How to Pack Light for a Trip to Europe

Pack Light for a Trip to Europe

When traveling in Europe, it’s important to pack for the occasion. If you are staying in multiple destinations, it is a good idea to pack lightly. Some airlines charge extra fees for luggage that exceeds their weight limit. If traveling by train, it is a difficult to swiftly board and exit with a lot of baggage. It is also a chore to find space for all your bags on a crowded train. You can maximize your space by following some simple tips in this article.

It should be fairly easy to find hostels or hotels with laundry facilities near by or in-house. This makes it easy to pack fewer clothing and maximize space by minimizing the dirty laundry you carry around. Coin operated laundry facilities are usually inexpensive compared to the burden it can cause to tote extra clothing around. For a three week trip, it is a good idea to take two pairs of jeans, one pair of shorts, two pairs of walking shoes (in case one gives you blisters or gets wet), socks and underwear for no more than five days, one jacket, one sweater and no more than four shirts. This offers a lot more luggage space and makes for cargo that is easier to carry in a smaller bag.

There are certain things that will be less hassle or even cheaper to buy while in Europe. Electrical outlet converters are easy to find in train stations, grocery stores and airports. They also often cost about half the price in Europe than in the U.S.

Packing food is generally not ideal. It’s hard to know how food items will fare in the flight. Flying to Europe, there is usually at least one lay over and with all the luggage handling, there’s no way to know how much of a mess it may have made in your bag. A few granola bars or a small package of crackers is not going to make much of a mess and may come in handy when you land and at the airport and they’re selling a bag of chips for $6.00. But plan on buying most of your food at your destination instead of taking up valuable room in your bag.

It’s a great suggestion to buy travel containers for your toiletries or buy travel/trial size toothpastes, toothbrush, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, shaving cream, etc. to conserve room.

Remember that a lot of hotels or hostels will have a blow dryer to use so you won’t need bring one.

It’s a long trip from home to hotel and you may have to walk with your luggage from the train station or bus. Keep your cargo as minimal as possible to make your time on foot less awkward and your trip less stressful.

Travel: Review of the eBags Mother Lode TLS Mini 21″ Wheeled Duffel


There are some trips that simply require the use of a duffel bag and the eBags Mother Lode TLS Mini 21″ Wheeled Duffel is ideal for the ski trip, adventure trip, or other weekend getaway. Stocked with various necessary compartments for storage the eBags Mother Lode TLS Mini 21″ Wheeled Duffel is one of the top choices for a casual easy to use duffel bag.

Those travelers who prefer the use of a duffel bag will find the features of the eBags Mother Lode TLS Mini 21″ Wheeled Duffel to fit the bill for organization, convenience, space and size for a weekend getaway or adventure type getaway. There are a variety of easily accessible compartments all designed to insure the traveler has a space for everything.

The eBags Mother Lode TLS Mini 21″ Wheeled Duffel features an exterior zip front pocket which is ideal for travel documents and small items that need to be accessed quickly. There is also a large upper compartment that measures approximately 21″ x 14″ x 3.5″, which is made with an easy to access u-zip opening, a small secure zippered top pocket for last minute items or items that needed to be stashed quickly, a meshed pocket under the lid, secure tie down strap for securing contents and removable fiberglass rods for those who prefer a free form design (

In addition to the above mentioned features the eBags Mother Lode TLS Mini 21″ Wheeled Duffel has a completely organized lower compartment that contains two zippered mesh pockets, a sturdy EVA bottom, and a moveable shelf for options with organization based on preference. One of the top features of the eBags Mother Lode TLS Mini 21″ Wheeled Duffel is that it allows the traveler to pack the way he or she prefers by using the bag as a single large compartment or by organizing double compartments. For those who tend to over pack, the unique wheeled duffel bag also has an expansion gusset and there is a zippered pocket to store away the Add-A-Bag feature (

In terms of comfortable handling the eBags Mother Lode TLS Mini 21″ Wheeled Duffel is ideal. In addition to having the option of wheeling the bag, there is also an easy to reach handle, and the front feet double as a second handle, in addition to the top lift handle which adjusts to three heights providing many options. Everyone has his or her own preference, but for those travelers who enjoy traveling with duffel bags the eBags Mother Lode TLS Mini 21″ Wheeled Duffel is a great bag and provides all of the necessary features and space needed for a quick getaway. The eBags Mother Lode TLS Mini 21″ Wheeled Duffel was found for approximately $170.99 ( For more information visit the official web site for the retailer mentioned.

