THE ABSURDITIES OF TODAY’S AIR TRAVEL
If you’ve traveled recently, especially internationally, you may have had some of the incredible experiences I’ve just had to deal with.
I’ve done a lot of traveling & can usually find reasonable fares, reasonable connections on the dates I want to travel. Like many of you who have to pay attention to the bottom line, we’re retired, after all, I have several favorite discount fare websites I visit. In the past this was an easy thing to do, pull up 2 or 3 sites, compare fares & choose the most reasonable one.
I recently had to go from Grenada to Chicago for a short trip. While doing my usual search, it became apparent that nothing seemed to work, either the dates were not available or the layovers were too long or the connections just didn’t work or the price was prohibitive. I tried every trick but nothing worked.
My Canadian friend Jenny came to the rescue. She insisted I book 1 way flights all around & go the indirect route. How indirect? The usual route is Grenada-Miami-Chicago, sometimes a stop @ some other city en route. This time, I did Grenada to Barbados, Barbados to Toronto, overnight in Toronto & fly to Chicago the next day. Crazy? Yes, but doing this saved me about $400 even when adding the hotel cost for overnighting in Toronto. As I didn’t know how long I’d have to stay in Chicago, I didn’t make return reservations until the day before I wanted to come back. This was a bit easier. Chicago to Miami, Miami to Trinidad (which is way south of Grenada) & Trinidad to Grenada.
As if all this wasn’t crazy enough, the new security regulations were utter nonsense. When checking in in Barbados, the agent asked how long my vacation in Chicago would be. I said it wasn’t a vacation; I was just going for a few days & then returning home to Grenada. While holding my US passport in her hands, she asked if I had proof of the fact that I lived in Grenada, like a Grenadian passport. I said, no I was a US citizen & she was holding my only passport in her hands. I had no other photo ID with a Grenada address. She said then I couldn’t go through. HUH? Why on earth not, I had traveled back & forth numerous times in the past 2 years. She looked & my passport again, saw the visa allowing me to reside in Grenada for the next 4 months & said, “Oh, this is fine”. Does Barbados really care where I live? I was merely transiting through Barbados.
Going back from Chicago I was advised that I needed to allow @ least 2 hours to get through security. So I got to the airport 3 hours before my flight time only to be told I was to go through the pre-check line, no shoes off, passed through in 15 minutes. When I asked how this was decided, was told it was random. I guess there are worse things than killing 2 hours @ an airport.
A recent travel article with tips for good fares & good connections , described exactly what I did, giving it the moniker of “open jawing”, meaning take indirect flights with long layovers for prices of up to 20% lower than direct flights. It also advises to not follow the old adage that booking early gets best rates. In fact booking the day before intended departure is likely to give the best fares.
Ready to take a trip? Be ready for the unexpected & don’t look for things to make sense.
May 27, 2016
How to Politely Use – not Abuse – your Vacation Mules
Posted on January 25, 2016 by Heidi Fagerberg
WRITTEN BY: HEIDI FAGERBERG
We islanders need stuff. As much as we love the somewhat simpler way of life that the tropics bring forth, we still can’t escape the need for stuff (some more practical than others…). But due to shipping restrictions, high costs, and limited availability of certain things online, we’re often forced to get creative. One of our favorite solutions? Visiting friends and family aka Vacation Mules.
Now let me apologize right now to my friends and family for referring to you as mules, but I just can’t find another term quite so apropos. Not only are we islanders appreciative each and every time you accept the work of a Vacation Mule, it is not an exaggeration to say that you make our island life more livable. We love having you visit and we love the rock life essentials you bring with you. However, we do understand that with your agreement to participate as a Vacation Mule, there are some contractual unsaid DOs and DON’Ts that we must uphold on our end to ensure an ongoing positive working relationship.
Islanders, take note:
DON’T overwhelm your Vacation Mule by sending an excess of items to their homes that they must unwrap and find space for. Remember – they are headed on vacation and need space in their luggage for their own items too.
DON’T overload your Vacation Mule. The worst thing you can do is send something larger than typical suitcase dimensions or something so heavy it will surely tip the scales. You don’t want to make your Vacation Mule that person at the airport that is frantically unpacking and repacking their bags on the sidewalk to avoid overweight baggage fees on your behalf. That is a surefire way to lose any hope of that Vacation Mule ever working for you again.
DON’T stress your Vacation Mule out by sending a package that barely makes it to them before their travel date. This is especially applicable if the item in question is imperative to their vacation comfort such as a very important generator part that will keep you all comfortable when electricity is lost or a mosquito net to put around their bed to help in reduce their likelihood of being eaten alive by mosquitos while they try to sleep.
DON’T send any items to your Vacation Mule that are on the No Fly List or that can potentially ruin a person’s belongings/clothing should it burst open in flight.
DO ask your Vacation Mule’s permission to send items to their homes prior to ordering.
