Tips for Travelers Newsletter November 2009
There has been some time between newsletters because, like many of you, I have been traveling less and the travel news has been a rehash of previous. I promised to keep you up to date without inundating your email inbox by sharing only when there is real news, and I have kept my word. Finally we have news!
Change is coming as early financial indicators show an increase in aircraft manufacturing as the economy ticks slightly upward, which will be followed by an upward trend in travel prices. Now is time to think about making your travel plans for 2010 – the great deals are still out there but they will not last forever. And, just in time for the holiday travel season, I have important travel and packing tips, gift ideas, and valuable discounts for you.
Included in this newsletter:
1. Holiday travel heads-up
2. Susan’s travel update
3. Grand European Tours offers valuable discount again! Yippee!
4. Fees, fees, and more fees
5. Swine flu – should you cancel your trip?
6. Special discount at Magellan’s, just in time for holiday shopping!
7. Gift ideas for travelers
8. Discount airline changes how we fly…
9. Airport luggage thefts – 5 tips to keep your things safe
**Holiday travel heads-up
A recent CNN story began with a great holiday travel headline: “Stuffing planes like Thanksgiving turkeys” by Aaron Smith, Nov. 11, 2009 and discussed travel over the busy holiday weekend.
Expect that planes will be full even though there are fewer people traveling, because the airline industry has cut capacity by 6.9% since last year to improve efficiency, says the Air Transport Association. This year has seen the biggest capacity reduction since 1942, when civilian aircraft were diverted towards the war effort. Planes will be full but there may be fewer delays if weather doesn’t create problems as there are simply fewer planes flying. However, the “once-a-year” passenger headed home for Turkey Day is often less experienced in negotiating airport systems and security so may hold up the lines for frequent travelers.
Solution: Make sure you employ all the savvy traveler and smart packing strategies possible.
1. Print boarding passes and prepay for checked baggage before leaving for the airport. Use curbside check-in if available. Consolidate both checked and carry-on items to as few as possible – it’s only a 4-day weekend!
2. Allow enough time for heavy traffic en route to the airport, full parking lots, and crowded airport transportation systems. Give yourself at least 2 hours at the airport to safely check baggage and pass through security.
3. Wear clothing that is “screening friendly” – minimal metal parts, slip on shoes, jewelry removed and tucked into a zip-top baggie before entering the security line, coat packed into a checked or carry-on bag.
4. Pack plenty of snacks, water, reading materials and patience. You may need all of it.
**Susan’s travel update
My fall trip was family-centered – my sister and I took our mother’s ashes to our birthplace of Duluth Minnesota and scattered them in places that had fond memories for us all. Sis and I also attended a family reunion with our many cousins. As usual, I packed for the weeklong trip in my trusty 22” rolling suitcase. It is hard for me to lift my bag into the overhead bin, so rather than roll, lift and lug, I checked.
As the holidays approach I’m heading to New York City and spending Thanksgiving with very close friends in Philadelphia. My husband and I will fly round trip to NYC then take the train to and from Philadelphia. We will each pack and check a 22” rolling suitcase – the largest legal carry-on bag – so we can easily manage on the train. Wait – isn’t this just what I show in the DVD “Smart Packing – It’s a Suitcase, Not Your Closet!” It is. We will be “walking the talk” by traveling to 2 cities for 9 days with a myriad of activities, some casual and some definitely dress-up, during cold weather season. And all packed into one 22” carry-on bag each. Smart Packing works!
Smart Travel Press will be closed from November 25 – December 1, including our shipping department.
**Grand European Tours offers valuable discount again! Yippee!
Grand European Tours “the world’s most leisurely tours” is offering a valuable additional discount of $100 per couple to Tips for Travelers subscribers. This discount is in addition to the Early Booking Discount of up to $600 per couple for a total discount of $700! Travel must be booked by December 31 when these discounts expire, use code SP77.
Fully escorted tours are the best value in travel. I am very impressed with Grand European Tours, both the quality of the people and their trips. Traveling internationally on a tour means almost zero planning time for you – the tour company does all of that work. From famous cities to charming villages, on a river cruise or by motor coach, these trips will create a lifetime of memories and far exceed your expectations.
Jo Basley, GET’s Marketing Manager, says “With over 40 tours across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North and South America, Grand European Tours makes your world travels effortless and rewarding. Each fully escorted tour includes international airfare, first class accommodations, most meals and extensive sightseeing. Our competitive pricing, combined with our exclusive savings programs, can make your European vacation a reality today!”
Book by December 31, 2009 to receive the additional $100 per couple Tips for Travelers savings. Call 1-800-552-5545 or visit www.getours.com and be sure to mention code: SP77 for the discount.
Or to request a copy of their catalog click here:
**Fees, fees, and more fees
Sorry to bring up this topic yet again, but there is always a new twist to fees. Checked luggage fees are increasing on every airline except JetBlue (first checked bag is f.r.e.e.) and Southwest (who continues to allow two bags per passenger for NO FEE). Be aware of the “prepay and save” option, which means that you do not pay an increased fee. Look hard for the “prepay” option when printing your boarding pass in advance. I recently flew on Northwest Airlines and found it buried at the bottom of the boarding pass page. International flights are also now subject to baggage checking fees, for a long time they were exempt.
Solution: You must check with each airline you plan to fly in advance of your flight to learn about checked baggage and other fees. This frequently updated chart from SmarterTravel.com is an excellent compilation of fees:
**Swine flu – should you cancel your trip?
Flu season is upon us and flu vaccine is in short supply, should you change your travel plans? I wrote about this in a previous newsletter:
(click here to read)
My choice is to continue to travel but to use every precaution possible, particularly the simple one of keeping ones hands clean. I mention antibacterial towelettes in the piece above, but I also always have liquid hand sanitizer in my purse and use both of these frequently.
