Travel Hacks You Can Use Anywhere

October 20, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

In our last blog post, we talked about hotel hacks you can use while you’re on the road. With a little ingenuity and a few of the complimentary items most hotels offer, you can have a semi-civilized existence if you need food, a shave, to shine your shoes, or to even remove unwanted odors.

Another travel hacks video from Dave Hax tells us how to pack and travel with just a few simple items to make packing easier and our time on a plane or train more comfortable. Here are a few things we learned.

  • If your shoes get dirty while you’re sightseeing, use the hotel shower cap to cover the soles. If you suffer from SFS (smelly feet syndrome), help yourself (please!) to the teabags in the hotel room and use them as shoe deodorizers.
  • Don’t want to bring your laptop protector but need something to protect your computer inside your suitcase? Fold your hoodie around it and you’re good to go! Your hoodie can also be used as a makeshift pillow. Provided you’re not already using it as your laptop protector.
  • If you’ve never learned how the Marines fold their clothes to make the most use of their duffel space, read our post on making a skivvy roll. It’s genius, and it helps you count pairs of underwear, socks, and t-shirts easily.
  • If you don’t want to watch the in-flight movie, and don’t want a crick in your neck from hunching over your phone, pack a sandwich bag in your carry-on. Place the phone inside the bag and use the tray table clip to hold the bag at viewing level. Then, poke a small hole in the bag for your headphones. If you don’t have a bag, you can fold your sunglasses and use them as a stand.
  • If you have a hard time remembering your room number, take a photo with your phone when you arrive.
  • If your phone battery is running low and you don’t have a lot of time to charge it, put the phone in “flight mode” and it will charge faster.
  • For all you McGyver fans out there, a clean, empty lip balm tube can be used to hide rolled-up bills when you’re going out.

With these tips, your next trip can be cleaner, more efficient, more enjoyable, and adequately charged. What other hacks do you use when you travel? Leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page.

Bring This, Not That: Perfumes and Colognes

October 13, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Personal hygiene aside, traveling can be a smelly affair. The taxi smells, the airport smells, the restaurant smells, the airplane smells, and all of that can make you smell. Not the best way to make a good impression or to feel your best while you’re away from home.

Sometimes you need a little perfume or cologne to cover up the travel odors. But what’s the best way to travel with your favorite fragrance?

There are several options. You can pack your full-size bottles in your checked bags. Several Travelpro models have a wet pocket specifically designed with this in mind. If there’s a spill, you haven’t gotten it all over your clothes and shoes.

You can also purchase a smaller size that meets the TSA’s 3.4 ounce requirement, and put it in your 3-1-1 bag.

Scent bottles with perfume finger sprayers. Sa...

Scent bottles with perfume finger sprayers. Samples of women’s perfumes at the Fragonard perfume factory in Èze, France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ask for some complimentary samples when you purchase cologne or perfume at a department store. One traveler we know even created a special compact roll-on version of her favorite cologne out of a roll-on dispenser purchased just for this purpose. It was smaller than 3.4 ounces, and it was enough to last several trips.

Duty-free purchases are allowed in your carry-on, regardless of the size, but unless you check your baggage on the return flight, you’ll run into the same dilemma you had before you left home. So if you want to buy fancy airport perfume, do it on your return trip.

You might also consider choosing a less expensive option that you designate just for travel. Many retailers offer scented body sprays in travel sizes that could serve this purpose.

How do you travel with your favorite scents? Let us hear from you in the comments section below, or on our Facebook page.

Bring This, Not That: Smoking Materials

October 6, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re a smoker and you’re trying to figure out how to travel so that you and your cigarettes arrive at the same destination, here’s the latest from TSA about what smokers can and cannot bring with them.

According to the TSA website, you can put two, full standard disposable or Zippo lighters in your checked suitcase, but they must be packaged in DOT approved packaging. The TSA site isn’t specific about what this packaging is, so if you want clarification, call before you fly. Torch and micro-lighters (fancy cigar lighters) are prohibited from checked baggage.

Gauloises red german and asian white lighter.

Gauloises red german and asian white lighter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In your carry-on luggage, you can bring one disposable or Zippo lighters. One matchbook of safety matches is also allowed. Micro- and torch lighters are not allowed, and neither are single strike-anywhere matches.

