Monthly Archives: November 2012

Creatures of Comfort…

Traveling Tip Tuesday – Tip #6:

As anyone who’s pounded the airport pavement and taken an overnight flight can vouch, being comfortable for hours on end is a definite challenge. There are a few items I always begrudgingly drag along with me on trips… and am later thankful for!

1. Shoe Insoles

lifesavers.

  • See yourself standing, walking, lumbering and stumbling around an airport any time soon? Gel insoles save lives! ..in the general sense. For some reason, roaming about an airport is always so tiring for me. Even the most comfortable tennis shoes, flats, and boots will turn evil after a few hours. For this reason, I always buy insoles with a deep heel cup to absorb all of the impact from wondering around (find insoles at any national chain store, ‘dollar’ store, or drug store for $5.50 – $20.00 depending on brand and quality). These same insoles can then be used on walking tours, shopping expeditions, and museum jaunts. Being comfortable in your own stylish shoes? That is the mark of a truly smart tourist.

2. Scarves

more, please.

  • Why do I feel like I’m riding the graph of a sine function when dealing with the temperatures throughout airports and airplanes? A comfortable temp… then too hot… then comfortable… then too cold! Repeat! I’ve found that scarves can be lightweight, portable helpers for such temperature issues. It’s easy on, easy off, and can be quickly tied onto a suitcase or bag handle. For both men and women, scarves are a great way to look “pulled together” while still having an emergency pseudo-blanket nearby!

3. “Airplane” Socks

airplane socks! (clean)

  • You know those misfit socks in the back of your drawer that just never seem to make their way onto your feet? No matter how clean and warm they may be, they are always gloomily rejected. Well not today! I always pack a pair of deviant socks in my carry-on and put them on my feet the moment I start to settle into my seat on the plane. Shoeless, I will be eating, standing, and sleeping in these socks. Once the flight is over and I take them off, the “airplane” socks will be banished to the depths of my carry-on… not to be touched until adequate washing can be done! Don’t mix up these socks with those for normal wear on your trip… EVER. Who knows what these socks have been exposed to on the plane! So disturbing…

4. Neck Pillow

that’s a lot of comfort….

  • Some people know they can do without them. I, on the other hand, am pro-pillow. Yes, they are cumbersome through security and unwieldy in the face of a carry-on. But I’ve found that I simply cannot fall asleep on an airplane without some type of neck support. Don’t rely on adjustable headrests for your comfort… many planes either do not have them installed or have sporadically placed them throughout the cabin!  If you have yet to try a neck pillow on an overnight flight, I urge you to pick one up (try finding one at your local national chain store for around $7… ones sold in the airport run between $12 – $24…). If you love it? Great! More valuable sleep for you! If not, you at least have another pillow option in hotel rooms for when you are grossly uncomfortable or very sick (why hello there, 103° fever in Thessaloniki, Greece!).

Help a girl out! I need some advice! Has anyone tried those compression socks that keep your feet from getting so swollen? Any portable seat cushions that are amazing? Any other good tips?

Has anyone dared to wear onesie pajamas on an airplane?? If someone will buy me the Cheetah Chenille footed pajamas from www.jumpinjammerz.com, I promise I will wear them on an upcoming overnight flight.

soooo ridiculous…

soooo cozy…

YUUUSSSS
Retrieved 11/27/12 from www.jumpinjammerz.com/

Categories: Airport Aid, Tourism Trinkets, Traveling Tip Tuesdays | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Moleskine Passions Travel Journal?

Moleskine YouTube link –Moleskine Passions – Travel Journal 

Moleskine Store link – Moleskine Passions Travel Journal (5 x 8.25)

$19.95.. Do I need this? Does anyone have it and love it? And most importantly, will anyone buy it for me? 🙂

Categories: Tourism Trinkets | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

‘The media mix-up that ruined my life’

BBC News link – ‘The media mix-up that ruined my life’

Amazing story of an Iranian woman whose life was turned upside down by the Facebook-pillaging media…

I see this as yet another reason to verify and cite your sources!

Neda Soltani and Neda Agha-Soltan

Neda Soltani and Neda Agha-Soltan; Retrieved 11-14-12 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20267989

Categories: Global Perspectives | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Wine Packing 101

Traveling Tip Tuesday – Tip #5:

And by request, a step-by-step guide to packing your precious wine bottles for the long trek home in your checked luggage! These tips also work for other sorts of liquids in glass bottles (e.g., spirits, sodas, mineral water, etc.). Of course there are professional methods of packing a bottle, but we travelers take what we can get. And that usually means junk and dirty clothes.

1. Gather your basic items:

  • Paper products (local newspapers, old magazines, extra brochures, tissue paper from purchases)
  • Masking/duct tape (packed courtesy of Travel Tip Tuesday #3!)
  • Dark scarves and clothes
  • Plastic bags
  • Tenderly chosen bottle of wine

    1. a packing potpourri.

2. Place your wine bottle into one of the plastic bags and wrap extensively with tape. This layer is the best protection for the other items in your bag in case there does happen to be a crack in the bottle. Better to throw away a wet plastic bag than your whole suitcase of ruined clothes!

2. bagged and taped.

3. Wrap and tape a thick layer of paper around the neck and mouth of the bottle. This gives a little extra cushioning to the narrowest and most delicate part.

3. a neck pillow!

4. Liberally wrap and tape the paper all the way from the mouth to the punt (that conic indentation in the bottom!). Go ahead and overdo it.  Tape it horizontally and vertically. The layers should feel very thick and spongy and will begin to resemble a very bizarre potato/baseball bat.

