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.

Flying with Your Child

November 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

As airlines continue to find new profit streams, more and more fees are being levied on every aspect of air travel, especially as it relates to convenience and comfort. Included in that list of conveniences is automatically receiving adjacent seat assignments when buying more than one ticket.

This can create nightmare scenarios if you’re not prepared. For example, two parents flying with a three year old and seven year old could face the possibility of everybody being seated separately.

On board Flight QF2 from London Heathrow LHR t...

On board Flight QF2 from London Heathrow LHR to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi BKK (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That’s why parents need to plan ahead when buying tickets. The best thing to do when flying with children is buy tickets well in advance, after making sure your chosen airline has a system in place to reserve seats at time of purchase. If you buy far enough ahead, the chance of snagging adjacent seats is high. The chance that doing so will be free is not as high. Many airlines now charge extra for premium seats, including aisle and window seats. Or, you can fly Southwest, which doesn’t have reserved seats, but offers priority seating for travelers with children under four.

But everything doesn’t always go according to plan. Travel is sometimes last minute. And some parents have strict budgets in place. Should you not be able to reserve adjacent seats at the time of purchase, see if you can work with the airline to get seats with your kids. Call after you buy your tickets or arrive early on the day of the flight.

Even after all this effort, you may still find yourself on a flight with your kids in a different aisle. Many people will take pity on your plight and trade readily to keep your family together. But don’t assume the stranger sitting next to your kids is in the mood to trade seats, especially if he or she paid a premium to sit in the spot. Be prepared for a round of airplane “Let’s Make a Deal.”

Put your game face on and find someone else to trade with you. Or go prepared with a treat bag or gift cards to bribe the other person. Even if the person traded without blinking an eye, giving them a hearty thank you and a Starbucks gift card can make them feel better about helping you out.

How do you travel with your children? Have you ever been in this situation? What did you do to solve the problem? Leave us a comment here on our blog or on 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.

Travelpro and Atlantic Luggage Present the “2014 Holiday Gift Guide”

November 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Make Wishes Come True with the Gift of Quality Luggage for the Travelers in Your Life

The holiday season is right around the corner. As thoughts turn to making wishes come true for family and friends, Travelpro and Atlantic Luggage are ahead of the curve with their “2014 Holiday Gift Guide.” You can be rest assured that holiday memories will last for years to come by purchasing the ideal luggage for the business, leisure or adventure traveler in your life.

Crew Executive Choice Checkpoint-Friendly Computer Backpack

Crew Executive Choice Checkpoint-Friendly Computer Backpack

“No matter how uncompromising or discerning the person you are buying for, our 2014 Gift Guide includes items to please everyone on your list,” said Scott Applebee, vice president of marketing for the Travelpro family of brands. “Our products embody the most advanced technology available today, offering amazingly durable construction, travel-tested features, impressive design and superior materials built to go the distance.”

For the traveler looking for convenience and functionality, Travelpro is proud to present the Travelpro Crew Executive Choice Checkpoint Friendly Computer Backpack. At a typical retail price of $199.99, this stylish and sophisticated item features a padded and quilted corduroy pocket for laptops up to 15.6″, plus a separate padded tablet pocket. A built-in business organizer and removable cord pouch provide efficient storage for business essentials and power cables. Added security is ensured with an RFID-blocking pocket which keeps credit cards and passports hidden to protect against loss and identity theft.

Another thoughtful gift-giving choice is the Travelpro Crew 10 19″ Business Plus Hardside Spinner at a common retail price of $249.99. Travelpro’s Crew 10 Hardside product line incorporates the most sophisticated technology and style for hardside spinner luggage in today’s market. Featuring its patented PowerScope Extension Handle and Contour Grip, this product is constructed from 100% polycarbonate material, engineered to withstand high impact handling and the rigors of long distance travel, while still being lightweight. A built-in business organizer and padded laptop/tablet sleeve are located in the front pocket for easy access to business essentials during travel.

