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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Hot Travel Tips for the Holidays

Heading off for the holidays, kids? It's never too early to start planning your road trip, so here is some early advice designed for those traveling by car. For a televised version of these suggestions, please watch here.

Before you head out of town, check the weather forecast. That will help you pack more efficiently. Also, download apps that can make travel easier, such as those that provide the skinny on rest stop locations or cheap gas. Of course, try to avoid traveling at peak times. If you can actually drive on the holiday itself, you may end up having the road to yourself.

In terms of getting your car road ready, Autotrader* has a number of important tips to get to your destination safe and satisfied.

1. Before you go, check the oil, other fluids and tire pressure. If you can't do it yourself, bring your car to a dealer for a pre-holiday check-up.
2. Keep the kids happy and quiet on road trips. Plan ample stops, bring along healthy snacks and load up devices with movies and games to keep kids occupied.
3. Have patience. Allow yourself plenty of time. During the holidays, traffic and bad weather can slow you down. So, be prepared...and have your GPS available to opt for alternate routes.

Driving slowly and having the proper tire pressure will save on fuel costs. But if you want to reduce your fuel fee to $0, go electric. For shorter holiday trips, an electric vehicle like the Kia Soul EV* is a great money saver. The car itself--which has been named a Motorweek Best Eco-Friendly Vehicle--is very affordable--and, of course, you never have to pay for gas. Plus, you can charge it at home. Another nifty feature--using the Kia Soul smartphone app, you can actually warm up your car before you hit the road.

Even if you are visiting family or close friends, sometimes it's nice to have a place of your own to escape to at day's end. Particularly if you are traveling with kids, look for hotels with spacious accommodations. Embassy Suites by Hilton and Homewood Suites by Hilton both offer rooms with separate sleeping and living areas. Both brands offer a lot of value-added extras as well. Embassy Suites* has a nightly social hour with snacks. Even better, it serves up free cooked-to-order breakfasts, which can save a family a ton of dough. Meantime, Homewood Suites by Hilton* have fully-equipped kitchens, and complimentary grocery shopping services. Cooking in can save big money on food costs while traveling. Plus, having the in-room kitchen lets you bring something homemade to holiday feasts.

Even if you find a comfortable room with a cozy bed, getting a good night's sleep on the road can be challenging. You're in unfamiliar territory, plus you may be amped up from eating too many holiday cookies  For those occasional bouts of sleeplessness, pack ZZZquil.* You take it and 20 minutes later, you're off to a full night of sleep. You wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the holiday activities ahead, including more cookies.

Another thing that will make you feel better--exercising. Move around as much as possible throughout your trip to work off some of those holiday pounds before they get packed on.

*Sponsored content part of satellite media tour.

*An example of how to pivot in order to include a client as the interview is closing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

More on Travel Accessories and Luggage from CNN Travel...and Me

8 hottest new accessories for travelers

(CNN)Roll-top suitcases, germ-busting bags and sleep-inducing face spoons — these are likely to be this year's headline-making travel gadgets.
That's the takeaway from this year's Travel Goods Show, held in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Crowdfunded products and 2.0 smart technology seem to be the prominent trends in the travel accessories arena.
    That translates into a wide selection of innovative products, from the practical to the posh.
    Here's our pick of the best:

    EgeeTouch Smart Travel Padlock

    This high-tech padlock looks like an old-fashioned lock.
    It isn't.
    It claims to be the first of its kind to require no key, no dial, and no code.
    Instead, a fob using Near Field Communication sends an abracadabra signal to the lock.
    Another option is downloading the Egee app to a smartphone.
    While NFC is the primary unlocking mechanism, Bluetooth is incorporated to allow for vicinity tracking should luggage go astray.
    The EgeeTouch lock is TSA-accepted.
    Pricing for the lock and matching fob -- crowdfunded on Indiegogo -- starts at $45.


