Top 10 Road Trip Travel Accessories

Road trips can be relaxing and pleasurable, they can also be boring and stressful. The version you take depends greatly on how prepared you are. Travel routes, accommodations, and food are the primary areas to focus on. There are solutions to every problem and here are the top 10 to make your road trip enjoyable and trouble free.


1) Insulated Cooler Bag: This item is a must have for almost any length of road trip. Packing your own food will save you money and cut down or eliminate the need for junk food stops and greasy road side meals. Choose a bag that is collapsable so when not in use it doesn’t take up space. get the largest size, they start around $15, don’t skimp on quality as you’ll have this bag for years. If you do pack a lot of food, a bag on wheels is a good idea, they start around $80. Don’t bother with ice packs, freeze bottles of bottled water and use then as the ice packs, you’ll also have plenty of fresh cold water to drink.


2) Travel Sheet / Sleep Sack: Sometimes you don’t have much of a choice in your hotel selection. If you have not made reservations or if there are only a few, or one hotel in the area you stop at, sleeping can be one of the most stressful activities you’ll have to do. Unclean beds,bedbugs etc. are a few of the irritants that can be found in hotels and motels. Companies like Allersac manufacture travel sheets to help alleviate the stress and give you peace of mind so you can sleep and be ready for the next leg of your road trip. Get a good quality travel sheet that can be washed repeatedly, unless you are staying in hostels, get cotton , not silk.


3) First Aid Kit: Every car should have one in the trunk but especially when traveling. You want to be able to attend to any minor health problem quickly, trying to locate a drug store is not an activity, it’s a chore. Paying twice as much for band aids and antibiotic creme at some roadside convenience store is not a smart move. Buy a basic kit or make your own. Tailor the kit to your needs, your medication bought at your pharmacy.


4) Anti Bacterial Wipes: Restaurants, hotels, gas stations, sight seeing, these are all places with lots of people, lots of people means lots of germs. getting sick on a road trip is no fun and with Swine flu seasons coming , the holidays will be eventful, to say the least. Wash your hands often but when you can’t use a sink, wipes are the next best thing. They can also be used for surfaces in your hotel room like the TV remote, which is usually filthy.


5) Global Positioning System (GPS): Prices for these units have dropped a lot in the last few years but will probably be the most expensive of all travel accessories. Ranging from iphone applications at $90 that turn your iphone into a GPS, to stand alone units with all the bells and whistles at $600, knowing where you are and where you’re going and best way to get there can take a load off your mind. Of course if you have a smartphone and can access wifi on the road, google maps is a cheap alternative. Don’t forget the low tech version, paper maps. A good idea is to order your route maps from your local automobile club, they can plot out routes around any construction or unsafe areas.


6) Windshield Water Treatment: I cannot say enough good things about these products. Designed to seal the minute cracks in your windshield so rain will just sheet off the surface. Ever get caught in a fierce rainstorm or get stuck behind a truck spitting mud at you, when you can’t see well or all your windshield wipers are doing is smearing the dirt. Products like RainX will solve those problems, less driving stress, less stopping for bad weather.


7) Sound Generator Alarm Clock: Hotel too close to the highway, noisy guests next door, no wake up service, a sound generator alarm clock will help you to sleep and wake up on time.


8) Plastic Garbage Bags: Either for garbage, dirty clothes or to protect your belongings from bedbug infestation, good quality garbage bags are easy and cheap to throw in your car. They take up almost no space and come in very handy. The number 1 cause of bedbug infestation is cross contamination. You stay at a hotel that has bedbugs, they crawl into your stuff, you go home and so do the bedbugs. Keep your clothes etc. in these bags when staying overnight in a hotel. Bedbugs are no laughing matter and have become epidemic in north America.


9) Cell Phone: Don’t forget to take it with you for emergencies, reservations and directions. A phone with a camera is great for those sudden photo ops.


10) Portable Digital Storage Device: Like an ipod or an archos. These handy little high tech gizmos will allow you to listen to music, watch movies or store photos. Perfect for rainy days or down time where monotony can be a factor. Some models will connect with your car systems or can be used as stand alone units.

How To Choose And Wash Your Bedding

Washing Methods


If you’re not using hot water and hot air to wash you’re bedding than all you are doing is giving the dust mites and/or bedbugs that live in you’re bedding a bath. The only reliable way to remove and inactivate pests and allergens, is to use hot water above 60c / 140f and then dry in hot air.


Another method for removing dust mites from bedding is supplemental rinsing. After a warm water wash, put the bedding through 2 cold water rinses, this has proven to help remove most allergens including pet dander and pollen. The problems associated with supplemental rinses include using 2-3 times the amount of water as a single hot water wash and the trade off in costs between heating a single hot water wash and using 2-3 times the quantity of fresh water.


The most important aspect of hot water versus cold water is effectiveness. While a hot water wash has proven to remove all dust mites, a warm water, 40c / 104f, wash removes only 6.5% of dust mites.


While a hot water wash will kill all dust mites and inactivate the allergens generated by dust mites, only a hot air drying cycle for an extended period of time, over 40 minutes , will kill bedbugs. Bedbugs are larger and hardier than dust mites. They can survive much more extreme environments and conditions, and so can their eggs.


Putting ALL bedding through a hot air drying cycle will desiccate ( dry out ) any live bedbugs or eggs that survive the hot water wash. Bedbugs or their eggs cannot survive the extended high heat and will die.


By putting your bedding through a hot water, 60c / 140f, wash AND a hot air drying cycle for over 40 minutes, you can rest assured that the bedding will be free of dust mites, allergens and bedbugs.


Utilizing hot water and hot air wash cycles make the choice of bedding material content very important. For instance, silk or satin will not survive hot water or hot air. Bamboo, with it’s natural anti bacterial properties, will degrade and pill very quickly in hot water / air, not to mention the shrinkage factor.


Sheet Selection


Cotton bed sheets with a very high thread count, over 500, tend to be nice and soft, but fragile due to the smaller thread size. After repeat hot water/ air washings they tend to rip. Poly cotton blends and 100% cotton with thread counts between 300 and 400 threads per inch will perform well. Although any poly cotton blend will eventually start to pill and cause sensitivity to those who are sensitive or allergic to polyester, the trade of in price versus performance makes poly cotton a good choice.


100% cotton is still the best choice. Any tightly woven 100% cotton sheet with a thread count above 300 will block 100% of dust mites and 99% of dust mite allergens from coming through from a mattress. Most sheets of this quality are pre-shrunk so they will not shrink much further. They are able to be washed in hot water and dried in hot air. The only drawback to this type of sheet is wrinkles and creases after the wash cycle. Taking the sheets out of the dryer as soon as the cycle is finished should alleviate some of the problem.


Pillows, Comforters and Duvets


There are many types of fillings for pillows and comforters. Most are some type of synthetic fill made of polyester. Memory foams have become affordable and are becoming prevalent on store shelves. Feather or down pillows and duvets have been around for hundreds of years, but recently have gotten a bad rap for their supposed pest friendly attributes, these are unfounded and studies have shown synthetic fibers to be more hospitable to dust mites. Memory foam is great as a deterrent to allergens and pests because it has no small spaces for them to hide and is easily vacuumed, but there is a high incidence of allergic reactions to the foam itself.


