Bring This, Not That: Baby Formula and Breast Milk

April 3, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Mothers who are traveling with infants know the difficulty of trying to feed their babies with breast milk or baby formula. You need to have enough supply on hand before arriving at your final destination, which may seem like a problem, given the TSA’s restrictions on liquids.

However, breast milk and baby formula are two exemptions to the liquid restriction, which means this problem is not as big as you might have thought.

TSA Allowed Liquids

TSA Allowed Liquids (Photo credit: bosconet)

Officially, breast milk and formula are classified as liquid medication, which means you may bring more than three ounces as long as you present it for inspection through security. Frozen milk must be presented in a solid state during inspection (that is, it can’t be half-frozen or slushy). Your empty bottles and ice packs are also permitted as well.

Although you’re allowed to bring as much milk or formula as you wish, the TSA encourages you to only bring as much as you need to get to your destination. Aside from the extra time it will take to get through security, it also is going to add weight to your bag. If you take baby formula, keep in mind that you can get it elsewhere and don’t need to add all of that extra weight to your bag. Plus, you’re still only restricted to one carry-on bag and one personal bag, so if you’re bringing a cooler of milk or formula, that’s one of your allowed bags.

Whether you choose breast milk or baby formula comes down to your preference. But if you use baby formula, keep in mind that there are powdered formulas available. Just pick up a bottle of water near the gate, and you’re all set. You don’t have the extra weight in the bag, and you can pack a lot more powdered formula than regular formula.

The Bottom Line

If you know you will be bringing baby formula or breast milk on your next flight, separate these liquids from your other liquids and let the TSA agents know you have it. Remember that any item must be properly scanned and screened before entering the secure area of the airport. So again, make it easy on yourself and only bring as much as you need to get to your destination.

If you have other questions on what you can bring, you may refer to the TSA’s web page about baby formula and breast milk.

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Bring This, Not That: Layers vs. Big Coats

March 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

How many times have you left home in a big coat and regretted it the minute you arrived at your destination? Even a trip to the mall in the winter can make a big coat seem like a bad idea when you have to lug it around, after only needing it to walk the 200 yards from your car.

When traveling during cold months, many travelers assume they need to bring their big coat to keep warm. It works, but there’s a better option: layer up and wear several light shirts and a fleece, rather than one shirt and a heavy coat. You have more flexibility with changing temperatures by wearing many layers, not to mention that you won’t have to haul that giant parka around with you.

Going Through a Climate Change

If you are traveling to a very cold location, like Finland in January, a big coat is probably a must. But if you can avoid bringing it to a place like St. Louis in March, why not? You may save room in your suitcase by wearing it onto the plane, but you still have to mess with it. Whether putting it in an overhead compartment, or carrying it around when you find out it’s not as cold as you thought, big coats take up a lot of space.

That being said, it may useful to wear that big coat, especially if you’re going to be outside a lot. But if you’re only dashing from cabs and cars to restaurants and offices, skip the coat and layer up.

If you are traveling from a cold climate to a hot one, layering is definitely recommended. You won’t want to carry that coat around in a warm climate and it is easier to add or subtract a few layers when needed. Plus you can pack them away when you don’t need them.

Bottom Line: Focus on Common Use

Think about packing for your most common use, rather than your peak use. Look at what you will be doing the most during your trip, rather than the worst situation you’ll only face once. Will you be outside most of the time in single digit temperatures? Then a big coat is a must. Otherwise, we recommend sticking with layers, thick and thin shirts. Layers make it easier in a temperature change and offer variety in climate changes you aren’t used to.

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Clothing Tips for Smart Adventure Travelers

March 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Are you staring back-and-forth from your closet to your suitcase wondering what to pack for your next adventure travel? Our favorite travel writer and photographer (and contributor to the Travelpro blog), Mark Eveleigh, has some tips to think about when planning your outfits.

1. Pants and Shorts

Jeans are not recommended for adventure travel, because once they get wet, it’s game over. Instead of heavy denim that never dries, cargo pants are the way to go. They are light, dry quickly, and have pockets for storage.

If you’re traveling someplace warmer, tough bush-shorts are an excellent option. They have large pockets and are durable. You may even find cargo pants that unzip at the knee are ideal for places with temperature changes.

