Posts Tagged ‘Travel Queen Tips’

Bling, Bling, Ding Ding!

July 27, 2012

I’ve done some dumb things in my lifetime.  Usually out of ignorance.  I’ve also been very lucky that none of them turned out bad, though they clearly could have.  But I’ve learned and am here to share some of my “errors in judgement” so you won’t take the same unnecessary risks.

The first time I went to Africa I was in Zaire.  Yes, it was Zaire when I arrived – it was the Congo when I left.  There was a revolution while I was in country and I was only there a couple of weeks!

In an effort to “travel light” I just wore 1 pair of earrings the entire trip.  That would have made sense if they were the plain gold studs my ears were originally pierced with.  NOT!    I wore my 1 carat per ear diamond studs.  I also wore my actual wedding ring which is obvious in this picture even if it wasn’t the focus of the shot.

It didn’t occur to me that this might not have been a good idea until I was in the jungle with a Pygmy tribe.  In an entirely pantomimed conversations (we shared no other common language) one of the women admired my earrings then showed me the earrings they wove from vines.  I’m pretty sure she had no idea of the value of what she admired and am grateful I left the jungle with both the earrings and my earlobes!

I learned my lesson and invested in a plain gold band for future travel to third world destinations as you can see in this photo from the Amazon.

On my most recent international trip, we were on a luxury cruise line so of course, I didn’t want to go to dinner every night in a plain gold band but I also wasn’t comfortable going ashore in my “real” wedding ring set which certainly qualifies as “bling”.

Fortunately, impressive costume jewelry is widely available at low cost and is a fashion statement.  At the Nordstrom Rack I purchased several costume pieces including the Princess cut ring in the upper left of the photo which I wore as my “wedding ring”.  The other cocktail rings were for my right hand and coordinated with my evening outfits.

Total cost for ALL 5 PIECES…$75.00!!!!

When leaving the ship, I only wore my fake wedding ring.   At a couple of the stops, I didn’t even wear that – why look like a “target” even if what they would get was glass?

If you are traveling, particularly to poor or crime-ridden areas, consider investing in inexpensive jewelry to wear in place of your actual wedding ring or  the family piece you typically wear.  Even if your usual “bling” isn’t part of the Crown Jewels, it probably has sentimental value and it would put a damper on your vacation if it were lost or stolen.  Plus there is a safety issue to consider as well.

Sure, you could just leave all your good jewelry at home but if you are accustomed to wearing something as I am, you feel “naked” and cause yourself a few starts when you periodically notice it’s missing before you remember you intentionally left it behind.   Even my husband trades his ruby and diamond wedding band for a plain gold one when situations warrant.

We all love our bling, but no need to be a “ding ding”!

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Group “A” – Home For The Holidays Part 1

October 7, 2011

Home for the Holidays.  Nice concept and popular in movies and music.  In reality, getting there can be a hassle.  But since Travel Queen Tips is all about more fun and less hassles when you travel, the next few weeks will be devoted to getting YOU home for the holidays with minimum fuss.

Do you need to take a plane to your destination?   Flights are always oversold around Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The closer you get to the day of departure, the more expensive and scarcer airline tickets typically become.

So if you plan to fly over one of the major travel holidays, buy your airline tickets now!  You will likely get the lowest fare and by absorbing the cost in October, you reduce the impact on your budget in December.

Southwest Airlines is a popular airline of choice for many holiday travelers.  They are known for lower fares and they don’t charge to check a bag – an unexpected cost inexperienced travelers often do not factor into their ticket purchase decision.  They are also the most flexible should your plans unexpectedly change.

The downside to Southwest, particularly over the holidays when every flight is jam packed is that they do not allow you to pre-assign seats.  Instead, they board by “Groups” and then in numerical order within the group.  Example:  A1, A2, etc.

Getting a low boarding number is always preferred – over the holidays it’s essential!

  • A low boarding number increases the odds your group will be able to sit together.
  • It also will give you more choices in seat selection – aisle, window or middle.
  • Those on the plane first also find it easier to stow their carry-ons because the bins are not yet full.  If you don’t plan to check a bag – or even if you do but will have a tote bag or shopping bag of gifts you will carry on with you – overhead space is not guaranteed by ANY airline.  A low boarding number on Southwest makes it far more likely you will find a space for your items.
How do you get one of these prized “A” Group boarding numbers?  You pay for it!
When on the Southwest Airlines website booking your flight, select the lowest fare available for your destination and preferred travel time.  This is the price in the FAR RIGHT column of their page.  If you book now, you may get one of their low “Wanna Get Away” fares and will often say “Web Only”.
As you move to the next screen where you put in the travelers’ names, you will see an option for “Earlybird Check-In”.  SELECT IT!!!!!  Yes, it will increase the price of your ticket $10 each way – $20 total on a round-trip but trust me, over the holidays it’s a small price to pay to preserve your sanity!
The sooner you do this, the lower the number you will get because they check you in automatically and assign a boarding number.
This weekend, call the people  you want to visit over the holidays and make a plan.  Request time off at work (if necessary) and then book your flight.  Regardless of the airline – the sooner the better when it comes to holiday travel!

Just Zip It!

May 13, 2011

By now you would have thought EVERYONE would know that liquids you carry on the plane with you need to be in a quart sized, sealable plastic bag.  Yet every time I go through security at the airport, someone in one of the lines does not have their toiletries properly packaged and it holds up the line.  When this became the rule several years ago, airports had plastic bags and you could grab one as you entered the security line.  NO MORE.  The bag companies had been providing these free of charge but no longer do.  Airports do not spend the money to buy the bags either so it is the travelers responsibility.

I got caught behind one of the unprepared just last week and it was clear our line was going nowhere until this problem got solved.  Fortuneately, I travel not only with my own zip top bag but a few extras as well.  Tucked into the small zipper compartment of my rolling bag are 2-3 empty, extra zip top quart size bags –  one of which I pulled out and gave to the traveler in front of me.  Sure, it’s not my responsibility to provide baggies for the other travelers, but as long as he is clogging up the line, it’s my problem too.

Tip #1 – Be prepared yourself wth small size toiletries in a zip top, quart sized bag before you get to the airport.  Read the TSA requirements here if you are not sure about them.

Tip#2 – Tuck a couple of EXTRA baggies in your carry-on in an easy to access pocket  in case your bag tears or another traveler has not read this blog!

You will also be surprised how many uses you find for these extra bags as you travel…to hold the shells you pick up from the beach, for the extra trail mix when the bag you buy rips down the side as you open it,  for the other half of your sandwich you didn’t finish at lunch but will likely want before you get to your final destination and countless more.

Tip #3  Even if you check your luggage, putting your liquid items in a zip top bag is still a good idea.  I’ve seen more things leak than you can imagine when subjected to the temperature and pressure changes your luggage experiences during flight.

Tip#4 – Larger size zip top bags (gallon and even 2.5 gallon) can come in handy at times too.  I pack one of each in the bottom of my suitcase to use when my swimsuit is still damp and it’s time to pack to leave.  Larger ones are nice for repacking shoes covered now in sand, dust or mud too. 

Hard to believe something so small can make such a difference when you travel but it’s true.  A small investment for a lot of convenience so just zip it!


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