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Packing for Travel Success

Try putting together a generic "Packing List" for all of your trips.

Try putting together a generic "Packing List" for all of your trips.

My faithful companion and I have been doing quite a bit of traveling lately. In doing so, I am determined not to let it become a problem in deciding the best things that I need to take with me on a trip. What are the must and the wants? I have been asking fellow travelers and other individuals in the blind disabled community what are their thoughts pertaining to helpful travel needs. There has been some interesting articles pertaining to this also.

Here are some of my suggestions:

For Disabled Travelers
–If you are a white cane traveler bringing an extra cane, in case your cane breaks
–A hand held talking scanner or portable reader; this as you know can be very helpful in reading menus, labels etc
–A talking GPS (global positioning system)
–Brailed labeled and or talking color identifier for clothes
–Digital recorder for taking notes

Clothing
You have to be really smart when you pack your clothes. Try picking out clothes that all fit a general color scheme. This way, you can match more than one item together and you can have a more diverse range of outfits. Additionally, pick clothes that can serve double duty. Meaning, look at items that you can dress up with the right jewelry or dress down; for example: swim trunks can also serve as men’s shorts.

Toiletry Kit
In a waterproof bag, make sure you check, bring travel sized [small] sizes of the essentials. If you’re going on a longer trip, still only buy small sizes of everything. You can always stock up once you get to your destination.

Wrinkle-Release Spray
Spray your clothes and let them hang the night before you need them for best results, and be sure to check the care instructions on your garments before use. These sprays work best for casual clothes–if you have a big meeting or need a crisp suit, you’ll still need to get out the steamer!

Back-Up Travel Documents
If you make copies of your important travel documents once, passport, green card, etc.) you can store a set permanently in a pocket of your carry-on. Having copies available will save you a world of pain if you lose your identification, particularly when overseas.

Customer Service Numbers
Keep a set of customer service and emergency contact numbers in your wallet (print them on a business card for easiest storage) in case you find yourself with a dead battery and a delayed or canceled flight

Back Up Charger
Sometimes, one charger just won’t cut it. If having power for your gadgets and necessities is essential, carry both a plug-in charger and one that operates solely on batteries.Suitcases

I hope that these suggestions will assist you with your business as well as leisure travels. Wishing you a stream line and efficient travel experience!!

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”
– Jack Kerouac

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In order to plan a great travel experience, it is necessary to plan ahead as much as possible. I enjoy reading articles that will assist me in enjoying my next adventure with as few mishaps as I need to encounter. I like to see what advice fellow travelers have, research out locations, price different activities and plan my trip out as much as possible.

Last summer, I had a great time in New York and I plan on going again sometime this fall. Despite what some people might think, it’s possible to have a great time on a decent budget in the city that never sleeps. There’s also a wealth of information out there, numbers, websites, and tips for the weary New York traveler that I thought I would share:

Having your Hotel’s Local Phone Number- I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve gotten into a cab, given the address to my hotel only to sit there while he or she circles the same few blocks trying to “find” my hotel. It’s so helpful to have your hotel’s number on hand for this reason and so many others. If your flight is delayed and you want to let them know you’ll be arriving late, you’ll be able to easily let them know so they don’t give away your room. If you’re heading back to your hotel after a late night out and can’t remember the exact address, a quick phone call will make it easy to get home safely.

Airline Phone Number- Whether you need to change your ticket or want to see if your flight has been cancelled or delayed due to bad weather, calling the airline directly is your best bet.

Dial 311-New York City has a fantastic free information service: 311. Government information and non-emergency assistance is a quick phone call away and all calls are answered by a live person, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Translation services into over 170 languages are available via 311. For calls made from outside of New York City’s five boroughs, you can access the same free information (with 24 hour live operators) by calling (212) NEW-YORK (212-639-9675).

NYC Car Service Phone Number- Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to hail a taxi, so having a car service number can be a tremendous help. When you’re stuck with lots of bags from a serious shopping trip, out in the boroughs looking for a ride back to Manhattan or trying to get to the airport, a quick call to a car service can get you a ride to your destination with little hassle.

