travel tip


Travel Tip: Avoid Airline Luggage Fees

I recently wrote a blog in which I described how I was able to avoid paying an extra fee for my luggage on several overseas flights. In case you missed it, airlines, especially foreign airlines, have very tight weight restrictions for both checked and carry-on luggage. They also have zero-tolerance policies and extremely high fees for going over their limits. In my blog I described how I wore a jacket with a number of inner and outer large pockets in which I stuffed underwear, t-shirts, camera, etc.

O.K., the word cheap comes to mind (I prefer frugal), but the fact is I saved some real money by employing this clever idea. After writing the blog, I heard from people who thought my concept was great. At that point, my entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and I set about to research and design my new line of “travel luggage.” Unfortunately, like most of us who have great ideas, we often discover others have beaten us to the punch.

While I’ve now found several types and styles on the internet, let me share my favorite with you. It’s called the Stuffa Jacket. I like its concept and design. Other travel luggage I’ve found simply looks like horse blankets with pockets and even the most frugal among us would probably be embarrassed to wear something so grotesque.

For what its worth, and I believe you will save enough on your first flight to cover the cost of the jacket, here is the Stuffa.

Untitled

Features:

Capacity: 3/5

The Stuffa is designed more as an additional storage space rather than a replacement for a bag, but the 12 pockets concealed within the lining of this bodywarmer (which can hold up to 5kg of clothing) along with the two external pockets for your phone, passport or tickets, offer a considerable amount of supplementary storage space, allowing you to travel lighter.

Ease of use: 5/5
The bodywarmer’s mesh pockets can be stuffed full of clothes very easily, then just slip the jacket on: simple.

Durability: 5/5
The Stuffa is a well-made and nicely designed product that looks the part and should stand the test of time.

Style Factor: 5/5
By far the most stylist garment in our test, this looks like a normal item of clothing (rather than a bin-bag) and you could happily wear this out and about without getting any odd looks.

Value: 4/5
It’s twice the price of the Roo – but for that extra money you do get a stylish jacket, albeit one with slightly less capacity.

Best for: stylish light-travellers
If you want to save money on airline baggage charges, and look good whilst doing it, the Stuffa is the luggage jacket for you.

I haven’t purchased mine yet. My wife Trisha says she might not stand next to me when boarding the plane if I’m wearing this thing stuffed to the brim. We’ll see how this one turns out. Saving money is something she is really good at so I think she’ll eventually go along with it. If you see somebody at the airport that looks like a giant hot dog, it just might be me.

John and Trisha Parker

John and Trisha Parker

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Salute To Veterans

On this Veterans Day weekend, I want to extend my sincere gratitude and best wishes to all veterans, past and present, for their service to our country. As a veteran myself, I know the sacrifice of both veterans and their families. I pay special tribute to those who were injured while on duty and those who made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives. I know most don’t often talk about their service to the country, and I’m not sure many in our current culture even recognize the past and present price that has been paid for their freedom. Each year when my sons call me and say, “Thank you for your service Dad,” I know it was well worth it.

For all the veterans out there, here is a link to get information and/or questions answered about your benefits:

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Florida

I’m a bit more tan as I write this blog as I just returned from a great getaway to Florida. It’s interesting that I often hear Florida being joked about on television. You know, the comments such as, “God’s waiting room,” etc. Well, let me tell you, retired or not, there is simply something about the warm weather, blue skies, palm trees swaying in the breeze, great food, and laid back spirit that could relax the most tense among us. I caught myself sleeping in until 8:30 or 9:00, and that was with the benefit of a 3 hour time difference. While the summers are hot and humid, from November to April, Florida is really a paradise. If you’ve never been there, do yourself a favor and make the trip. You will love it.

Oh, and if you ever get to South Florida and the Jupiter/Hobe Sound area, when hungry I suggest you make your way to Dune Dogs, The Catfish House, and Harry and the Natives. If you would enjoy watching boats cruise the intercoastal while eating crab-dip nachos with a beverage, I suggest the Waterway Cafe. Just to be sure of my recommendations, I spent a lot of time in each establishment on my latest visit. You’re welcome. 

 

 

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Travel Suggestion

If you’re looking for an interesting place to visit right here in the good old U.S.A., I suggest you think about southern Arizona. Having made several visits to this part of the country in the last few years, my wife and I have come to love the area.

Southern Arizona has so many fascinating places to visit, I’m not sure any one person could visit them all. We try to take in one or two each time which gives us plenty of reasons to return. Here are just a few of the places we have recently enjoyed. For more information simply click on the links.