With the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, TSA has said they can be brought in either checked or carry-on luggage, but the accompanying e-juice must comply to the same regulations as all other carry-on liquids. Just in case you thought otherwise, e-cigarettes may not be used on any flights. Those fumes will set off the bathroom smoke alarms just like regular cigarettes.

While we’re not necessarily advocates of smoking, we recognize that people will want to be able to take their smoking materials with them. There was no real explanation as to how many cigars or cigarettes you could bring, but you’ll want to take care not to smash them as you pack your suitcase. Of course, you can always purchase your smoking materials when you arrive at your destination and avoid the problems altogether.

Have you run into any problems bringing your smoking materials onto a plane? How did you handle those situations? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

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.

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.

Bring This, Not That: Smaller Bags versus Larger Luggage

July 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

When packing for a flight, travelers don’t always want to haul around one large bag, so they opt for carrying a few smaller bags instead. For example, we’ve known women who carry their cosmetics in a separate bag, as well as a small rollaboard or spinner, and a briefcase or purse.

This is fine for car travel, but what about plane travel? Is it better to consolidate all your luggage into one larger bag or carry some of the items you might ordinarily pack on the plane with you. Should you carry the cosmetics bag, which is about the size of a small tote, or figure out how to pack it with your clothes in a large suitcase?

Tpro Bold 2 Duffel - Open

The new Tpro Bold 2 Rolling Duffel — you can fit a lot more in here than a couple small bags can hold.

Let’s assume our female passenger doesn’t have room in her 20″ carry-on bag, so she’ll have to carry her cosmetics bag. Remember, airlines allow one carry-on and one personal bag, which includes a purse or briefcase. If she’s already got a personal bag, she either needs to make room in the carry-on bag, or get a larger piece of luggage and consider checking her bag.

So which is her better choice?

We should first look at the economics. If you take a larger suitcase, most airlines will charge for a checked bag fee. That’s one decision that has to be made up front. The whole reason we recommend carry-on bags is to avoid those fees.

Next, consider security, trust, and convenience. If our passenger has her medications, she absolutely won’t want to be separated from her bag. It’s also nice to have access to your toothbrush and something to wash your face and freshen up in flight, or to use the minute you get off the plane.

She’ll also need to think about how much she’s packing, and how long her trip is going to be. This is where packing fewer pieces that are more versatile, in order to create more outfits, pays off. Or rolling clothes instead of folding them.

Some people also like smaller bags they can put underneath the seat so they can access certain items during the flight. If you split your luggage between two carry-on items, you don’t have to worry about waiting to pick up your bag after the flight, and you can get important items during the flight.

However, juggling multiple items can definitely be inconvenient. It can be nice to have the airline take care of everything, which can be great especially when you have a layover during which you would have to keep all your luggage together.

Ultimately, this is a personal choice. Are you happy with a bigger bag that may require baggage fees? Or do you want to avoid fees, so you travel light, roll your clothes, and make sure everything is as efficient as possible to keep it all in your two carry-on items? Pick the method that suits you and your travel preferences.

What do you do? Leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page.

Bring This, Not That: Huggies Wipes Versus Purse Tissues or TP

July 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

How do we put this delicately? There are times when you need. . . personal hygiene items. Maybe you have babies and toddlers who need to be cleaned up during a diaper change. Or maybe you’re going to be out in the wilderness for several days. Or you’re one of those moms who’s über-prepared for everything, and your purse holds so much stuff, it should have been in a Harry Potter movie.

So the question becomes what should you carry? A small packet of tissues, moist baby wipes like Huggies wipes, or even a small roll of toilet paper?

There’s really only one choice: baby wipes.

English: Wet wipe (2 Thai models)

Wet wipe (2 Thai models) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every young parent knows about the importance of baby wipes. Not only are they great for wiping up baby, but they’re really useful everywhere else. Most parents we know swear by Huggies brand, but there are plenty of other great brands out there too.

My wife and I have a daughter, and we always have some wipes on hand, which we use for a lot of things. We can wipe down tables and chairs when we go to a restaurant, and I’ve used them to wipe up spills on our clothing.