Wether synthetic fibers or feather/down, make sure the casing of any pillow or comforter/duvet you purchase is very tightly woven and is washable, if not in hot water than at least warm water. After washing a pillow or comforter/duvet, allow it to hang dry, as very few makes are able to dry from a wet stage, directly into a hot dryer. When it is dry then you can put it through a hot air cycle in a dryer.


Remember


Just because a product is expensive, doesn’t mean it will protect any better than a less expensive product. Know the facts and make your decision on performance, not price.





Swine Flu This Fall / What To Expect And How To Gaurd Against It

As of the week of June 27th 2009 , in the USA, there have been 33,902 cases of laboratory confirmed swine flu, with 170 deaths attributed.


Most of the deaths involved people with pre existing medical conditions. Most healthy people survived with the help of anti viral medications like Tamiflu or Relenza. Although this swine flu is virulent and affects a lot of of healthy young people aged 10 to 45 yers old, it’s symptoms and effects have , so far, seemed to be relatively minor.


The ability to fight off and survive a bout of swine flu is the reason that mortality rates are low, the younger and healthier you are to begin with gives you the edge. So while, younger people get the swine flu more often, more of them survive. They may also be getting the swine flu more often because they have no natural immunity to it, while older people seem to contract the swine flu less ,because they possibly retain partial or full immunity from exposure to previous variants of the swine flu, but their mortality rate is higher because of pre existing medical conditions and age related vulnerabilities.


The big problem is not present infection but future infection. If this is what’s going on in the off-season for flu, at least in this hemisphere, imagine what the conditions will be during flu season.Now it’s summer, we’re all outside, kids are at camp. What will happen in the fall when we all start coming indoors and the young go back to school. How will the swine flu impact the regular flu season, how will you even know which flu you have. What about anti viral resistant cases of swine flu which have been occurred in Europe. Will we have enough medicine,will we have a vaccine.


A vaccine is in the making , takes about 25 weeks, and governments are stock piling anti viral meds and making contingency plans for the coming season but adjusting your mind set now and spreading that mindset to your relatives and friends is good idea. I’m not talking armageddon here, just a few common sense measures to lessen your chances of contracting swine flu.


1) Keep your hands clean and away from your face. This is THE, number one action you can take to cut down on transmission from people and to people. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, anti bacterial soap is not needed for viruses. Eyes, ears, nose, mouth, these are the entry points for swine flu. If you eliminate touch transmission, all you are left with is airborne transmission. This strain of swine flu , H1N1, has proven not to be very efficient at infecting humans, a good thing for us.


2) Get your flu shots. Whether it’s for the regularly expected seasonal flu or swine flu ( as soon as it’s produced ). Flu shots have proven to be safe and effective, especially if you have a pre existing medical condition which may complicate or comprise your ability to fight off the swine flu.


3) Keep your hands clean and away from your face, did I mention that already



The top 3 are primary precautions, after that there are secondary precautions, face masks come to mind. All those people walking around with surgical masks in Mexico, were they protected, kind of. Most surgical masks are made to deter, wearer to patient transmission, so that health care workers don’t transmit anything. But to be very effective in preventing the wearer from infection, the mask must be worn tight around the face and be of quality material small enough to stop a virus.


If you are able to, stored in a cool dry spot, anti viral medicines can last for a long time.Good to know if you live far from a doctor, hospital or pharmacy.


Suggesting to the co-worker who looks ill, that a few days off would do him good, is a good idea, and do it from six feet away.


Don’t go to work sick, don’t go shopping, don’t send your sick kids to school. If you get the flu or think you’re getting it, just stay home.







Is Your Hotel Clean ? Are You Sure ?

After doing research into the cleaning standards of the major hotel chains in North America, here is what I have found, nothing, absolutely nothing. Oh sure there are points rewards and clubs, health spas and free breakfasts, sustainability and "green" programs and mission statements up the wazoo, but I could not find one chain that published anything about cleaning, laundering and sanitizing their rooms.


You would think that a clean room, being the raison d'etre of a hotel, would merit some standards, but cleaning standards don't exist in the hospitality business. Each hotel chain has their own standards. There is no universally accepted guideline or standard when it comes to such things as permissible levels of bacteria or detergent residues, suggested time intervals for bedspread and pillow laundering or replacement, and no list of safe cleaning agents.


I am not suggesting there is no data or criteria on the subject of housekeeping in the hospitality industry, There is an interesting report written by Michael C. Sturman for the Cornel University School of Hotel Administration, funded by JohnsonDiversey Inc. a subsidiary of Johnson Wax Professional, which addresses the measuring of housekeeping performance. While this report focuses more on the efficiency of housekeeping rather than the effectiveness, it does provide a window into the way the industry thinks about cleaning and the cost of cleaning.


The CDC ( Centers for Disease Control ) publishes guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care facilities. which encompasses surface cleaning as well as bedding. There is no reason why we would hold the hotel industry up to the same standards as a hospital but there are a few constants when dealing with bedding. The need for water temperatures to exceed 70 degrees celsius, the use of chlorine bleach, required high heat drying and or pressing, the need to monitor cleaning agent residues.


While the CDC states that, " Although contaminated textiles and fabrics in health-care facilities can be a source of substantial numbers of pathogenic microorganisms, reports of health-care–associated diseases linked to contaminated fabrics are so few in number that the overall risk of disease transmission during the laundry process likely is negligible." there are no guidelines for the hotel or hospitality industry on the CDC website.


There are plenty of companies that train and certify workers as housekeepers, and other companies that certify the hotel, I have never seen any certification presented on any website or in the lobby of any hotel I have ever stayed at. Not enough hotel chains adhere or advertise that they adhere to any certification at all. It seems like hygiene is a taboo subject, the unwritten law, don't talk about how clean , talk about how soft.


The more I researched this topic, the more I realized that we, as the traveling public, look upon the Hospitality industry as just that, an industry, run by professionals to corporate standards. But in actuality, the way your room is cleaned is a more a function of how efficient, knowledgeable and conscientious the person who cleans it is and the chemicals utilized. When the odd room is inspected by management, what is the criteria, a visual inspection, a sniff of the air, swab tests ? The cleaning agents used by each hotel, are they safe, is enough used to complete the task or is too much used causing residues over the healthy limits.


I realize that it's just a hotel room, not a bio facility. That's true but, who would have thought 20 years ago that staph ( MRSA ) bacteria would transmit infection through gym towels. When you were a kid, your mom didn't ask you if the bleach residue in your underwear was causing you discomfort. Allergies were hay fever, maybe peanuts or cats, but not " chemical sensitivities ". The times, they ARE a changin'. In a study published by the University of Virginia Health System, residual rhinovirus was found on 35% of items handled by people who were asked to spend a day and night in a hotel room while they had colds.


Is it any wonder that so many protective products like anti allergy travel sheets, hand and ultra violet light sanitizers, and portable air filters are marketed towards the traveling public ? Every few weeks a new article or television news spot highlights the ongoing bedbug problems in hotels or how clean the drinking glasses are in hotel bathrooms. Why aren’t these public health matters addressed by the hospitality industry or the government ? Possibly because the problem is too big, too wide spread and too hard to police.


With all the maladies and allergies and sensitivities, the bed bugs and lice, wouldn't you rather read how your room is prepared and, with what chemicals, than what junk food in the guise of a free breakfast is offered. I would want to know my room is free of germs and pests and cleaned according to researched and proven standards, If most large hotel chains train their staff then there are standards, some one buys the cleaning agents so there are names of chemicals used. Why not just make some of this info available. You know the urban myth, "you never see a baby pigeon" well here's mine, " you never know how often the bedspread is cleaned."



