Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Travels: Miscellaneous Travel Tips

Want to get away but don't have a passport and don't have time to get one? Consider Puerto Rico, Guam, or American Samoa. They do not require a passport to visit.

Have you heard the tale that you can fool your body clock when you're crossing several time zones by staying up all night the night before your flight? Chances are this will just make you more tired when you get to your destination and put more stress on you. Instead, get a good night's sleep the night before your trip and use the flight time for naps. Wake according to the clock where you will land. It's a whole lot easier.

You check into your hotel and plug in your phone...only to realize you forgot to pack your charger. If you made a list, this might not have happened. However, before you run out and buy one...check with the front desk. The number one item left behind in hotels is...the phone charger. They may just have one in their drawer that fits your phone.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Travels: Safety Tips When Traveling

Did you know you could turn those little rubber door stops into a safety device. Instead of using them to prop open the door, use them to keep the door shut. It's an additional lock. Just remember they are there in case you need to leave your room in a hurry.

Concerned about losing your phone while traveling? Change your phone's lock screen to an image displaying your emergency contact info. Put your email address or an alternate phone number. If someone finds it and wants to return it, they will be able to get in touch with you.

If you carry a purse, do you wear it across your body instead of hanging off your shoulder? Across your body makes it harder for thieves to grab it. And, if you're really concerned about someone cutting through your handle or strap, buy one with a secure strap. Some have steel like cables, some are just harder to slice.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Travels: Air Passenger Rights, part 2

Per smartertravel.com here are more:

If your flight is canceled, substantially delayed, or rescheduled you have the right to reroute at no extra cost or to receive a full refund, even on a nonrefundable ticket. Airline policies do differ so be sure to check what is meant by substantial delay or schedule change.

Tarmac delays are also addressed. The DOT mandates that an airline may not keep you on a plane for more than three hours on a domestic flight or four hours on an international flight without allowing you to get off if you wish. These are subject to security and safety considerations. The airline is obligated to provide food and water after two hours delay, provide updates to the passengers every 30 minutes, and assure lavatories are operable. If an airline violates these rules, you do not receive compensation. The DOT fines the airline.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Travels: Air Passenger Rights, part 1

 Recently I read a post on smartertravel.com about passenger rights when you fly. There are some interesting points here. 

In the US and Europe the price you see when booking is the actual price. The EEC and the DOT require airlines to display the full cost of a ticket, including all mandatory airline charges, governmental taxes, and user fees. Travel providers from online travel agencies or airline websites must also clearly display full prices or face penalties.

The DOT mandates certain air travel rights when bumping, requiring airlines to cover them in their contracts. You may be owed compensation when bumped due to overbooking, unless your airline can get you to your destination within one hour of your scheduled arrival. If it's between one and two hours domestic or between one and four hours for international, it owes you 200 percent of the one way fare up to $650. If your airline moves you to another one, they must pay all the fees associated with that. Check with your airline to see exactly what they cover.

to be continued...

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Travels: Helpful Hints

Travel socks make excellent cases for your sunglasses, for small souvenirs, as a makeshift screen cleaner, and as slippers.

Have a bug bite? Use that tiny bar of soap from the hotel, wet it a little, and rub it on the bite. Then, take the bar with you to take the itch out of that bite later in the day.

Did your shoes end up with water or salt stains during the day and you need to wear them again at night? Try rubbing a small amount of liquid shampoo on your shoes. Just a small amount rubbed in circles with a clean cloth can do wonders.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Travels: Fees When Traveling

You've probably already encountered parking fees at major downtown hotels in large cities. It's just part of the visit. But, did you know some suburban hotels with large parking lots are now charging to park? They typically don't tell you that on their website. Ask before you book or check all sites like Expedia, etc. before you book. The reviews may tell you what to expect.

If you are traveling to Europe and need a rental car, book from a US based company before you go. Typically the charge will be less than if you rented while in Europe.

What happens when you rent a car, then tell the rental counter your spouse may be driving it as well? Do they add additional charges for the second driver? California prohibits those charges and New York caps the charges at $3 per day. Check with your rental company before you go. If you are a member of their frequent renter program, chances are the fee will be waived.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Travels: Packing Tips and Tricks

If you travel, you've already found great tips and tricks that work for you. Check out these reminders and some new tips.

