Wanderlust Journey

Wanderlust Journey

Wandering the world isn't a bad way to live…

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How to Pack Like a Pro

December 5th, 2011 · Comments Off on How to Pack Like a Pro

Packing for a flight used to not be this tough. But times have changed. These days you have to be wary of weight, contents, and how those contents are packed. On top of that, there are still regular old hassles when it comes to packing your luggage. The following are five ways to pack like a professional traveler and curb the hassles inherent with modern air travel:

Roll Your Clothes: Folding is an attempt to avoid wrinkles, but rolling your shirts, slacks, shorts, and other attire is a sure way to equally avoid wrinkles while also freeing up precious space within your luggage. Not only that, but such an arrangement is easier for security personnel to search through, which means less hassle for them and less violations of personal space for you.

Prep Your Laptop: With more and more airlines providing travelers with on board Internet service, bringing a laptop or tablet as a carry-on is becoming a more common occurrence. But keep in mind that when going through the metal detectors, laptops must be removed from any sleeve and placed in a bin by itself. Make this a quick process by having your laptop ready to be removed upon arriving at the security checkpoint.

Check the Weather (AKA Avoid Anecdotal Evidence): It’s easy to assume that Southern California is always sunny and warm thanks to television – but residents of the Golden State see cool weather and clouds just like everyone else. The same goes for the reverse: Seattle isn’t always a rain-soaked city despite its reputation. Check the actual forecast before packing, as you want to make sure you bring the appropriate attire.

Keep Liquids and Gels in an Easily Accessible Place: Even if you’re checking your luggage, it’s wise to keep your toiletries in baggies and separated from the rest of your items. This reduces the chances of a gooey mess in the event these items are broken open during the flight, but it also reduces the likelihood of your luggage being significantly rummaged through in the event of a random search, as they primarily focus on inspecting toiletries, not clothing.

Weight Before You Go: The costs of added weight to luggage weight limits are ridiculously high, but when you’re at the check-in counter what choice do you have besides suck it up and pay? Know how much your luggage weighs before you go. Grab your luggage, step on your bathroom scale, step off, then weigh yourself again sans luggage. Subtract the difference and you have a figure you can compare to the limitations imposed by your chosen airlines.

Nobody likes the hassles associated with travel, especially the aggravations that come with luggage and security. But these hassles are ultimately in all of our best interests, and there are ways in which you can make it easier on yourself and others. If you pack like a pro, it allows you to sit back, relax, and actually enjoy your air travel experience.

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American Airlines Files for Bankruptcy

November 29th, 2011 · Comments Off on American Airlines Files for Bankruptcy

Airline bankruptcies happen so often these days it’s almost not even news but American Airlines’ parent company, AMR, filed today and hopes to continue operating as it works its way through the process. American Airlines is the last “legacy” airline to seek this protection despite its efforts to avoid it.

American Airlines was the largest carrier until Delta Air Lines purchased Northwest Airlines in 2008. It fell from the #2 spot when United Airlines merged with Continental Airlines. As it turns out, Southwest Airlines is currently #4 and US Airways is fifth.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out though I suspect AMR will emerge from this process.

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Request Toiletry Samples for Airport Security

November 15th, 2011 · Comments Off on Request Toiletry Samples for Airport Security

La Source ToiletriesTSA guidelines state that you can’t carry onto a flight any bottle containing more than 3 oz. of fluid, also known as the 3-1-1 rule. That means all of your toiletries, from shampoo and condition to contact lens solution. The only exclusions to this rule are medications, baby formula and food, and breast milk. Unfortunately, as necessary as toothpaste, hair gel, and perfume may seem, they’re not included on the exceptions list.

So what are you supposed to do? Who buys shampoo in 3 oz. bottles? Only fools and folks looking to get through airport security! [Read more →]

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Further Taxing Could Raise Airfare Even Higher

October 10th, 2011 · Comments Off on Further Taxing Could Raise Airfare Even Higher

Airlines have long been under fire for raising airfares and adding on additional expenditures such as fees for checked baggage; however, a recent tax increase proposed by President Obama now has the travel industry enraged.

