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21 things not to forget when packing for your vacation.

10Jul

With your flights and hotel booked, the luggage is the last thing stopping you from that great holiday. We know it feels like a chore, but if you follow our expert packing tips you’ll never have to worry.

1. Make a list

Ok, so it sounds a little boring, but idiot-proof lists are the gateway to a stress-free holiday. Separate your essentials from your desirables, and be realistic with your luggage limitations. If you need list inspiration – the following might be a good place to start…

2. Don’t forget the first aid kit

We’re not asking you to prepare for ER, just a small bag with the most necessary pills and medicine you might need. After all, nobody wants to suffer a punishing headache, high-climate fever, upset stomach or all three during a holiday. It might be easy enough to pick up a domestic remedy for your ailments at home, but medicines in the country you are visiting may be limited to prescription only. The same goes for allergy meds and asthma remedies – bring them on board!

3. Limit your liquids

We all know about it by now, and yet there’s still a mass confusion and hold-up when some chancer tries to sneak a bottle of water past airport security. Much to everybody’s chagrin, pan-European baggage restrictions state that all liquids carried in hand luggage must be no more than 100 ml per item, and must fit into one small and resealable transparent bag (usually available at the airport for a nominal fee). If you’re carrying anything larger, stow it with your checked-in suitcase.

4. Name tags are there to help

Unless you’re an international man of mystery, you shouldn’t have to worry about travelling incognito. Most suitcases come with name tags fitted as standard, so be sure to fill them in just in case you – or the airline – lose your luggage!

5. Observe restrictions on baggage

A woman overstuffing her suitcase.

Overstuffing your suitcase is never a good idea. ©: Highways Agency

If your airline says: “23kg”, then they mean 23kg! Weigh your bags before you get to the airport and make sure you are within the restrictions, otherwise you’ll be forced to cough up extra cash at the airport or, even worse, have to say goodbye to that lovely hand-knitted cardigan your grandmother spent so long slaving over. We’ve all tried to squeeze that extra pair of pants in the already overstuffed suitcase, but the restrictions are there for a reason, and that reason is your safety. Which reminds us…

6. Save bag space for all your holiday purchases

Whether it’s duty free goods or holiday mementos, it’s inevitable that you’ll be bringing more back home with you than when you left – so make sure you have room for it!

7. Skip the shoes

The biggest and most frustrating item of luggage. How many pairs of shoes you should take is very much dependent on how long your vacation might be, but we’d suggest that three pairs is a reasonable average for a 1-2 week getaway. More important than volume is versatility, so make sure you’re not stuck hiking in stilettos by bringing a pair of shoes for every realistic occasion of your trip. Wear your most cumbersome pair on the plane – plus, stuff your socks in the rest – and you’ll save even more space.

8. Cosmetics – at a minimum!

Unless you plan on travelling to a desert island, it’s likely that you’ll be able to pick up popular shampoo or sun lotion brands in almost any corner of the world. Fewer cosmetics also mean that you’ll be less likely to find an explosion of nondescript gooey liquids spoiling everything in your suitcase when you arrive at your destination. If you really can’t live without that special face cream, try to take only as much as you’ll need for your trip and nothing more. That way you can discard the empties and save extra luggage room for your trip back home.

9. Keep on rolling…

This tip is certainly up for debate, but we think that rolling your clothes really is the only way to go. Not only will it reduce those pesky wrinkles and creases in your gear, it’ll save you some much needed suitcase space.

10. All valuables go in hand luggage

All valuable equipment goes in hand luggage

All valuables go in hand luggage. © Jon Rawlinson

It’s rare that airlines lose luggage these days, but why take the risk? Stay safe and stow all your expensive luxuries – from your camera to your diamond engagement ring – in hand luggage.

11. Don’t forget the adapters

If you do need them, save on the crazy airport prices by buying them ahead of your trip.

12. Pack all-rounder fashions, not eccentric statement pieces

You might want to pack that banana costume for your trip, but is it really necessary? Fancy dress or no, this is a question you should really ask yourself when pressed for suitcase space. Pack great all-rounder attire and a classy evening outfit, but leave those outlandish statement pieces for a night out at home.

