It's that time again. You are traveling for business or pleasure and already starting to worry about how to pack to ensure all your valuable items arrive in pristine condition.
Do you carry it on, or pack it inside your checked bag? How do you get that new expensive camera or laptop to your destination in one piece and without compromising any time? And on the return trip, what if you find an exceptional bottle of wine or the "must have" crystal vase? Occidental Vacation Club has tips to share with you.
First Things First
Start by checking with the airline you are flying on, or the official website of the airport you are flying into, or the TSA website. These sources should inform you about protocols for checked and carry-on items. They might even give you some pointers on the best way to pack and transport certain items, thus saving you time in lines and check points.
**The TSA states explicitly that you should NEVER pack cash, jewelry, computers, electronics or fragile items in your checked bags!
Next Try these Packing Tips:
Solve two issues at once by investing in a carry-on that stores your computer as well as your other carry-on items. That way you are not "pack-muling" it to your seat, with a computer bag, carry-on bag, and purse. There are several of these types of bags on the market. Some even have a double compartment with a security-friendly pullout computer sleeve, plus a separate section for clothing and other items.
2. Digital Cameras
There is no end to the types of camera bags that are available. You just need to decide what's best for you. Remember if you choose a full-size camera bag, it's going to count as your personal carry-on item. Do you really want to want to limit yourself this way? A better way may be to use a small camera case that you can put inside a carry-on.
Digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera bodies, lenses, and other parts, may be hand inspected. Each item will be removed and scanned separately by the TSA agent. Prepare ahead by dismantling the camera and storing each part for easy access. There are special bags for this too.
3. Clothing Items
Traveling for business is never easy, but you don't want to arrive at your meeting looking like you had a rough time. How do you get your business suit there looking like it just came from the cleaners? There are essentially two methods...folding and rolling. Lucky for you there are many on-line videos that will show you how to pack your suit to arrive in pristine condition. Check out the "Life Hacker" video on YouTube for eight steps to folding a suit in a plastic garment bag. There are also many other videos on the "rolling" technique. Some suitcases even have special "suit sleeves" that often work well. Try them all BEFORE your trip and see what works best for you!
Often bulky and unwieldy shoes can be perplexing to pack. Also, deciding what shoes to take and how many pairs stymies many of us. Planning ahead by making a list of the outfits you will need (even laying them out on your bed or floor for easy viewing) can help. It's always good to pick a neutral colored shoe that can be worn with many outfits. (Save the matching colors for when you are home.) Choose shoes that can serve many purposes and can go from day wear to evening wear. Wear your heavier shoes on the plane (also the ones that are most comfortable, easy to get on and off), and pack the lighter shoes. The TSA suggests packing all footwear on top of the other contents in your luggage.
* Bulky Coats and Jackets
Just because you are leaving from a place like Florida doesn't mean you won't need to pack a heavier coat or jacket for your ultimate destination. So what do you do with that down jacket? Here's an idea...you know how cold it can get on those planes right? Carry it with you, or wear it (always good to dress in layers when traveling) and it can be used as a cover to block that frigid airplane air. But, if you have to pack it, unzip it (folding only adds to the bulk) and put it at the bottom of your suitcase. Fold other items on top of it. Fold the arms over those items and then stash gloves, scarves, socks in the coat's sleeves and pockets. Voila! You've saved yourself some space.
4. Fragile Souvenirs
Whether you are at an OVC location or not, souvenirs are always a must. The best way to get your purchases home safely is to carry them on, so if possible save space in your carry-on for souvenirs. If what you've purchased is heavy, valuable, or both, have them shipped directly to your home. This will avoid damage by any heavy handed baggage handlers and having to pay extra for your overweight-luggage. If you decide to pack them in your checked luggage, make sure that items like glassware or ceramics, are protected. Ask the store where you purchased them to wrap them with appropriate protection, or you can wrap clothing items around them and snuggle them into your suitcase.
Wine is always a nice gift to bring home from a trip for friends, or yourself. The great thing about wineries is that they are always ready to help you out by packing and shipping the wine home for you, especially if you've bought multiple bottles. The winery also probably sells special products your can purchase to prevent bottle breakage and bring bottles safely home in your checked luggage. If you've only bought one bottle, or just a few bottles, you can't bring them onboard the plane unless you purchased them at the airport's duty-free shop.
**It may seem like a lot of extra effort, but when your suitcase is efficiently packed, your clothing looks good when you unpack, your valuables survive the trip intact, and your purchases arrive home in perfect condition, it will all be worth it!!
Welcome to summer. Now is a great time to beat the crowds and enjoy all that your Club has to offer. For instance, our Grand Cozumel on Mexico’s Cozumel Island is especially appealing for the scuba and snorkeling enthusiast. You’ll find plenty of privacy on our sandy Playa San Francisco beach and also plenty to do with six restaurants, in-room dining, four bars, a nightclub and three pools, and a Kids Club. And when you’re ready to move, there’s a host of activities to keep you busy.
