Travel tips

5 Reasons to Rent a Screen Shelter at Lake Livingston State Park

The setup of our shelter #4

The weather in our area has been crazy to say the least so we got a “screened shelter”. My eldest daughter is a bit of a princess and I could just see how this camping trip would go if it rained on our tent. So here are the top 5 reasons why I think you should do what I did, and rent a screened shelter for your next camping trip at Lake Livingston State Park in Livingston, TX. (For reference, we stayed in shelter #4)

1. It really does keep the bugs out. Ok, maybe not spiders, but by being mindful of the door it did a good job in limiting the flying bugs from invading our space. That was nice as we were sleeping. Plus the shelters are raised so it seemed like there was very little issues with ants as well. You can also eat bug free and in the shade.(sorta) There is a picnic table inside that you can sit at and so you can eat without having to worry about the sun hitting you. Just move the sides, if needed. Plus, if everyone is shutting the door, you don’t have to worry about ants crawling up in your food and any other flying insects. We tried to eat at the table by the firepit one time and a squirel came up and stole a piece of one of my daughters gram cracker. He had no fear. We were even at elbow length to it!

2. It comes with electricity. There is one light outside by the door and one inside. Both have switches that you can turn on and off. There is a also a GFCI outlet inside as well. This was nice to keep my cellphone charged and on the super wet days, I was able to plug in my electric skillet to make pancakes. (Don’t laugh! It worked!) My only suggestion is that you bring a surge protector as there were times when the rain would hit that area and it made me a bit nervous to plug stuff in, but we never had an issue.

4. The sides adjust for privacy. Each side has a large block of wood that you can roll back and forth to cover parts of the shelter. This was really nice if we wanted to get dressed. Although you can stand up in the middle of the loft and get dressed assuming your under 6ft. Plus this worked well when we had rain coming in. I was able to keep at least HALF of the bottom of the shelter from getting too wet.

3. You can sleep in a loft. You can climb the stairs and sleep in the loft. There are rails at both ends so you don’t have to worry about rolling off in your sleep. I would say two adults and two children could sleep up there. There is also a screen window up top to help ventilate so depending on the direction of the wind you could keep cool. The way the wind went in our shelter, the bottom was very chilly from the wind and my kids were toasty uptop. Plus, when the storm came pounding through, they were dry as a bone and I ended up getting soaked from the spray of wind. (yah. not fun) If you really want to make it a treat, there are strong beams that you can hang a hammock from. I did this to give my kids more room in the loft. It was great in the cool breeze and even for being lazy in the middle of the day. Some sites will allow you to pitch a tent if you still want to tent camp and just use the shelter for eating and storing your goods. There is a latch on the outside so you can padlock it. Most of the time thought I never saw anyone and it was always quite.

5. It’s the closest you can camp to the lake in the park. Each shelter is right off the lake so you can fish, cook, and eat all from right at your campsite. Some shelters where in areas that had their tables close to the shore line that you could even swim a little. Not to mention wonderful views of the lake. Very cool!

As of this writing they were only $30 a night which I thought was a pretty good deal vs the local KOA. Be sure to check their website for the most up to date information.

-Gin

 

 

 

 

 

60 Days of Summer Activities You Can Do With Your Kids in Houston

Great! Schools out! Whoo hoo! (Can you hear my “enthusiasm”?)

It is that time of year again. Kids are out and you know they plan to spend ALL summer in front of the TV playing the Xbox or computer. So what can you do?

Here is my list of what we plan to or will try to do this summer with my kids. (Of course there are MORE than 60 days of summer, but this is assuming your giving yourself some time off.)

1. Houston children’s museum

2. Play Monopoly, Scrabble, Risk, etc. Many of these games will last a LONG most of the day and is a great way to get them excited again about games that don’t require batteries.

3. Go swimming at the beach at Galveston State Park. Not only is it super cheap (or free if you are a Texas Park Card holder, like we are) but you can also bring your own chairs, umbrellas or shade covers. I’ve even see people use small little bbq on the beach. The restrooms are even farely nice (for a state park) and flushable with a sink. They also have beach view campsites. (Another thing you can do!)