Chemical Sensitivities And How To Avoid Them

Many people are sensitive to a variety of chemicals present in every day detergents and cosmetics. Some are affected by inhalation of scents or residues and some have contact sensitivities.


It is very difficult to isolate or determine which type of transmission affects specific people. It is a matter of trial and error, eliminating all possible causes and reintroducing each one, to determine sensitivity.


Inhaled sensitivities are the most difficult to solve. Some chemicals or pollutants don’t even have a scent or are undetectable. In some cases it’s the exterior environmental air that is the cause. Environmental pollutants are impossible to remove and some sufferers have to actually relocate to other geographical areas devoid of many air pollutants.


Contact sensitivities are easier to diagnose. Many times, it’s as simple as changing laundry detergent or cosmetics. Many household cleaning products can aggravate or cause reactions that mimic allergies. Using too much bleach or detergent, or simply not rinsing well enough, can be the cause of itchy dry skin or rashes.


Topical cosmetics like hand creams, perfumes and soaps can cause symptoms and are easily tested by process of elimination and reintroduction.Sometimes, just changing you laundry detergent or deodorant can solve the problem.


Sensitivities can be experience when a change in surroundings occurs. Many people report reactions to new environments, such as traveling or staying in different hotels or staying at a friends place. These types of contact sensitivities can be solved easily by utilizing a travel sheet to act as a physical barrier between you and the bedding.


Which ever type of sensitivity you suffer from, simple methods of elimination and reintroduction, before resorting to medication, are the easiest and safest way to determine if and what you are sensitive to.


Allergies Or Bedbug bite ? How To Tell The Difference

A common complaint of travelers who have allergies relates to the question of why they are experiencing reactions after spending a week away or returning home. A traveler may not suffer from, what they think , is an allergic reaction while on the trip, but in a few days,or as many as ten days, after being bitten , present with a welt or lesion.


Studies show that reactions to bedbug bites increase as exposure is increased. A person's first time being bitten may not cause immediate reactions, but can take up to ten days to present as a skin reaction. Repeat exposure to bedbug bites can increase the reaction time from ten days to mere seconds. This is important in determining, if, and when you have been bitten by bedbugs, whether you think it was at the hotel you stayed at, or your home, and if you are seeking compensation or considering litigation.


Bedbug bites are commonly mistaken for a variety of skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, and scabies.


How can you tell the difference between an allergic reaction, like seasonal allergies or dust mite allergies, and a bedbug bite? People with a hypersensitivity to insect bites, and a bedbug is an insect, who are bitten by bedbugs, typically present with symmetrical lesions on their face,neck, arms or legs. Particularly characteristic of bedbug bites are the patterns or groupings of the lesions, which are similar to flea bites. These patterns of bites are usually either linear or triangular in shape and each bite will resemble a bull's-eye, which is typical for insect-bite reactions.


An estimated 80% of the population are sensitive to bedbug bites. In one clinical trial, 18 of 19 persons showed skin reactions after bedbug exposure, mostly, only after, repeated exposure.


While it is generally thought that bedbugs do not transmit disease, and there is no proof that they are capable of disease transmission, conversely, there is no proof that they are not capable of transmission. The concern with bedbug bites is associated with the intense itching caused by the bites. The itching usually leads to scratching which, if severe enough, can cause breaks in the skin, scratches or excoriations, which can become infected. Scarring and/or changes in skin pigmentation, particularly in dark skinned people, can occur.


It is important to note that although most insect bites that cause lesions or eruptions on skin called papular urticaria, bee and wasp stings are painful, mosquitos do not bite in clusters as with bedbugs or fleas. Bedbug bites usually affect hypersensitive people, which may explain why one person , after being bitten, exhibits lesions and itching, while a bedmate might not experience any discomfort.


Bedbug exposure while traveling has become a more common occurrence in the past few years. The causes of of more frequent infestations run from the banning of pesticides like DDT, to the theory that bedbug infestations are cyclical in nature, occurring when factors favor bedbugs. Whatever the cause, there is no doubt that being bitten can ruin a vacation. While home infestations are difficult to predict and even more difficult to eradicate, travel related exposure can easily be prevented.


Wherever you plan to sleep make sure you thoroughly check the bed and surrounding area for bedbugs hiding in cracks and crevices, Be sure to notice any reddish brown stains or spots on sheets or mattresses, this is an indicator of bedbugs. Many travel-related products containing pesticides are available but this course of action is heavy handed and most likely unhealthy. Barrier methods, like an Allersac travel sheet can be a very effective tool in mitigating exposure but cannot guarantee 100% effectiveness as they don't encase the head. With proper inspection and an Allersac, the incidence of bedbug bites, while traveling, can be lessened.



How To Decide On A Mattress Cover/Encasement To Block Dust Mites And Allergens

According to a new study published in the Textile Research Journal 2009, tightly woven fabrics with a thread count above 246 and a pore size between 2 and 10 microns, blocked more than 99% of dust mite allergens and prevented penetration of 100% of dust mites.


The study,  Anti-mite Covers: Potential Criteria for Materials Used Against Dust Mites, published by:Vanna Mahakittikun, Prapakorn Ninsanit,and Teerapong Wangapai - Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand and John Joseph Boitano - Stratford, Connecticut, USA  and Chulaluk Komoltri - Clinical Epidemiology Unit, Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand, 

tested 53 mite proof covers claiming to be " anti-mite" from 10 different countries. The samples comprised tightly-woven ( over 265 thread count ), film/membrane coated woven, acaricidal-coated woven, non-woven, membrane-coated non woven, acaricidal ( ceramite,chitosan )-coated non-woven, plastic, and woven/non-woven combo fabrics. Three regular, cotton bed sheets ( 180 thread count ) were also tested and used as a comparison.


Keep in mind that these products tested were all claiming to be " anti-mite covers" specifically marketed to prevent dust mites and their associated allergens from infiltrating consumer bedding.


They concluded that while plastic and film/membrane fabrics performed well, because of the air permeability restrictions of these fabrics, tightly woven fabrics with an air permeability factor of between 2 and 6cm3/s/cm2 were the only fabrics to fulfill the requirements of performance and comfort.As well, tightly woven fabrics treated with acaricides fared no better than ones without acaricides. Fully 41% of the fabrics tested failed to meet the basic requirements, these included loosely woven fabrics treated with acaricides and non-woven fabrics.


The study also points out that it is not unreasonable to assume that repetitive launderings of all the various covers, other than plastic, would substantially degrade the performance over time, according to a study they cite. But, other studies cited, suggest the structural integrity of tightly woven covers was not compromised.


This study concluded that plastic and tightly woven covers block mite penetration and prevent leakage of allergens while other types of covers fail. The minimum criteria suggested is a fabric with " a pore size between 2 to 10 ┬Ám  air permeability should be greater than 2 and less than 6cm3/s/cm2; and a thread count greater than 246/in2 "


What does this mean to the average consumer ? Basically they are saying that any tightly woven cover of more than 246 threads per inch is sufficient to block dust mites and their allergens. Coatings and chemicals have no benefit over a tightly woven fabric, and while plastic blocks mites and allergens, it is not air permeable, so it will be uncomfortable. 