2. Shirts

Mark Eveleigh sporting his TPro Rolling Duffel in Chiapas

If there’s anyone who knows adventure travel, it’s this guy.

Any shirt is good as long as it’s durable and lightweight. You’ll want to stay with neutral colors, especially on safari, so you blend in with the brush. Shirts should be versatile enough to be worn outside during adventure excursions and to be worn when having drinks in the evening.

3. Bags

Eveleigh carries a kitbag, also called a duffle bag, where he stores most of his supplies. One of our colleagues also stated that a backpack could be just as useful, although Eveleigh has said he favors kitbags over backpacks. We wouldn’t recommend a vest with pockets because once they’re full, it’s heavy. And heavy isn’t good in heat.

4. Footwear

Cross country running shoes are ideal during adventure travel. Lightweight and compact, these shoes are perfect for an average trip. Also packing a pair of sandals or trekking shoes is a good idea for something to wear to dinner.

There are a lot more adventure travel packing tips at the Kitbaggers website. As long as you’re packing smart and taking only the things you need, you’ll have a good time.

Bring This, Not That: Backpacks Versus Duffel Bags

February 25, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

We were recently reminded of why we like being a luggage company after reading Mark Eveleigh’s post on his blog, Kitbaggers.com, extolling the virtue of kitbags (duffel bags) over backpacks.

The decision whether to carry that weight on my back for the next few months or to simply haul it on a kitbag with wheels is a no-brainer.
. . .
Before you head for the airport next time, at least spare a thought for which sort of bag is suited to your trip. On a relatively long adventure travel jaunt, there will be relatively few incidences when a backpack is preferable. There will be countless times, however, when you’ll whisper up a prayer of thanks for the foresight that turned you into a kitbagger. From the airport to the bus, to the hostel, to the bus, to the beach, to another hostel, to another bus, to a national park a tough, well-made kitbag on heavy-duty wheels is the easiest way to transport your kit across all but the roughest of dirt tracks.

Tpro Bold Duffel, open side

Tpro Bold kitbag, er duffel bag, can open from the side or top. It lets you sort items into compartments, and gives you easy access. Plus it rolls, so you don’t have to carry it.

Kitbag is a British word for a duffel bag, and there are several styles of kitbag — er, duffel bags — that have wheels on them. They’re easy to pick up and carry when necessary, and even easier to pull along behind you, just like a regular piece of Rollaboard® luggage. Travelpro offers a wide variety of rolling duffel bag styles in the T-Pro Bold, Platinum Magna and National Geographic luggage collections.

If you’ve ever hauled a 60-pound backpack for miles through Europe, South America, or Africa, you know how hot and sweaty you can get by toting around three month’s worth of belongings on your back. But pulling your bag behind you lets you not only carry more, but you can transport said bag more easily.

Bottom Line

Backpacks are great. They’re a lot of fun, they’re great for hiking and camping, and they have a secret gypsy vagabond appeal for many of us. We even make backpacks for people to haul their laptops, tablets and paperwork. It may not be trekking the rainforest of Chiapas or the streets of Paris, but you can still feel like you’re there, even when you’re just walking to your car after work.

But when it comes down to it, if you need something rugged, tough, and built to last, a rolling duffel bag kitbag is your best bet. They’re soft, so you can overstuff them. They have plenty of compartments, so you can keep items separated by function. And they open at the top so you can easily dig out an extra shirt or your book for the plane.

Mark wrote several posts for us in 2010 after hauling some of our T-Pro Bold rolling duffel bags (kitbags) through Chiapas, Mexico and down the Amazon River. We figured if anyone knows about proper adventure travel gear, it’s bound to be Mark.

So when he said kitbags, not backpacks, we wanted to pass on his thoughts to adventure traveler within us all.

6 Ways Air Travel Will Change in 2014

February 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ve likely already noticed the airline industry has been making some big changes over the last few years, and 2014 will be no different. In fact, many new trends and test projects we reported on in the previous year are set to become mainstream in the upcoming year. While many of these new changes will be for the better, some may leave passengers feeling, well, a little uncomfortable.

1. Airports will become more efficient

Boeing 727-223 of American Airlines at Chicago...

