Category Archives: Travel Product Review

Injury While Trying to Stay Safe While Traveling

It’s been a bit since I last wrote this blog but I have a good excuse.  I fell down a couple of stairs in our house and suffered three fractures in my upper humerus (arm bone) right where my arm meets my shoulder.  Being right handed and in plenty of pain there was basically nothing I could do.  I followed doctor’s orders to do nothing so the fractures could heal.  Last week, after six weeks in a sling to immobilize my arm to let it heal, I was finally sling free!.  Someone forgot to tell my arm as it still automatically hangs across my body like it did when I was in a sling.  I had high expectations for myself when the sling came off which were unrealistic.  I still am sleeping in the recliner (we have a love have relationship with each other),  a full night’s sleep still eludes me, pain is still there with movement – sometimes low pain and sometimes high pain.  I still need help getting dressed which is depressing to me.  I can’t drive so my freedom is sorely limited though I totally appreciate my husband for taking me to doctor’s appointments, physical therapy twice a week, pedicure so I could get my nails cut and the hairdressers.  For four weeks I went to PT for passive therapy here they move me and within the last week I have moved to active assisted therapy.  I didn’t realize in therapy how many cuss words I know!  So that is the short of it other than waiting till the end of June to have an MRI to see if I have torn my rotator cuff and whether I will need surgery.  The fall that keeps giving.

With this  accident Blogger Hubby and I had to cancel our two weeks Tauck tour we had scheduled for Portugal and Spain.  Fortunately Tauck has amazing trip insurance and we received all of our money back except for the insurance of which they will hold for us for a future trip with them.  I had the credit to my credit card within 48 hours of cancellation.  No doctor’s note needed – it was cancel for any reason and we were within a month of the trip.  High praise to Tauck!

I have another trip which I am not cancelling even though I will still be recovering.  I am traveling with a friend to Barcelona for a couple of days on or own prior to embarking on an Oceania cruise to Rome.  I’ve never done the western Mediterranean so I am excited about going to ports that I haven’t been to before, for the most part.

This all brings a certain dilemma that I need to face – my security for my belongings while traveling.  Usually I have no fear, I have not been pickpocketed or had anything stolen from me but this time my right arm will be still be recovering and I will not have much range of motion or any strength in the arm so I need to up my game.   I’m going to show you what I will be bringing with me.  I have added links to make it easier for you – I do not benefit if you purchase.

No longer will I be able to hold on tight to me Pac Safe/Travelon  purse    I have this purse in the color shown as well as a light grey.  It can hold my water bottle on the outside which is always a great help.  I will still take it with me, wear it messenger bag style and hang on as tight as I can with my good arm.

pacsafe bag

I am trying a new product based on my limitations – a tank shirt that I can wear under another shirt.  The tank has a zipped pocket in the front.  I have not tried it on yet but the fabric seems like a nice quality of knit.  Just another layer of protection.Screen Shot 2019-05-04 at 2.25.12 PMI’ve mentioned these before but there are ladies scarves that have a built in pocket.  Once again Amazon to the rescueScreen Shot 2018-06-17 at 3.52.11 PMScreen Shot 2018-06-17 at 3.45.17 PM

Another new item in my travel box is ladies underwear with a secret pocketScreen Shot 2019-05-04 at 2.34.17 PM

For the men, here are some boxers with a hidden pocketScreen Shot 2019-05-05 at 4.12.15 PM

In addition to these, my advice is to remain vigilant of where you are, who is around you when you take out money, don’t wear or carry expensive cameras around your next – you it and then put it away.  Finally, all I wear for jewelry is my wedding band.  I will bring costume jewelry for evenings but nothing that looks like a valuable gemstone.

Of course to dd to my general security, I recommend that no one bring copies of their credit cards or write down their account numbers  Instead write down the International collect calling telephone number.  Your credit card is able to ascertain who you are by questions they will ask you.

With your passport, again do not bring a copy with you but rather take a photo and either mail it to yourself as an attachment or keep the photo in your photo app on your phone or iPad.

