Thursday, May 31, 2012

Packing Tips

By Independent Traveler

Some travelers jam two weeks' worth of gear in their bags for a long weekend. Others pack a bit too lightly and forget important things like medicine orpassports. Savvy travelers strike the perfect balance and bring just what they need -- with a little help from our list of road-tested packing tips, of course!

Packing Methods
When packing your clothes, you don't want to neatly fold them individually as you would in a dresser. If you do, they will crease when compressed. Here are a few alternatives:

Rolling Your Clothes
Backpackers swear by this method. Rolling works well with pants, skirts and sports shirts. Lay the item face down, fold back the sleeves and then roll from the bottom up.

Fold Clothes Together
Take two or more garments, for example trousers, and lay half of one pair on top of the other. Fold the one on the bottom over the pair on the top. Then take the other and fold it on the top. This gives each pair some cushion where you've folded it so it's less likely to crease or wrinkle in the folds.

 What Not to Pack

The Bundle Approach
This ingenious method of packing, which we learned from Judith Guilford, co-founder of the Easy Going travel store and author of the "The Packing Book," has now become our favorite. It's a bit difficult to explain without a demonstration, but we'll do our best. You need luggage that opens up and lays flat to do this. You will also need a flat, soft, pouch-like rectangular "core" with dimensions that are at least 1/2 to 3/4 the size of your luggage compartment. This can be a pouch filled with underwear or something similar.

Start with your sports jacket or the longest, most wrinkle-prone item you have. With the collar or waistband flat, place it against the bottom edge of the bag and drape the rest of the garment over the opposite side of the bag. Take another garment and place it in the opposite direction, flattening and smoothing out both garments in the bag and draping the remainder over the side. If you have trousers or other narrow items, do the same with them in the narrow direction of the bag. Keep alternating your items, ending up with the most wrinkle-resistant clothes you have.

When you finish, place your "core" in the middle. Now you're going to start folding the garments over the core and each other in the reverse order you put them in. If you fold something over and there's excess draping over the sides of the bag, tuck it underneath the bundle you are creating.

What you will end up with is a bundle of all of your clothes that looks like a pillow. You can pick it up in one piece. It's compactly packed and doesn't waste an available space in your luggage. Plus, because of the way things are folded, your clothes will wrinkle less.

To find something in the bundle, lay it flat and unwrap until you reach the layer you want. Take the item out and refold the remainder. If done properly each layer should result in a self contained bundle at each layer.

 Interactive Packing List

Tissue Paper
For delicate items, try tissue paper. Lay the item face down and place tissue paper on top. Fold it up with the tissue paper inside. Use additional layers of paper as you fold the garment so it is completely wrapped in and around paper. This is easy enough the first time you pack, but becomes a pain if you have to keep repacking. We only use this approach for evening clothes that we don't want to crush.

suitcase backpack packingTips for Air Travelers
  • You may not pack liquid or gel substances in your carry-on unless they are in individual containers of 3.4 ounces or less and enclosed in one clear, quart-size, plastic, zip-top bag per passenger. Any larger containers of liquids and gels must be packed in your checked luggage. For more information, see Airport Security Q&A.
  • Be aware of restrictions on the size and number of bags you may bring onto your flight. Many airlines now charge a fee for every checked bag or have lowered the maximum permitted weight limits for checked luggage. For a clear overview of what the airlines are charging for checked bags these days, and how large and heavy your luggage is allowed to be, read Airline Baggage Fees.
  • Do not lock your checked bags except with TSA-approved locks; otherwise, if your bag is selected for random screening, agents will have to break the lock to get inside.
  • Do not overpack your bag. Screeners will have a difficult time closing your luggage if selected for inspection, which will only lead to wrinkles and the potential for lost articles.
  • Carry all film with you onboard, as screening equipment for checked luggage can damage undeveloped film.
  • Place any packed belongings you don't feel comfortable with strangers handling in clear plastic bags.
  • Do not stack books and other documents on top of each other; instead, spread them out throughout your bag.
  • Make your own must-pack list with our interactive packing list before your next trip!
  • Sunday, May 20, 2012