Kartchner Caverns State Park 

Arizona State Parks: Kartchner Caverns: Home

 This is one of the newest and most interesting attractions in the U. S. It was discovered in 1974 by two explorers. Only revealed in 1988, the state of Arizona spent millions of dollars and opened it to the public in 1999.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Titan Missle Museum

Titan Missle Museum

My wife Trisha and I visited this location and took the guided tour a few weeks ago and it was fantastic. As seniors, we all remember the days of our nuclear standoff with Russia. The U. S. maintained many Titan Missle sites during those years and they were all manned 24/7 by the military. The sites were eventually destroyed, but this one was left in tact for historical purposes. It is the only publicly accessible site remaining from that era. There is a museum, gift shop, video room, and a guided tour for your enjoyment. I was surprised to see an actual Titan II Missle in the silo and our guide took us through a simulated launch. Quite breathtaking.!

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tubac

Tubac Arizona > Southern AZ Artist Colony & Travel Destination

Here is an all-in-one place to visit. This historic Spanish settlement has become a true resort. You can find art gallaries, gift stores, wonderful food, golf, spas, and much more. Most of all, the relaxed and peaceful environment is worth the visit by itself. We love the beautiful hand painted pots and other crafts. On our last visit we purchased three more for our outdoor area. Quite beautiful and unique. Whatever your pleasure, you will find it here. Below is Trisha with good friend Susan at the main entrance.

 

Vitamin Warning

This one is for the guys. We live in an era in which people take lots of vitamins. I admit to taking them myself. Unfortunately, we often think more is better. A new study warns that taking too much Vitamin E can increase a man’s risk of getting prostate cancer. Because there are vitamin products out there with very high units of Vitamin E, men are being warned. The new research results were published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The multi-million dollar study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.  As with any medical information, check with your doctor.

Grandkids

A long time ago, when dinosaurs walked the earth, October was my special month. It is the month of my birth. The fact is, birthdays were never a big deal in my family. I mean, everyone has one, so what’s the big deal. Well, so far this October, four of our grandkids have had birthdays. It is my greatest gift and a wonderful blessing. Happy Birthday each and every one. 

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Let me begin by saying I’m probably one of the most patriotic people you will ever meet. My father served in WWII and his father in WWI. I served four years in the U.S. Air Force during the Viet Nam war. I also consider every first responder and all civilians who gave assistance on 9-11 to be true heroes. Additionally, I was and still am heart-sick for our country and everyone who suffered the loss of a loved one in the cowardly attack on innocent life. I didn’t, however, participate in the cultural and media-created grief-fest over the last month.

As a typical young man growing up in this country, I took my share of blows. As a skinny 7th grader, I was punched by the biggest 9th grader in school when I accidentally stepped on his foot. Pretty sure I broke some ribs but I never told anyone about it. Later on as a high school senior, I took out the catcher while scoring the winning run that gave my baseball team the league championship. Guess which one I choose to celebrate? What has happened to our culture when we create a spectacle to remember taking a horrible cheap shot from a bunch of lunatic fanatics? And why have we spent so much time building a monument to, lets face it, our biggest defense failure?

I can predict some of the answers. One would be we are doing this to honor the victims. Yes, I’m sure that’s part of it. But we won’t forget those people. They were the murder victims of heartless criminals. What I believe we should have done was build a new set of buildings twice as high on that site. What has happened to our can-do spirit in this country? We cry and moan over every mishap and wallow in collective grief. Remember when Princess Diana was killed in a car accident? For days the media brought us images of people around the world gathered in mass laying down flowers and crying. I felt bad for her and her family, but to be honest, I had never met her. I certainly didn’t break down or have a desire to gather with my neighbors to grieve. We all suffer the loss of loved ones. It’s the most difficult and emotional aspect of life. But if something happens to me on the highway, I sure don’t want my family to gather at the place of my demise and build a roadside memorial to visit each year.

When 9-11 occurred, I was so proud of our nation’s great resilience and defiance despite suffering such a horrifying attack. Now I feel we have been shown to be a nation of weak and powerless wimps, wallowing in a collective sea of pity and self indulgence. I truly honor those who lost their lives on 9-11, but seriously worry our culture has lost much of its grit and spirit.

North to Alaska 

 

Last week my wife Trisha and I, along with my mother Marty, sister Sharon , and good friends Madelynn and Juan, had the good fortune to explore the great state of Alaska. It was our third visit, and for those of you who have traveled to this scenic wonder, you already know its indescribable beauty. Fortunately for us, the weather proved to be just cold enough at the glaciers to meet expectations, offered a few brief showers in some locations, and provided the most glorious days even the locals and our ship’s crew described as the best weather they had ever seen. 

