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Travel & Escape

Five packing tips for the travelling couple

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If you’ve travelled anywhere with your significant other, there’s a good chance you’ve run into some luggage-related stress along the way.

Maybe you overpacked your one checked bag and had to scramble at the counter to stuff the extra weight into your carry-on. If you want to fight less on your next trip, the key is to pack less.

Travelling couples can experience some luggage-related stress, but there are ways you can both pack your way to happier vacation memories.
Travelling couples can experience some luggage-related stress, but there are ways you can both pack your way to happier vacation memories.  (LARS LEETARU / The New York Times)

“You need less than you think,” Kit Dillon, an editor at Wirecutter, the New York Times company that reviews products, said. “Your bag is lighter, you aren’t as preoccupied with keeping track of everything, and it’s easier to simply enjoy the present moment.”

Packing cubes are a must: If you’re unfamiliar, packing cubes are zip-up fabric containers, typically rectangular, which can help you better organize the contents of your luggage by compressing your clothes as you pack them.

“We swear by our packing cubes,” said Adam Lukaszewicz, a founder of Getting Stamped, a travel blog he started with his partner, Hannah.

Consider a new bag: If avoiding checked luggage is your goal, you may want to house your new packing cubes in a new piece of carry-on luggage.

For most travellers, Dillon recommends the Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 for its balance of size, price and reliability. Frequent travellers may also want to upgrade to the Briggs & Riley Baseline 22-Inch Domestic, which carries extra features, including expandable room. Both fit most standard overhead size regulations, Dillon said.

Consider a smarter wardrobe: “Lay out your daily outfits and only bring what you really need and bring pieces that can make several outfits,” Lukaszewicz said. “Always pack layers and pieces you can easily mix and match no matter if you’re travelling to a tropical destination or off to the snow-capped mountains.”

Shoes are often a major space-drain, so it helps to decide in advance what you’ll actually need on your trip, rather than planning for every possible scenario.

Extend the life of your clothing: There are a few small items to include in your bag that can help you get multiple wears out of your clothing. Start with packing a spot cleaning pen, said Megan Jerrard, who writes of her travels with her husband, Mike, at Mapping Megan. She also suggested travelling with a rubber stopper, a little bit of washing liquid and a line to hang-dry clothes.

Share your tech: The idea of not bringing your own cellphone is probably too traumatic to ponder for more than a few seconds, so we won’t go there, but we will offer some tips to keep it and your data safe while you travel.

But you might want to consider consolidating other devices like personal laptops, chargers and cameras. Dillon suggests investing in a plug-in USB hub that allows you to charge multiple devices at once. You’ll save on space and make your airport experience a little easier.

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Travel & Escape

Dealing with baggage on your trip

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(NC)Nothing is more embarrassing than having to unpack your baggage at the airport. It’s common to overpack because you want to make sure you have everything you need for your trip – the right shoes, a jacket in case it’s cold, a bathing suit in case there’s a pool. But you must be mindful of the baggage restrictions. So, how can you be smart with your baggage when travelling?

The first thing to do is talk to your TICO-certified travel agent about the weight restrictions and number of bags you are allowed to take. Some airlines charge per bag, while others may offer one bag for free depending on weight.

You’ll also need to know if there are security requirements for carry-on and checked baggage. For example, there may be prohibited items such as gels and liquids. These limitations vary from airline to airline and depends on if your flight is international or domestic, so you’ll need to check the policy of the airline you’re travelling with.

Naturally, you want to avoid incurring baggage fees, so talk to your travel agent, or contact the airline directly. You can also visit their website to review the luggage policy.

Here are a few more tips to help you manage your baggage when travelling:

  • Clearly label all baggage with your name, home address, and contact information
  • Place an identification tag inside the baggage in case the outside tag is torn off
  • Lock bags with CATSA/ACTSA travel locks
  • Put a colourful ribbon or other identifying marks on your bags so they are easily recognizable
  • Carry valuables in your hand luggage; jewelry, money, medications, important documents, etc.

You can’t carry everything with you, so be smart when you pack. Take only necessary items and focus on your trip.

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Travel & Escape

What travellers need to know if a destination wedding is cancelled

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(NC) It’s two weeks before you’re scheduled to attend a destination wedding and then you get the call. The wedding has been called off.

Sure, you’re upset for the couple, but now you’re faced with plane tickets and hotel reservations. So, what can you do?

There’s no reason why you can’t go and enjoy the trip, but bear in mind you may face a price increase, especially if this was part of a group booking. Group bookings often include a minimum number of travellers to get the discounted price, as well as terms and conditions regarding changes or cancellations.

You could ask other travellers to come along to keep the group discount. But name changes often count as cancellations based on the terms of the vacation package and premium charges may apply. If you booked with a TICO-registered travel agency, website or tour company, it’s better to contact them and ask about options before making any decisions.

While it’s devastating for the couple who planned the destination wedding, the fact is that the cancellation affects all the confirmed guests. So, it’s important to know your options so you can salvage an unfortunate situation. Always book with a TICO-registered travel agency, website or tour operator so you can circle back and find out what they can do for you.

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Travel & Escape

Be safe not sorry when booking travel online

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(NC) With so many travel websites available these days, many people are choosing to book their vacations from the comfort of their own home. Many travel websites are easy to navigate, and offer great vacation packages, so it seems to make sense.

But before you hit “submit”, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. Here are a few tips that can make you more aware when booking travel online:

  • Look for the TICO registration number or logo. All Ontario travel agencies and websites must be registered with TICO, the provincial travel regulator that provides consumers with protections if they don’t receive travel services. The registration number or logo is usually found in the About Us or Contact sections of the website.
  • Know where your credit card payment is going. Some websites are only search engines or booking agents for other providers.
  • Review the terms and conditions, particularly those that relate to cancellation, changes to bookings and refunds. Know what the travel agent or tour operator’s responsibilities are.
  • Keep a paper copy of your transactions, correspondence and confirmations.
  • Double check which currency the prices are quoted in. You could be paying in Euros instead of Canadian dollars.
  • Keep in mind that tax amounts can vary in travel advertisements. Ontario travel agencies and websites can display their taxes in four different ways:
    • A total price
    • A base price plus total taxes, fees and additional charges
    • A base price with a detailed breakdown
    • All taxes, fees and additional charges.
  • Research your destination to find out if there are any travel advisories, which can be found on the Government of Canada website.
  • Check the online travel agency’s website for a live-chat feature, email address or toll-free number to talk to a travel agent. Travel agents are a great resource to answer any questions you may have to ensure you are making an informed travel purchase.

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