For a travel in"VEST"ment you won't regret, consider a ScotteVest

My fascination with the ScotteVest began after one of those travel horror moments you like to think would never happen to you.

My husband and I were touring Paris in early May, on a national holiday. We boarded a packed bus that brought us to the Louvre, but our “magical” afternoon took a turn for the worst when, in the middle of the square, my husband realized his wallet and passport had been “magically” stolen by quite an accomplished thief during our transit!

We spent the next four hours in a Parisian police station, filing a report which actually yielded us no benefit, even with our trip insurance in place. Much of our trip to Paris was ruined because of this incident, as you can imagine.

Bottom line is, it is YOUR job to protect those precious belongings, so upon our return home, I made it my mission to thoroughly research all the travel vests out there to ensure this would never happen again.

Hands down, the ScotteVest won out over all the competition!

My husband doesn’t like heavy vests (and we often travel in warm climates), so we opted for the featherweight vest for men. Since he waxed poetic about the vest during our recent trip through Switzerland, I am quoting his remarks directly:

"On my recent travel to Switzerland, there’s no doubt the ScotteVest, with its 14 convenient pockets, played a huge role in making my entire travel experience worry-free.

The benefits were instant when we went through security at our home airport in San Diego. The items I normally carried in my trousers and jacket pocket were transferred into assigned pockets in my vest. This included my wallet and passport (which were placed in the RFID pockets for security) and several miscellaneous items such as phone, keys, pens, eyeglasses, and wristwatch.

It is so convenient to have all your items safely nestled in your vest, with no need to use  those TSA item trays and worrying about whether you will walk away and forget them in the stress of the moment.

Everything is packed right there, in the vest. There’s even room for an IPad or tablet. The zippered pockets and special RFID area bring a secure aspect to this vest. Nothing will fall out, plus you will be protected from scammers with the RFID feature.

As a photographer and a writer on the go I had a convenient pocket for my journal and pen and pencils that I use to chronicle my travel adventures. Other items such as camera SD cards and batteries all tuck away in the vest within easy reach when needed.

Tony wore his vest every day during a recent Swiss press trip. It served him well as a photographer's vest when it wasn't protecting his belongings in crowded cities.                                                                                                                       © Joanne DiBona

Tony wore his vest every day during a recent Swiss press trip. It served him well as a photographer's vest when it wasn't protecting his belongings in crowded cities.                                                                                                                       © Joanne DiBona

If you love listening to music on the road, there is a convenient internal route through specially designed channels for headphones/bud wiring. The feature eliminates the clutter of wires often experienced when operating player devices externally.

The vest was extremely comfortable in all weather conditions we encountered. It took me through unseasonable, scorching heat one day as we hiked through the mountains, and protected me from a chilly wind another day, when the zipped front of the vest served as a windbreaker.

The ScotteVest has become my constant traveling companion and there’s no way I would ever leave home without it."

 

 

Disclaimer:  Please note that the opinions expressed in this review are strictly my own and will not receive any future compensation based on sales arising from my recommendation. My goal is to share my favorite travel tips with my followers, in an effort to improve the travel experience for all.

 

 

 

 

In Award Miles Booking Hell? Juicymiles.com Just Might Save Your Day

I just returned from mileage points hell.

For years, my husband and I have been happily charging everything we purchase on a handful of different credit cards that stuff our wallets, saving up for “that big day” when we would blow our mileage wad on the trip of a lifetime.

Well, that trip materialized--in the form of a month-long grand tour of Europe.

With almost a million mileage points under our belt, we naively thought we had the skill set to easily book business class seats to our destination. After all, how difficult could it be?

The answer: EXTREMELY!

© Joanne DiBona

© Joanne DiBona

Thinking we could easily do this on our own (especially because our travel dates were off-season), we started a week-long journey into the endless quagmire of mileage sites in our quest to redeem our points for an actual ticket. Our first problem was the fact that our dates weren’t flexible, as we had booked two separate cruises and had to tailor our schedule around the embarkation/debarkation dates for each. Our location on the West coast also compounded the problem, as mileage flights out of San Diego seemed to be non-existent, at least to our untrained eyes.

Finally, I came to my senses, and realized we needed help-- big time.