Recently, President Obama requested that airline passengers pay a few extra dollars for their airline tickets to help out with the Nation’s deficit. While a few dollar hike increase doesn’t seem like much, regional airports are worried that the heightened costs may further hinder business. The conditions under the tax proposal include:

a $100 take off fee for each time a commercial airliner or corporate jet takes off

an increase in the passenger security fee need to cover TSA expenses. Fees would rise from $2.50 to $5 one way, and would rise an additional $.50 a year until 2017.

With the new tax, President Obama hopes to raise nearly $36 billion to put towards the $4 trillion in deficit he hopes to remove from the Nation’s grand total within the next decade.

While passengers may not see the effects of the proposed bill for awhile, both national and regional airports feel as those the taxes would come at a time when the industry is already struggling.

“Aviation shouldn’t be a piggy bank for every other purpose,” stated President of the Regional Airline Association, Roger Cohen. “This was proposed, I think, based on the bank robber Willie Sutton theory that this is where the money is.”

The regional airport industry is by far the most upset about the proposed tax increase, believing that the $100 take off fee will greatly affect them. Most regional flights are simply from smaller airports to larger international airports, and only carry a handful of passengers. Upping the fee of these flights, could potentially cause regular users to drive the hours to the larger airport simply to save on airfare.

“It’s not a question of if, it’s just a question of how many would lose service,” stated Cohen. “They might as well put the ‘Closed, going out of business, not coming back’ sign on every one of those communities.”

Other regional airport representatives simply don’t understand how they could be charge the same fee as airports that frequently have plans taking off with ten times the amount of passengers.

Nearly 20 percent of the average airline ticket is already made up of federal taxes, fees, and airport charges. Under the new tax proposal, those frequenting direct flights could see taxes double within a year, and triple in years to come.

For TSA, the hike in fee is upsetting because they wouldn’t see much of the raised money. Of the $24.9 billion the tax would raise, over half, $15 billion to be exact, would go to the national deficit not TSA.

“It’s just really unacceptable,” states Director of Consumer Travel Alliance, Charles Leocha. “They’re basically saying they’re going to take out money and put in in another pocket.”

While the bill will still struggle for some time before passing, those planning on traveling in the future should book their tickets now before fees climb any higher. As fuel prices continue to rise and the deficit becomes a more pressing issue, it is only imminent that airline prices will go higher.

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Boutique Hotels Offer Great Loyalty Perks

September 26th, 2011 · Comments Off on Boutique Hotels Offer Great Loyalty Perks

One of the knocks against smaller boutique hotel chains is that their loyalty programs just aren’t that great. When you compare it with the wide selection of a Marriott, or enormous hotel chain, smaller boutique chains just can’t compete on sheer numbers alone. Fortunately, they compete in other ways.

I’ve been going to Kimpton Hotels for several years now because their service is fantastic, the rooms are spacious and beautiful, and it’s a great experience overall. What makes it even better is that you can join their Kimpton InTouch program and it gives you free Wi-Fi and two “honor-bar” items, basically $15 to spend in the room’s mini-bar. It always infuriates me when I find out my $200 a night room also charges me $20 for Wi-Fi, so that’s a perk.

The next time you are thinking about boutique versus a major chain, take a quick peek at the loyalty program to see what you can get for free just by signing up.

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Saving the Dead Sea One Forensic Science Expert at a Time…

September 15th, 2011 · Comments Off on Saving the Dead Sea One Forensic Science Expert at a Time…

Many anthropologists further their education and potential for advanced employment with a forensic science degree. That could be what Israel and Jordan just may need to save the Dead Sea in education in forensic sciences could be what Israel and Jordan just may need to save the Dead Sea (or what some Israelis call), the Salt Sea.

Over the past fifty plus years the Dead Sea, both a tourist attraction and environmental phenomenon has quickly continues to evaporate.
Just six months ago, when visiting Israel and the Dead Sea, after floating in its wonder, the Israeli tour-guide explained how different people, of all backgrounds, have come up with different possibilities to save the Dead Sea. She explained that one option was to mix water from the Red Sea into the Dead Sea, but that many people were contemplating this idea.
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If an Airlines Loses Your Luggage, Chances Are You Still Pay Check-in Costs

August 17th, 2011 · Comments Off on If an Airlines Loses Your Luggage, Chances Are You Still Pay Check-in Costs

Not having your bags show up on the luggage wheel upon your arrival used to just be an aggravation held against airline ineptitude. But these days, the stakes have been raised: now you’re expected to pay a fee for your luggage. In the event that your bags are lost or sent somewhere else by mistake, you’ve essentially paid for services not rendered. And as it turns out, most airlines offer no easy way for you to get that money back.

