$19.95.. Do I need this? Does anyone have it and love it? And most importantly, will anyone buy it for me? 🙂
Posts Tagged With: souvenirs
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Traveling Tip Tuesday – Tip #3:
There are some household items that always seem to make their way into my checked suitcase when I’m out of town for a week or more. These basics include:
- several plastic grocery bags
- one garbage bag
- plastic zip-lock bags of various sizes (especially quart-size)
- one roll of duct/masking tape
- several scented dryer sheets
- one pair of scissors
- one black marker
- one folder
Grocery bags can be used to organize your souvenirs, pack your alcohol bottles (more on that soon!) and carry wet swimsuits, while garbage bags make great ersatz laundry baskets (so you’re not questioning what is clean and what is dirty…). Shampoo broke open in your carry-on quart-size bag? Rinse off all of the toiletries and replace the oozing bag with the fresh one you packed. It’s oh-so TSA-friendly. Zip-lock sandwich bags also work well for storing smaller souvenirs and for stashing away snacks from the hotel’s breakfast buffet for when you’re later dying of jet-lag hunger. A roll of tape can be a quick fix for a ripped suitcase or broken sandal and a few dryer sheets in your bag can keep your clothes fresh and smelling like home (a remedy for homesickness?). Also, when you need a pair of scissors or a black marker, nothing else will do. Just give in and pack them!
I think one of the most well-used items in my suitcase, however, is the folder. I love keeping restaurant receipts, city maps, and museum tickets as tiny mementos but hate when they get wrinkled or downright destroyed on the journey home! A simple folder (or one with complimentary advertising for Duquesne University) keeps them safe and sound. Folders are also perfect for holding extra copies of flight itineraries, cruise documents, and travel insurance paperwork in addition keeping flat that souvenir photo of you on a camel in Tunisia. Some things need permanently documented.
Squeeze the air out of the grocery bags and put them in one of the quart-sized bags for more space. Store everything in the mesh zip pocket of the suitcase’s lid. Done!
I’d love to hear ideas from you about mandatory supplies you pack in your suitcase! Leave a reply! I need all the help I can get…