Finally the consumer has a baseline from which to make their decision on what kind of protection they choose and how much to pay for it. No longer will you have to pay for fancy coatings, chemicals, and false claims. What you do need, is a well constructed, high quality fabric with a thread count of more than 250. Whether you choose 100% cotton or a poly/cotton blend or just polyester, becomes a choice based on comfort and whether or not you have a sensitivity to synthetic materials. Choosing a mattress encasement, cover or travel sheet, no longer rests on the smallest pore size because any

material under 10 microns will block 99% of dust mite allergens and all mites. What you must remember is that on top of your mattress cover or encasement, you will also use a sheet. Combining the two, given that both are at least 250 thread count, your protection will be excellent.


Well ,why, you ask, do i need an encasement if my sheets are over 250 thread count ? For the same reason you should not use just a "cover". An encasement envelopes the whole mattress preventing any dust mites already there from escaping and preventing any new mites from infesting. If you use just a cover, something that you only put on top of your mattress, like a sheet, then you won't be getting the protection you could have or need.


The same criteria for encasements can be used for other protective barriers like travel sheets. The big difference between a mattress encasement and a travel sheet is, you don't sleep directly on a mattress cover, you do sleep directly on a travel sheet. So, while you may choose a mattress encasement or cover which is coarse,it will be covered by your sheets. Your choice for a travel sheet would be considerably softer. A product like an Allersac, at 400 threads per inch, provides more than enough protection but is soft and comfortable to sleep in. 


Whichever product you need, do your homework. Find a well priced encasement or travel sheet to meet your needs. If a company can't tell you thread count or pore size, if the product can't easily be washed, or if you want pure cotton and they only have synthetic, move on. Contact another company, there are plenty of manufacturers of these types of protection.



Anatomy Of A Travel Sheet Or, Do You Trust Your Hotel

 A travel sheet, for those of you who have not heard of such an item, is a light weight piece of fabric sewn together in a sleeping bag configuration. Travel sheets are used to protect against unclean bedding, usually in hostels, but also are called sleeping bag liners, as they protect the sleeping bag from bodily fluids like sweat. The materials used to make travel sheets or sleeping bag liners range from cheap thin cottons, poly cottons, polyester fleeces,  to silk and higher qualities of cotton. Silk is used primarily to make them light weight for backpackers to carry and wash easily in a sink and air dry quickly. Sheets and liners are usually closed with a velcro tab, button or snap, or tie up. Prices range from 20 dollars up to 200 dollars, depending on size and fabrication. For our discussion today we will focus on the higher end travel sheets meant for protection from everything from harsh detergent sensitivity, lice, bedbugs, allergens like animal and dust mite dander, and just plain unclean bedding in hotels. Some terms you will need to familiarize yourself with are:


Pillow Pocket: an attached sleeve or envelope to place a pillow in so the user will not contact the pillow.

Fold Over Top Sheet: a flap on the top of the travel sheet which folds over the blanket so the user does not contact the blanket.

Pore Size: the size of the space between the threads of the fabric, measured in microns.


Chemical Sensitivity: 

 Hotels have to contend with a wide range of guests along with each guest's particular human condition. Does the guest sweat at night, is the guest incontinent, are the guests having sex, does the guest drool, must I go on. Just knowing what your own bodily functions are capable of while you lie in bed is enough to fathom, let alone sleep in a bed whose last guest you never knew. 


 To combat the stains and germs associated with the hotel concept, the industry must use fairly powerful detergents, bleaches and surfactants, to provide us with those freshly scented sheets we, as the traveling public, have come to expect. Some people equate the smell of detergents or the masking scent of flowers or "Spring" with cleanliness. On the other hand, there are people who are very sensitive to these chemicals, and they are chemicals, that produce these scents and the bright white linens. If you are one of these sensitive guests, you would be well served to use a travel sheet, one with a pillow pocket to shield you from the pillow case. For chemical sensitivity, pretty much any quality travel sheet will do, unless of course you are sensitive to polyester or the dye which colors the travel sheet. In that case choose a white, cotton or silk, travel sheet. Organic, un-bleached, un-dyed fabrics are available but they are very expensive.


Critters: ( bedbugs,lice etc. ):

 While head lice are not very prevalent in hotels , they can be experienced on planes, buses, trains or anywhere you lay your head. It is a misconception that head lice are found on only dirty people, in actuality, they like clean heads and hair and don't live that long when not on a nice clean warm host. Again, a travel sheet with a pillow pocket is ideal, just slip the pocket over the headrest and sit down or climb in.


 Now bedbugs are a completely different story. With the banning of DDT in the sixties, bedbugs have made a comeback in a big way, they are now epidemic in many of our cities and towns. Bedbugs are excellent travelers and they or their eggs can survive cold, even freezing. They are, or are becoming, resistant to many of the chemicals legally used to kill them. Once your home or hotel is infested, they are extremely difficult to eradicate. Bedbugs don't transmit disease but being bitten can cause reactions from local irritation, redness and swelling to a full blown allergic episode, not to mention a bad case of the heebie jeebies. Short of using chemicals or professional pest control services, the only reliable way to kill bedbugs and their eggs is high heat for an extended period of time. Washing affected clothing or bedding in hot water, at least 60 degrees centigrade/130 fahrenheit, then drying on high heat is the best way. Some pest control companies use steam to kill the vermin but this must be done properly to ensure complete success. Just one egg will be all that's needed to re-infest. With that said, a travel sheet will help to protect against bedbugs, especially if is zippered. That way only your head is vulnerable to attack. Theoretically a bedbugs' mouth parts are long enough to penetrate fabric but highly unlikely.


Allergens: 

 Here's where we get a little technical. For the purposes of this article when we talk about allergens, we mean dust mite by-products and cat /dog dander. Dust mite by-products encompass everything from their dead bodies to their fecal excretions. Dust mites are unavoidable, they feed on the dead skin cells which fall off our bodies constantly, 80% of house dust is dead skin. I don't care how clean you are it is impossible to completely eradicate dust mites from our lives and certainly from a hotel room. The best we can hope for is to keep their numbers down to a minimum. Actions like vacuuming, providing you are using a well filtered vacuum and not just spreading the dust around, encasing mattresses and pillows in mite proof materials, replacing carpets with flooring, and using non toxic topical applications can greatly decrease the allergens present in a room.


 Most danders whether from cats or dogs or dust mites are very small, with cat dander being smallest. While dust mite allergens average around 10 microns, cat dander can be as small as 6 microns. In the " allergy industry " any barrier with a pore size of less than 10 microns is considered effective in blocking most danders. That's not to say it's allergy proof, but is the best you can get without using a material like plastic or something that won't breathe well. It is important for a travel sheet to " breathe", be able to pass some air from one side of the fabric to the other. A plastic bag does not breathe, a fabric with a 4 micron size breathes better than a plastic bag but not enough to be comfortable to sleep in, 4 microns makes a great mattress encasement but not a great travel sheet. Silk does an excellent job of filtering out allergens because it is tightly woven and has a small pore size, but if you've ever worn a silk shirt you know how warm silk can get, and silk is delicate and can't be washed in hot water or placed in a hot dryer.