Save your bubble wrap when you receive a package with fragile contents. Use it to protect your valuables when packing. It works for bringing home souvenirs or protecting your tablet in your carry on.

Save that tissue paper from the department store. Use it to layer between your clothes, roll your clothes with the tissue inside, or ball it up to put in shoes, purses, or hats.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Travels: 2015 Places to See

According to several travel websites, these are some of the destinations you might want to look at for your 2015 travels.

Japan: They are gearing up to host the 2020 Summer Olympics and that means new hotels, visitor centers, and venues. Their new bullet train route debuts in March...a big deal as it cuts travel time in half for the beautiful coastal route. On a somber note, 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Both cities have educational peace parks and museums.

England: Did you know 2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta? This historic document, along with an original copy of the US Bill of Rights will be on display in the British Library.

Toronto, Canada: In July the Pan American Games will take place for two weeks here. Like the Olympics, these happen every four years and include a must-see opening ceremony. Usually, tickets for these events are more affordable...making this the best place to see athletes from around the world compete in everything from diving to gymnastics to figure skating and more.

Milan, Italy: The Expo 2015 Milano will be held in Milan from May 1 through October 21. With more than 247 acres for the event, this year the Expo's theme is "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.  Foods, traditions, sustainability efforts, and technological innovations will all be highlighted.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Travels: Holiday Travel

Traveling at the holidays? Do you have your list ready? If not...take a look at this one and then customize it to meet your needs. 

Important Identification, Papers, and Essentials
Passport/visa                                    Guidebook                                                 Copies of passport
Identification                                    Maps/directions                                          Copies of credit cards
Boarding pass/tickets                     Medical insurance card                                 Itinerary              
Travel insurance card                     Emergency contact                                        Wallet
Credit Cards                                      ATM Cards                                              Cash
List of Medications

Personal Items
Contact lenses                                 Glasses                                                         First Aid Kit
Toothpaste/Toothbrush                Hair Products                                                   Soap                                   
Cosmetics                                         Deodorant                                                   Facial Products
Hand sanitizer                                  Bandages                                                      Tissues
Medications                                      Pain relievers                                                Vitamins

Underwear                                        Scarves                                                         Shoes
Sleepwear                                         Festive Wear                                                 Sweaters
Accessories                                       Casual Wear                                                  Jeans
Hats                                                    Jewelry                                                         Gloves

Electronics chargers                       Voltage adaptor                                             Camera/memory card
Tablet, phone, other devices

Gifts, etc.
Unwrapped gifts, if flying              Gift bags                                                           Gift wrap

Stocking stuffers                           Cookies or Holiday Food

Travels: Gift Ideas

WE are delighted to announce the launch of the WE Magazine for Women Holiday Gift-Giving Guide for 2014!

Looking for a gift for the traveler or the reader in your family? How about a special gift you might not find anywhere else? Check out this amazing guide to gifts! Take a look at this link:


Inside the 2014 Edition you will find articles, and a variety of our favorite gift-giving suggestions. Please take a look at all the exceptional companies who have included their products and services in this gift guide. The following vendors and individuals are represented: 

You can save time, gas and money by doing your holiday shopping with the companies listed in the WE Magazine’s Holiday Gift-Giving Guide. There are gifts for women, men, children and families of all ages.  It is our best buyers guide yet!

That’s not all! We wanted to make this a resource you would keep and use during the 2014 holiday season so we have included interesting articles throughout. 

Some of the topics covered include: The Stuff Alternative, 10 Holiday Diet Tips, Regifting Rules, Best Holiday for One, The Animals Shall Speak, Tips on Holiday Tipping and much more! Content-rich articles to help you get through the holidays with ease, grace and as little stress as possible are a part of WE Magazine’s Holiday Gift-Giving Guide.

The other benefit of shopping via a digital catalog: no trees were harmed in putting it together. Please consider that when deciding if you need to print this issue. 

