Bring This, Not That: Comforts of Home

November 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re traveling for the holidays, you’ll spend time thinking about what to pack before you head out. Sure, you need your toothbrush and clean clothes, but do you need your pillow, favorite blanket, or other items that make you feel comfortable and remind you of home?

Our opinion is “it depends.”

If you’re driving and there’s room in the car, take anything that will fit. Just make sure you don’t leave your precious items behind when you return home.

English: All the comforts of home... This was ...

English: All the comforts of home…  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


But if you’re flying, space is at a premium. You’re going to be packed into a plane with hundreds of other travelers and you may be lugging carry-ons around the airport between flights. And these days, most folks prefer to travel light to avoid paying the hefty fees associated with extra baggage. Plus, you may be carting gifts back and forth, which will already eat into any extra luggage space.

One of the great reasons for taking a vacation is to get a break from your routine, and to have new experiences. Can you really get that if you take your whole house with you?

In general, no. But if you’ll be staying somewhere for a longer period, like spending several weeks somewhere warm over the winter, you may want to cart a few extras along. Here are a few options to help you save space and energy trying to wrestle everything to and from home.

  • Consider shipping things so you don’t have to carry them with you. This is especially true of light-but-bulky items like pillows.
  • Pack a giant bag, check it, and pay the overage fees so you don’t have to deal with carry-ons. Sure it’s expensive, but you’re not going to get your favorite quilt into your small rollaboard.
  • Buy a carbon copy of the item once you get to your destination. If this is a yearly routine, maybe your relatives will hold onto that comfy blanket. If it’s your second home, it’s easier to have extras. And if you’re just on a long vacation and don’t plan on returning, donate the item to charity before you head back home.

Do you take your comforts of home with you? How do you manage it all, or manage going without? Leave a comment on the blog or our Facebook page.

Bring This, Not That: Prepared Dishes

November 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Food and the holidays are like salt and pepper. They go together naturally.

If your family expects you to make a blueberry pie every Thanksgiving, you probably want to oblige. But should you bake it at home and take it with you, or make it once you get there? It’s an easy question if you live in the same city, but what if you have to travel a long distance for the holidays?

Cranberry sauce & Gravy

Cranberry sauce & Gravy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re traveling by car, you can make everything ahead of time and put it into a carrying case or cooler. But if you’re flying, you may not want to cart a pie through airport security. Even though TSA’s website says “we’ve seen just about everything,” they also warn that a carry-on pie may be subject to additional screening.

In other words, make the food when you get there.

The TSA has a list of items you can’t carry onto the plane, including cranberry sauce, gravy, and soup. You could carry them on as long as they measured under 3.4 ounces, but that won’t put much food on the table.

You could always check-in the food items in question, but the containers could easily break during the baggage handling process of your flight. Cans or bottles could explode from the pressure, or a glass bottle could break from rough handling from a baggage handler, or when it lands onto the baggage claim carousel from the chute.

If you cook with special ingredients or have food allergies or dietary concerns that force you to eat carefully, weigh the pros and cons of packing or carrying these items. Usually your best bet is to buy the food items when you arrive at your destination.

Of course, it’s always possible you may be heading somewhere without many options, like a small town in the Midwest. In that case, consider ordering from a specialty food store or even Amazon. Or you could just box the items up and ship them yourself. Either way, your favorite foods and ingredients will be waiting for you when you arrive at your destination.

Have you ever shipped, carried, or checked food items for the holidays? How did you do it? Would you do it again or have you found a new method? Leave a comment or let us hear from you on our Facebook page.

Bring This, Not That: Three Unnecessary Travel Items

September 25, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Sometimes, knowing what to bring on a trip can get confusing, especially if you love your gadgets and want to bring them on the road. A video article by Matt Granite from USA Today had some good advice on what not to bring on your next flight.

Travel Adapters

Granite: Travel adapters are unnecessary. Most hotels accommodate you and your electrical needs. They take up a lot of space as well.

Single travel adapter for Europe and Asia

Single travel adapter for Europe and Asia

Travelpro: We disagree. Yes, you shouldn’t buy the adapter kit with 20 pieces, because you’ll most likely only need one style. However, imagine getting to your hotel and not being able to charge your phone. Do some research to find out what kind of adapter you will need, and just bring that, not all the adapters for every country.

