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Monday, September 30, 2013

Review: Skyroll Spinner Carry-on

Okay, so you probably already know that I have a collection of bags, including the original Skyroll garment bag. Any bag that’s going to make traveling easier for me is a plus in my book, so when I found out that they were making a new spinner case, I was definitely interested in checking out. A carry-on that also features a garment bag sounds pretty awesome, right? Skyroll was made for the business traveler who needs to pack professional clothing that doesn't get wrinkled. A garment bag is the only way to go when you need to bring suits, but most aren’t carry-on friendly. When you have to go straight from the plane to a meeting, you don’t have time to wait for the baggage carousel to deliver your luggage.


Many of us budget travelers don’t want to waste time waiting around either. Not only that, but baggage fees can be ridiculous. Carrying everything you need for casual and dressy occasions is a must, but it helps if you can get it all in one bag that you can carry with you on the plane. If you’re a frequent cruiser, you might have more need for dress-up clothes than the rest of us leisure travelers, but we still need a garment bag for different types of vacations. In fact, our upcoming trip to London will see us going to the theater and a few fancy meals, so Eric will need a suit jacket. We know from previous experience that packing one in a carry-on is not optimal, so probably having to pack more than just one item like this would not work out well. Enter the new Skyroll Spinner.

 


I am never optimistic about a bag’s internal space. Most seem bigger than they really are, and don’t hold everything you need without a lot of packing and repacking. The Skyroll was the exact opposite. I scoffed at the size when I opened the box, but I once I started adding things to it, I found that it had much more interior space than anticipated. Check it out!


There are three separate compartments in the new Skyroll: The main compartment, the upper compartment for things you want to get to right away, which also has a slot for your laptop, and the garment bag that wraps around the whole thing and is totally detachable.


I have been making my packing list for a while now and have whittled down my travel wardrobe to three pair of shoes (more than I usually take, but necessary), three pair of pants and five tops (and two tanks). For the purposes of this review, I also added a blazer and a dress. I honestly was a bit skeptical about getting all this in there, including my boots, but I was able to fit it all in and more.



Obviously, I rolled everything, making it easier to pack and when I was finished, I still had some room leftover in the body of the bag. I could use this for my makeup and other toiletries. The bag comes with a toiletry bag, which I maybe could have packed in the extra space with my clothes and shoes. It may have been a tight fit though. I love the two pockets on the “lid” of the Spinner. I used one for my undies, and socks and/or other undergarments could go in the second. Pretty snazzy, right?


It fits, even if the flap won't close - the top still zipped shut just fine
The netbook fits with tons of space left
The top compartment is really versatile. Not only does it have a pocket for your laptop – Yes! They have thought of everything! – but also room for your electronics, pens, credit cards, sunglasses and your 3-1-1 bag. Now, I’m not a business traveler, so I packed my netbook into the laptop pocket, but just for the sake of seeing if I could, I stuffed my 17” laptop in there and it fit, though pretty snugly, which means your normal 15” one would fit perfectly, allowing you to close the compartment fully. I also packed a card game, my iPad mini, a puzzle book, some gum, facial wipes and then my small purse. Again, there was still room left in the top, so my 3-1-1 would be handy for security. In the top flap, I had my sunglasses, a pen (for my puzzle book) and my flat iron. If I didn’t need a bigger purse for my destination, everything would have fit in this bag, with no need for a “personal” item that I wouldn’t be able to take on a flight within Europe anyway.




If you find that you need more room in the main compartment of the bag, you’ll see that you can totally unzip the top portion, push the bottom down into the side of the Spinner and, voila! You have a larger interior space for clothing and other stuff. I love this versatility.


The big attraction to this bag is with the detachable garment bag. It doesn’t fit inside the main bag as you have seen with other carry-on bags, scrunching it up against all your other items. To keep your business and dressy duds from getting all creased and wrinkled before you even get to your destination, the Spinner garment bag minimizes folds by wrapping around the outside of the case. It attaches/detaches with clips. If you pack more in your garment bag, you can loosen the belts attached to the clips to help it fit. It also stays in place with Velcro on the top and bottom, so it doesn't slide down and end up under the wheels on on side. Smart construction!