4. San Jacinto Monument – again is free with that Texas Park Card.

5. battleship Texas – Free with Texas Park Card. (seeing a trend?)

6. NASA Space Center – perfect for super hot days or super rainy days. (free for us as we are passholders)

7. Houston Zoo

8. Musuem of Natural Science

9. Holocaust Museum of Houston – a bit morbid, I know. However, I believe, as Jews, that my children should never forget the Holocaust. Again, another good alternative if it’s a overly hot or overly rainy day.

10. Kemah Boardwalk – an all day pass will work for all the carnival rides. If you plan to do the Space Center, Zoo, or the other museums I strongly encourage you to invest into the Houston City Pass as it will give you huge savings if you are not members of those locations.

11. Have a movie Marathon AT HOME!!! Get movies with lots of sequels like Star Wars, Indian Jones, Matrix, etc. LOL. To this day my kids cringe when they hear the Indian Jones theme song but always with a smile. Or do one of your favorite shows. During the winter break we did a Dr Who Marathon starting with the 9th Doctor. Follow up with theme based meals. For our Indian Jones marathon I made the kids spaghetti and called it Monkey Brains. They still call spaghetti that.

12. DIY Slip and Slide. Get a tarp and the hose and SLIDE!

13. Sylvan Beach, La Porte- last year it was really clean. The nearest bathrooms are at the bait shop and you can not use umbrellas or shade tents on the beach. Only on the grassy picnic areas. So there are some restrictions. Since its farley open, be mindful at all time of you surroundings both in and out of the water. Later in July the can really get overrun by jellyfish. So be warned.

14. Armand Bayou Nature Center

15. 1940s Air Terminal Musuem – they are closed on Mondays. This one totally appeals to me. We have done the museum in Seattle, and from being an airline family for so long this should be cool for all of us.

16. Jumping World

17. Main Event

18. Free Bowling at AMF Lanes – check to see if your neighborhood is participating as the one near us was not. 🙁

19. Library- many library will have events and classes during the summer for free. Check them out.

20. Join a book program! (Since you’re heading to the library anyways.) Check out Barnes & Noble, Pizza Hut’s Book It Program, and Half Price Books. Each will give your kids different rewards.

21. Or Reward for good deeds with Chuck E. Cheese.

22. FunCity Sk8 & Play

23. Buc-ees – Don’t laugh. Serious! Have lunch or pick up some jerky for dad. My kids love the MANY MANY choices for the jerky and fountain drinks. They just built a new one near us so we are planning to check it out.

24. Bay Area Park for a picnic and playground.

25. Moody Gardens – a bit expensive so this might be at the bottom of our list.

26. Schliterbahn either in Galveston or New Braunfels.

27. Space City Ice Skating– just check the times for public skating

28. Build a sofa tent.

29. Fight zombies (offline) with squirt guns.

30. Go to the movies. I don’t recommend the summer movie program only because you end up paying more from movies you probably already own or can’t already watch for free on Netflix/Hulu/amazon.

31. Play card games. We play a clean version of “Bulls-t” and the kids have fun.

32. Play hide-and-seek. Playing with your kids is such a great way to reconnect with them. Especially if they are older.

33. Make a video with kids using your iPad or iPhone (or something similar) and pretend you are on a cooking show. If you have multiple kids you can have one be the “camera man”. Make chef hats for the chiefs.

34. Don’t want to do video? Ask the kids to create a play to perform for mom and dad. Help them with themes, like for the 4th of July or act out a scene from their favorite movie.

35. Go to IKEA. Younger kids can go in the play center while older ones can play pretend “house” in the displays with you. When I was a kid, my dad and I would stand very still and pretend we were manuiqins. Freaked people out when we moved. lol.

36. Make ice cream in a ziplock bag.

37. Go Camping at Brazo Park, Lake Livingston, Galveston park. Lots of parks in the area. Plus, there is FREE fishing at all Texas Parks with entrance fees.