    Prior to its release to the general public this year, Trunkster had been generating a ton of buzz.
    It all started with the most successful crowdfunding campaign (via Kickstarter) ever in the travel products space.
    That was followed up by an appearance -- and a deal -- on U.S. TV show "Shark Tank."
    Now, it's a winner of the Travel Goods Show Product Innovation Award.
    Trunkster is shaking up the world of luggage design with new-wave suitcases that dispense with zippers in favor of a roll-top sliding door.
    There's also an integrated digital scale, a removable battery, global tracking and a super-sturdy handle.
    Seductive design doesn't come cheap. The current website price is $355.

    Genius Pack Carry-On Spinner

    This case packs your clothes better than you do.
    Hauling around dirty laundry is the bane of the traveler who doesn't want to get soaked by hotel dry-cleaning prices.
    The Genius Pack 22-inch Carry-On Spinner can't wash dirty clothing, but it can compress it to take up less suitcase room.
    Laundry Compression Technology works by expelling unwanted air through a valve integrated into one compartment of the luggage.
    Back home, the dirty laundry bag is taken out and its contents thrown directly in the wash.
    Other novelties are a built-in slot for umbrella storage and a strap designed to secure a jacket onto the suitcase handle.
    The case weighs in at less than eight pounds and retails for $258.

    ORGO Lite

    We might like the price of micro hotels, but those tiny hotel bathrooms, where the toilet lid is the only place to stash toiletries, officially suck.
    This is where ORGO Lite comes in.
    It's an expandable, portable case that generates its own counter.
    Unzipped, it spans across most sinks to create space. Closed and zipped up, it fits easily into a small suitcase.
    Interior compartments are designed to hold lotions, potions, and toothbrushes in place.
    The ORGO Lite was another winner of the TGS Product Innovation Award.
    The suggested retail price is $39.99.

    Healthy Back Bag

    Ergonomics is a key focus in travel accessory design these days.
    The Healthy Back Bag tackles the issue with its teardrop-shaped satchel.
    Created by a leather craftsman, a doctor and a chiropractor, it molds to the shape of the body to combat problems of weight stress.
    With a non-slip strap to keep it in place, the Healthy Back Bag distributes weight across the back rather than pulling from one point on the shoulder.
    The designers say the more places a bag touches the body when worn, the lighter it feels, thus encouraging good posture.
    Price ranges depending upon size and fabric.


    This product, crowdfunded on Indiegogo, relies on the concept that the only thing keeping us from getting a decent in-flight snooze is ambient light seeping into our eye masks.
    The makers of Occles say their goggles will keep the illumination out, even if they make the user look like they're wearing spoons on their face.
    If used for sunbathing, they'll keep the UV rays out as well.
    Light, durable, strong and bridgeless (to avoid a tan line across the nose), the eye covers are padded with soft rubber.
    The adjustable fit works for a wide range of head sizes.
    Available in a variety of vibrant colors, the eyewear retails for $31.


    The Airpocket comes with a wide band that can be secured to a suitcase.
    Airline seat back pockets can be a cesspool of germs.
    That's why the Airpocket, crowdfunded on Kickstarter, may come in handy.
    This Australian-designed bag, made from somewhat pungent neoprene, organizes travel essentials into a neat package that fits in the seat back pocket.
    A wide band across the back allows it to be secured to a suitcase handle during crazed dashes across the airport.
    Add-on accessories include the Travelbook ($35) which holds documents in a slim flat case with RFID blocking and the Amenities Case ($20) with a see-through top.
    The suggested retail price for the Airpocket alone is $71.


    Armrest wrestling with neighboring passengers is one of the major annoyances of air travel.
    Arm-Share claims to end this territorial struggle for good.
    The double-decker device creates an upper and lower armrest surface permitting neighbors to use the same space, albeit on different levels.
    It's actually more comfortable, on all levels, than the airline armrest itself, and it folds up for easy storage.
    The product is expected to be available for sale by late summer 2016 for $30.