Boeing 727-223 of American Airlines at Chicago O’Hare (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Travelers can now look forward to a quicker check-in process at airports thanks to the DIY bag tag trend. As we reported last year, airlines have been testing out self-tag options in various high-traffic airports, and with great results. American Airlines has reported that the new system has sped up check-in times by 55%, and Iberia has experienced similar results. Additionally, thanks to the growing popularity of programs such as the TSA PreCheck program, airport security lines are moving a bit faster. The TSA is now looking to expand the program to over 100 airports in the upcoming year.

2. Discount airlines fly across the pond

If you’ve ever turned green with envy at the sight of low-cost fares in Europe, you’re in luck. A few new transatlantic carriers (such as Iceland’s Wow) have entered the scene. Thanks to their fuel efficient jets, we may soon be able to cross the pond at a more affordable rate.

3. Taxes and fees will go up

Before you get too excited about cheaper transatlantic fares, hold your horses. If you thought fees couldn’t get any worse, you were wrong. They’re expected to go even higher in the upcoming year. However, these fees may be ones that you’re actually willing to pay for. In addition to more fees, taxes will also go up in 2014. Thankfully, it’s not too bad: the security fee for a round trip flight will be raised from $5 to $11.20 — a difference of, well, the cost of a bottle of water at the airport.

4. Seats will get smaller

If this isn’t motivation to revisit that New Year’s resolution to lose weight, I don’t know what is. Boeing is now manufacturing 17″ seats. Let’s hope you like your seat neighbors, because you’ll be getting pretty cozy.

5. You’ll stay connected

Not only will you be closer to your seat mates than ever before, but you may also get the opportunity to eavesdrop on all of their conversations. The FCC is looking to allow air passengers to make cell phone calls in-flight, much to the chagrin of most travelers. Sadly, you may never be able to use that “sorry I didn’t answer that email, I was on a flight.” excuse ever again. More airlines will be adding in-flight WIFI and even power outlets.

6. Private jets will go mainstream

Now that seats are getting smaller and planes may be getting noisier, you may be wishing you had access to a private jet. Surprise, you do. Companies such as JumpSeat are now offering innovative new jet sharing programs to the masses.

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Bring This, Not That: Travel Guidebooks or Not?

February 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s no secret that more people are bypassing ‘old fashioned’ travel resources such as guidebooks and brochures for internet sites. In fact, according to online research firm Market Matrix, 90% of global travelers state that their booking decisions are heavily influenced by websites such as TripAdvisor, Google Places and Yelp. With that in mind, we asked the opinions of the TravelPro team: should you bring a travel guidebook on your next trip?

Say Yes to Guidebooks

Frommer's Travel Guides

Frommer’s Travel Guides (Photo credit: davitydave)

Many people would argue that because of statistics like these along with the rapid rise of travel among digital natives (Millennials who were born with a mobile phone in their hand), travel guidebooks are joining the ranks of the encyclopedia and are about to become a thing of the past.

While we can’t argue with the fact that the Internet offers a thousand times more information about any given destination than a travel guidebook could, there are certain things a guidebook does well, like working as an excellent resource when you’re in fast need of well-organized information about a specific destination. Oh, and travel guidebooks work without an Internet connection.

Or Just Say No

The downside to guidebooks is fairly obvious: they tend to be bulky, heavy, and obviously contain much less information than you’d find online. Also, your guidebook can be as much as two or three years out of date. The “must see” destination or “traveler’s choice” restaurant may have closed down a year earlier, but you won’t know until you get there; an online resource will tell you what’s open and what’s closed before you ever get there.

Additionally, poring over a guidebook and map while you’re trying to find your way targets you immediately as a tourist, which could make you a target for unscrupulous vendors or other ne’er-do-wells who might seek to separate you from your money.

The Final Consensus?

Take the travel guidebook along with you in your suitcase. In the event that you can’t access an Internet connection or are unable to find adequate information from your hotel, you’ll be glad you did. When you venture out into town, be sure to leave that guidebook back at your hotel or hidden in a backpack. If necessary, get a second guidebook and tear out the necessary pages to shove in your pocket. This way your original will still be intact, but you won’t have to carry the entire thing with you.