There are a few zippered pockets on the garment bag that can be used for accessories, like ties, tights, scarves or belts, so you have everything you need right in one place. The only thing it doesn’t do is hang in the closet at your destination, but you can easily just pull out the contents and hang them as soon as you arrive. You’ll have to remove the garment bag from the main bag in order to get at your other stuff anyway. I like that this makes it harder for people to try to steal things out of your suitcase, too.


Besides the main compartment being inaccessible while the garment bag is attached, the zipper for the top portion of the bag is also somewhat concealed as well, giving the Spinner really easy, but still useful safety features. Of course, you can use this bag all alone without the garment bag if you feel you don’t need it on a trip, making it even more flexible for all your travel needs.



I think the spinner wheels make this bag way more awesome. They easily could have just put in-line wheels on this thing like many other carry-on bags feature, but the spinners make this super-easy to maneuver and will probably be a great bonus for getting down the tiny airplane aisle without having to try to carry it and not hit people already in their seats – don’t you hate that? The telescoping handle is comfortable for shorter and taller people, so Eric and I will both be able to pull/push it along with no problems.

I also like all the handles on this bag. One on top, one on the side, and a hidden grip pocket on the bottom all help you to maneuver your bag into the overhead, the car trunk, that rack on the airport shuttle and carrying it up the stairs. There really are no downsides to the new Spinner, that I can see. We'll be taking this as our second bag to Europe, so we'll see if that changes, but the bag is heavy-duty, has convenient pockets/compartments/interior space and wheels around like a dream. We are both looking forward to a hands-on test. Even though it only comes in black, you aren't going to mistake it for another bag, because the design is pretty unique. You just might find this popping up on my must-buy list for travelers this holiday season!

Check out the roomy hanging toiletry bag!

More information:
What is the Skyroll made of? Extra-tough 1200 denier ballistic fabric
How big is it? The Spinner comes in men’s and women’s. The women’s has a longer garment bag for dresses, and has silver details. The men’s has gold details and a shorter bag for suit jackets and pants. Empty, it weighs 9 pounds and measures 22 x 12 x 7 inches, with stuff in the garment bag, approximately 22 x 14 x 9. The garment bag measures 20 x 48 inches (20 x 58 on the women’s version).
Where can you buy it? Skyroll website 
How much is it? You might think the Skyroll is spendy at $299.99, but with the durability of the structure and fabric, plus the ability to use this bag in several different ways, I believe it will last you many, many trips. It also comes with a limited lifetime guarantee. 

Disclosure: I was provided with a Skyroll Spinner bag for the purpose of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fixes for Common Travel Problems Part 3

As my trip gets closer, I'm trying to think of everything that could go wrong and what happened on my last big trip that I wish I could do-over. I don't have a time machine though, so I have to look forward and figure out what I did wrong and how to fix it. It used to be that every time I went on a trip I got sick. Fun, right? Makes you wonder why I ever loved going on vacation. Once, I caught a cold, that turned into a sinus infection and then became a horrible ear infection from the cabin pressure on the plane on the way home. I had to make two trips to the doctor for this, because at first he was all "Let's flush the gunk out of your ear!" Um...let's not. When I had to go back, because I couldn't hear anything out of my right ear and explained my problem again he proclaimed I didn't tell him I'd been on a plane. Yes, I did, but that's a whole new story about how I know more than doctors when it comes to my own body. So, I got some antibiotics and went home and all was right again in a few days. 

