Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Packing Tips to Save Money

With high fuel charges, weight is at a premium when flying to a destination. Here are a few tips to keep your baggage under control and save money on over-weight fees.

1. Know the baggage allowances for your chosen carrier

2. Purchase a light weight suitcase. Made from a lighter weight material, these suitcases are still sturdy and usually come with their weight prominently listed on their features tag. I wait until the sales before I buy.

3. Organize your suitcase with packing folders and cubes

. This keeps your suitcase tidy and makes it easy to find items. My favourite is the Eagle Creek Pack-It system.

4. Pre-plan your travel wardrobe. Stick with a colour theme and coordinating pieces so that you can create the maximum number of outfits through mixing and matching. Since shoes are heavy, limit the number you pack.

5. Bring clothing that is light-weight, wrinkle resistant, quick to dry when washed and can be dressed up or worn casually. One of my favourite versatile travel options is a pair of pants with zip off legs to transform them into capris or shorts. I also just purchased a convertible dress which can be wrapped and tied in 100 different ways. Athletic dry fit t-shirts are great for vacations.

6. Accessories can really change an outfit’s look. Just make sure your accessories are light-weight.

7. Ipads and e-readers are great for travelling since books can add a lot of weight to baggage. If you must bring a book, plan to donate it at your destination in order to save weight for holiday momentos.

8. Bring a small luggage scale that can easily monitor your baggage weight. These can be found in most baggage and travel stores.

9. Bring sample packs of facial products and toiletries so that you can get rid of packaging and weight as you go.

10. Wear your heaviest outfits, layered on the plane trip. You can always remove a layer or two when you get on the plane…or not, since sometimes the planes can be rather chilly.

11. Keep any medications and valuable items with your carry-ons. Bring copies of your prescriptions with you. You may want to add an extra pair of undies and toothbrush as well.

12. Remember that you can only carry-on liquids or gels in containers under 100ml. All carry-on liquid containers must be placed in one clear, closed, resealable bag (think zip lock). This bag can be no more than one litre (1 quart) in capacity which is about 6”x9” or 7”x8”. Anything larger than 100ml (like sun block), must go into your checked baggage.

13. Think out every item before you pack it and compare notes with your family/travelling companion. Try not to double up on items such as hair dryers, toothpaste etc.

14. If you are staying in hotels, check if they supply free shampoo, conditioner and soap.

15. Don’t forget the chargers for your electronics. Depending on your destination, you may need an electrical adapter.

16. Pack one outfit in each of your family’s luggage. That way if your luggage is lost, you still have an outfit to fall back on.

17. Pack your bag at least a week before you go, then re-pack, selecting only what you must bring.

We are always looking for good packing tips. Please share your best tips with us.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Don't Lose Those Reward Points

You work hard to save your airline points, so make sure to use them before they expire.

I talk directly about Aeroplan in this article, but rules can be similar for other airline points. Check out my post on choosing the best rewards card for you.

Points Have a Time Limit

All mileage in an account expires if your account remains inactive for a period of twelve consecutive months. If you are getting close to this deadline, just make a small purchase from any Aeroplan partner and you are clear for another year.

Be aware that your hard earned mileage expires seven years after the date that it was accumulated. However, all mileage collected before January 1, 2007 is registered as being earned on December 31, 2006, no matter when it was actually accumulated.

Keep track of these mileage expiry rules and be sure to take advantage of your points.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Deciding Where to Go

The decision was made. A trip was not in the cards for 2012. It just wasn’t in the budget…or so we thought.

A few weeks later, my husband reminded me that we will be celebrating twenty years of wedded bliss in August. Maybe we should go somewhere after all. He suggested Las Vegas or Amsterdam.

I’ve never been excited about Las Vegas, probably because my limited casino experiences have always made me feel like I’m descending into hell. I know that there is more to do in Vegas than gambling, but when given a choice, I always take the other location. One day, I’m sure that I’ll visit Vegas and be proven wrong.

So when my hubby asked about my destination choice, true to form, I answered, “I prefer Amsterdam, but you know we have enough Aeroplan miles to fly the family anywhere in the world.” He sat in silence, digesting this fact.

A few weeks later, he handed me three different, well-researched tour itineraries for Egypt. He had gone on Trip Advisor and looked up the top three recommended Egyptian tour companies and had them quote on the sites we wanted to see.

Egypt was our perfect vacation choice. We’d visited Egypt (and loved it) on our honeymoon. Also, once you get there, it’s very well priced. Memphis Tours quoted $955.00 Canadian per person for a twelve day tour. This included:

*Meeting and assisting us on our arrival and departure from the airport
*4 nights 4 star accommodations in Cairo
* 1 night 4 star accommodations in Aswan
* 3 nights 5 star Nile cruise
* 3 nights 4 star accommodation in Hurghada
* All breakfasts
* 5 lunches
* 4 dinners
* Most sightseeing tours
* English speaking guides
* Transportation between all locations
* A mobile phone for our use in Egypt
* Taxes/service charges.

Now that’s a great value.

I was concerned about the political situation and safety, so we checked the Canadian, American, British and Australian national tourist advisories. We will continue to monitor the Egyptian situation.

An on-going concern is my son’s peanut/tree nut and shell fish allergy. I will discuss the allergy safety measures that we are following in a future article.

Now that we knew our destination, it was time to book our Aeroplan miles.

Stay tuned for details and tips on saving money when you book your rewards and how using our rewards made unexpected changes to our trip.