It’s important to weigh the costs for this too. If you frequently travel around the world, the 20 piece kit is probably the best route for you. But if you’re taking that once-in-a-lifetime trip to Paris, go for the single adapter only.

GPS

Granite: Why bring an extra device when you can just use a mobile GPS app? Your GPS is the most likely item to get stolen.

Travelpro: Agreed. Another device is unnecessary. However there are some factors to think about when opting for the app. It drains your battery, can go into roaming, which will hike up your data usage, and is a lot smaller than a GPS. Better yet, consider a map as your primary wayfinder, and use your phone GPS for fine tuning or when you get lost.

Bluetooth Shower Speakers

Granite: Pointless, poor audio quality, and overpriced. Skip the shower speakers, and get a regular speaker instead.

Travelpro: We sort of agree on the speakers. Why not just endure your 10 minute shower without music at all? You want to save as much space and weight as possible, and a bluetooth speaker of any kind is just going to take up both.

But if you simply must sing in the shower, we recommend Nude Audio’s Super M as an all-in-one speaker. It’s bluetooth, water- and sand-proof, offers a 360-degree sound experience, is compact and durable, and costs $99.

Tech gear is one of those optional things. Other than some kind of power adapter, you don’t need a GPS (travelers have survived forever without them), and you certainly don’t need a speaker for your mobile device. Go as light as possible, leave the unnecessary gear at home, and experience what your destination has to offer, including the music.

Travelpro Product Testing Featured on NBC’s “The List”

September 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

NBC’s The List, a show that airs in Phoenix, Tampa, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Tulsa, Baltimore, and West Palm Beach, recently visited our luggage testing facility here in Boca Raton, Florida to see how we put our luggage to the (rigorous and rough) test before it ever reaches the store.

Learn to Pack Like the Marines

August 28, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

The Marines are known for their dedication, skill, and bravery. What you might not know is how well they can pack. A Marine is only given one sea bag, a military duffel bag, to fit all his or her belongings. Packing efficiently is a must.

They have developed a packing technique called the skivvy roll or grunt roll. It combines a t-shirt, shorts or underwear, and a pair of socks into a single small roll that’s easy to count and manage. If you have a complete roll, you have a complete under-outfit.

  • Place t-shirt flat and unfolded. Stretch and smooth it to remove wrinkles.
  • Fold underwear in half length-wise, and place on top of shirt below shirt collar.
  • Fold the sides of shirt length-wise over the underwear.
  • Lay socks flat over shirt sleeves in a crisscross pattern. Leave the leg of the sock hanging outside of the shirt. Ankle socks will not work. It will look sort of like a letter ‘T.’
  • Roll items from collar down. Leave sock legs outside of roll.
  • Fold one loose sock leg over rolled items.
  • Repeat with other loose sock leg. You will have a completed skivvy roll.

There are many sites with step-by-step instructions and pictures demonstrating each step (we like the one on Huckberry.com). This technique may have Marine origins but that does not mean we civilians can’t use it for our everyday travel needs.

Skivvy roll - Huckberry

Used with permission from Huckberry.com

The skivvy roll is great for going on camping trips or traveling when space is very limited. You don’t want to lug three bags through the airport because of inefficient packing. It also ensures you have plenty of socks and underwear for each day you will be gone, since one roll equals one shirt, one pair of underwear, and one pair of socks. One day, one roll. Five days, five rolls.

What are some packing techniques you use? Leave a comment and let us know.

How to Get Your Luggage Safely To Its Final Destination

July 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Of all the potential headaches involved with air travel these days — random flight cancellations, endless tarmac delays, crowded flights, a rude (or super extra friendly!) seatmate, among many others — the biggest one of all may not happen until you reach your destination: lost or damaged luggage.

Even if you’ve been delayed by hours and hours, all that stress can melt away with a hot shower and change of clothes back at the hotel. But if you suddenly find yourself without all the comforts of home you have packed, that stress only intensifies — not to mention the stress of losing valuable belongings.

Baggage Claim Carousel Photo i005 by Grant Wickes

Baggage Claim Carousel Photo i005 by Grant Wickes (Photo credit: Grant Wickes)

ABC’s 20/20 recently published a story — “8 Tips To Get Your Luggage Safely To Its Destination” — and we’re always happy to see major news outlets working to make travel safer, simpler and less stressful for everyday travelers.

20/20’s advice is fairly good, but there are often other factors to consider.

