Saturday, November 30, 2013

Flying soon? Tips to help you have the best flight possible


Once you're up, up and away, a few pointers can help you arrive not terribly exhausted, and perhaps even rested!

NOW THAT we can work on our tablets and read our e-books during many phases of flight, the airways are increasingly user friendly.
But if you're flying "across the pond" -- over either ocean, East or West -- or over the Rockies, maybe to Australia, you have a long journey ahead. There's no way it won't beat up on you.
A few tips may help you fly the skies in decent shape and reasonable comfort.
All it takes is a bit of planning.
* SLEEP STUFF. First, organize your carry-on before TSA.  Make sure you put together a little carry-on bag of sleep aids:  a u-shaped pillow, an eye mask, ear plugs and a shawl or light sweater.
Once you're pushed back, you can relax and enjoy.
Once you clear TSA, check your
"sleep kit" and  start drinking water.

Situate yourself, your stuff quickly.
*BUY A bottle of water immediately after you clear TSA. Start chugging it down.  Or bring an empty bottle inside your carry-on and fill it immediately after TSA, when you use the bathroom before boarding your flight.  Hydration is critical in the air. Refill the bottle often. Remember, air in the cabin is not humidified. Experts recommend eight ounces
of water every hour or two.  On the plane, if you're in first class or business, or even in coach across the pond, it's nice to have a cocktail or two.  It helps me relax. Beware of over-imbibing. Both caffeine and
alcohol will dehydrate you, but I drink double the amount of water for each glass of wine.  I'm not about to deprive myself entirely.
* CARRY A SMALL vial of hand lotion (under the three-ounce TSA limit) and keep a chapstick in your purse or pocket.  I also carry eye drops to help combat the dryness.
Have a look out the window!
* Business travelers already know that many carriers now offer in-flight wireless internet -- for a fee, of course. Keller does a lot of business while we're flying, believing it's worth the fee for him to stay productive and connected while in the air. The price isn't horrible. Gogo Inflight Internet charges $12 for one flight's worth of internet service. A monthly pass for frequent fliers is about $30. The connection isn't too slow.  And you're communicating at 30,000 feet!
 *MY MOTHER was the world's top hand-washer and she seldom got a cold.  She was ahead of her time! Flying can be dirty business but soap and water are usually easily available.  Take advantage. Wash your hands for 20 seconds every couple hours.  Mum also carried little square packets of hand wipes, and a small bottle of sanitizer.  I do that, now, and think of her.  Just a dab of an alcohol-based sanitizer on a paper towel helps clean tray tables, overhead lights, the sound or video ear and head piece, arm rests, etc.
MY ASIAN  friends use little mouth masks when they're feeling ill.  I appreciate that.  But it's too much to expect everyone to do that in an airplane.  If you have a cougher or sneezer near you, get out your sanitizer and wipes and use them!
A pasta dish may help you sleep.
* HUNGRY?  Save cash and useless calories by bringing snacks
This pre-ordered
meal was tasty!
along. I usually bring a couple carrots and a celery stalk, a half-dozen crackers and some dried fruit and nuts. Little prepared packs of peanut butter and crackers are good, too. You can also make your own. On long flights, you can pre-order kosher or vegetarian meals.  Sometimes they're healthier and tastier than the regular fare. I once shared a first-class cabin with Robert Redford, who declined the shrimp and steak and asked for the chicken dish from coach! Protein dishes give you energy. Great if you want to read or work.  If you want to sleep, choose pasta.
*IF YOU have kids, you know they get bored in the air, even if the flight isn't a long one. Portable DVD players can be found online and at electronics stores for as little as $100.
Get some kid games if you travel with a tot.
Well worth the price for all concerned, and appreciated by those of us who travel childless. Toss in headphones for the little people and you'll all have a more restful flight.
* HELP US ALL! When you board the plane, you should have your phone or other toy put away.  Find your seat, place your carry-on in the overhead bin, get out of the aisle and sit down.  Turn off your cell phone -- remembering that , iPod, portable DVD player, and other electronic devices are now okay to use on most airlines. But don't make someone come and ask you to turn off your phone! The captain or flight crew will tell you when you may use it again.
* CHANGING SEATS? No airplane can take off while people are standing. We've all asked someone to switch seats so we could be with a spouse, friend or relative. Best to arrange it with the person, get approval from the flight attendant then wait to execute your switch until the flight is in the air and the seatbelt sign is off.
These two are taking a nap between flights!
This first-class cabin is luxury!
Cookie and Keller enjoy a walk, a rest and a snack when they arrive.
* DURING a long flight, walk the plane a time or two. Stretch. Look outside! If you have a connecting flight, get some exercise by walking the terminal. Do some simple muscle and leg flexes.   Turn your head  slowly, move your ankles.  Try to sleep, for at least three or four hours.  This will help ease you into the new time zone.
* I LIKE TO take a walk when I arrive at my destination -- even if I'm eager for a nap. A walk perks you up. Have a cup of coffee or strong tea before your stroll, enjoy a snack, and if you must nap, make it no more than an hour.  Have dinner at a reasonable time and don't get more sleep than you normally would.  In a couple days in the new time zone, you'll be acclimated. Keep drinking that water.  But a little wine won't hurt.

