Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Don't Waste Time

I've talked...a lot...about packing lists. To me, they're invaluable.

If you travel a fair amount, also keep your 'go bag' of toiletries packed and ready to go. I don't care whether you jet off to Europe or go to Tahoe for the weekend. Having that already packed and ready saves a bunch of time when packing.

You also have less chance of forgetting to take something important...like an extra set of contact lenses, vitamins, or your favorite travel hair products.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Airport Lounges...Are They For You?

Many airport lounges still sell day passes. This could be a good thing, if you have a long layover. If you know the layover will be long, look at purchasing the pass online before you go. It will save a bunch of money.

Or, buy a Priority Pass. You have access to 700 airport lounges around the world. Great idea if you travel frequently.

Also, check with your credit card company. They may have access to certain lounges.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Where the Heck Are We?

When you're in a new city and aren't sure exactly where you're going or where the museum is from the gelato shop, do you wander outside, get out the map, and look at it? If you do, guess what? Everyone knows you're a tourist.

Maybe you don't actually have a map but you're using your phone or other device. Still, you're trying to find out where to go. And, you're letting everyone around you know...you're a tourist.

So, what do you do? You could do several things...

Before you set out, take some time to look at where you're going and where you want to go. Get a general idea, maybe even remember some street names.

Look at your map or phone while you're having lunch or a drink...not the middle of the sidewalk.

Get lost...who knows what you might discover.

Ebenezer Scrooge...a must read

Check out more at this link...


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bags...Of All Kinds

These don't take up much room in your carry on bag or your checked luggage. Yet, they are useful in so many ways.

What are they?

Bags...resealable and reusable. Both kinds come in handy.

Keep the shampoo bottle from leaking, put the wet swimsuit in one, keep everything dry when at the beach, take shopping with you in the US or in Europe, put your dirty shoes in one to keep everything else around them clean, put some snacks in one, use a different one for each child when traveling to keep their things separate from the rest, keep your notes, place any postcard or business card souvenirs, toss the change in one, keep the seashells from getting sand all over everything, toss some tissues or toilet paper in one when going for a hike...the list goes on.

What do you use the bags for when you travel?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Come to the Mausoleum...

We Are Seeking Submissions For
(by lamp oil light inside the park's 100-year-old mausoleum)
7 pm Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Themes include: Suspense, Who-Dun-It, Supernatural (vampires, goblins, ghosts, etc.)
Sonoma County writers are invited to submit stories for our annual reading. Designed for all ages, this October event is held in our Alaskan Marble Odd Fellows Mausoleum.
This event has grown each year. Last year's attendance was standing room only and included work submitted my members of the Redwood Writers and Nor Cal Sisters in Crime.
  • Stories should take between 6-10 minutes to read aloud.
  • If an excerpt of larger body of work, it must be able to stand alone.
  • Submit as word document or pdf by September 30, 2015 to Folk@FolkHeartPress.com .
  • Selected writers will be notified by October 3, 21015.
  • If selected please be prepared to provide a jpeg photo and bio for promotional purposes.
There will be an intermission and authors will have an opportunity to sell their books in the park’s Rose Corridor.
Please note that because the mausoleum has no electricity, it can be chilly. We advise you to dress warmly.
This evening is a collaboration with FolkHeart Press.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Clean Out Your Purse...

Okay, you've bought the right travel purse. Now, what do you put in it and what do you leave out?

Think about your wallet. Do you really need absolutely everything in it when you travel? The grocery store card, department store card, or your local museum pass are probably not necessary when going to Paris.

Take the essentials and leave the rest at home. Then, think about a lightweight wallet that will hold what you need, including your passport.

Do you have lotion or hand sanitizer in your purse? Make sure they're travel size. How about aspirin or sunscreen? Again...travel size.

At the end of the day, take out all the things you won't need the next day. Maps, brochures, postcards, used tickets, etc. can all be removed and put in your luggage.

Do you toss coins in the bottom of your purse throughout the day? If so, remove them at the end of the day and don't let them accumulate for several days in a row. You can either put them in a coin purse so you know where they are or in your suitcase if you don't think you'll use them.

Happy Traveling...

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Lighten Your Load

For those of us that travel with purses, sometimes we feel like we're carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders...literally.

So, how can you lighten the load and still have room for what you need when traveling?

First, start with the right purse. Think about these before you decide which purse to buy...

Some purses weigh a couple of pounds or more before you put anything in them. Look at lightweight travel purses, made specifically for traveling. Think about a cross-body purse that can also be carried. Maybe you need one with a panel that slips over your suitcase handle or one that folds down flat when you're not using it. Do you need RFID blocking or a strap with a cable in it so it can't be cut? What about a passport pocket or warranty?

Do you need one large enough to carry a camera or kid stuff?

Next...how to keep it from getting heavier.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Pied Piper Like You've Never Seen Him

Palace Hotel...San Francisco

Want to see another treasure within the Palace Hotel? Head to the Pied Piper, bar and restaurant, for a drink and look at the masterpiece above the bar. 