Tips That Make Sense

Packing in a sturdy bag is a great tip. So is purchasing traveler’s insurance: In addition to that $3,400 cap on airlines’ liability, even the sturdiest luggage is limited by its manufacturer’s warranty, which almost never covers loss or damage caused by carriers. (One exception: the Travelpro Platinum luggage series that covers airline baggage handler damage.)

The best tip we read, of course: Carry your luggage on whenever possible. If you’re on a commuter jet, it’s likely your carry-on luggage will need to be gate checked, but it’s in your hands for as long as it can be, including all the way up to the gate.

20/20 Tips To Skip

But the recommendation to bypass the curbside baggage check line? Yes, the outdoor bag check adds complexity and a chance for loss or damage, but sometimes you have no choice! If the check-in desk line is incredibly long and you’re risking missing your flight, for instance, the convenience can pay off in getting your luggage on the flight, period.

What’s your top tip? What do you think, experienced travelers? What tips can you offer to others for ensuring their luggage makes it to their destinations safely and in one piece?

Bring This, Not That: DVD Player Vs. Tablet

June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Ask any parent, and they’ll tell you the biggest problem when planning a long road trip isn’t figuring out the driving directions. It’s how to keep the kids entertained. The younger the kids, the more difficult the task.

Teenagers can keep themselves entertained as long as they can text and listen to music. But how do you keep a trio of 8-year-olds entertained?

Portable DVD players have been the go-to solution for years. All you needed was either a DVD player hardwired into your car. Or you had to bring batteries, headphones, and DVDs, and your kids were entertained for hours. They became so popular as an after market product that many vehicle manufacturers included them as upgrades to their cars. That definitely eliminated the battery problem.

However, as technology has advanced, the portable DVD player has become less and less useful.

student_ipad_school - 234

student_ipad_school – 234 (Photo credit: flickingerbrad)

Tablet computers have become the new default entertainment system, although they don’t have DVD slots.

Whereas portable DVD players are not as portable as you might like, tablets can often weigh as little as a pound. They also have easily rechargeable batteries. Instead of grabbing your giant bag o’ batteries every three hours, you just plug in your tablet to a regular electrical outlet or car charger when it needs a boost.

You can also legally download movies or “rip” DVDs to save to your tablet, which means you won’t forget to pack your kids’ favorite movies.

All tablets can connect to wifi, which means they work at hotels, restaurants, and with a personal wifi hotspot. And many have their own data connection, which is great when you’re on the highway. Add a streaming video service like Netflix and Hulu+, and hundreds of movies are available at the touch of a finger.

Bottom Line: Tablet

If you already own a portable DVD player, by all means, keep using it. But if you’re trying to decide which child-entertaining portable device you need for your next car trip, we definitely recommend the tablet. Whether it’s an iPad, Galaxy Tab, or even the Kindle Fire, you can do so much more with it than just watch DVDs.

Our advice? Buy yourself the tablet and let your kids use it only when they need to be entertained. Otherwise, make it your own personal viewing device for when you get bored.

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Super Savvy Summer Travel Tips

June 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Warmer weather and longer days can only mean one thing: summertime is finally here!

While every family spends their summer days differently, one common thread is travel. Because the kids are out of school, the months of June and July are ripe for family vacations.

English: family vacation summer 2007

English: family vacation summer 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In order to get the most out of your next summer vacation, you need to thoroughly prepare beforehand so you know how to react no matter what life throws your way. To help you plan, here’s a short list of things to consider to make your next vacation go smoothly.

  • Scan and move any important travel documents to the cloud, including passports, travel insurance, medical records and anything else that can be needed in emergency situations. Storing these documents in a Google Drive, for example, will provide safekeeping and easy access. You can also use Dropbox or Evernote. You can also share these documents with family members and friends.
  • Pack a first aid kit. You never know when an injury may occur, so keep pain relievers, bandages, sunscreen, and any medications (inhalers, etc) in a water-resistant, cool environment. If traveling by car, keep a kit in the vehicle. If you’re hiking or enjoying the beach, keep the kit in a backpack or in another convenient place.
  • Plan for the worst-case scenario. Make sure everyone knows what to do in case someone in your family is separated from the group. For young children, it is generally advised that they stay in the same place and wait for a parent to come back and find them. For older children and teens, choose a location to meet in case of any separation or threat.
  • If traveling by car, be prepared for any mechanical failures. Bring jumper cables, a spare tire, tire iron, flashlight and safety flares in case your vehicle breaks down. It’s also a good idea to keep a bottle of water and a blanket in your vehicle in case you are stuck for long periods of time without help.
  • For small children, bring snacks, toys or books to keep them entertained on long drives or flights.