NYC & Company Visitor Information Phone Number- If you’ve got a tourism related question, call 212-484-1222 to speak to a Visitor Information Counselor Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. They can help you with questions about attractions, tours or anything else related to New York City tourism.

Phone Numbers for Restaurants Where You Want to Eat- Even if you already have reservations, it’s a good idea to call and confirm them the day before. If you don’t reservations, it can be a good idea to call to see if they have suggestions about good times to get a table or if they have any same-day reservations available.

Travel Agent’s Phone Number-It’s not surprising that even the best laid plans can sometimes run into a snag. Having the phone number for your travel agent will make it easier to rectify any problems you might run into, whether it’s delayed flights, an overbooked hotel or a rained-out tour, your travel agent will be able to fix things more easily the sooner you let him/her know you’ve run into a problem.

Tour Operator Phone Numbers- If you’ve pre-booked tours or events on your own, it’s a great idea to store these numbers in your phone as well. It’s easier to let someone know you’re lost or running late if you can call them directly.

Traveler’s Aid Phone Number- Should you need travel assistance and don’t have somewhere else to turn, give Traveler’s Aid’s JFK agency a call at 718-656-4870. If you lose your ticket, find yourself at the wrong airport or run into another travel snafu, Traveler’s Aid may be able to offer you assistance.

New York Area Consulate Emergency Phone Number- For international travelers, it can be helpful to have the number of the nearest consulate available. Should you lose your passport, run into legal problems or need other assistance, the Consulate office of your home country can often provide help.

Securing Discount Broadway Tickets- Broadway discount tickets purchased at a TKTS Booth are typically 25-50% off full-price, meaning you’ll pay about $50-$75 per ticket. Standing Room Only and Rush Broadway discount tickets will cost approximately $25. Broadway discount tickets purchased through Broadway discount ticket newsletters and websites are typically 25-50% off full-price, meaning you’ll pay about $50-$75 per ticket.

Your best to get these tickets is to sign up for on discount Broadway ticket newsletters and websites — these sites offer discounts on advance sales for many Broadway shows. You should also check the websites for Broadway shows that you’re interested in seeing — they often have email newsletters and special offers available.

Where can I get same-day Broadway discount tickets- There are two TKTS Booths in Manhattan offering discount Broadway tickets. Standing Room Only (SRO) and Rush Tickets are available the same day of a performance, typically for around $25 at the box office.

What Broadway discount tickets are available for students-Many Rush Tickets are available only for students with ID. What Broadway discount tickets are available for Seniors? Some Rush Tickets are available to seniors as well as students with ID.

Broadway Discount Ticket Sources
TKTS Booth Discount Tickets
Online Broadway Discount Tickets
Standing Room Only and Rush Discount Tickets

Wishing you a fantabulous travel experience!!

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Others
stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts and we
are never the same.”

-Anonymous

Check out our Other Blog!

Be sure to check out the new blog posts on our other blog: Budget Travel: When You Want To, But Don’t Always Have the Cash To by Chicago freelance writer Meg Hoppe. Hoppe talks about some great ways to get all of your summer fun in without compromise and without paying a huge price. She also gives us some great advice when buying a home one the foreclosure market. Something to definitely read up on.

Follow her on Twitter @CallMeHoppe of us @TWDHF

I am wondering if I have a fetish for toilets. Remember the article we did about toilet in France? Well here I am minding own business and voilá out jumps a Russian and Eastern toilet article! Well after reading the article you know I had to share it with you.

bathroom_joburg_vacantToilets in Russia and Parts of Eastern Europe:
Toilets in Russia and in some parts of Eastern Europe are a bit different from what we expect here in the United States or Western Europe. While serviceable public toilets are becoming more easily found, especially in well-populated areas, you will still encounter some old-style public toilets in Russia and former Soviet countries. Don’t be alarmed – the use of these toilets can be navigated, but be prepared. I think for me I would be alarmed!

Pay Toilets in Russia and Eastern Europe:
Public toilets, such as those in train stations or large shopping centers, may require a small fee for their use. The fee is usually prominently displayed and will amount to a few cents’ worth of the national currency. If you’re out and about, it may be possible to avoid the use of pay toilets. However, sometimes you’ll find yourself in a situation while traveling in Eastern Europe when a pay toilet is the only accessible restroom. Keep some change handy for these instances.