Top Ten Money Saving Ideas for a European Vacation – Part 1

Money Saving Ideas

With fuel prices dropping, air travel is becoming affordable again. That’s the good news. The bad news is that traveling in Europe is still expensive. But there are some things you can do, both before departure and during your vacation, to save some money on your European trip. Europe is a fascinating place, rich in culture and history, and you owe it to yourself to go there sometime. With that in mind, and realizing that most of aren’t exactly rolling in dough, here area some ideas for keeping your European vacation budget within reasonable boundaries.

  1. Pre-book Excursions

With the Internet, it has never been easier to make advance arrangements for tours of museums, palaces, historic sites, and other places of special interest. By booking ahead of time, you’re factoring in the cost on the front end and guaranteeing that you see the attractions of most interest to you. You can also sometimes avoid waiting in interminably long lines.

  1. Shop for Airline Deals

This may seem obvious, but shopping for the best prices on airline tickets involves more than searching Expedia and Travelocity. Now, there are “best of the best” sites like and that actually search other travel search engines and give you pricing options you might not be able to find on your own. Also, don’t forget the cost savings available if you can be flexible on your travel dates or fly during off-peak hours.

  1. Use Public Transportation

In Europe, you can get almost anywhere by some combination of trains, subways, or buses. Particularly in most large cities, you can also buy discounted public transportation passes for a day or even a week. Travel like the locals: use a train or a bus. Sure, a taxi can drop you off at the front door of your destination, but it can also be a budget buster.

  1. Carry Your Own Food and Water

Food is a major cost in Europe, especially in the larger cities. When possible and practical, buy food in a grocery or supermarket (yes, they have them, even in Europe). Buy breakfast items ahead of time and eat in your room instead of in the hotel cafe or a bistro. Make your own lunch, and carry it, with a large bottle of water in a day pack (buying drinks of all types, including water, can seriously add up). Save eating in a restaurant for a special treat. In places like Rome and Paris, refill your water bottle instead of buying a new one. If you’re traveling to out of the way places, you should probably do a little advance Internet research to make sure the local water supply is dependable and sanitary.

In Part 2 of this article, I’ll give you six more ways to cut corners on your European vacation and still build a lifetime of memories.

Travel for Wine Lovers

Travel for Wine Lovers

Wine connoisseurs, are you planning a vacation to wine country? You may interested in knowing that you don’t have to leave the country to experience great wine country travel. All 50 states in the U.S. have at least one winery. Because of climate and geography, many wineries are clustered together in the state. You can get the most out of your winery travel by planning ahead.

California has over 870 wineries. Napa and Sonoma Valley are the top wine producing regions in the world. With over four million tourists every year, it is estimated that 80% of the travelers visit the same 20 or so wineries. Popular wines from these regions include Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. There are several ways to tour these wineries. Most popular are by train, bus and limo. For an ever bigger thrill tours are offered by balloon, boat, bike, horseback and hiking.

If you want an east coast vacation, There are over 200 wineries in New York. New York’s cool climate produces fresh flavors, enhancing the flavor of your favorite wine. Popular New York winery regions include the Hudson River Valley, Long Island, Lake Erie and the Finger Lakes. The first commercial winery in the Hudson Valley was established in 1837, it is still in operation today renamed as the Brotherhood Winery located in Washingtontonville.

Virginia houses over 100 wineries. The most common locations in Virginia are the Chesapeake bay, Hampton Roads, Appalachia, Blue Ridge, and the central and eastern regions. Virginia has been making wine since the 17th century. It is written that Virginia has some of the most distinctive and high quality wines in the U.S.

