Saturday, May 23, 2015
We hope you all have a fantastic Memorial Day Weekend. Soak up that sun but remember to stay safe and lather up on that sunscreen.
A special thank you to all the fallen soldiers and their families. Without your service we wouldn't have the freedom we enjoy today. From our family to yours Happy Memorial Day.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Introducing the Newest Clear tote at Clear Safety Bags
Main Compartment - 20" Wide x 14" High x 6" Deep
- Detachable Coin Purse - 6" Wide x 4" High
Friday, July 13, 2012
From many years of traveling and learning here are a few suggestions on what is -- and what is not – worth spending money on when on a vacation:
SAVE YOUR MONEY...
Not Worth the Cost
- Airport food and drinks
- Breakfast in bed
- In-room phone calls
- Cheap souvenirs
- Commercial photos
- Horse-drawn carriage rides
- Packaged bus tours
- Formal clothing you wear once
Worth the Expense
- A good hotel
- A great room with a balcony and view
- Dinner at a fine restaurant at least once
- Use bonus miles to upgrade
- A digital camera
- Good-looking but comfortable shoes
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Want to know how much your next getaway will cost? Use the worksheet below to itemize projected expenses. Leave a blank if you do not require a certain item. If you don't know an exact amount, estimate. (It's a good idea to guess on the high side).
Underneath the pink expense work sheet, there's another one where you can calculate what you can afford to spend. If your vacation-expense total turns out to be less than your income total, great! You're on your way to planning a fiscally responsible vacation.
BEFORE YOU GO...
Wardrobe necessities (see packing)
Luggage and locks
Sundries (suntan lotion, etc.)
Extra pair of glasses/ sunglasses/ contacts
Child care/pet care expenses
Camera/ film/ processing
Airfare for two or how many are travelling with you.
Transportation to and from airport/long-term airport parking
Airport magazines, snacks, etc. (roundtrip)
Meals/snacks x number of days on the road
Other Transportation (cab, bus, subway, train, ferry)
AT THE DESTINATION
Room rate x number of nights
Room taxes x number of days
Breakfast for 2 x number of days
Lunch for 2 x number of days
Dinner for 2 x number of days
Beer/wine/alcoholic beverages for 2
Snacks for 2 x number of days
Tips x number of days
Phone calls/Internet connection
Activity fees (golf, horseback riding, spa services)
Equipment rental (snorkel/scuba etc.)
Excursions (sightseeing tours, dinner cruises)
Entertainment (shows, nightclubs, discos, movies, fairs, other admission)
Can you afford it?
How much money will you have to spend on your vacation... and where will the funds come from?
Gifts of Cash
As always ClearSafetyBags.com carries a great selection for travel bags that will help make your vacation flow smoothly.
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Here is a great article as we head into the 4th of July Holiday.
NEW YORK (AP) — Who knew the calendar could cause so much vacation heartburn?
For the first time in five years Independence Day falls on a Wednesday, leaving travelers unsure when to celebrate and worrying those who make a living off tourists.
"The midweek holiday seems to have travelers confused," said Anthony Del Gaudio, vice president of hotel sales for Loews Hotels, which isn't seeing the normal July Fourth spike in bookings.
Those who sell vacations say this year's calendar gives Americans more options: Tack on Saturday through Tuesday or Thursday through Sunday to the holiday, or just take the entire week off.
But consumers' confidence has been waning. Now, some aren't happy about having to burn an extra vacation day or two to get that long weekend. From 2008 through 2011, the work holiday fell on either Friday or Monday, so employees and their families got an automatic three-day weekend, similar to Memorial Day and Labor Day.
"It's irritating because everybody wants those three, four-day holiday weekends," said Tom Donohue, who runs an HIV awareness program based in Charlottesville, Va.
In recent years, he's traveled to see family in Pennsylvania, including his father whose birthday is on July 2. There's swimming and boating on the Susquehanna River and — of course — fireworks.
Not this year. Donohue plans to stay local, savings those days off "for an actual vacation," a Caribbean cruise in October.
Others are determined to have their summer holiday no matter what.
Alicia Hutton, her husband and their two daughters are flying from Boston to Baltimore to see family. The parents had to take two extra days off from their jobs to make the Wednesday-Saturday trip work.
"It's not ideal because normally we would tack on one day to a long weekend," Hutton said.