Winning the corn maze and health!
A trip to San Francisco turned into a souvenir photo of me looking like I want to die before boarding the boat to Alcatraz. A trip to Honolulu being interrupted by a search for throat lozenges with vitamin C. A trip to Victoria, BC had me begging for the driver to pull over so I could lose my lunch on the side of the road instead of his backseat. I'm sure I could go on, but you probably have your own stories. The point is, getting sick on vacation sucks, so don't do it. I know, easier said than done, but I believe strengthening your immune system by eating healthy and exercising is the number one preventative. That might help you under normal circumstances, but when you travel, you are also coming in contact with a gazillion germs from other travelers on the plane, train, tourist attractions and bus. how do you combat those?

photo credit

Get enough sleep
This is far and away my number one rule. It's easy to get so excited about your destination that you wake up early and go to bed late and not pay attention to that nagging feeling that you are just flat-out tired. Remember, you do not need to do everything there is to do at a destination. There's probably a three-page list of things you want to do, but you can't see it all in a week. You may not even be able to see it all in two weeks. Pick the most important things to you on the list and get into the mode that if you do those your trip will be a success. If you have extra time and can get to others, great, but if you don't, well, then you'll have a reason to come back! Overextending yourself will have you wondering if you even took a trip when you return. It's a hard lesson to learn and one I struggle with still, but I know if I don't get enough sleep, I will stress myself out and get sick. It's just a fact of life, so get your Zzzs.


Hydrate
I know, I know. You think I'm a broken record. Well, guess what? Staying hydrated is the answer to a lot of life's problems. I mean, it won't pay your bills or fix your car, but it can help you stave off sickness, jet lag, dryness and more. Drink. More. Water. I mean, it doesn't have to be plain ole H20. That gets boring. We take ice tea and flavor packets with us for water bottles, order ice tea at restaurants and limit our soda intake to some meals or just in our room. Drinking more water can even save you money. Try to get a handle on the alcohol, too, because this will dehydrate you faster than just drinking soda and make you feel terrible the next day if you think getting drunk every evening is a fun time.


Eat healthy foods
Yes, it's vacation and "calories don't count", but that doesn't mean you should gorge yourself on hot dogs and onion rings all day everyday. Believe it or not, eating fatty, heavy foods can wreak havoc on your immune system, so make sure when you're eating 40 desserts over the course of the week you also get your fruits and veggies in there, too. A few salads and vegetarian meals can be just as delicious and help keep you from getting a horrendous cold. Fact: French fries ≠ veggies.

Walk more
When you're eating more calories, it's important to offset them with more exercise. Taking the bus or driving is awesome, but if your destination is only a mile away (or less), strap on your walking shoes and hoof it. You'll see more of the city, the fresh air will invigorate you and you'll get your blood pumping. 

photo credit

Load up on Vitamin C
Even when you aren't sick, this is a good idea. It supercharges your immune system and helps keep the sickies away. If you don't like chugging orange juice or peeling oranges (guilty), then pack some vitamin c chews or even some of those Halls Defense lozenges. You'll feel better and you'll have citrus-y breath. Bonus!

Antibacterial wipes
These things are fantastic, because you can use them for everything, including the airplane tray table, the phones and remote in your hotel, bus seats, restaurant tables, your hands, your face. Literally, almost everything. there are germs everywhere. I normally keep sanitizing gel in my bag, but it's not exactly travel-friendly because it has to fit in your 3-1-1 bag and ends up spilling all over everything in your carry-on, even when it's sitting upright and not being squished by anything. Wipes go everywhere, can't spill and you can't use too much. Ever go somewhere and spill something and end up with sticky hands/arms? Use a wipe! Gone to a petting zoo and there are 900 kids using the two sinks? Use a wipe! Feel grimy from being on the subway and touching all the railings? Use a wipe! For real. Go pick some up on your next trip to Target or wherever you buy such things.

Stay healthy and happy on your trips!
It's been a while since I've gotten really sick on vacation, and when I have I can usually figure out what I did wrong...though you can't always account for the sheer strength of other peoples' germs from the airplane and other enclosed spaces. What do you do to keep from getting sick on trips?