Wherever you chose to travel, be assured that you can find a winery. Coast to coast, or off the beaten path, your next great bottle of wine is just around the corner

Networking, Volunteering, and Government Roles of Small Business

Networking, Volunteering, and Government Roles of Small Business

Government entities need the backing of the citizens and businesses in order for positive changes to take place in a community. Changes must grow from the bottom up. Large and small businesses, services, non profits and ordinary people giving time and in some cases money, to enact positive causes, ensures that the whole community benefits.

Politicians, citizens, religious and business leaders are responsible to find a common ground, stop nit picking and slandering and focus on the real problems . A main initiative rooted in self agenda, is misread, misquoted and misinformed at every opportunity for a payoff of attention, and serves as a waste time on trivia.

Kalamazoo, Michigan is a Model City

In a southwestern Michigan town during the 1990’s, discussions, dialogue and presentations of various volunteer groups in a non-profit organization catapulted sustainable, positive changes and growth. In Kalamazoo, Michigan, these changes ended up affecting surrounding communities in Kalamazoo county. Citizens for change in the combined Kalamazoo and Portage areas know that giving of self will render what is needed.

Kalamazoo Growth Survives Business Downturn

Even though the closings of large donor companies caused the Forum of Greater Kalamazoo to eventually disperse, there were spin-off groups that continued the work. The city improved so fast that people who had lived in the area and moved away came back after a few years to find a city that wowed them. The result was new growth in businesses, and a new look for the city.

Although the recession took a toll and many businesses went bankrupt, the city of Kalamazoo remains progressive and upbeat.

Even though disagreements arise, progressive, positive businesses can overcome and reach agreement through non-profit forums, supporting citizen endeavors and co-operating with government.

Southwest Michigan First, the Catalyst of Business Growth

Although the recession took a toll and many businesses went bankrupt, the city of Kalamazoo remains progressive and upbeat.

In just a few years, the Radisson Hotel was transformed into a space age focal point to Michigan Street.

Kalamazoo Avenue gained a fabulous new renovation to the Arcadia Festival site and across the street, the Amtrack train and bus station lot was merged with the cities Metro Transportation system with new brick and mortar, and parking stations for in town and out of town buses.

Old Brownfield developments in the downtown area changed from slum looks to resurfaced brick, updated and renovated to house new restaurants, technology and other businesses.

Burdick Street Mall-The First Renovation

A new brick paved downtown mall laid over heated duct work now runs through the Burdick corridor. The mall street and walk way was laid over heated duct work and creates a wonderful and exciting place to shop, lounge and eat in or outdoors.

Changes are too numerous to mention in one column and all brought about by the citizens backing government in a small college town called Kalamazoo, Michigan.

15 Strategies for Savvy Small Businesses in 2017

15 Strategies for Savvy Small Businesses in 2017

The last few years have been tough for many small businesses due to the recession and lingering financial and regulatory uncertainty. Yet, many small businesses have remained healthy, and others have started, during these challenging times. The difference between the success or failure of a small business can often be tied to the ability of its management to recognize early and adapt quickly to changing trends in the market.

Based on recent small business trends and predictions for 2017, there are some strategies that small business owners should consider for the coming year.

Small business marketing strategies for 2017

  1. 1. Develop a social media marketing strategy. Social media is here to stay. If you don’t already have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, doing so should be one of your first marketing priorities for the New Year. If you already have a profile, now is the time to carefully and strategically fine-tune your strategy. As the social media market matures, there will be less tolerance for the haphazard, shotgun approaches to social media marketing that have been seen thus far.
  2. 2. Manage your online presence. Good news about a company or a business person travels quickly on the web. Bad news travels even faster. Periodically Google your business, and yourself, to see what others are saying. Be mindful of your dealings with prospects and customers. It’s always easier to keep a customer happy than to turn a dissatisfied customer around.
  3. Quality content is your friend. The internet provides countless ways to get the good work out about your business. Use blogs, social media accounts, online articles, and other people’s web sites to spread the word.
  4. Make the most of your web site. More than half of company web sites are essentially online brochures, offering general information about goods and services, but missing an important opportunity to provide real value to customers and prospects. Enhance your web site with fresh, high-quality content, e-commerce solutions, customer service support, and any other type of information that may help you attract and keep customers.
  5. Reconsider local advertising. With companies like Groupon, and the explosion in mobile apps, local advertising is taking on a new twist and regaining popularity. More and more consumers are looking online and to their smartphones for customized searches and ads based on where they live and work.

