Posts Tagged 'Travel'

How to Efficiently Pack a Suitcase

The widespread implementation of checked bag fees has made all of us want to travel lighter and bring more with less bags. It turns out though that many of us don’t know how to get the most out of a suitcase. Packing efficiently will save you lots of time, money and space wherever you go and Gizmodo has a great article on how to do just that. Here’s their main points:

Don’t bring what you don’t need:
Here’s how much of each article of clothing you should pack and it’s not as many as you think:

Socks and underwear: One pair of each per day traveled.
Shirts and dresses: Two less than the total trip length. Wear the same outfit on the flight there and back.
Pants: A pair of jeans for every other day. These can be replaced with slacks if the occasion calls for them.
Shoes: A pair of sneakers or sandals. Bring boots or formal shoes if needed. If you need to bring boots, wear them on the flight.
Coats and Jackets: Wear these on your flight. If you’re going to a warm weather destination don’t even bother with them.
Toiletries: Pack the essentials in a small bag. Make sure any liquids are in a TSA compliant container.

Know the Weather: Take a look at the extended forecast for your destination and pack accordingly.

Roll or Fold:
Roll anything that you don’t mind getting wrinkled. It is far more space efficient. Folding should only be reserved for nicer clothing that you don’t want to iron later.

The Order of Packing:

1. Stuff your shoes full with socks and underwear and put the shoes in first.
2. Put in your heaver rolled items like jeans and sweatshirts squeezed in as tightly as possible.
3 (optional). Put in any fragile items you have. Putting them in the middle will make sure they’re cushioned at all times.
4. Put in the lighter tightly rolled items like t-shirts and underwear
5. On top of all of that place your nicer, folded clothing.
6. Stuff any other lightweight items into the sides.
7. Put your toiletries bag on top.

Coming Home
You can be less precise in your packing on the return trip. I recommend investing in a compressor bag like this one for all of your dirty clothes. At this point you probably don’t really care about wrinkling your dirty clothes so just use a compressor bag to drastically reduce the space taken up by your clothing. This will allow you ample space to fit souvenirs from your trip.

This doesn’t have to be you.

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What to do if You’re Stuck at a Busy Airport

Layovers at an airport are rarely fun especially when you didn’t plan for them. Portable electronics are good to pass the time but they have a limited battery life and terminals don’t have many power outlets to supply you with the juice you need. Typically they end up with you munching on overpriced, sub-par airport food while reading a magazine you got at a newsstand. Boring as that may be, sitting around in the terminal at least allows you to be ready to go when the plane is. But if you have more than about 4 hours before your next flight, you can afford to be a little more adventitious and leave the airport. The problem with that move is where should you go? Airports are usually on the outskirts of cities and many of the best places to check out are further away.

Airfare Watchdog has a great post up now that gives you some great recommendations for things to do if you’re laid over at some of the world’s busiest airports depending on how long you’re laid over. They lay out the most cost-effective airline lounges and some cool things to check out that are pretty close to the airport. After reading that I’m quite convinced now that Las Vegas is probably the best city in the world to have a layover in. McCarran Airport is a 10 minute cab ride from the Strip and all of the fun things you can do there.

In Vegas you don’t need to go very far if you need to skip town.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or for more information.

Six Ways to Avoid Airline Fees

Now is a pretty good time to be an airline customer. Cutthroat competition has reduced airfares to some of the lowest levels in history (adjusted for inflation) and that has been a great deal for all travelers. However, to make up the drop in revenue caused by low fares airlines have made up the difference with fees for everything they used to offer for free. The good news about fees is that if you approach them correctly you can almost completely avoid them. Forbes has a great article up that shares some great tips to make sure that you pay only for the price of your boarding pass and no more:

Don’t check bags – Try to travel light enough that you only need two small carry-on items. Fees for checked bags average around $25 per bag and usually escalate for additional checked bags. At the same time don’t be that guy who brings way too much luggage into the cabin just to avoid the fees and hogs up all of the overhead compartments. Pack light and efficiently and you’ll save money.

Check fees beforehand – If you know that you must check bags, check the fee structures of the various carriers before you buy your ticket. You need to remember to add that into the cost of your ticket when shopping. Some airlines like Southwest have far better checked bag fees and policies than others.

