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Author Topic: Share your travel tips! S/O Vacation Hills...  (Read 13559 times)

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Re: Share your travel tips! S/O Vacation Hills...
« Reply #105 on: August 15, 2017, 06:23:17 PM »
I use pieces of *colorful* duct tape on my suitcases, one on each side, top, and bottom.  I had purple & black tiger stripe at one point, but I've replaced it with pieces of a peacock feather print - the tape does get pulled off after a while, as duct tape seems to loose its stickiness over time.  Once it pulls off, you can't put it back on and have it stay, either, the fiber from the fabric seems to reduce the stickiness.  The hard plastic shell suitcase from the 1990s is easier to spot - many people no longer use a "traditional shape" of suitcase, but this one has wheels on one end and a handle on the other, so I can roll it along after me. 


At home, there are small bits of tape cut & wrapped to the case, charger, and back of my tablet & external hard drive case, sleeve, and cable - so that all the accessories are easy to keep together. 

I have three rolls of colorful tape - purple & black tiger stripe, black & white tiger/zebra stripe, and peacock feathers.  If I need to mark another device, I'm going to buy a new roll of duct tape - there are displays in WalMart, the hard ware store, and even the local fabric store...the washi (sp?) tape is close to the duct tape in the fabric store...but the duct tape is cheaper & it's easy to rip off bigger pieces that are easier to see from half way across the luggage carousel. 

I can also keep VorGuy from walking off with *my* phone charger instead of continuing to look for his own (he would otherwise pack the first one that he found & we'd come home with only one charger because his got left behind - it's happened once already) - he knows that the purple & black duct tape marks *my* stuff.  He is in charge of marking his own, if he wants it marked. 
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I explain?


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Re: Share your travel tips! S/O Vacation Hills...
« Reply #106 on: August 15, 2017, 07:20:47 PM »
We have learned to always take pictures of the rental car and any damages that are present when we pick it up.  I also make sure we have one good picture of the rental car, including the license plate.  This is because one time, we both managed to forget exactly what vehicle we had rented. We also take pictures of the signs in the parking ramp at the airport so that we can find our car.  It is not always easy to remember exactly where we parked when it was two weeks ago.  :)

We (and just about every other person on the plane) have black suitcases.  We put odd colored ribbons on the suitcases (as did 90% of the people with the same black suitcase).  So, we printed out some stencils from online, cut them out, taped them on the suitcases and used fabric spray paint.  Let them dry, removed the stencils and the pictures are so bright and clear that I actually saw them load our bags from the window of the plane this last trip.  :)  My spouse can now see them from very far away at the luggage carousel and we no longer worry about someone taking our bag by accident.

I make it a point to carry tissues or small amounts of toilet paper with me when we travel in Mexico.  I also bring along hand sanitizer and it has come in very handy.  My main bag is a small backpack that goes over my manual travel wheelchair handles.  It came with a small, flat pouch that is the same color as the bottom of the bag.  This makes it easy to store extra cash/cards, as it looks just like the bottom of the bag.

Good tips! I've had to drop off rental cars when no one was present to check them in. I always take a newspaper from the hotel in the morning and put it on the rental car and take pictures before dropping the keys and contract in the after hours drop box. I had a co-worker drop a car off and the rental company claimed it was damaged. Our company ate a deductible on it. (I 100% believe her when she says she dropped off a car with no damage.)


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Re: Share your travel tips! S/O Vacation Hills...
« Reply #107 on: August 16, 2017, 03:19:42 AM »
From my recent trip to Europe:
- For popular tourist attractions, buy tickets online in advance if you can. On the last Friday in June in Paris (so summer in a very popular city) we managed to do the Sacre Couer basilica, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre (it's open until 9pm on wednesdays and fridays). Didn't buy tickets for the Sacre Couer but did for the other three and they had separate, much shorter lines as you only had to go through security. It was probably a bit much to do in one day but we had very limited time so we had to pack it in. And go to the website for the actual attraction rather than a third party site. Usually cheaper.
- On a related note, don't take large bags to places that will have security. Which is essentially anywhere in Paris at the moment. But if you do for whatever reason, for goodness' sake keep it with you. The Eiffel Tower got evacuated while we were there because someone had left their luggage unattended. It was a drizzly day. There were a lot of unhappy people.
- Go to the official tourist website for a town, region, or country. You can often find fun, sometimes random, things to do and places to see on them. I also found that the sites usually had links to the official sites for the attractions they highlighted as well which lets you book direct.
- If you are going to use google maps or similar to get around test it at home first. This is especially true if you are using it for walking directions. Use it in a place you are comfortable walking first so that you can find out if the ten minute walking time it suggests is true for you.
- If you are using the Metro in Paris I found that they have an English language app that was incredibly useful when getting around and not speaking French. It, and their website, had a number of languages to choose from and was so easy to use.
- If you really want to see something at a museum or other attraction, check ahead of time that it will be viewable when you plan to visit. The Louvre had different rooms closed on different days and other places do the same so they can maintain the place and exhibits.
- A lot of countries have travel advisories for their citizens. For New Zealanders this is the ministry of foreign affairs and trade. You can register your travel plans there as well so that they know if you're in a disaster area. I assume other countries offer a similar service. That's how they can say there are X number of Y nationals in a place that has just made the news for not good reasons.