If you missed the first two parts of this series, see them here: Part 1 on jet lag and Part 2 on dryness.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Get Free Tickets to Your Favorite Museums

On Saturday over 1,400 museums in America (and Puerto Rico) will be offering free admission all day. This is a great promotion and can save you big bucks whether you are on vacation or at home. It’s also the perfect time to get your kiddos some culture without having to dish out the cash when they may or may not let you stay long enough to get your entry money’s worth.


We almost always visit at least one museum on any trip we take. From the Museums de la Mitad del Mundo in Ecuador to the Queen's House in Greenwich, London, we have seen some very interesting bits of history indeed. I know not all museums are fascinating for children, but there are plenty that are educational and fun for them. In Oregon alone, I found several that would keep their attention: ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum (Ashland)World Forestry Center Discovery Museum (Portland) and the Antique Powerland Museum (Salem).


Photos of Mid-America Science Museum, Hot Springs
This photo of Mid-America Science Museum is courtesy of TripAdvisor


If you don’t have kids and just want to see some fantastic art, that’s great too, and you will have plenty more to choose from. Museums of history, art and sculptures fill the list in each state, so you will find something that will fit your mood. All you have to do is go to the website, choose your preferred museum and submit your information. You’ll get an email to print out your free ticket and gain admission for two people. It’s that easy! You can get a free ticket for two per email address/household. If there are more people in your group, use your husband’s email address or a friend’s. I don’t think you’ll need to go so far as to pretend you don’t know each other when you enter, but use your own judgment.

Photos of Bailey House Museum, Wailuku
This photo of Bailey House Museum is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The majority of the free entries are September 28, but a select few aren’t open on Saturdays and are offering it on Sunday, September 29. You MUST have your printed ticket to get free entry.

Will YOU be attending Museum Day Live! organized by Smithsonian Magazine?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Reveiw: Pacsafe Anti-Theft Citysafe GII 100 Handbag

So, I have a feeling that when many of you ladies travel, you don't want to look like a tourist. Sometimes you can achieve this easily enough and then totally ruin it with a bag. As you know, I have a variety of bags, all of which I love and use in different situations. Living in Portland, nobody really pays attention to what your bag looks like or what you wear, but most cities aren't like that. I have always been interested in the Pacsafe products and when faced with a choice of which bags I would like to review, the Citysafe GII immediately stood out to me. I like that it looks just like a handbag you would carry everyday, but with a few tweaks, none of which you would notice unless you took a closer look.


The Citysafe is a bag that enables you to blend in with the locals in destinations where carrying a backpack or messenger bag would target you as a tourist to thieves. It is also nice, because it comes in two sizes: The GII 100, which I'm reviewing here, or the GII 200, which is larger and enables you to carry more, including your iPad. I picked the smaller of the two, because not everyone wants to carry that much as they go out sightseeing or shopping. The crossbody bag (which you can also wear as a shoulder bag by adjusting the strap) is lightweight, even with your items in it, so it won't weigh you down or get in your way. It's also theft-proof, like all their bags, with a slash-proof strap and body, making impossible for someone to either cut the bag off your shoulder or cut open the bottom of the bag and let your items fall out into their waiting hands. 

Everything I carried in the Citysafe
As you can see the bag is a manageable size and big enough to carry the essentials. There is a zipper pocket inside for small items, like makeup, an electronics pocket and an RFID-blocking pocket for your passport or credit cards. The main compartment held what I needed and still had room for more: my makeup bag with things like band-aids, aspirin and the like, antibacterial gel, camera, cell phone and snacks.



As you can see, the electronics and RFID pocket are quite large and roomy, so you could actually fit a larger electronic in there (or more than one) and your wallet instead or (or with) your passport. It would be nice to have added card slots, that are RFID-blocking, for those of use who like to minimize and keep organized, too. 


The inside zippered pocket easily held my cosmetics and lip balm, and it has that fancy little clip in there where you can attach your keys, or even a small flashlight. This helps your keys from getting lost in the bottom of the bag - isn't that always what happens? - so you don't end up standing outside your car or wherever else digging in the bottom of your purse. Having them inside a pocket is also nice, because then they aren't jangling around any time the bag moves. 