I always carry my Schwab debit card as it reimburses me 100% for all foreign transaction fee and there are no currency conversion fees.  I make sure to let them know which countries I will be in AND i set a maximum withdrawal per day amount, just in the event the card gets lost or stolen. I bring a second debit card with me just in case.  Don’t forget to notify your credit card company of where you will be traveling to as well.

As suggestions for my safety?

 

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Pre – Travel Preparation – a little old school for us

Yes, we are at it again.  We leave in a couple of days to begin our trip to Prague and then the Danube followed by northern Italy.

As I have mentioned before, we tend to be a little “old school” in that we take paper copies of confirmations, tickets, maps with us.  We have a 3 ringed flexible travel notebook with divider tabs to help organize ourselves.  We just spent two nights going through our notebook and updating our Excel spreadsheet of our itinerary.  The spread sheet is basically a condensed version of what we are doing, confirmation numbers, activities, lodging information, transportation info arrival/departure times, etc.

We have also emailed ourselves scans of our passports and wrote down all the international phone numbers of our credit cards (disregarding our banks instructions of writing down the actual credit card numbers).  Additionally we have ordered three different foreign currencies so we will have some money when we arrive in each country; notified our credit cards companies that we will be traveling and making sure that I only bring the credit cards that have no foreign transaction fees; also notified our Schwab Bank, whose no-fee ATM card we will be carrying, that we will be traveling.  I have reconfirmed all of our confirmations that are made with individuals, confirming the date, time and location of where we will meet.  I have down loaded onto my cellphone the Rick Steves audio walking tours of the cities/area that we will be in.  Finally, I have stopped our mail and our newspaper delivery.

Traveling in the spring I wanted (wanted, not needed) a new safety purse in a lighter color.  I went to my favorite bag retailer – Ebags –  and found just what I wanted.  Going through my Chase shopping portal, I received 8 points per dollar for my purchase at Ebags.

Stone

What I really liked about this purse is that its heavy-duty water-resistant nylon bag features cut-proof Chain Link construction, it protects me from pickpockets with a lock where you main zippers are located so it can’t be easily opened, it has a cut proof chain link construction on the shoulder strap, it also has a RFID blocking card to prevent thieves from getting wirelessly our information from our chip enabled credit cards.  There is even a side mesh pocket for my water bottle.  If you are interested in this purse (and I do not get get a commission, just like to pass on what I like) you can go here.

While I was looking at my purse on E-bags I also decided to look at the packing cubes that  have heard so much about.  I really didn’t understand why everyone was raving about these cubes since I feel that I already packed very well.  I use ziplock bags, roll my tops to take up less room and feel that I “stuff” things in every nook and cranny that comes with having odd size items.  Nevertheless, I purchased a set of medium as well as small cubes.  Now that I have packed, I’m beginning to realize why travelers like them.  All my tops are in two medium size cubes, underwear in a small, accessories in another.  My pants are not in cubes. It is very easy to unpack as well as to pack again.  My suitcase looks a lot neater and Blogger Hubby thinks that I am bringing less because it looks so neat.  These are the cubes I purchased, again getting 8 points per dollar spent by going through my Chase shopping portal.

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 11.45.48 AM

I also purchased new shoes.  I ordered them Shoes.com (going through Chase also at 8 points per dollar) and as soon as I put them on my feet it felt like my feet were in feet heaven.  I kid you not!  The adjustable heel strap made sure that my narrow heel fit well in the shoe.  It also has a Velcro strap that goes over my foot which will come in handy with swollen feet (elastic straps do not work well for me).  Additionally it has a roomy toe box which is where I find shoes snug.  I put them on and felt like they were already broken in.  If you are interested in these shoe here is the link:

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 10.25.35 AM

To help me know what the weather will be like, and therefore what clothes to bring, I went to http://www.worldweatheronline.com  With their 10 day forecast I would plug in every city that we were visiting.  I also saw that I should bring an umbrella and raincoat!

Finally, with our daughter due to deliver her second child while we are traveling, I looked into finding and purchasing an unlocked phone (didn’t find one), and into the Verizon Global Plan to use on my phone.  All of our children have our itinerary with telephone of our hotels and the ship.