13. Be delicate with your delicates

If you have to pack any china plates or glass goods, wrapping them in bubble wrap or in-between clothes and putting them right in the middle of your case is safest way to make sure they arrive with you in one piece.

14. Categorise your clothes

Pack clothes in groups: that means shirts with shirts, pants with with pants -it’s easier to find what you need and unpack on the other side.

15. Pack a mini closet in your hand luggage

Not literally, of course, but it’s always a nice idea to add a clean set of underwear and a garment in your carry-on bag, in case of your luggage being lost in an aeroplane mix-up.

16. Don’t predict the weather – check it

A couple on a scooter using an umbrella to shield from the rain.

Don’t leave home without your umbrella. ©: Sukantho Debnath

Depending on where you’re going, weather forecasts are either your holiday’s best friend or biggest foe. Come rain or shine, meteorologists will always give you the best idea of what weather to expect on your holiday. Check the day before you fly and pack accordingly, and save room for that trusty pac-a-mac or umbrella you hope you’ll never have to use.

17. No on-board manicure

Tip for the well-groomed flyer: if you’re thinking about carrying a nail file, scissors, or any other sharp primping tool in your luggage – give up the idea! They are prohibited and airport workers will ask you to get rid of them.

18. The most necessary things go on top

If you believe that a particular thing can be useful to you very soon (perhaps at the airport), for example, a jacket – put it on top. Very obvious advice, but perhaps it’s so obvious that you’d be bound to forget otherwise!

19.  Towels?

Towels! Yet another pesky space-filler you need to think long and hard about whether you actually need. Check ahead of time to see if your holiday accommodation will be providing them (they probably will) and pack accordingly.

20. Strip at airport security

It’s unlikely you’ll be asked to strip down to your undergarments, but it’s possible that you’ll be asked to undress a bit as you go through to the terminal. This usually means taking shoes, belts and jackets off, and removing any jewellery or metal goods. Travelling with a laptop or tablet device? Be prepared to present your gadgets to the friendly security staff too.

21. Don’t leave home without the essentials

This penultimate tip is a big one as, without these necessities, you won’t be heading anywhere but home: check and check again that you have your monies, a valid passport and – for the sake of your holiday companions – a toothbrush. Keep these all on hand and then you’ll be able to remember the most important thing…

Enjoy your vacation!

ARTICLE CREDIT: http://www.momondo.com/inspiration/vacation-packing-tips/#KUs0ouSc4FbY3z7U.97

HOTEL SAFETY.

10Jul

Before your trip

  • Copy all credit cards, airline tickets, passports and important documents, front and back.
  • Jewelry and luggage and all valuables should be photographed prior to trip.

What to look for in a safe hotel:

  • If possible, select a hotel with has installed modern electronic guest room locks. The majority of these locks automatically change the lock combination with every new guest so there is little chance of someone having a duplicate key to your room. If you lose or misplace your key, ask to have your room re-keyed immediately.
  • Is each room equipped with a dead bolt lock and a peephole?
  • Fire sprinklers in hotel rooms, hallways, and meeting rooms likewise for smoke detectors. If each room is not equipped with a smoke detector, are sprinklers systems installed in the hallways or is your only hope the local fire department.
  • Each room telephone should allow outside dialing.
  • Guest phones located in hallways and lobbies should not allow direct room dialing. Anyone using the phone should have to call the operator and request a room by guest name, not room number.
  • Secure locks on windows and adjoining doors.
  • Well-lit interior hallways, parking structures and grounds.
  • Hotels that have limited access to hotel structure, generally the more limited the access; the less likely a trespasser will enter.
  • The parking garage should not have elevators taking passengers to guest floors. It should only go to the lobby.
  • Does hotel provide personnel trained in guest security and available for escorts to rooms and auto when requested?
  • Is the hotel located in a high crime rate area, especially when traveling overseas? Check with the US Embassy’s Resident Security Officer in that country and they can alert you of areas to stay away from.