Weigh your luggage – Checked bags often come with weight limits and exceeding those limits can cost a lot of money you didn’t expect to spend. For frequent travelers a luggage scale is a wise investment for smart packing. One good tip is to put some of the heaviest items you have in your carry-on. While there are technically weight limits to carry-on items they are very rarely enforced.

Don’t pay for early boarding – You don’t want to be the last person to board the plane if you’re checking no bags but it’s not worth it to pay $20 to cut in line. The trick is knowing ahead of time how the airline loads their planes and selecting your seat accordingly. Some airlines load back to front or window seats first and if you know that and pick your seat accordingly you can make sure you’re not the last person on without paying extra.

– In-flight wi-fi really isn’t worth it yet. It’s not available for the first and last 30 minutes of the flight and it’s not entirely reliable at all points in between. It may be worth it if you’re taking an 8+ hour flight across an ocean but for shorter flights you don’t really need that internet access.

Uncheck those boxes – When you’re going through the process of buying a plane ticket online the airline will try to upsell you at every turn. The box for things like travel insurance and early boarding are often automatically checked by the airline hoping you wouldn’t notice it until they actually have more of your money than you thought. Make sure not to rush through the process of buying your tickets and read through everything. They’re trying to sneak stuff by you, don’t let them do it.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or for more information.

How to Ace Winter Air Travel

I really hate the trend that has become known as the “Christmas Creep” Every year it seems like businesses across the country start their marketing for the holiday season earlier and earlier in the year. This year I saw my first holiday-themed ad in September and it made me want to cry. All that being said I’m going to be writing about holiday travel before Halloween today but there’s a very good reason for that. If you anticipate that you’re going to be traveling for the winter holidays now is probably the best time to start looking at your options. With winter approaching, Conde Nast has a great article sharing some excellent air travel advice for the coming winter months. Here are some of the highlights:

The cheapest days of the year to fly. Early December and late January are typically when you’ll find some of the cheapest airfares of the year.

Book Presidents’ Day weekend in early December. Prices probably won’t come down much before then.

Try going to a cooler big city instead of a resort.
You can get some great deals in the winter by opting to go to a city like New York, Washington DC or San Francisco because there is less business travel there in the winter.

Consider alternate airports. For example, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale are good substitutes for Orlando and Miami respectively in Florida. You may have a longer drive to your final destination but you’ll save a lot on airfare.

Schedule connecting flights out of Southern airports.
Those airports are far less likely to experience weather related problems in the winter.

Fly early. Early morning flights are cheaper and have the best chance of going out on time.

If your flight is cancelled:

Be the first to find out. This increases your chances of getting an alternate flight that works for you. is a good tool to use to get the most up-to-date information.

Have an alternate flight in mind before contacting your airline. You don’t want to depend on just the airline to find you the flight you want. Besides, telling them the exact flight you want will insure you get it faster and save everyone a lot of time.

When all else fails consider going to Vegas. If you know you’re not going to be getting to your destination for a while, Las Vegas is a pretty good place to wait it out. It has a huge airport with lots of flights, cheap hotels, and clear weather. Besides it’s better to be stuck in Las Vegas than the frozen tundra of Chicago, Detroit, or Minneapolis.

You want to avoid this fate at all costs.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or for more information.

9 Great Apps for Business Travel

It is truly amazing how much travel has improved over the years. A whole industry used to exist just to navigate through the complicated logistics of making travel plans which has since been made obsolete by the Internet. I seriously doubt that anyone born after 1990 could tell you what a travel agency was. Now with the invention and proliferation of smartphones and data plans, many travel apps are making business travel simpler than ever. CNN Money has a great article on the some of the best new apps that are out right now that can further simplify your travel experience:

1. Hipmunk – Helps you find lodging accommodation as close as possible to where you will be working.

2. Mynd Calendar – Calculates travel times based on real-time traffic data and lets people know you’ll be late with one button.

