You know the feeling. Easing back in your seat, thoughts drifting from your tan to piņa coladas, to not working for a week or two. Camera's in the carry-on. Plenty of underwear packed. Nothin' but blue skies ahead. Suddenly, like an uninvited guest rapping on your door late at night, a voice within cries I-feel-like-I-forgot-something. Just a nagging inkling, right? Sure, if the plane will turn around so you can grab the traveler's checks off the kitchen counter!
All scary scenarios aside, who doesn't want to feel totally comfortable about their travel preparations? After all, it's a vacation, the time to leave your everyday worry-prone life in the rearview mirror. So, excited traveler, we're here to help you do just that. As your personal travel agent, we'll ensure you're as ready as possible for the well-deserved getaway.
So, Where Ya Headed?
For enchanted evenings along the beach? A breathtaking ocean cruise? Whatever your preferred destination, there are three things to do first: research, research and research. With enough solid research, you'll arrive feeling more comfortable, organized and prepared to enjoy the best of what your chosen location has to offer. Been there before? Hey, it never hurts to refresh. Besides, important details may have changed.
- Tap your resources. Amazing how a little help can spur such a wealth of information.
- Books, magazines or other publications
- Travel agencies
- People who've been there - family, friends, co-workers
- Get a feel for your destination's atmosphere. What language do they speak? Where will you stay? What times of the year are best to go? What kinds of activities are offered? What's the climate? You get the idea.
- ID any extras you may need. Translation booklet, bottled water, jumbo tube of aloe lotion (beware of the lobster look!), $$ - we'll delve more into this in a second.
- Transportation. Do you have the option to drive? If not, what are the airline rates? Once there, what mode(s) are offered? Buses, taxis, rental cars, trains?
- Determine all costs. Make sure to always bring extra money for the x-factor type stuff. For instance, the currency exchange decides to plummet from 7 pesos/1 dollar to 3 pesos/1 dollar, etc.
- Create an itinerary. At least a tentative one. This will help you identify the types of entertainment available, maximize your time and reduce the I don't know, what do you want to do? syndrome.
OK. You know where you're going. Even when! Now you consider which items will accompany you on the journey, usually followed with the sigh, I just know I'm going to forget something. Enter the "basics" checklist.
- Warm tops, such as a sweater/sweatshirt
- Rain gear (coat and/or umbrella)
- Prescription or reading glasses
- Sun hat or knitted cap
- Beach/bath towels
- Razor, blades, shaving cream/oil
- Shampoo & conditioner
- Bar soap & container
- Analgesic (aspirin, acetaminophen, etc.)
- Lip balm
- Passport, visas, extra passport photos, vaccination certificates
- Driver's license
- Health insurance information
- Airline tickets, rail & bus passes
- Credit cards, bank cards, cash, traveler's checks
- Personal address book
- Security pouch
- First-aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Camera & film
- Alarm clock
- Portable CD player & CDs
Traveling is in the Bag!
When was the last time you selected a travel bag? Seven
years ago? That's how often most people purchase luggage, but the big luggage companies market new collections about every two years. And, as you're aware, selecting luggage is not like selecting a T-shirt.
- What's your price range? Luggage is offered at a variety of prices. The higher the price, the higher the quality of fabric and construction, and the more features. But values lurk at every price. Moreover, recent technologies have made moderately priced luggage better than even the most expensive collections of just a few years ago.
- More bang for your buck. Check out all the collections within your price range. Amazingly, lots of differences can exist between Company A's luggage and Company B's luggage, despite being equal in price. Important features to look for include:
- Denier - it measures the thickness of the fiber in a fabric, and indicates the material's durability
- Packing capacity
- Handy compartments (wetpacks, shoes and toiletries pockets)
- Fully lined interiors
- In-line skate wheels
- Hide-away locking handle
- Ribbed corner guards
- Lightweight frames
- Integrated ID tag
- Luggage company's reputation!
- Frequent flier? The more trips, the more bag fatigue. You'll need an extra durable fabric, such as ballistic nylon or polyester. But whatever the material, make sure it's at least 1200 denier.
- Choose your color. Luggage has become much more stylish than in years past. Colors are brighter and fresher, and bags now may feature floral or other patterns. To many, luggage symbolizes a style statement selected for self-expression, a reflection of personality. For others, an offbeat color or pattern is easier to spot on the carousel. Either way, choose wisely, because chances remain strong you'll be carrying that bag for a while.