The beautiful Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles offers top-drawer shows.
COMING UP:  The Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles is a treasure of the city and a treat for theater aficionados, including two travelers and play lovers from San Diego.
Actors Danny DeVito and Judd Hirsch recently finished a run of "The Sunshine Boys" there and Christopher Plummer is on tap.   Remember to explore, learn and live and check us out Wednesdays and Saturdays at

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Streamline airport security for faster boarding



OptionsDID YOU know that you can greatly simplify your transit through the airport TSA by purchasing a pre-check screening option?  It costs $85 but lasts several years and is worth its weight in platinum.
NEARLY 100 airports participate in this expedited arrangement.  We found out about this by chance, when we were randomly selected to try it out.  But anyone can get it -- if you pass a basic security scan.  One applies on line, answering a few  questions. A vetting process occurs and if you are accepted as "pre-screen" material, your status will last five years, and may then be renewed. THE RANKING allows the traveler to enter a special line where you need not remove your shoes and belt.  Even more appealing, you may keep your laptop in its case, carry-on or back pack.
YOU ALSO get to keep your belt and jacket on! To find out more and which states and airlines
These travelers are in line to check through bags.
participate in pre-check screening, go to 
Learn the 3-1-1 rule for carry-ons: 3 maximum 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottles or less (by volume); 1 quart-sized,
clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger in the screening bin. The one-quart bag per person limits the liquids each traveler can bring. If you're not checking bags, pack your carry-on carefully.
Be prepared. Each time TSA searches a carry-on it slows down the line. Practicing 3-1-1 ensures a faster and easier checkpoint experience for all.
(3-1-1 is for short trips. If in doubt, put liquids in checked luggage. Some countries are sterner!)
DECLARE larger liquids. Medications, baby formula and food, and breast milk are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces and are not required to be in a zipped bag. Declare these for inspection at checkpoints. Officers are usually co-operative but may conduct additional screening.
If you're planning to contribute an item to your host's party
or dinner table, bring the ingredients and cook it there!
*IF YOU HAVE a favorite holiday food or beverage creation and it's at all "runny" or liquid, either ship it ahead, pack it carefully in checked baggage, or prepare it at your destination. Prohibited and likely to be confiscated are cranberry sauce, eggnog, salad dressings, dips, salsas, soups, gravies. And of course, guacamole!
IF YOU don't want your gift-wrapping tampered with, plan to wrap your presents when you arrive.
If they look at all suspicious, you run the risk of having them unwrapped.
YEARS AGO, a well dressed Japanese businessman gave me this tip leaving Tokyo:
A lighter load makes a happy trip!
"Get behind someone dressed like me.  I travel all the time.  I zip right through the line."
He also cautioned me to avoid families, teens, children or people who look like neophytes to travel.
My most memorable "quick zip through TSA" trips were with my mother, who had a pace maker in her last years.  On  several forays to Europe, we were all ushered through a special line with my mother.  She was patted down and "wanded" while we zipped through the x-ray machine and had our carry-ons briefly surveyed. For more on traveling with a disability or medical condition, go to 
Pointers for flying in comfort await!

