Tag Archives: travel essentials

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.

 

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.

Ultimate Luggage guide for Caribbean cruising

With all the damage the recent hurricanes have inflicted on Caribbean islands, many people who would have normally gone to a resort on an island are for the first time considering going on a cruise ship instead. This is a great option if your favorite island isn’t quite ready for tourists, but you still want to enjoy resort type amenities and the great weather the Caribbean offers. However, you will have to approach how you pack slightly differently. Below is a guide to help you out.

Luggage

What luggage you take with you depends on your needs; however, there are a few things HYA-13071-3160-26you will want to keep in mind.

  1. You will always want to take at least one carry-on suitcase. This is a bag you will keep with you at all times. All your valuables and any items you will need on your first day of the cruise should go in this bag. You will do a lot of walking so make sure your bag wheels well before your trip. If you have an older carry-on this might be a good time to upgrade.
  2. Most of the time your suitcases will have to fit underneath your bed. This will require some planning if you are taking several cases. One option is to get a luggage set that can be nested. Another option is a rolling duffel that can be folded down for storage. This might be a good option for families.
  3. If you are bringing lots of formal outfits you might want to consider a rolling garment bag. Your nicer garments will arrive ready to wear and the bag can be hung in a closet without taking your clothing out.

Accessories

The following travel accessories are recommended for any cruise travel:LCI-1383-BLU_2

Packing cubes

Adaptors and/or convertors (see this previous blog, check with the cruise operator if you need one)

-A small backpack or tote for day trips

Toiletry bags and pill planners

Waterproof phone pouch

Luggage tags (the brighter the better) and locks

I always suggest reading the cruise operator’s website and follow their advice closely. Also, make sure to give yourself time to get to your boat (consider flying in the night before.) Travel insurance is recommended for everyone. Lastly, I highly suggest taking your passport with you and make sure it is not near expiration. Most of all relax and enjoy yourself.

Holiday Road: Your Guide to Summer European Travel

Summer is almost here and that means summer travel. One of the most popular destinations this time of year is Europe, and it’s no question why. With all its culture, cuisine, and beaches it is the summer hot spot. Once your trip is booked it’s a good idea to come up with a packing list. Besides the need to keep your valuables (such as your electronics) safe, what else will I need to take with me? Below are some tips for easy packing.

Safety First

Going to Europe can be a lot of fun and for the most part very safe. However, theft can be an issue in some parts of Europe. For all the attention that electronic theft has been LCI-1267-NATgetting in the media (see this previous blog post for more about RFID) the most common issue is still good old-fashioned pick pocketing. Having your passport stolen and can quickly turn you dream trip into a nightmare. The best way to protect yourself from pick pocketing is to keep your passport, extra cash, and credit cards in a money belt under your clothes. When worn properly, the thieves will never know that you have one on. My advice is to keep only a few essentials in a backpack or purse and everything else should go in the money belt.

Light and Flexible

BR-BP240-44For traveling around Europe the best advice is to pack light. If a carry-on doesn’t have enough room then take one medium (24”-26”) case and either a backpack or a wheeled tote. Having a small item like that is especially great if you’ll be doing lots of walking and sightseeing. Also, European cars tend to be smaller so you will be thankful for the extra room there. If organization is not your strong suit then packing cubes are a life saver!

Other Necessities

Adapters and converters will be needed for your electronic appliances. If you are not ENV-TRB3sure what you need check out this guide. Another great item to have is a daypack for short trips. This a great place to keep a sweater, water bottle, and anything else you might need for the day. If you plan to shop on your trip remember that stores in Europe often don’t have bags, so a foldable shopping tote is a great item to throw in your purse or daypack.

Have fun

Once you have your trip booked and you are all packed up, then it’s time to relax. Studies show that the less stress you have during the trip, the more beneficial you time away from work will be. Make sure to give yourself “off” days on your trip so you can just sit back, relax, and take in an unique culture and just have fun. Bon Voyage.

Adapters/Converters… What you need before you go

One must-have item before you travel overseas is the right adapter or converter. Most countries outside of North America are on a different electricity standard, which requires the use of an adapter/converter. Buying one can seem confusing, maybe even overwhelming at first, but with this handy guide you will be on your way with everything you need.

