You’re traveling to a new city, either on business or leisure, and you want to experience it the way the locals do. Before 2008, the idea of staying in someone’s home was only a viable option if you already knew someone there. Airbnb (and before that, HomeExchange) changed all that. Now you can safely stay in someone’s home or apartment and perhaps even share a meal with your hosts, providing a uniquely personal way to get acquainted with your destination.
While you may already be familiar with the shared economy of accommodations, did you know there’s also an alternative to the traditional rental car industry? Through companies like RelayRides, Zipcar, Hubber, Getaround, and JustShareIt, individuals can share their vehicles with travelers who need them on demand, or for as brief a time as one hour.
In some cases, the owners of the cars pick their renters up at the airport, saving time spent in rental car lines. If you’re looking for a different mode of transportation, Spinlister offers travelers the ability to rent a bicycle, snowboard, or skis. You can even rent a boat using GetMyBoat.
In order for travel to be efficient and enjoyable, organization of your stuff is key. This is where travel hacks can help. We’ve read a lot of articles, heard from a lot of travelers, and even spoke with our fellow road warriors. And, of course, we found a great article on Huffington Post about the topic of travel hacks.
Here are a few of our favorites.
- All those lotions, shampoos, conditioners, sunscreen, makeup foundation, and eye creams you use take up a lot of space. Seal off a drinking straw with a heat sealer, fill it with your favorite lotions and creams, and seal off the other end. Label them with tape, and you’ve got some single servings of your different products. It saves space and you won’t run afoul of TSA rules.
- If you’re like me, you’re tired of wrestling with all those different charging cables and earbuds you carry around. Rather than unpacking and unraveling a tangled mess every time you need a cable, put them in an eyeglass case you’re not using. The hard shell ones that spring shut work best.
It seems everybody is busy these days. We never seem to have enough time to do things at a leisurely pace, and that includes flying. Even if we have some extra time, we feel like we have to rush through the airport. But you can avoid that rushed feeling if you use some of these techniques — which we read on Yahoo — to navigate your way through the airport.
1. Plan ahead. This may sound like common sense, but time adds up when you’re en route to the airport. If you don’t plan for it, you run the danger of missing your flight. Factor in traffic, security checkpoint wait time, and how long it takes to ride the off-site airport parking shuttle to the terminal into the amount of time you allot yourself to get to your gate. It adds up fast!
It’s a traveler’s worst nightmare: the lost bag. If it hasn’t happened to you, consider yourself lucky. In many cases, the bag is not really “lost”, it is misplaced. In other words, you are at your destination, but your bag is somewhere else. The problem is you don’t know where your luggage is. While airlines are doing much better at baggage handling, the system isn’t perfect. So, what can you do?
First, be proactive. I don’t know about you, but I never gave those baggage claim stickers much thought until I experienced my first lost bag. Without that tracking number, you have no proof that your bag was checked, or that it belongs to you.
That leaves the airline with your name, which reminds me: make sure there’s identification on your bag at all times. At a bare minimum, use the complimentary tags the airlines offers at check-in, or better yet, a business card in the ID slot that’s built into the luggage. With Travelpro luggage, the ID information will be hidden under a flap on the outside of the bag, so it is not visible for all to see.
One of the least sexy things to think about when you’re traveling is how to manage your dirty clothes. I don’t know about you, but I’m a much better packer on the way to my destination than I am on the way home. I want my clothes to arrive unwrinkled and ready to help me look and feel my best, but on the way home I couldn’t care less if they’re folded neatly or not. The problem is my clothes seem to grow exponentially, making it challenging to get the same number of items back into my suitcase to come home.With this in mind, because I know I’m not alone, here are some options to help you get your clothes home without contaminating your suitcase.
Laundry pouches: Several of our luggage series have mesh pouches for separating dirty clothes from clean clothes. Unpack completely upon your arrival and then repack as you are finished wearing each item. Folding each piece neatly, even though it’s no longer clean, will help you remain organized when it comes time to put your toiletries, extra shoes, and maybe even a jacket in the final packing of the suitcase.
Remember the vacations you took with your parents? If you were lucky enough to fly, your entertainment only needed to last a few hours. But if you went over the river and through the woods to wherever you were going, then time yawned ahead of you. Unless you were properly prepared.
Nowadays, there’s no way you can possibly be bored while en route to your destination, thanks to all the entertainment and information available online? You might hear someone utter a few choice words if they discovered they didn’t have the latest episodes of their favorite podcast, that ebook they’ve been waiting to start, or the latest game app at their fingertips because they didn’t realize there wouldn’t be wifi.
So, don’t be like those unfortunate souls. Take a few moments in the days before your trip and assess your entertainment and information needs. Perhaps you want to catch up on your favorite television show. Download recently aired episodes to your tablet or be sure to add the Netflix app to your phone so that your queue is ready to go.
Second, Flydelta.com and the Delta app are excellent ways to keep track of your flight status and can be shared with your ride at the airport, so they’re not endlessly circling or waiting in the cell phone lot, wondering where you are. The Trip Advisor app can also let you spend your time in the air planning activities when you land.
If you want to get some work done while en route, set up your documents folder to sync to a cloud service like Google Drive or iCloud so your work isn’t stranded while you’re soaring through the real clouds. Evernote is also a great place to store travel information, and it isn’t wifi dependent.
New podcasts appear every day and most are a free, quick way to learn new information or while away the time. Note to Self and Serial come to mind. Check Overcast or other podcasting apps to find a few favorites.
If you’re traveling with children, a new game app can buy you valuable minutes of silence. If you haven’t investigated this realm lately, believe us, there’s so much more than Angry Birds. Try Noodles or Two Dots. The fun thing about Two Dots is that you can download the soundtrack and enjoy it as background music if you don’t want to play the game.