COMING SOON:  You're through TSA, you're on the plane, buckled in.  Now you're off to Europe -- or
across the U.S., south to the Caribbean, lazing in the Greek Isles, Mexican Riviera or elsewhere.  We'll help you arrive feeling "sunny side up" rather than "over easy"!  Remember to explore, learn and live, and check us out Wednesdays and Saturdays at:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Costa Brava calls -- Dali dabbling and beyond -- here's looking at you!



BUBBLY from the vineyards of  Costa Brava, the equal of French champagne, at one-third the price......
Views to fall off a cliff for...... from our bird's eye view in Parador Aiguablava. (This world-class hotel proves the government CAN run something successfully, at least in Spain!)
Salvador Dali lithos at every turn.....
Keller's favorite anchovy-stuffed olives...
ALL THIS and more.
We are trying to schedule blogs ahead preparing for a two-week cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas, with touring, pampering, reading.  We have no idea if we're succeeding in peeling away the technical red tape. So we're letting you know that we're experimenting on you, while pondering why five-star hotels persist in keeping telephones by the toilet.
Cookie and Keller at play, with more on their revels coming soon.  The view from their parador,
at left, has them struggling to keep up with blogging!  They persist, though, with champagne.
PLEASE BE gentle with us, enjoy our newly
Next post has tips on airport maneuvers.
gleaned tips on airport check-in and outsmarting the TSA lines.  Remember to explore, learn and live, and send feedback as we continue our revels (and blogs) from the Salvador Dali Museum, our parador here in the far north  of Barcelona, and  a Catalan medley of enticing restaurants, bistros, roadside pubs, intriguing antique shops and hardware stores, vegetable markets and, oh, yes, cathedrals and places of culture! (Still searching for a voltage transformer, having forgotten our combined three in U.S.) We're posting Wednesdays and Saturdays at:

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Transiting TSA: a little pre-flight savvy goes a long way



Once past TSA, you might enjoy a drink or cuppa. Here, a business catches up on e-mail at Lindberg Field, San Diego.
TRANSPORTATION Security Administration.
Once you're through TSA, you're on your way!
That's what TSA is.  And it takes its mission seriously! We mourn the death last month of the Los Angeles TSA worker, and appreciate the risk taken by him and his colleagues.
Days ago, we were transporting a valuable silver service set via airplane, delivering it as a gift.
WE HAD done our homework with both TSA and Delta officials, knowing we might encounter raised eyebrows or even refusal to allow us to bring the silver on board.
Here, Keller enjoys a glass of red wine at San Diego's new Delta Sky Club.
WE KNEW we would not be allowed to carry on the carving knife or other sharp, pointed knives and forks.
So we had mailed those ahead.
Our research suggested we ask for a "private screening" and we did so, at Logan Airport in Billings, Montana.  The TSA guy was pleasant and accommodating, asking first why we wanted special attention.
"WE'RE BRINGING a  silver gift to a friend," I said. "It's in a carry-on --   round dinner knives, forks and spoons."
We told him we'd removed the sharp pointed carving knives and large, sharp serving forks. "No problem," said the man.  "We may not even need to open it."
HE RAN the hard-sided carry-on through the x-ray machine twice, then gave us a "thumbs up" and motioned us to proceed.
Your pilot and crew get a pass through the TSA lines and into the cockpit.
Back on with our shoes and belts, scarves and coats (we were bundled up, for we were leaving a Montana storm.)
We retrieved our silver as it slid through the TSA machine, tucked it in the overhead bin for the two flights, had an uneventful flight and took it off the airplane in San Diego, delivering the gift intact and with no further incident.
IT COULD have gone much differently.  I doubt there's a person
Give yourself time to enjoy the artwork and ambiance in each airport.
 alive who's flown since "9-11" who hasn't had to forfeit a sentimental or expensive item to the TSA inspectors.  We've given up silver cork screws, nail grooming sets, sewing kits, small tools and other items we'd forgotten we had in our carry-ons. So give yourself time in case there's a question. Get there with room to relax.
WE'VE ALSO given up lugging around heavy bottles of wine -- now that we're trained to know better.  We also know better than to try carrying on specialty foods that seem at all liquid.
A reminder of the rules:
No liquids over three ounces, no weapons, firearms or sharp objects, gels, tools, candles, flammables.
Keller had to surrender a four-pack of his favorite Costco guacamole last summer -- he was transporting it from San Diego to Montana and it didn't pass inspection.  TSA considered it "liquid or gel." (His eggplant parmesean, however, passed the bomb residue swab test and made it safely to a dinner plate in Big Sky Country.)