AAA, one of the nation's largest travel agencies, projects 42.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home between July 3 and July 8. That's roughly the same amount that traveled in 2007, the last time July Fourth fell on a Wednesday. Last year, when the holiday fell on a Monday, 40.3 million people traveled. But before you think it's a big increase, note that AAA's economists changed how they estimated the number of travelers: They used a six-day period this year compared to five last year.
"In general, we think that travel from last year is pretty flat," said Shane Norton, a director at IHS Global Insight, which provides economic forecasting and research for AAA.
The economy weighs heavily on families' travel plans. Consumer confidence has fallen for four straight months as Americans continue to worry about their jobs and retirement funds. The June reader of a widely followed confidence index was 62. A reading of 90 indicates a healthy economy.
That helps explain why families don't seem prepared yet to splurge on vacation. Many want to get away but are opting for lower-priced hotels and are looking specifically for properties with free breakfast and Internet. Or they're choosing instead to stay with friends or relatives.
The typical traveler will spend $749 over six days, down from $807 over five days last year, according to an online survey of 344 people conducted for AAA. Another look at the holiday, by Visa Inc., shows that all Americans — whether traveling or not — will spend an average of $191 on July 4th activities, down from $216 last year. Visa surveyed 1,012 people by telephone.
"With most Americans continuing to watch every dollar closely, many have realized that sparklers and flag emblazoned t-shirts are not essential items" Jason Alderman, Visa's senior director of global financial education said in a statement.
Some don't plan to celebrate at all. There will be no trips to the beach, no fireworks and no barbeques for 1 in 5 Americans, according to Visa.
The overwhelming majority of Independence Day travelers plan to drive: 35.5 million people or 84 percent of travelers according to AAA. As they do, they'll get a break at the pump.
The price of gasoline, always on travelers' minds before a summer road trip, is now an average $3.33 per gallon — down from almost $4 in early April, when there was talk of $5 gas by summer. Whether that will translate into spending more at their destination remains unclear.
"Theoretically, it should boost consumer spending, but so far there's no evidence of that," said energy consultant Jim Ritterbusch. "The housing industry is still depressed and that's keeping people from being confident. They're going to remain thrifty."
Another 3.2 million travelers, or 8 percent of holiday vacationers, plan to fly. That will boost their credit card bills: the average domestic roundtrip ticket is $391, up 6 percent from last year, according to Travelocity.
Hotel rooms will also cost more. The average price for a room in the top 25 cities will be $140, up 16 percent from last year, according to Orbitz.
Some families haven't been able to travel for three or four years. There are signs they might finally be ready for a summer trip, whether it's this week or not.
Adam Weissenberg, who heads the travel and hospitality consulting group at Deloitte, said many families canceled or delayed vacations during the recession.
"People are starting to say: gee, I need to take a vacation," Weissenberg said.
Brandy Moore, owner and captain of Biloxi Shrimping Trips in Mississippi, was worried about the mid-week holiday but has ended up selling out her 20-person, 6 a.m. fishing tour for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. But she attributes it to a better overall summer season; not a particularly strong Independence Day.
"We are just are having a really busy summer all around," Moore said.
At Kampgrounds of America Inc., which operates 450 campgrounds in the United States under the KOA name, summer bookings are up 5 percent from last year.
But KOA is still feeling the effect of the calendar quick. Reservations for the July Fourth holiday are down 4 percent.
"It's the weakest situation we could ask for," said Mike Gast, the company's vice president of communications. "We obviously like it to be a Friday or Monday."
Reporters Chris Kahn and Samantha Bomkamp contributed to this report.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Hiding Valuables Discreetly
Anyone who has ever left for vacation has spent time considering where in their homes to hide their valuables. Well, chances are that a thief has spent even more time pondering where valuables are likely to be hid. All things considered, a safety deposit box in a bank vault is still the best place to keep jewelry and other valuables, but there are some places around your home that make terrific hiding places for important items.
There are some places where experienced thieves are sure to look, such as inside top drawers, underneath any drawer, and behind wall art in the den or bedroom. We suggest you take care to avoid these obvious, or rather popular, caches.
It's a good idea to wrap items in plastic before stashing them. Most of our suggestions are for small objects that can be held in your hand. Take time to look around your place for spaces where you can hide things unobtrusively. You want places that are easily overlooked and will not be disturbed accidentally by a houseguest or neighborhood pet.
