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One person’s African Safari adventure tale

Renee Silverman, vice president of marketing at Irv’s Luggage, recently took a trip to Africa. She is joining us today to discuss her trip and share some things she learned during her trip.

  1. So, Renee you were recently in Africa. What countries did you go to and how did you pick your destinations?

My daughter was volunteering as a nurse in Uganda, so that determined the start point IMG_1457of our trip. From there, it was easy to get to neighboring Tanzania, which was where we would spend the majority of our time in Africa. We hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro and went on safari in the Serengeti. From there we went to Rwanda, just to the west of Tanzania, to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. With so much time spent traveling to these destinations, on board comfort was imperative. I couldn’t have made it without a neck pillow, which conveniently attached to my backpack and made the journey much more comfortable.

  1. What was the favorite part of your trip?

All of it! If I had to choose 1 thing, I would say seeing the mountain gorillas up close and personal was my favorite.

  1. Working at a luggage store, you get to pick what bags you wanted to take. How did you decide what luggage to use?

Knowing ahead of time that we would be flying on small inter-country flights as well as large overseas carriers, helped me decide which bags would accommodate a variety of flights with different baggage requirements. The smaller planes we would be flying had stricter baggage sizes and weights due to the size of the planes, so we planned on packing to accommodate the strictest requirements. This meant traveling with a smaller checked bag than I might ordinarily have taken. Since the smaller planes would only allow a maximum weight of 40 lbs, that was what we used as our overall weight guideline for packing for the trip. I chose to bring a lightweight High Sierra drop bottom duffel that would allow me to separate my items, but which had a lot of packing space. In general, a duffel bag is a great option over a large suitcase when traveling far and needing to pack a lot. In addition, I knew that I would need a backpack for the Mt. Kilimanjaro climb as well as the jungle climb to see the gorillas, so my carry on personal bag was a Granite Gear hiking backpack that I could use for those treks.

  1. What was your packing strategy and did you learn anything about packing during your trip?

I used a lot of packing cubes and compression bags in my luggage that I would highly recommend to every traveler. The packing cubes not only save on space in your luggage, but they help keep your belongings organized and make it easy to move when you are traveling from place to place. Everything I packed went into a packing cube. The compression bags are important if you need to pack bulky items that take up space. In our case, we had to pack lightweight down jackets, sweaters and other cold weather gear for the Mt. Kilimanjaro climb. After the climb, we would not need those items, so they were packed back into the compression bags and took up very little space in our luggage.

  1. Did you bring any souvenirs home from your trip?

MZQJ4638Yes! We purposely brought large duffels and packed light so that we had room for extras. It’s so important to plan ahead for buying souvenirs or the trip home could be a nightmare. Another great idea is to bring along an extra foldable tote or duffel to bring your souvenirs home in.

  1. What was the favorite item or items you took with you?

The backpack was the best and most important item we brought. Being hands free in airports and when boarding planes is a huge benefit. That said, be sure that your important documents are secured in the interior of your backpack and not easily accessible from the outside for security reasons. Invest in an RFID passport case to protect your passport and credit cards while traveling.

  1. If you go back to Africa again what item or items would you take with you? Did you take anything with you that you didn’t need?

We really didn’t end up bringing anything superfluous. We needed and used everything we brought. Researching your destinations beforehand really helps when it comes to packing correctly for a long trip. Many websites offer packing lists for specific destinations that can serve as guidelines for what to pack.

  1. Do you have any warm memories of the people you met during your trip? Can you tell us a little about that?

We have incredible memories of people that we met in every country! We made a pointIMG_2059 of talking to local people as often as we could so that we could really understand the cultures better. When traveling, local people expect tourists to ask a lot of questions, which we did. There was nothing we felt we couldn’t ask, and we learned more through these conversations than any amount of reading could provide.

  1. What type of outfits did you take with you and what would you take now knowing what you know?

It is important when traveling abroad, to research not only the weather of a particular destination, but the cultural norms of the countries you are visiting. We strive to dress in a way that is respectful to the cultures as well as comfortable for us. Layering options are key; we always had long sleeved layers we could add or take away. Also, plan for rain depending on where you are going. Rain slickers roll up small and take up little space in your luggage, but could save you if you encounter wet, rainy conditions.