Or you might want to let go of your stress at our newly renovated Occidental Grand Nuevo Vallarta where you can take part in water activities at the Bay of Banderas or take a short trip into Puerto Vallarta for a day of shopping and exploring authentic Mexico.
And just a reminder about My-OVC.com. Login and you’ll be able to manage your entire vacation from reservations, customer service and Share The Joy referrals. There is even a Members Forum and soon, you will be able to access our very own Club Rewards.
Enjoy your summer vacation and come visit us. We look forward to seeing you!
You've finally got the time to take that Caribbean Vacation that you've always dreamed of. You're thinking tropical breezes, turquoise waters, white sand beaches, pina coladas...Seems like all you'll need is a bathing suit and sunscreen right? Well...there are a few other things. Take Occidental Vacation Club's advice. With resort locations throughout the Caribbean, we've had lots of experience. Here are our suggestions:
A good quality swimsuit is a must, as you may be spending most of your day in it. Bring at least two. For women, a bikini or two piece suit are good for sunbathing, but a one-piece suit is especially practical, especially if you are going to be participating in the many water sports offered in the Caribbean. Sports like snorkeling, diving, surfing and kayaking require a lot of physical activity, and you don't want to have to worry about a part of your suit getting washed away in the waves.
Men should be sure to bring a couple of swimsuits too. Make sure they are sturdy and fit snuggly. Rough waves can cause embarrassing situations.
Along with sunscreen, you are going to want adequate sun protection from your clothing. Hats are a must to block the sun's intense heat and glare. If you can find a hat that provide UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor). Look for hats that pack easily so you don't have to worry about squishing it in your suitcase.
You've got to take care of those eyes! Long-term sun exposure can cause many vision problems later in life. Make sure your pair has the American Optometric Association's seal of approval. That means your glasses block both UVA and UVB rays. And you don't have to sacrifice fashion...all high quality sunglasses provide this protection while looking good too! Don't forget a case to protect your investment.
We know you think that all you'll need is a pair of flip-flops or just your bare feet might do, but think about all the activities and variety of terrain the Caribbean has to offer. It's not just water sports you need to think about. There are many wonderful hiking and walking trails. Bring a pair of waterproof hiking boots, or even hiking sandals. If you are not used to running barefoot on the beach (It's not for everyone!) bring your athletic shoes. They'll also come in handy when you visit the exercise room at your resort's fabulous spa.
The Caribbean is a pretty casual place, so as far as the rest of your wardrobe, think shorts and tops made of cotton or other natural materials. (Some clothes also feature fabrics made with UVA/UVB protection.) For women, a colorful skirt, sarong, or simple sundress can do double duty as a beach cover-up or to wear to dinner. June-November is the rainy season, so consider bringing a light rain coat or poncho.
More important than the clothing you wear is the sunscreen you wear. At the very minimum it should have an SPF of 30. Make sure it is waterproof and apply it often, especially after being in the water. A bad sunburn can be quite debilitating, and you don't want to miss a day of your perfect Caribbean vacation!
Planning a trip to another country and wondering how to maneuver your way through their airport security? Here are some important points to consider.
1. Check it out! - FIRST check with the airline you are traveling on, or better yet...the official website of the airport you are flying into. The purpose of all airport security is to get you safely to your destination, and also to protect the airport from accidental/malicious harm, crime and other threats, however, international regulations and procedures do vary from country to country. The airport's website should inform you of;
A. what items you can carry-on board, and in packed luggage.
B. protocols on personal checks (x-ray, pat-downs),
C. needed and acceptable identification,
D. general airport procedures.
2. Be on Your Best Behavior! - This is always a good rule when you fly! No matter what you think of the airport's regulations, they really are there for your benefit. It pays to be polite and courteous as you make your way through the security maze. This should be easier if you've already checked the airport's regulations and you know what to expect. If you are calm and reasonable, the security officers are more inclined to be so too. Plus, your fellow passengers will appreciate you not holding up the line with your complaints!
3. Not sure...Don't bring it!
There are some regulations on what you can and cannot carry on the aircraft that are pretty standard throughout all airport security. For instance, liquids and gels...most countries follow the U.S. and European standards on this. (Liquids, gels, and aerosols must be in containers no larger than 3.4 ounces and placed in a quart size, clear, zip-lock bag.) The website of your arrival airport should have a list of all banned items, and since you've already checked it, you should know what is acceptable. Regulations on metal and sharp objects are fairly standard throughout airports, but some may actually be more lenient than the U.S. The European Union allows passengers to bring scissors, screwdrivers and even knives of up to six centimeters in carry-ons. BUT "better safe than sorry". If after checking, you still aren't sure, don't bring it!
4. Bringing it All Home
You can also check the airport website for customs information on how best to manage bringing home gifts and souvenirs purchased within the country, but how about items you've purchased in the airport? There seem to be a few common options. At most international airports, liquids purchased after a security checkpoint can be carried onboard (some require a tamper-proof bag). The 3.4 ounce rule may apply to duty-free liquids brought on board. You may also have the option to have purchases delivered directly to the plane.
