Double duty – candles

I picked this idea up from the Conde Nast Daily Traveler.  It’s a candle that’s perfect for setting the mood before your next vacation.  I wouldn’t suggest taking it with you, some hotels won’t allow candles at all these days.  However, it’s a great way to get into the mindset of your upcoming destinations.  Try the pink sunset (Hawaii), mountains (Colorado), azure seas (Caribbean) or even Midnight Moon (India).  They’re $26 each at BeautyHabitat.com.  Can’t afford to getaway right now?  Collect them all and indulge in the possibilities instead.

Double duty – clock

My husband recently sent me a link to the Weekend Clock.  It’s doesn’t just tell you the time, it counts down the minutes until you can escape your cubicled world for your weekend respose.  Now if only they would invent the vacation clock!

Double duty – Flightstats.com

Flightstats.com is my secret weapon for tracking flight delays. They have the best information out there. I recently flew home from Seattle in a snowstorm. It was literally hailing outside as I drove to the airport. I’d check Flightstats.com before I left and they assured me that my flight would take off on time. When I got to the airport it was completely dry and we did leave at our assigned departure time as they said. I discovered recently that they have an airport chatter section where people in the airport are chatting about conditions in real time. From FAA delay maps, to weather overlays and even on time performance ratings, it’s a great site for tracking arriving or departing flights.

Double duty – airport lounge

I think of airport lounges as sanctuaries. Very expensive sanctuaries. They can take you out of the hassle of flying and give you a zen spot to regroup before your flight.  However they cost, sometimes $400 – 500 per year.  That’s too much for an infrequent flyer like myself.

The last time I flew Virgin America I was offered an interesting perk, a day pass to their airport lounge for just $30. This service is usually reserved for first and business class passengers, but Virgin has chosen to include their frequent flyer (Elevate) members as well. The lounge at SFO is called Clubhouse and it functions like one. It is only open from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., but if you’re flying out of San Francisco and encounter our world famous fog I can’t think of a better place to pass the time. Have a cocktail, down some free food, jump on the wi-fi to blog or work or simply sit back and enjoy the airport and city views. The VA lounge even made the Forbes The World’s Ten Best Airport Lounges list.  Pretty cool for a low budget upstart, huh?

Double duty – planes

I thought it was a bad trend when planes started turning into flying billboards. Remember Richard Branson’s Virgin America plane with the HBO Entourage logo? Now Southwest, the supposed family friendly airline has covered their plane with a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. That’s right, half naked Bar Refaeli may be the entertainment on your next flight. Is this an attempt to woo away all those men flying Hooters Air? I have to say for an airline who kicked a woman off their plane for dressing inappropriately this is the height of hypocrisy.

Double duty – Google maps

I’m heading to Seattle soon to visit friends. I need to get from Sea-Tac airport into the city. I checked out the mass transit and wasn’t having any luck. A cab though could be quite pricey. What to do? Well I found this article over on PopSugar about Taxi Me. It’s a website that calculates your cab fare for you. My fare, $71.38. Very clever!

Double duty – martini

It’s the perfect end to a lovely day. Now it’s also your guide to how expensive the city your traveling to will be. Travel and Leisure this month published a global martini price guide. Using a standard gin martini, they found you can sip them as little as $3.30 in Capetown or as much as $32.08 in Paris (Yowza!). I myself can attest to the fact that martinis are a great price indicator. My husband almost choked recently when he was charged $14 for a vodka martini at the J.W. Marriott here in San Francisco. Our normal price? $10.

Double duty – Bollywood

I’ve had this secret wish for years to quit my job, leave the U.S. and live my Bollywood dream. I fell in love with the brightly colored, dance heavy musicals that comprise Indian cinema many years ago. I’ve always thought it would be delightful to learn how to dance and actually act in one myself. Silly, I know, but then I saw this Bollywood Acting School in London and thought that’s my next vacation! Who knows, I may just be the next Ashwarya Rai.

Double duty – NYC

Carrie Bradshaw is still a major trend setter. When she and Big tied the knot at Manhattan’s City Hall in Sex and the City, I think it must have embarrassed New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. This week he unveiled a multi-million dollar renovation of the NYC marriage bureau. The idea is to attract more tourists to New York. Maybe he’s jealous of all those ceremonies performed out here in San Francisco before Prop. 8. was passed. It brought millions of dollars into the state. I’d say this is a canny move on his part.