Tag Archives: Travel

Cruising for Christmas

One of our staff is going on a cruise over Christmas.  She’ll be in warm weather, we’ll be here in Minnesota.  The good news is it hasn’t snowed here (Minnesota had two servings of winter last year, so it looks as if we may be evening out for the 2011-2012 season).

The better news is that our team member is checking out this list of special things to pack on a cruise.

Special Items

  1. Big items
    If you’re bringing bigger items (golf clubs, scuba gear, strollers), check with the cruise line to see if these items are available to rent. It might save you some extra room and travel expenses.
  2. Extra cash
    Bring plenty of cash for your end-of-cruise tips. Some cruise lines will add suggested gratuities to your onboard account which you will take care of at the end of the cruise. Check with your cruise line’s policies so that you know when and what will be charged.
  3. Be sure to pack a good watch.
    You’ll need to watch the time on your shore excursions in order to make it back to the ship on time.
  4. Small day bag.
    Also, consider packing a small day bag to use just for your shore excursions to carry your money, ids, camera and any other essentials.
  5. Pack a carry-on bag just for the boat
  6. When you check in to the ship, your bags will go through security and might not be brought to your room until a few hours later. Pack all important items that you might need in your carry-on (meds, special needs, swimsuits, other entertainment items).
    • Do NOT put valuables in bags you are checking (electronics, jewelry, camera, money, credit cards, etc.). Put them in your carry-on if you can.
    • Bring all medications in your carry-on. They should be in their original labeled container. Bring prescription copies as well as a list of the generic names.
  7. Be sure to leave room in your luggage for souvenirs, clothes, gifts, etc.

Have fun if you’re cruising this holiday season!

3 Quick Tips for Traveling with Pets

Lots of people bring their pets on vacations.  There’s a lot to remember, but here are three of our favorite tips from over the years:

I like to take out and measure each meal of food for the dog and put each meal in a small, resealable plastic bag. I know if I just grab one of those bags it’s the right amount of food and I don’t have to bring a measuring cup.
– Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, ASPCA Executive Vice President of National Programs and Science Advisor and owner of a dog, two cats and some fish.

A change in the water might cause diarrhea and intestinal distress for the pet. If you’re going to a different area, use bottled water. Also, your vet may be able to prescribe an anti-diarrheal medication or suggest a brand of canned food for your pet to prevent loose stools.
– Lisa Peterson, AKC Director of Club Communications and owner, breeder and handler of Norwegian Elkhounds

And this one is just plain smart:

Phone Number
Have a little tag made that has your cell phone number on it (many pet stores have machines that do this) – stick that on your dog’s collar when you’re traveling. If your dog gets away, they’ll call you at home but you won’t be there!
- Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, ASPCA Executive Vice President of National Programs and Science Advsor and owner of a dog, two cats and some fish

More tips here.

Vacation? Check These 6 Things

Go through this list and make sure you’ve got the names, numbers, dates, emails, and documents you need for  vacation.

  1. Hotel: Reconfirmed – Online confirmation printed or saved in phone – In person reservation? Get the name of the person you spoke with and the date – Confirmation number(s) – Email Confirmations Printed
  2. Airplane: Reconfirmed tickets/departure time – Confirmation number(s) – E-Ticket Printed or in Phone
  3. Car Rental: Reconfirmed – Confirmation number(s) – Email Confirmations Printed or in Phone
  4. Train: Reconfirmed tickets/departure time – Confirmation number(s) – E-Ticket Printed or in Phone
  5. Driving to your vacation destination? Call ahead and reconfirm: Your Arrival – Date/Time of Conversation – Person Spoke With – Confirming (and printing) route you’re planning to take
  6. Re-evaluate itinerary. Make any necessary changes. Leave a final copy with a friend, family member or trusted neighbor.

WHN TIP – At the Office: Leave your itinerary with a co-worker. Why? Often the first sign that something may be wrong is when someone doesn’t show up at work when they are due back.

Road Trip: Money and Luggage

Here are a couple of nifty ideas from friends who have traveled on road trips:

Tag the Bag

Even though you’re not flying, here are a couple of labeling tips in your bags are somehow lost or stolen.

