Bring an over-the-door shoe organizer – Hotel tip

One of the biggest frustrations when traveling is staying organized in your hotel room. An over-the-door shoe organizer is one of the most helpful items you can pack.

After you check-in, hang this on the bathroom door and fill it with all of your toiletries or other items – yes, even shoes. The clear plastic variety is the best, so you can see the contents – and so can everyone else in your traveling party.

It works great for toothpaste, toothbrushes, hair brushes/combs, hairspray, aspirin, rain ponchos, etc. Everything is at your fingertips!

Label your chargers, stay in charge: Packing tip

Do you panic about leaving a phone charger behind in a hotel room? Do your hands get clammy when you have a jumble of chargers cords in your carry-on bag, but can’t find the right one? I solved the tangled cord problem by using colored twist ties, electrical tape, or sticky labels.

I save twist ties from bags of bread/bagels in a small ZipLoc bag in my silverware drawer in the kitchen. As I buy cell phones, I label the phone charger cables with a twist tie. My phone has a red twist tie while my husband’s phone has a green one. My teen’s charger cord is yellow while the tween’s is blue. When we arrive at a hotel, I will unravel the charger cables we need, so the phone can be placed on the desk in the hotel room while charging. I use the twist tie to secure the remaining charger cable to prevent the phone from slipping to the floor. At the end of our trip, the charger cables are easy to spot because of the colored twist tie.

For larger charger cables, such as though for digital/video cameras and laptops, I use a piece of colored electrical tape or a sticky label. I buy electrical tape, which is about 0.5″ wide and is red or blue. I write the name of the device on the label on the charger cable. Many laptop charger cables come with an attached velcro or plastic tie, which helps to prevent tangled cords in a carry-on bag.

[Photo: Flickr | A. Germain]

SkyMall Monday: Electronic Feng Shui Compass

The SkyMall Monday headquarters is a pretty chaotic place. I’m constantly testing products, rotating hot dogs and pulling children around. But, despite all the schlock that’s littering my workspace, it’s still a calm, soothing and spiritual place. How do I manage to keep things so full of positive qi? Well, with feng shui, of course. Sadly, though, it’s not easy to keep things harmonious when it’s difficult to get your hands on an authentic feng shui compass. Besides, in this digital age, I can’t be bothered with more analog crap. No, I need technological advances to make my life easier and help me practice my pseduoscience with ease. And there’s no better place to seek a tool of enlightenment that utilizes a standard USB port to charge its lithium polymer battery than SkyMall. Which is why I have put my spiritual well-being right in the palm of my hand with the Electronic Feng Shui Compass.

Harnessing positive energy and aligning my life force with my natural environment has never been easier. Now, after a full session of charging, I can use my Electronic Feng Shui Compass to tell me where my ugly orange sectional should go. Maybe you think feng shui is a joke. Maybe you think it’s real but that an electronic device has no place in such an ancient practice. Maybe you think too much. Turn your brain off and just rely on the product description:

Working with electromagnetic energy, this handheld feng shui compass helps you support favorable conditions at home or in a hotel room. Operating with the same technology used in aerospace guidance systems, it locates and calculates energy fields so quickly, you align your physical surroundings to match your intentions.

If there’s a more natural marriage of ideas than aerospace guidance systems and feng shui, I don’t know what it is. They go together like peanut butter and telecommunications. And it’s so portable that I can take it with me when I travel. That will allow me to spend hours rearranging the hotel room furniture until the vibrations of Heaven and Earth heal the my back pain that was caused by rearranging the hotel room furniture. It’s the circle of life, people. Hakuna Matata.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts

Travel “mind map” helps you pack

Have you ever arrived at the airport only to kick yourself for forgetting something? Maybe it was your digital camera battery that you left in the charger or that swimsuit you put next to your bed and then forgot to put in your suitcase. Didn’t that suck? If you’re a geeky, obsessive-compulsive like me, you avoid this hassle by making yourself a packing list. I find that creating a checklist of essential items helps me stay organized much better than if I leave it up scatterbrained chance (and prevents me from descending into a panic).

But as good as it is to have a packing list, it might be even better to have a mind map. What is a mind map, you might ask? It’s a more visual way of organizing information around a central, common theme – in this case “travel.” For example, think about the items you might pack as falling into categories. Perhaps one would be your “beach wear,” including your sunglasses, your swimsuit, your towel and your suntan lotion. In a separate category would be important “travel documents” like your passport, your plane tickets and your baggage claim check.

Writer Paul Foreman has taken this mind map concept to the next level, crafting a packing-themed mind map on display above. You can see the full-sized version on his website. Is it kind of dorky? Yeah, probably. But you know what? Not only is it pretty cool-looking, I think it’s a novel way to organize yourself before that next trip. And besides, maybe next time you won’t forget that swimsuit…