Atlantic Solstice Collection group photo

Atlantic Solstice Collection

For those on your list who like to express their own unique style, you can’t go wrong with the purchase of the Atlantic Solstice 20″Expandable Carry-on Hardside Spinner for around $99.99 at retail. This carry-on includes dual-wheel spinner wheels for a smooth roll in any direction, a built-in TSA lock for added security and 2″ of expansion to maximize space and packing flexibility. Available in bright, vibrant colors, the durable hard shell is stylishly textured and resistant to scratching. The 20″ expandable carry-on is outfitted with multiple pockets to help organize your things and make travel fun. In keeping with the brand’s reputation for quality, Atlantic Solstice comes with a 10-year limited warranty.

Bring on the holiday fun kids! The National Geographic Explorer Lunch Bags, Totes and Kid’s Hardside Luggage are featured in our 2014 Gift Giving Guide. The lunch bags and totes come with stunning National Geographic photo images of a leopard and shark for the lunch bags and flowers and a tropical scene for the totes. The Kid’s Hardside rolling luggage is 16″ high and is made of 100% ABS material with PC film. It features a single tube extension handle with multiple stops, a low profile top carry handle, high‐performance inline skate wheels and two-compartment design for easy packing.

National Geographic Explorer Double Gusset Brief

National Geographic Explorer Double Gusset Brief

Around the world or around the block, the National Geographic Explorer Cape Town Collection Double Gusset Briefcase at $79.99 brings together vintage styling with abundant storage and durable canvas fabric that’s perfect for today’s traveller. Features include a removable padded sleeve which holds laptops up to 15.6″, a spacious main compartment ideal for storage of a tablet, file folders and power cords. The outer pocket business organizer holds pens, business cards and a phone, while the interior rear zippered pocket ensures smaller items won’t get lost. The padded and adjustable shoulder strap, made of sturdy cotton webbing, provide extra cushioned comfort.

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 worldwide. Travelpro is dedicated to building a lifelong relationship with its customers by consistently understanding and exceeding their needs. Travelpro was honored to receive the New Product Innovation Award from the Travel Goods Association (TGA) in March 2013 for the revolutionary Platinum Magna luggage collection.

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.

About Atlantic Luggage

Since 1919, the Atlantic brand has been synonymous with affordable, value-added and lightweight luggage. As a market leader in the lightweight luggage segment, including neatly designed uprights and spinners to trendy and smart garment bags and totes, all Atlantic branded luggage is of superior quality and durability. Whether for business or pleasure, travel is easier with Atlantic luggage, now part of the Travelpro family of brands. Please visit Atlantic Luggage at www.atlanticluggage.com for a list of the latest products available for purchase and the nearest retail locations.

Hotels with Women-Only Floors

November 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

More women are traveling for business than ever before these days. With this increase comes a new form of travel marketing: some high-end hotels are offering floors dedicated only to women.

The Naumi Hotel in Singapore offers women-only floors to its female travelers.

The Naumi Hotel in Singapore offers women-only floors to its female travelers.

Some of these “no men allowed” floors even go so far as to having female staff and a female concierge serve that floor. For some hotels around the world, it’s a question of safety. For others, it’s a marketing tactic geared toward attracting more women. Some of these gender-specific features include:

  • A focus on creature comforts that are actually sized for women, such as smaller robes, slippers, hangers, and other petite items.
  • Luxury items that are seen as more appealing for women, such as yoga mats, silk clothes hangers, and white wine in the room.
  • Decor that may appeal more to women, such as floral wallpapers and so on.

It sounds great, although we recognize that some people may see these single-sex floors as sexist. A recent court ruling in Denmark stated that a hotel’s women-only floor was discriminatory and the hotel was forced to open its rooms to men as well. In other countries, the women-only floors have remained open for business. Similarly, a hotel in Calgary has offered up a men-only floor to complement its women-only offering.

Perhaps the main beneficiary of women-only floors is the hotel industry. These rooms generally come with a hefty price tag for all the extra amenities and security. And whether these floors are successful will, in all likelihood, be determined more by the bottom line than the courtroom. Hotels are driven by profit which means filling rooms. If these gender specific floors can’t stay filled, we can’t imagine they’ll be kept around.

What do you think? Would you stay on a gender-specific floor? Would it be worth the extra cost? Leave a comment on our blog or Facebook page.

For Luxury Travel, It’s The Little Things

October 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Flying first class, dining out eating five course meals, extravagant hotels with Jacuzzis and HD TVs. These are all luxurious things that can be enjoyed when traveling, but that’s not always what makes luxury travel. Sometimes it’s the small details that can really make the experience.