  1. What memories did you take home from you?

So many memories; from the children in Uganda to Mt. Kilimanjaro to lions feeding on wildebeest in the wild and gorillas playing in the jungle! I highly recommend bringing a journal to record your daily activities, or setting up a WordPress blog before you go. We think we could never forget such memorable experiences, but the details inevitably fade with time. Recording the details in the moment is time well spent when taking a special trip.

  1. Renee, do you have any trips planned for the future and/or where would you like to go?

Yes! Our next destination is the Emerald Isle – Ireland! We plan to rent a car and spend 7 days driving through Ireland on a trip that we create. We hope to see the beautiful Cliffs of Moher, kiss the Blarney Stone, see the bustle of Dublin and the extraordinary countryside of Connemara.

Thank you so much Renee Silverman for joining us. No matter where you are going Irv’s Luggage will be there for you with all your travel needs.

 

New Airline Weight Limits

Just when travelers were getting used to dealing with 50 pound weight limits on their luggage, some airlines have , once again, changed the rules.. In the United States, Spirit and Allegiant Airlines now have a limit of 40 pounds on bags that are checked-in. Overseas, many airlines, such as Ryanair, have a 44 pound limit on their checked bags. Dealing with these limits can be a hassle, but new lighter-weight luggage makes it manageable. Here are a few suggestions of super lightweight luggage.

Roncato Venice 2.0 28″ Expandable ML Spinner

Many of the best brands for lightweight luggage are from Europe, and the Italianroncato venice company Roncato has been specializing in making some of the lightest strongest cases since the 1940’s. This line was recently updated with duo-caster wheels for additional stability as well as a more streamlined look. The best news is that they still kept this case at only 6.1 pounds.

Antler Titus DLX Hybrid Large Expandable Spinner

Titus+DLX+Hybrid+Large+Expandable+Spinner+-+BlackThe Antler Titus has been a huge seller for this British based company, and it has finally arrived in the states. The best feature of this case is that the 32’’ case weighs only 5.7 pounds. This is a great option for people who need to pack items that are bulky. What makes this case unique is the hybrid design that combines the benefits of a hard and soft case. Antler uses polypropylene for the top of bottom of the case for extra durability. This suitcase even has a built-in TSA lock.

TravelPro Maxlite 4 26″ Expandable Rollaboard

American based Travelpro has been making the Maxlite line for several years and theyMaxlite+4+26++Expandable+Rollaboard continue to be one of our top sellers. What makes this case unique is the rollerboard design which uses larger sturdier wheels then most spinner bags. This makes this case perfect for use on uneven terrain, such as cobblestone streets. This suitcase is a great value for the infrequent travelers.

High Sierra Winslow 28″ Wheeled Drop Bottom Duffel

For those who prefer wheeled duffels, there is High Sierra’s Winslow line of duffels. At 7.7 pounds, this is one of the lightest duffels on the market. Duffels are great for value travelers because when not in use they can fold up and be stored in small areas.. Those who like to divide up their packing will also appreciate the drop bottom design. At $107.99, this is the least expensive of all the products we have looked at so far.Winslow+28++Wheeled+Drop+Bottom+Duffel

These are just a few examples of lightweight luggage that Irv’s Luggage carries. As airlines continue to play the weight game, manufacturers are always adjusting their product options. Check out our lightweight luggage section of our website or stop by one of our stores, and we can always help you find the right case that you can use for any trip.

 

