Thursday, December 30, 2010

Carry On Luggage

We've all read or heard the news about all the snow stranding travelers in airports. Do you travel with some helpful items in your carry on luggage?

I'm not advocating a HUGE carry on like some people try to stuff in the overhead bin. I'm talking about a few necessary items that could help you get through a few hours of delay time.

Pack a few granola bars or a bag of almonds. Include some 3 ounce items in a resealable bag...hand sanitizer, lotion, lip balm, toothpaste. Make sure your cell phone includes your airline's phone number or web site. Include the charger for your cell phone. Toss in a deck of cards or a magazine. Add or wear a shawl that could double as a blanket or pillow.

Think about what would be useful to you in case you need to chill out in an airport for a few hours.

This may not help if you are stranded for days on end...but could help for a shorter amount of time. What would you take?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010

Union Square, San Francisco...Christmas 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Do you read reviews before picking a restaurant, staying at a B & B, choosing a hotel, etc?

Do you write a review after you have been somewhere?

Reviews can be valuable...if you know how to use them. Reading one good review followed by 20 bad ones about a place doesn't really mean it's the best place. I would keep looking. But reading 20 good ones and one bad one about some place...I would give it a chance.

It all depends on how comfortable you are reading reviews and paying attention to what is said in them. How do you do it?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Travel

Some travel sites say that December 23 is the biggest air travel day of the year. Some tell us airports are busiest and flight delays are most common during December 19 to 23 and December 26 to 28. Be prepared if you are flying this year and you will have a better travel experience.

You have probably heard all the TSA rules and regulations about bringing packages. Don't wrap them. Good idea... If it isn't too late, ship them ahead of time and all you need is a carry on. That way if you need to change flights at the last minute, you have your luggage.

If you can, ask someone to drive you to the airport...and pick you up. That way you won't have to vie for a spot in an overloaded parking lot. And you can go right to the door without having to wait for a shuttle bus.

Download mobile travel apps...maybe one with flight status, your airline's home site, one with airport security wait times, etc.

Add any useful phone numbers to your cell phone. If you have your airline's phone number, you can call them while standing in a re-booking line.

Check the weather where you are going as well as any cities where your plane will be stopping...both incoming and outgoing. You will know if you need to keep an eye on your flight status.

Set up flight alerts to your cell phone.

Merry Christmas and Happy Traveling...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rental Cars

Car rental rates seem to be going higher and higher. Why? According to Travel and Leisure, rental car companies have fewer cars available to rent...therefore higher prices. When you need to rent a car, you might want to keep these ideas in mind.

Look for online coupons or discounts. I have not used this online service,, but supposedly they search for discounts and apply them to your rental booking.

Do not take the prepaid gas option. Look for gas stations near the rental place when you pick up your car.

Check your car insurance before you go. Chances are you are already covered by it for car rentals.

If your loyalty program has great rates...then use them. But do check out other sites. You just may find lower prices elsewhere.

Make sure you know exactly what you are paying for when renting. Does the company charge extra for additional drivers? Are there extra airport fees? Does the site close early in the evening, causing you to add an additional day to your rental? When booking on line, make sure you have all the charges accounted for before you rent.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cats and Dogs

Daphne just wants attention...after all she is a dog!

Comet wants you to know he is in charge...after all he is a cat!

Friday, December 10, 2010 just released this press release about a program that may be useful to frequent travelers. I have not tried it but it does sound promising.

About, Inc., a trendsetter and industry leader in hotel, parking, and airline reservations, offers travelers deals on overnight stays at over 1,500 hotels located just minutes from more than 129 airports in the U.S., Canada, and Europe - along with free parking for 7-14 days or more plus complimentary shuttle service to and from the terminal.

For business and leisure air travelers, offers flexible airport hotel park and fly packages with the convenience of arriving the night before a flight. Customers with long airport commutes and early morning departures have a new option to relax at a nearby hotel beforehand and avoid missed flights due to heavy traffic, airport parking lot congestion, and security delays. Travelers with return flights landing late at night also use the service to book a hotel room to get some rest before driving home. Either way, through, customers often find the cost of the hotel room with free airport parking can be about the same as airport parking alone. Reservations may be made at or toll-free at 800-PARKING (800.727.5464).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Cats

"I really do not want to wear that thing! I'd rather eat it."