Patrick Janelle, creative director of Spring Street Social Society, believes a cup of hot coffee in a unique café is the best way to begin a journey in a new city. He says it’s the little details, like restaurant menus delivered to his room, or a comfortable bed, that make him feel special.

English: Sofitel Macau - Hotel Lobby

English: Sofitel Macau – Hotel Lobby (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently stayed at the Kimpton Hotel in downtown Miami, where I was greeted by a kind and enthusiastic desk clerk. Once I had checked in, I was surprised when she stepped out from behind the counter to direct me toward the elevator to get to my room. Those small steps made the experience more personable and welcoming, and will make me remember my stay there.

Some other little luxuries Janelle and I both agree on are room size, comfortable beds, and features like marble in the bathroom. The view can be luxurious as well. It sometimes pays to spend a little more get a nice hotel because they will have better views. They are also usually more centrally located as well, which makes it easier to travel around a city. Oftentimes, the extra cost can be justified over the cost of a less expensive hotel 10 miles from the city center, because now you’re not paying taxi fares or parking fees.

Other times, the ease of travel can be the most luxurious aspect. Getting bumped to first class or not having to wait at the carousel are also great. It might even be having the right luggage. At the risk of tooting our own horn, the MagnaTrac magnetic wheel technology makes for maneuvering through crowds a hassle of the past and one of those little luxuries we enjoy whenever we travel ourselves. Sometimes, it’s just the ease of pushing a bag through the airport with no effort that starts a trip off right.

What about you? What are your little luxuries and pleasures when you travel? What do you look for? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Best Apps to Prevent Travel Mishaps

October 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Apps are abundant in every category including travel. We thought we knew all the travel apps, but alas there are some NEW travel apps with a lot of great features including offline access and family emergency notifications. USAToday showcased some of the best travel apps to prevent mishaps or to notify when mishaps will or have occurred. Best of all, a lot of them are free.

BSafe ensures your personal safety by helping you set up a network of close family or friends to be notified in case of an emergency. The app allows you to set up times to be at certain locations. If you’re not at your specified location at the specified time, a notice will be sent out to your network. You can even set up fake incoming calls. Who hasn’t pretended to talk on the phone to avoid a situation (or at least wanted to)?

TripAdvisor on an iPhoneSmart Traveler, developed by the U.S. Department of State, is useful when traveling abroad. The app allows for you to check official country information including embassy locations.

TripAdvisor has developed an offline mobile app that allows you to download city guide information that you can access even if you don’t have wifi or a cell signal. When I went to Florence, this app would have been very useful as we kept getting lost, no matter what directions people gave us.

We really like the app the American Red Cross has developed for severe emergencies such as hurricanes or other natural disasters. Though we hope you never have to use it, it doesn’t hurt to have the information on hand. Similarly, the Red Cross also has a first aid app that gives you step-by-step instructions for medical care if you or a companion become injured on a trip.

These apps are very helpful, both in dealing with personal mishaps as well as larger emergencies. If you’re traveling soon, and want the peace of mind, download them, play with them, and get very familiar with them, so you’re not figuring everything out when you absolutely need it.

3 Tourist Scams to Avoid: Extreme edition

October 23, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

For the last few blog posts, we’ve looked at different travel scams and petty crimes from Lifehack.org infographic on common travel scams. We’ve talked about scams, pickpockets, and even identity theft. But we’ve saved the most outrageous scams for last. Scam artists will go to almost any length to get your money, so be on the look out for these.

1. Thrown Baby

Using pretend children is a low blow, but it happens. A woman will throw a baby, which is usually a doll so that you catch it. The woman and her accomplices will rummage through your pockets taking all they can find while you try to save the “baby.”

2. Expensive Taxi Driver

English: A checker taxi cab. Deutsch: Ein Chec...

English: A checker taxi cab. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you don’t know where you’re going, taxi drivers may take more twists and turns than necessary to get you to your location in order to make your bill higher. I have had this happen to me. When I questioned their route they said they wanted to “avoid traffic.” Make sure you’re only taking licensed cabs from official taxi stands, and if possible, double-check your route on your smartphone.