For travel to New Zealand specifically (although similar advice will apply to Australia as well):
You will be asked to fill out a card declaring a number of things - food, plant matter, etc. Make sure you know what you are carrying and be pedantic when filling out that card. And don't bother with fresh fruit and vegetables - you won't get them in. We don't have any land borders so it's a lot easier to keep pests out than it is in a lot of other countries. On the other hand, my experience is that if you declare even small food items they X-ray your bags (all bags have to go through the X-ray machines) and what they see matches what you've declared they don't even bother searching your bags so you can still get through quite quickly. Oh, and if you see a dog at the airport it's as likely to be sniffing out plant matter as drugs.


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Re: Share your travel tips! S/O Vacation Hills...
« Reply #108 on: August 16, 2017, 09:01:56 AM »
Oh, another travel tip when we learned in our last Europe vacation.

In the States, we are pretty used to most business adhering to their posted opening and closing hours. If a business says they open at 9am, they usually are. Maybe 5 or 10 min late but that's about it. And unless unforeseen circumstances, they will usually remain open till posted closing.  Not so much in some other countries, even in metropolitan areas.
-We had a reservation to pick up a rental car in Paris at 9am. No one arrived to open up the office till 9:30 (though the office said 9am) and though very nice when they arrived it was pretty much a "oh, didn't realize you'd be here so early."
-When dropping the car off in Caen at their airport at the arranged 8pm time, not only was the car location closed but so was the airport. When calling the rental agency, we were told to drop the keys in the box. Uh, the box is inside the terminal which is locked and there is absolutely no one around. Thankfully a very nice cab driver we called agreed to drop the keys off the next day. (had to make the leap to trust in a fellow human on that one)
-In Spain, we arrived at several restaurants to find they weren't open at posted hours, and had at least one smallish museum not opened on the day posted.

My recommendation is to not rely on websites or "corporate" information. Call the local branch of any place to actually confirm their hours.


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Re: Share your travel tips! S/O Vacation Hills...
« Reply #109 on: August 16, 2017, 10:56:42 AM »
DH spent a few years in Germany and loved it. However, it was quite a culture shock when going to the local restaurant or tavern and when the door says they close at XX time, that means the staff are leaving and locking the door at that time. You are not expected to go in within half an hour of that time and are expected to leave in time for them to shut down and clean up.
ďAll that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost."
-J.R.R Tolkien


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Re: Share your travel tips! S/O Vacation Hills...
« Reply #110 on: August 17, 2017, 06:10:19 AM »
I stole this idea from a travel board: store all electronics cables and smaller electronic stuff like camera battery chargers in gallon Ziploc bags. Keeps them from falling out of your purse/carry on.

Also, follow dress codes. If the Vatican says no knees showing at St Peter's Basilica, they mean no knees. I saw women with bare shoulders and skirts above their knees being denied entrance into the Milan Duomo. Arguing- even in fluent Italian-got them nowhere.

Nothing to see here.

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Re: Share your travel tips! S/O Vacation Hills...
« Reply #111 on: August 18, 2017, 10:36:06 PM »
Going to Hawaii?

1. No, if you're an American, you don't have to change currency. We still own those islands.

2. Yeah, it's 2-3 hours behind Los Angeles. It doesn't observe daylight savings time. Figure out your time zone.

3. You're probably flying into Honolulu. It's not on the Island of Hawaii. It's on Oahu. If you want to get to Hilo (Island of Hawaii), Maui (Kahului), or Kauai (Lihue), you will need to catch another flight. There really aren't boats. You can get a package of 10 inter-island flight tickets, which can be very useful!

4. You CANNOT bring fruits/veggies/anything with soil into Hawaii. They will find it as you come in. You can't bring much of anything out. I have a stack about 1" deep of paperwork to allow me to bring out native vegetation. Without soil. It took me a year to put together.