For instance, Southwest Airlines and JetBlue both bury their bag fee within the overall ticket price. If your luggage is lost, there’s no paper trail that will help you establish a strong case against these companies for reimbursement. In essence, the apparently lowered costs of traveling with these airlines comes with the risk of not being compensated in the event your bags don’t accompany you to your destination.

Other airlines assure fliers with promises of reimbursement in the event that bags are lost, but in practice, it’s much harder than they make it out to be. Alaska Airlines, for example, shows off a seemingly impressive reparations package offered to those who have their bags misplaced. They will either debit you $20.00 toward another ticket purchase or give you 2,000 frequent flier miles. But as it turns out, claiming these reimbursements is easier said than done. It requires that you speak to an airline authority within two hours of lost luggage and it’s only for one bag per person, so if more were lost you’re out of luck.

Delta is the only other airline that offers something even remotely close to being considered luggage-fee restitution in the event of lost bags. The Delta package is a little different, but is essentially the same thing as Alaska’s, only in exchange for a 12 hour wait time as opposed to only two, fliers get the luxury of being able to have two lost bags compensated for instead of just one.

As far as the rest of the airlines go, name your carrier and be ready for disappointment. They won’t let you board a plane with luggage without paying for the extra weight, yet they won’t refund you that charge in the event that your luggage never arrives.

Simply put, paying for luggage is a certainty and being compensated for lost luggage is a rarity in a world where airlines are severely strapped for cash and fuel costs continue to skyrocket.

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What to Do if Riots Erupt Around Your European Vacation

August 10th, 2011 · Comments Off on What to Do if Riots Erupt Around Your European Vacation

In European nations, the occasional riot is still a simple fact of life. The people over there take to the streets if student loan interest is raised a little bit, let alone if their economy teeters on the verge of collapse. Currently, all the news is about the riots underway in the streets of several cities in the U.K. One of the advantages of even low-class hooligans being able to get their hands on a 4G Slide Android phone is that we get to see some pretty unforgettable, yet equally intimidating footage of block-wide fires. With Greece rioting fresh on our minds and the European debt crisis allowing the potential for any member nation of the EU to default and descend into anarchy, those wanting to visit the culturally-supersaturated continent can find themselves hesitating.

Rest assured however. The likelihood of being in some way affected by potential rioting is a statistical improbability. Chances are overwhelming that you’ll instead go to Europe and have a wonderful time. But in the event you find yourself in the middle of a country about to dissolve into insolvency, here’s what you can do:


With Internet access you can always keep up-to-date on the news wherever you are. English-language news is sure to cover any sort of increased disturbances in foreign nations. Get a hefty dose of information from multiple news sources; you don’t want to fall prey to sensationalism or a false sense of security.


Whether it’s your hotel’s front desk clerk or a barista at a cafe with a little English under her belt, if you’re concerned about your safety and the state of social stability in the area, ask someone what’s going on. You’ll generally get a more truthful and specific picture than you would from just watching the news. They can tell you what the real dangers are especially for tourists. They can also fill you in on the background of the hostilities.


If trouble is without a doubt brewing around you, then look at your passport or look online for instructions provided by the U.S. State Department on what to do in the event of an emergency when traveling abroad. You certainly won’t be the only American with concerns if there are others in the country as well. That means you can either expect anticipatory assistance or a clogged system depending on when you decide to seek help. Help can either be reassurance of your safety or advice on how to salvage currency with lost value.


Don’t get involved. Whatever the reason or lack thereof riots in the magnitude that we’ve seen recently in the news are the result of deep-seeded domestic drama that foreigners have little to no business getting themselves into. Avoid turning it into a voyeuristic experience, or else you could become a target of individuals fearful of being identified. Refuse to respond to provocation unless your life is in danger. Guests should remain cordial no matter how badly the hosts are behaving.

Otherwise, take it easy and enjoy your time as much as possible. The bigger the riot, the more relevant your travel experience story will be years from now. Look at it as an authentic European experience.