Happy Traveling...and Shopping

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Travels: Airport Connections

When booking your flights and you have a connecting flight, how much time do you allow between those? 

Obviously, the amount of time you need to leave between flights depends on the airport, the airline, the weather, customs, security, and switching terminals...to name a few. 

Scheduling a safe amount of time saves you hassle and unwanted stress. But, how much time is that? Most sites tell you to leave at least 90 minutes between flights. That's the ideal amount. 

For international flights that connect with domestic flights, you will need to leave enough time to clear customs. And, that can vary widely in airports.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Travels: Simple Tips

When traveling to a foreign country, it seems like I always have some leftover cash. If I know I'm going back to that country, I'll save it. However, if I don't want to remember where I put it for next time...here's an idea.

Before you go on your trip, purchase a Starbucks coffee card. Then, before your return trip home, go to the Starbucks in the airport...there's always at least one. Take your extra change and currency and use it to add to the value of the card. 

No leftover change...extra money on your Starbucks card.

If you don't drink coffee, you can always use it for a gift. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Travels: Plan Ahead Tips

If you use a packing list, you probably won't forget important items. If you don't use a list...at least plan ahead to remember everything you need for your upcoming trip.

Are you traveling to a country where you need an adapter for your electronics? If so, do you know which one you need? It's best to plan this ahead of time to avoid looking for the right adapter at the last minute. No sense buying an expensive one in an airport gift shop.

Do you know the weight restrictions on your luggage...both carry on and checked? Good idea to check before you arrive at the airport.

Do you need any immunizations? If so, do you know how far in advance you should get them?

Have you broken in your new shoes?

Do you need or want a special meal on the plane? If so, have you ordered it?

Did you book your pet or house sitters?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Travels: Stags Leap District

The Stags Leap District of Napa Valley, California turns 25 this year. It was officially recognized as an American Viticulture Area (AVA) in 1989. However, cabernet sauvignon vines weren't planted there until 1961. This area of the Valley is known for its cool breezes, clay and loam soil, and gentle hills. Wines produced here are known for their soft, rich tannins and impressive ageability.

In 1976 the 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellers Cabernet Sauvignon took first place at the Judgement of Paris tasting, which propelled this AVA into fame. Ten years later another Stags Leap District wine, the 1972 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon took first place at the 10 year anniversary of the Paris tasting.

Stags Leap District is the smallest AVA by planted acreage in Napa Valley.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Travels: Language Tips

When traveling, it's always a good idea to be polite. It doesn't matter if you're going wine tasting, visiting a museum in San Francisco, or shopping in Paris. After all, you're in their territory.

Typically in Europe, and especially in Paris it's a good idea to greet the shopkeepers when entering a shop and to thank them when you leave. Why? It's just the polite thing to do. You also get to practice your French or Italian or wherever you are. 

In fact, practicing some simple phrases in the language of the country where you will be visiting is also a good idea. Start now by learning 'hello', 'goodbye', 'please', and 'thank you'. You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Travels: Book in Advance

If there is an attraction, museum, or other site you really want to visit...do you book your tickets ahead of time? 

Many places allow you to book on their website in advance. You won't have to stand in line if you can download your tickets at home. Just don't forget to take them with you.

Or, if you can't print them at home...you can pick them up at their will call office. This also allows you to skip the long lines.

The same goes for a restaurant where you really want to eat. Book it advance. Just keep the reminder on your phone or with you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Travels: Airfares

Recently I was looking at flights to Paris and came across a site different than what I normally use for alerts. 

Airfarewatchdog.com is the site. Has anyone used this site? If so, what do you think about it?

The site tells me I can chart my flight and it will be updated regularly with the latest fees for checked baggage, tickets, and more.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Travels: Layovers

We've all had layovers in airports. It's just part of traveling.

Depending on how long your layover is, you can find time to do many things in airports now. Some have museums, some have chair massages, some offer multiple spots to plug in your devices and work or watch a movie.

One way to use up some time and get ready for a long flight is simple...take a walk. If your next flight is across the country or across the pond, you'll be sitting for a lengthy amount of time. In fact, even if it's a shorter flight...walking is a good way to get ready for those airplane seats.