Small business technology strategies for 2017

  1. Explore opportunities to incorporate cloud computing. Use web-based and/or mobile apps to save money and time and to facilitate sharing and collaborating with colleagues and customers.
  2. Focus on security. Increasing identity theft and web site hacking have raised legitimate concerns about doing business online. Make sure your business transactions are as secure as possible. The bad guys are always coming up with new ways to cheat, which means that businesses need to update security measures on an ongoing basis.

Other small business strategies for 2017

  1. Going green can mean more green. As consumers become more eco-friendly, demands that the businesses they deal with do the same are growing. From paperless transactions to using recycled products, explore and implement creative, cost-saving, and environmentally-friendly opportunities to go green.
  2. O2O becomes key. Doing business online is great, but there is still something to be said for the beauty of face-to-face transactions. Implement online strategies that will drive prospects and customers to your offline location whenever possible and practical. Establishing personal relationships with prospects and customers is one of the best ways to grow your business.
  3. Turn cost-cutting measures into cost-containment strategies. Many small businesses had to cut costs in order to survive the recession. As business improves, identify ways to continue those cost savings so that more of your revenue will make it to the bottom line.
  4. Give those boomers some respect. There are 76 million or so baby boomers that are generating a host of opportunities for businesses that are savvy enough to identify and meet the specific needs of this special population. As boomers live longer, healthier lives, the opportunity to serve this market is becoming even more profitable.
  5. Consider location, location, location. A recent study found that the worst place to get work done was at the office. When productive people were asked when and where they were able to get the most work done, the majority cited a location other than the office, but when working in the office, the most productive times for them were when others weren’t around. Low-cost, and often free, cloud computing applications making sharing and collaborating remotely a breeze. In addition, telecommuting also saves money on rent, utilities, and travel expenses.
  6. Put the customer first. The customer may not always be right, but businesses can’t exist without them. Make providing the best possible customer service a core value of your business. Make it easy for customers to connect with your organization if they have questions, concerns, or problems. Develop a feedback loop so you can gauge the level of customer satisfaction your business has at any given point in time.
  7. Look for the next great idea. Two of the best, and most frequently overlooked, sources of inspiration for your business are right in front of you – your customers and your employees. Ask them what’s working, what’s not working, and what products or services are on their wish lists. Implement as many as you can in order to boost your business and keep those good ideas coming.
  8. Reassess your management style. More and more people, business owners and employees alike, are searching for more balance, simplicity, authenticity, and integrity in their lives. Old school management styles that may have worked in the past have in many cases become burdensome and counterproductive. Traits that distinguish an effective leader may surprise some who haven’t given this much thought in recent years. Invest some time in learning what constitutes a good leader and develop a strategy to become one.

TV Advertising for Small Business: Make TV Ads Sell with Compelling Offers to Increase Traffic

TV Advertising for Small Business

Buying a TV advertising schedule is a significant investment. It’s normal to wonder whether the return will be worth it. Only experience will tell, and there are several ways to minimize the risk.

Make it Sell

The first thing to do is make sure that the ad sells something. The TV sales rep and the station’s production director may want to produce a creative, edgy, attention-getting spot. Creativity and attention are vital, but most of all, the ad must sell.

Selling something is the only chance for a return on the investment. A spot that spends 25 out of 30 seconds being creative instead of selling products or services may earn the station an award from the local ad club. But the real test of the ad’s value is whether it increases traffic and sales.

Do a Break-Even Analysis

Consider very carefully which product or service appeals to the broadest segment of the station’s viewers. Then, do a quick analysis to quantify how many units must sell to cover the cost of the advertising.