I think with all this, I am done and can relax.

Hope you enjoy this YouTube video about packing

 

 

What a Trip We Had – What I Packed, Part 4

What a Trip We Had – London, Part 1

What a Trip We Had – Uxolo Guest House, Johannesburg, Part 2

What a Trip We Had – Touring in Johannesburg, Part 3

What a Trip We Had – What I Packed, Part 4

When you are on a month long trip, planning must take place as to what you are bringing so you don’t overpack.  I’m limited to one suitcase on our trips so I try (operative word – try) to pack smartly.  The challenge on this trip was the variable weather.  It could be cool/cold in Cape Town, cold in the mornings on safari but hot during the afternoon, windy, pleasant, cool and possibly rainy during other times on our trip.  What’s a gal to do?

My first concern was what shoes I would bring. I obviously brought my gym shoes for rugged walking, and warmth but I also wanted to bring some other shoes to appear to be more city like or dressed up if we went out and to change out my gym shoes.  I chose two pairs that I purchased from DSW.com

This first pair is a Clarks Privo Haley Stork Sport Flat shoe that I purchased in black. I felt that I could wear it with my slacks or with a dress.  It was very comfortable and if my feet got cold, I could always wear black socks underneath it.  I believe it is on sale now through Amazon.com

black shoe

The second pair,  Clarks Hare Sport Flat,  are in a taupe tone that would go well with khaki and brown pants.  They are currently sold out at DSW but you might be able to find them or a similar style elsewhere:

Screen shot 2014-09-14 at 12.08.12 PM

I wanted a pair of blacks pants that wouldn’t wrinkle that could be dressed up or down.  I don’t care for the “slinky” pants that you sometimes see in travel stores.  Since the weather would be unpredictable, I wanted something that had a little structure and wouldn’t be flimsy.  I found these Original Fit Ottoman Knit Bootcut Pants at Travelsmith and I would recommend them.  These pants coordinated well with a grey/white herringbone pair of pants that I brought.  The colorful tops would work well with both of them.

Screen shot 2014-09-14 at 12.27.57 PM

I also had a pair of medium weight knit pants in a coffee au lait color from Eddie Bauer in the  Travel section on their website.  I did bring a pair of jeans but only wore them a few times – it got hot in the afternoon in the Kruger and I wore shorts then.   The other pair of pants I brought was a grey and white herringbone style pants that could be dressed up or down depending what I wore with it.

I did wear my Smart Wool socks and my feet felt very comfortable.  They are not hot and they are not itchy as you might expect with wool.  I highly recommend them.  They have various weights so find what works best for you.

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I brought two sweaters, a black cardigan and a merino wool pullover.  I also brought a sweater set – short sleeve pullover with the matching cardigan, both in violet.  With a floral scarf I got several outfits out of this combination.  Violet cardigan with short sleeve black jersey under it or violet short sleeve sweater with black cardigan over.  The scarf looked great with both and could dress it up a little.  I could also do black on back or violet on violet.  I was pretty happy with my choice.

I always travel with my Ex Officio travel underwear since they dry overnight and my PacSafe purse with is as pretty close to pickpocket protection as any I have seen.

I had my LL Bean barn coat with my with the flannel lining for those cool times.  I didn’t want to bring a raincoat with me so instead I bought one of those rain slickers that come in a little packet and made out of thin yellow plastic.  I think we got ours at Niagara Falls a few years ago and I just kept it.  At this point, space was a consideration so if I looked geeky, so be it.

Rather than using the travel cubes, I used zip-lock storage bags.  One for undies, another for socks.  I rolled my jersey tops and my knit pants.  I also brought with me my CamelBak for when we would be out for the day and I had multiple things to take with me like my Kindle, snacks, tour books, etc.

camelbak

Speaking of tour books, I really like the Rick Steves series.  I had the good fortune to meet Rick when he and his girlfriend were on the same cruise as we were.  I had seen his shows on PBS as well as borrowing some of his DVDs from the public library but meeting him in person was a real treat.  Since then I tend to read and follow, to a degree, his guidebooks.  Perhaps he is dumbing things down for us but I like knowing which direction I need to walk to find the particular castle that we read about.  We would have found it easy enough at the TI center (Tourist Information) but he saved us some time and steps.  He lists bus numbers, train stops, etc…he makes it quite easy to travel.  Although we do enjoy his guidebooks, we do our own research as well.