When arriving and checking into your hotel room

  • If you arrive in a bus or cab, stay with your luggage until it is brought into the hotel lobby.
  • Keep a close eye on your luggage, purse, etc when checking in.
  • If the lobby is busy, thieves will often take advantage of the distractions to take your things with them.
  • If you are staying in an older room which still has the older guest door locks with metal key, one of first signs of how a hotel treats the issue of security is to observe how hotel room keys are controlled. If it is checkout time and a pile of metal room keys are laying on the front desk, the hotel is not too concerned about your security. Anyone can take and key laying on the desk. This is not a big concern if the hotel is using electronic key cards but is if the metal keys have the room number embossed on it. You will find this more prevalent overseas.
  • Ask the front desk personnel not to announce your room number. Rather, tell them to write it down or point to it. If the desk clerk should do this, explain the problem and asked to be given another room. You never know who is listening. Your room number is a matter of security, and the fewer people that know your whereabouts, the better. There’s no need to announce it to the entire hotel lobby.
  • Be aware of people standing next to you or listening to your check-in conversation.
  • When registering, sign only your last name and first initial. Don’t use titles or degrees. Makes it harder to determine gender, marital status or profession. If you are a women traveling alone, you might consider booking your room as Mr. and Mrs.
  • Don’t leave your credit card lying on the check-in counter while you complete your registration. Also make sure the credit card that is handed back to you by the hotel clerk is really yours.
  • Instruct the desk not to give out your name and room number and ask for them to call you if someone inquires about you.
  • Immediately upon check in, get two business cards or matchbooks with the hotel name and address on them. Place one by the phone in the room so you know where you are and keep the other on you when you leave so you know where to come back to. If you get lost, you have the address and phone number handy. There is nothing more frustrating than telling a cab driver to take you to the “Marriott” and they ask which one?? That could be one very expensive cab ride. Or if you are in a country where you don’t speak the language, you can simply show a taxi driver the matchbook, and you’re on your way back to the hotel.

Room Selection

  • Maximize safety and security. Select a room located between the 4 and 6th floor Avoid rooms above the sixth floor–the maximum height that fire-department ladders can reach. For some fire departments overseas, and within the United States, they do not have equipment to reach hotel floors above the 6th floor
  • Whenever possible do not except a hotel on the ground floor that has doors and windows that open to the outside. Hotels with interior hallways tend to be generally safer. For security in motels, avoid ground floor rooms off the parking lot. If you can’t get a room on a higher level, take one facing the interior courtyard.
  • Guest rooms that are as close to the elevators as possible are safest, but tend to be noisier. You might also want to find out if the room is located next to a vending area, those also tend to be noisy.

Elevator safety

  • Women should be accompanied to hotel room and room should be checked
  • Observe all passengers in elevators
  • It is wise to board last and select floor buttons last
  • If possible position yourself near the elevator control panel and if attacked, push as many floor buttons as possible. Keep your back to the sidewall.
  • If someone suspicious boards an elevator, exit as soon as possible.

When checking into your hotel room

After checking into a room, examine the following:

  • Examine the guest room lock and be sure it is functioning properly.
  • The closets and bathrooms are checked to make sure no one is hiding.
  • All windows and outside doors are checked to insure they lock and operate properly
  • The lock on the adjoining door is checked to insure it is locked and works
  • The telephone is checked and you know how to make a outside call
  • Look for information in room about fire safety and read to become familiar with nearest fire exit / stairway. Locate nearest fire exit. Find one at each end of the hallway. How many doors away? Does the door open easily? Are the exit signs illuminated? If the lights are out, be helpful and contact the front desk to let them know. Is the stairwell clear of debris? Make a note on the back of the business card that you place by your bed noting the number of doors away to the emergency exit, in each direction, and the location of the fire extinguisher and fire pull box.
  • When you enter your hotel room, make sure the door closes securely and that the dead bolt works. Keep the dead bolt and safety bar on at all time. It cannot be stressed enough that you should never prop your hotel room door open. Anyone could walk in.

HOTEL ETIQUETTE.

