» Travel 'n Technology
7 June 2012
BY brook0 comments
With summer upon us, it’s time to start considering the family vacation. If you’re planning a road trip, you’ll have the advantage of roof racks and trunk space, giving you ample room for bringing along everything you need. But when traveling by air, especially with children in tow, you’ll have to get creative and be very selective about what gets put in the suitcases.
When packing for your trip, the first thing to do is research the rules and regulations of the airline you have booked. Each carrier has its own set of weight restrictions, baggage limits, and carry-on rules. Most airlines allow each passenger to bring on board one carry-on that fits in the overhead plus one handbag or tote that can be stowed under the seat. For a family of four, for instance, this means you can bring along four small rolling suitcases (roller boards) without having to pay any luggage fees. If your trip is relatively short in duration, or if laundry facilities are easily accessible at your destination, consider trying to pack everything into the carry-on bags, avoiding the baggage check-in altogether
If larger suitcases are required, have family members share bags, which will keep your per-bag fees to a minimum. While it’s often difficult to determine what you will or won’t need on a trip away from home, don’t fall into the trap of packing too much. Writing up a pre-packing planning list is a great idea, especially when several people are involved. If you make up a family packing list, you’ll avoid bringing duplicate items and you’ll be able to better control what goes in the suitcases.
For a little added insurance, we have sometimes opted to split clothing between multiple suitcases. This way, if one of the bags is lost, or take the slow route, it’s not just one person’s belongings that are misplaced. So instead of two suitcases packed separately with each child’s clothing, we divide the items between the two bags. Luckily, we’ve been fortunate not to lose any suitcases, but we employ this technique in the event that our luck runs out.
Here are some tips when packing for the family vacation:
- Roll, rather than fold, your clothing. This keeps wrinkling to a minimum.
- Choose outfits instead of individual items, with jeans or shorts serving double-duty for multiple looks.
- Limit the number of shoes you bring. Have each traveler wear one pair and pack only one more.
- Toys may be needed for small children, but bring only a few favorites in addition to some surprises or games to keep busy on the plane. Test out any travel-size activities before you go, as quality can be an issue with some mini-made games.
- Garbage bags help keep things clean. Stash some empty garbage bags in your suitcase for the return flight, too. Use the bags to cover car seats or strollers (if you have young children). This also helps keep pieces from being lost.
- Use plastic storage bags for toiletries and cosmetics. You never know when the shampoo bottle might spring a leak and make a mess in your luggage. Bring along a few extras for packing up when it’s time to head home.
- Purchase a hand-scale for weighing your suitcase upon return. After picking up a few souvenirs, you could run the risk of going over your airline’s weight limit for baggage
- Pack some snacks into your carry-on or purchase sandwiches to bring on board. Avoid sugary treats to keep everyone well-balanced and relaxed.
Remember, above all, stay calm and enjoy your trip. Mishaps with luggage are bound to occur. Things will ultimately be forgotten or will somehow disappear from the suitcase. Don’t let packing get you frazzled or stressed. Keep in mind why you are traveling to begin with–to get away and have some fun with your family. Even when things go wrong, as they sometimes do, try to brush it off and still have a great vacation.
A story comes to mind that illustrates how even with the right planning, bumps in the road are inevitably encountered. When my daughter was just a few years old, she was proud to be pulling along her own pink “Going to Grandma’s” rolling suitcase as we headed to Boston. In the chaos that often ensues when traveling with toddlers, the bag somehow got misplaced. It wasn’t until we arrived in Boston that we realized her suitcase full of toys was not in our possession. We reported the bag missing immediately, but it was not recovered until nearly a month later, when it showed up in Houston at a completely different airline.
Needless to say, we still had a great time in Boston, even after a bit of a toddler meltdown over the precious pink bag. We didn’t let the lost suitcase ruin our vacation. Toys can be replaced, but memories cannot.
Remember that planning ahead, packing right, and being prepared for setbacks will help keep your family on track for a fun-filled, memorable vacation
23 April 2012
BY brook1 comment
Plug-in For Peace of Mind
by Sheri Staak
To plug in, or not to plug in? That is the question. Like Hamlet’s proverbial conundrum, the answer is not always cut and dry. It would surely seem that a vacation would be more relaxed away from your connections, especially those that have to do with work.
After all, a holiday means “getting away from it all,” “leaving your troubles behind,” and “escaping the everyday.”
Not necessarily. These days, being unconditionally separated from your laptop, IPhone, or Blackberry is like being severed from reality itself. For many of us, our professional lives are completely intertwined with our connections via our mobile devices. Total abstinence would be more stressful than it would be peaceful. It would in fact cast a negative shadow over the serenity that should be integral to a holiday.
But there needs to be a balance.
Plugging in now and then isn’t the same as working on vacation. The trick is finding a happy medium that keeps you in touch with your responsibilities, but doesn’t disconnect you from the travel experience. Here are a few tips to help you achieve the right mix of travel and technology.
1. Announce your vacation. Don’t pretend you’re still in the office! Before you leave, notify clients and contacts of your travel plans. Designate a qualified co-worker to handle any pressing matters on your behalf. Some clients may still want to get in touch with you directly, but the amount of calls and interruptions should greatly diminish.
2. Create boundries. Establish a routine for checking in that doesn’t disrupt the flow of the trip. For example, respond to emails in the morning before anyone wakes up, return calls during a mid-day activity break, and answer texts at night before turning in.
3. Turn off your cell phone. When you’re out-and-about for the day, leave your phone silent. If you can’t turn it off, at least disable the ringer, and ignore all vibrate-calls until one of your designated “work breaks.”
4. Keep your laptop in your room. By all means, bring your computer along when you travel. This way, you’ll have easy access to reports or information your clients may need. As an added bonus, it may even come in handy for travel-related searches and itinerary planning. But once you leave your hotel for the day, leave your computer behind. Log on only during your planned plug-in times, then put it to rest.
5. Don’t seek out work. If they’re not looking for you, don’t go looking for them! Calling to check in is just asking for trouble. Assume that nothing urgent needs your attention if you haven’t heard from the office. While the constant connection to work, even when traveling, is a source of popular debate, it’s not just business-types who can’t leave their technology behind. Most of us are linked in some way to our electronic devices. Even the kids have their own cell phones and personal Internet devices.
To keep the peace on vacation, the whole family needs to set up boundaries that enable everyone to stay plugged in, but only at the appropriate times. Remember that a family trip is taken to spend time together, and not to be constantly immersed in electronics.
To really enjoy your vacation, and feel at ease, you need to stay connected. But you shouldn’t be updating your Facebook status every hour or texting clients or friends throughout the day.
Like it or not, technology is a vital part of our lives, and most of us are plugged in more often than we care to admit. But there’s no shame in taking advantage of the conveniences these devices afford us. When it comes to staying connected on vacation, there’s no need to ponder as deeply as Hamlet.
Plug in, just don’t tune out.