Blog, Travel Tips

8 Packing Tips for Peaceful Holiday Traveling

Dec 17, 2013

medium_2359293582This holiday season, AAA projects 94.5 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home.  That’s a lot of people on the road or in the airport in the coming weeks!

No matter how or where you travel this Christmas, packing the right stuff is essential to enjoying the holiday season and the friends and family you are traveling so far to see.

We recommend following these packing tips to avoid unnecessary hassles and stress.

Be sure to visit www.usatoday.com for the complete article, and SmarterTravel.com for expert travel advice and unbiased coverage of travel deals.

1. Roll, don’t fold.
Many travel experts agree that tightly rolled clothes take up less space than folded ones. Plus, they’re less prone to getting deep wrinkles from fold creases.

2. Make a packing list
Make the time to craft a complete list days or even weeks before your trip. Creating a packing list is a fail-safe way to ensure that you never, ever forget to bring something important.

3. Know your airline’s baggage-fee policy
The majority of U.S. carriers charge big bucks for bags checked on domestic flights, so before you begin packing, take a peek at your airline’s website and read its baggage policy.

4. Follow the 3-1-1 rule
If you don’t follow the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) 3-1-1 rule for carry-on luggage the TSA will likely confiscate your stuff, holding you up in line in the process. So get familiar with the agency’s rules: All liquids brought onto planes must be in 3.4-ounce bottles or smaller and inside a single, clear, quart-size zip-top bag.

5. Use your personal item wisely
In Five Tips for Fitting it All in a Carry-on Bag, Caroline Morse advises travelers to leverage their personal-item allowance, suggesting, “Forget wasting my personal-item allowance with a tiny purse. I’ll bring a larger tote bag that I can stash under the seat but will still give me extra storage space. This will come in handy for keeping all of the things I’ll need to be on hand during the flight within arms’ reach as well.”

6. Wash your clothes on the road
If you know your accommodations will have free laundry facilities, you’re golden. You can wash and wear just a handful of outfits for the duration of even very long trips. If you’re staying in a hotel, call in advance to see if laundry services are available and how much they cost.

7. Layer
According to the TSA, “Pack items in layers (shoes one layer, clothes one layer, electronics one layer, etc.)” so that the security agent screening your bag can get a clear picture of what’s inside. The faster the TSA agent can screen your stuff, the faster you’ll get through the security line.

8. Never check essential items
Keep your valuable and essential belongings(i.e.your passport, identification, money, credit cards, jewelry, electronics, and other valuables) in your carry-on bag, not in your checked luggage.

Happy Holidays and hope you enjoy safe travels!

photo credit: MsH_ISB via photopin cc

10 Holiday Events Happening Right Now in Portland!

Dec 12, 2013

Portland HolidaysIs the holiday season flying by too fast? Have you been so busy that you haven’t made time to simply enjoy the season and take in some of the many holiday sights and sounds in and around the Portland area?

You can find the holiday spirit in Bridgeport Village with events like Bridgeport Express Train, Holiday Magic Light Show and Breakfast with Santa! Visit www. bridgeport-village.com for details on all these.

If you want to take a short drive into Portland, be sure to check out some of these popular local holiday attractions. Just like Christmas, they only happen once a year, so don’t miss out!

Big thanks goes to Travel Portland for putting this helpful list together!

1. Holiday Express Train through Dec. 15, 2013
Join Santa Claus and his elves for a magical ride on Portland’s famous steam locomotives. Vintage rail cars transport you through wilderness in the heart of the city. Meet Santa in the fully decorated and steam-heated trains. www.orhf.org/about-orhf/holiday-express 

2. The Grotto Christmas Festival of Lights through Dec. 30, 2013
The Grotto’s most popular event, The Christmas Festival of Lights features more than 500,000 lights, 150 choral performances, a petting zoo, carolers, puppet shows and hot chocolate. www.thegrotto.org/events

3. ZooLights through Jan. 5, 2014
More than one million LED lights transform the Oregon Zoo into a luminous winter wonderland filled with moving sculptures, forests of lighted trees and animal silhouettes. www.oregonzoo.org/events/zoolights