Download an airport map and walk from terminal to terminal. A good brisk walk for 30 minutes can burn at least 100 calories. And, it will get you ready to sit for the next several hours.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Travels: Baggage Fees

If you’re flying this Thanksgiving or in the coming weeks before Christmas and New Years, do you know the baggage fees for the airline? Do you know what it will cost if your checked bag is over the weight limit? Do you know how many checked bags you may take with you?
These are the most current charges I could find. I checked with several travel websites as well as the airlines. Charges may change so it would be a good idea to check with your airline before you get to the check-in counter.
International flights will vary by region, so check with your airline on those as well.
You may have some charges waived if you belong to that airline loyalty club. Check to see before paying the fee.
Alaska Airlines
Fees: Carry-on is free; first checked bag $25 and second is an additional $25. Overweight bags are $75.
American Airlines
Fees: Carry-on is free; first checked bag $25 and second is an extra $35. Overweight bags are $100 to $200, depending on weight and flight.
Delta Airlines
Fees: Carry-on is free; first checked bag $25 and second is an extra $35. Overweight bags are $100 to $200.
Frontier Airlines
Fees: Carry-on is $25 to $50; first bag is $25 and second is an extra $30. Overweight bags are $75.
JetBlue Airways
Fees: None for carry-on or first bag right now. Second checked bag is $50. Overweight bags are $100.
Starting in 2015, JetBlue will no longer include a free checked bag. All bags will have a fee. You might want to check right now to be certain you won’t get charged the fee. I’ve heard it both ways.
Southwest Airlines
Fees: None for carry-on, first or second checked bag. Overweight bags are $75.
Spirit Airlines
Fees: Carry-on is $35 to $100; first bag is $30 to $100 and second bag is $40 to $100. Overweight bags are $25 to $100. A $2 surcharge will be tacked on to existing baggage fees from December 18 through January 5.
United Airlines
Fees: Carry-on is free; first checked bag $25 and second is an additional $35. Overweight bags are $100 to $200, depending on weight and flight.
US Airways
Fees: Carry-on is free; first checked bag $25 and second is an extra $35. Overweight bags are $100 to $200.
Virgin America

Fees: Carry-on is free; first checked bag is $25 and second bag is an extra $25. Overweight bags are $50 to $100. From experience, if your bag is gate checked there is no charge. However, that bag must fit the carry on requirements.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Travels: Documents

When traveling do you make a list of documents you will need for that trip? 

Going to San Francisco from northern California...you won't need a passport. You will need a driver's license, cash, credit cards, and possibly your medical card and insurance card. But, you already travel with those in your purse or wallet anyway. Right? So...no need for a list to remind you what to take.

Let's say you're going from San Francisco to Paris. You will need more than that. A passport is at the top of that list, along with a copy of that passport, a couple of credit cards, and more. With that in mind, it would be a good idea to make a list of documents you need to take with you. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Travels: Cicchetti

Cicchetti or cicheti, if you're in Venice, are small snacks found at bacari, small casual bars packed with locals in the early evening.

Usually displayed in glass cases on the bar counter, these finger foods come to you on toothpicks or on slices of  a baguette.

At Cantina Do Mori, in Venice we found everything from arancini to salt cod puree on crusty bread; salty, hard cheeses to prosciutto; olives to fried baby artichoke hearts. These tasty snacks varied by the day and we never got tired of stopping here for a snack or a light lunch.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Travels: Fear of Flying

Do you have a fear of flying? You're not alone. Many people have some anxiety about their flight.

In visiting with a flight attendant, she told me what she tells those who express a concern about flying.

Sit by the wings, if you can. This area usually minimizes turbulence. If you sit in the back, you'll probably feel it more.

Sit by the window. This allows you to look out and take your mind off your fears.

Bring entertainment. Read, play games, or do crossword puzzles. Again, these take your mind off your fears.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Travels: Packing Light

You're packed. And, your suitcase weighs a ton. What do you have in there? It may be your shoes.

Think about how much each pair of shoes weighs before you pack them. Do you really need more than two or three pairs? Do you really think you'll wear both pairs of boots?