10Jul

Hotels can be so much more than places to sleep while traveling. They can be among the most interesting and memorable aspects of a trip. However, because hotels range from elegant luxury establishments to country inns to chain hostelries off the interstate, they can be a bit confusing unless you know what to expect from them and what they may expect from you.

Luxury Hotels

It’s usually a good idea to book rooms in luxury hotels well in advance. These hotels provide many extra amenities and services. You probably can count on having bathrobes, hair dryers, and a minibar in your room. (Beware of minibars: You can be in for a very expensive and sobering surprise when you pay your bill.)

When you arrive, a doorman greets you, and a porter takes your bags. Tip the porter at least NGN500 bag. If the doorman hails a cab for you, tip him NGN500. If he has to stand out in the rain, you might want to tip more.

Proceed to the registration desk and give the clerk your confirmation number. Married couples should sign in under both of their names. If a woman uses her maiden name in business, she should include that in registering so that telephone calls can be fielded accurately. Unmarried couples should both sign in as well. These details may seem unnecessary, but they are important for security purposes and, practically speaking, for things like telephone calls.

The porter takes the bags to your room. Sometimes the desk clerk will direct you to the room, and the porter will follow with the bags. The porter or bellman will open the room, turn on the lights, adjust the air-conditioning, put your luggage on stands, draw the curtains, show you the minibar, and explain how the television works. If you don’t like the room, ask the porter to call the front desk about a replacement. Remember that the porter is not authorized to change your room and must clear your request through the front desk.

The next thing you should do, no matter what sort of hotel, motel, or inn you are staying at, is to find the emergency and fire exits. Check to see whether you need more towels, pillows, blankets, hangers, or an iron. If you do, call housekeeping right away. Calling late at night when there is a reduced staff can create difficulties and delays.

Luxury hotels have a concierge,  The concierge desk is generally located near the registration desk. Here you can obtain theater, concert, and sports tickets; look at local restaurant menus and make dining reservations; and find out about car rentals, sightseeing tours, babysitters, and even traffic and weather conditions. A good concierge is a miracle worker who seems to know everything about everything.

Commercial Hotels

They are clean, comfortable, and efficient. They also are cheaper and offer fewer frills than the luxury hotels. Available for business travelers are conference rooms, computers, facsimile machines, copiers, and secretarial services.

Pack a travel iron and hair dryer. You might be able to borrow these things from the hotel, but you might not be able to borrow them exactly when you need them. You can’t afford to be held up for an appointment because you are stranded waiting for an iron.

Business people suggest you avoid doing business in your hotel room. And if you are on a business trip, never share a room with a member of the opposite sex—colleague or not. This behavior damages your credibility, as well as that of your company.
Room Service

Especially if you are traveling on business, put in your breakfast order the night before and allow yourself plenty of time to receive and eat it before leaving for your business appointment. It’s fine to greet the room service waiter in your robe. The waiter will set up the meal in your room. When you’re finished, call room service to come for the tray or cart, instead of leaving it in the hall. A service charge is added to the bill. If a tip is not included on the bill, the usual amount to leave is 20 percent.

Security

Hotel guests, even guests in the most prestigious hotels, must be aware that they always have at least some responsibility for their security. Here are some basic rules to remember:

  • Never keep cash or valuables in your room.
  • Never open the door when someone knocks unless you know who it is— especially at night. If the knocker claims to be a hotel employee and you have any doubts, call the front desk to ask whether this person has been sent to your room. If not, call hotel security, give your room number, and state that someone is at your door.
  • Always double-lock your door. You may want to leave the television on to dissuade burglars.
  • If the desk clerk announces your room number in a loud voice and this practice bothers you, as it should, quietly ask for another room and explain that you are being cautious in case someone overheard.
  • Don’t flash a wad of bills in the hotel bar.

Checking Out

Confirm your departure the day before and verify the checkout time. Usually, you can arrange a late departure if the hotel isn’t full. Call the porter to collect your bags. Tip about NGN500 a bag. If you need to check your bags at the hotel for the day, the porter will take care of it and give you tickets to redeem them.