Carry Toilet Paper when Traveling in Russia and Eastern Europe:
Public toilets often do not equip each toilet stall with toilet paper in Russia. Sometimes toilet paper is available outside the stalls. Sometimes there is none to be had. You can purchase small, travel-sized rolls from hygiene-product travel sections in supermarkets or convenience stores. Travel packages of tissues may substitute in a pinch as well.

Russia’s Dreaded Squat Toilets:
No one likes to enter a stall only to be met with the sight of a hole in the ground flanked with feet-shaped tread. Even more bizarre is the regular toilet that has been equipped with raised platforms so it is impossible to use the toilet in the normal way – one must squat over the bowl or teeter precariously in front of it… [Beatrice suggestion to Beatrice’s readers? Exit promptly!] …there is usually a more serviceable toilet nearby.

Are Public Toilets Clean or Dirty in Eastern Europe and Russia:
In nicer Eastern European shopping centers, restaurants, and cafes, you’ll be pleased to find some very clean, equipped toilets. In airports or train stations, and even in some universities, the state of disrepair and lack of maintenance of the toilets will leave you breathless – literally. These may be your only choice. Carry waterless hand sanitizer.

Russian Toilet Paper – Toilet Paper in Eastern Europe:
“Sandpaper”-like toilet paper is still in use in some toilets in Russia and Eastern Europe. Yes, the soft stuff is available for general purchase. The gray-to-brownish Soviet-issue toilet paper is as bad as the stereotype – to varying degrees. If you stay at a friend’s house, and they are still using it, try introducing them to the cotton toilet paper. They will probably think you’re funny for lavishing luxury on your posterior.

Toilets in Private Residences in Russia and East Europe:
Some toilets in Russia and Eastern Europe are given their own room, separate from the bathing/sink area. This will require you to exit the “toilet room” and enter the actual “bath” room to wash your hands. No one thinks this is weird.

Flushing Toilets in Russia – How to Flush an Eastern European Toilet:
Some toilets in Eastern Europe will flush the way you’re probably used to – there will be a lever on one side of the tank. Other Russian toilets will have a ball or a button on the tank. Pull or press to flush the toilet. Some toilets will not have enough power to flush toilet paper – there may be a sign over a trash basket asking that no toilet paper be flushed.

Well you know readers that this will be a memorable toilet travel experience!!

Now, I am not a kill joy, but my grandchildren understand only Disney World. Don’t get me wrong I like Minnie, Mickey and my favorite Donald Duck! I am sure it has to be his sexy quack that really turns me on! Excuse me I regress to my childhood remembering my Donald Duck lunch box.

Well, I foolishly tried to explain there were other sites there as well. My little darlings would have none of that. The only redeeming part of Florida is Disney World. But, for the rest of us, here are some great sites to see in Florida once you’ve expended all your energy for Flash Mountain.

Best Miami Attractions for Kids

Biscayne National Park

Courtesy of: QT Luong

Courtesy of: QT Luong

While enjoying the natural parks in Miami, don’t forget about the one located under water! Kids of swimming age will find a bounty of treasures in this 181,500-acre wonderland, located just off the Miami coast. You can explore the vibrant coral reefs in a myriad of ways, including glass-bottom boat tours, snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, fishing, and more. There is more fun to be had on land, on hiking trails or while camping on Elliot Key, or the more rustic Boca Chita Key. Visit the Convoy Point / Dante Fascell Visitor Center in Homestead to start your adventure.

Crandon Park BeachCrandon
Crandon Beach has been ranked one of the Top 10 Beaches in the U.S. A short stroll along the promenade takes you to the Amusement Center – a hub of activity including a carousel, outdoor roller rink, splash fountain, and playground. The park also features concession stands, picnic areas, various nature trails and tours, and kayaks and cabanas to rent.

