My pet peeve

Why don’t hotels quote you the total rate per night for your stay? I was on vacation last week and stayed in two rather nice hotels. Both had nightly rates that seemed reasonable when I booked them. The first was a boutique hotel priced at $259 per night. The second, a business hotel with an even better rate of $179 per night. My beef? The tax and fees are not included in the quoted rate. So…when I checked out of the respective hotels I found an additional $36.26 in tax from the boutique hotel and $25.06 per night at the business hotel added to my bill. That’s 14% at each property. I would like to know why they can’t just say that their rate is going to be $295.26 per night and $204.06? At least I wouldn’t have sticker shock when I checked out of my hotel!

Vacation in your own backyard

I was out today at the DeYoung Museum just enjoying the sunshine and having lunch when I had an epiphany. I can vacation right here in my own backyard. I’m lucky enough to live in San Francisco. A tourist-friendly town if ever there was one. There are lots of things to see and do here. The problem is I rarely take the time to experience the city as a tourist would. Maybe you’re the same way.

My advice is to take a day off and plan to go do something you’ve been wanting to do, but putting off. Avoid the crushing weekend crowds at your favorite museum, go for a ferry ride on a sunny day or just sit in a cafe and have lunch al fresco. It’s like a little vacation for you soul. You’ll return to work the next day not only refreshed, but re-energized by the place you live.

Travel advice from a pro

The best part of travel is the ability to leave your cares behind and just relax. The worst part is how quickly that vacation high evaporates once you’ve returned. You spend your first day debriefing friends and coworkers about your trip only to realize that you’ve already lost that carefree feeling. Then you start planning your next jaunt.

Lara Dunston, a travel writer who blogs as the Cool Travel Guide, has some great advice for how to keep your vacation buzz long after you’ve come home. I’ve followed many of her suggestions myself. Believe me coming home to a fridge that’s not empty is key to maintaining post vacation happiness. For more of her tips, you can check out her post here.

Vacation brain

Ever wonder what happens to your brain when you’re on vacation? Well hotels do. Westin, Hyatt and Kimpton hotels have all created mind/body fitness programs to challenge your brain while you’re away. They are providing mental exercises (soduku, crossword puzzles, board games), physical fitness, good nutrition and stress management. The Muse Hotel in New York will even arrange a life coaching session for you during your stay. So the next time you’re on vacation, remember your mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Top 10 reason to apply for a passport now

1. Spring break is coming and you can’t go to the Caribbean without it

2. Cruise companies require passports from their passengers before boarding

3. Only 30% of Americans have passports, shouldn’t you be one of them?

4. Contrary to what you’ve heard, Canada isn’t part of the United States

5. You can carry it around like James Bond so you can leave the country quickly

6. The Passport Office has been flooded with requests, you may have to wait

7. If you don’t have a driver’s license, you can use your passport as I.D.

8. That blue cover is recognized all over the world, it says you’re an American

9. Doesn’t a summer trip to Europe sound great?

10. It marks you as a Traveler, some one who loves to see new places and meet new people

Be the change you’d like to see in air travel

As I contemplate the large numbers of people flowing through airports this holiday season I find myself wondering how can we improve the system? I read a great article last week by a travel reporter chiding Americans for whining in the skies. He wanted us all to take a moment and be thankful for the things we do have on airlines, on demand entertainment and wifi. Most of his commenters responded angrily with what we don’t have ~ legroom, friendly service, and on time departures and arrivals.

So I’m asking all of you, if you could fix just one thing about airline travel what would it be?

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!

Things that are always in my carry on bag

These days you’re down to fewer and smaller carry on bags. I had to sacrifice my cosmetic bag to checked luggage after TSA declared no bottles larger than 3 oz. on board the plane. I now have to strategize what is going on the plane with me carefully. Here’s what I always pack:

– Magazines: At least 2 to keep me occupied if there’s no in-flight movie

– Water and a snack: I need to stay hydrated and these days often don’t get fed by the airline

– My jewelery: I just don’t trust this to anyone, if I’m not wearing it, I’m carrying it on

– Camera: Or anything breakable for that matter

– My iPod: With a special mix for my flight. It cuts down on noise and chatty seatmates.

– A cashmere wrap or sweater: I’m always cold on planes, cashmere is warm, thin and much softer than airline blankets

What’s in your carry on bag?

Get Wired

Going to be in L.A. on business or pleasure any time soon? Why not stop in at the Wired LivingHome. It’s a prefab domicile designed by architect, Ray Kappe. Wired spent $4 million dollars to make this home green and give it all the amentities. It even sports a low voltage car, Beamer of course. Tours are taking place from October 27th through November 11th. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Global Green USA.

Tips for business travel

I’ve never been a “road warrior” myself, but I’ve worked for many in my professional life. I know from experience that small conveniences yield big rewards. For example, having a thin cashmere shawl for the plane keeps me from freezing when the air vents start cranking on take off.

Alison Deyette over at has a great post for business travelers.

Some favorite tips:

– Ask for a room away from elevators, ice machine or on the front of the hotel (a good night’s sleep is key)

– Pack a blow up neck roll, not the stuffed version (you’ll save precious packing space)

– Keep up your workouts on the road (most hotels will provide you with running routes and some even have exercise equipment and videos to loan out)

– Get out and explore. Most business traveler’s never make it past their hotels. There are great museums, waterfronts, walking trails out there that are much more pleasant than your hotel room. (I always check up to see what’s on in the cities I’m traveling to, it makes me feel like an instant native)

For more great ideas, check out her post here.