Check out travel outfitters if you need new shoes for traveling. Typically, they work with companies to offer lightweight but durable brands.

If you really need to bring a pair that is heavy, think about wearing them on the plane and pack the lighter pair. Just make sure they aren't a pain to take off in the security line.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Travels: Lodging Suggestions

Consider a rental apartment, house, or condo instead of a standard hotel. If you're traveling with another couple or if you need two hotel rooms, a rental can save you some money.

You also have more room to spread out and kitchen facilities in case you want to cook, make snacks, or have morning coffee in your pajamas.

Be sure to check out the location first. If it sounds like an amazing deal...check to see where it is located. You may find staying outside of the city is a good deal...until you see where the nearest bus or subway station is located.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Travels: Save on European Travel

You're planning your vacation to Europe and want to get the most for your money. Great. Who doesn't? 

Here are some things to think about.

When looking at hotels, car rentals, and other non-flight items, try to get the quotes or the rates in US dollars. Why? It's what you're used to seeing and dealing with. You will have the amount in a currency you recognize so when your statement arrives, that amount makes sense. You also won't have to keep checking exchange rates.

Try to stay in one or two places and really immerse yourself in that area and its culture. Base your trip in Florence if you want to visit that particular part of Tuscany, for instance. Stay in Venice if the Veneto and northeast Italy is your focus. Want to spend some time in Champagne? Paris is a good place for a home base. You won't spend hours in transit going from city to city, only to have a couple of hours in one new place. Figure out the area you want to see and then stay in a city central to the whole area.

Think about purchasing a museum pass for attractions, museums, and tours in that city or region. If you know the sites you really want to see, these can be a great value. Make sure those sites are listed on the pass.

If there is only one site on your must see list, check online before you leave home to see if you can purchase the ticket in advance. You avoid the long lines to just purchase the ticket and in most cases you bypass most lines with your prepaid ticket. The same goes for popular sites. Check online before you go.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Travels: Leaving Home

When leaving home for an extended time period do you hope your home will be safe and secure? Or, do you take some precautions while you're off vising the countryside of Italy?

Some people hire house sitters to stay in their homes, take care of the plants, feed and walk the dog, pick up the mail, and keep an eye on things. Great idea, especially if you are gone for an extended period of time.

You could notify the neighbors you're going to be gone for a lengthy time. You may even give them the name of your house sitter.

Only gone for a week-end? Do you close your curtains or turn on lights at a certain time each day? You may want to think about a timer. 

Ask your neighbor to pick up the paper, even if it's only a couple of days. No sense leaving it on the driveway to announce no one is home.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Jessup Cellars Raises Nearly $6,000 for Napa Valley Quake Relief


Media Contact:
Joel Quigley, Jessup Cellars
(707) 495-0831 | joel@jessupcellars.com


Judd Wallenbrock and Joel Quigley of Jessup Cellars present earthquake relief fundraising check to Terence Mulligan and Julia DeNatale of the Napa Valley Community Foundation

(Yountville, CA, November 4th 2014) — Following the August 24th Napa Valley earthquake and damage assessment at Jessup Cellars in Yountville, California, the boutique winery discovered a case stack of its 2009 Petite Sirah with stained labels from other broken bottles. The winery immediately offered up the wines to its extensive membership with 100% of proceeds to go to quake relief. The allotment sold out almost immediately, so to meet demand from its followers anxious to help, Jessup Cellars offered up its non-damaged Petite Sirah at 50% off with 50% of sales to go to quake relief. The fundraising effort raised just under $6,000.00 for the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund, which is managed by the Napa Valley Community Foundation and was created with a $10 million lead gift from the Napa Valley Vintners following the quake.

“We really appreciate how the community has stepped up to support our residents in need,” said Terence Mulligan, President, Napa Valley Community Foundation. “We are grateful to Jessup Cellars for their creativity in raising funds toward this relief effort.”