I know someone who used to go to Canada on week-long fishing trips, and he said they would pack a box of Huggies wipes, rather than a lot of TP and paper towels. They could clean anything, especially food stains on shirts, plus anything else they might need them for.

Even if you don’t have kids or if your kids are older, the wipes are still worth carrying, because they can be used for so many different purposes while traveling. Anyone whose gotten used to having wipes available knows their usefulness goes way beyond cleaning up a dirty child.

When space and weight are an issue, wipes are a good choice. They’re more compact, they’re already moistened and they can clean a lot of things. And if you need regular tissues, a small pack in your purse or briefcase make a great backup.

What do you carry for personal cleaning? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page or in the comments section below.

20 Things You Should Never Pack in Your Checked Luggage

July 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Did you know that there is a list of items that airlines ask you not to pack? Not the TSA. We all know about their list of forbidden and allowed items and the 3-1-1 Liquids Rule. The airlines themselves have their own list.

The airlines’ list comprises items specifically barred from reimbursement if they’re lost either due to theft or your entire bag being lost. The airline will not reimburse you for these items, regardless of how and why they were lost, even if it’s completely their fault.

The Stuffed Head of Moose

That’ll never fit in one of our bags! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A recent article in The Huffington Post shared the 20 items that should never be packed in your checked bag, including items such as jewelry, expensive electronics, cash, and even antlers and pelts.

Some of these things, such as medications and eyeglasses, are items that many people would not hesitate to pack so it’s good to know airlines have their own list. It boils down to common sense when you think about it: don’t put anything irreplaceable or valuable into a checked back.

That’s because it’s just a bad idea to pack something extremely valuable into a piece of luggage that is going to be tossed around and handled by multiple people, many of whom have access to the interior of the bag even if you put a lock on it.

Instead of packing items such as iPads or cash, take them on the plane with you in a carry on bag. Some things, such as jewelry or smart phones can easily be kept on your person instead of packed. If you are traveling for vacation, bringing expensive jewelry is just not a good idea period. It makes you a magnet for petty thieves and pickpockets.

Other items on the list include things that are completely irreplaceable such as heirlooms, collectible items, antlers, or rare books. These items should instead be shipped to wherever you’re going. Especially the antlers.

Basically anything that you are unwilling to part with should not be packed into your checked baggage because there is just too much opportunity for it to be lost or stolen while you’re traveling. And while loss and theft is not commonplace, you don’t want it to happen to you.

Do you have any helpful suggestions about moving valuable items from one destination to the other? Visit our Facebook page and leave a comment, or leave one below.

Virgin America Contemplates Charging For Carry-On Bags

July 21, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

Yes, you read that right, Virgin American is considering charging customers for carry-on bags. A May 19 article in Global Traveler reports on remarks made by Virgin American CEO David Cush on the topic. He said he thought charging for customers to put luggage in the belly of the craft and giving them prime space within the cabin for free was rather backwards. He also noted that charging the same amount of money for baggage on short and long flights is a bit nonsensical as well.

This would make Virgin one of the bigger airlines to take this step. Spirit and Allegiant already charge for carry-on baggage in excess of one personal item such as a backpack or purse. Could this start a reverse migration to checked bags? Would more people check bags instead of carrying them on?

English: Luggage compartments of an Airbus 340...

Luggage compartments of an Airbus 340-600 aircraft. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s a concern on the side of the airlines because there’s so much activity with carry-ons: it takes longer to board and deplane because of all the bags people bring on flights with them. That means the potential is there to not arrive at the destination on time. On time arrivals is a metric that all airlines track. From the travelers standpoint, they’re doing it to avoid checked baggage fees. In other words, the airlines have created a problem for themselves that they’re now looking to solve.

It will be interesting to see if Virgin America really goes forward with this idea. It will create another layer of add-on pricing, which could make Virgin less competitive. Allegiant and Spirit are known for having low base ticket prices and then charging add-ons to customers for almost everything. We wonder if Virgin America would need to lower the base price of its tickets if it decides to start charging for carry-on luggage. Otherwise, they could be undercut by bigger airlines.

On the other hand, if Virgin went forward with this plan, other major carriers may also jump onto the bandwagon, and we could all start paying for our checked bags.

What would you do if Virgin and other airlines started charging for carry-on bags? Let us hear from you here or on our Facebook page.

Next Page »