Monday, December 3, 2018

Little Things Make a Big Difference

I had a wonderful conversation with a man on my flight to Europe recently.  We started talking about where we were going and of course as you talk with fellow travelers the discussion almost always turns to where you have been and what you have encountered along the way.

The experience doesn't have to be extreme for you to develop an overall impression of the place you are visiting.  It reminds me of the old adage - you only get one chance to make a good first impression.  That is certainly true for the international travel and hospitality industry. 

This man had traveled from Germany to the US to give a lecture at a medical conference that was being held at the hotel where he was staying.  After arriving very late at night from his international flight he called room service to have a beer delivered to his room and was told he would have to wait over an hour.  After almost 2 hours and still no drink he went downstairs and collected it himself.  Just that one small request was all it took for this to be an unpleasant experience for him, so much so that he does not stay with that particular hotel brand when he travels and always shares that experience with other people he talks to. 

Anyone who travels on a regular basis knows that it is the little things that can really make a difference - for me it is having food and drink available at off hours.  There isn't anything better than arriving after a long flight and checking into my room to find 2 bottles of water with a lovely assortment of candy, nuts and sometimes even cheese and fruit.  If there is a mini bar or drinks available that is fantastic.  It really sets the tone for my trip be it business or pleasure.

While I understand and truly appreciate getting "special" treatment for being a member of loyalty programs it is even more important to see what effort you make when I am just the average paying customer.  If I can get something to drink and a snack before I go to sleep chances are I'll stay with you again and again. 

Master Packing List for Holiday Travel

Before every trip I print a copy of this list and modify it for climate, duration etc. but as of yet I haven't forgotten anything major without ever checking my bags.  For me, traveling light is critical for an easy, carefree journey and I hope this will help you as well.


ID (Driver License)
Bath Soap/Gel
Debit & Credit Card
T Shirts
Dental Floss
Back Pack
Tank Tops
Water Bottle
Body Lotion
Sunglasses w/strap
Hair Spray
Face Cream
Personal Door Lock
Hair Brush
Hair Dryer
Tennis Shoes
Personal Hygiene Supplies
Sleep/Allergy Tablets
Imodium, Dramamine
Cell Phone & Charger
AC Int'l Adapter
Travel Space Bags
Ginger Tea

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Ultimate Travel Bags for Women

Disclosure:  Please note that this post contains Amazon Affiliate links.  If you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link, I will earn a small commission, at no cost to you.  I am recommending these products because I have used and enjoyed them on my travels.  All opinions are my own.

I travel for work and for pleasure, so my bags are always packed.  I want to be ready at a moment’s notice to go anywhere.  I keep a separate supply of my travel essentials so all I need to do is add clothes and go.  

It doesn't matter if it is a short day trip, overnight at my daughters, weekend with friends, or a month-long holiday, I take the same basic supplies and always have everything I need.
Every great journey begins with a bag

You must have the proper luggage for each type of trip you are taking.

For my short trips and overnighters, I use this  Travel Tote.  It is a fantastic carry-all for planes, trains and automobiles.  It has multiple zippered pockets to help me stay organized, big roomy interior and a great luggage handle sleeve so it doesn't slide around when I put it on my other bags.  If I only carry one bag, it is this one, I love it!

Instead of carrying a full size handbag, I like to use a small CrossBody Bag that easily tucks away under my jacket or sweater.

Next is this fantastic High Sierra Rolling Backpack.  It is by far one of the best bags I've ever used.  I love how lightweight it is but still has plenty of room for storage.  The first time I purchased this was after the handle and wheel broke on my bag while I was traveling in Europe.  Getting around on the beautiful cobblestone streets was quite a challenge.  Even fully loaded, this backpack is light enough for me to carry easily.  I like that it opens like a suitcase and has a double handle to secure my Travel Tote

I also keep this great Folding Day/Backpack with me.  It’s great for day trips or as an additional bag for those times when I need some extra space.  It is ultra-lightweight and folds to the size of a large envelope.  

Last but not least is this spacious, easy to maneuver bag.  It is the largest bag I have but is small enough to use as a carry-on.

These bags are all lightweight and versatile for all my needs.  I have taken them on longer trips and not had any issues at all.  They are outstanding and I don't travel without them!

How to Stay Safe While Traveling

We all want to have a wonderful experience when we travel but it is important to stay safe. Not paranoid or frightened but cautious and aware, remember that you are not at home no matter how comfortable you feel.  You can avoid potentially dangerous or unpleasant circumstances by using a few precautions and a lot of common sense. 

Guard your Personal Information

One of the best parts of traveling is meeting other people, locals as well as other travelers.  This is especially true when you travel alone.  People talk to me so much more than when I am with someone else.  I have met so many wonderful people all around the world.  They give me great advice on where to eat, places to visit and especially what areas might not be good for a woman on her own.  What you do need to be aware of is giving out too much personal information. 

I do not give anyone (except hotel, car rental etc.) my full name.  If I want to keep the conversation friendly and possibly stay in touch I will use my maiden name and an alternate email address.  It helps to be prepared for unexpected questions about your identity without feeling like you have to disclose too much.  You can always give more information later but you can never take it back and people with good intentions will never fault you for protecting yourself.    

As tempting as it is, don’t post the details of your trip on social media until after you have returned – it is a red flag that you are away and your home is empty. 

At the Hotel

The hotel should never announce your room number out loud when you are checking in or using services (restaurant, pool etc.) but if they do politely tell them you would prefer to keep that private.   Also, most hotels will give you your room keys in a paper sleeve with your name and room number on it; do not carry this with your room key, if it is lost or stolen someone will have all of your information and access to your room.  Even with those precautions people can get your information if they want it, I just try not to make it easy for them.

Out and About

When you go out, let the hotel know where you are going, when you expect to return and take a business card so you have the address handy.  When you go out at night make sure there will be a taxi or shuttle service available to bring you back.  You don’t want to get stuck trying to get a lift on a busy Saturday night when you are in a strange place.  Keep in mind, that the most pleasant cities by day will have a totally different atmosphere at night so know your surroundings and stay alert.  Stay in well lit public places and don’t walk alone after dark.

This should go without saying, but never go anywhere with strangers, no matter how friendly and kind they seem to be.  You do not know these people or where you will end up.  Much better to stay at a public place where you can have a good time and stay safe.

Personal Belongings

First and foremost travel light.  You should be able to get on and off of planes, trains and buses quickly, easily and without assistance.  Also, I don’t carry a regular handbag when I travel.  Instead, I opt for a small cross body bag or neck pouch that can go under my coat or sweater and bring only my passport/id, credit card, cell phone and a small amount of cash.  Nothing screams target like a woman with a large purse gapping open with cell phone and wallet in plain sight.  I also do not give money to people on the street, at airports, bus or train stations.  I do keep some cash or change in my pocket to pay for toilet fees or a bottle of water without having to get my bag out.

Sometimes people will approach you with a terrible hard luck story (scam) and ask you for help.  This is not a chance meeting, this is their job and they have decided that you look like a victim.  Simply ignore them or direct them to the nearest Police station where they can get the assistance they need and they will usually leave you alone.   

Share your experiences and suggestions so we all can stay safe and have more fantastic adventures.

Wishing you Safe and Happy Travels!