This Pied Piper painting was commissioned from Maxfield Parish in 1909 for $6,000. It represents the tale of the Pied Piper…with a twist. Parish painted himself as the Pied Piper and some of the 27 expressive faces include those of his wife, his mistress, his sons, and more. 

What a guy!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

There's a Telegraph in my Hotel Room...

Palace Hotel, San Francisco...

When looking for a luxury hotel, is it important for you to have a telegraph on every floor? How about a private bath or five rising rooms? In 1875 these modern technological advancements catered to travelers, business titans, the social elite, and dignitaries who were looking for the best in hotels. At that time, the Palace Hotel in San Francisco was the largest hotel in the world…and a true innovator of its time.

No wonder it quickly became ‘the place’ to stay.

Then came the earthquake of 1906 and in the fires that accompanied it, the Palace Hotel was destroyed. All the marble, crystal chandeliers, and opulence were reduced to ruble. Only three years later, the new Palace opened its doors, using what they found in that ruble and adding new spectacular acquisitions…grander than before the fires. Fast forward to 2015 when the latest renovations were complete. The old…the new…the newest, all blend together as the fresh design pairs with timeless elegance.  

Friday, September 11, 2015

Where is my Money?

When planning for a trip, especially a big one, it's fairly easy to know how much you'll spend on airfare, hotels or apartments, car rental, and specific attractions. But, what about other charges? What about keeping track of your money while traveling? Do you know what to do?

You may encounter bank or ATM fees when  you get cash. You can check before you go.

What about taxis? Do you have plans to utilize public transportation or will you be taking taxis everywhere?

Do you plan on using your phone if you're in Europe? Do you know what you will be charged?

What's the local exchange rate? Is it better to get Euros before you leave home? Avoid exchanging at the airport.

Don't bring traveler's checks...no matter how cheap they appear to be. They're not.

Do you know the local custom for tipping at restaurants, at hotels, for the maid?

Do you know how to keep your valuables safe when traveling?

Avoid using public Wi-Fi for financial transactions.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Travel Clubs...Should You or Shouldn't You?

So much has been written about travel clubs, timeshares, or vacation clubs. Before you say 'yes', think about some of these things.

Are you already on vacation in a spot you love? Do you come back year after year? You're having fun...right? You are offered the opportunity to come back here to your own place. Step back and think about it. It may be a good deal for you and it may not. Weigh all your options.

Before you sign anything, read the fine print. Does it list the exact time you will have the villa or condo? Can you rent it out if you're not using it? Will that cost you extra money? What are the maintenance fees and do they go up?

Is the travel club legit? AAA has one that is. Check the one you're looking at.

Shop around.

Check for scams.

Think about how you like to travel. Will it be worth it?

Monday, September 7, 2015

To Hire a Tour Guide...Or Not

Regardless whether you are the go-it-alone type of traveler or one who likes to know exactly when and where to go, you may benefit from hiring a tour guide. When?

If you are short on time, the right guide can help you see exactly what you want to see, customizing it for your few hours of visiting a new city. Think 36 hours in New York City...

If you are visiting really popular locations for the first time, a tour guide can tell you the best time to visit certain attractions or when the prices are best. When are the most people visiting the Grand Canyon?

If you are visiting historic destinations or cultural attractions, an educated tour guide can offer history, stories, and facts you might not otherwise know about. What do those carvings mean?

If you are on an adventure trip, a tour guide who knows the local area, the laws, and the land will be of great help. Want to go white-water rafting? Hire a guide.

If you don't want to drive, a tour guide can take you where you want to go without worrying about getting lost. Maybe you really don't want to drive on the 'wrong' side of the road.

If you don't speak the language or even read the signs, you might be better off hiring a local guide.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Why Can't I Carry That On?

By now, most travelers know what they can and can't put in their carry on bag. Having said that, there always seems to be one person in the security check line that hasn't traveled for the last century and a half.

TSA clearly states each passenger may pack one quart sized, clear, zip topped plastic bag with their three ounce or smaller bottles in it.

Exceptions include medications...both prescription and over the counter products like saline solution and eye drops, and liquids needed for people with medical conditions. They don't have to be in the bag but must be declared at the security checkpoints.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Palace Hotel in San Francisco...a Magical Place

If you're looking for a special occasion place, a place to relax, a place to enjoy San Francisco, or a fantastic lunch...head to the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.

I will be reviewing this hotel for a couple of magazines. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Deals...Are They Really Deals?

Do you use alerts on websites like Kayak to see when a fare drops? If you receive an alert, what do you do next?

Check out all the details of that fare. Does it include all extra fees? Does it fly at a time that works for you or do you have to fly at a strange time? Is it refundable or do you pay a huge fee? Are there blackout dates or dates with higher fares?

Read everything. Then, check other sites, especially the airline's site. You may find a better deal.