3. Refresh – Pulls information on the people you will be meeting from their various social media profiles.

4. Traxo – Organizes your whole itinerary into a “travel wallet”

5. FlightTrack Pro – Shows you real-time flight information, weather conditions, and terminal maps.

6. Taxi Magic – Allows you to reserve a taxi at the airport ahead of time before you land.

7. Silvercar – Use this to rent an Audi A4 minutes after you get off the plane.

8. Urban Daddy – Offers specialized restaurant recommendations based on your situation.

9. MyCityWay – The ultimate mobile guidebook for 110 cities across the country.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or for more information.

The Cruise Industry Lives On

The cruise industry has received some pretty awful PR in recent years. The first blow came a came a captain drunk-drove the Costa Concordia into Italy’s coastline killing 32 people. The second big blow was a major engine room fire aboard the Carnival Triumph which left the ship stranded in the Gulf of Mexico without air conditioning or functioning toilets. The understandably shaken confidence among customers rocked the industry, making profits and stock prices plummet across the board. The interesting thing going forward though is how the industry has reacted to that and the answers are enlightening.

Preventing the causes of the past issues is the easy part for the cruise liners. It’s easy enough to not cut corners with ship maintenance and hire captains with the good judgement not to drink on the job. The difficult part is rebuilding consumer confidence. How can you convince a potential customer that something isn’t going to go wrong again and get them back on your boat? The answer the industry came up with was simple, lower the price dramatically and provide some additional incentives. Cruise fares have provided potential cruisers some incredible deals unheard of before those disasters. For those that need some extra reassurance Carnival has recently announced that they will pay to send you home if you’re not satisfied within the first 24 hours. Of course, disasters like the ones that happened last year are unlikely to occur within the first 24 hours meaning there is little risk for the company itself. What is amazing though is that their strategies seem to be working. They’re not nearly as profitable as they were last year but they are still making money. It’s amazing how much more risk-tolerant we become when we get a great financial incentive.

For the record the last time I was on a cruise was more than 20 years ago when I was a toddler. I almost got my whole family thrown off the boat.

That ship is back out at sea and sold out its first voyage of the summer.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or for more information.

Ten Essential Things to Keep in Your Car

Last month my car got a flat tire on the highway when I was coming home from work. I was able to safely move to the shoulder and confirm I had a flat, and then I opened up my trunk to get the tools I needed to change the tire. I had a spare tire ready to go but there was no jack to be found in my trunk. My father has a habit of borrowing the jack from my car to use in his own personal projects and it turns out that it was never returned. What could have been a fifteen minute tire change turned into an hour waiting for AAA to arrive just to change a stupid tire. That’s why I was so heartened when I came across this article at Lifehacker that lists several essential things that you need to keep in your car for when things go wrong. Some of what you need is as follows:

Tire Changing Tools – I learned this one the hard way.
Tire Sealant and Inflation Tools – I never considered this but it can be a lifesaver if you have multiple flats.
Your Owners Manual – This should always be in your glove compartment anyway.
Duct Tape and WD-40 – You would be amazed at how much you can fix with these two.
Jumper Cables – Dead batteries can happen to the best of us.
First Aid Kit – For treating minor injuries in the event of an accident.
Flashlight – Because car problems can happen at night too.
Paper Maps – Because your ability to navigate shouldn’t be dependent on the life of a battery.
Ice Brush/Scraper – If you live north of the Mason-Dixon line you need one of these.
Blanket or Sleeping Bag – Extremely bad weather could mean you have to spend a night in your car. This will help keep you comfortable without burning up gas.

Lifehacker has a far more comprehensive list but the ones I listed above are the ones that I feel are most important. And that night I was stuck with a flat tire ended with me setting some very firm ground rules with my father. Namely none of the above things are to ever leave my car unless you happen to be driving it and you’re in a situation where they need to be used.

It happens to the best of us.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or for more information.