On each end of the bag, you'll find a pocket. Not large enough for a bottle of water, but still useful for smaller items like sunglasses and even sunscreen (don't leave home without it!). You'll probably find more uses for them as you carry the bag more. 


Okay, enough about what you can put into the bag, let's talk about the safety features of the Citysafe, which is its biggest selling point. You already know about the eXomesh in the bag lining that gives you peace of mind against thieves and the inside pocket that keeps your credit cards and passport information safe from those that want to steal your identity or money, but there are two other fun features you might like: The main zipper can be made more secure by slipping it into a loop and then clipping the zipper to the somewhat-hidden clip on the adjustable shoulder strap. Once you've employed this feature, nobody's getting into your bag without some trouble. Obviously, you're going to feel someone tugging on the zipper to try to get in and steal your contents. 


The second: The strap can be detached, wrapped around a stable object like a chair, and then reattached, to keep people from just snatching up your purse and running away with it. How does it work? The Citysafe features a turn and lock security hook that works like a lobster-claw clasp, but it can be locked to prevent opening. Pretty cool, right? 

More information
Where you can buy itPacsafe online
How much it costs$60.00
Colors it comes inBlack | midnight blue | walnut | plum (shown) | crimson red
Other specsWater-repellent nylon, 9.8 x 7.5 x 3.7 in 

Disclosure: I was provided with the Citysafe GII 100 Anti-theft Handbag for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

10 Ways to Save Money for Your Vacation

Vacations are never cheap, unless you are driving and staying with relatives, though what the cost is on your sanity has not been scientifically proven. Not every destination is easily accessible and flying becomes a must if you want to go travel the world, or even the other side of the country. So, if you want to go on a real vacation, it's going to cost you. You can make it cheaper by using tips I give here on the blog (and in my books), but it won't be free, which means you're going to have to come up with a plan to save the money for the things you want to do. I have never had the money to just book and go. I have always had to scrimp and save to go to the places I wanted to and still look for rockin' deals on all parts of that trip. This is why I consider myself a budget travel expert and why I write this blog. Here are some tips to help you make up that travel budget.
Have a change jar
Over the course of the week, you may have bought a few things and end up with a pocket full of change. Don't spend those nickels and dimes. Instead, start a change jar at home. At the end of each day, empty your change in there and then leave it alone until you're almost ready to go on your trip. You'll be surprised how much those coins add up. I keep a side "jar" in my car, for when I go to the drive-thru or use cash at the grocery store. Usually, I get some change, and I add it to that collection of coins and eventually it gets added to the jar at home.

Drink coffee at home/work
If you're like most Americans, you like hitting up the local coffee shop. Starbucks coffee is delicous, but do you really need that soy venti non-fat mocha or pumpkin latte? Once in a while is fine - we all need a little treat now and then - but getting one most days in a week can really add up. Even a tall size can cost almost $4. Instead of getting that coffee you want, make use of the coffee machine at home or at work and put the dollars you would have spent into your vacation savings account.



Make a shopping list and meal plan
I love food. If you've read this blog for any amount of time, you probably know that. I also love to make healthy meals, but that can also end up being pretty costly. Yes, fast and processed food can end up being pretty affordable, but I don't want to eat that. I make trips to the farmers market and I hate spending a lot of time at the grocery store. That can be a bad combination. This is why I plan my meals out in advance. I find dishes that use similar ingredients, so I don't have to buy a huge list of items. I buy enough to make at least a double-batch of everything and then freeze them and rotate with things I've made earlier, so all my meals don't feel similar. Not only does this keep my costs down, but it saves me time and aggravation by not having to rush home and put something together. Tip: Always make a list, so you don't wander aimlessly and buy a bunch of things you don't need, even when you shop hungry. Tip 2: Coupons can save you even more at the store. Start clipping!