Thus began my search for a service that helps those mileage holders (who have no clue as to how to redeem their miles) translate their points into an actual ticket. I did my research and, based on some stellar online revies, decided to go with Juicymiles.com. The fee of $125 per itinerary booked seemed reasonable, seeing we had just exhausted a week of our communal time in this quest.

To say that our assigned agent was a mileage angel from heaven is an understatement. He worked diligently from the get-go, and through all sorts of frustrations, such as flights disappearing the moment we were ready to book them!  

When you start working with a Juicy Miles agent, you will receive enough information to make a decision on the flights (#of stops, time of day, etc.) without seeing exact flight details. Once you pay your fee and are ready to book, the flights will be revealed to you. They won’t book any flights until they receive your acceptance and no payment is required unless you are completely satisfied with your proposed itinerary.

It doesn’t get better than that.

If you feel comfortable having your Juicy Miles agent book your flight for you (as we did), even more stress is removed from the process.

Our happy ending:  we got our lie down seats in business class with a combination of miles and cash, but at a fraction of what these business class seats would have cost us had we purchased them outright.

Trust me, it will be the best $125 you will ever spend!

Disclaimer:  Please note that the opinions expressed in this review are strictly my own. I paid the fee for the Juicy Miles service, and will not receive any future compensation based on sales arising from my recommendation. My goal is to share my favorite travel tips with my followers, in an effort to improve the travel experience for all.

 

Edelweiss Air Launches Non Stop Service from San Diego to Zurich Switzerland

 

If you are a frequent flyer, the news of the addition of non-stop service to international destinations departing directly from San Diego's Lindbergh Field is music to your ears.

That music might now come in the form of a yodel with the start of direct service from San Diego to Zurich on Edelweiss Air, which began early June of this year.

I had the recent opportunity to experience this flight, both in the economy and economy max class, and am happy to share my experience with readers who are contemplating a visit to the land of magnificent scenery and warm hospitality—either for business or pleasure.

Flights leave in the evening from the Terminal 2 International departure area at San Diego International Airport.   © Tony DiBona

Flights leave in the evening from the Terminal 2 International departure area at San Diego International Airport.   © Tony DiBona

First of all, shaving off hours of travel time between the two destinations is incentive enough to consider booking a flight on Edelweiss Air. Gone is the hassle of having to fly to a major hub to connect to a direct flight to Zurich, and with it the possibility of lost baggage and missed connections.

At this point in time, flights depart Friday and Monday evenings out of San Diego's quiet and comfortable international departure area in Terminal 2 and arrive in Zurich the next afternoon. With the precision anyone visiting Switzerland will learn to respect (i.e., trains arrive and depart on the second), the flights were right on time and boarding was quick and effortless.

Business class seats transform into a lie-down bed at the flick of a switch. © Joanne DiBona

Business class seats transform into a lie-down bed at the flick of a switch. © Joanne DiBona

The Airbus A-340-300 seats 314 passengers in three classes: business, economy max and economy. Business class seats convert into fully horizontal 6.5 ft. beds at the press of a button, with the capability of adjusting bed firmness and adding a massage feature.

Bright, fluffy pillows in red cases and a fresh blanket welcome passengers in all classes. State-of-the art entertainment systems, featuring a wide variety of options, are also standard and ear buds are also provided. You can also choose to connect your mobile device to the system (install the app before your flight to access even a wider variety of entertainment options). USB power ports are available at all seats in every class.

There is no lack of quality entertainment onboard, available in all flight classes  © Joanne DiBona

There is no lack of quality entertainment onboard, available in all flight classes  © Joanne DiBona

The Economy Max class offers 5” more pitch between seats and a deeper recline, in addition to free alcoholic beverages and an amenity kit. That being said, the seats in economy were quite comfortable with ample leg room to allow even a taller person to stretch one's legs during flight. Adjustable neck supports in both economy classes were also a welcome touch.

Swiss-themed meal     © Joanne DiBona

Swiss-themed meal     © Joanne DiBona

Both a main meal and smaller snack are provided (using Swiss products when available). Alcoholic beverages are available for purchase in Economy at industry standard rates. Edelweiss also offers a large selection of special meals to cater to diverse culinary wishes. Note that special meal requests must be submitted at least 4 days in advance via the airline website.