There were a few things that I didn’t need to pack because the weather was cool/cold and overcast while we were touring the wineries but who knew.   Each trip is a lesson for us and it does get easier.  Do you find that packing is easy or difficult for you?

 

What Luggage Do You Use?

I get asked quite often which luggage I use.  Time to fess up… I don’t use the high end luggage brands.  Yes, I know that many love the TU MI or the Briggs and Riley, etc but I just can’t see spending that kind of money.  But was it because I was cheap or did it really make a difference?

When we began looking at luggage a few years ago I went to the site that I feel gives an honest evaluation – Consumer Reports.  Yes, I’m geeky enough to love CR.  I always check them before any large purchase and again before many appliance purchases.

When we looked in CR a few years ago one of their top rated brands for luggage was Delsey.  I had never heard of Delsey.  Sure, I knew American Tourister, Samsonite but Delsey?  Blogger Hubby and I went to a large department store near us and they had some.  I was on the right track but I would  prefer it to be a little less expensive than what they were selling it for.  I decided to wait for a sale.  That same day, we went to TJ MAXX for something else and decided to look in their luggage corner.  What did we find?  You’re right if you said Delsey.  We bought two 25 inch bags.  I believe they were about $70 0r $80 each.

We are the owners of the rolling duffel like that in the picture
We are the owners of the rolling duffel like that in the picture

My philosophy is that they will probably last about 10 years or so and when they begin to rip or fray, then I’ll purchase more luggage.  If it is only $70 or $80 per bag, then I feel that I’ve come out ahead.

A month or so later I went back and found the Delsey rolling duffle for only $49 which I promptly put into my shopping cart.

The luggage we purchased was black (like everyone else), royal blue (a little different) and bright red for the rolling duffel.  Find out in my next post how I made my luggage stand out so that I always knew which was my luggage and how others knew that it wasn’t theirs, and no, I didn’t use ribbons!

I have this suitcase in this shade of blue
I have this suitcase in this shade of blue

Thank you to all my new readers from Million Mile Secrets and all the nice comments you left for me from my last post.  It really did warm my heart and I felt like many of us were in the same situation with either being young seniors looking out for our budget.  Of course, being somewhat budget minded would apply to any age group.

Seat Harness for Children While Flying – CARES child safety device

Have you wondered about flying with your child when you do not want to bring your FAA approved car seat with you on the airplane.  The folks at Kids Fly Safe have come up with a safety harness to use in flight that has been approved by the FAA.  Below, copied from the FAA site about the CRS (Child restraint system), is information on the harness:

FAA-Approved Child Harness Device (CARES)

young boy in child harness restraint

The CARES Child Safety Device is the only FAA-approved harness-type restraint for children weighing between 22 and 44 pounds. This type of device provides an alternative to using a hard-backed seat and is approved only for use on aircraft. The CARES Child Safety Device is not approved for use in motor vehicles.  If you’re using a CARES child safety device, make sure it has “FAA Approved in Accordance with 14 CFR 21.8(d), Approved for Aircraft Use Only” or “FAA Approved in Accordance with 14 CFR 21.305(d), Amd 21.50 6-9-1980, Approved for Aircraft Use Only” on it.  Learn more about CARES here.

If you’re using a CARES child safety device, make sure it has “FAA Approved in Accordance with 14 CFR 21.8(d), Approved for Aircraft Use Only” or “FAA Approved in Accordance with 14 CFR 21.305(d), Amd 21.50 6-9-1980, Approved for Aircraft Use Only” on it.