38. Geocaching

39. Do a “spa” day and go get your nails done (feet and/or toes). I find that even the boys like this. Just make sure they don’t get spotted by friends.

40. Go to the Mall and window shop (or regular shop). Make sure you stop at the LEGO store for some “play” time. Plus, by window shopping it will help the kids understand delayed gratification. Something I feel many kids in this generation are lacking.

41. Start a Children’s Book Club using simple books like “Green Eggs and Ham” or “Horton Hears a Who”. Make it fun by catering it with Starbucks and tiny cookies. “Try” to act grown up while you do it and try not to giggle too much.

42. Make suncatchers for the patio or kitchen window. Check Pinterest or Google for some ideas.

43. Pleasure Pier– another big expense so might keep at the bottom of our list.

44. Ringling Bros & Barnum & Bailey Circus will be in town 7/10 – 7/27 2014

45. Play in the sprinklers.

46. Check out the free youth programs at Apple.

47. Have a garage sale and have the kids sell something (ie. their old toys, waters, sodas)

48. Camp in your backyard. Its FREE!

49. Celebrate an Obscure Holiday! Here is a great website showing the list for each days. There is Flag Day, Ice Tea Day, etc.

50. Unplug for the day. Live one day without electricity.

51. Blow bubbles outside. Make it even more creative by making your own bubble juice and bubble wands.

52. Play miniature golf in the backyard. Make your own course.

53. Create sidewalk art with sidewalk chalk.

54. Decorate rocks or shells that you have collected from your trips out.

55. Do a backyard tug of war.

56. Check out Home Depot or Lowe’s for their kids creative workshops. Typically on the weekends.

57. Visit the Blue Bell Ice Cream Factory. (YUM!)

58. Color some pictures. You can use printables from online or have them create their own.

59. Movies under the stars (or at the pool). Are HOA does this at the community pool. You can also check out Miller Outdoor Theater for more live events.

60. Go swimming at the community pool.

….and more as I go along.

Would love to hear your tips in the comments below on what you are doing this summer.

-Gin

 

 

 

21 Ways to Screw Up Your Online Booking

Travel-Cartoon-Online-BookingWe have all been there at one point in our life.  The end result though is that typically the average person that books their travel online, themselves, screw up.  What is worse is that when there is a mistake they don’t look at themselves, but at the online booking company, the airline, the hotel, the customer service agent. Everyone else but the one you made it, them.

Well, let me be the first to tell you what each agent/rep/employee is thinking while you are yelling at them about this mistake that was made with your online booking, “TAKE SOME ACCOUNTABILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS!!!” I honestly think that our society has become a world filled with people who can do no wrong and it’s everyone else’s fault. What? Are you 3?

Ok. Now I’ll get off my soapbox now and hopefully give you some self awareness advice on some things you are doing or probably have already done that is probably going to cause you to have a not-so-happy online booking experience.

1. Verify the City name. FYI : Ontario, CA is NOT Ontario Canada but Ontario, California. If in doubt, Google “{your desired city} airport code”  and you will get the three letter code for your airport choice.

2. Writing your first name in the last name field and vs. Each vendor does it differently so watch out.

3. Transposing the dates. In Europe they do DDMMYY where as in the US we do MMDDYY. Watch out.

4. Flights leaving at 12:15 am means you need to go to the airport the day before not the same day. Those red eye flights can be cheap but brutal if you miss them after 24hours.

5. Using nicknames for passenger names. TSA doesn’t like that.

6. Using a debit card. Most car rental companies will no longer take them even if you prepaid for them with the visa debit card.

7. Not checking the reviews on hotels. Check tripadvisor.com for the most current reviews.

8. Not combining hotel, car, with airline ticket. You can save money by combining or booking within a package.

9. Clicking quickly through screens and by passing the “are you sure” info. Sometimes your web browser cookies will show something else you picked or a different route will be given because your original selection was sold out. Don’t get clicker happy and not pay attention to what you are agreeing to purchase.

10. Incorrect address info.

11. Not selecting seats on flight. Good way to get bumped from flight. Make sure they are confirmed by going directly to the airlines site if you booked through a travel agent.