 If you’ve never been to Alaska, do yourself a favor and make plans to see one of the most spectacular places on earth. Here are just a few of the hundreds of photos we took on our plane, train, and ship travel adventure:

  

 

As we grow older, to be blessed with grandchildren is truly a joy. My wife Trisha and I are fortunate to have several of these wonderful young people in our lives. Ever since our oldest granddaughter Lucy was old enough to travel with us we take her on one trip each year to somewhere exciting. This year was no exception.

We first planned to go to New York, but the upcoming 9/11 anniversary had packed the hotels and those kinds of crowds didn’t seem too inviting. Having recently visited Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, a place we have always enjoyed, we decided it would be perfect for this year’s adventure. After the plans were made, we got a couple of last-minute calls from Lucy’s mom. She told us her friends were advising her not to allow her daughter to go to Mexico. The second call came after Lucy’s friends began to scare her about the trip. Long story short, we assured mother and daughter and went through with our plans. It was a great trip and we had a ball.

Better yet, it was an opportunity to share a good life lesson. Are there places in this world especially dangerous to visit? Yes. In fact, there are several not too far from my home. The point is: life itself is a risk. My own aunt and uncle were murdered in their own bedroom. Several years ago I would never have imagined traveling through China meeting people and making friends with whom I would continue to communicate. Are there places in Mexico I would not visit right now? Absolutely. At this point, Cabo was much less a risk than our ride home from the airport. Lucy loved the scenery, boating, para-sailing, swimming, dancing for the guys at Senior Frogs, and shopping.

Growing older does not automatically give you more wisdom. It should, however, give you perspective. I personally drive more slowly and cautiously than before. On the other hand, I also try things I never would have done when I was younger. I admit to enjoying the adrenaline. Trisha is the same way and we both have our “list” of exciting things to try. Up till now, I haven’t added skydiving to my list, but I know it’s on hers. Maybe we’re just getting a bit crazy in our old age, but this is our life, not a dress rehearsal. Bottom line: you want to do something in this life, you better get to it. 

  

 

As they say in Hollywood, let’s cut to the chase: Sex is good for us. I know the typical reaction to this statement will probably be “Well, duh.” But folks, I’m talking science here.

In a recent article printed in Live Science, researcher and writer Sally Law reporting on a study which investigated the sex lives and health of more than 3,000 seniors concluded, “And just as in younger adults, healthy sex means healthy senior citizens.”

Additionally, her article quotes one of the researchers, Linda J. Waite of the University of Chicago in a special supplemental issue of The Journals of Gerontology, “Individuals with strong, functioning sexual and intimate relationships will have better trajectories of health and well-being than those whose relationships function less well or who lack such relationships.” The study also looked at some of the possible physical problems seniors may encounter in their sex lives. On this aspect of sex and aging, Ms. Waite is quoted as stating, “If [women] continue to be sexually active they appear not to be much more likely to have problems with sexual function at older than at younger ages . . . sexually active older men seem to function at much the same level as sexually active younger men, with a few exceptions, not all of which favor younger men.”

Obviously, not all seniors have intimate partners, others may have serious physical issues, and still others may choose not to have physical relationships for a variety of reasons. Given that broad caveat, and at the risk of seeming simplistic, my suggestion for those able and interested is: just do it, it’s good for you.

Travel Tip of the Day

In preparing for an upcoming travel adventure, I have been re-evaluating my packing decisions. With airline restrictions on the number of bags you may check and lower weight limits, even more so on foreign airlines, I’m closely scrutinizing every item being packed. In my shaving kit, or what I call my “go bag,” the object that takes up the most room is my can of shaving cream. While I typically use the very small travel versions, stores don’t always stock them.

Having struck out at a couple of stores, I discovered Shave Secret. Was very skeptical having never heard of this product before, but gave it a try.  Well, it worked for me. It’s natural oils that come in a small plastic bottle about the size of eye drops. You simply wet your face, put three drops into your wet hands and rub it on your face. Then you shave. Understand I have one of the toughest beards you can have, but I actually got a smooth shave. Unbelievable. I’ve freed up more space in my travel bag and will also use it at home. I’ve told my wife about this product and she wants to try it on her legs. Can’t guarantee it, but it did work well for me.

Cute Story

As my wife Trisha and I waited at a very crowded airline ticket counter in San Francisco recently (an entire family of seven in front of us had not heard about the weight limits on luggage and were hastily repacking at the counter), I realized the gentleman behind me was three time Super Bowl Champion and All-Pro 49er Brent Jones. Since the line wasn’t moving, we were able to get acquainted and exchanged business information with each other. As the line finally started to move, Trisha took notice of my “new best friend” and gave us both a big smile. I introduced her to Brent and she took over from there. By the time we reached the counter, she had invited him to come visit us at our home.

After we said goodbye and cleared security, I turned to Trisha and said, “Do you know who Brent Jones is? She said, “No, who is he? Gotta love this lady.