Travel time doesn’t have to be down time. It can be productive, entertaining, and even relaxing. Just make sure you download and sync everything before you leave home or your hotel, and you won’t be dependent on airport or airplane wifi.
Photo credit: jeshoots (Pixabay, Creative Commons)
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.
Nobody wants to bring more than necessary when they travel. It’s especially important issue when going overseas. When considering what to pack and what to leave at home, we found a clever video on hotel hacks filled with examples of how to use items in your hotel room, to save space, weight, and help you get by in a pinch. (You can watch it below.)
Granted, the video and ideas were made in Europe, but most hotels have the same amenities around the world, which means they’ll work almost anywhere.
- Pack with resealable bags. If you want to keep your clean clothes smelling clean and contain the “aroma” of your other clothes, pack your clothes, or separate outfits, in resealable bags. The video also suggests tossing your smelly jeans into a bag and putting them in the freezer to alleviate the smell. According to Levi CEO Chip Bergh, you should never wash your jeans, so the video’s idea of freezing them in the hotel refrigerator overnight to tame their “aroma” could have some merit.
- Use body lotion to polish your shoes. The maid service may not be happy with your use of the washcloth as an applicator, but it’s better than leaving one with real shoe polish on it.
- The television in your room will most likely have a built-in USB port on the side or back. Since it’s challenging sometimes to find a conveniently located electrical outlet for a charger, use the USB port to charge your phone or tablet.
- The drinking glass neatly arranged by the ice bucket for those mini bar purchases can be used as a speaker for your phone (sans beverage, of course), creating an amplifier for your phone. Never sleep through your alarm again, but be careful not to knock the glass over in your morning stupor.
- If you don’t take our advice with suggestion #1, then you may have some. . . unpleasantness wafting from your suitcase. Unwrap one of the complimentary hand soaps and drop it in your suitcase. The scent may do something to mask the smell.
- Did you step in the puddle by the shower and now find yourself with wet socks? Simply stick the hair dryer into the sock, turn it on, and a few minutes later — et, voila. — dry socks.
- If you order room service and want to save the leftovers, use a new shower cap to cover your plate. The food will eventually spoil, but this will extend the life. Don’t forget, a new shower cap.
- Some European hotels provide an electric kettle for making tea. If you’re traveling on a budget, you can swing by a convenience store for some supplies, and just eat in your room: use the kettle to boil eggs, and make instant oatmeal, ramen, and rice. Just be sure to thoroughly rinse the appliance. American hotels use a coffee maker, but the water may not get hot enough to boil eggs or rice.
What are some hotel hacks you’ve used in the past? Share them with us and give us a few hints for our next road trip. Leave them in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.
It’s the dream of many retirees to travel more once they finally leave the workforce, and it looks like it’s happening.
A recent article in the Huffington Post discusses the “booming” market as an aging population with expendable income is on the move.
They’re going by themselves, they’re going to warmer climates, they’re going more frequently than they have in the past, and they’re planning on traveling a lot in 2015. According to an AARP study, a decent number of boomers plan to take four or five vacations in 2015. And nearly half the people they surveyed plan to travel more this year than in previous years.Further, many of those boomers who are still employed plan to work while traveling and not even take vacation time while they’re on the move. The upsurge in the ability to work remotely has been a great boon to those who plan to travel more during their working careers. And it’s something the younger Boomers and older Generation Xers are comfortable with.
Another number expected to rise is the number of people taking solo trips. An AARP survey from last year indicated that 37 percent of adults 45 and older took solo trips in the preceding two years and 80 percent of those surveyed planned to travel on their own in 2015.
Solo travel is more popular with people whose spouses have passed or who are divorced. And there are travel companies seeking the singles market, looking to help those who want to travel alone get out and about, something that has not always been the case in the past.
Despite the upsurge in travel, most of the folks responding to these surveys said that cost is a high priority when traveling so older travelers are looking to save money while on the move, just as are their younger counterparts.
What about you? For those of you who are retired, or nearing retirement age, are you going to travel more? Let us hear from you and leave a comment here or over on our Facebook page.
- US: summer sees hike in driving time (inautonews.com)
- Generations (keithburgess-jackson.typepad.com)
- Aging Together: White House Conference on Aging approaches (mlive.com)
For weary travelers, even the tiniest road block can seem exhausting and annoying. In an attempt to smooth things out for their guests, Starwood Hotels and Resorts now gives guests the option of skipping check-in and using their smartphones as their hotel keys. Hilton is also planning on rolling out a similar scheme later this year.
The phone as room key may be a bit more complicated than it sounds though. Starwood has only rolled out the feature in one hotel so far, with plans to include it in more hotels later this year. There’s a lot of technological behind-the-scenes work that goes into making this work, such as replacing the current locks with new ones, and making sure the steps are in place so guests don’t accidentally unlock their doors.
Plus, this only works with one phone per room, so if more than one guest is staying in the room, one of them gets to use their phone, the other(s) will use a normal room key.
In this case, hotels see many reasons to go the extra mile to make checking in easier. They’re hoping that getting guests comfortable with using their phones for hotel-related activities will ease the guests into using other hotel apps. Future wish-list items include allowing guests to order drinks while sitting poolside, book spa packages, and order expensive room service, all with a mobile app.
Of course, a lot of hotels have begun to roll out the ability to check in via your phone. You can get all the red tape out of the way while you’re in the cab, and then just pick up your old fashioned hotel key on your way to your room.
What are some things you would like to be able to do at a hotel with your smartphone? Leave a comment below and let us hear from you.