    Shellac Nails: A Long-Lasting Manicure


    Shellac Instead of Acrylic

    © Stephanie Hicks 2012
    As a mother of four, my hands are constantly working on just the type of tasks that can ruin a manicure(laundry, dishes and more). I've tried fake acrylic nails in the past, but I simply cannot get into the salon every 2 weeks. Nor do I have the luxury of spending an hour and a half on my nails twice a month, plus drying time of at least another half hour.
    My ragged cuticles and often splitting nails do not hold nail polish well. Instead of continuing to paint my nails and then watching the polish chip off within days, I had resigned myself to natural nails... at least until the kids are in college.
    But then I tried a shellac nail manicure (also called soak-off gel nail polish). Beautiful and extremely long lasting! If you haven't heard of this new type of nail polish treatment, then you're about to be excited, as well. Shellac has been heralded as a "hybrid" nail color that combines the high-shine gloss of a gel nail treatment with the easy application of ordinary nail polish.

    What is a Shellac Manicure?

    If you would like a shellac nails manicure, nearly all beauty salons offer them. If you aren't sure check out their website (if they have one) or call ahead. The procedure is so popular that salons that do not offer them are getting left behind.
    A shellac manicure does not involve glue or fake nails of any kind. Your own natural nails will be cleaned, cuticles removed, and then your nails will be filed and shaped. The process is much quicker than having acrylic nails put on, or getting a fill.
    Once your nails are ready to be polished, a special base coat for the shellac manicure is applied. A special high speed dryer is used to cure each coat of the base, nail polish and top coat. After the base, two coats of your selected shellac nail polish will be applied. Special care is given to coat the top edge of the nails. Finally, a top coat is applied and your nails should be cured for about 30 seconds.
    How does a start-to-finish manicure in 25 minutes sound?

    What is Special About Shellac Nail Polish?

    Shellac nail polish literally makes your nails stronger and, due to its composition, its less likely to chip. Most shellac manicures last 14 days or longer!
    Shellac is comprised of a "patent-pending formulation of solvents, monomers and polymers." It is applied like nail polish and wears like a gel treatment. Shellac does not contain formaldehyde, toluene or DBP and is hypo-allergenic, too.
    What I love about Shellac nail polish is that my nails are beautifully shiny and without any chips or smudges. Some people call it a "mirror finish." For me, its literally the best of both worlds - a gorgeous, long-lasting manicure polish and the ability to enjoy my natural nails without running back into the salon for a fill, or enduring the torturous removal of fake nails!
    Perhaps the best aspect, however, is the nearly instant drying time. You can literally reach into your purse for your keys within minutes of the application of the final coat of shellac nail polish. No more worries about drying time, chips or smudges!
    I loved this review on Shine! at Yahoo:

    "Our chemists invented a modern solution to the normal polish inconveniences that frustrate women," says CND co-founder and style director Jan Arnold. "Shellac is fret-free and convenient. Women can finally get their time back." How does Shellac get around the dry time? CND has created a special UV lamp that accommodates both hands and feet and cures the polish as you go. (The machines can easily be completely washed and sterilized between customers.) Shellac paints on just like a regular polish using specially formulated base coat, two layers of color, and top coat. After each coat of polish is applied, you put your hand under the timed lamp while the other hand is being painted. As soon as the manicurist is done with your nails, you can dig into your purse for your keys without any concern of smudging or chipping. They are 100 percent dry in the same time it takes for a normal manicure. I tried scratching at my nails, and even rubbing them along a brick wall--the polish stays put with a gorgeous, shiny finish.
    Sound like a dream? Believe me - its real!
    A close up of a shellac french tip manicure

    Salon or At-Home Shallac Nail Manicure?

    You can do your own shellac nail manicure at home, or enjoy a salon treatment. For a professional manicure, prices range from $25-75, depending on your region. At a salon, you'll get a full manicure treatment including cuticle removal and nail shaping, plus the shellac nail polish.
    Since shellac came out in 2010, nail polishes for DIY manicures are much more available. You can find shellac nail polish, base coat and top coat on line and at beauty supply shops. You might invest $100 up front for the professional dryer, plus nail treatments, but you'll get at least 10-15 polish changes as a result.
    I had a hard time deciding between a neutral french-tip manicure and a fun nail polish color. To give me the most bang for the buck, I went with the shellac french manicure since I'll be wearing it for at least 2 weeks.
    I also wondered about the cost of a professional salon manicure as opposed to doing it at home. I figured the extra cost was well worth it - at least at first. A shellac nail manicure is only about $10-20 more than a regular manicure and will last 2-3 times longer. Not to mention the fact that you don't have to worry about smudging it when you go to get your keys or answer the phone.
    I'll probably go with a salon shellac nail manicure several more times before trying it at home.  I must say that I am extremely happy with the results so far!