DO let your Vacation Mule know what you have ordered and how/when they will be receiving the package(s).
DO keep an ongoing list for yourself of items that are perfect for Vacation Mules to bring. Sometimes, out of the blue, you will be asked the very wonderful question, “Is there anything I can bring for you?” When that opportunity arises, you don’t want to be caught off-guard with nothing prepared because surely, upon their arrival, the light bulb will then go off and you will live to regret your oversight.
DO make sure you greet your Vacation Mule at the airport with cold water and an alcoholic beverage of their choice. Get them settled and get their feet in the sand as soon as possible after their arrival to show your gratitude and remind them why they love coming to visit you in the first place.
Helpful tip: If all else fails and you have exhausted your Vacation Mules but are still in need of stuff, there is a crowd-shipping community originally named mmMule, now called PiggyBee. When researching my package mule theories, I came across an article by Ken Hegan, writer and billionaire, wrote back in 2012 about this group titled Wanted: Mules to Deliver Packages to Strangers. Since then, the company has expanded and rebranded. Has anyone out there used PiggyBee crowd-shipping? I’m definitely intrigued…
In the meantime, take care of your Vacation Mules, islanders! Is there anything any of you islanders – or Vacation Mules themselves – would add to the list?
Thank you to Heidi Heidi Fagerberg for granting me permission to share this article. If you would like to find out more please visit her web site by clicking on the link below.
PACKING EFFICIENTLY FOR ANY TRIP
I’ve been traveling all over the world for much of my life, so I know a thing or two about packing. My lovely friend and fellow world traveler Susan (Honey) Good has her way and I have mine. The trick is to look at these different methods and develop your own.
What to Take
- This will depend on the type and length of your trip but here’s what I do: a couple of days before the trip I lay out the things I think I’ll need. For business trips of a week or less, one dressy outfit, 2 suits with interchangeable colors, so I can combine tops and bottoms in a way that now allows me to have 4 suits, 1 pair of casual slacks, 3 blouses and 2 casual tops, underwear, makeup, toiletries, 1 pair dress shoes, 1 pair casual shoes and 1 pair walking shoes, appropriate hosiery and socks, my chargers and 1 or 2 adapters, 1 small dressy purse and one casual purse, a good makeup mirror. Your best friends are a couple of light wool shawls, easy to pack, add glamour and keep you warm on those cool days or in cold hotel conference rooms. When I do my final packing, I usually end up leaving a few things behind. The method is that shawls, underwear, casual tops go on the bottom of the suitcase, laid as flat as possible; purses on top, shoes, in bags, filled with hosiery and socks on the sides of the suitcase. Pants next, then tops and finally suit jackets. If there are tops/blouses that don’t wrinkle (most of what you take should be wrinkle resistant), they can be rolled up to fill gaps. Toiletries go into plastic bags, but take only the most essential ones, lotions and potions specific to your skin care routine. No need to pack shampoos, conditioner or body lotions, most hotels will provide those.
- Counter intuitive but important! I always unpack everything as soon as I’m in my room. This saves wrinkling things, hunting for things and a messy room.
- One thing to remember is to pack so there are no gaps in your suitcase because the way the cases get handled, the more tightly packed the less chance of spills or breakage.
- For my 2 pieces of carry on, I have my efficiently packed suitcase and a large purse that will hold my medicines, a travel toothbrush with toothpaste, hand sanitizer as well as travel documents and the usual purse content.
- Last but not least, if you pack efficiently, for short trips you don’t need to check your case which saves time and hassle.
Here’s another packing resource I find helpful.
A Guest Article by my friend Honey Good. The original article appears on Honey’s award-winning web site. To link click on the title above, or the link at the bottom of the article. Happy Trails!
By: Honey Good
My husband, Shelly and I are traveling, again! We flew out of Palm Springs yesterday and spent the night in Chicago. Left early the next morning for Bloomington, Indiana to attend a grandson’s wedding. Back to Chicago Sunday waiting for Thanksgiving and the day after we board American Airlines to Paris and then on to Brussels.
Luckily, having traveled the world with my husband, Shelly, I have had to pack hundreds of times and discovered, through trial and error, a successful packing method.
From Antarctica to India to China and Russia to Indonesia, Japan, Peru, and throughout Europe and beyond I have packed! I have had several different packing experiences! I packed for the cold weather of Antarctica. I have packed for Black Tie parties in Europe. I’ve packed to hike in Machu Picchu, Peru, and for some trips I have had to pack for two weather systems!
So when I close the door of our home for our exciting adventure out of the country or for a short meeting, theatre and dining in New York, I am prepared.
I will tell you, it did not happen overnight, darlings!
Nothing can be accomplished without a strategic plan. My travel itinerary and the weather determine my wardrobe ‘must haves.’ So my number one rule is: pack with clarity.
