Monday, March 31, 2014

TSA and Luggage Locks

I understand the need to lock your luggage when traveling. It's important to understand TSA officers need to inspect baggage and all contents. What do you do?

TSA has worked with several companies to develop locks that can be opened by security officers using a universal master key. That way, they don't have to cut any locks.

If an officer does open your bag, a 'notice of baggage inspection' sheet will be placed in your bag.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Airplane Air

We all know the air on planes seems to make our skin dry out more quickly. Visiting with some frequent fliers about this, everyone had their favorite remedies.

One flight attendant told me she always cleanses and exfoliates her skin the day before a long journey. Then she applies a hydrating mask, one that is meant to stay on her skin, before flying.

Another tip I heard was to add a couple drops of lavender or eucalyptus to a scarf or small pack of tissues. Breathing in these scents helps you to relax. Not sure about keeping your skin from drying out...but it seems like a pleasant way to drift off to sleep.

One frequent long flight traveler told me she keeps a 'must have' kit in her carry on bag. Anything she can find in sample sizes work especially great. She includes:

Cleansing Wipes
Moisturizing Cream...for hands and for face (she has one she uses for both)
Lip Balm
Regenerating Eye Cream
Emery Board
Toothbrush and Toothpaste

What do you travel with in your bag?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Traveling With Binder Clips

Binder clips...yes the regular office, black clips...have multiple uses when traveling. Clip a couple different sizes inside your purse or carry on to use later.

Need your money all in one spot? Use a binder clip.

If you are traveling with several different cables or cords for recharging your phone, tablet, etc. clip them together in your suitcase or carry one. Those mischievous cords won't get lost in your luggage.

Did you know you can cover the sharp end of a razor with a binder clip?

If you need to rinse out clothing or hang your swimsuit up to dry overnight...the binder clip works well.

I've used a binder clip as a fastener for a makeshift skirt. Wrap a shawl around your waist and clip it to your shorts or pants and you have an instant skirt.

Keep your receipts together, find pages in a guidebook, mark a spot on your map, fix a belt...the uses are endless.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Emails and Traveling

Do you read emails when traveling? Or, do you wait until you return home and deal with an overflowing inbox?

There are pros and cons for both ways. It's really up to you and way you like to travel as well as keeping up with your messages. I prefer checking emails occasionally while on vacation so I don't have a huge amount to clean up once I return. It's easy for me to delete the ones I really don't need to spend any time dealing with and leave the ones I want to look at in depth. Plus, I can deal with anything of importance right then.

If you turn on your "out of office" feature while gone...don't forget to turn it back on once you get home.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

International Phone Package

If you have had an international package turned on for your phone while you are traveling outside the US, remember to contact your provider and have it turned off.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Wine Tasting in Napa

Today in Napa, the flowers were fragrant, the paella was tasty, and the wines were fantastic at Turnbull Winery. Great way to spend a Saturday...

Friday, March 21, 2014

Credit Card Statements and Traveling

Once you arrive back home, it would be a good idea to check your bank statements online to make sure any purchases or ATM transactions you made while traveling are correct.

It's also a good idea to keep your credit card receipts and check those against your credit card balances and statements. If there is a mistake or a purchase that isn't right, you can call your credit card company to sort it out.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Safe Airlines

According to a recent post on Travel and Leisure, these are the top 20 safest airlines. Do you agree? Do you regularly fly these for their safety record?

No. 1 Lufthansa
No. 2 British Airways
No. 3 Qantas (tie)
No. 3 Southwest (tie)
No. 5 Cathay Pacific
No. 6 KLM
No. 7 Emirates
No. 8 United/Continental
No. 9 Delta
No. 10 US Airways
No. 11 Finnair
No. 12 Air Canada
No. 13 Etihad Airways
No. 14 EVA Air
No. 15 Air France (tie)
No. 15 Hainan Airways (tie)
No. 17 Air New Zealand
No. 18 Iberia
No. 19 All Nippon Airways
No. 20 JetBlue (tie)
No. 20 Virgin Atlantic (tie)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Travel Reviews

Do you read reviews before you travel? What do you look for when reading those? Does it bother you if you find a review that is less than flattering about a place you want to stay or visit?