If it seems realistic to believe that many units will sell as a result of the ad, and if the business can afford to take the risk that the ad won’t pay for itself, the next step is creating an offer to the potential customer.

Make a Compelling Offer

Is the business introducing something new? Is there a special discount promotion on a product line? Ask what would compel a viewer watching the ad to visit the store or call the office.

Better yet, ask existing customers. Do an informal focus group on the sales floor. Pick a regular customer and ask them. For example, “We might close out this line of products and pick up a new brand. If you were in the market, what discount would it take to interest you?”

Repeat that with 10 or 12 customers, and they will provide a strong sense of what kind of offer they’ll consider compelling enough to take action on after seeing the spot. And, if it’s a sufficient offer to interest current customers, chances are it’ll interest other viewers and convert them into new customers.

Provide a Copy Platform for the Creative Concept

Next, rough out a first draft of what the spot should include. This will give the TV sales rep and the station’s copywriter a good platform for constructing a creative spot that emphasizes the product or service and the offer. This needn’t be breathless prose – it’s just a starting point.

Suggest to the sales rep that they draft three creative concepts for the ad. The rep will work with the station’s copywriter and production director to come up with three different versions of the proposed spot. Then, evaluate all three and choose the one likely to work best.

Control the Content

Once a script is chosen, stay involved with the production. Observe the process to be certain the spot stays on track as it goes together. Trust the professionals on their mastery of the technology, but retain control over the content.

One specific tip: Be certain that the business phone number, location, Web site or other contact information runs throughout the spot. Potential customers have to know how to find the store! Make sure it’s on-screen as long as possible so they can easily write it down.

Scrutinize the Ad Schedule

Check that the ad is scheduled in programs with adequate ratings so the message reaches significant segments of viewers. Watch for overnight placements, which have less value.

Make the first ad sell, and discover the potential of TV advertising.

Small Business Help to Survive Global Recession: Surviving Economic Recession- Marketing and Survival Strategies

Small Business Help to Survive Global Recession

Many small and new business need all the help they can get in a global recession to avoid sinking completely.

Small Business Help to Survive Global Recession

Offer exceptional customer service: Competition is fierce for many businesses, especially small and new ones. Now is the time to focus on offering exceptional service. Customers do remember outstanding service and will actually pay more for a product if they feel valued. Send out regular, personal e-mails detailing special offers, take steps to ensure service delivery is effective, perhaps ask customers to fill out a satisfaction survey. Consider offering flexible payment terms.

Diversify: Specialized goods and niche services are good but consider branching out to offer other business related products or services. Be innovative but be careful not diversify too widely.

Cut costs to survive global recession: Costs can be reduced or even eliminated by using inexpensive business tools, such as using Google Apps to manage company email, documents, spreadsheets, mobile calendar sync. agenda management, lower IT costs etc. Telephone costs and the cost of video conference calls can be reduced with Skype, Mikogo. Be careful not to get into excessive debt, manage cashflow effectively and resist the temptation to spend on staff, software etc. unless there is adequate revenue to cover these expenses.

Small Business Marketing Strategies

Marketing costs can be costly, but without advertising and marketing the business risks sinking in times of global recession. Become more aggressive and more comprehensive than ever.

Consider hiring experts in the marketing field. Other strategies include touching base with clients on a regular basis, setting up an exceptional website with an online store, if applicable.

Small businesses typically have a limited marketing budget if any at all. Consider the following business marketing strategies:

  • Call vendors or associates and ask them to participate in co-op advertising.
  • Take some time to send existing customer incentives for referrals.
  • Consider the value of free publicity, such as radio publicity to boost business. By doing this, a small business owner can position himself or herself as an expert in a given field. If interviewed, have all facts together and be lively and enthusiastic.

If an entrepreneur is considering starting a new business in a time of recession, good businesses to start are typically in the areas of food, clothing, shelter, education, renovations, repairs and entertainment.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Ideas For Small Businesses

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Ideas For Small Businesses

When owning a small business, coming up with new ideas to boost exposure and income can be challenging. Try participating in Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year to bring attention to your services and products.

