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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Mysteries of The 3-1-1 11.17.10

Some people are hassled by this post 9-11 TSA rule. If you ask me, it’s quite a blessing in disguise, as it is just step one in not overpacking. You see that little bag and wonder how much you can fit in it. Then you see your carry-on and think the same thing! The bigger suitcases collect dust in the closet, because as great as they are, you already paid money for them, so why pay MORE money to check them when you fly. I would rather invest in a rockin’ $300 carry-on bag than spend half that on a suitcase that needs to travel under the plane at $15-40 each flight. You’ll never pay more for that carry-on, but you’ll pay EVERY time you use your suitcase, just because you want to take a couple extra pairs of shoes and full-size toiletries. Keep in mind that just because it is convenient to have someone whisk your bag away and swipe your credit card, you could have used that money elsewhere on your trip and you still have to lug that monster around when you get off at your destination. Think about what fun that’ll be on the off-chance the lift is out of order.

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What IS a 3-1-1 bag? Due to liquid regulations on all flights, you must contain all your liquid, gels and pastes to 3oz each in a 1-quart bag and only one is allowed per traveler. ALL your liquids must be able to fit in this bag, including shampoo, hairspray, toothpaste, hand cream, mascara, lip gloss and anything else that isn’t solid. If it doesn’t fit, you can’t take it. And if it’s over 3oz, you also can’t take it. Anything that doesn’t fit in or conform to 3-1-1 regulations will be confiscated by security.

If you look in the travel products aisles of stores, you can find a pack of 10 “airplane” zip-top bags. These are nice and handy to have extras, just in case.  I recommend investing in a Zipper pouch that conforms to rules and also is heavy-duty, like the Travelon toiletry bag that comes with travel-sized toiletry bottles and jars for your makeup and hair care products. While I don’t really use those, the price of the bag itself is reasonable and will last you several vacations…or more if you don’t overstuff it. It features a flat bottom, which makes it easier to pack more bottles into and to use when you get to your destination, because it stands upright. The nice zipper is a good deterrent for spills. Several times I’ve had something gush out into the bag to find everything in it covered in goo, but never has it come out of the bag to glop up any of my other stuff.

In the travel products aisle, and also in your Travelon bag, you can find reusable plastic bottles and containers for travel. Since they are specifically for travel, they are capped at 3oz and come in different colors and styles to suit your needs. They are great for hairspray, gel, shampoo and conditioner.

Like FREE STUFF? “Like” Shereen Travels Cheap on Facebook and be entered to win free travel bags, courtesy of Travelon, when our page reaches 500 members. Since we need YOUR help to get us there, if you don’t win, but a friend you recommended joins and wins, you’ll receive a fun referral gift that will be awesome and travel-related. That’s twice the chances to win and even more if you refer more friends! Winners don’t have to be U.S. residents to be eligible, so suggest Shereen Travels Cheap to ALL your Facebook buddies.

If you’d rather just buy travel sizes of your favorite products, most stores carry them. If they don’t, you can check one of my favorite resources: Minimus.biz. They are one-stop shopping for all things travel-size. You can pick up toothpaste, shampoos and conditioners (including salon brands), cold medication, travel blankets, drink mixes, condiments, snacks and more! And you can get free shipping with a minimum order of $25. If you can’t find it on Minimus, you either don’t need it or you can’t find it anywhere. They have many spa-worthy beauty products now, too, like face masks and foot scrub.

Be prepared for security…please. No one wants to stand behind you with their stuff, ready to zip through the line, when they see you’re wearing your jacket and shoes and no 3-1-1 bag and no bin. They know it’s still in your carry-on and you will take an extra 10 minutes and hold up the whole line. We’re all in this together, so please try to be as prepared as possible when you get through security. Everyone already hates it, so don’t make them hate you, too. Here are some simple rules to follow to be as efficient as possible through security.
  • Have your 3-1-1 bag packed BEFORE you get into the security line.  Also, don’t start digging for it when you get to the front of the line. Make sure it’s accessible, so you can just pull it out and pop it in a bin.
  • Take a bin and put your purse (or wallet, keys and other pocket gems you carry around), shoes, 3-1-1 bag and jacket in it, if you’re carrying one. If you can wear slip-on shoes, this goes much faster when you’re through security. 
  • If you’re traveling with a laptop, it needs its own bin, and you need to send that through separately.
  • Push your carry-on, wheels or bottom first, onto the conveyor belt either before or after your bin(s). People don’t want to touch your stuff, so make sure it gets on the belt to be pulled through before you walk through the metal detector.
  • Wait for your bin(s) and bag and take them to the end of the line to pack up and put your shoes back on. Don’t hold up the line right outside of the x-ray machine while you’re lacing up your knee-high boots.

Looking for a deal this week? Well, you’re in luck. There are many to be had out there, especially if you can book last-minute.  

  • Book a 1-bedroom villa in the Williamsburg area of Virginia by November 24 and get the amazing rate of just $59/night. With prices like that, you can totally afford a visit to Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens. Rates good through February 2011 and includes weekends! Each villa has a full/partial kitchen, which can save you even more on your vacation. For just $20 more, you can upgrade to a 2-bedroom/2-bath villa...in case you are traveling as a family.
  • Cruise Alaska in the Spring from just $1,199 per person. 7-night cruise, plus 3 hotel nights, a scenic rail trip and a tour of Denali National Park. You'll sail from Anchorage on the Celebrity Millennium and visit ports in Ketchikan, Icy Straight, Juneau, Skagway and Hubbard Glacier. Book by November 22.
  • Spend 10 nights in Amazing Egypt! From $1,699 per person, your trip includes international round-trip airfare to Cairo, intra-Egypt flights, 6 nights in 4- and 5-star accommodations, 4-night cruise down the Nile, many meals and an English-speaking tour guide. Book by December 1 to get this rate and save $600 off competitive packages.
  • Is Vegas calling? Save 50% off rates at Treasure Island and spend just $40 per night! Book by November 24 for stays through January 3 and enjoy everything that Las Vegas and Treasure Island has to offer, including Pan-Asian restaurant Khotan.
  • What about wine? Spend some time in Northern California's Sonoma County for just $99/night at the Sheraton in Petaluma. Spend your extra money on a wine tour and some bottles to take home with you. Book by December 8 for travel through March 15 and get these rates, plus a room upgrade to a deluxe marina view room, including weekends AND holidays! 

Our Twitter following is growing every day! Follow shereentrvlschp on Twitter, too! Same fun tips and deals, but in “carry-on” size! I’m working on a giveaway for one lucky follower when we reach 2,000. Until then, stay tuned or join us on Facebook, too! Better odds, with more prizes and less members.

You can find even more budget-travel tips from me on my guest posts on the following blogs:

And soon: 

My Itchy Travel Feet

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