 I haven't mention composite or coated fabrics. These are materials with either a coating or another layer of another material bonded to it. These layers or coatings serve to shrink pore size to very small or not at all. Some of these materials claim to be waterproof but breathable. They may be just that and be great for protective sheets for incontinence or childhood bed wetting but not for a comfortable sleep. There is a difference between sleeping on a sheet and sleeping in it. If the material does not breathe well you'll end up sweating all night long.


 The last type of travel sheet material is one that has been treated with an insecticide. These are great if you're in the Congo but not so great for Chicago. That would be overkill to say the least.


You Need: 

 A travel sheet that has these attributes-

  Pore size below 10 microns

  Pillow pocket and fold over top sheet

  Zipper not velcro, snaps or buttons.

  Breathability and comfort

  Ability to be washed in hot water and dried in hot air

  Quality, something that will stand up to repeated washings

  Affordability


Totally Gross: 

 This sums up how I feel about sharing a bed with strangers. It doesn't matter if it's a $400 per night hotel in New York, $90 a night in Roanoke, or $3000 per week cruise ship. I have experienced dubious to filthy in all of them. Cleanliness is not dependent on price or cache, some of the ritziest hotels in New York have had bedbug infestations and I have stayed in a $50 a night motel in South Carolina that was so clean I could have eaten my fried chicken off the bathroom floor. " He's paranoid ", "I've never had a problem " you say. Well that may be true, at least that you've known about. Want to get grossed out, buy a 10 dollar black light and take it with you next time you stay in a hotel, close the lights, shine the black light on the sheets, just be prepared to sleep in your car or not at all. To be honest, I don't worry about bedbugs or getting sick from the bedspread that's only washed a few times a year, after Billy Bob and Bobby Sue consummated their marriage on it, or the pillow that the fat guy with sleep apnea was drooling on. I use a travel sheet just because the thought of not using one is just GROSS !







KISS-5 Surefire Money Saving Travel What Not To Do's

Over time hopefully we accumulate enough life experience to avoid certain things which are detrimental to us. For travelers, this is important , not only for the enjoyment of each trip, but for the ability to afford to travel. It's as easy as K-I-S-S , keep it simple stupid.


Everyone of us that loves to travel have made, at one time or another, a mistake, which has caused us to make that all important mental note, " I will never do that again ! "


Here is the accumulated wisdom I have garnered when it comes to saving money so I can enjoy my vacations with out my subconscious yelling at me.


1) DON"T BE LAZY- I DIDN'T KNOW THE HOTEL WAS NEXT TO THE GARBAGE DUMP !


    If you are reading this, then you are most likely on the internet. The internet is your friend. Do your research.  Google, Yahoo Dogpile or whatever search engine you like, the destinations, modes of transportation, points of interest and accommodations you have in mind. There are so many sites and blogs geared to providing information and reviews, where ever you want to go, someone has been there and is willing to tell you about it, how much it costs and what to avoid. The more opinions you get, the more of a complete and accurate picture you will have to base your decisions on.


2) BOOK IT YOURSELF- WHY DID HE PAY HALF OF WHAT I DID ?


     Again, if you are reading this then I guess you didn't get a million dollar bonus this quarter. Why would you pay someone to do something which you probably can do better yourself. For instance, you have found the hotel you want to stay at, you have done the research on at least 5 travel sites and found the cheapest rate, you have searched for any coupons applicable to this hotel, now it's as easy as calling the hotel and asking for the best rate. Usually the online rate at the corporate site is the best but sometimes a travel site will have a better rate. Quote this better rate to the hotel and ask for the same, most of the time they will give it to you.


3) TRANSPORTATION- AIRLINES ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND !


     If you can drive, drive.Having your own car allows you to be on your own timetable, visit what you want, when you want. If driving is not an option, whether it's cross continent or overseas, then again, don't be lazy. Find the best rate but, if it's too good to be true it usually is. Like flying into a secondary airport, will transportation to the city negate the savings ? How much do they charge for checked luggage. Cancellation rules, what are they. Remember this, airlines are there to make a profit and since most of them are so unprofitable, they will try anything, read the fine print ! Trains are a great way to travel especially in countries that value their rail networks. Most rail networks have passes available to save money on multiple trips.


4) PACKING- DO I REALLY NEED 15 T-SHIRTS ?


    Pack efficiently but pack what you need. Don't assume you can purchase what you need where you are going, it's alway cheaper and easier ti buy your supplies at home. Medications, over the counter like sunscreen and anti bacterial lotions to prescriptions. Clothes, from bathing suites to gloves. Money, get yours at home from your bank not the machine in the airport, and last but not least, a travel sheet, nothing will ruin a vacation faster than a crummy bed, with a travel sheet, no worries.


5) FOOD- ARE THOSE SCORPIONS EDIBLE ?


    Sampling the local fare is a large part of the travel experience but use your noggin. Just because Mr Bourdain ate it, doesn't mean you can. Street food is great just be sure to eat what a lot of others are eating. If locals eat there, then it's probably good. Search the web for highly recommended restaurants where you are going, food blogs are a great way to do this, nothing angers a food blogger more than a crummy restaurant, and , number one food rule ,don't eat in the hotel ! It's expensive and most of the time the food sucks.


So, there you have it, the accumulated wealth of my traveling acumen. You don't have to run a ponzi scheme to afford to travel, just KISS.


5 Tips For A Healthy Cruise

So, you're going on a cruise. That wonderful all-in travel experience which has become so popular lately. Just hop on the ship, no worries about accommodation, food, tours, entertainment and fun. Hold on there newbie, there are a few things you'll need to know before the fun begins.


Many a cruiser will tell of stories about colds, stomach flu, sunburns and cuts and bruises. Anytime you pack a few thousand human beings into a small space, even though your ship might be huge, there is always the chance of communicable illnesses. How many horror stories have surfaced in the news about ship borne viruses and bacterial infections, we've all heard of at least one. Well here are a five tips on making your cruise the most enjoyable experience possible.


1) Anti bacterial hand sanitizing liquids and lotions  are your friend. Buy a travel pack of 6 or more small, i mean those tiny plastic travel versions, and carry one on you where ever you go, even the pool or beach. Just pop it in you bag or purse or pocket. Use it, they work, why do you think hospitals use them. Make sure your kids use them too or apply to your kids especially before meals.


2) Think about that hamburger or chicken salad sandwich you're about to put in your mouth. Has it come from an open food bar, the all you eat can type. Were there sneeze guards, was the food chilled enough or hot enough,where the serving staff wearing gloves. Dining on board is usually not the problem, it's that poolside buffet that causes the stomach aches. Slow down, relax, the food will be there. Overeating especially foods you normally don't eat, is a big problem on cruise ships. Eat something, then wait 15 minutes, if you still want that shrimp salad, take half a serving.


3) Don't eat the street food when you get off the ship. If you want to eat something when on a day trip, find a restaurant with lots of people, locals if possible. Stay away from any food that has to be washed , like fruit, unless the port you are in is known to have drinkable water. No matter where you are, now is not the time to experiment with the local specialities. If your in port for a few days , seek out a reputable restaurant to go to to taste the local fare.


4) Bring a few bandaids along, not a whole box, just a few just in case. If you do scratch or cut yourself, apply a bandaid to lessen the chance of infection and have it cleaned well back on board. If the cut occurs on board, wash it well and apply some anti bacterial creme. Many a small cut has turned nasty, especially in the tropics.