We’d love to hear from you. When traveling, do you rely more on travel guidebooks or the Internet? Share with us in the comments section or on our Facebook page.

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Bring This, Not That: Tablets vs. Laptops

January 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Once only carried by business travelers, laptops and tablets have now become a “must bring” item in many travelers’ luggage, and for obvious reasons. Not only do laptops and tablets make it easier for us to stay in touch while away, but they also serve as a versatile source of entertainment for all ages.

However, when looking to lighten your load while traveling, one thing’s for certain — every little ounce and inch can add up fast, making it easy to go from “traveling light” to completely bogged down. Depending on the type of laptop you own, you may find yourself adding several pounds of weight to your carry-on bag. The obvious alternative would be to bring a tablet instead, but is that a smart idea? The Travelpro team decided to weigh the pros and cons and decide which is the better choice to bring on a trip – a laptop or tablet?

Packing a Tablet

Paul and Ableton

(Photo credit: Derek K. Miller)

At face value, a tablet seems to be the most logical option for those looking to travel light. After all, a tablet takes up considerably less space than the average laptop, and can weigh several pounds less. Additionally, they’re much easier to use on the go, whereas laptops can be downright impossible to use on airplanes, depending on how much seat room you have. Finally, a tablet can come in handy when exploring a new city as it can be easily packed into a purse and pulled out when things like maps, directions and restaurant recommendations are needed.

Packing a Laptop

A laptop may be the choice for those who are traveling for business. If you’re planning on getting some work done where you need to access Microsoft Office applications to create documents on your trip, a tablet may leave you feeling frustrated. On the downside, the average laptop is significantly less portable than tablets, unless you have a lightweight laptop such as a Macbook Air or Chromebook. Although we haven’t tried them, the all in one laptop and tablet hybrid products may also be the solution.

The Final Consensus?

While it ultimately depends on the purpose of your trip and what you’ll be using your tablet or laptop for, the Travelpro team suggests you bring a tablet and leave that bulky laptop at home. Besides, if you’re heading on a vacation, having a laptop around will make it that much harder to ‘unplug,’ right?

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How To Travel Like a Pro

December 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

While traveling can be an enriching, wonderful, life changing experience, it can also be stressful, especially if you’re not well prepared. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, there are certain things you can do to ensure your trip goes as smoothly as possible. We have compiled a list of our five favorite travel tips from the TravelPro team and other travel industry experts to ensure your next trip goes off without a hitch.

1. Get in the (time) zone

There’s nothing worse than wasting the first day of your trip feeling completely jet-lagged. Instead of making an abrupt switch, set your watch to the time zone you’ll be visiting as soon as you board your flight and act accordingly. This means that if you’re visiting Thailand and it’s 11pm Indochina Time, then guess what? Time for some shut eye.

2. Invest in an international SIM card

An AT&T SIM Card before being taken out and pu...

An AT&T SIM Card before being taken out and put in use in a mobile telephone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you travel abroad quite often, an international travelers’ SIM card is worth the investment. You can pick these up on sites like Ekit and most work in over one hundred countries around the world. You can even register your SIM card with Ekit and have it map your journey, allowing friends and family members to not only follow your travels, but ensure you’re alive and well.

3. Get your finances in order

If you’re leaving the country, do your research. Your debit card may be useless in many countries. In some places (such as Myanmar), ATMs are not connected to international networks, whereas in others (i.e. Japan), you’ll find that your card isn’t even the correct size for ATMs. Also, don’t just inform your bank of your travel plans once. Be sure to call and confirm they’ve noted your account before you leave. Finally, exchange a small amount of money — enough to last a day or so — prior to leaving the United States. In the event that you run into issues withdrawing money, you won’t find yourself stranded and penniless in a foreign country.

4. Plan for the worst

As the saying goes, expect the best, but plan for the worst. Leave copies of your itinerary and all travel documents with a trusted friend or family member. Hide an emergency credit card and back-up identification in an inconspicuous location, keep scanned copies of everything (especially your passport!) on your computer, and back-up your photos as often as possible. If you are pick-pocketed or your hotel room is robbed, you’ll be grateful you took these extra precautions.