The following suggestions are less obvious places than the ones mentioned above, but remember that a determined thief with enough time will probably find what you have in your home. What you're doing here is buying time, hoping that any burglar will be disturbed before getting to your good stuff.
Hide it Easily
Look for easily accessible places, created with a minimum of fuss, which are also easily overlooked by the casual observer. Some good examples of these places are:
- Bulk dry goods such as jars of rice and flour can hide small valuables and be kept out of the way on the back shelf.
- Condiment containers, such as mustard and mayonnaise jars in your refrigerator, can also hold small items.
- Aspirin or brown pill bottles inside the medicine cabinet can be a good bet.
- Packages of frozen vegetables can be thawed, and refrozen with items inside them.
- Tennis balls with a small slit in them will return to their original shape. Squeeze the ball to open and stuff, then scatter it among others at the back of a closet.
- Vacuum cleaner bags can hide baggies with valuables inside them.
- Stuffed animals can be cut open (gently, and not around young children) and used as unlikely containers. Cut along a seam, stuff and re-sew Teddy before returning him to his friends.
- Ceiling light fixtures can be unscrewed, and small valuables may be placed within the electrical box underneath.
- Composite "rocks" that have latchable, enclosed spaces within are available through mail-order catalogs. They can be placed outside in the garden.
Create a More Permanent Hiding Spot
These places require a bit more preparation to become effective hidden containers.
- Book safe: glue most of the pages of an old, uninteresting hardcover book together. Use a coping saw to cut a hollow area out of the middle. Drill starter holes for the saw. Then glue the box made with the pages to the back cover and let dry thoroughly. Stash on your bookshelf among other books.
- Steps and flooring have natural hollow spaces underneath. Carpentry skills are required to effectively create a seamless surface that escapes detection
- Hollow core doors can have sections cut out of the hinge edge to give access to the space within the door. Use the cutout piece as a plug
- The tops of poster beds unscrew. Hollow spaces can be drilled out in the posts themselves. Commercial wall and floor safes should be installed by a professional, and are effective at drastically slowing down the unprepared casual thief.
Friday, November 4, 2011
Before your trip
- Copy all credit cards, airline tickets, passports and important documents, front and back.
- Jewelry and luggage and all valuables should be photographed prior to trip.
What to look for in a safe hotel:
- If possible, select a hotel with has installed modern electronic guest room locks. The majority of these locks automatically change the lock combination with every new guest so there is little chance of someone having a duplicate key to your room. If you lose or misplace your key, ask to have your room re-keyed immediately.
- Is each room equipped with a dead bolt lock and a peephole?
- Fire sprinklers in hotel rooms, hallways, and meeting rooms likewise for smoke detectors. If each room is not equipped with a smoke detector, are sprinklers systems installed in the hallways or is your only hope the local fire department.
- Each room telephone should allow outside dialing.
- Guest phones located in hallways and lobbies should not allow direct room dialing. Anyone using the phone should have to call the operator and request a room by guest name, not room number.
- Secure locks on windows and adjoining doors.
- Well-lit interior hallways, parking structures and grounds.
- Hotels that have limited access to hotel structure, generally the more limited the access; the less likely a trespasser will enter.
- The parking garage should not have elevators taking passengers to guest floors. It should only go to the lobby.
- Does hotel provide personnel trained in guest security and available for escorts to rooms and auto when requested?
- Is the hotel located in a high crime rate area, especially when traveling overseas? Check with the US Embassy's Resident Security Officer in that country and they can alert you of areas to stay away from.
When arriving and checking into your hotel room
- If you arrive in a bus or cab, stay with your luggage until it is brought into the hotel lobby.
- Keep a close eye on your luggage, purse, etc when checking in.
- If the lobby is busy, thieves will often take advantage of the distractions to take your things with them.
- If you are staying in an older room which still has the older guest door locks with metal key, one of first signs of how a hotel treats the issue of security is to observe how hotel room keys are controlled. If it is checkout time and a pile of metal room keys are laying on the front desk, the hotel is not too concerned about your security. Anyone can take and key laying on the desk. This is not a big concern if the hotel is using electronic key cards but is if the metal keys have the room number embossed on it. You will find this more prevalent overseas.
