rains come? Got any helpful hints or ideas? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page or in the comments section below.

15 Useful Travel Websites for People Who Love Traveling

August 11, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

If you love to travel, and can’t get enough of the different travel websites that keep popping up, we’ve got a few new ones for you to check out.

A recent Lifehack article shows us 15 sites that are helpful for travelers. We’ve covered several of them in the past, but there’s always something new in the world of travel websites. And we found a few new ones we’d never heard of.

Of course you’ll find some of the expected travel websites, such as Yelp. But throw in some new ones we weren’t as familiar with, such as Skiplagged and Responsible Travel, and you catch our interest. They give tips on going places we might never have thought about.

Seat61.com, a website dedicated to train travel.

Seat61.com, a website dedicated to train travel.

One of the sites, The Man in Seat 61, is all about train travel, which is something we don’t discuss that much here. But after reading it, we may have to give it some more consideration.

The article gives us info on some niche and unexpected travel websites that most people don’t know about. We tend to use the run-of-the-mill sites ourselves and were pleased to learn more about these new sites.

Trip Tribe is a site that will allow you to enter information about yourself and then gives you tips on some activities you might enjoy.

Home Exchange allows users to trade housing with people in locales they want to visit. It’s like a barter version of AirBNB, where users can simply set up a home exchange, as the name implies, and trade houses with fellow travelers for a few days or weeks.

Another interesting site was AirHelp, which is a great resource for folks who have had unpleasant events while traveling via airplane. For those with lost luggage or extensive delays, Air Help is a great resource in letting you know what your rights are.

What are some of your favorite travel sites? Do you have any you recommend, or any new favorites? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page or in the comments section below.

Airplane Seats Really ARE Getting Smaller

August 6, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Travel writer Peter Greenberg is confirming what we’ve believed all along: airplane seats are getting smaller, as is the space between them. Airlines have found ways to incorporate lighter, slimmer seats, which allows them to pack more seats onto the planes.

Worse yet, they’re even shrinking the size of the airplane bathrooms.

A seat graphic on a Song airplane.

A seat graphic on a Song airplane. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many carriers are adding the extra seats to shorter flights, although that is certainly not the case across the board.

One trend we’ve noted in conjunction with the smaller seats is that airlines are offering seat upgrades (so-called “comfort seats”) for folks who are willing to pay extra to sit in a seat that’s a tad roomier or comfortable. Let’s be clear that we are not talking about first class seats. These seats are another option between a standard seat and a first class seat. This is one of the many ways that airlines are increasing their add-on income.

Recently, one of our employees flew on an older plane to Europe and said the he has never sat in a seat with less legroom. He couldn’t even put the arm rest down between himself and his wife. The airline offered comfort seats, which cost $75 to $80 more for the 11 hour flight. He was on the aisle but was crammed into a small space. He handled some of the stress of the flight by moving around and getting up to walk around the plane whenever possible.

One way to make sure this horrible fate doesn’t happen to you is to check SeatGuru.com as a way to check out your seats on a particular plane before you book, so you can buy an upgrade if it looks like the standard available seat is an extremely tight fit or their is a electrical box underneath your feet. You can enter your information and a seat map for your plane will pop up along with comfort recommendations for the various seats.

Are you willing to pay for seat upgrades? What’s your minimum threshold where you’ll put up with the discomfort before you pay the fee? Let us hear from you here or on our Facebook page.

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