3. Windshield Washers Scam

We actually see this more in the United States than in foreign countries. A homeless person, or seemingly homeless, will run up to your car at a stoplight and start washing your windows, hoping for a tip. If you don’t do it, they’ll yell and raise a fuss, hoping to embarrass you into paying them to stop.

We don’t want you to be afraid of traveling. Rather, we want to make sure you travel smart. So please look over these possible scams, and when you travel, move confidently, say no politely, and continue moving. Avoid the situations where you might be scammed and you’ll finish your vacation with everything — hopefully — still on budget and on schedule.

5 Tourist Scams to Avoid: Money Edition

October 21, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

For the last couple of blog posts, we’ve been discussing different travel scams and petty crimes found on a Lifehack.org infographic on common travel scams. In our last two posts, we’ve discussed pickpockets and con artists. Now let’s look at how people can take your money through general theft or even identity theft.

1. The Drop and Swap

This one happens when someone is returning your change. They will drop it, pick it up, but give you less than what you should be given. They might exchange the dropped money for coins or bills that are worth less. It’s important to know the currency in the places where you’re traveling. Know what each bill and coin is worth, how much you are giving, and how much you should get in return.

2. The Cashier on the Phone

Credit card

Credit card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a sneaky one. The cashier will act busy on their phone, but in reality, they are taking a picture of your credit card to get your card information, which they’ll use later.

3. Slow Counting

A cashier will count your money very slowly. While this may not seem like a big deal, they are doing this to see if you notice they are counting a bill twice. Count the money again yourself, once you’ve been given your change.

4. The Fake Takeout Menu

If a menu is slipped under your hotel door be warned! It may not be a real menu. You’ll call the restaurant to place an order, only to have your credit card number stolen, and no one will show up with your food either. So now you’re hungry, and significantly poorer.

5. The Fake Front Desk Call

If you ever get a call from the front desk saying there were problems with your credit card, always go down to sort out the problem. Scam artists have been known to call hotel rooms asking for credit card information, especially in the evening. Instead, they steal your credit card number and take your money. But if you go downstairs to deal with the problem, you can make sure you solve the right problem.

Have you ever been scammed on your travels? What happened? How did they do it? Leave a comment, or tell us on our Facebook page.

5 Tourist Scams to Avoid: Pickpocketing Edition

October 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’ve ever traveled, especially overseas, you may have run into a variety of scams and cons. In our last post, we talked about different, mostly harmless, scams you may encounter on a trip. This time, thanks to a Lifehack.org infographic on common travel scams, we’re going to discuss some of the scams that involved pickpocketing.

1. Train Pickpockets

This is one of the most commonly known pickpocketing methods. Trains are often cramped and crowded. Locals will take advantage of tourists traveling with their duffels or backpacks, and rummage through them without your knowledge, or even the ability to get away from them.

2. The Punctured Tire

sketch "pickpocket" with George Appo...

Sketch “pickpocket” with George Appo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rental cars are usually obviously rentals. Locals will search for them and inconspicuously puncture the tire. They will then come over offering to help. While you are busy with the flat, their accomplice will go through your trunk taking valuables.

3. The Fake Policeman

A policeman (supposedly) approaches you explaining an issue with fake money circulating around. He will demand to inspect your wallet. Once returned, you will notice it quite a bit lighter. You’ve been scammed.

4. The Overly Helpful Local

Cash machines and ATMs can be confusing in a different country. We suggest you just try to figure it out on your own. If a local comes over offering to help while it may seem nice, they are probably memorizing your pin number for when they swipe your wallet later. Better yet, just use a credit card whenever possible, and get the most favorable exchange rate in the first place.

5. The Charity Petition

This scam involves a group of children who often have a disability such as being deaf. They will ask you to sign a petition to help them out. While shoving paper and clipboard in your face, they will touch and grab at you. If this happens to you, you’ve probably been pickpocketed.

Your best line of defense is to keep your money in a special traveler’s belt wallet, something that loops on your belt, but hangs inside your pants. Keep a small amount of money in your front pocket, and then pull more money out of your pouch in the restroom.

Have you ever been pickpocketed, or nearly so? What did you do? How did they do it? Leave a comment, or tell us on our Facebook page.

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