4. looking awfully weird.

5. Put the entire contraption in another plastic bag and tape your heart out. At this point I begin to feel like a tape maniac… taping faster and faster, eyes bulging, palms sweating. It’s quite a scene.

5. potato, complete.

6. Lovingly wrap your bottle in an item of clothing. Make it a dark piece in case, heaven forbid, your suitcase goes through a tornado and there is some staining. I prefer scarves because they are easy to wrap around an item a few times while not getting too bulky.

6. hush, little baby, don’t say a word…

swaddled.

7. In keeping with the theme of cushiony layers, place your baby into another item of (dirty) clothing like a sweatshirt or pair of jeans.

7. dirty jeans. I’m fine with it.

8. Pack the bottle into your checked luggage with your other clothes. Put it somewhere in the middle of the suitcase in a horizontal position so the bottle will then be standing vertically and upright when the suitcase is stood on its wheels. Don’t put any heavy objects to the side of the bottle that will then be “on top” when the suitcase is stood up. Make sure you surround the bottle on the left, right, bottom, and top with clothes. Your suitcase will surely be thrown around so provide as much padding as you can!

8. are we there yet?

9. When you finally get home and, crossing your fingers, open your suitcase, you can easily cut away the layers with a pair of scissors.

9. feels like Christmas morn.

Good luck!

Categories: Airport Aid, Global Perspectives, Tourism Trinkets, Traveling Tip Tuesdays | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Save the kitties!

Yahoo! News link – “Et tu Fluffy? Rome weighs evicting cat shelter”

“Heritage experts” want to close the cat sanctuary in Rome! Che vergogna! I always loved watching the cats preen and prance around when our on-site classes met near Largo Argentina. Don’t let the multitudes be ousted, Romans!

Chad and me enjoying a moment’s repose of the feline sort

Categories: Global Perspectives, Mi manca Roma!, Tourism Trinkets | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

money, money, money, money, etc.

Traveling Tip Tuesday – Tip #4:

Worried about your money situation while abroad? You’re not alone. Being stranded without cash is one of my biggest fears! Luckily for me (and my flummoxed family members), getting funds fast is becoming quite convenient.

3% foreign transaction fee shown listed on a credit card’s pricing information sheet. yuck.

Stores in many popular destinations (and some not-so-popular ones) are becoming more and more accepting of credit cards. Thus, taking a deep look into your current financial institution’s policies is a boring yet helpful place to start your travel prep. Call your credit card company to verify what type of foreign transaction fees are in place. The most common fee is 3% of the transaction amount (…purchasing in another currency? the 3% fee is after conversion to U.S. dollars). For example, if you have your eye on a 100€ purse in Rome, the current conversion to USD is $1.28 for every 1€. Your purse would therefore cost you $128 plus 3% of this total ($128 + $3.84 = $131.84). As you can see, the fee is not so extreme for a few gifts. It is also safer than carrying around the same amount in cash for only shopping.

Speaking of cash, gathering some foreign currency while you’re still in the States sometimes works.. but sometimes doesn’t. The ATM is becoming an über common occurrence in many countries. First thing’s first: contact your bank and check out the fees for foreign ATM usage… and not just the fee for using another bank’s ATM! Make sure there are no sneaky fees for using ATMs internationally. Of course, there are those horror stories about travelers using rogue ATMs in airports and touristy areas and then getting an extra fee charged by that exact ATM. So far, I have never experienced this type of fee because 1) I’m lucky?… 2) I first scan the machine for any posting of an ATM-imposed fee, and 3) I try to ask a native which ATM is operated by the most well-known bank. Personally, I always hit the row of ATMs in the airport as soon as I land. Having cash to pay for a bottle of water and a taxi is surely worth the $1 ATM fee my bank charges and the risk of a trivial fee by the ATM.

The 10 Georgian Lari I keep in my purse at all times! Even in Pennsylvania! You never know…

An invaluable tip is this: tell you bank and credit card companies WHERE and WHEN you are traveling. It is necessary to put notes on accounts so debit and credit cards are not blocked based on “unusual or suspicious activity” (thanks, mom, for explaining to the bank that I actually was in Kazakhstan! No stolen card numbers here!). On a few occasions I have reached my final destination all sweaty and jetlagged to then frustratingly find out that my debit card is not working in the ATM (Welcome to Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport!). Thank goodness I told my bank where and when I was traveling beforehand. I fortunately was able to send an email to my dad and he contacted the bank from home. He told me later that if I had not told the bank about my travels then I would have needed to personally call and verify such transactions. What a mess that could have been!

A seriously wise international shopper would know her options when it comes to choosing credit cards and checking accounts. There are several credit card companies and smaller banks that offer credit cards with 0% foreign transactions fees (complementary plug for Somerset Trust Company of Somerset, PA! Thanks for hiring me as a bank teller! I learned a lot! Keep up the awesomely cheap products for travelers and great customer service!). Also, many banks and credit unions offer fee-free ATM usage or will reimburse any fees that may occur. Shop around online for accounts that work for you!

The best tip I’ve learned for making purchases in shops and grocery stores abroad is to use my debit card as a credit card (make sure your card is embossed with either the Visa or Mastercard logo and that you check the daily limits on in-store purchases [usually around $2,000]). My bank does not charge a fee when the debit card is used in stores so I bypass both the ATM fees for unnecessary cash withdrawals AND any 3% credit card transaction fee nonsense. No fees! Ta-da!

Categories: Airport Aid, Global Perspectives, I. WANT. MONEY., Traveling Tip Tuesdays | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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