Friendly and gracious flight attendants stood ready to accommodate the passengers’ every need. The plane’s interior was impeccably clean (I found the scented wipes available in the lavatories a pleasant touch) and there was definitely a calm atmosphere in the cabin that made the long journey as relaxing as possible.

Our gracious Edelweiss flight attendant     © Tony DiBona

Our gracious Edelweiss flight attendant     © Tony DiBona

Our disembarkment at the Zurich terminal was equally as speedy and effortless as in San Diego. My final destination was Lake Geneva and the picturesque cities of Montreux, Vevey and Lausanne.  Once again, thanks to the efficiency of the Swiss rail system (trains to Swiss and other European destinations depart directly from the airport) within 20 minutes I was speeding along the glorious countryside on route to my next visitor adventure.

When flying internationally, it’s not often you can say that getting there was half the fun. But in this case, Edelweiss definitely provided a perfect start to my glorious travel adventure through Switzerland.

Leaving San Diego on route to Zurich   @ Joanne DiBona

Leaving San Diego on route to Zurich   @ Joanne DiBona

IF YOU GO

Edelweiss currently offers non-stop flights to Zurich International Airport from San Diego Lindbergh Field Fridays and Mondays through September 18, 2017.

Edelweiss flights from San Diego can be booked at swiss.comlufthansa.com or through any travel agency. For more information on the Edelweiss product please visit flyedelweiss.com

Welcome to Zurich!    © Tony DiBona

Welcome to Zurich!    © Tony DiBona

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light Feels Right, Especially When you Travel. Review of BZEES Travel Shoes

If you’ve been following my blog, you know my fondest word of advice to all you travelers out there is: TRAVEL LIGHT.  This means packing all your belongings in a carry-on which is small enough to stow on the plane in the luggage rack above you, and keeping your personal items (and any expensive gadgets) in a small bag that you can place underneath your seat.

I know many of you may balk at this suggestion, but my husband and I managed to tour Europe for 25 days in all weather conditions with our small carry-ons and backpacks. And were we ever glad we did! The sense of freedom to have just a small piece of wheeled luggage to accompany you on your travels is worth its weight in gold.

If you haven’t seen it, here is the link to our blog on this subject.

This is why I am constantly in the lookout for travel items that are super light and take up nominal room in a carry-on. The most challenging item, especially for us ladies, is packing shoes (to go with every outfit and activity) in limited space.

When I stumbled upon the BZEES website while searching “travel shoes,” I was intrigued by how they were marketed as super lightweight . But could they stand up to the rigors of travel?

In my desire to answer this question, I recently put a few pairs of BZEES travel shoes to the test.  The first thing I noticed was that they were, indeed, the lightest shoes I had ever experienced. This  is important because we often travel internationally and stricter weight restrictions on carry-on bags are enforced on intra-country flights.

As if this weren’t enough, they were also super comfortable, due to their free-foam foot beds, air infused outsoles, and dynamic stretch uppers. An added bonus is that they are machine washable, so important if you are off on a month-long adventure as you can just wash them in the hotel sink or laundromat.  Just remember not to put them in a dryer, as they need a natural air-dry to maintain their shape.

I easily packed a Knockout Sandal in my carry-on for a two-week press tour through California, and wore the Slip Ons on the flight (and wore them as well on all my hiking, biking and walking adventures, too.) The sandals were elegant enough to wear for more formal occasions, as well as for pool-side receptions, and the like.

 

 

 

 

Black Slip On.jpg

You may note that both of these shoes are black, which I find easiest to coordinate with all my outfits, but they do come in many colors. The key, however, to carry-on packing is to choose a color theme and only pack items that match this theme.

 

 

I haven’t tested out the Wink water shoe as yet, but will be doing so soon on an exotic adventure that includes lots of kayaking.  A special design promises to remove excess water easily, so that you are not bothered by “wet feet” –in any capacity—during your adventure.

Check out their web site at:  www. BZEES.com

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are strictly my own. I was not compensated by the companies represented in my reviews, nor will I receive any future compensation based on sales arising from my recommendations.

My goal is to share regular, unbiased reviews with my readers for products that make travel more comfortable and efficient.