- Ask the front desk personnel not to announce your room number. Rather, tell them to write it down or point to it. If the desk clerk should do this, explain the problem and asked to be given another room. You never know who is listening. Your room number is a matter of security, and the fewer people that know your whereabouts, the better. There’s no need to announce it to the entire hotel lobby.
- When registering, sign only your last name and first initial. Don’t use titles or degrees. Makes it harder to determine gender, marital status or profession. If you are a women traveling alone, you might consider booking your room as Mr. and Mrs.
- Don't leave your credit card lying on the check-in counter while you complete your registration. Also make sure the credit card that is handed back to you by the hotel clerk is really yours.
- Instruct the desk not to give out your name and room number and ask for them to call you if someone inquires about you.
- Immediately upon check in, get two business cards or matchbooks with the hotel name and address on them. Place one by the phone in the room so you know where you are and keep the other on you when you leave so you know where to come back to. If you get lost, you have the address and phone number handy. There is nothing more frustrating than telling a cab driver to take you to the "Marriott" and they ask which one?? That could be one very expensive cab ride. Or if you are in a country where you don’t speak the language, you can simply show a taxi driver the matchbook, and you’re on your way back to the hotel.
- Maximize safety and security. Select a room located between the 4 and 6th floor Avoid rooms above the sixth floor--the maximum height that fire-department ladders can reach. For some fire departments overseas, and within the United States, they do not have equipment to reach hotel floors above the 6th floor
- Whenever possible do not except a hotel on the ground floor that has doors and windows that open to the outside. Hotels with interior hallways tend to be generally safer. For security in motels, avoid ground floor rooms off the parking lot. If you can't get a room on a higher level, take one facing the interior courtyard.
- Guestrooms that are as close to the elevators as possible are safest, but tend to be noisier. You might also want to find out if the room is located next to a vending area, those also tend to be noisy.
- Women should be accompanied to hotel room and room should be checked
- Observe all passengers in elevators
- It is wise to board last and select floor buttons last
- If possible position yourself near the elevator control panel and if attacked, push as many floor buttons as possible. Keep your back to the sidewall.
- If someone suspicious boards an elevator, exit as soon as possible.
When checking into your hotel room
After checking into a room, examine the following:
- Examine the guest room lock and be sure it is functioning properly.
- The closets and bathrooms are checked to make sure no one is hiding.
- All windows and outside doors are checked to insure they lock and operate properly
- The lock on the adjoining door is checked to insure it is locked and works
- The telephone is checked and you know how to make a outside call
- Look for information in room about fire safety and read to become familiar with nearest fire exit / stairway. Locate nearest fire exit. Find one at each end of the hallway. How many doors away? Does the door open easily? Are the exit signs illuminated? If the lights are out, be helpful and contact the front desk to let them know. Is the stairwell clear of debris? Make a note on the back of the business card that you place by your bed noting the number of doors away to the emergency exit, in each direction, and the location of the fire extinguisher and fire pull box.
- When you enter your hotel room, make sure the door closes securely and that the deadbolt works. Keep the deadbolt and safety bar on at all time. It cannot be stressed enough that you should never prop your hotel room door open. Anyone could walk in.
- Place your room key in the same place every time, preferably close to the bed.
- If you have to leave the room in a hurry due to an emergency, you won't have time to be searching for your key. Also, you'll need the key to get back into the room.
- When inside a hotel room, for whatever length of time always use the deadbolt. If the room does not a dead bolt or heavy-duty security clasp but has a chain, twist it to take up the slack before latching it.
- The door to your room must never be opened by anyone unless the guest is absolutely known.
- If you receive a phone call to your room and the person states they are with the hotel and need to come to your room and repair something, use caution. Always get the employees name and call the front desk to verify that it was a legitimate employee who called you and they do in fact need to come to your room. Some criminals are known to where hotel uniforms or pose a plainclothes security. The best bet is to be your own security guard. No matter how effective hotel security is, it can't think of everything.
- If you want to test the hotel, call the switchboard from a house phone and ask for yourself. Tell the operator you are not sure of the room number. If the answer is, "She's in room 203," this is not a good sign. The correct answer is, "I'll connect you." Good security requires that the hotel switchboard not give out room numbers and the best hotels strictly adhere to this policy.