  1. Put on a luggage tag on the bag with your home address
  2. Put a label inside your bags (tape a card or a piece of paper to the inside) as a backup

Call for Credit

  1. Call credit card companies and let them know the dates you’ll be traveling and the cities you’ll be visiting. Why? Because if they see activity outside of your normal routine and they don’t know you’re traveling, they may put a security alert on your account, which means your credit card will be rejected.
  2. Reader Input: Letting the credit card company know travel dates was helpful for Mark, one of your fellow readers. His credit card company saw a charge AFTER he’d returned from Mexico and called to ask him about it.  Turns out they caught the fraud before he did!

Makin’ Copies

  1. Remember to make photocopies of all the credit cards (front and back) you’re taking with you.
  2. Give one copy to a friend or family member (who is not traveling with you…)
  3. Keep your copies in a different area from your wallet (i.e. luggage, locked glove compartment) in case you need to call and cancel your card.
  4. Bonus Tip: Write down the phone number you need to call your credit card company in case it’s lost or stolen.

– Susan

Vacations: Cruising with Kids

With colder weather and holidyas seemingly around the corner, thoughts of vacations are looming on the horizon (hopefully a warmer horizon.)

Our family blogger Steven has seven tips for cruising with kids – our favorite is #5:

Eat dinner at the same table every night
This may sound boring, but if you want to enjoy your dinner, it is best to find a good waitstaff, and then stick with them for the duration of the cruise. Your child’s needs (highchair, milk before you order, extra alphabet soup) will be met quickly as the waitstaff gets to know your family, leaving you with more time to relax and enjoy your meal.
One more tip: pack a goodie bag of inexpensive little toys for each child for each night in the dining room. This will keep the kids entertained while waiting for the adults to order and the food to arrive.

Thanks Steven!

– Susan

Quick Advice: Pet Travel Kit

Great advice after we tweeted about Pet Travel Kits – Rachel Farris from PetRelocation.com contacted us with this tip for pets and airline travel:

>>For photocopies of health documentation, we use plastic shipping sleeves (normally used for address labels) to secure the documentation to the top of the travel crate. These sleeves are great as they show the content, stick to the crate easily and usually have a resealable closure – perfect for airport officials to quickly and easily access the documentation.<<

Thanks Rachel!

How to Smartly Study Abroad

by Lauren, our college blogger

I have previously written a blog entry for WHN about the benefits of studying abroad and what to start thinking about before starting your adventure abroad. Now that the application and admission process is complete, here are some basic travel tips on how students can make their time abroad as memorable and stress-free as possible!

Research, Research, Research!

  • Study up on fashion trends of your destination. As a study abroad student, the last thing you want to do is stick out like an American tourist. Pay attention to what people wear and try to fit in as much as possible. This will be a key step if you are looking to be completely immersed into a culture.
  • Mind your Ps&Qs.Learn the social customs and proper etiquette to show your respect for the culture, as well as avoiding offending anyone unintentionally
  • Know the current events of both your own country as well as your new home. People are going to be interested in where your come from and what you think about their country. Knowing the political structure is very important, as many people will ask your opinion as an American.

Pack Lightly

The biggest bummer imaginable is lugging around large amounts of luggage, especially internationally. Even through studying abroad usually means having to pack for a semester or two, try to pack as little as possible.

  • Only bring necessities you cannot live without or get out of America.Everything else can be purchased in your study abroad location. The majority of airlines only allow two large pieces of luggage, which could still be a lot to travel with.
  • My friends that have gone or are currently abroad have suggested taking a big travel backpack that you can find in sporting good stores. They are easy to carry and you can fit a lot into them. Leave room in the bags for all those fabulous souvenirs you pick up!

Keep Safe

Just because you are having amazing adventures abroad does not mean safety takes a back seat. Use the same common sense that you would use in America

  • Avoid going out at night alone for the obvious reasons.Going out with a group of friends is much more fun anyways!
  • Always have a mode of communication so incase anything does go wrong, you will not be stranded without help.
  • Befriend locals but be careful! All the same rules apply. They could be great people at first but can easily turn into an unwanted personality.

Cell Phones are a MUST

One of the most important requirements of the majority study abroad programs is to have a cell phone within the first week upon arrival. A cell phone is crucial for emergencies, as well as keeping an active social life! Instead of buying an international cell phone plan in the United States, go for the pay-as-you-go phone in the country of choice. These are much cheaper and do not tie you into binding contracts.

Best of the Day: Spring Break – Where’s My Hotel?