MY TRAVEL GEAR
I travel with a Tumi suitcase, a carry on, a large handbag slung over my carry on or my twenty-four year old Chanel backpack that I still adore as much as the day I first laid eyes on it!
- Clothing hangers with cardboard tubing.
- Small and large zip lock bags.
- From the cleaners, ( I always have rolls at home just incase) plastic bags- short and long.
MY EASY PACKING PLAN:
- Lingerie is placed in separate zip lock
Bras, panties and panty hose go into separate bags. This saves time and energy when I unpack. When I arrive at our destination I take the zip lock bags out of my suitcase and lay them in a hotel drawer. My drawer is neat; everything is visible; I do not have to take each item out of my suitcase one by one and refold to put into a drawer nor do I have to repack them when I leave. Unpacking takes a few minutes at most.
- Each complete outfit is hung on a laundry hanger with a white cardboard cover and then covered with a plastic bag that prevents wrinkling.
I visually see each outfit for my trip. I layer my outfit. First, slacks across the hanger, possibly a scarf, a sweater laid flat across and a jacket. The outfit is then covered with a plastic dry cleaner bag. I use the same procedure for suits, dresses, skirts and shirts. Clear plastic bags cover each outfit. I then hang all of my outfits on a rack or in my closet so I can visually see my entire wardrobe in front of my eyes! This allows me to choose my shoes and one or two, at the most, flat bags for evening.
- Each pair of shoes is placed in a large zip lock bag. A flat handbag for evening ware is also placed in a zip lock bag.
I used to use shoe and handbag covers. I got smart fast, darlings!
HOW TO PACK A SUITCASE!
You should now be curious how I pack a suitcase full of zip locked bags and covered hangers with outfits? It is very simple. At the bottom of my suitcase I place my shoes, followed by my undies and lingerie. Everything is now flat. Take one bagged outfit and fold under at the bottom of the hanger and place at one end of your suitcase. The next outfit is placed at the other end of your suitcase. Keep rotating the hangers from one end to the other until completed. Your layered outfits will be flat in your suitcase and be perfect. If I have extra sweaters, I fold them as flat as possible and lay them on top.
MY MAKE-UP BAG AND MY TRAVELING MAKE-UP MAGNIFYING MIRROR
I pack all of my make-up in a flat see-through long make-up carrier that my daughter gave me years ago. It is laid flat in my suitcase sliding it in wherever I think it will be protected and not wrinkle my clothes. I do the same with my traveling mirror. You have to use common sense.
HOW TO PACK A CARRY ON
All of my good belts, flat night handbags, jewelry, and any meds go into my carry on. I am afraid of theft, hearing stories of airport personal going through baggage or a lost suitcase in flight.
UNPACKING: THE BEST PART!
You have had a long trip. You’re tired and dreading the chore of unpacking. Not with my plan, darlings! Hang your outfits on their hangers in the hotel closet. Take off the bags. Put your lingerie, nighties, and evening bags, etc. in the drawers. Leave your shoes inside the see through plastic zip locks and put on the closet floor or on a shelf. Voila! In ten minutes you are unpacked. The only thing you have to fold are your sweaters!
JEWELRY and MAKE-UP
My jewelry goes into the safe. I use the same memorized combination for every safe I use. Finished in a minute.
I have figured out a great plan for my make-up. I use a desk in the room instead of storing my make-up the bathroom. Natural light is far better when applying make-up and wouldn’t you rather sit than stand when doing your face? I take a bathroom glass for all my brushes; put my make-up and perfume (I never leave home without my fragrance!) in a desk drawer and put my magnifying mirror on the desktop. I am in business! I watch TV or talk to my husband as I put on my face!!
A FEW LAST TIPS:
- I have found that 99% of hotels provide slipper and robe. I take my chances. I don’t pack either robe or slippers. If I get stuck I wear one of my husbands T-shirts!
- I put my name, address and phone number in each suitcase (I pack for my husband, Shelly!) in case a name tag falls off.
- I carry a picture of our passports in my carry-on, when we cross the pond, in case our passports are stolen or lost.
- A copy of our passports is left at home.
- I carry a prescribed antibiotic in case of illness.
- Our black Tumi suitcases have a yellow strap around them to identify them since everyone has the same bag, today.
- I purchased larger zippered clear plastic bags for nighties. I do not remember where so my suggestion, GOOGLE!
- I make sure all the air is out of the plastic bags because space is most important.
- My girlfriend, Nancy, gave me great advice yesterday. Take a picture of your luggage. I will from now on!
I hope I have inspired you to consider my packing tips, darlings. I have done this for a long time and it is fool proof with a little bit of Nancy’s help! See we never stop learning!
Do Something GOOD today: Book yourself a trip so you can try my tips! AND, always pass tips on to family and friends.
Link to Honey’s Web Site – http://honeygood.com/blog/packing-tips-and-tricks