Our next post will help travelers
transit TSA in half the time!
COMING NEXT: A new "pre-screen" option allows travelers to transit the security lines without taking off shoes and belts, or removing laptops from their cases.  Find out how to put yourself in the fast lane, next here on the blog.  Remember to explore, learn and live, and check us out Wednesdays and Saturdays at:

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dine and drink well, but preserve your liver and waistline


Dining and drinking are pleasures of travel, here new friends!


SO YOU'RE loving your Caribbean cruise, Spanish parador, Rio hotel, Mexican casita, or Cotswolds B&B.
Maybe you're with your favorite cousins exploring San Francisco. Hiking across Spain. Or enjoying a theater marathon in New York.
Eating is one of the great pleasures of life, and no more so than when we're on holiday.
A small, elegantly served appetizer on Crystal's Serenity.
The escargot, the duck a l'orange, the rich soups and sauces, homemade breads, then mousse, creme brule or tarts for dessert.  More cocktails, wine and after-dinner drinks than we would normally consume at home.
So what to do? Vacation is not the time to deny yourself.  But you don't have to choose everything offered or gobble every bite of every course.
HERE ARE some tips we've gleaned. Yes, we've gained a few pounds over decades of frequent traveling, but we employ a few techniques that keep us from annoying ourselves when we  step on the scale once home.
A few downward dogs at an Arizona vacation yoga retreat.  
* EXERCISE EVERY DAY.  I can't emphasize this enough.  You know you are going to be indulging, trying new things, drinking and eating more than usual.  So get up every morning, do a few stretches and take a walk after breakfast.  If you can, go to the gym on ship or at the hotel. See if there are exercise classes available and try to make yourself work out or join a class at least two or three times a week.  It all adds up.
* BREAKFAST.  The old "eat a good breakfast" adage never worked for me.  True, it does make you feel better -- satisfied and relaxed -- but that also means, for me, that I feel groggy and unproductive.  So no big breakfasts for this reporter.  Granola, yogurt, fruit, coffee or tea.  No bread, butters, jams or pastries on a regular basis. I
How about toasting your Greek isle cruise?
splurge once in a while for my favorite vacation breakfast -- lox, bagel and cream cheese, but NEVER every day.  And nix on the bacon, waffles, omelettes, and Eggs Benedict. If you and your partner want to split a large item once in a while, live it up!  Low-fat milk instead of half and half, and bypass the creamed sausage and biscuits. A handful of raisins and pecans or walnuts is good, and a bowl of fresh fruit.  No juice unless it's fresh.
* LUNCH.  My favorite meal of the vacation.  If we're walking or touring a new city, we buy the picnic described in an earlier post -- cheese, fruit, a small amount of bread, a split of wine and some meat or chicken.  If we're on a ship, I head for the salad bar.  It's smart to go easy on dressings and pasta items.
Aboard Oceania's Insignia, a table for seven pauses between courses.
Go instead for a bed of romaine.  I add artful dollops of vegetables, shrimp, red onions, a bit of grated cheese, sunflower seeds, raisins and maybe some cherry tomatoes or a few slices of avocado.  If I crave dessert, I have a tiny dish of sherbet. Once in a while, I fall off the wagon and have a cookie, too.
*DINNER.  Cocktail hour is trouble because drinking stimulates the appetite.  Still, again, be moderate.  Try the smoked salmon pate or the fresh shrimp, but go easy on the little pastry sausage things and the fried items or tempura.  I again skip breads at dinner and avoid creamed soups and rich appetizers, choosing instead a cold soup and a small salad.
Can't resist dessert? Share  at your table and sample.
FOR MY MAIN course, I order broiled or grilled chicken or fish, and nothing with fancy sauces.  On ships, I eat only half or a bit more. On land, Keller and I usually share a couple appetizers and a main course.  Perfectly satisfying. If you're with a group, share a few desserts and everyone gets a couple tastes of the bread pudding, flan or creme brule and chocolate eclair.
Remember the "20 minute lag" -- it takes your tummy 20 minutes to tell your brain it is full. Your liver, spirit, waistline and wallet will thank you!

