10 Lazy Tips For Smart Travel

Lazies, I’m just back from a brief and very nice trip to Chicago. Gosh I love that town! And I have a couple of notes to share. I’ve listed some things to do in Chicago at the end of this post. And 10 Lazy tips for smart travel prep before your trip. Both sets of notes will prove that I may just be the biggest nerd you know.

All of the photographs in today’s post are of Millennium Park in Chicago, IL.

The Cloud Gate sculpture.

1. Online research
Surf before you go. This was the first time I surfed around www.TripAdvisor.com and I liked it. Just type in the city you want and surf. Use the left navigation menu once there. Things are ranked by user reviews. I found a wealth of info and planned my whole trip from there.

Next, go to Google Maps and enter the address of your hotel and any other sites you plan to visit and print maps. Keep all documentation for the trip in a folder: airline itinerary, area/road maps, hotel reservations.

2: What’s in your wallet?
Can you list the contents of your wallet? Neither can I. Lay all of your credit cards, driver’s license, social security card, insurance card out on a table and photograph with your digital camera. Or copy them on a copier/scanner. Do this for the backside, too, if applicable. Download the images/scans to your computer. Print a copy and put in a safe place.

If your wallet is lost or stolen, you’ll know exactly what was in your wallet. Keep a copy with a trusted friend or relative that you can reach by phone if necessary. Take all the things you don’t need out of your wallet before a trip: extra credit cards, shopper cards, etc. Less to replace if lost.

3. Call me if you can
Most of the important cards in your wallet do not include your home or cell phone numbers. Make sure it’s in there somewhere. Put a card in your wallet with your contact info and an emergency contact. Add your important numbers, including hotel, airline, etc, to your phone address book. Also, add your cell phone number to your luggage tags.

4. Photograph your luggage
Yep, do it right there at baggage check-in for your flight. If lost, you’ll need to fill-out some paperwork and describe the bag. ‘It’s black with a handle and wheels’ isn’t helpful. It would be nice to have a picture to show as well. Take a picture of you and your travel companions, too.

Flowers from the Lurie Garden

5. Help for lost luggage
When the airline lost my luggage a few years ago, they told me they don’t open lost bags for five days, but they will look at luggage tags on the outside.

If the tag comes off your luggage, good luck. Make sure something in the bag has your contact info. Make a note with your travel itinerary and place it in every piece of luggage. Include the airline, travel dates, hotel address/phone, your name and cell phone number. Something like ‘If lost during these travel dates, deliver to the hotel. If lost afterwards, deliver to me at home here’. I place one in the outside luggage pocket and one on the inside. I keep a copy with my travel folder.

6. No-leak tip for bottled liquids
Due to carry-on restrictions, some bottles of stuff go in the checked luggage. Cut a 3” x 6” rectangle from a plastic grocery bag and fold in half to a 3” square. Take the lid off of a plastic bottle, place a square over the bottle opening, replace lid. I do this for every plastic bottle that goes in the luggage to prevent spillage. At your destination, remove the plastic and keep.

Some of the bottle contents will be on each side of the plastic. Simply re-fold the plastic the other way and re-use when coming home. If you don’t have a piece of plastic, put the bottle inside a zip bag, use the zip bag as the plastic and put the cap on the outside of the bag. All bottled liquids go in gallon zip bags inside luggage. Kitchen plastic wrap works well, too. Pack extra zip baggies just in case.

7. Pack an extra tote bag
Our With Love Tote is perfect. Great for sight-seeing and shopping along the way. By packing your own extra bag, you’ll have something you know has a comfy handle (or shoulder strap) instead of plastic bags from merchants which wear on your hands after a while.

8. Leave your cares at home
Aside from all the obvious things you do before you lock the door and leave, remember to:
– Turn off the water at the washing machine. The pressure is always on and hoses do break.
– Turn down the water heater temperature to ‘warm’ or ‘vacation’ setting. Learned this one the hard way after a leak while away for a week.
– Adjust the thermostat settings (to cool or heat less) while you are away.
– Unplug things like the coffee maker, toaster, etc. No reason to leave these appliances plugged in while you are gone.
– Have something available for a meal when you get home. Something easy to make such as frozen pizza, sandwiches, etc. Coming home to no easy meal options is lousy.
– Leave a note on the counter as to where you are and who to contact in case of an emergency. It will speak for you if there is an emergency at the house while you are gone. For convenience, use an extra copy of the luggage note from above.

The Crown Fountain with LED display on 50-foot tall wall of glass block.

9. Pack on hangers
If space and weight limits allow, I pack my hanging clothes on the hangers. Unpacking and packing at the room takes minutes and I don’t have to fuss with lousy hotel hangers. Layer several items on a hanger to conserve space/weight.

10. Pack a Lazy Girl ensemble
For this trip, I used Miranda for my flight bag. I brought Sassy for sightseeing. I used several Perfect Pouches for organizing items in my luggage. I brought Chloe for dinner on the town. And several Wonder Wallets, one for my wallet, and a Wonder Cuppa for my coffee needs. And a Paperback Book Cover to keep my book nice and tidy. I should have packed a With Love Tote, but I forgot.

Concert at the Jay Prizker Pavillion.

Favorite things we did in Chicago

Chicago Food Tours: A walking and food sampling tour covering three beautiful neighborhoods. Nicely done and tasty.

Old Town Oil: Balsamic vinegars and olive oils from around the world. I’ll never cook the same way again!

The Spice House: Aside from an incredible selection of spices and custom house/regional blends, I found a new favorite – the freeze-dried super sweet corn. Great for a snacking or soup/salad toppings. Yum!

Tea Gschwender: Loose leaf tea – oh my! I have a whole new appreciation for tea.

Bice Restaurant: Pronounced Bee-chay. Italian and fabulous. Oh my goodness, I could eat there everyday!

Millennium Park: New since my last visit. We found the concert schedule online and attended a free concert in the park our first night there. I also printed a park map and list of attractions. Kudos to Chicago for creating this useable, functional, beautiful public space.


[tags]chicago IL, sight seeing, travel tips[/tags]