“The response from all across the nation truly touched us,” said Judd Wallenbrock, President & CEO of the Good Life Wine Collective, which includes Jessup Cellars, Handwritten Wines and Humanitas Wines. “Our company culture is all about giving back to the community, so it was very rewarding to see our members embrace this philosophy with a real call to action, and that we were able to contribute in our own small way to this important cause.”

High-resolution photographs and interviews are available upon request.

About Napa Valley Community Foundation
The Napa Valley Community Foundation mobilizes resources, inspires giving, builds knowledge and provides leadership on vital community issues to improve the quality of life for all in Napa County. They are a public charity; a grantmaking foundation; a philanthropic advisor; and a staging ground for people, resources and ideas. Every day, they link donors to projects that do good in our community. To learn more and contribute, please visit NapaValleyCF.org or call 707.254.9565.

About Jessup Cellars
Jessup Cellars Tasting Gallery is located at 6740 Washington St., Yountville, California and open 10am to 6pm daily. Celebrating the art of the blend, its wines are sourced from the finest vineyards throughout Napa Valley. Guests at Jessup Cellars may choose to taste at its wine bar or relax with sit-down, hosted tastings in the winery’s spacious gallery amongst curated art by regional and national artists. The winery also specializes in hosting interactive cultural experiences with a focus on supporting the arts. To learn more about Jessup Cellars, visit JessupCellars.com or call 888.537.7879.

# # #

Monday, November 3, 2014

Travelers: Shower Caps and other Hotel Items

The next time you stay in a hotel that provides shower caps, take it with you to use later. You can use it to cover your shoes in your luggage.

Any dirt on the bottom of your shoes won't make its way onto your clean clothes. And, your shoes won't get scuffed by some other items.

Or, use it to cover flip flops or sandals you've worn at the beach. I don't know about you, but I can never get all of the sand out of my flip flops.

Those little bars of soap in hotels...they have some other uses as well.

If you rub the dry bar of soap on a zipper that's stuck, you can lubricate the zipper's teeth enough to get the zipper unstuck. You might have to run it up and down several times, but at least you won't have to break the zipper.

If you've been bitten by some bugs on your travels and forgot to bring any anti-itch, use the bar of soap to help with this as well. Some like to rub the dry bar on the bite, others say wetting the bar a little bit and then rubbing it on the bite works better. Either way, let it dry and you should have relief. Plus, keep a bar in your suitcase as it is not subject to TSA rules and regs.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Travels: Hotels

When deciding on a hotel for your vacation, how do you know which one to pick?

Here are some things to think about.

Where is the hotel located. Look at the map and then look at Google Street View. It's amazing what you see, that the hotel website might not show you. Is that really a train track running directly behind the hotel?

Read the reviews. Look at the positive ones and the negative ones. Are the negative ones just moaning and groaning or are there real concerns that keep popping up in reviews? Perhaps you'll learn some great services offered by reading a positive review.

If you need an airport shuttle, see if the hotel has one and what times it runs. If you aren't sure, contact the hotel.

Do you have to pay for parking if you are driving? How much is it?

Understand what services are actually free and what are not. If Wi-Fi is listed as available, you might want to check to see if there is a charge. 

If you can't find something on the hotel website or if you have a question, don't be afraid to contact the hotel directly.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Travels: Quick Tips

Traveling with a curling iron? Pack it in an oven mitt.

Tight connection? When booking, pick an aisle seat near the front.

Traveling several months from now? Sign up for fare alerts at Kayak, FareCompare, Hipmunk, and others.

Checking your luggage? Use an expandable suitcase. As long as it doesn't exceed the weight amount, you will be able to add more by expanding the suitcase.

Need to save room in your suitcase? Try travel space bags which will compress your clothes and usually keep them wrinkle free.

Have a long flight and want to stay comfortable? Wear breathable fabrics like silk, cotton, or linen on the plane.

Forgot your laundry soap? Baby shampoo works just as well. You can also use it to defog your swim or ski goggles. Just dab a small amount and rinse. Throw in some dryer sheets. One in your dirty clothes bag helps with smelly clothes. Use another one to remove static. Place one in each shoe to keep them smelling better.