Small Business Can Compete With Big Business

Small businesses can often be swallowed up by the masses of advertizing put out by larger competitors. The weekend after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping weekend of the year and everyone is looking for a deal. Instead of sitting back and praying for a little exposure during the holidays, try getting out there with your own brand of “deals” to be had.

 Small Business Ideas For The Holidays

Home-based businesses are one of the leading choices among parents because it can be more flexible with a family’s schedule. Being home based is an advantage here because while some people really like being out in the malls on Black Friday, others want a low-key day after a holiday full of food and family. Have friends, family and customers over for a Black Friday holiday get together. You can showcase gift ideas and special offers in a laid back environment. It will feel more like a party than a business gathering and gives everyone the opportunity to relax, have fun, and get some shopping done without feeling the pressure of a salesperson or the retail experience. Better yet, you as the business owner, you have the control. Fancy Dinner or cake and coffee? You can decide what works for you and your schedule while taking advantage of a busy shopping weekend. Internet businesses can benefit from Cyber Monday by offering special pricing, free shipping or any number of specials that you may come up with. Proposing things like gift wrapping and delivery services for holiday purchases can draw customers to the convenience that you are offering them.

Service based businesses don’t need to shy away from shopping holidays. In times like these, when money is tight, people want what they need more that extraneous gifts. Suggest gift certificates for services for family and friends or discounted services for referrals. Free gifts with the purchase of a service is also popular. Advertise special rates or practical gift ideas during that first week of the shopping season.

Any kind of business can profit from joining in on the holiday fun. Be creative. Business owners already know how to think outside the box, so put those skills to use. Don’t just get drowned out it all the commercials and sale papers, get out there with your own promotions this holiday season and make yourself heard!

How to Implement Successful Promotions: Promotions Need to Be Planned Effectively to be Worthwhile

How to Implement Successful Promotions

Promotions are part of most small businesses. They range from % off costs to offering a prize to customers and everything in between. Small businesses have specific challenges and their promotions need to be approached differently than those of larger organisations. One of the biggest challenges in small business promotion is working with small budgets.

Small budgets mean more specific promotions

The most important part of any promotion is to figure out the goal of the promotion and then put processes in place to monitor the success of the promotion. Promotions are useful if they achieve their goal. This means that every promotion should have a goal to begin with. It’s important to figure out what the promotion is trying to achieve specifically.

Potential promotion reasons:

  1. Increase sales
  2. Increase brand awareness
  3. Increase brand loyalty
  4. Create a new market or expand an existing one

For example: A cafe introduces a new product; take-home meals. The goal of promotional activity is to increase brand awareness of the new product and the gauge of success is an increase in inquiries online and in store about the new product. Note that the gauge of success is not increased sales as that is not the goal of the promotion. It’s important to be clear on goals and the gauge of success.

Planning a Promotion

A plan for the promotion will assist in ensuring the promotion stays on track. Following is a simplified example of a promotional plan for the aforementioned cafe promotion:

Promotional Plan

Goal/Objective of the promotion: To increase awareness of the new product, ‘Take Home Meals’.

How success will be measured: An increase in inquiries on website and in store

Target market/s: Current customers and busy meal preparers.

Outline of the promotion and how it will achieve the specified goal: An email is sent to the current cafe database outlining the new product and the chance to win a week’s worth of family take away dinners by entering online or filling out a competition entry form at the counter.

Marketing Message: The best solution for busy people. Don’t resort to junk food, take the cafe you love home with you.

Marketing Material: Online form and brochure as well as in store competition forms. Posters and print ads.

Where and how the promotion will be communicated: Current cafe database, ads and editorial in local paper, posters in store.

Timelines and Deadlines: Promotion to coincide with the launch of the product. The promotion will run for one month with prize drawn the following week.

Budget: Prize $250, Marketing: $400, Licensing: $250

Make the next promotion even better

It’s important to also record the results of the promotion as well as any obstacles or unforeseen circumstances. This will assist in future promotional planning. Promotions are great tools for small business as long as they are well thought out and executed.