If you head over to the Kids Fly Safe page, you will see the video on how to use the system as well as where you can purchase one.  I have not had an opportunity to use on but I will definitely consider it when I fly with my grandchildren as it is definitely less bulky than a car seat that has been approved for flight.

kids fly safe

Ex Officio Travel Underwear and Campsuds – Travel Product Review

There are many secrets to keeping your packed luggage to a manageable amount.  One of my recent tricks has been to purchase travel underwear by Ex Officio.  The underwear for both men and women is breathable, packable and lightweight.  After washing in the sink or in the laundry, they will be dry within hours.  I tend to wash them, squeeze them dry and then roll them in a dry towel to get the excess water out.  Other undies that I have brought with me on our trips have taken quite a while to dry but not these by Ex Officio.  They come in many styles and sizes. I found my underwear at my local wilderness store though you can mail order from some of your favorite travel stores.

ex officio

To cut down on all the liquids that I bring on trips with me I use Campsuds.  This unique product, that I first learned about when we went camping, can be used for a myriad of purposes.  Believe it or not, you can use a few drops to wash your undies in,.  You can also wash dishes with it, as well as your body and hair.  It is a natural, biodegradable cleaner.  For those who want to pack it in your carry-on luggage, it does come in a 2 oz size.  For those who want to pack it, it does come in larger sizes as well.  I bought this from my local wilderness store as well though some have told me that WalMart sells it as well.  Personally, I prefer to shop at my local mom and pop stores and support the local businesses.

campsuds

Disclaimer:  As a reminder, I do not receive any compensation for my product review nor was I asked to write a review.  Like my other recommendations, this is a product that I use and own.

CamelBak for Thirsty Travelers – Travel Product Review

I have Sjogrens Syndrome.  Sjorgrens is an auto-immune disease that attacks the moisture producing parts of your body.  In my case, I have extremely dry eyes, dry skin and always thirsty.  So thirsty that my throat and mouth will hurt from being so dry.  Blogger Hubby used to joke that we needed to carry gallons of water with us when we travel.  In fact,  we would take a couple of water bottles and I would, at times, guzzle them down.  Always finding places where I could refill the water bottles became a hassle for me.  Since I knew on our last trip that we would be hiking , I needed to try and reduce the times I needed to find water.

My solution was to bring with me a CamelBak.  I wanted to find a smaller one, more like a lady’s CamelBak than a man’s.  I didn’t care about color, I just wanted a size that would fit me.

camelbak

I cannot say enough good things about this product.  I had lots of room in the bag portion, 2 outside mesh pockets as well as a side zipper pocket.  Inside the side zipper pocket were two more zippered compartments – perfect for putting your passport, credit cards, money, etc.

I used the CamelBak today when we were bike riding.  It goes with me many places.  Whether you have Sjogrens, are generally thirsty or just like to have water handy, I heartily recommend a CamelBak.

As a note:  I receive no compensation for this review nor was I asked to review it.  I just happen to have it and love it.

PacSafe Travel Purses – Travel Product Review

When we went to Rome almost two years ago I was very concerned about pickpocketers as well as having my purse stolen.  I tried to educate myself as much as possible to prevent myself from becoming a victim.

I learned that I should always wear my purse across my body rather than just on my shoulder or being held by my hand.  I was already doing that on the advice of a physical therapist so that was easy.  I also found out that sometimes the thieves would slash the straps off your body or they slash the bottom of your purse.  I needed to find something to protect me against that and I found a product that helped me feel secure – though you still need to be on guard.  I found the Pacsafe Anti-Theft Handbag.

Why I liked this bag was because it was constructed with lightweight stainless steel mesh in the strap and the bottom of the bag.  No more slash and run.  There was also a clip lock where the zipper would close.  Sometimes it was a nuisance undoing the clip but I never regretted getting this bag. Here is a information on the bag and where I purchased it from: PacSafe

pacsafe bagThis bag was a perfect size for me.  I was concerned that it might be too small but it wasn’t.  There is an outside pocket where I could put my water bottle.  Plenty of room inside for my camera, guidebook and other items I needed.

If you have a Chase credit card that gives you Ultimate Rewards then you need to head on over to their shopping portal and you’ll find a great surprise – you’ll earn 10 points per dollar spent at Ebags (where I bought my bag from).

Hope you like your bag as much as I like mine.

As a note:  I receive no compensation for this review nor was I asked to review it.  I just happen to have it and love it.