Need thread? Dental floss works well.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Travels: Personal Guide

When you travel, do you make all the arrangements or do you hire a guide? Do you use a travel service that provides everything or just a guide for certain sites? Are you traveling by boat, air, or car? Are you going to be traveling all over Napa Valley drinking and sampling wines? Will you be hiking in unfamiliar territory? 

While there are pros and cons for all of the above, you should decide what you'll be doing and how beneficial a guide would be for your trip. 

For instance, if you're going to some location during a time when dozens of tourists visit...you may want to seek out someone ahead of time to let you know the best days and times to visit. That guide may also have special passes or can get you a private tour.

Or, if your time is limited in a city, a guide may be your best bet.

For dive trips, we always hired a guide. We didn't just sign up for a 40 person boat where no special services were offered. You want someone who is familiar with the best dive spots if that's your vacation.

A wine tasting vacation, no matter where, is another time when a guide is a good idea. They may recommend great spots. Better yet, you won't have to worry about drinking and driving.

When visiting places where language is a definite issue, a guide could come in handy when trying to read street signs, order in a restaurant, or get a taxi.

Travels and Books

Traveling to Venice was a great opportunity to discover places, streets, canals, and surrounding areas I could use in my latest suspense, mystery novel. In fact, the cover shot is one I took the day we went to Burano.

The foothills of the Dolomites, wandering around the countryside where the prosecco grapes are grown, and highlights of other places around Venice make it into the book as well. 

Check it out on Amazon or from my website at www.wendyvanhatten.com. 

Stay tuned for the next one...you may be surprised.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Travelers: Camera Tips

Remember to pack:
Extra batteries...you don't want to run out

A battery charger...this would work in place of extra batteries

Extra memory cards...know what kind of memory your camera has and pack accordingly

A lens cloth...having a smudge on your lens doesn't equal great photos

Plastic bag...if it starts raining, your camera is protected

Filters...if you use filters, remember to pack them

Flashlight...you may need to shine a little light on something

Tripod...if you plan on taking photos with long exposure times, this is essential

Friday, October 24, 2014

Travelers: Luggage Tips

Make sure your checked luggage has a tag with your name, flight number, final destination, and a phone number.

Place a business card inside your bag.

Don't check anything you can't live without.

Try to get your bag to stand out on the luggage carousel. All the black bags in the world tend to look alike as they round the corner.

If your bag doesn't arrive, file a claim before you leave the airport.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Travelers: Long Flights

If your sinuses give you trouble on long flights, pack a small washcloth in a resealable bag. Ask for a cup of hot water, dip the washcloth in it, and place it over your face. Breathing in the steam may help you breathe better.

You can also use that washcloth in the lavatory to freshen up before you land.

Also pack a toothbrush and toothpaste, some lip balm, hand lotion, and eye drops. 

If you carry a refillable water bottle, you may ask the flight attendants to fill it.

If your airline doesn't give you socks to wear, pack a pair to use when walking around the plane. Remember to pack them away with your dirty laundry so you don't wear them until you wash them. No telling what's on the floor...

Do you have trouble getting your ears to pop? Bring an apple. Then, about 25 minutes before you land...start eating it. The constant chewing will assist in popping your ears.

Candied ginger works for motion sickness.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Travelers: Numbers

Add the 800 numbers for airlines into your phone. If there are delays or cancellations, you won't have to search for the number.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Travelers: Before You Reach Security

Before you reach the security line, here are a few things to think about.

Make sure all of your documents, passport, tickets, and anything else you need in the security line are all in one place. Make sure you know exactly where that place is...in your purse, luggage, pocket, or wherever works for you.

Place everything else you won't need until later in a different place. No sense dropping cash, tissues, your parking slip, or anything else around you while others wait for you to pick it up. And, yes I have had a lady in front of me drop everything out of every pocket in her purse. Embarrassing for her...frustrating for everyone else.

Do you know if you need to remove your shoes, jacket, and belt? If you are TSA Pre, you won't need to. Otherwise, in the US...you will. 