Waist packs: A classic that never went away

Waist packs were a travel item long before they were considered a fashion accessory and though the popularity of this item, often call “Fannie packs,” had been on the decline, they have made a comeback and are more popular than ever. For those buying one for the first time, here are some suggestions.
Safe and Secure
Anti-+Theft+Waist+Pack+-+BlackOne of the best parts of a waist pack is knowing the item is on you at all times. Some brands even feature special safety elements. For example, Travelon’s Anti- Theft Waist Pack has features such as lockable zippers and a cut-proof belt. Other companies, such as Eagle Creek, have a waist pack that features RFID protection.
Sleek and Thin
Large waist packs can hold a lot but can be bulky when traveling to warmer destinations. Top+Zip+Waist+Pack+LimeFortunately, many of the new packs are slimmer and can still hold everything you need without weighing you down. Spibelt makes a waist pack that is super-thin, yet stretches to hold a phone, keys, and any other small personal items. Travelon also has a sleek top-zip pack that weighs mere ounces and has room for all your beach items.
Classic is Cool
Triple+Zip+Bagg+Charcoal+++FuschiaSometimes the best items are the classics, and leather waist packs are still some of the best looking ones around.. Companies like Piel and Winn have been making waist packs since the beginning and they have kept their classic looks, but have added modern compartments and sizing options so you can find the perfect one. You could even add a free monogram to complete the look.
These are just a few styles of waist packs available on the market. Some brands such as Kipling and Baggallini, even have convertible waist packs that can be worn over the shoulder. Just don’t let anyone tell you that waist packs are passé, because they are functional and stylish.

Celebrate The New Year With New Travel Goals

2018 is here and the New Year means new beginnings. This can include making travel resolutions for this year. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Traveling only with a carry-on this year. Nothing is better than taking a quick trip Tourist+Cabin+Spinner+-+Petrol+Blueto your favorite warm-weather destination or a ski weekend, but with check-in fees and time wasted at the baggage carousel short trips can be a hassle. Packing light might seem hard at first but with practice, you will be surprised how little you need. One of our most popular carry-on is the Briggs & Riley U122CX It features a compression feature which allows you to fill it to the max. Check out this video here to see how much this case can fit.

 

  1. When traveling with only a carry-on, make sure that you follow TSA’s 3-1-1 rule for GoToob+2+Oz+-+3+Pack+Clear+Green+Blueliquids. This limits you to 3 items of 3.4 oz or less. If you like to use your own products when traveling consider purchasing refillable bottle sets, such as Humangear’s GoToob. Switching from liquid soap to bar soap also will help avoid this dreaded rule.

 

  1. Another great resolution is to organize your items before you even pack. One great Pack-It+Garment+Folder+Mediumtip is to use packing cubes. Eagle Creek is the original maker of packing cubes and they offer more sizes and styles than any other company. For example, the half-cube is great for socks and underwear and the full-cube is great for t-shirts. There are also garment folders for shirts and pants. Using them will make packing and unpacking a breeze.

 

  1. Last but not least…. go somewhere new this year! Here is a link to a great article on the top budget destinations for 2018 https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexandratalty/2017/11/20/the-27-best-budget-travel-destinations-for-2018/#12b4a5b45086. Make this the year of going to new and exciting places and let Irv’s Luggage be your travel companion.

New ways to RFID protect

Thieves are always looking for a new way to steal our identities and one of the most common is stealing our information using a RFID chip reader. Some of the new readers are so small that you will never know the person behind you in line has one. This isn’t new, but is becoming a bigger threat every year. The good news is that manufacturers are integrating RFID protection in more items than ever. Here are a few great new items.

One of our most popular items is an anti-theft tote. Travelon has a line of travel totes that Anti-Theft+LTD+Tote+-+Winefeature both RFID protection and other safety features, like anti-slash straps and locking zippers that will keep you safe and protected against any type of theft. This is a perfect item for overseas travel.

Another great way to guard your credit cards and other items is RFIDCollection+Italian+Leather+Passport+Cover protected waist belts. These are designed to go under your clothes so thieves don’t even know you are wearing one. What I recommend is keeping a wallet and/or purse with a few items, a small amount of cash, and maybe one credit card on you, and keep your passport and a backup credit card in your hidden waist belt.

Like to keep your passport with you? The good news is that many passport cases now have RFID protection built-in. In addition, many cases have slots for credit cards so they will be protected as well. With both leather and nylon styles available you are sure to find one that suits your needs.

RFID+Security+Waist+Stash+NaturalLastly, if you have older wallets or passport cases that you own and love, then, by all means, continue to use them. Just make sure to purchase RFID protecting sleeves for your credit cards and passports anytime you travel overseas. This is an inexpensive way to keep your information safe. Bon voyage!