Where the President Travels

It used to be that presidents never traveled outside of our country. Getting elected to the Oval Office meant staying there during your term. International diplomatic travel was done by ambassadors and Secretaries of State. Part of it, especially for America, was that before the advent of airplanes it took a very long time to cross an ocean in a boat. Woodrow Wilson really was doing something unprecedented when he went over to Europe to negotiate the end of first world war as president. Now a grueling travel schedule is part of the job description of being president. Even just running for president requires jet-setting across America for years to campaign. Teddy Roosevelt stepped foot outside America only once as president. A century later, George W. Bush made a total of 140 diplomatic visits to 74 different countries during his presidency. Barack Obama is at 62 official visits to 43 different countries so far. The travel requirements for being president have certainly increased over the years. TIME has a great interactive map of what countries our presidents have visited and how often since 1900. Britain leads the pack for presidential visits with 58 followed by France, Canada, Mexico, and Germany. At least the president has a his own plane.

president map

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or for more information.

How to Travel Without Wrecking Your Body

Modern transportation is wonderful. It used to take a month for a ship to sail across the Atlantic Ocean and now you can take a flight from New York to London that lasts only 7 hours. But while the speed of transport has gotten faster, the process of traveling has started to take a greater toll on our bodies. A flight or a long drive requires that you stay seated for hours on end and then there’s jetlag which didn’t exist until… well we invented jets. Fortunately, Gizmodo has a great article with suggestions on how we can minimize the negative effects long distance travel can have on our bodies:

Start your travel day well rested – Go to bed early the night before and make sure you get plenty of sleep. Without a good night’s rest any stress that your body feels is going to be magnified. Being sleep deprived will only make you more tired and more stressed.

Choose your luggage carefully – Don’t bring too much with you. Carrying heavy, abnormal, and unnecessary luggage around will only put more stress on your arms and back. Packing light can also save you some money by not having to check a bag.

Wear compression socks– Compression socks will improve blood flow and reduce any swelling and soreness caused from sitting for long periods of time.

Eat right and drink water – Drink enough water and eat plenty of healthy food like fruits and vegetables. Try to avoid the fast food options at the airport unless you want to spend half of your flight in the airplane bathroom.

Sit up – Try to align your back with the back of the seat. Slouching puts a lot of unnecessary stress on your lower back and can lead to back problems down the road.

Stand up if you can – During a long flight you usually have ample opportunity to stand up an stretch your legs. Our bodies aren’t meant to remain in one static position for a long time. I try to get an aisle seat on a flight for exactly this reason.

Exercise at your destination – When you make it to your destination. do some stretching and some light exercise like walking or jogging. Just moving your body will get your blood flowing better and you will likely feel better the next morning.

Get another good night of sleep – This is easier said than done when you factor in jetlag but getting a good night’s sleep will relieve most of the stress your body faced from travel. With that you should be ready to do what you set out to do at your destination feeling good.

I’m pretty sure economy seating violates the eighth amendment.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or for more information.

Outrageous Hotel Fees and How to Avoid Them

Chances are you’ve probably been slammed by hidden airline fees you can’t avoid often when you’re at the airport an hour before your flight. At that moment it turns out that the airfare you thought you were paying wasn’t as cheap as you thought. Well the same thing is starting to happen in the hotel industry and it isn’t pretty. All told US hotels are expected to collect about $2.1 billion in fees this year. If you’re going to stay at a hotel, Galding has a list of a few charges you could see tacked on to the final bill:

1. Charges for donations to local charities without your consent.
2. Bellhop service charges even if you didn’t use them.
3. Housekeeping charges.
4. Charges for using the business center, fitness center or other amenities.
5. Charging extra for a new set of clean towels or sheets.
6. Adding fees for using the in-room coffeemaker.
7. Sometimes guests are charged for the in-room safe, even if it’s not used.
8. Package delivery fees are applied for receiving mail.
9. Bills at some hotels now include an “energy surcharge.”
10. Paying steep fees to use the internet.
11. Early checkout fees.

There are however some things that you can do about this. First of all, always carefully look though the bill when you’re checking out of a hotel and dispute any fees they’re charging you for things you didn’t use. It is possible to have many of these charges dropped by negotiating with a manager. I think that Joe Sharkey of the New York Times offers a better solution though. Whenever possible try to stay at mid-level hotels that cater primarily to business travelers. Many of these hotels offer a wider range of services and amenities which are built into the nightly rate they advertise. You may be paying a higher nightly rate but you can rest assured that you won’t have any nasty surprises when you look at the bill when it’s time to check out.

Don’t hand over your credit card too quickly.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or for more information.