Ironing out the meanings of those pesky bag names!
Carry-on - Can be various bags in various shapes and sizes, all of which are intended to be carried onto an airplane and measure small enough to fit under the seat or in the overhead bin.
Cosmetic Case or Vanity - Small case with a mirror and compartments to hold cosmetics. It usually has a spill-resistant interior. Composed of hard or soft sides.
Garment Bag - Soft vertical bag with interior bar and hangers for garments and outside pockets for other apparel. Can be folded lengthwise in half or thirds and fastened.
Overnight Bag - Traditionally a small, rectangular suitcase, it's now any piece of luggage large enough to carry apparel and necessities for an overnight stay.
Suiter - Today, this term usually refers to a built-in compartment in another bag, such as an upright, that holds two to four suits. It has hangers and suit-folding frames.
Upright - Also known as the pullman. A standard large suitcase-style case, this rectangular piece of luggage generally measures 24" to 27" wide with interior compartments. It may be hard or soft, feature wheels for easy movement and a telescoping handle on the opposite end for pulling the case behind you.
Show Your Packing Prowess!
Let's face it: packing can be stressful, taking some of the fun out of traveling. Bypass that headache by simply starting at least a week early. The tips below will help. In fact, you'll be a world champion bag stuffer with virtually wrinkle-free clothes in no time!
First things first.
- Make a list of all your items. If your stuff is lost or stolen, this will prove invaluable.
- Bring clothes that demand little care, such as wrinkle-free, quick dry, etc.
- Plan clothes for activities - business vs. leisure.
- Plan clothes for climate. Jeans don't work as well in 85°.
- Organize clothes and shoes around 1-2 colors for easy color coordinating.
- Less is more. Overloading bags only causes that jammed-zipper frustration, wrinkles and airline size-restriction conflict. A good rule of thumb: 2 bags/person.
- Make items versatile (i.e., use the beach cover-up as a robe, too).
Get the Party Started!
- If you're not unpacking at your destination, pack clothes in the order you plan to wear them.
- Pack heavy items on bottom. This creates stability and avoids wrinkles.
- Place socks inside shoes. This saves space and helps shoes retain their shape.
- Roll casual clothes like tees and pjs to easily fill small spaces.
- Extend your belts along the inside circumference of your bag.
- Wrap garments in leftover plastic bags from the dry cleaner. Again, this avoids those wretched wrinkles.
- Try "interfolding" items - fasten all buttons and zippers, then layer by allowing the unfolded garments and sleeves to hang out on both sides. Then fold each set of loose ends alternately over the next garment, creating a clothing cushion. Our Interfolding Diagram explains it further.
- Try separating clothes with tissue paper sprayed with cologne or perfume. This helps prevent wrinkles, allows the scent to linger and removes worries of shattering perfume or cologne bottles.
- Pack empty plastic bags or a collapsible tote for purchases on your trip or to hold dirty and/or wet clothes.
- Pack extra film and batteries. Few people are camera-shy on vacation!
Peace of mind.
- Put valuables and fragile items into your carry-on.
- Lock your luggage. Remember to jot down your combo or keep the key in secure place, like in your carry-on.
- Properly ID your luggage both inside and out with your name, address and phone.
- Remove old luggage claim checks to avoid baggage-handling confusion.
- Look into getting traveler's insurance if traveling with valuables not covered under normal luggage allowance by airlines. Contact your airline for more details.
- If an airline damages your luggage, file a claim while you're still at the airport.
Wait! Before you leave...
Your ticket's in hand and one foot's out the door. News flash: Jet lag and an untidy house make a lousy combo! Instead, make coming home relaxing and enjoyable by just doing a little housework.
- Stop deliveries
- Notify police, neighbors and loved ones
- Ask someone to get the mail, keep an eye on the house and watch Fido
- Unplug appliances
- Close and lock windows
- Draw shades/curtains
- Adjust thermostat
- Turn off water heater
- Shut off gas
- Adjust/turn off sprinklers
- Shut off water to ice maker, washer
- Water plants
- Remove food leftovers from fridge, unless you feel that chicken parmesan tastes better with age!
- Double-check stove
- Leave a light on
- Remove personals from car and lock it
- Lock doors/set security system
- Leave your abode clean, so you're ready to relax from a successful vacation as soon as you walk through the door. And please, don't forget your traveler's checks!