We could go on and on and on with all the different tips and ideas for family summer travel, but experience is the best teacher. Enjoy your summer and travel safe!

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Bring This, Not That: Boots versus Shoes versus Sandals

June 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

We’re always big fans of “pack light, wear heavy” when you’re working with limited space. For example, don’t pack your big boots into your Rollaboard when space is limited. Which gives rise to the question of whether you should take boots, shoes, or sandals with you for most of your walking.

One of the most important things to consider will be how active you plan to be, and where you will be. It may seem like a no-brainer, but an active vacation requires completely different clothing and apparel than a more passive, relaxing vacation.

An example of walking in sandals.

An example of walking in sandals. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can leave the button down shirt and slacks at home if your next trip involves scaling up a mountain. Conversely, if you’ll be dining in five star restaurants, there’s no need to waste valuable packing space with tank tops, Bermuda shorts, and flip-flops.

But what about your footwear? There are several different schools of thought for what you need on your feet when you’re going to do a lot of walking.

Again, match your footwear to your predicted level of activity. If your plans include museum visits, city tours, theme parks, or other activities that involve a lot of walking, make room in your suitcase for your favorite pair of running or walking shoes, so that you can move through the day in comfort. If hiking is on your schedule, get the lightweight boots that will provide comfort and support. And if you’re just lounging on the beach, grab your sandals.

It’s important to pack for function, but versatility is just as important. You should pack no more than two, and wear the third pair. The last thing you’ll need is to take up space by packing every pair of shoes you own, “just in case.”

For instance, if you plan on traveling throughout the city on foot, and will want to dine at nice restaurants, bring a pair of casual shoes, like loafers, that allow you to look presentable in public while also providing moderate comfort. While your hiking boots may be more comfortable, the maitre’d may decide he doesn’t have any tables that night.

Finally, don’t forget to wear your heaviest or biggest shoes on the plane. That will save you packing space and baggage weight. If you think your shoes may be too heavy on the plane, then you may also want to think twice about whether you needed them at all.

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When is Shipping Your Luggage an Option?

May 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

As travelers, it’s been our struggle to deal with our luggage. It’s been going on for centuries, even millennial, when early man began cramming carry-on satchels made of Mammoth hide into the overhead bins on their Pterodactyl planes.

Or was that The Flintstones?

Regardless, people are still dealing with how to get all their stuff from point A to point B easily, cheaply and quickly. But like the old saying goes, there’s easy, cheap, and quick, and you can only choose two.

Travelpro provides Rollaboard and Spinner carry-on luggage so people have the convenience of skipping the bag check and retrieval in the airports, which makes their travel a lot easier. Other people are finding that they still have to gate check their bags, just because they’re one of the last ones on the plane. Sometimes, carry-on luggage is not an option for longer trips that require more stuff.

Yahoo travel blogger Sonia Gil recently posted a video about the joys of traveling completely bag-free. (Well, almost completely. You need to carry your laptop, tablet, book, extra sweater, tickets, spare underwear, granola bars, and well, you just need a personal bag.)

Sonia looked at the joys and costs of traveling bag-free — no bag-check lines, no lost luggage, no worries about whether you have to gate check your Rollaboard. To do it, you need to ship your luggage, and it may cost you a few bucks.

There are a few companies that specialize in shipping luggage, like Sports Express and Luggage Free. There are also the main package carriers, like UPS, Fedex, and DHL. Shipping your luggage comes with a lot of caveats however, like needing to pack and ship several days in advance, or the fact that it’s not always the cheapest option.

For example, Sonia looks at the costs of sending a 75 pound oversize bag on a luggage shipper versus American Airlines, and finds that the shipper wins, $299 to $400 ($200 for oversize + $200 for overweight). Of course, you have to ship your luggage five days in advance to get the $299 rate, but it certainly is worth it if it means not having to wrestle your 75 pound behemoth off the baggage carousel and in and out of the cab and hotel.

So, if you need to pack a lot of stuff to take on your next trip, or have golf clubs or skis you want to send, consider shipping your luggage instead of taking it on your flight. The benefit is that you don’t have to mess with it at the airport or move it to and from your final destination. Your bag is already there waiting for you, probably with its own stories.

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