5. Don’t make it obvious you’re a traveler

Nothing screams “I’m new here!” than walking around with tags on your luggage. As soon as you pass through customs, be sure to rip the tags off of your bags and discard them. If you need to pick up a taxi to your hotel, leave the international area make your way over to domestic arrivals. Chances are, you’ll end up paying less for that ride anyway, since some international cab drivers try to take advantage of foreign visitors.

Are you a savvy traveler? Have you picked up any valuable tips on your travels? Share your tips with other travelers in the comments section.

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Travel Tip: Getting On a Plane During Cold and Flu Season

December 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

There’s nothing worse than taking a flight when cold and flu season is in full swing. Combine the confined space with that nonstop cougher across the aisle, and you’re almost guaranteed to wake up at your destination with a scratchy throat. Fortunately, with a little education and preparation, you can dodge any viruses that come your way, even if you find yourself sharing a seat with your neighbor’s gross used tissues.

Why is it easier to pick up the cold or flu on a plane? Many of us seem to have an easier time getting sick when flying. While many people believe it’s due to the “recycled air” on flights, that’s actually a bit of a myth. In general, most planes use a 50/50 mix of outside and recycled air, while some planes actually use more outside air. Additionally, newer airplanes are equipped with HEPA air filters that capture 99.9% of particles, including airborne viruses.

Tray Tables Up

Tray tables can often be carrying a lot of germs. (Photo credit: nep)

So what’s the real culprit? Well, aside from any sick people in your immediate area, it’s actually the germs that linger on the surfaces you touch — the seatback tray, arm rests, seat, and so on. You know, the areas of the plane that dozens of people have touched, rested on… maybe even drooled on? And let’s be honest, those airplane bathroom sinks don’t really lend themselves to a good hand washing. To prevent picking up a virus from the surfaces on the plane, wipe everything down with an antibacterial wipe, use hand sanitizer while in-flight and give your hands a good washing with anti-bacterial soap when you first arrive at your destination.

Another common cause of the post-flight virus is low cabin humidity. At very low levels of humidity, we become dehydrated and the mucus in our noses and throats (i.e. our natural defense system) dries up, making it that much easier for germs to invade our system. In order to prevent this from happening, it’s important to stay well-hydrated while traveling. Drink plenty of water before and during your flight and consider using saline nasal drops to keep your sinuses hydrated.

The next time you’re getting ready to fly, don’t forget to stock up on antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer and perhaps a few vitamin C tablets for good measure.

Do you have a tried-and-true method for staying healthy while flying? Share with us in the comments section.

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Business Travel Will be Pricier Next Year

December 12, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

With the economy slowly but surely returning back to normal, business travel is back on the rise. In the first quarter of this year, business travel accounted for 56.8% of all trips taken, making it the most popular reason for travel. For hotels, business travelers are their bread and butter, accounting for almost 20% of occupied room nights in the United States and 30% of lodging industry revenue.

While this recent increase in travel for both business and pleasure is undoubtedly good news for hotels, airlines and the like, it appears that as a result, U.S. hotels are less willing to cut corporate travel managers a deal on hotel rates.

English: Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville, ...

Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unlike small companies (or the average traveler), corporations don’t simply book employee business travel on third party booking sites such as Priceline or Expedia. Instead, each fall, corporate travel managers negotiate the following years’ rates with the hotels they do business with – and for better or for worse, they are locked into these rates for the following year.

According to research conducted by Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of the Tisch Center for Hospitality at NYU, corporate travel managers can expect to pay between 5 – 6% more when booking hotel rooms for business travelers in 2014. Unfortunately, corporations aren’t the only ones that will pay more for lodging in the upcoming year – overall, the average daily rate for hotel rooms has risen by 4.5%. According to Nashville-based STR, the average daily rate for US hotels through July is $109.95.

While a 5 – 6% rate increase may not be crippling to independent travelers, this type of rate increase can have a massive impact on the travel budgets of large corporations that spend hundreds of thousands per year on business travel.

As a result, many corporations are opting to work with more affordable hotels (such as Holiday Inn) as opposed to luxury, full service hotels. Others are simply allowing their employees to choose their own accommodations, as long as they stay within the allotted budget – a tactic which is appealing to millennials who prefer to make their own decisions.

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