Lastly, just to help to ease your airport security experience, remember the do's and don'ts of the frequent travelers. Do wear slip on shoes (quick and easy to take on and off and help move quickly through the line), and comfortable clothing (stay away from any thing that may be construed as offensive or threatening...like T-shirts with questionable messages.) You don't want to be pulled aside for a check! Don't wear jewelry or any metal that may set off the security scanner...remember to remove belts with metal buckles before you go through the scanner! And once again, remember to be respectful to all. It's your trip...but it's everyone else's too!
Fitness conscious travelers are always looking for ways to get in a workout while on vacation. If you are like many of us, vacation time is active time. Good to know: active opportunities abound at Occidental Vacation Club Resorts. From the traditional to the more adventuresome, Occidental has a fitness experience to fit everyone's desires. What's your pleasure?
Vacation time should be funtime, so it makes since to have fun while getting in a workout. Take advantage of all the sports that resorts offer. If your usual fitness routine is in a gym, NOW's the time to get out, and try a new sport that enables you to interact with your new environment. Most resorts will have many outdoor activities to choose from. There's no better time to try something new!
Swimming laps in the resort pool is good exercise, but there's also snorkeling, and scuba diving. Most of Occidental's Resorts offer instruction and equipment for both sports, plus certification in diving. As you tone your legs and arms, and burn calories, you'll experience some of the best diving spots in the world, and a remarkable underwater paradise filled with colorful tropical fish and corral.
Occidental's Allegro Cozumel offers a plethora of other water sports including kayaking, sailing and windsurfing...all excellent for cardio and strengthening. There's nothing like exercising in a beautiful setting to keep your motivation going!
Golfing and Tennis
Most resorts offer golf and tennis on the premises, and Occidental Resorts are no exception. You'll find lighted tennis courts on many of our properties, and championship golf courses sometimes within walking distance like Occidental's Playa Car in Mexico's Riviera Maya. Be sure to walk the course rather than drive a cart. You'll get all-day cardio benefits, and won't miss a bit of the exceptional scenery!
Hiking and Walking
Opportunities for hiking and walking are unlimited at most resorts. And both sports offer a great way learn about the area you are visiting, and get in a work-out as well. The fabulous Xcaret Park in Riviera Maya, Mexico is a short walk from the Occidental Grand Xcaret. Visitors can explore the park's twelve acres of natural beauty and archeological wonders. If you get tired walking or hiking, the park also offers horsebackriding...great for calves, thighs and arms.
Play a Game!
Get family and friends together for a game of beach volleyball, relay races, Frisbee, or football. Make it competitive...it burns more calories!
Run along the beach...you don't need any equipment and it's scenic, aerobic and burns many calories. Most resorts offer a fitness room on the premises. This is a good alternative if it rains, or if you just prefer it. Don't forget to bring some resistance bands... light to pack, and easy to use in your room for more toning and strengthening. And always use the resort stairs for some extra burn!
You Deserve a Reward!
Whatever your workout, be sure and head for the spa afterwards...many Occidental Resorts offer luxurious spa treatments to indulge in...Try a massage to relieve muscle aches! Also, don't feel guilty taking that fabulous desert from the buffet table ...you've already burned all those extra calories!
Shopping on vacation can be one of the most delightful experiences of your trip. Finding that little shop tucked away on a tiny street may provide a wealth of unique souvenirs for your friends...and yourself! So where do you start?
Do Your Homework!
It's always good to do your homework before you leave. Search the web. Read travel guides. Find out what products your destination is known for. For instance, Aruba grows the Aloe Vera plant, and a velvety aloe cream or lotion might be perfect for your girlfriends. Costa Rica has a reputation for fine coffee. The Dominican Republic's clay Dominican Faceless Dolls are great examples of local artistry. Mexico is abundant with silver, textiles and pottery. Everyone appreciates a souvenir that represents the country.
Check Customs and Export Rules
While researching the products, don't forget to check the customs and export rules of the country. You want to know what products aren't allowed out of the country, and make sure you don't purchase more then is allowed to bring back.
Make a List
Before you leave, make a list of the people you would like to get a souvenir for, and if possible jot down their likes and dislikes. Most people appreciate something they can really use. Isn't your Aunt Jennifer a big coffee drinker?
Shop like a Local
Shop at local arts and crafts centers, flea markets and farmer's markets, and galleries. Ask the locals you come in contact with for their suggestions. Stay away from hotel gift shops (usually expensive and touristy), typical tourist shops in high traffic areas (often poor quality), and don't wait until the last minute to shop at the airport (also expensive and touristy).
**Hey, Occidental Vacation Club members and guests! We'd love to get shopping advice from you because who better to get advice from than friends and family. Contact us with your best shopping experience, your favorite souvenir, that special little boutique you found on your last trip. We'll share your experiences with our readers in our upcoming blogs.