12. Not checking other online booking companies. Compare or go directly to the source.

13. Not checking the rental rules on cars. Just cause you can book it online doesn’t mean you’ll get it. Expect to pay more if your under 25.

14. Trying to book a child under the age of 12, ALONE, on a flight. Don’t. Just don’t. Call the airline directly or a travel agent.

15. Put in the wrong email. Write your confirmation number down if you don’t print it. Just in case.

16. Think that once you hit purchase you can just cancel it right away. Depending on the vendor you will also be charged a fee.

17. Thinking you can’t get the same price from the vendor, but for LESS. Thing is, if you are using a online travel agency like Expedia/Orbitz/Hotels.com you will be charged a service fee. Many times you can eliminate this fee by booking directly with the vendor.

18. Hitting refresh. Info lost.

19. Hitting “Back” on your browser. Unless you want it to buy it twice.

20. Not using the map feature on most websites. The city center is not always what some people think as the ‘city center’.

21. Take too long. Most rates are time sensitive. Redo your search every 15 minutes if you haven’t made a selection to get the most up to the minute rates.

May your next online buying experience be just a bit better.

~Gin Nixon

Everything you know about Alaska is wrong

alaska20130601-13ccWhen many people think of Alaska the most common thing that comes to mind is year round snow, glaciers, and maybe even a little gold.

Now, I am not saying Alaska does not have those things, I’m just saying that Alaska isn’t just about snow, glaciers, or even gold. Did you know that Alaska is BIGGER than Texas? It is so big that they have broken up the state into several regions from the Far North to the southern part designated as the “Inside Passage”.alaska20130603-58alaska20130530-01cc

alaska20130602-03While the Far North tends to be the more snow covered area we seem to associate Alaska with, the Southern part which includes cities like Anchorage and Juneau have a more mild experience during summer and even spring. Summer days can even get as high as 80.

Plus, the land isn’t completely occupied with “frontier men” looking for wives. Many people of all ages and cultures live in Alaska who come from a variety of backgrounds. In Anchorage they have many shows that come all the way from the streets of Broadway and fine museums with local treasures found nowhere else in the world.alaska20130601-01cc

Of course you can always see the glaciers, the bears, and the even try your luck for some gold. If you would like more information on what you can see and do in Alaska. Please check out their website at travelalaska.com and order your free Vacation Planner.

~Gin Nixonalaska20130601-12cc

 

 

 

 

Three Keys to Surviving Airport Security

surviving securityCelebrate too much last night? Do the bright lights of the airport seem to be laughing at you, from inside your head? I bet the last thing you want to do is look at the grumpy faced TSA agent who looks like she’s been enjoying a few too many pies, am I right?

Here are some quick and helpful tips to help you get through TSA just a bit quicker.

1. Check your liquids and anything else you will not need in-flight. Even those that are under 3.5oz. This is so you are not fumbling in line to get your liquids out and prevents the TSA screening agent from stopping at your bag to make sure that your under the 3.5oz limit. If you check most everything and just go through with your laptop bag or purse, you drastically limit the amount of shuffeling you will need to do when you get up to the checkpoint.

2. Get ready while you are in line BEFORE the TSA agent checks your documents. Chances are the lines will be long while you wait to even see an agent. Take that time in line to take off the belt bucket. Dump the contents of your pocket in your bag/purse/etc. If you have difficult shoes to take off, start working them off now. Better yet, where slip on shoes when you go to the airport so you’re not fussing with straps when you get there.

3. Have your documents ready IN HAND. Nothing is more annoying them to stand in line behind someone for the past 10minutes, only to have them get to the TSA agent and NOT have the Driver’s licenses out. I mean, REALLY PEOPLE?? We have been doing this now in air travel for the past TEN YEARS!!! REALLY!?!?!?! (Ok, vent over.)

So use some basic common sense. Be mindful of those around you, and be courteous. Let’s start 2014 on a good note.

Cheers!

