Travel tip of the week

Today is “Black Friday”, the biggest shopping day of the year. Stores opened their doors as early as 4 a.m., and market analysts are predicting that $20 billion (yes, that’s billion) dollars in purchases will be made. Frightening thought for anyone wondering how to spend their day.

I spent mine just a few miles from home hiking in Muir Woods. The weather today was sunny and warm with crystal blue skies. I got to walk off some of that feast from yesterday and commune with nature. Perhaps it’s time to check out some of the National Parks and Monuments near you. An America the Beautiful pass can be had for just $80 and allows you and 3 other adult guests into the parks for the next 365 days. I bought one myself this morning.

Great travel accessory

If you’re toting home an overstuffed suitcase this holiday season, here’s a great idea. Buy a personalized luggage strap. For just $11.99 (plus tax and shipping) you can have your name embroidered on a nylon strap. They come in red, yellow, blue, green or hot pink. Think how much easier it will be spotting your bag coming down the baggage chute this year!

Neatness counts

At least according the TSA. New guidelines were issued yesterday for carry on luggage this holiday season. It seems TSA is tired of you just throwing stuff haphazardly into your bag. It makes it hard to figure out what exactly they are scanning when they x-ray your things. So they’ve launched a new initiative named SimpliFLY. Below are a few of their helpful hints for getting through the security line faster:

– Pack you carry on in layers, clothes, then electronics, more clothes and toiletries

– Coil your cords so they stow neatly in your bag

– Remember the 3-1-1 rule (you can only carry on 3 oz. sized bottles in one 1-quart ziploc bag)

– “If in doubt, leave it out”

It also pays to have your boarding pass and i.d. out for inspection, your coat, sweater and shoes off and be ready to unpack your laptop into it’s own bin. You don’t want to be the one holding up this line. Safe travels!

Where shall I go?

If you’re like most Americans to grandmothers house or some version thereof. Many of you are heading home this week to be with friends and family over the Thanksgiving holiday. It is estimated that 27 million people will fly this year. That is a staggering amount of people. Just thinking about it brings images of long lines at the airport, at security and the baggage carousel. I say if you can put off your travel this year by just a week or two you should save yourself the agony and try for a December deal. The first two weeks of the month are relatively light for flying. Airlines know this and are offering deals on their websites and via their newsletters. If you must travel this Thanksgiving, be sure you have the following: (1) a good book; (2) water and snacks; (3) an extra supply of any medications you may be taking; and finally an almost endless supply of patience. The airlines will try to get you to your destination on time, but let’s face it no one likes working on holidays.

As for me, you’ll find me on my couch recovering from too much food and Thanksgiving Day parade watching. Happy holidays!

Travel tip of the week

Are you and your high school senior scouting college campuses this Fall? If so check out There are some great deals from Amtrak for travel up and down the East Coast. Another great resource is an online interview that Pauline Frommer did for CNN this week. You can see it on the video link here.

Great travel accessory

If you’re like me you normally travel with a bottle of water. For many years now you’ve had to purchase your water at the airport after clearing TSA security. Well if you’re tired of shelling out $3.00 per bottle, try the Platy Bottle. It’s a plastic sack that folds flat in your carry on bag. Just fill it up at the nearest water fountain once your on your concourse and you’ve got enough water to get you through your flight. When you arrive at your destination, just drain and collapse the bottle to pack for the trip home.

It will help keep thousands of plastic water bottles out of landfills and save you money too!

Holiday travels or shall I say travails…

Staring down Thanksgiving Day I find myself thinking of holiday travel and thanking my lucky stars that I’m staying home this year. Last Christmas my husband and I flew via Denver to visit relatives at Christmas. It was just days after the complete meltdown of the Denver International Airport. Many people fared worse during the snowstorm than we did. Our airline found us a hotel (not a nice one, but it was clean), a meal (Christmas dinner in a truck stop anyone?) and alternative flights out the following morning (on another carrier, bye bye frequent flier miles). I was grateful for what they did, even if I had to wait an exhausting 8 hours in various lines to achieve what little comfort I could. Taking all this into account, I’m wondering are you looking forward to holiday travel or are you dreading it this year?

Where shall I go?

With weather in the 80’s and a cerulean blue sea, Tulum is truly one of the wonders of the world. The ruins come right up to the beachfront. While it’s a bit overrun by tour buses, for the photos alone, it’s still worth the trip.