How to Travel Like a Rock Star

Traveling and stress seem to go hand in hand these days. Having a great carry-on suitcase helps, but what about dealing with headaches like long lines, dashing terminal to terminal, the dreaded TSA inspections, and waiting for your checked luggage at the carousel? By the time you get to your destination you are exhausted. There ought to be a better way to travel. Well, there is, and the good news is that you don’t have to be a multi-millionaire to travel like one. Here are a few suggestions.

BAGS Video StillsImagine arriving at your travel destination and your luggage is already there waiting for you. Shipping your luggage ahead is a great way to travel, especially when you are traveling internationally and/or traveling with sporting equipment, like skis or golf clubs. The company that you contract will pick up your items and hand deliver them to your destination. A plus is that they have insurance if something gets misplaced. Just make sure you are dealing with a reputable company and check online reviews. Here is an article that will help you get started.

Want to avoid all the issues with flying commercial? Then a private jet is for you and itPrivate-Jet-Charter-Priority-One-Jets-e1464293444844 might be more affordable then you think. Traveling in a group? Online searches can help you find a charter plane that might not end up costing you much more than a 1st class flight on a commercial flight, especially for shorter distances. Another option if you fly quite a bit is to look into one of those private membership airline clubs. Just make sure they handle destinations that you usually go to. As always, make sure to read online reviews and talk to current members to get feedback.

Most of our trips are now booked online and that works great, however, if you are flying to an out of the way place or planning a complex trip then you should consider a local travel agent. A good place to start your search for a travel agent is the American Society of Travel Agents. No matter how you find your travel agent make sure you are comfortable with them. Do they call you back? Do they seem knowledgeable about your destinations? Are they making sure that you have all the travel documents you need?

Lastly, a good luggage store such as Irv’s Luggage will be able to help you with your travel goods. We have the knowledge to make sure you have the right luggage for your trip and all your travel accessories and have the knowledge of what you need for every destination in the world. Feel free to stop in any of our stores or give us a call and we would be happy to assist you.

These tips and tricks can help avoid the headache that is travel today and might not even cost as much as you think. If nothing else it is worth checking out, especially if you are planning a once in a lifetime special trip. After all, great memories are priceless.

Hobo Bags- Fine leather items at an affordable price

When we think of leather goods, we think of quality. We want deep and rich colors and that smooth buttery feeling. No brand better exemplifies these leather qualities then Hobo handbags, and that is why we are so excited to be selling this incredible line. They make products that truly stands out from the crowd.

Vintage+Leather+Ky+Key+Ring+-+CafeIt all starts with the leather. Their vintage leather lines all feature a naturally distressed look that is obtained by first selecting only the finest hides then using organic dyes to achieve a distressed look that will get better looking as it ages. Sure, there are easier ways to achieve this look, but that requires harsh chemicals that are bad for the environment.  Hobo Bags uses none of those to keep a relatively clean environmental footprint. Hobo also features soft leathers that are smooth to the touch and a line of suede that brings back the vibe of the 70’s.

Lots of bags look great but lack functionality, and this is what makes Hobo stand out. ForLeather+Sheila+Tote+-+Ash example, their Sheila tote features a removable beaded strap that has the look and durability of a guitar strap so it can be worn as a shoulder bag or a crossbody.  Inside the bag, there are both zippered and slip pockets for all your accessories. It even features a pocket that is specially designed to carry a small laptop or a tablet.

Hobo+Renaissance+Emboss+Lauren+Clutch+Wallet+-+BlkHobo bags are also great for nights on the town with crossbodies and clutches that are ready for your dressiest occasions. One of their best sellers is the Lauren Clutch Wallet. This clutch is small and sleek and comes in dozens of beautiful colors, prints, and patterns. It also features a magnetic closure that will prevent your items from falling out. Don’t worry about carrying your phone either- it can even handle the IPhone 8 plus!

Don’t forget to check out their wallets and keychains! They are the perfect accessory to your handbag and also make great gifts. New to the line? Our Northbrook, IL store has select items in stock so you can see the quality firsthand. No matter what Hobo item you select, you are sure to receive a high-quality item and lots of compliments from friends, family, and even strangers.