5) If you're sleeping off the ship at all, or even if you've booked that cheapie getaway on an older ship or secondary cruise line to save a buck, you would be well served to invest in a travel sheet, like an Allersac. You never know what the bedding will be like and there is nothing that will ruin a trip like unclean bedding and an Allersac can be used on planes, trains  or bus seats. You might not need one , but if you do...


Hundreds of thousands of people every year travel by cruise ship, only a small percentage get sick. Have a great trip by planning well and taking a few, but important precautions. Happy cruising.






Bedbugs ? They Don't Scare Me ! -5 Tips to Avoid Them While Traveling

Lately, we have been hearing a lot about these nasty little bloodsuckers, Cimex lectularius, the common bed bug, and it's tropical cousin, Cimex hemipterus. These flattened, oval-shaped, reddish-brown mini vampires have been making the news more frequently in the last few years and have become public enemy number one in the eyes of public health officials recently.


Prolific little suckers, a female bedbug can lay as many as 12 eggs a day, which hatch between 6 and 17 days later. The nymphs will be equipped to feed immediately and will mature in anywhere between 21 and 120 days , depending on temperature. Bedbugs can live up to 1.5 years ! They are nocturnal, so you won't see them during the day.


Contrary to popular belief, bedbug infestations are not caused by unsanitary conditions. Bedbugs are spread physically, meaning they crawl into some luggage or a mattress or clothing and hitch a ride to their next home, where they proceed to multiply if conditions are good. If they can't find a blood meal, they can survive up to a year without feeding.


Once infested, a home or hotel room is very difficult to rid of these pests. They can hide almost anywhere, mattresses, cracks in walls, behind baseboards, under loose wallpaper, behind paintings, drapery,or in furniture. The most common pesticides used to kill bedbugs are becoming ineffectual and the other pesticides we used to use, like DDT, are outlawed. 


Freezing is commonly mentioned, as in, " put your pillow in the freezer " but this will not kill all the eggs and you only need one to survive to re-infest. Heat is the best way to obliterate these buggers, whether it's a hot water wash and a hot air dry for clothing, or steam cleaning for furniture. The only problem with steam is, it doesn't penetrate far enough when it comes to mattresses and upholstered furniture. Most good pest control companies will use a multi-pronged approach to exterminate bedbugs. This can include pesticides, steam, vacuuming, and sealing entry points.


My kill technique of choice is diatomaceous earth. This is a white powder made of the exoskeletons of diatoms, tiny sea creatures. When a bedbug crawls through this powder, the microscopic, sharp particles, which the powder is made up of, will scratch the waxy coating of the exoskeleton of the bedbug, off, causing it to dehydrate and die. Only " food grade " diatomaceous earth can be used, otherwise your just endangering yourself, family and  pets.


" So, what about traveling " you say. Bedbugs present unique problems for the average traveler. First , you have to determine if your hotel room has bedbugs. Obviously you aren't going to ransack the room checking every little nook and cranny, but there are simple methods to protect yourself. Pull back a corner of the bedding, nearest the headboard, right down to the mattress. Check for rust colored spots or actual bedbugs on the mattress and in the creases and seams at the edge of the mattress. Lift the mattress up a bit and check under it. If there is a headboard, check behind it and under it near the floor or carpet. Now check the baseboards near the bed, if there are tiny spaces between the baseboard and wall, check those too. The more areas around the bed that you inspect, the more certain you will be that your room is bedbug free.


Just because you inspect, doesn't mean there are no bedbugs, it just means you haven't found them or the room is not infested. Even after I make my decision to stay in a specific room, I still take other precautions. Here are my top 5 tips:


1) ALWAYS inspect the bed, mattress and headboard.


2) Pack a travel sheet like an Allersac, if you are unsure about the cleanliness of your room or you can't change rooms or for whatever reason, a travel sheet will help to protect and give some peace of mind. You may not need it but if you do.....


3) NEVER put your luggage on any soft surface like the bed, luggage racks or the desk are the best places to put luggage. Bedbugs are great travelers, they will get into your stuff and hitch a ride to your home.


4) Don't just throw your clothing anywhere, especially dirty clothes. People tend to just leave worn clothes on a chair or corner of the room until they re-pack or clean up. Bring or use the dirty laundry bags sometimes supplied in rooms and put your used clothing in one.


5) When you get back home, don't just leave your luggage and clothing anywhere. Immediately inspect and wash ALL your clothes and inspect your luggage. If you can ,if it's cold outside, leave your luggage outside for a night or in the garage, this can help get rid of any unwanted live guests.




How To Spot A Dirty Hotel Room, Before It's Too Late

After a long drive, or a long flight, the last thing you need is a dirty hotel room. Changing rooms after you unpack is inconvenient,to say the least, and doesn't mean you'll get a better or cleaner room. The allergens in your hotel room will dictate how restful and healthy your stay will be. Had there been a cat in the room, how bad are the levels of dust mite allergens, what kind of detergents or bleaches does the hotel use to launder the bedding and towels. Here are some tips which have worked well for me:


-If you're checking into a hotel/motel, especially later in the day or at night, and the desk clerk looks messy or tired, this is your first clue. To me it means the management doesn't have high standards or doesn't care about it's employees. If employees are not up to par, do you think the room will be?


- Before actually registering , check out the elevator. Is it clean, does it work well. If management can't keep an elevator in good condition, the rooms can't be much better.


- Check out the nearest ice machine, is it clean, does it have ice and is there a smell coming from the machine.


- If there is a public bathroom near the front desk and it's dirty, your room can't be much better.


 Okay, so now you're satisfied with any of these tips, so you register. You arrive at your room, but before you unpack anything, inspect the bathroom and the bed.


 Bathroom cleanliness tips: Just because it looks clean, does not mean it is clean. Obviously you can't send bacterial cultures out to a lab for analysis, but you can do a few things to mitigate the filth factor.


- If there are actual "glass" drinking glasses in the room, inspect  them. If they smell of detergent or have obvious streaks, don't use them. Personally, i won't use any glasses in a hotel room unless they are pre sealed disposables.


- This is quite obvious, check for hairs and residues on the floor next to the toilet and in the sinks and tubs/shower stalls.


- Pull down a corner or two of the bedspread and blankets, right down to the mattress. Inspect the mattress, especially at the seams, looking for signs of bedbugs. You are looking for either the actual bedbugs, which are usually large enough to see, or, any small smears of dark brown stains, which would be the fecal excretions of the bedbugs .Do the same for the headboard and area at the head of the bed near the baseboards and carpet. Needless to say, if you find ANY evidence of bedbugs, leave immediately. I have a few friends who thought I was paranoid about bedbugs, until they were bitten. Since DDT was outlawed, bedbugs have become epidemic in the hospitality industry. Bedbugs don't carry or pass on diseases, but seriously, does that really matter? By the way, bedbugs are not confined to " cheap " hotels. Even the ritziest establishments experience bedbug infestation at one time or another.


-Be careful where you place your luggage. Bedbugs are excellent travelers so put your luggage on a metal luggage rack or hard surface, not on the bed or sofa.  If you are bitten, red welts are the evidence, wash everything in HOT water , cold will not kill the eggs or all bedbugs.


-Did you know, 1 in 5 children wet the bed, 1 in 3 adults are allergic to dust mites ( actually the allergy is to a protein in dust mite feces ), 1 in 13 adults suffers from incontinence.  Inspect the sheets for hairs and stains and, yes, smell them and the pillows. Your nose will tell you if they have been changed. Don't be naive, if you think every chambermaid in every hotel changes every bed, every time.... 