The first question is what country or countries are you going to. North America, most LCI-AP-EK58of the Caribbean and Central America, and Japan use our plugs so if that is your destination then most likely you don’t need anything at all. However, the rest of the world has different sized plugs and/or different voltage than the United States so you will have to look up the standard of the country you will be visiting. Most travel agents or hotels will be happy to provide you with this information, and Lewis & Clark publishes a handy guide. Be careful though, some countries have more than one standard so you might have to get several types of adapters

TRV-12712-BLKSmall electronics, such as phones, tablets, and e-readers only need adapters, as well as most camera batter chargers and shavers. Laptop computers also only need adapters, but those should be grounded. Hair appliances are a different story though. Some are duo-voltage, but many still are not. Most hotels now have hairdryers and if you usually use a hair curler or straightener maybe consider a hair style for your trip that will not require the use of one (hats always work). If you still feel the need to take one the next step is to determine both the voltage and wattage of your device. It will be on the device usually on the handle or inside. When you get your converter make sure the wattage of your device works with your converter. If you are using more than one item I recommend a high-low converter.

Once you know what you need then it is time to choose what adapter and/or LCI-AE-EK121converter you wish to purchase.  Most people will be fine with a single use adapter. They are the easiest to use and the least expensive. There are also kits available that contain adapters for all over the world or both the adapter and the converter. One other choice is a device that has all the adapters or adapter/converter in one. These tend to be the most expensive and might not work with grounded items (or even in all countries).

If you are still not sure what you need after all this then going to your local travel store (such as Irv’s Luggage) might be a good idea. They are the experts and deal with these questions all day long. I often tell people to bring what they are planning to take with them so I can see what they need and not just guessing. This is the surefire way to make sure you are not stuck with a wrong plug or even worse a burned out appliance.

 

 

Travel Essentials No Matter What the Trip

Bottom line, my favorite thing to do in this world (outside of spending time with my family) is traveling; and while I usually boast in my blog about using only a carry-on bag…..there is a list of items I will never leave home without, no matter what the trip, and they include:

  • Walking Shoes – The absolutely best way to see any city, ancient ruin, museum, tourist attraction etc….is on foot and in order to do this you have to be comfortable!!
  • Sunscreen – My white freckly Irish skin makes sunscreen an essential, however no matter what your ethnicity, protecting your skin from the harmful rays of the sun is imperative!!
  • Lip Balm and Moisturizer – Whatever the season, but particularly in colder climates, keeping your body lubricated is crucial for comfortable travel.
  • Compact Toiletry Bag – A small compact toiletry bag that you can carry in your purse or in a small carry-on tote, just in case you or your luggage ventures off course.
  • Ear Plugs and Eye Mask – Another essential for successful travel is sleep and depending on how smoothly everything goes, you never know where you might have to catch your zzzzz’s!
  • A bottle of Ibuprofen – As I get older, a sign of a great trip is the need for Ibuprofen; sore feet, headache, aches and pains, all signs that you are taking advantage of every opportunity, while taking a small toll on your body!
  • 3 ounce Bottle of Hand Sanitizer – Never knowing if hand washing is an option before eating, having a small bottle of a hand sanitizer helps ensure the foreign bugs you encounter do not reek havoc on your stomach or general health. (In addition you can carry a 3 ounce bottle on an airplane.)
  • Resealable Plastic Bags – The uses for these simple large and small plastic bags are endless; packing, waterproofing, dirty or wet clothes, medications and vitamins, day trips, food, etc……………..
  • Hat – Once again for sun protection or for warmth. There are a wide variety of choices depending on the type of travel but a hat is always a must (a scarf for colder climate works as well)!
  • Travel Light – Whether  doing “1st Class” travel or heading out on a camping trip, having a small portable light/headlamp to help navigate your way through dark spaces is not only convenient it is far more safe.  Also great for reading wherever you are!
  • Portable Alarm Clock – Finally whether part of your wrist watch or tucked into a small pocket of your carry on, having a device to help get you moving each morning will ensure you do not sleep your vacation away!

I consider my list to be right on; but with the vast assortment of people out there, I am sure opinions will vary.  So please let me hear from you, what are your essentials while traveling? Happy trails from Irv’s Luggage!

Marker Ski Bags – Time to Plan a Ski Trip

Now that the holidays are behind us, many people dread the next couple months of freezing temperatures……. Not me, I think of the first quarter of the year as prime ski time; the best stretch of winter to get away from the arctic cityscape by traveling to the picturesque slopes of the west.  Whether it’s Vail, Keystone, Snowbird, Park City, Telluride, Jackson Hole etc….there is no better time to let Mother Nature take your breath away as you are traversing across the mountain at unfathomable speeds with her spectacular scenery as your backdrop!

However, before heading out, be sure to have the right gear, including a Marker Ski Bag! Marker Ski Bags, constructed of high density sport cloth and fully padded from end to end; holding skis up to 160 – 175 cm in length with self healing nylon coil zippers, exterior adjustable web cinches with Fastex clips and padded top handles…….All of which will ensure you skis arrive in as good of shape as you do!

Go ahead plan that trip, the mountain tops are beckoning, life is too short! For all your travel and luggage needs visit Irv’s Luggage today!!