Travel Gems for July 5th – 9th

Each Monday through Friday, a Travel Gem of the Day will be posted at These Travel Gems are tips that will help a traveler travel smarter, safer, handle home issues, be prepared and enjoy their journeys.

Here are last week’s Travel Gems:

Monday – Free meals when traveling to another city? Yes, it’s possible!

Each year I buy an Entertainment coupon book for the great 2 for 1 savings on local restaurants in my home city of Orlando. Not only do they have tons and tons of coupons for the 2nd meal being free (each coupon indicates it maximum value), they also have coupons for solo diners (50% off a pizza, $5.00 off a meal, and more). For travelers, these books are really terrific. Not only do you get the 2nd meal free, you also get a wide variety of restaurants to choose from. If you’ll be traveling for several days or more in one of many cities in the U.S. or Canada (including Puerto Rico), invest in an Entertainment book for that city. I paid $25.00 for the local Orlando edition. Now, because I’ve already bought one book for this year and we’re partway through the year, I can buy any book for anywhere they’re offered for only $9.99 each. Or reserve next year’s edition and get this year’s book for free (these are deals mentioned on as of this writing).

The Entertainment books also have numerous coupons for car rentals and have a section for discounted hotel rooms, cruises and attractions. The cost of your first book varies from $25.00 to $45.00 and can pay for itself with just a dinner or two. These coupons are a great way to try out restaurants that you may not have known about. I really like the Entertainment coupons for this reason alone, as it’s easy to get into a habit of going to the same restaurants again and again.

To see if there’s a book for where you live or travel to, go to or call 800-374-4464.

Tuesday – Want clean feeling hands and face and just-brushed teeth as you disembark off a long flight? Try these simple tips:

Bring along an Oral B Brush-up for each long flight. It’s the next best thing to using a toothbrush with toothpaste. Ask the flight attendant for a cup of water and rinse your mouth as well. You’ll feel much more awake and fresher feeling with a cleaner mouth.

If you’ve flown first class, you’ve probably been given a hot wash cloth to clean your hands before the meal is served. I love this clean feeling and wish the flight attendants would bring a second hot wash cloth after the meal. To create your own hot wash cloth for use in cleaning up during a flight or near the conclusion of the journey, bring along a washcloth inside a plastic bag. Ask the flight attendant for half a cup of hot water and pour it into the plastic bag. Seal the bag so that you can ensure the water soaks into the entire wash cloth. Wring it out and voila! you have your own first-class cleansing cloth!

Rinse the wash cloth out in your hotel sink and use it for your return trip as well.

I know that when I feel fresher, I feel better and more alert when I get off the plane and I’m ready to get my business going or start having fun (maybe both)!

Wednesday – Is the hotel rate offered as part of a convention or trade show the best rate you can get? Maybe not. About half the time, I’ve gotten rates lower than the ‘official’ rate of the convention.

Check to see if the hotel has a weekend rate (if you’re there over a weekend, obviously!), AAA or AARP rate or other special package that may be a better deal than the convention rate. Sometimes there is a better overall cost if you book two reservations … one for the days of the convention using the convention rate and another for the weekend preceding or following the event.

My motto of “ask, ask, ask” applies here, so call the hotel directly and inquire on any better deals than what’s offered by the convention sponsor.

One thing to watch for … the hotel may charge a resort fee of $20 or more per day. This may be waived as part of the convention or trade show rate but not waived on any rate you get yourself. Just ask if you’re not sure.

Thursday – Some scent sense while on the road:

Leave your expensive bottles of perfume at home! Why take the risk that they’ll break, leak or be taken by TSA!

Ask for samples of your favorite perfumes at department store cosmetic counters or wherever your fragrances are sold. These mini-bottles of scent usually last for several trips. I carry one in my purse rather than in my suitcase where it’s never leaked or been left inside my suitcase in a hot car trunk all day.

Spray or dab cotton balls with your perfume and pack them in a small plastic bag or other tight-sealing container. Dab these on during your travels.

Use a plastic spray bottle that’s easily found in the travel-size products of drug stores, cosmetic stores or department stores. Fill up only part way … enough for a few trips but not enough to fret over if it spills.

And a gentle request from several travelers with sensitive noses … wear your perfume lightly rather than spritzing it so strong that people exit an elevator when you get in.

Friday – Give your pet caregiver your travel information. Just like caregivers for your kids need info on how to reach you in case of an emergency, so do the folks who take care of your pets.

My daughter was pet-sitting for a neighbor’s cat and the cat died of old age while they were away. While they expected that this could happen while they were gone, we were not able to reach them to let them know that it did happen. Imagine their shock when they returned home.

Don’t let this happen to you! Leave key information with your pet caregiver: how to reach you via mobile phone and email, even hotel number. Also provide your flight info so that they know when to expect you home and any other information for them to reach you. And always leave the number to your pet’s veterinary office, including their emergency number, and their address.

Many cities also have a 24×7 emergency medical facility for pets. If such a facility is nearby, leave this phone number and address as well.

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