- When inside your room, use a door swedge when sleeping or in the shower. This may seem a little overkill but overseas, hotel burglars have been know to frequent hotels that use standard metal room keys that are easy to obtain. Unfortunately many hotels do not change the locks to the doors when the keys are lost, the criminals know that many of the hotel rooms might contain valuables of the presumed wealthy western traveler from the United States. Some of the crooks are very bold. They have been know to listen to the room door to see if you are in the shower. If you are they enter your room with the spare key (because no secondary door lock) and removes your wallet, purse, or laptop. If someone else is in the room the crook is in a suit and says “sorry, the front desk gave me this key.” By employing a door swedge will keep out these sly crooks and will could an alarm if attempted. See our products page for one of these devices.
- Never leave your key in the lock inside your room (some hotels in third world countries still have these). they can be pushed out from the other side with a pin. The crooks simply slides a piece of newspaper under the door, the key drops on the paper and the crook slide the paper and the key back under the door.
Place that all-important flashlight next to your bed.
- It's much too dangerous to be stumbling around in a dark hotel in the middle of the night if the electricity goes out. Also, if you have to evacuate in the event of a fire, the flashlight will help guide you down a smoke filled hallway.
- Remember, if there is a fire or other such emergency, you are pretty much on your own to evacuate yourself, especially at night. What you learn in the few minutes it takes you to orient yourself to your room and the surrounding areas could mean the difference between life and death
- If you loose your key, ask for a new room or have the lock or electronic key card changed.
When you leave your hotel room for the day or evening
- When you leave your room, always leave the television on.
- Ask maid to make your room up during breakfast. Place “Do not disturb" sign on door. If you want maid service, call to housekeeping and tell them to make up the room but leave the sign on the door. The sign is valuable when you aren't in the room because it gives the impression you are still inside.
- At night, leave a light on and drapes should be partially opened as if someone was inside.
- Always use the security vault in hotel. The in-room safe is adequate sometimes. The ones least recommended are those that take standard keys (usually overseas). Preferred are those that have an electronic combination lock. The front desk deposit boxes are usually safer but more inconvenient.
- Don't display you guest room key in public or even inside the hotel or at the swimming pool. Crook have known to walk by casually, observe the number in the key if stamped on it and make false charges in the hotel restaurant, bar or store and using your room number.
- Some travlers report that their credit card numbers may have been comprimised by someone who may have entered their hotel safe and copied down their numbers. This is very hard to prove. Some travelers place their credit cards in a sealed envelope in their hotel room safe so they can tell if this has occurred.
- Research your hotel online - TripAdvisor.com is a great research site - look for terms such as theft from hotel room safes or related comments. Unfortunately in some hotels, dishonest employees use master keys to remove items from your hotel safe when you are away. This tens to be a larger problem outside the United States.
- If you want a higher level of security for your room safe, consider purchasing your own personal hotel safe lock that lets you place your own lock on your safe. Only one hotel safe lock is on the market today to allow you to better safeguard your safe's valuables. This product, is the Milockie Hotel Safe Lock.
What to take with you when leaving your hotel room
- Take a minimum of cash, and only enough travelers checks for that outing.
- Carry “bait money” for potential thieves.
- Wear minimum jewelry, especially women. Women, wear only a simple wedding band in lieu of a diamond ring. Remember in some foreign cities and even some area within the United States, a diamond ring might be worth what a criminal might earn in a year. Remove the temptation!
- Keep credit cards and t/checks in separate pockets.
Laptop safety while staying in a in hotel room
- Laptop computers or other expensive items can be easily stolen from hotel rooms. The only way to protect them is to leave them at the front desk in a safety deposit box or to secure them in your room. If you want to take the easy way by leaving them in your room (most of us do) use a security cable to a fixed object in the hotel. I always attach my laptop to the pipe under the sink in the bathroom when my laptop is left in the hotel room for several hours. Think about it. Would you leave your wallet or purse sitting on the table in the middle of your room? Usually not, but you would leave a $3,500 laptop sitting there! Which is more valuable?
Hotel parking lots
- If you valet park your car at the hotel, and valet driver puts a card on your dash, make sure it does not have your room number, always keep it private.
- Always walk in numbers at night, especially in hotel parking lots
- Do not leave valuables in your vehicle. Crooks know that rental cars contain items of value.
- Park as close to an exit as possible.
- When approaching a car, always have keys in hand.
- Women should keep purses close to their bodies not loose around or dandling off a shoulder. Keep it in front of you with a hand on top of it. Do not feel awkward to ask for an escort to your car. It is recommended to use the valet service at night.