 Well, now you are satisfied with the room, here are some simple " must do's " 


-Strip off the bedspread and put it away. Hotel bedspreads are not cleaned very often and are universally filthy.


- Wipe down the TV remote with a damp cloth or antibacterial wipe or even a diaper wipe. Studies have shown the remote to be the filthiest thing in a hotel room.


-Don't let your kids, or yourself sit on any surface naked,


 Let's face it, nobody dies from hotel room exposure. but, ever wonder why you got that cold when you went on vacation or why little Johnny got the stomach bug while on vacation. You won't get an infection from that filthy bedspread unless you have an open wound or cut, but why take the chance. 


 Products like an Allersac travel sheet will help to mitigate the exposure to unclean bedding and allergens, a can of household disinfectant spray, and some anti bacterial wipes can be a great inexpensive investment to insure your peace of mind. 

How to Protect Your Kid At Summer Camp Or Hear No Whining

After years of sending my kids to camp and listening to their complaints like, "the sleeping bag is too hot " or " the pillow smells" I have discovered the perfect solution, a travel sack or travel sheet.


This nifty little item is like a sleeping bag but made of a much lighter cotton or silk. The better ones have a pocket or sleeve to put the pillow in so your offspring will not have to touch the pillow as well as a fold over top sheet to shield their sensitive skin from the itchy blankets.


I am kidding a bit, but in all seriousness, this is a great product for a myriad of reasons. One, if your child uses a sleeping bag every night, a travel sheet or sleeping bag liner will protect the bag itself. Instead of washing the whole sleeping bag, just the liner gets washed. Two, a travel sheet will protect your child too, camp bedding, if you remember that far back, is notoriously gross,. Old mattresses are perfect breeding grounds for dust mites and molds and even the camp laundry may use too much bleach, causing skin rashes. The pillows can't be any better and probably are much worse. To protect your child from allergens, like dust mites, and strong cleaning agents, silk or higher quality cotton will do the job. Synthetics and cheap cottons will not perform well or may even add to their discomfort.


Travel sheets or sacks, come in many different shapes, sizes and materials. Obviously, the most important aspect of a travel sheet is it's ability to be washed. Most travel sheets are made of silk which is easily hand washed or machine washed on gentle cycle in cool water, but silk cannot be put in a dryer, and although it hang dries quickly, only older campers should probably use silk.One other problem with silk is it tends to be warm, not great in the heat of the summer. Some of the more popular brands are:

http://www.designsalt.com, http://www.seatosummit.com/, and http://www.dreamsack.com/store/


Sleeping bag liners are usually made of a thin cotton and most don't have a pillow pocket. These liners are not washable in hot water and will shrink up to nothing if put in a dryer. I don't recommend the cheapest liners because they will not last the summer let alone be usable for the next year. Beware of travel sheets that only have a top opening, these are difficult to enter and exit. A side opening is easiest. 


There are a few manufacturers making synthetic fleece or poly/cotton blends. Polyester fleece is not recommended as it will be too hot and not breath well but a  poly/cotton blend is a good choice for affordability and low maintenance, just make sure the ratio of polyester to cotton is around 50/50 so the sheet will breathe well.


Prices for travel sheets, sacks or liners range from $20.00 to $200.00 with most single sizes ( they also come in two person sizes ) in the 20-60 dollar range. As with all things in life, you usually get what you pay for, so avoid the low end if you want to use this product more than a few times.


There are a few companies who produce 100% cotton travel sheets which are designed to be washed in hot water. One product out of the U.K., the Dreambag available at http://www.allergybuyersclubshopping.com/cf-be-dreambag-sleepsack.html is high quality but is expensive and can't be dried on a high heat setting. The other company, 

http://allersac.com/  which makes a 100% cotton travel sheet, is able to be washed in hot water and dried in a drier on high heat. At around 50 bucks, the http://allersac.com/ is probably the best bet as it is made to withstand repeat washings and is made of 400 thread count material just like a high quality set of sheets you would use at home.


Which ever brand you decide on, remember , pillow pocket, easy to wash and dry, comfortable, affordable. The other benefit of a travel sheet is it can be used as just that, a travel sheet. A good quality travel sheet can be used by your son or daughter for years to come, for those times when the hotel bedding might not seem that clean, like a school trip or sleepover. When traveling to europe or even on family vacations, a travel sheet is a versatile and economical way to protect and provide comfort and peace of mind.


Secrets To A Thrifty Road Trip

With air travel becoming so expensive, not to mention stressful, it makes sense to hop in your car and go. When you factor in wait times, delays, and inconvenience , an old fashioned road trip makes a lot of sense, especially for a family with kids. Yes, gas is pricey, but nothing compared to an airline ticket with transport to and from airports. If planned well, a road trip can be an enjoyable experience for you and your family, with the added benefit of having your own vehicle at your destination.

 Here are a few tips to save you cash while traveling by car:


Gas-   Don't just fill up your car and plan on refilling when you get close to empty. Stopping more frequently  can save money by finding the best prices and taking advantage of them. Use internet sites like GasBuddy.com to seek out the best bargains on your route. A steady foot on the gas will give the best gas milage, so avoid heavy acceleration. 


 Remember to not exceed posted speed limits, which vary from state to state, by more than 10%. Most police and highway patrol will give you that leeway to account for speedometer discrepancies.  A speeding ticket can really put a damper on your expenses.


Food-   Aside from gas and lodging this will be your biggest expense, especially if you have a car full of kids. Before leaving on your trip, pack as much food as you can depending on the length of your trip. Stopping for fast food is the most expensive and unhealthy meal possible. I don't use freezer packs, I freeze a lot of small plastic bottles of water which I use to keep perishables fresh, as well, these frozen bottles in a cooler bag, defrost slowly so there is always some cold water on the drive.If properly frozen, a dozen or so small bottles of water in a good insulated cooler will stay frozen for 2 days. Bring along  packets of your family's favorite powdered drink, like Kool Aid or sugar free no calorie Crystal Lite. These are easily poured into the bottles of water and slake your kids desire for pop. Fresh veggies like carrots and celery replace the need for snack stops. Tofu based dips keep well in cooler bags.


  Bread, peanut butter, bagged snacks and even canned goods like tuna ( don't forget the can opener ) are very easy to prep and keep well in a cooler. Deli meats on the other hand are high in salt and can go bad easily. For trips lasting more than 1 day I don't recommend deli meats, the salt only serves to retain water causing more bathroom stops along the way. 


 For every dollar in food you pack yourself, you save 3 dollars on junk you would buy on the road. You would be surprised how much money and time you can save by bringing along healthy food.


Hotels/Motels-   Lodging can be the most expensive part of the trip if not researched properly. Thanks to the internet, you can plan where you want to stay and reserve ahead of time. Reserving your room ahead of time, even as far as a few months, can save you money. Most major hotel chains offer promotion codes, they don't tell you that on their web sites, you have to search the web for these codes. Promo codes can save you a fair amount of money so take the time to search the coupon sites. 


 I like to pick hotels with locations not more than a mile off my route, but not right on the highway. That way I can get a good night sleep without the drone of traffic disturbing me. If you have experience with a specific chain of hotels, don't take for granted that they are all alike. You might have had a great stay in one location, but have a horrible stay in another. I choose national chains only because most of them have some sort of standards. Other than that one rule, I go for price. 