While it's a good idea to read reviews, you should keep in mind that you are going to find good and not so good ones. Pay attention to the dates they were written. Also, pay attention if several reviews are complaining about the exact same issue. That would be a good clue that there probably is a real issue.

If you find good and great reviews on a site or hotel combined with one or two not so good ones...does that make you change your mind?

Do you ever call the hotel to ask about an issue that was raised on a review?

Do you write reviews? If so, do you only write good ones or bad ones...or do you take the time to write about a place once you visit or stay there? Think about writing a couple of sentences about your experience...offering both the highs and the lows. Make sure it is factual. Think about the things that are important to you and try to include them in your review.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Street Markets

Street markets, farmer's markets, or whatever the local terminology is can be a wonderful place to visit when traveling. It doesn't matter if you're going to Portland or Venice. They all have something unique to offer.

Markets can be colorful, chaotic, intense, or laid back. Take some time to sample and purchase local homegrown foods, artisanal cheeses, local wines, and freshly cured sausage. Maybe you will find some food for a picnic.

Wander through the stalls and talk to the vendors. You just might learn the best place to buy your favorite Pinot or the best Prosciutto di Parma in the region.

If you love taking photographs, what better place than this? Colors and shapes surround you in every direction.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Cooking Classes When Traveling

For a completely different experience when traveling, learn to cook the local cuisine instead of just eating it. Take a week long culinary vacation or a couple of workshops.

Maybe you want to learn Italian cooking from an Italian in Umbria, or you want to learn all about the differences in olive oils, or watch wine being made in the Tuscan countryside. Many sites offer classes and accommodations in the same spot.

Check websites or your destination for more information. There a many reputable ones available.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Grocery Stores and Traveling

When you travel do you stop in at grocery stores? Stop at the larger ones to find out what the area or country has to offer. You may find some interesting foods to try, you will probably find what the locals shop for, and you may find some souvenirs to take home.

Stop at smaller, or 'Mom and Pop', or neighborhood stores for a different experience. Again, you will probably find out what the locals buy. You might wander a bit to see how it differs from the stores you usually shop at back home.

Either way, it's a fun way to experience some of the local flavor of a new place.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Traveling With Cash

Traveling with cash is great...especially for the first 24 hours. How much cash you carry is up to you.

If you have some cash in the local currency you can pay the cab driver or purchase a bus ticket without having to look for an exchange counter at the airport. If you want or need more cash, it may be a good idea to check with your bank before you leave home. Some banks will exchange a large amount with very little fees. Some banks offer this service to certain account holders as well.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

ATM Cards

Need cash in Florence, Italy, or Paris, France? ATMs are available almost anywhere and probably the cheapest and most convenient way to get cash in the local currency.

Keep in mind, each cash withdrawal will usually be subject to currency conversion fees, foreign ATM fees, or other charges your bank may have. If the ATM card from your bank isn't connected to Cirrus or PLUS networks, you may be paying even higher fees.

Remember to call your bank to let them know ahead of time you may be using your ATM card elsewhere. It's not a good idea to find your account is frozen because they didn't know you were going to South America!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Credit Card Tips When Traveling

Probably the best thing about using credit cards when traveling overseas is that credit card purchases are exchanged at the interbank exchange rate. That's usually the best rate you can get for currency exchange. However, you may be charged a currency conversion fee by that issuer each time you make a purchase. In most cases these fees are lower than if you exchanged money at bank or facility in that country.

Check around and find a credit card that doesn't add those fees. You can find a list at

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Travel Tips...Email

If you have multiple reservations for car, hotels, etc. you may want to email a copy of those and of your itinerary to yourself. That way, you always have it with you and don't need to look for a paper copy in your bag.

If you plan on using your phone to retrieve that information, be sure you aren't piling up a bunch of roaming charges.

You could also include a list of medication you regularly take, in case you need to purchase some. If your medication is a prescription, consider including the name and number of your physician.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Travel Tips...Research

If you are traveling outside your own country for the first time or traveling to a different country for the first time, you may want to research the laws of the country you are visiting.

Do you need a special driver's license if you're renting a car? Do you need specific insurance?

Are there any State Department safety risks?

Will you need to get any vaccinations before you visit? Do you know how far in advance you need to have those vaccinations?

Do you know why you receive two car rental agreements in Germany? One is in English and one is in German. The English one is for you...the German one for the police.