Sometimes we put so much emphasis on planning a trip, we forget to think about how to make the return pleasurable. The July issue of Cooking Light magazine offers these tips:
• Build in re-entry time. Add on another vacation day after you return to ease the anxiety of re-entry. Take the time to unpack, do the laundry, go through the mail, grocery shop, clean out your e-mail.
• Plan post-travel meals. Stock the freezer with some ready-to-heat meals.
• Pay it forward. Set up online bill-paying or automatic drafts so your bills are paid effortlessly.
• Welcome yourself home. The day you leave, put fresh sheets on the bed so your first night back will be relaxing. Clean the bathroom, empty the trash, drop clothing at the dry cleaner.
Security that computes
Coming soon to an airport security check line near you: laptop cases from which you won't have to remove your laptop. The Transportation Security Administration is set to sign off on the carry-on cases as soon as they come on the market, likely in late September or early October. The new cases include either a fold-down section in a bigger briefcase or a stand-alone protective sleeve that contains no extra clutter (power cords, mice) and can be readily viewed through the scanner. They're expected to start around $39 for a basic case and run more than $100 for a wheeled version. Manufacturers were encouraged to adopt a universal slogan or logo that says, "This bag is checkpoint-friendly."
For party peepers
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has unveiled an interactive Web site that gives viewers a virtual tour of activities planned to celebrate the park's 75th anniversary next year. The site, at www.greatsmokies75th.org, invites visitors to share photos and stories of their experiences in the country's most-visited national park. The site also provides a history lesson on the creation of the park.
Check your culture 'couth'
The travel Web site vayama.com/etiquette offers these etiquette tips as you travel, lest you embarrass yourself in other countries:
• Don't be offended by Argentine humor, which can sometimes be insulting, such as poking fun at your appearance, weight or attire. It's all in good fun.
• In Brazil, don't make the "okay" sign with your hand. It's considered a very rude gesture.
• In Denmark, don't be too touchy-feely. It's not appreciated.
• Just the opposite in Italy. Don't pull away or get offended if an Italian associate wishes to hug you. Embrace him or her in return.
• In Egypt, don't use your left hand to eat.
• In Thailand, don't talk with your hands or put your hands in your pockets while talking to someone.
Tout your hometown
Are you proud of your hometown? Want to show it off to the world? Do you think your neighborhood makes as good a travel destination as any place out there? GOOD magazine is looking for videos created by regular folks about what there is to see and do in their hometowns. Deadline for entries is Aug. 11. Videos must be less than two minutes long and smaller than 100 megabytes. Entries will be posted on the magazine's Web site, and the "most illuminating tour guide" will win two domestic plane tickets to anywhere JetBlue flies, the magazine promises. Details at www.goodmagazine.com/section/projects.
For family tree sleuths
The new Midwest Genealogy Center, billed as one of the nation's largest libraries for people tracing their ancestry, has opened in Independence, Mo. Almost all of the plat maps, census records, marriage licenses and other documents are accessible directly by the public, not locked away in storage. Details are at mcpl.lib.mo.us/genlh/mgc.htm.
Trends in hotel lodgings
Fewer hotels are offering free breakfasts, more are charging for late cancellation, and more (91 percent) are offering free in-room wireless Internet access. But the more you pay for your room, the less likely you are to get free Wi-Fi. Three-fourths of luxury hotels and 91 percent of "upper upscale hotels" charge guests for in-room Internet access.
Those are some of the findings of a recent survey of 10,000 hotels conducted by Smith Travel Research for the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
Fifty-nine percent offer a complimentary breakfast, down 9 percentage points from 2006.
Compiled from Times staff, wires