5. Those volcanoes are freaking tall. Mauna Kea is 14,000 feet (4,300 meters). Haleakala (Maui) is 12,000 feet (3,700 meters). The air is noticeably thinner. You *will* gasp for air. It gets *cold*. I was at the summit of Mauna Kea once - there were tourists in *shorts*, and the wind chill was -70F. The National Park rangers were trying to corral them and get them to go down. (We were there in massive field gear - down jackets, rain pants, hats, gloves, hiking boots - and were *still* cold.) You can get *fatal* altitude sickness at that altitude. Don't play around. It can kill you. (14,000 feet! They were trying to summit Mauna Kea in *flip-flops*!! NO. Just, no!)

6. Likewise, volcanic calderas are *hot*. Don't jump into steam vents and don't play with lava. You can get boiled. At least 1 person/year dies that way.

7. Coral is *sharp*, and if you cut your foot on it, you *will* get a horrible bacterial infection in the cut. Seriously. Be careful snorkeling.

8. Oahu is made up of some *scary* ridges. You can hike it, oh yes, if you're willing to climb a rope up 7,000 feet or so in mud to get to knife ridges. Said knife ridges are 3' wide at least 1,000 ft down on either side. With 60 MPH winds going sideways at all times. Don't try it unless you're prepared.

9. There is such a thing as Island Time. Chill. Don't push too hard. Just relax and actually *listen* to what the natives are telling you. I learned this *hard* while trying to book a helicopter flight up to a relatively inaccessible spot. (I was one of 4 people who had been there in the last 5 years.) Pushing didn't help. Relaxing and understanding *did*. I got there. It was *amazing*.

10. Hawaii is a small town. If you're rude to someone, *everyone* will know, on all islands. And they will be less likely to help you. I am very VERY careful about my reputation in the Islands. I know someone who will NEVER get another permit there, just from being a jerk.

I'm sure there are more. I will post as they come to me.


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Re: Share your travel tips! S/O Vacation Hills...
« Reply #112 on: August 20, 2017, 01:42:21 AM »
Thought of this thread today. Mom found shoes that I bought a few years ago that were brand spanking new - I left them in the box, the box got put somewhere, and I forgot about them - and I immediately put them on to start making them comfortable. They'll probably go in my carry-on instead of wearing them through O'Hare because I've got a really nice pair of worn in black gym shoes that are my go-to flight shoes. Even with laces, I've got them to the point of slip off / slip on in a matter a seconds.

Anybody got tips about traveling through O'Hare around midday? I got a nice deal to fly to Dulles but the flight leaves around 1:30ish. I plan to get there hours early, like usual, but I usually go through O'Hare in the morning. I have no clue about how it gets once the day picks up.

They have Garrett's popcorn. Try the mixed bag; it is sweet and cheesy. Yum.


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Re: Share your travel tips! S/O Vacation Hills...
« Reply #113 on: August 20, 2017, 12:44:06 PM »
I haven't read through all the pages so if this has been mentioned then nevermind. ;D

Call your credit card company(s) and let them know you will be traveling to x destination along with the dates.

I forgot to call once and my CC was denied at several places until I called them to ask why. CC company explained that it was due to many charges being made in an area far away from where I lived. They cancelled the card to protect my account. They verified my secret questions, etc. then reinstated the card.


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Re: Share your travel tips! S/O Vacation Hills...
« Reply #114 on: August 20, 2017, 08:22:42 PM »
For several years, all of our luggage was red.  During this time, most other people's was black, so made it easy to find ours.  I also had a few pieces of Vera Bradley in a red pattern.  I remember going through baggage scan in Canada to come back home and the woman goes "Whoa, you must really like red!"

I would put small numbers on duct tape on our bags so I could quickly make sure we had them all.  Still do that.  I also have unusual luggage tags on with the normal ones as well.  I am sure others may have the same ones, but it does make it easy to spot the luggage--wine glass, sponge bob, personalized from shutterfly, red apple, etc.

Now we have reverted to black luggage as the red ones wore out.  I still have my red Vera Bradley, though.


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Re: Share your travel tips! S/O Vacation Hills...
« Reply #115 on: August 22, 2017, 04:32:23 PM »
A small pair of binoculars are also really handy if you're sight-seeing.

We have a small pair that we use to find the portage signs when canoeing, but they were fantastic on our European tours. Like being able to check out the detail in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, or checking road signs at a distance while walking and being a little, wee bit lost. The pair we have is surprisingly powerful given that they are pretty much the size of opera glasses.

And I second whoever said "small flashlight." We tend to carry at least one LED headlamp on our urban trips. Came in handy much more than we thought. I almost didn't bring it thinking: "When would we need this?"
« Last Edit: August 22, 2017, 04:55:39 PM by DanaJ »