~Gin

Eating at the Airport without going broke

Eating airport blogThe many years of me working at the airport has had its many ups and downs. One thing it did do though, is teach me how to eat CHEAP at the airport for when my family and I are traveling. For instance, you will not find any Wendy’s “value” menus or even McDonald’s famous “dollar” menu. What you will find typically is huge inflated prices and that your $1 Spicy chicken is now $3 at the airport.

I have four children I typically travel with and of course AS SOON as we pass through security, they are hungry. When you add up the cost of $3 drinks per person, plus a $10 entree, you’re looking at close to $50 for a “quick bite”. Now, if you add that up with a return then I’m paying up to $100 in just airport food for my trip! Add another $50 if I end up having a one connection or another $100 if I have connections each way!

I’m sorry, but I just can’t justify spending $200 in the airport on FOOD when I don’t even spend that much in groceries in a WEEK!

So how do the airport workers do it? I’ll tell you.

1. We bring our own food. I know, you’re like “Gin, I’ve heard this before…yadda…yadda…yadda..” Well, there is a reason. Just because TSA has prevented restricted you in the amount of liquids you can bring does not mean you cannot bring items in still. (However, I still would not recommend PB&J) Sandwiches, cookies, M&Ms, snack mix, granola bars, pretzels, Cheetos, etc. Whatever comfort food your family likes.

2. Bring a empty water bottle. Be it one you just used or even a fancy tumbler that hangs from your backpack, bring a water bottle will allow you to have something to drink at all times. Don’t like the taste of tap water? Bring a water ‘enhancer’. We ALWAYS travel with a bottle of Mio. It fits nicely in my quart size bag and since a glass of water is free in any restaurant in the airport, I just simply add a few drops.

3. Check with the customer service desk.  This is for two reasons. FIRST: they can tell you where the cheap eats are in the airport. For example, in the Phoenix airport there is a burger place that I love and by ordering the meal as a “kiddies’ meal” I get the same food for the LESS. Your airline customer service agent at the airport will be able to hopefully give you tips as well. SECONDLY: Many times the employees have their OWN soda vending machine and if you ask nicely, I’m sure they will be happy to help you get some cans of your own. (Assuming you give them the cash for it.) I’ve been in airports where they wanted $2 to $3 for a bottle of soda, but by asking the agent at the service desk was able to get two cans for 60cents a piece.

4. Order large appetizers. Ok. The family says, they want to eat in the restaurant. Order a giant plate of nachos and everyone can dig in. Or even a pile of cheesy fries. Paying $15 plus tip for an order of nachos and 5 glasses of water has always been cheaper for my family to eat.

5. Eat family style. No restaurants and only fast food joints. Do what we do and eat family style. We get a plate of this and another plate of that and combine them. This way everyone gets a little bit of something.

This list is by no means complete. I hope that it will help inspire you to think about some of the choices you make or light some creative food planning for your next trip at the airport.

Until then,

Cheers!

~Gin Nixon

A Family Review of Chichen Itza

cruise082013-26copyChichen Itza, located in the Yucatan Peninsula, is a ancient Mayan city smack dab in the middle of the Yucatan. In fact to get there from either Progresso OR Cancun you are looking at about 2 hours worth of driving. I would say its not worth it, but I can’t. Being so close to something so ancient is just something you must see before it goes away. In fact El Castillo, located in the center of Chichen Itza is what is typically photographed for photos on the Mayans. At night there is a light show to see the snake that runs down the pyramid but we didn’t stay that long there. (We were on an excursion and had to get back to the ship.

Now, for anyone who has ever seen Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto (2006) you probably are already familiar with the image of the step pyramids. No, you won’t be able to walk any of the steps, but you will get darn close.  You can also walk through ball courts known for the brutality in ancient days.

With that being said, if you are traveling with children to this site I highly recommend that you educate them first on what they are going to be seeing. Since I home school my son, we did Mayan part of Hand’s of A Child Lapbook for some hands-on experience. Here are some books I also recommend to help get your little one interested:
1.The Ancient Maya (True Books) This is a good intro to all the Mayan cities and touches a bit on their culture.