Shop the sales
Just because I'm saving for a trip, doesn't mean I'm not going to buy things. I love clothes and shoes. My rule is that I never pay retail for anything if I can help it. Piperlime is my favorite online shop for clothes. Their designer prices can be a little high, but I subscribe to their email list and they always have sales. Once items are on sale or marked down and I have a coupon code to use on top, then I buy. I keep up my wish list, so I always know when the price is good enough for me to pull the trigger. Tip: Use Ebates to save even more (see below.)




Use Groupon
You don't want to be sad and never go anywhere or do anything because you're saving for vacation. Not all fun costs that much and you can save at least half off things by using Groupon. We are movie junkies and often grab Groupon certificates for a local movie theater here that has living room theaters and what they call the movie parlour which only holds around two dozen people. Regular price is ridiculous for these seats and you know how much concessions cost. For the less than the cost of one evening ticket we get two to any movie in any of their theaters and a credit for a drink. 

Not only do we use Groupon for date night, but also for eating out, going on day trips (like we did last weekend at the corn maze) and all types of other things. I also use Groupon to save on my trip. I have purchased many for London and a few for Paris, making my trip total a little smaller.


photo credit

Set aside a reasonable amount of each paycheck
Any amount of money - however small or large - is a happy addition to your vacation fund. We have a savings account specifically for travel, and having a set amount automatically transfer to your savings fund each paycheck can help you get used to not having that money and you can't easily spend it. If I have more money I can contribute some weeks, I up my deposit and then drop it back down for the next transfers. If you can only do $20, it's still better than nothing. That adds up to $480 over the course of the year. Obviously, if you can do more, you can save more.

Do some odd jobs
Maybe this won't pertain to you, but maybe it will. I run a blog do social media management for my hairstylist's salon in exchange for free salon visits. I can take the money I would spend there ever six weeks and put it directly towards my vacation. I do quite a bit of freelance writing and my earnings go towards 

Have a yard sale
You probably have all kinds of stuff around the house you don't want or need, so why not sell it to people who do want it, make some cash and get more organized at home. It won't be easy, but it's worth spending a couple of your free days to make some (or a LOT of) bucks. For some tips on throwing a successful sale, check out Real Simple.



Get cash back
I don’t buy/book/reserve anything without checking the merchant lists on Ebates. Yes, I know that my favorites are there, like Piperlime, Sephora and Groupon, but there are tons more, including a bunch of travel sites you can use to book your vacations, too. Seriously guys, if you aren’t using Ebates, you are throwing money out the window. It's free to join and easy to use. Ebates tracks your purchases by your clicks through their site. Make sure you use the same email address with the merchant that you used to sign up with Ebates. You keep shopping, your account grows and every 3 months you get a Big Fat Payment. This can be by check or, if you’re fancy, instantly through PayPal. Now, you can use this free money to buy more stuff, or you can use it to pay for vacation things like I do. Heck, use it to triple your savings by buying Groupons or other daily deal certificates for your destination.

Use Swagbucks
Want to earn points you can trade in for gift cards you can use to buy travel items or use on vacation? It’s free and easy and you can earn points by just doing an internet search each day from their site. I earn enough for a gift card each month and hardly do anything. Who can’t use a $5 credit for Amazon? You can also turn in your points for Paypal cash, prizes and restaurant gift cards. Get extra Swagbucks points for finding secret codes, too!


 
My picks above: the Columbia Peak Jacket and Hush Puppies Milieu Boot


Remember, your dollars will stretch even further if you don’t travel in the summer. You’ll be able to do more in fewer days if you go any other time of the year. Winter break is a good time to travel, since most people are visiting relatives or staying home, you’ll have more room to roam the cities. You may just have to bring a good jacket and boots. (Hint: Look for packable versions of each and lightweight sweaters that can be layered with tees and tanks, so you can still pack light.)

Tip for making a travel budget seem less daunting: Think of your trip plans like a puzzle. You need all the pieces to fit together, but you need some pieces to be there to build on. Don’t wait until your trip is almost upon you to fill in all the middle pieces. Instead, put those pieces together over time. Long story short, pay for what you can while planning and then it won’t seem like you’re paying a whole heap of money at once and it helps whittle your total down a little bit each time you pay for something, leaving you less stressed out as your vacation gets closer.