Everglades National Park

Courtesy of: Jim Richardson & National Geographic

Courtesy of: Jim Richardson & National Geographic

Make reservations ahead for a two-hour tram tour starting at the Shark Valley Visitor Center. This is the most family-friendly of the visitor centers and the one closest to Miami. You will see plenty of alligators, birds, and other wildlife. The Bobcat Boardwalk is an easy ¼ mile trail that kids will enjoy walking.

Gold Coast Railroad Museumthe-gold-coast-railroad
The museum is home to several historic train cars, including the Ferdinand Magellan, built by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and used by several Presidents after him. Short train rides are offered on several types of trains, depending on the day. There is also an extensive model train exhibit, and a huge toy train set that children can play with.

Historical Museum of Southern Florida
Learn about South Florida and Caribbean history at this lovely museum in Downtown Miami

Miami Children’s Museum
Younger children will marvel at the plethora of interactive exhibits, and be delighted that they can touch and move anything they want.

Wishing you a marvelous travel experience at Disney World and beyond!!

“In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

french_flag_arc_de_triompheIf you recall we did an article about passengers may having to pay to use the toilet with certain airlines. Now it seems as though it may be difficult to use the facility in another locale when nature calls! Read on to look at the challenges you may have in France.

Using a toilet may sound like the simplest of tasks, but if you aren’t used to France’s plumbing it can be an experience. The public toilets in France are often broken down and sometimes a little scary. You need to know how to flush, how much it will cost you and other secrets to using the restroom.

Here is your toilet guide information on how to answer natures call:

  1. Find a bathroom. This isn’t always that easy, as public restrooms aren’t necessarily plentiful. Shopping centers or malls usually have a public restroom, as do some popular outdoor areas. Parks tend to have the public restroom pods. Worst case scenario, pop into a cafe, order a coffee and use their facilities. If you’re bold, march into a busy one and go straight back to the bathroom, then leave and save yourself a couple euros. Look for signs saying, “toilettes” or “W.C.”
  2. Look over the bathroom once you enter. While it is much less common these days, some have a glorified hole in the floor. You are supposed to squat and hover how would you handle this with arthritis and nature is calling? I guess the answer would be excitable!! This is one that I wouldn’t recommend.
  3. Flush. The flushing mechanisms on French toilets are almost never on the back. Sometimes there is a chain pully from above, sometimes a foot petal on the ground. Sometimes there is a button on top, sometimes two (pushing both will make the toilet keep flushing). Often, there is a large, rectangular bar on the back wall. Push or pull whatever you find.
  4. If you encounter an outdoor public pod-style restroom, they are a bit of their own category, and can be rather intimidating and confusing. Simply step up and look to see whether it’s occupied (red or green dot by the door). Put in your change, and wait for the door to automatically open. Step in, and the door automatically closes. Some individuals like to take a book or magazine with them when nature calls. But if you use this particular facility if you are there 15 minutes or more, the door WILL open. No book or magazine for this one!! These seem dirty, but they actually are disinfected after each use.
  5. Always have small change on you. Many restrooms are pay, sometimes manned by an attendant and sometimes accepting change to enter. The outdoor restroom pods require exact change, so have 5- and 10-centime pieces.
  6. Don’t be surprised by unisex bathrooms, or men’s and women’s rooms with a common lobby. The French are not nearly as hung up about separate restrooms as, say, the Americans.
  7. Before you enter, check to see if toilet paper is outside the stall. Sometimes, there are dispensers in the sink and mirror area, but no paper inside the stall.
  8. If you are visiting busy fast food restaurants, SAVE YOUR RECEIPT. It usually contains a code to get into the restroom there.
  9. Don’t be surprised if the outdoor pod-style public bathroom is broken down. Go to the next park

Wishing you the best with this nature call because really it is a travel experience!!

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”
– Michael J. Fox

Check out our Other Blog!

Be sure to check out the new blog posts on our other blog: Budget Travel: When You Want To, But Don’t Always Have the Cash To by Chicago freelance writer Meg Hoppe.

Hoppe talks about some great ways to get all of your summer fun in without compromise and without paying  a huge price. She also gives us some great advice when buying a home one the foreclosure market. Something to definitely read up on.

Follow her on Twitter @CallMeHoppe of us @TWDHF