"If I must...I'll sit here and pose. But I'm not real happy about it."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Travel

Traveling at Christmas this year? If you are staying in a hotel or B & B with family, why take along a few favorite Christmas decorations? Take stockings to hang, if that's what you do. Pack a small string of lights or even a small tree. If you know in advance, ship those ahead to the hotel or B & B and you won't have to worry about space in which to pack them.

Don't forget to check the weather where you are going. You'll know whether to pack coats or swimsuits!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

More TSA Regs

Planning on giving a snow globe as a gift this year? If you are flying, be sure to pack it in your checked luggage. Why?

Budget Travel and TSA tell us since there is more than 3.4 ounces of liquid in those snow globes, they need to be in checked luggage or not taken at all on your flight.

This fits in the "strange" category of items confiscated by TSA...don't you think?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Travel Gadgets

With Christmas approaching, are you buying travel gadgets for your favorite traveler? If so...what are some of your favorites?

Places like Budget Travel, REI, USA Today, Journey Woman, and oodles of other sites list their favorites. Some of their suggestions include things like GPS units, bags, luggage, backpacks, water purifiers, cameras, luggage locators, cord stations, music players, book readers, luggage scales, wallets, blankets, pet carriers, games, journals...

The list goes on forever it seems. Want to share your ideas?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

TSA Travel & Security Reminders

Flying this season? Here are some TSA travel tips to make it through security.

Dress to make it simple to get through metal detectors. Avoid clothes with metal buttons, or heavy metal jewelry. Remove metal body piercings, or replace them with acrylic or other non-metallic plugs.

Arrive early…airlines recommend two hours in advance for domestic flights and three for international flights.

Place your wallet, cell phone, eyeglasses, keys, watch, jewelry, essential medications and other valuables in a purse or carry-on bag before you get to the checkpoint. Make sure you have no items in your pockets. The carry-on or purse will be run through an X-ray machine while you either go through a metal detector or a body scanner.

As you approach the TSA document check station, have your boarding pass and ID…a drivers’ license or passport in hand. Fumbling at the last minute is not a good idea.

Remove shoes and place them directly on the X-ray-machine belt for quick screening. Remove coats, jackets and belts with large buckles and place them in a bin. Remove computers and large electronics from their cases and place them in a separate bin.

Remember the 3-1-1 rule: 3.4-ounce containers of liquids, gels or aerosol should be placed in a 1-quart-sized clear, zipped, plastic bag, with a limit of one bag per passenger.

Leave food items at home. Among those prohibited: Cranberry sauce; creamy dips and spreads such as cheeses and peanut butter; gift baskets with food items; gravy, jams and jellies; oils and vinegars; salsa, soups, wine, liquor and beer.

If you are taking gifts…leave unwrapped, especially if they are in your carry-on bag.

Be ready to be selected for the new body-scanner machine instead of the metal detector. If you set off the metal detector, you may be sent for a body scan. You can choose an enhanced pat-down instead.

For a full list of prohibited items and for more holiday travel tips, visit the TSA's web site,

Monday, November 22, 2010

Some International Tips

If you have not traveled internationally before here are some tips to get you started. need a passport. The current processing time is about four to six weeks and the cost is about $100. In an emergency passports can be issued in just days through expedited means. Keep in mind there are extra fees attached.

Some countries require a visa to visit. China, Russia, India and most of the Middle Eastern countries are some of those requiring visas. Check out the State Department's web site at for info on visas and any travel advisories.

TSA is now suggesting three hours prior to departure to check in for international flights. They are also saying that if you are going to Israel, plan on at least five hours ahead of time.

And pack smart. Know what you can and cannot take on board with you. If you pay attention and heed the rules, check in can go much more smoothly.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Living Like a Local

Hike through vineyards in the fall...with the owner's permission of course.

Take time to savor amazing views...

Saving money is important...yet you want to get away for a few days...try a vacation home and travel like a local.

Traveling like a local could mean renting a vacation home instead of a hotel. Usually vacation home rentals are located in residential areas...not in row after row of hotels. This gives you a flavor for the city or area you are visiting. Also, you end up with more space than in a hotel room, allowing you more room to stretch out or relax.