Tips on transiting TSA, up next!
COMING UP:  Transiting the TSA line can be a challenge, a drag, a frustration.  We'll share a few pointers we've gleaned on how to get through quickly at home or abroad -- with no conflicts, wear and tear, tension or forfeited items!  Remember to explore, learn and live.  And check us out Wednesdays and Saturdays at:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fond farewell: Virtuoso violinist is remembered for his versatility, wit, kindness and joy of life

Fiddler Robert Sandstrom:

master of jazz, classics, western, 

opera, swing, bluegrass, jazz 

 and the gentle touch 

Top right, Bob Sandstrom happy with his violin.
Above, after a jam session with Karlene, right,
and Cookie. Left, at Monday's memorial, a fiddle
 rested near Bob's ashes, a symbol of his love of music

Though it's time for farewell, time for the parting,

Whatever the dawn may bring,
You'll be part of my heart, each living moment,
Come summer, come autumn, come winter, come spring
--from Ashokan Farewell


Bob's precision and sense of fun marked  his every performance.
ONLY A HANDFUL of musicians reside comfortably in the diverse and myriad worlds of music. Robert Sandstrom is one of them. Friends said farewell Monday in an emotional celebration at Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala.  After a heroic 18-month battle with an aggressive cancer, Bob is free of pain. Perhaps he'll once again play the violin he couldn't lift during his decline. 
WHAT A GIFTED violinist was our versatile virtuoso friend!  He could play church hymns in the morning, tea-time tunes in the afternoon then honky tonk, jazz and blues at an evening jam session. Maybe a little evening vespers with a dash of country swing for sweet dreams.
WHETHER PLAYING his beloved fiddle for a benefit, symphony concert or spirited jam session with friends, Bob took possession of his instrument – and his audience. Like a musical acrobat, he
Bob, left, mixes it up at a patio party with his pal Salvador.
played with the greatest of ease.  He was a musician for all seasons.  He endures in his music, for through art, we live on.
I REMEMBER the night Bob and I met at a friend’s home. We were the entertainment.  We were immediate friends, alternating “do you knows?" and ticking off songs.  Sometimes my chord changes were a bit rough – I hadn’t played the bridge to “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” for years, and I’d never played the opening of “Dark Town Strutters Ball.”   But we were a hit -- with songs from “Evita,” "Man of LaMancha" and “West Side Story,”  Mexican folk tunes, Irish jigs, ‘40s standards, Beatles tunes, even opera arias.
Above, Bob and Karlene enjoy a little cuddle,
below Bob with his violin and, right, as a
younger man in his convertible!
THAT NIGHT was effortless but Bob was precise and he liked other players to be, too.  I stretched with Bob and for several sweet years, we played together in friends’ homes, my place, at hotels – I on uprights, grands, electronic keyboards and Bob on his fiddle. Our soirees were accompanied by fabulous food and wine, animated conversation and applause.
Through his illness, my partner, Bruce Keller and I kept in touch with Karlene, attempting to buoy her spirits.  I know something of her loss for I have twice been widowed. The cancer that killed Bob also took my second husband.
BOB'S PRIZED pernambuco bow was dear to him. Recommended for advanced students, it is known for its ability to provide instantaneous feedback. Bob and his bow collaborated for gypsy folk tunes, Bach fugues and ragtime. The dense pernambuco wood is orangish in color – not unlike Bob’s sandy hair once was – and the bow is known for its effortless feel – a quality Bob possessed in spades. 

