Travel tips and advice from the leading travel experts around West Michigan.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
"I wish my bags had been heavier." When is the last time you returned home from a trip and said that? Chances are, you probably have wished you had taken less, or felt like you had over-packed. You are not alone- it’s very easy (and common) to take more on vacation than you need. Here are a few tips to help you reduce over packing for your next trip:
- Call ahead: Before you leave, do a little homework. Call the place where you're staying and see if they have any “daily essentials” you can leave at home. Some are able to provide you with a hairdryer, iron, ironing board, beach towels, bathrobes – anything bulky taking up room in your suitcase.
- Check the weather at your destination: Try and only pack what corresponds to the weather outlook. “Just-in-case” clothes can take up a lot of unnecessary room in your suitcase!
- How long are you traveling for? Taking too many pieces of clothing can accumulate space quickly! Think about how many of each item you’ll actually need; a good rule of thumb for trips less than one week is one shirt per day, one layering jacket or sweater, one bottom per every two days (but never less than two pairs of pants), no more than two pairs of shoes (one you wear and one you pack), underwear for every day, and seasonal additions, like a bathing suit.
- Pick a color “theme”: Pick a neutral color like brown, black, or beige and build your vacation wardrobe around it. That way you can bring accessories and shoes that can be worn with multiple items, eliminating the need for multiple spacing hogging items.
- Laundromats are your friend: If you're traveling for more than a week, you may want to plan on washing some of your clothing instead of packing more. Take advantage of the hotel laundry service or dry cleaning.
- Write it down: Make detailed lists of everything you plan to bring. This will help prevent over-packing by thinking through what to bring ahead of time and eliminate costly purchases of “forgotten” items. Some things that travelers often forget to include are: chargers (phone, camera, laptop, iPod), sunglasses, toothbrush/toothpaste, deodorant, sunblock, ect. Think about what you usually forget when traveling and make sure you put it on the list. Note everything that you need to pack -- including socks and underwear -- and then stick to your list when packing.
- Get creative: Cosmetics and toiletries can be a giant space-waster, especially when you use a toiletries bag. Think about creative ways you can pack these items. Try putting travel size versions of your products inside of your shoes, rolling your shirt around your hair spray, or packing your accessories in the pocket of your pants. Put only the amount of shampoo/conditioner you need on your trip into small plastic bags- this makes them flexible and easy to pack. Just cut the bottom corner open when you’re ready to use and throw the bag away once you leave!
- What you travel in counts! If you wear it to travel, it will be with you at your destination. This is a great way to take an extra pair of shoes, jeans, or even a light jacket.
- Lay it out: Before you actually pack your suitcase, lay the items out on the floor, dresser, or on your bed. Chances are, if you pack directly into your suitcase, you’ll sneak a few extra items in! Once you lay it all out, figure out what you don’t really need to take, and pack only what's in front of you.
- Be Prepared: Being prepared helps you avoid necessary (and costly) purchases while on your trip. Throw in a travel size needle and thread kit with you for minor repairs. Crazy glue can come in handy along with a travel stain-treatment stick (Tide-to-Go is great). Don’t forget about first aid – Band-Aids, aspirin, and Neospo get costly when traveling!
Packing can be tough, but a well thought-out strategy is the first step in reducing over packing. Give yourself plenty of time, think about the use of each item in your bag, and get creative with how to pack to make sure you reduce over packing your suitcase!
What packing secrets work well for you? What else do you do to avoid over packing? Let us know by commenting below!
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011
We are often asked about how to get the best fare when purchasing travel tickets online. Although there's no way to guarantee the best fare, we have a few tips that may help you:
- Book on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. That's when airlines often offer sales.
- Buy in advance, but not too early. The best time is four to six weeks before traveling. In general, prices for any given flight are highest eight to 10 weeks and two to three weeks in advance.
- Embrace social media. Airlines are giving more benefits, like exclusive sales, to travelers who interact with them on Twitter and Facebook. Those specials are often gone within hours.
- The discount airlines -- JetBlue, AirTran, Southwest and Frontier -- adjust their fares less frequently than other airlines, so you can feel more confident locking in a price. But their prices aren't always the lowest. Researching multiple airlines' fares is the only way to get a good deal.
What other tips do you know of? Feel free to share your favorite tips on finding the best airfare online in the Comments section!
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