Do you have to remove your laptop or tablet? Know this ahead of time.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Travelers: Check Your Flight

This may seem like a no-brainer...but remember to check your flight status before you leave for the airport. If you live far away this might not work. But, for anyone close to their airport this is a crucial step.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Travelers: Plane Tips

 Especially if your flight is a long one, your feet will swell. Think about packing a shoe horn in your carry on luggage.

Remember to charge all your devices before you board your flight. 

Noise cancelling headphones are your friend on a long flight.

Eye drops come in handy to help wake up after snoozing.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Travelers: New Flight to Sydney

Recently I read this post on asiatraveltips.com.

Qantas has launched Airbus A380 flights between Dallas/Fort Worth and Sydney.
The introduction of non-stop A380 services from Dallas/Fort Worth direct to Sydney means travellers can now choose A380 services from two US hubs, Dallas/Fort Worth or Los Angeles.
Qantas Executive Manager International Sales Stephen Thompson said the introduction of the A380 on the DFW-Sydney route would lead to greater opportunities for both tourism and for trade.
“We’ve already carried more than 300,000 passengers on the Dallas/Fort Worth route and we’re confident the introduction of the A380 will attract more travellers and introduce more Americans to Sydney and Australia,” said Mr Thompson. “The new service will mean an additional seat capacity of more than 10% each week and we will continue to work with our partners to boost visitor numbers from this important market.”

The Qantas Airbus A380 aircraft is configured in a three-class cabin layout accommodating 14 first class seats, 64 in business, 35 in premium economy and 371 in economy.
By utilizing the A380’s range capabilities in replacing Qantas’ 747s between Sydney and Dallas/Fort Worth, the airline is now able to serve this route non-stop in both directions – while the 747 required a stopover in Brisbane on the return flight because of headwinds.

“With the A380’s unmatched cabin comfort, Qantas now offers all its passengers a best-in-class experience on this ultra-long range route,” said Thomas Burger, the A380 Product Marketing Director at Airbus. “This includes its luxurious first class cabin, which was not offered on its 747s previously serving the route. Economy passengers enjoy seats with widths of more than 18 inches, which is Airbus’ benchmark standard and a key differentiator of our cabins.”
Qantas’ non-stop Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth service covers more distance than the previous longest-range A380 route: the Dubai-Los Angeles flight performed by Emirates, which has a trip length of 13,420 km.
Qantas will operate the A380 service six times per week (every day except Tuesdays).

Friday, October 10, 2014

Travelers: Suitcases

Planning on purchasing a new suitcase or piece of carry on luggage? What you purchase will help determine how light you can pack.

Typically, a 22 inch roller suitcase is considered lightweight if it weighs in under 10 pounds. You'll see the term ultralight if it weighs around seven pounds.

Seven pounds is good, provided it's sturdy enough to withstand use and abuse by airlines, baggage handlers, and conveyor belts. You would want one with a decent enough frame to protect your items inside. The rolling duffle bags are good, but keep in mind they don't have an actual frame.

If you're going to use it as a carry on bag, you won't have to think as much about its sturdiness. 

Check out brands online, stop at luggage shops, and read reviews by those who travel for a living. Prices, sizes, weights, and usefulness of the bag vary from brand to brand. While the pricier ones are not always better, there is something to be said for buying a quality bag that costs a little more than the cheapest one you can find.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Travelers: Trouble When Traveling

Hopefully you will never be arrested when traveling in a foreign country. But, if that should happen, even for a minor infraction, here are some things to think about and do.

As soon as you are arrested, ask to speak to the American Embassy or US Consulate. According to the State Department, this is a critical step and can't be skipped. Legally, under the Vienna Convention, you have the right to receive assistance from the United States. Bottom line...keep making the request until it is granted.

Understand, however, the American Embassy is not like a get out of jail free card. They are there to assist you...not clear you of any wrong doings. 

Then, ask an officer for a written statement of your rights. Ask for interpreter if necessary. Don't chance your limited knowledge of a language you don't easily speak or understand.

Keep in mind, your rights in other countries are going to be very different from those in the US. Also remember when you are in a foreign country...their laws and rules apply. 

Try to get a phone call and give pertinent, factual info to that person. This is to alert your family, etc. as to where you are, how an attorney can reach you, etc.