You could save some more money by cooking or eating in for a few meals. Usually equipped with a kitchen, buy a few groceries and have breakfast or lunch at "home". If you are into cooking, check before you book to see if the kitchen comes fully equipped for cooking. It's not only cheaper but can be a fun experience.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Winery Cats

Every winery should have some winery cats...right?

These two from The Terraces Winery wanted their photos taken.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Disney Tips

Check out these simple but useful tips to use at Disneyland...especially if you are traveling with kids.

Take an afternoon break...take a nap, a swim or anything that will get you out of the park for a little while.

Too much planning might not be a good thing. Let the adventure come to you. If you are having fun, get distracted with a street show or watch Mickey for a while.

Since you won't see it all in one trip...have everyone pick a couple things they really want to see or do. Then if you get all those done and have time for extra stuff...everyone is thrilled.

Have complaining allowed! After all...this is the Magic Kingdom.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Carry These With You

Traveling with some necessary items in your carry-on luggage can make a difference.

Baby Wipes...these versatile wipes are not just for kids. Clean up after a meal or a long flight, refresh before you land or use in an emergency as toilet paper.

Toothbrush...especially useful after a long flight. many times did you need a pen and could not find one for immigration forms, crossword puzzles or jotting down some good information?

Granola bars...good for flight delays, hungry kids or in place of expensive airport food.

Resealable bags...collect your garbage on a flight, keep your seashells from getting crushed in the bottom of your bag, keep your documents together or store your damp toothbrush.

Mini flashlight...use instead of the overhead light to get some reading done on your flight.

I'll bet you have some more great ideas...want to share?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Packing and Wrinkles

What do you use when packing to avoid as many wrinkled clothes as possible? Did you know that plastic reduces friction? Did you also know that friction causes wrinkles?

So my packing aficionado...plastic should be your friend when packing. Save those dry cleaner bags. Either pack your clothes inside or layer the bags in between clothes.

Resealable plastic bags are great to keep any items gathered together and then can be used for countless things when you get to your destination.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Airline Tickets

With Christmas fast approaching, who wouldn't like to receive a trip? Give one to your kids and they can come see you, give one to a friend that needs a break or surprise your spouse. How do you do it? Here are some ideas.

Give an airline ticket. may not want to actually BUY the ticket. There are better options if you do not know all the details of when they can travel.

Purchase an airline gift card. If that's the route you take, be sure to look at the redemption rules. Some have expiration dates, some cannot be redeemed online and some have fees to redeem them.

Think about purchasing a gift card from American Express or etc. and the person can use it on a variety of airlines.

Or purchase miles for the passenger if they have a frequent flyer account with that airline.

Use your own miles to book their trip...if you know the details of the trip.

Think of buying a gift card from Southwest Airlines...where there is no fee to change flying dates nor for checked bags.

At any rate, think fast. According to USA Today fares are expected to be 17% more expensive this holiday period compared to last year. There probably won't be as many last minute deals either.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jardin Botanique de Montreal

With over 22,000 plant species, 10 exhibition greenhouses, 30 themed gardens and researchers and staff The Botanical Gardens in Montreal ranks as one of the world's finest. Here some Zebra Grass was lined our walkway.

It does not matter what season you visit, there will be plants and exhibits to delight. The Japanese Garden shows off dozens of illuminated scenes. Meant to represent a Japanese fisherman...he's trying his hand at catching something!

Anybody know what these are? I was surprised...

It's a definite must see if you are in Montreal. Even though it is a little out of the way, the Metro stop is only a few blocks from the entrance. And your walk will take you right by the Olympic Stadium.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Alemany Market

Visit the Alemany Market in San Francisco for a wide variety of fruits, veggies and flowers...

Types of mushrooms I have never seen...

Fall gourds...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Marche Atwater in Montreal, continued

Absolutely everything you have ever wanted for eating and cooking could be found at Marche Atwater in Montreal...

Even some things you didn't know you wanted...

How do you like your meat cut?

If this doesn't say Fall...I don't know what does.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Marche Atwater in Montreal, continued

Wandering through Marche Atwater in Montreal reinforced my French lessons...

made me thirsty...

started my mouth watering...

and excited my eyes...