Impressed by his enthusiasm for pernambuco, when Keller and I were in Brazil we admired many pernambuco carvings and instruments. I wrote the following to Karlene last August and was honored that she sent it on to many of you:

Monday's memorial featured many musician friends paying homage.
"Dear Karlene: It occurs to me that Bob and his beloved pernambuco violin bow have much in common.
We listened as Bob described the wood’s wonders and depth of sound. As he listed its virtues, we were struck by the parallels between Bob and pernambuco.  Like Bob’s music, pernambuco is resilient. Like Bob, it is beautiful to admire and listen to. Like Bob, it is classic and time honored. We are thrilled to know Bob is surrounded by the music he so loves. He is "human pernambuco,"
Bob, left, with friends Gloria, Keller, Cookie.
a marvel of nature,  a true and profound talent.  Your love and caring for your sweetheart touches our hearts. We hope to hear him play again, holding his pernambuco bow with grace and precision. Pernambuco is a treasure protected by the Brazilian government. Bob is a treasure, too, protected by all who love him. Please give him our love and keep his precious violin tuned and his bow at the ready!"

A sense of fun always enhanced Bob's playing.
Bob Sandstrom played his violin in Mission San Diego de Alcala, where
friends gathered Monday to play and sing at his memorial. 

 BOB WAS bilingual and loved the southwest and southern California.  I enjoyed hearing him speaking Spanish to our many Hispanic friends in the San Diego area.  And he loved to play tunes inspired by that part of the world – we once improvised a whirling “Espana Cani,”  a famous Gypsy inspired piece.  I began the familiar rhythms and Bob joined in.   Our room of 20-plus friends burst into a standing ovation – before returning to the paella that they'd abandoned.
Bob's only son and brother are gone, too. And Karlene revealed that he gave up for the violin for several years after the death of his infant son, Bob had given up violin. She brought music back into his life! Karlene was his muse and he also deeply loved his daughter Robin, her husband, Stavros Papaconstantinou of Athens, Greece and their children: Anna Paola, Alexia and Dimitris. May they continue Bob's global musical interests.  Bob’s only sister, Charlotte Gritton of Arizona, told me the music-filled service was "a most fitting tribute for my talented brother. He would have loved every minute of it!"

COMING NEXT: We return to our popular travel tips, with pointers on enjoying yourself, eating well and getting the most out of your precious time away. Remember to explore, learn and live and check us out Wednesdays and Saturdays at:

Friday, November 8, 2013

Documentation, fake jewels and ruthlessness make for savvy packing


Nearly everything you might forget can be easily purchased, usually cheaply, while on holiday. So don't stress.
This ship stateroom may be furnished with duty free 
beverages, so avoid bulky, heavy bottles in your baggage. 
Pick up a bottle or two of wine at your destination.