    Tuesday, May 8, 2012

    A Preview of EVA Air's New Flat-Bed Business Class Seats


    Lovers of flat beds in business class will be happy to know that Taipei-based EVA Air is installing new, flat seats on nearly all the aircraft that it sends to the U.S. The first planes upgraded will be those flying the long New York–Taipei route, beginning on June 2. By the end of August, all aircraft flying to and from New York will have the seats. L.A. will see flat beds in its Taipei-bound planes by the end of this year, and San Francisco will follow next year. For now, that leaves Seattle as the lone domestic destination without a clear transition plan; it will continue to have the old seats for the foreseeable future.
    The seats themselves are in the "reverse herringbone" arrangement, which means they angle away from the aisle slightly. This provides better views out the window and easier conversations with those in the middle; they're similar to the seats that US Airways flies today on its A330 aircraft. Click through for more pictures of the upgrade…

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012

    How to Exercise While Traveling – Yoga-Paws

    To exercise while traveling is no small feat. Gathering up the motivation alone is ridiculously hard, and add on the fact that you are out of your normal routine and surroundings – you’re left to find ingenious ways of getting that extra bit of activity. So when I was sent a pair of Yoga-Paws to test out, to say I was thrilled would be a bit of an understatement.
    Dubbed as the “yoga mat you wear”, Yoga-Paws are an innovative way to allow you to practice yoga, no matter where you are in the world. No longer do you need to carry with you that bulky yoga mat, with this small little package, you are good to go!

    These “mini-mats” slip right on to your hands and feet, which makes them ideal for traveling fashionistas. Yep, you know who you are!
    One of the reasons I connect so much with running, is that I can do it anywhere. It helps me feel more connected to the environment around me, and I am outside of the confines of a gym and small exercise room. Yoga-Paws now gives me the same gift. Whether at the beach, in the forest, on a roof-top deck, or in my hotel room, I now have the freedom to practice yoga anywhere in the world. Sure, some may argue that this has always been the case, but anyone who has tried yoga without a mat, knows how uncomfortable, slippery, and dangerous it really can be.

    Yoga-Paws were originally invented back in 2003. Immediately they were met with rave reviews from the international yoga and Pilates communities, as well as the news media. To date, tens of thousands of the original Yoga-Paws have been sold worldwide to people of all walks-of-life.
    As a marker of all great companies, Yoga-Paws continued their evolution to better their product by taking into consideration extensive feedback from fans and instructors for several years and investing in research and development to identify the latest state-of-the-art materials and manufacturing resources to fit the company’s growing needs. All of this has culminated in the all-new Yoga-Paws product, with a new design that builds upon the benefits of the initial product, with improvements made to every component.
    Here is a bit more information about the design:
    New Yoga-Paws hand units feature eco-friendly TPE material with a curved, ergonomic design and external seams, similar to driving gloves, for added comfort and mobility. The backside of the hand units are made from a breathable mesh material to allow air circulation and a Velcro closure for an adjustable fit. Between the fingers, new “safety belt” straps keep the hand in proper position within the unit. A new moisture-absorbent, towel-like lining absorbs seven times its weight in moisture, allowing the practitioner to stay locked in place, feeling dry and comfortable.
    The Yoga-Paws foot unit features a heal-strap to prevent movement during practice. The top of the foot is covered in a smooth, comfortable Lycra-spandex material that adjusts to provide a close, glove-like fit for various foot sizes. A recycled natural rubber material is provided for slip control on the bottom of the foot. The material is extremely durable and holds up to the pressure and friction of even the most rigorous yoga practices.

    I was truly amazed at how comfortable they were to wear. Not only comfortable, but extremely effective – they are a must-have for all travelers that are looking for new ways to exercise freely and easily at any location in the world. For many of those that practice yoga, the connection to the Earth is part of what makes it so special. Having a product that only enhances that feeling, by giving you the ability to do yoga in any outdoor environment – is amazing.
    I was lucky enough to get to try their all new design, available this fall of 2010. With how compact and light-weight they are, they fit into your carry-on bag without taking up any precious space. You too will be amazed when you pick up a pair – and I doubt you will ever look at yoga the same!

    by Kirsten

    Buy your Yoga Paws here:
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