 I have found, over time, that all hotels are pretty much the same. The rooms are never as clean as you would like. The beds, pillows and especially the blankets and bedspreads are filthy. So I don't let that factor into my choice. To alleviate the stress of dubious bedding, allergens and bedbugs, I pack a few travel sheets like Allersac from Allersac.com. That way I know my family are sleeping on clean sheets with no contact with the hotel bedding. 

 

 A wetted towel placed on the blower unit provides moist air for those dry winter stays.Don't be swayed by the " free breakfast " claims, most of the food at these freebies is fat and sugar laden, and the coffee is usually horrible. I grab some toast with peanut butter or jam or cream cheese and try not to eat their other "baked" goods or what they call eggs. 


With proper planning, packing your own food ,choosing an inexpensive hotel and using an Allersac, your road trip can be easy, healthy, safe, and, save you a whole lot of cash, happy trails.

The 4 Best Money Saving Travel Items For Budget Hotel Stays

So, your home is worth half it's value from last year, you're worried about your job and your 401K is tanking, but you still need to take a vacation or you'll go nuts. You got a great deal on plane tickets and can't wait to feel the hot sun on your face. You just wish you could find a cheaper hotel without worrying about the quality or cleanliness. 


 Why pay through the nose for a ritzy lobby and a flat screen TV when after all, all you're really going to do in the hotel is sleep, well maybe not ALL. I'm not saying you should choose the hotel with the chalk outline in the hallway and the exterminator van parked outside, but in my experience, most hotels are pretty much equal. Price does not determine cleanliness or satisfaction. The $70 a night room can be just as satisfying  as the $270 a night room, even more so when you factor in the cost. Ask yourself this, " what do I really need from my hotel ?"

If you're like me you need 3 things, a clean comfy bed, a clean bathroom, a descent TV for those down times, that's it. Good location ? Helps, but it's not a pre-requisite. A good restaurant ? If you're eating in the hotel restaurant maybe you should stay home. Do you really need that frilly duvet cover and selection of designer teas. Here's what I do to save my bucks for pina colada's instead of some fancy expensive hotel that just ends up not even being as good as the one half the price.


THE most important item for saving money is a travel sheet like Allersac. This product will enable you to peacefully enjoy any bed without the trepidation of unclean bedding.  A Travel sheet will cover the bed and pillow so you get peace of mind. Nothing will ruin a hotel stay faster than dubious bedding, and even if the sheets seem alright, that blanket or bedspread, no matter where you stay, is not very clean. I have experienced unchanged and dirty bedding in some very fine hotels. Conversely, some of the cleanest and most comfortable hotel beds I have slept in have been in budget hotels like Hampton Inn. So use a travel sheet, especially if you are sensitive to detergents or allergens like dust mites.


The next item is a sound generator. This is a small, alarm clock sized gizmo that produces a range of sounds like white noise or rain showers or waves. The one I use I bought at Brookstone for 25 bucks, it works great on 3 AA batteries. So many times I have stayed in a hotel in a big city like New York, and have been kept awake by outside sounds from traffic or sirens or that refrigerator cycling on and off. With an inexpensive sound generator, I sleep like a baby. Perfect for the hotel  off the beaten path or to close to the beaten path.


Clorox wipes, you heard me, Clorox wipes. A small pack of these babies will transform any moderately maintained hotel room and bathroom into a something you could perform minor surgery in. Wipe down all hard surfaces and the TV remote. Take some time and reap a healthy vacation free of those pesky colds so frequently picked up while away.


Last but not least, PROMO COUPONS. Once you have found  a few hotel choices, then search the web for promotional coupons for that hotel chain or specific hotel. Whether it's an AARP or AAA  discount rate, or Hilton Hotels or Holiday Inn Express promo codes, coupons are abundant, especially in the off season. Search thoroughly and compare which coupon gives the biggest bang for the buck. Some are percentage based, 10 or 20 percent savings off the price of the room, others are upgrades or service based, free meals, spa service etc. You would be very surprised at how much you can save with just a 20 minute investment of your time.


These 4 items will enable you to squeeze every last drop of value from your hard earned travel dollar by enabling you to comfortably stay at a budget hotel.

Travel Eczema- 5 Tips To Avoid It

Your eczema has been under control for a while. You have attained that sweet spot of equilibrium where your known eczema triggers are understood and avoided, whatever medications you take are working and not causing side effects, your skin is as good as it gets. Only one problem, you will be traveling soon.


Travel eczema, occurs when your body meets up with irritants and allergens you cannot control, as a result of not being on home turf. Whether it's air, water, food, sun, soaps, detergents or weather, traveling presents some hard to solve problems trying to keep eczema in check.


Sometimes it's the irritant or allergen you are exposed to that you would usually avoid, that causes the problem. But sometimes, just the change of routine or unfamiliar environments can cause flare-ups. Traveling can be stressful and eczema loves stress.


Here are a few tips to keep eczema at bay:


1) Do a little research into the type of foods you will encounter that are indigenous  to the area you will visit. What can you eat, what can't you eat. Eating the cuisines of other cultures is a major component of travel, and knowing what common additives are used in the preparation of popular dishes is a good way to stay symptom free.


2) Pack enough of your favorite medications, cremes, ointments and solutions. Don't think you'll be able to pick some of these up where ever you go. First, some products won't be available, second , they may be very expensive and third, you don't want to spend time running a round looking for something to ease your discomfort. If you travel to a tropical climate and you start to experience eczema symptoms like flaking and cracked skin, these minor openings are perfect places for more serious infections to gain a foothold, if you have the right medication this will not present itself as a problem. Better to have a little extra baggage than find yourself without your wonder creme.


3) Try to drink enough water or fluids, this will keep your system less stressed and better able to cope. I try to drink only bottled water that comes as close as possible to the type I drink at home. Meaning, I drink spring water with a specific mineral/chemical make up, so much sulfur, dissolved salts, etc., so when I travel I don't drink mineral waters which may have higher mineral concentrations or added ingredients. If you drink german beer at home, then drink german beer abroad.


4) Pack and use a travel sheet. Bleaches, detergents, soaps, perfumes are just a few of the triggers a travel sheet will help you to avoid when you spend 30% or more, of your time in a strange bed. An anti-allergen travel sheet, one that can be washed repeatedly, will be your best bet. Make sure, which ever travel sheet you use, it has a pillow pocket to protect against direct contact with the hotel pillow. One of the major causes of allergic eczema is dust mite dander. A travel sheet with a small pore size or one that claims protection from dust mites would be wise.


5) Environmental factors like cold, humidity, sunlight and heat can cause flare-ups especially when it's the change that is the cause. If you travel to a warm climate from mid winter conditions at home, be prepared. Pack clothing that will mitigate reactions, sunblock, hat, gloves etc. The weather might cause your sinus problem to flare, which in turn stresses your body and causes your eczema to activate, or the humidity allows high mold or pollen counts where you travel. There are websites like http://www.aaaai.org/ which publish pollen and mold counts, and many sites for weather forecasts.


Having eczema and learning how it activates and affects you takes years, some people get a handle on it, others don't, but even if you don't know what the causes are, some simple precautions, a little research and remaining calm can help you to get the most out of traveling, even with eczema.