REMEMBER, the globe is shrinking with technology and travel advances.  You're not visiting a remote planet.
You're probably going to Paris, Rome, the British Isles, Mexico, China, South America, the Caribbean, or to visit relatives or friends, possibly one of our delightful U.S. destinations. Maybe a cruise.
ALL OF THESE places have markets, shops, convenience stores! Don't pack bottles of liquor when you can purchase duty free on the plane, or buy your wine on the ship or a supermarket. (Not at the hotel -- way too expensive.) Buy a wine package on the ship to save money.  They won't let you cart your own on board -- they want you to buy theirs!
As you pack, think about each item you put in. Evaluate its usefulness and importance. Do you really need it? Can you pick it up there?
As a trip ends, Cookie sorts, sifts, decides what to toss.
Here, she'll give away a cheap cooler used for picnics.
 * THE INCREDIBLE BULK.  If you forget something, you can buy nearly everything you might need -- from razor blades and tooth paste to cosmetics.  You'll pick up freebies from the hotels and ships -- shampoos, lotions, etc. Your bag will get heavier; don't load yourself down.  If you stick to one loosely packed Pullman per person for check-through, plus your carry-on (backpack for Keller with his laptop in the padded center), you won't be weighted down. Save room for small gifts -- coffee, tea, jam, cookies. Toss or give away small, junky, bulky "unnecessaries" you've collected before flying home. Buy one nice item for yourself -- a flat scarf is easy to pack but if you can't resist the fun pair of shoes on sale in Italy, have the store send them home. I've never failed to receive anything I've bought this way.
Fake pearls, a compact but pretty top, a sport coat and tie
dress Keller and Cookie up for a night on the town in Las Vegas.
* AVOID TAKING the family jewels.  Sure, you can use the hotel and ship safes, or check your valuables with the concierge, but why stress?  No one will care if you don't wear your Mikimoto pearls or your grandmother's diamond bracelet. Have fun.  Bring attractive costume jewelry and you won't agonize if you lose something. Never bring your favorite anything on a trip.
* COPY  YOUR PASSPORT, visa, driver's license and other valuable documents.  Put them in a separate place from your carry-on original documents (inside a book or your laptop bag, somewhere you'll remember.)  Keller also uses his Droid
Take a few tops out -- no one notices wardrobe repetition.
to photograph our critical paperwork, including our airline confirmation numbers, cruise boarding documents and passport main pages.
* DON'T DOUBLE UP. Check with your traveling companion and don't duplicate items you can share --  tooth paste, deoderant, vitamins, pain relievers, etc.
Again, it is essential to be able to carry your own stuff. Period.  You can't always get a porter in a train station.
* ALL THAT OTHER STUFF.  I just looked at a bag that I still haven't unpacked from the last long trip -- nearly three weeks.
Good packing makes a relaxed Cookie -- with enough stuff to look nice. 
In it, I discovered items that were never used. I'd packed three pair of capri pants.  Two would have been adequate.  A little hair-curling kit was not use at all -- and it weighed two or three pounds.  (I had my hair done once cruising to Alaska and washed and blew dry it the other times in Seattle. Didn't need curlers.) If you have to sit on your bag to close it, take some stuff out!
ON A RECENT trip to Europe, I didn't need any of my electric plug converters and adapters.  Most of the nice hotels now accommodate American electronics.  If you do need a converter, the hotel will likely have one.  So the old adage of "packing, then taking half of the stuff out" might serve me well on the next trip. You'll sleep better with a lighter bag.  I swear by it!
* BE RUTHLESS with yourself.  Think, "Do I really need that extra black shell top?  Will anyone notice if I wear the same swimsuit to the beach or pool twice?  Must I really have three separate formal outfits for the ship's three formal nights? Big bulky sweatshirts and fluffy robes are not necessary.  If it's really cool, I
borrow Keller's sweatshirt and he wears his jacket and sweater. And hotels and ships usually provide robes.
NEXT: Wednesday, a tribute to violinist Robert Sandstrom, left, who mixed it up with jazz and swing, played first-violin symphonic scores, loved Bach, opera, Celtic and more. His memorial service was Monday in San Diego. Bravo, Bob. We miss you.

COMING UP:  Dining on the road and not turning into the incredible bulk.  We offer tips on food and enjoying yourself, indulging without gaining tons of poundage. Remember to explore, learn and live and check us out Wednesdays and Saturdays at: