Holiday travel deals: Are they really deals? -

santa at airport
With Christmas and New Year's Days falling on Tuesdays, many of you will also be taking the two Mondays off from work, meaning two successive four-day weekends and an 11-day period with only three working days. A vacation clearly beckons. But travel suppliers can also look at the calendar, and many hike their rates for what they expect to be top-demand times. More:

Check Your Passport Today!

Time to make travel plans for the holidays. But before you book your international flights check your passport. In a recent conversation with the staff of the Los Angeles Passport Agency one of the most common issues they run into is passengers dashing over from LAX looking to get their passports renewed. These are passengers who have been denied boarding due to an expired passport.

Passport Booklet

So check your passport before making plans to travel outside the US. This includes Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, even if you are on a cruise ship, you will need a passport. And don't just rely on your memory, Agency staff suggest you put your hands on your passport and check it when you start making your travel plans. They often see individuals who say they have lost their passport, "I thought my passport was in my desk drawer" only to discover it is missing.

Parents also need to be reminded that even if their passports are valid the kids may have expired. Adult passports last 10 years while it is only five years for children.

One last thing, if your passport has less than six months validity on it, investigate your destination an make sure it isn't one of the countries that requires at leas six months remaining before you passport expires. Safe Travels. TB

A Flight Attendants Guide: Travel in Comfort and Style : The Flying Pinto

How you look says a lot about you. I know the last thing you are thinking about when it comes to air travel is style. You’re more interested in how to squeeze everything into your one carry on and all you care about is being in something comfortable for your long flight but, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style. If you follow these tips I can all but guarantee you will not only be comfortable, you will be the best dressed on your flight. And, you never know where that might take you.  via

What you need to know about tipping -

Tipping for coffee
Has travel tipping gotten out of hand?

Consultant Keith Anderson of Atlanta thinks so. "I'm 51 years old and I grew up when it was pretty black and white who you tipped. It's grayed tremendously in the last decade or so."

Nowadays, it seems everyone has his or her hand or tip jar out, travelers say, and tipping guidelines can be 50 shades — or more — of gray.

A July USA TODAY online travel survey drew 4,700 respondents, with 79% saying "too many people expect something extra." Seventeen percent said "hard-working people deserve tips," while 4% said they never or rarely tip.  MORE:

14 Ways to Be Prepared for Anything While Traveling | Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

travel sewing kit
When I was a kid, I was a boy scout. I made it pretty far too but then I became a teenager, decided it was “lame” and quit. As a boy scout, I learned how to tie knots, camp outdoors, be a good citizen, play with knives, and got to have cool sleepovers. One of the most important things you learn as a Boy Scout is their motto to always “be prepared”  and as I’ve grown up and traveled the world, I’ve found this to also be a travel truism.

You never know what might happen on the road. Stepping out your door into the unknown is what makes travel so exciting. Each day brings endless possibility, but that possibility is for both good and bad. You may end up enjoying a day sightseeing in Paris — or getting robbed in Berlin. You may spend an amazing day on the beaches of Thailand or suffer food poisoning in Costa Rica.


Should You Use A Luggage Lock?

Is it worth having a lock on your luggage?  Some say don’t bother, luggage locks are cheap and easily cut off.  But I say Yes, put a lock on your suitcase.  My favorite is the luggage lock from WordLock.   It is a TSA approved padlock that uses a four letter word you select as the combination and the TSA have a key to open it if needed.

WordLock on my zipper luggage.

But if you suitcase has a zipper don’t even think that it is secure from an experienced thief.  Just watch the video below:


How do you get around the zipper issue?  Use a hard shell suitcase that can be secured with a TSA approved padlock when you are flying, and using a sturdy padlock when on the ground.  Pelican or Zero Halliburton make high quality cases that use TSA locks built-in or are designed to take padlocks.  When buying a suit case that doesn’t use a zipper make sure they take a real padlock. 

Pelican cases are heavy duty plastic cases that are designed more for transporting equipment than clothing.  Zero Halliburton cases are more expensive and might make the suitcase a target for thieves that think that an expensive suitcase has valuable contents.  A new supplier is Nanuk, I haven't seen them in person.

Some zippered suitcases allow you to lock the zippers handles to a stationary location on the case.  This defeats the ability to repair/close the zipper after a bad guy has forced the zipper open with a sharp object as seen in the video. 

Cruise ship luggage sits in the rain.
I also like hard cases over fabric cases because they help protect your valuables from rain or liquids that may break in another suitcase on a flight.   Picking up your suitcase and noticing it smells like wine, made me a believer in hard cases. 

It happened to me at the end of a trip, if it had happened at the start it would have been a disaster.   I still use some old soft cases, but put everything in a plastic bags.  I’ve also found that if you frequently travel in the tropics fabric luggage can degrade and fall apart quickly. TB

7 Suggests for learning the local language - 501 Places

When travelling, we all know that any holiday is enhanced when you can speak the lingo. Not only does it enable us to earn respect of the people in the places we visit, bargain better prices but it helps make those very personal connections that make many of us want to travel in the first place.

Remember the time when you ordered your first meal, bought your first train ticket or understood your first joke in a foreign language? Simple things suddenly become an exciting challenge and an adventure. So why do we not bone up on some basic language skills before every trip?