Saturday, December 22, 2018

Happy Holiday Travel Tips


For me, the journey begins long before I depart.  I love the planning, preparing and packing before I go.  What I have discovered is the more organized I am the more I can relax and enjoy the trip.  Most of my trips involve multiple forms of transportation – planes, trains, buses and boats, so it is important for me to be prepared for all aspects of the journey without feeling the need to overpack.

Traveling can be very stressful, especially around the holidays so it is critical that I have a plan for how to minimize the discomfort and maximize my enjoyment.  It all starts with good advance planning.

Make a List

First, I write or print out my itinerary.  Then, for each day I make notes of what I will be doing and where I will be going.  That helps me plan my wardrobe for the trip.  I start with my travel days and what I will need to wear and have with me for the journey.  I add any special items that I might want to take.

Next, I print my master packing list and make sure that I have all necessary travel size items (toothpaste, shampoo etc.) before I begin to pack.  I have used this list for many years, making a few modifications along the way and it completely alleviates the stress of worrying about forgetting something important.

Packing

Over the years I have learned the importance of traveling light.  I will never forget the trip I took to Europe when the handle on my roller bag broke and I had to carry my bags across the train platform and down the stairs in the pouring rain to get to a taxi.  Every time I am tempted to overpack or even check luggage I think of that experience and remember how much easier it is if I pack light.

Before I begin, I select a matching color palette.  Usually it is black for all bottom pieces and blue and purple prints for tops and scarves.  That way I only have to take one color of shoes and everything goes together so I can mix and match to make several outfits. 

If I’m traveling to a different climate it helps if I have all color coordinated layers, so I don’t have to take separate items that I only will wear once or twice.  If I’m coming from or going to a very cold location, I wear my coat and put it in a space compression bag, which takes up very little room in my luggage. 

 Luggage

I am very particular when it comes to my travel bags.  I have found that having the right luggage helps me to limit how much I take and is easy and convenient for all my needs when I’m away from home. 

The 2 bags I take on almost every trip are my rolling backpack and tote bag.  I can take both as carry on for planes and trains, they are great, and I never have to check luggage.  I put all my clothes and shoes in the backpack and the items I need quick access to in my tote.  I know where everything is, and I don’t ever leave anything behind at hotels.

My tote is always packed with the same items, so it is ready if I’m staying overnight at my daughter’s house or taking a last-minute weekend trip with friends.  It is also where I keep my passport, spare phone charger, scarf and notebook so literally I can take a change of clothes and be out the door in minutes.

Supplies

I travel for work and pleasure, so I like to keep everything I might need with me.  Most people I know joke about how prepared I am but for me it is essential.  I like to be comfortable, especially with unforeseen delays and circumstances that arise with travel especially around the holidays. 

There are a few items I always have – coffee and tea, water, snacks, sewing kit, miscellaneous medical supplies (band aids, cold/allergy/pain medication, sleep aids etc.).  There is nothing worse than getting to your hotel at midnight after a 3 hour flight delay with no food available until the next day.  Being able to have a cup of tea and snack before going to bed makes me feel much less deprived.

Attitude

Just like anyone, I can get caught up in the stress and anxiety of travel.  I try to remember that everyone else is feeling the same way and try to make the best of the situation.  I truly love to travel, and it is always so much more pleasant when I can relax and enjoy the journey.

Wishing you safe and happy holiday travels,

Lynn



Do you go away for the holidays? What are your favorite tips for easier travel?  Share your stories and join the conversation!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Stay Aware and Stay Safe

There have been a lot of reports about people who have gone missing or been hurt while traveling recently.  I don't know if it is occurring more than usual or if we are just hearing more about it because of the internet and social media.   As a woman who travels solo, it always gets my attention and reminds me that I must stay aware so that I can stay safe.

Traveling is one of the greatest joys of my life and I am not willing to let fear change that.  Things can go wrong no matter where you are, so for me, it's very important to pay attention to my surroundings, whether I'm at home or away.

One of the best lessons I've learned from over 40 years of traveling is to always trust my instincts.  If something doesn't feel right, it isn't.  I don't need to know what it is, I just have to find the best way to remove myself from the situation immediately.   Not panicked or paranoid, just quietly and politely get away.  It can be as simple as changing seats on a bus or not getting on the elevator with someone who makes you feel uneasy.

Anything that gives you pause or the slightest discomfort is your intuition signaling you to beware.  It may be absolutely nothing but it is always better to be safe than sorry.  It is important to acknowledge those messages and not ignore them.  Women are often taught to suppress our feelings but it hasn't served us well.  It is important to develop a habit of becoming more self aware and listening to our inner voice.

There is tremendous benefit in being more aware of what is happening around you, not only does it help you stay safe but it also increases the opportunity to have deeper more meaningful experiences with people and places you may have missed otherwise.

Safe and Happy Travels!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

What to Wear on a Cruise

Packing for a cruise can be a bit daunting.  You will need casual wear for days and dressy or formal wear for evenings.  Most cruise lines have relaxed their dress code but still require certain attire for the main dining room and special events.

When I first began cruising this was a big concern for me as my style is much more casual.  I don't own any formal wear and I only take one small carry-on bag when I travel, so I had to do some research on what would be appropriate.

What I discovered is that casual resort wear is perfect for days at sea or in port and in the evening a nice cocktail dress or dressy slacks and top are more than acceptable.  You will still see people dressed in gowns and tuxedos but I haven't been on a ship that requires it.  Also, there are so many different dining options that don't have a specific dress code and you can always order room service and have dinner in your room.

My standard cruise packing consists of - 2 or 3 bottoms usually black slacks/skirts/capris, 5 or 6 print tops, 1 or 2 dresses, scarf, lightweight jacket or sweater, tennis shoes, dressy sandals or flats.  I make sure everything is color coordinated so I can mix and match to make several different outfits.



I try not to overthink it.  I just keep it casual and comfortable and it always works out great.  

Happy Sailing!




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

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.

Clothing:
Personal:
Miscellaneous:



Slacks
Shampoo
Tickets
Jeans
Conditioner
ID (Driver License)
Shorts
Bath Soap/Gel
Passport
Dress
Toothbrush
Cash 
Skirt
Toothpaste
Debit & Credit Card
T Shirts
Dental Floss
Back Pack
Tank Tops
Deodorant
Water Bottle
Blouses
Body Lotion
Sunglasses w/strap
Panties
Hair Spray
Book 
Bras
Makeup
Journal
Stockings
Face Cream
Glasses
Nightgown/Robe
Sunscreen
Personal Door Lock
Swimsuit 
Hair Brush
Camera
Flats/Heels
Hair Dryer
Sweater
Boots
Razor
Jacket
Tennis Shoes
Q-Tips
Umbrella
Sandals
Personal Hygiene Supplies
Scarf/Gloves/Hat
Belts
Sleep/Allergy Tablets
Jewelry-Watch
Slip/Camisole
Imodium, Dramamine
Cell Phone & Charger
Slippers
Advil
AC Int'l Adapter
Travel Space Bags
Ginger Tea
Kindle

Thursday, November 15, 2018

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!