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Airlines and IRS Clash on How to Refund FAA Ticket Tax

August 9th, 2011 · Comments Off on Airlines and IRS Clash on How to Refund FAA Ticket Tax

Travelers who purchased tickets prior to the removal of FAA taxes after the government failed to fund the agency are entitled to a refund according to the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS has instructed airlines, who are not required by law to do so, to dispense the refunds to customers who submit the necessary forms. The airlines are unsure why the IRS is making them handle the refunds when tax payments are traditionally instantly considered monies of the Treasury Department. According to the Air Transport Association, which represents dozens of airlines, its not the responsibility of airlines to get refunds to customers. It’s the duty of the IRS.

The result has been a series of mix messages sent out to the public. The IRS is telling citizens to approach their respective airlines for the way to get back their tax payment. Airlines are telling customers to go to the IRS. In the middle, are a number of unhappy individuals who just want the money entitled to them by law.

The mishap occurred as congress failed to continue funding the Federal Aviation Administration prior to the August recess. After President Obama pleaded with congress to not let 4,000 workers employed by the FAA be left with uncertain fates, congressional leaders returned to restore funding to the federal agency. However, for the brief time in between, the FAA was not being funded and therefore taxes typically applied to airline ticket purchases were removed. The resulting action on the part of the airlines was to make up for the price difference with increased fare charges.

The IRS is currently attempting to establish a dedicated means for customers to get their tax refunds through the government agency’s website. They apparently have to sort out the complications of having no paper trail for electronic ticket purchases. It’s for this reason and the simplicity for airlines to track customer records that the IRS is currently asking airlines to handle the refund and for customers to try to reach an agreement through the airlines before submitting paperwork to the IRS.

The government might be borderline broke, but bureaucratic bedlam never takes a break.

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Overseas Travel Preparation Checklist: ‘I Wish I Had Thought of That’ Edition

August 5th, 2011 · Comments Off on Overseas Travel Preparation Checklist: ‘I Wish I Had Thought of That’ Edition

One of the unmistakable pressures of an overseas journey is making absolutely sure you bring everything you need while at the same time bringing the minimal amount of stuff with you as possible. Try as we might, it’s inevitable that at some point during an international trip we’re going to want to beat ourselves over the head for forgetting an essential. Avoiding this is nearly impossible especially for first time travelers. But take it from a guy who’s gone through the ordeal twice. The following are things you need to bring before making a B-line to Barcelona and beyond:

Universal Adapter
Anyone who’s seen a comedy about Americans going to another country is no doubt familiar with the folly of forgetting that electrical outlets vary from region to region. What most people don’t realize is that it isn’t some sort of hallmark of backward nations or exotic locations. Great Britain and Australia, two English-speaking nations, each have outlets separate from each other and our own. Most electronics stores sell an adapter that can be amended to fit in any outlet on Earth. It’s well worth it to get one before departing.

Concealable Cash Carrier
Getting pick pocketed while traveling overseas is a common crime for American travelers to be the victims of. It’s not that it’s somehow a rampant occurrence in every country besides the US, but rather chances are you’re going to be sight-seeing in highly populated urban areas where crime is common. In addition, overseas travelers simply have a habit of sticking out like sore thumbs. Nothing fancy is required, but it’s smart to find a way to carry cash around freely without it sitting in a pocket or bag where it’s easy to get to.

The Health and Medical Coverage Situation
Depending on your destination a variety of different situations can occur which could require you or a traveling companion to need medical attention. In some countries universal healthcare is extended to every life within their borders, while in others no such coverage exists. Even if a nation’s single payer will provide for emergency care, long-term attention in the event that it becomes necessary would not be covered. Before you go on any overseas journey, it’s imperative that you talk with your own health insurance provider if you have one, and research the healthcare situation in the country or countries you wish to visit.

Since nobody wants to pay the ridiculous surcharges often associated with using a mobile phone overseas, people tend to leave their phones turned off the whole time. But so long as your phone can get a Wi-Fi signal, you can utilize your data access features. This means a whole army of apps can be at your disposal, which can make international travel so much easier. Translators, landmark finders, and distance logs are invaluable on an international trip.

There are countless things that are handy to have or have sorted out before you depart for an international trip. Unfortunately you only have so much luggage space and time to plan. But take it from a seasoned traveler, the aforementioned will prove to be precious when you embark on a trip overseas.

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