2.The Hero Twins (Graphic Myths & Legends) If you have boys, this will help get them interested in learning a bit about Mayan myths and also give a bit of information about the culture. (My son loved it as I never let him read graphic novels and this was part of homework. lol)

3. Amazing Maya Inventions You Can Build Yourself (Build It Yourself series) This was my son’s FAVORITE book on the Mayan’s as it left us with MANY activities to do to help recreate our Mayan experience at home.

4. Travel With Kids Mexico: The Yucatan This is also a great video for you to watch to help your family get ready to travel there as well, as another person’s point of view. (Their kids were MUCH smaller than mine, too.)

Now, if you would like a map or something to help get your a familiar with the landscape, Time Tours has an app you can download. It does require an internet connection, and we went when it was so sunny that seeing the virtual buildings just didn’t turn out that well. I leave it up to you to buy. Some love it, it just didn’t work for us.

 

So some tips.

►Bring bug spray and something to keep you cool. Its hot. I only saw drinks sold at the entrance.

►Hats with brims are a must as there is virtually NO shade anywhere.( I was able to smuggle in a decorative shade umbrella, but it looked like something a vendor sold, so that is probably why.)

►Be prepared to be inundated by vendors. They are EVERYWHERE inside and outside the park.

►If you buy something with wood. Smell it. Many times they treat the wood with gasoline.

►Vendors will take US Dollars.

► Try to stay on the path to avoid animal life. We saw snakes and even an iguana. Very cool.

► Take lots of pictures and clap. (You’ll see when you get there. lol)

 

Would I do it again? Probably not unless I stayed at the nearby hotel. I think a couple hours is good to get a taste, especially if your on an excursion. However, as the history nerd that I am, I would of wanted at least two days to just explore plus see the extra stuff at night. It was really spread out, hot, not much fun if your in a hurry. Take your time. Explore. Imagine being there.

Cheers!

~Gin Nixon

 

Last Minute Gift Ideas You Can Get At The Airport

last minute giftsOk. So you are about to fly out to see the family and you just realized your forgot a cousin, or perhaps you just didn’t have time to shop PERIOD because of work. Well here are some ideas to get your creative gift giving juices flowing in getting gifts without looking too much like you just bought them at the airport.

1. Starbucks Gift Card – You can actually do this two different ways. You can do an E-gift card if you know their email OR you can actually purchase gift cards from the Starbucks located right there in your local airport. Jazz the gift card up by placing it in a, you guessed it, Starbucks Mug! Need to wrap it? Try the airport gift wrappers OR ask your barista to put it in a Starbucks bag for you. If they have some paper to put in there for you, the better. Many times they will even have a gift card holder that you can use to place your card in. If you opted for a mug/tumbler  use the card holder to place a small piece of paper and a quick “Happy Holiday’s” Note to complete this last minute gift.

brighton2. Brighton – This lovely place has many gifts that would please any female. I have seen them or their products in about every airport in the US. They have the normal Jewelry, purses, bags. I really like their jeweled Lanyards. You can get a really nice one for about $30. (Nicer for even more.) They even will gift wrap it for you! How cool is that?  Expect to spend a pretty penny here, but it is better than coming empty handed.

 

 

3. Don’t leave out the “Regional Gifts” – these are the cheeky “moose poop” or “reindeer droppings” you see sometimes sold at the generic gift shops in the airport.  (Kids get a kick out these candies.) These also include the state or city specific items.  In Seattle, there are tons of “Sleepless in Seattle” gear. In Kansas, there was a ton of Wicked and Wizard of Oz stuff. Think what your recipient would like and you can easily gift these items. Here in Texas, I bought my mom a Texas size lighter (since she is a smoker) that says “Everything is Bigger in Texas”. Sure she knows I got it from the airport, but it’s something she does use every day and I know she thinks of me every time she sees it now. That’s why she loves it.

4. Check out your airports boutiques.  – Many airports now how regular stores in them now such as,

*Barnes and Nobles (or similar bookstores)

* Life is Good

* Bass Pro Shop

*Best Buy Express KIOSK (for those who were asking for that iPod from you)

*Brook Brothers (Tie for dad)

*Brookstone (think neck massager for mom)

*Sunglass Hut

***and many more…. In Phoenix they have many stores that sell local artist crafts for a reasonable price.

(BTW…..ALL kids love candy. Your always a winner with chocolate.)