 

 

 

 

What to Wear in Paradise--Joanne's Fashion Tips for Tropical Climes

Ladies, if you are traveling to a tropical destination anytime soon, let me share my favorite wardrobe suggestions with you. These items served me well during a recent 2-week trip through the Hawaiian Islands, both in a luxury hotel and on a boutique expedition cruise ship. 

Walk All Day in Comfort

Since it’s always a good idea to put your best foot forward, I’ll start with the amazingly comfortable and chic NAOT sandals, which had me walking on air during my two week sojourn in the Hawaiian Islands.

NOAB's Sara Sandal

NOAB's Sara Sandal

While I dislike hyperbole as much as the next person, I can honestly say that these, without doubt, were the most comfortable sandals I have ever had the pleasure to wear.  The secret lies in the construction of the footbed.  NAOT engineers its insoles with a blend of natural latex and cork designed to replicate the shape of the foot. The insoles also boast excellent arch and heel support, which no doubt also contributes significantly to their amazing comfort.

Whether trekking through Hawaiian trails, strolling through picturesque towns, or lounging by the pool, these super comfy sandals will keep your feet happy throughout the day and evening. Oh, and did I mention all this comfort looks fashionable, too?

It's also interesting to note that the NAOT sandal is considered the “shoe of peace,” as each shoe is handmade in Northern Israel by the joint effort of Israelis and Palestinians—all the more reason to consider ordering your travel footwear through this company.

Making a Fashion Statement

I guarantee you’ll feel like a Hawaiian princess in any of the designer dresses and separates available in the Shahida Parides collection of resort wear.  I know I did, each time I slipped into my gorgeous poppy red lace-up kaftan. Renowned designer Shahida combines the latest fashion trends with her signature bold patterns and bright colors, and there’s no question you will make a fashion statement in any of her unique and beautifully crafted clothing items.

Making a fashion statement on board UnCruise Adventures' Safari Explorer, off the coast of Mauai

Making a fashion statement on board UnCruise Adventures' Safari Explorer, off the coast of Mauai

My dress, designed to be worn three ways (V-neck, off-the-shoulder, and strapless gown) served me beautifully for a variety of occasions--from lunch on our hotel terrace to an elegant evening reception on the beach, as well as for other casual activities in between.

Hand-made of exquisite silk crepe fabric, with sparkling beading embellishing the bodice, the kaftan was as delightful to wear as it was to care for. A hand wash and hang to dry was all it needed to regain its fluidity and good looks.

What I especially loved about this dress is that I didn’t have to sacrifice style for comfort. This is the ultimate dress solution for women of any size and age who want to be comfortable, fashionable and chic.

And I can’t count the number of compliments I enjoyed each time I stepped out in this beauty. 

 

Good Looks and Versatility

Comfort, good looks and versatility don’t often go hand in hand, which is why I can highly recommend the Blue Ginger line of clothing. The company has been selling exclusively- designed resort wear in Hawaii for over 30 years, so it’s no surprise they’ve come up with the perfect solution for the island visitor.

Two indispensable clothing items--a full-length flowing dress and a short sleeved top that reached mid-thigh--became my best fashion friends during this voyage. As an added bonus, they took up almost no room in my carry-on bag, the only piece of luggage I bring along on all my trips.

The quality of Blue Ginger's fabric is superb and feels light, smooth and silky against the skin, even under the hot tropical sun. Even after several washings, the items maintain their color (the rich blue ginger pattern is achieved through a unique Batik dying process) and need no ironing.

Talk about versatility.  It was amazing how many times I wore my short sleeve top for a variety of scenarios. It served as a swim suit cover-up, a sun protector while kayaking, a lounging jacket, and as a quick outfit over leggings for stepping out to a casual dinner.

Living the Aloha Lifestyle, Hanalei Bay, Kauai

Living the Aloha Lifestyle, Hanalei Bay, Kauai

My elegant Blue Ginger dress also served me well when the occasion was a bit more formal. It was perfect for several social engagements on land, as well as for the dinner evenings aboard our Hawaiian Island cruise.

Check out the Blue Ginger web site for resort attire and accessories for the whole family.

 

Disclaimer: Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are strictly my own. I was not compensated by the companies represented in my reviews, nor will I receive any future compensation based on sales arising from my recommendations.

My goal is to share regular, unbiased reviews with my readers for products that make travel more comfortable and efficient.