** Special discount at Magellan’s, just in time for holiday shopping!
We have negotiated a special 10% discount just for Tips for Travelers subscribers from Magellan’s Travel Supplies, just when you need it most! Save 10% at Magellan’s, the worlds most trusted source of travel supplies. This is my favorite catalog and online resource for all things travel. (Disclosure: they also sell my book and DVD so I love them for that reason too.)
When shopping online, use the following discount link and 10% will be taken off your total order.
If shopping by phone, use the code “Susan”.
Use this discount as many times as you like, including on Smart Packing for Today’s Traveler:
Or our new DVD “Smart Packing – It’s a Suitcase, Not Your Closet!”
Enjoy! And many thanks, Magellan’s!
** Gift ideas for travelers
You can use your special Tips for Travelers Magellan’s discount to shop for all the travelers on your list!
1. Luggage scale: This is the perfect gift for people like my sister who travel and shop. She fills her suitcases to the hilt, weighs each with her trusty scale, and balances the weight between the bags so each is below the 50-pound maximum.
2. Luggage marking tools: Marking luggage to make it easily identifiable is smart, and these inexpensive items make great stocking stuffers. For a larger gift, select several items in one bright, easy-to-see color:
• Easy Spot Handle Wraps:
• Leather Luggage Tag:
• TSA-Approved luggage locks in bright colors both lock and mark:
- SearchAlert Lock with number combination:
- WordLock with word combination:
• Personalized Luggage Strap
3. Packing organizers: These speed up daily packing and unpacking and keep items tidy within a larger bag.
• Shirt folder (my husband won’t leave home without this):
• Packing cubes:
• Smart Packing book or DVD:
- Smart Packing for Today’s Traveler (book—read great reviews here)
- Smart Packing: It’s A Suitcase, Not Your Closet! (DVD)
4. Road warrior survival tools: For the person who spends more time on the road than at home, these gifts can make a tough life easier.
• Seatback organizer (read the great reviews of this item!):
• Noise-canceling headphones (I love these on longer flights):
• Air Supply (This goes with me on every flight, I have not been sick from traveling since I began using this personal air purifier)
• Lights Out Sleep Mask (my sweet husband loves this):
• Checkpoint Friendly Computer Case (no need to remove a laptop for security screening):
** Discount airline changes how we fly…
Ryanair, the European discount airline that now sells more seats than any other European carrier, has abolished airport check-in. All passengers must print boarding passes before arriving at the airport or face a £40 (USD$67) charge for every person, just for boarding passes. Passengers are now responsible for their own reservations, their own check-in online, and their own bag fees for checking luggage. Does this also mean no more lines?
Ryanair encourages passengers to take carry-on luggage only as it keeps the airline operating costs low, the company can turn around planes 25 minutes. The reason 70% of their passengers travel light, very light: the cost of checking a bag has gone up and is now £20 (USD$33) one way booked online, and £30(USD$50) paid at the airport; a second bag is now £35(USD$58) one way online and £70(USD$117) at the airport.
Is this really the cheapest way to fly? If you are the average American tourist arriving in Europe with two checked bags, transferring to a “discount” flight will be very costly indeed.
Solution: check the fees before you book!
**Airport luggage thefts – 5 tips to keep your things safe
The national media has been covering the enormous luggage thefts at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, where a man simply walked up to the carousel and took bags – over 1,000 of them. He and his wife sold the contents at yard sales. In addition to hundreds of bags, police found an astonishing array of valuables that had not yet been sold including “laptop computers, adoption papers, a valuable stamp collection, GPS systems, passports and more” according to an LA Times Travel blog posting. Laptops or adoption papers in a checked bag? What were those passengers thinking??
5 ways to keep your stuff safe:
1. Pack light and carry-on, keep your bag in front of you when sitting or standing.
2. Keep all valuables with you. NEVER check anything you cannot afford to lose.
3. If you check your bag, go immediately to baggage claim to retrieve it.
4. Mark your bag so that it very obviously stands out (see “Gifts” above for ways to make bags visible). A bag that blends can more easily go astray.
5. Choose inexpensive luggage. Designer bags scream “Steal me first, I’m loaded with goodies”.
Disclaimer: I include brand name products and resources frequently in “Tips for Travelers” and I want you to know that I do not receive any consideration from these companies. I frequently link to Magellan’s as they are a valued retailer who sells both my Smart Packing book and DVD, but smartpacking.com is not an affiliate, nor do I receive any other type of commission.
As always, I invite you to share this newsletter with friends, family and colleagues by forwarding this message or they may sign up for Tips for Travelers at smartpacking.com. I personally respond to every question and welcome your e-mails and comments.
The book, Smart Packing for Today's Traveler, and the DVD, It’s a Suitcase, Not Your Closet, are available in bookstores, travel and luggage retailers online, in catalogs, and in shops, and from our website; click here to buy:
Pack smart and travel easy!
Susan Foster, Author, Packing Expert, Speaker, Spokesperson
Smart Travel PressPO Box 25514 Portland, OR 97298-0514
503.452.9384 fax 503.452.7558http://www.smartpacking.com
Smart Packing for Today‘s Traveler, Third Edition, the most complete guide for what to take and how to pack“Smart Packing – It’s a Suitcase, Not Your Closet!” DVD - pack for a week or more in one carry-on bag
© Susan Foster, Smart Travel Press 2009
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