Spring break is here.  (We’re not sure because we haven’t seen the MTV schedule for their spring break telethon.)(Do they even do that anymore or is it all simply tweeted?)

Here are some spring break safety tips we got from from marketing directors who work at hotels in Florida.

Yes, they’ve seen a lot – so trust us when we say that if it’s good advice for partying college-age vacationers, it’s also sound advice for adult travelers who may also tip a few back on vacation…

1. Double Triple Dare You

Triple-check your reservations before heading out the door (airplane, hotel, rental car, any other tours or trips). Nothing’s worse than getting to a crowded spring break town and finding that not only is your hotel reservation lost, but everything else is fully booked.

Leave copies of your trip itinerary and important contact numbers with family or friends at home so that they know how to contact you in case of an emergency.

2. Health Check

Make sure to bring along your meds and health insurance card – just in case.

3. Financial Security

Bring along backup traveler’s checks or credit cards, in case your purse or wallet gets lost or stolen. Keep these backup items in a separate and secure location.

4. Keep It Safe

Leave all your valuables and jewelry at home or at school (are you really going to use your iPod/laptop/video game system while you’re sightseeing and soaking up the sun?).

5. Reduce Theft and Risk

Reduce your risk of theft: Never leave your luggage or personal belongings unattended in a public area.

6. Driving?

Allow yourself plenty of time to get there. Read our Car Travel section for more quick safety tips.

7. Flying?

Remember, there are new carry-on restrictions for air travel. Not sure what to pack in your carry-on? Read What’s Allowed In Your Carry-On Luggage.

Headed overseas? Make sure to check out the U.S. State Department’s Consular Information Sheets for country overviews, as well as travel warnings, regarding locations and issues of concern for Americans traveling abroad.

Print out the U.S. embassy city contact information for the countries you’ll be in – keep this list with you at all times. Why? In case you lose your passport or there’s an emergency, you may need to find the embassy. Leave a copy of the embassy list with a friend for backup.

8. Leave the Rings at Home

My husband and I have ‘travel wedding rings’ we take with us so we don’t lose the ‘real ones’ – which we’ve come close to doing in the ocean a few times!

9. Safety In Numbers

Travel with others and stick together: program each other’s numbers into your cell phones. Going out on an errand or walk? Make sure to mention where you’re going and when you’ll be back.

10. Program Your Cell Phone

Program your hotel’s phone number, address and your room number – in case your memory escapes you.

Before you head out the door to hit the town, program the phone numbers for local taxis and transport services into your phone – this is if you need a lift home at the end of the night.

Have fun!


Road trips and pizza

Here’s something to celebrate when you’re traveling – good pizza.

Driving back from Wisconsin after the grueling cross-country ski 7K (where we were passed by a dad, using one pole and pulling a child….), we decided to stop a place outside of Luck, Wisconsin called JJ’s Club.

Located on Highway 35, JJ’s is a pizza shop, pool hall, bar and lounge – and it’s where you’ll find the BEST pizza in the world.

We stopped in after 1 pm on a Sunday and suffice to say, the owner was terrific, the staff a delight and again – the pizza (mushroom, onion) was amazing. The cheese was perfect, (an 80/20 mix of mozzarella and something else, the chef said he’s have to kill us if he told us…); the mushrooms plump, the onions crisp and the sauce – not too sweet, not too sharp.  The crust? Golden, crunchy without being too done, almost buttery.

If you’re ever in Wisconsin (and we know many of you are….), go to JJ’s.

Do you have a great pizza place you’ve found while traveling?  Email us (Susan (at) WhatHappensNow.com) and let us know; we’ll post it.

– Susan

The Club – Car Rentals

When we were first researching and interviewing about car rental, we’d rent cars for our business trips to test advice, find out what worked best, uncover glitches, how glitches were handled, etc.

While we found Hertz and National to be delightful, their ‘clubs’ are equally nice.

When you enroll in the clubs (check for fees) you get to bypass lines and go straight to your car (National Emerald Club) or head to special area that lists your name and the location of your on the lot (Hertz #1 Club Gold – $60/year).

We are in the National club and rented with them this weekend. Everything is scanned, so it was a painless pick-up/drop-off process.

If you have to rent a car for business or pleasure, read this article on Renting a Car. I reviewed it before we rented to be sure we were following the advice we’d collected.

Also, check out these sites for national travel and road closure information plus this toll calculator directory – both are very handy.

– Susan