As for wrapping these gifts, your best bet is to see if your local airport has a gift wrapping services going on, otherwise, ask the store keeper. Many times they will have something for you that you can wrap it in for no additional fee. The worse thing they will do is say no and you will have to just wait to wrap it when you get to your final destination. BUT at least you will have the gift!

Also, try to be creative with your wrapping. Buy a local newspaper at the newsstand and wrap your gifts in good old fashion newsprint. Rip some strips and roll them to make “Twine” to hold your paper on your gift. Most people rip the wrapping paper anyways. You’ll have plenty of time to wrap on the flight. 😉

Good Luck !

Have a Happy and Safe Holiday!

~Gin Nixon

 

Traveling with Gifts: Tips for going through TSA

christmas featuredDid you know that TSA recommends you to travel with your gifts unwrapped for the screening process? Now wrapped gifts are not prohibited, but TSA will have to open the gift if there is any additional screening needed. This INCLUDES any gifts that are placed in checked luggage.

That then leads you to wonder how you will be wrapping once you get to your destination? Many airports and local organizations have supplied you with the solution. Gift wrapping services are now available on the OTHER side of security and some are even in the baggage claims of your designated arrival cities. At the time of this writing they were free of charge and only ask for a small donation. They usually show up after Dec 20th when school gets out and travel picks up.

Please keep in mind that the same rules for everyday travel still apply during holiday travel. So if you would like to give a Nerf gun for little Tommy, you will need to either place that in checked luggage OR mail it to him.

Here are some COMMON gifts that are typically given that can may require additional screening while go through TSA security checkpoints.

*Gaming consoles (such as Xbox, Playstation, and  Wii)- Please keep in mind that if you wish to carry these items through security you will need to remove them from their manufacture boxes.

*Snowglobes – These are actually allowed THROUGH security as long as it’s no bigger than a tennis ball (for the 3.4oz rule) and the entire globe will fit in with your quart size zip lock bag along with your other liquid items, such as shampoo and toothpaste.

*Perfume/Cologne/Body lotion/Body Spray – THESE WILL NEED TO GO IN YOUR CHECKED BAG, unless the items are less than 3.4oz each and call all fit in ONE quart size bag.

*Wine/Liquor/Beer– THIS MUST BE CHECKED if the amounts are greater than 3.4oz. HOWEVER, FAA limits the quantities of alcohol permitted on board the plane. There is no limit on the amount of alcoholic beverages you can bring if they contain 24% or less alcohol, but if they are between 24% to 70% you are limited to 5 liters per person/per checked bag and it must be in a sealable bottle of flask. Any alcohol more than 70% (140 proof), including 95% grain alcohol and 150 proof rum are not permitted in either carry-on or checked luggage. Even if its allowed though, be prepared to be subject to additional screening, and you MUST DECLARE THE ITEMS TO THE AIRLINE WHEN CHECKING YOUR BAGGAGE. Some airlines will put further restrictions on the amount of alcohol they are willing to transport.

*Food gifts– any liquid, gels and creams will need to be check if they are over 3.4oz and cannot fit in the baggie. However, pies and cakes are allowed through the checkpoint, but will probably need additional screening.

Then there is always the option to just mail it or order it off Amazon (they gift wrap for you) and not worry about carry a big load anyways!

Be prepared and have a safe holiday!

~Gin Nixon

Top Places to Spend New Year’s Eve 2014

top new years correctedSources:

1. Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas, Nevada {via Vegas.com)

2. Bourbon Street Pub with Queen Sushi in Key West, FL {via Examiner.com}

3. New York Times Square, New York, New York {via NewYear’sEveCentral.com}

4. Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL {via Yourfirstvisit.net}

5. Sydney Harbour, Sidney, Australia {via NSW National Parks}

6. London eye, London, England {via 5thingstodotoday.com}

 

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