For my current trip, I have a list of must-do items and every time I have the cash to add something from the “still need” to the “confirmed” list, I pay for it and add it to my actually itinerary. In the middle of planning, you’ll get something that looks like this:



I hope these tips help you to make real vacations to places you've always dreamed about easier to achieve. Interested in what others do? Click here to see what others sacrifice for travel. How do you save money for your vacations?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Super Useful Travel Links

It's official: Tomorrow is the last day of summer. How can that be? It seems like it just got here. For many of you that means the kids are already back in school and you're happy to be done with summer vacation. Did you go anywhere? If you didn't, then it's time to start planning something for Fall or Winter. If you did, but still have some money left in the travel fund, the same goes for you. Tomorrow we'll be talking about how to save for your vacations, but today I want to share a little about travel safety, what to do when you have a complaint, how not to get ripped off and then cap it off with something fun. Remember: if you have a fun/interesting/useful travel link to share, please put it in the comments. We LOVE those!


Are you in the majority of travelers who have something to complain about? Is it a legit problem, like the stewardess gave you (unwarranted) flak or you were overcharged? If so, then it seems like it would help to know how to complain effectively and how to file such a thing. Airfare Watchdog knows that sometimes things don't always go the way you or the airline would like and have some tips on what to do, how to word your letter of complaint and where to send it. I'm pretty sure the fact that you only got one bag of pretzels or your neighbor snoozed on your shoulder the whole flight do not count as valid complaints.
If you have immediate problems that need attention by the airlines N.O.W., then this fancy site called Routes International have all the toll-free numbers for all the airlines ever. Okay, probably not those that are out of business, like Pan-Am, but ones that you can actually buy a ticket for.


I travel quite a bit and rent cars a lot. I know the ins and outs of it pretty well by now, but I realize that not everyone does. It becomes more clear to me when I am waiting in line and it takes the people in front of me 45 minutes to check in when it only takes us 5. Returning your car should be even easier - pull up where it says to, make sure all your crap is out, have the attendant check you in and give you a receipt - but it looks like many people are being wrongfully accused of damaging their rental cars when they haven't done anything. When we rent a car, my husband and I take a few minutes to both check out the car and note any marks, dents or anything else unusual. We've been pretty lucky, and have never gotten into an accident, though someone did break into our rental in Quito, resulting in getting a new window put in. We've also never been accused of, or charged, for a late return. If you're afraid this could happen to you, check out this new app called Rental Pics, so you know what to photograph when, and have evidence right on your mobile phone.
Another place you can get ripped off fairly easily is at the ATM. We use these all the time and never really think about how thieves can be targeting us when they aren't even physically there, but they can. Have you ever heard of an ATM skimmer. I have, but never really knew how to spot one before. BootsnAll has changed that with explanations of what they are, how they work, what they look like and even include pictures! This could really save your butt.

Have you ever checked out of a hotel, or any other type of accommodation, and realized later that you totally left something(s) behind? I once forgot my laptop in a drawer and had to call and then go back for it. Thankfully, we were only 20 minutes away. On my trip to Vegas I left both my shower gel and my concealer in the bathroom. Boo! I hate having to waste money replacing stuff. Even little stuff. HotelChatter lists 10 things you should do before checking out of a hotel, and they aren't all related to leaving half your stuff behind. 
In anticipation for my trip to London, and a side trip to Stonehenge and Bath, I share with you this great cartoon a friend sent me. If IKEA wrote the instructions for building Stonehenge, what would those instructions look like and how was it supposed to turn out? This gets many laughs, because as much as I love IKEA, these made up instructions are easier than some of the ones that come with their furniture. Enjoy!

I hope you're having a wonderful week, are ready for the weekend and planning a trip somewhere awesome. See you tomorrow!
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