4. Portland Revels’ The Christmas Revels 2013 through Dec. 15, 2013
Combining instrumental and choral music, children’s songs and games, ritual and folk dance traditions, drama, poetry and audience participation, this event springs from an age-old tradition of winter solstice celebration. www.portlandrevels.org

5. Portland Christmas Ships Portland Christmas Ships Parader through Dec. 21, 2013
Each year since 1955, Portlanders have gathered along the water to view more than 50 boats decked out in lights and wintery designs. The parade traverses the Columbia and Willamette rivers every night of the two-week celebration. www.christmasships.org

6. The Nutcracker at Oregon Ballet Theatre through Dec. 21, 2013
The enduring magic of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker sets the season a-sparkle, creating memories your family will cherish. Oregon Ballet Theatre is the only company west of the Mississippi licensed to perform Balanchine’s version. www.obt.org/season_nutcracker.html

7. Winter Wonderland through Dec.21, 2013
The Portland International Raceway transforms into a Winter Wonderland each year, welcoming nearly 100,000 people to view spectacular displays of lights and animation from the comfort of personal vehicles and tour buses. www.winterwonderlandportland.com

8. A Locally Crafted Christmas at Pittock Mansion through Jan. 2, 2014
From professional artisans to do-it-yourselfers, more than 80 volunteers contributed to this exhibit. Festive decorations, lights and Christmas trees fill the 16,000-square-foot mansion, and unique décor and gifts await in the Museum Store. www.pittockmansion.org

9. Crafty Wonderland Super Colossal Holiday Sale Dec. 14-15, 2013
Once a monthly art and craft sale, now operates a successful downtown store, Crafty Wonderland highlights its favorite local and handmade goods in this mega-sale at the Oregon Convention Center. www.craftywonderland.com/events

10. The Makery Winter Market Dec. 14-15, 2013
Shop the Makery studio collective designers plus other Oregon makers while sipping craft beverages and grooving to
unconventional holiday music. Or hang out outside at the mobile hot tub with snacks from a few local food carts. www.makerypdx.com/events

Starting December 15th:
The Lights on Peacock Lane Dec. 15—-31, 2013
Since the 1920s, each house in this quaint southeast neighborhood has been decorating for the season. The houses, mostly Tudors, are adorned with not only beautiful sparkling lights, but also thematic scenes, rotating Christmas trees and more. www.peacocklane.net

photo credit: p medved via photopin cc

Don’t Be That Traveler – 14 Thanksgiving Travel Tips to Simplify Your Life

Nov 14, 2013

By Joseph Lawsomier

medium_212242149It’s almost never too early to book your thanksgiving airline tickets. In fact, you probably should have taken care of that last week. So as you prepare for your Turkey Day travel plans, here’s some tips to keep in mind that will simplify your travel days and make your fellow travelers grateful that you’re one of few travelers that actually has it together.

1. Hire a courier service for bags. If you aren’t going to be able to go all-carry-on, make a reservation with a courier service at least three days prior to your flight. The relatively inexpensive cost outweighs the convenience of having your bags arrive at your destination before you do.

2. Check in online. Most airlines offer an online check-in service that’s available 24 hours before your departure. If you’re not checking baggage you can walk straight to the security line and bypass those insane counter check-in lines.

3. Drop off from Arrivals and vice versa. Have your driver, whether family, friend, or taxi, drop you off in arrivals and pick you up in departures. You’ll skim tons of time off your schedule and you’ll avoid typical travel frustration.

4. Fly out on Thanksgiving and/or come home Friday. You can find cheap tickets if you fly on Thanksgiving. Plus traveling is a breeze, compared to the Thursday before. Look for cheap airline tickets on the Friday after the big meal to make your life so much easier. If you take an early enough flight on Thursday you can still make it in time for the feast.

5. Don’t pack wrapped presents in your bag. You run the risk of becoming that person in the security line. Just by some boxes and wrapping paper when you get to your destination.

6. Search your bags at the luggage at carousel. It’s usually too late for the airlines to catch a personnel thief if you wait to make sure nothing was stolen from your luggage once you get to your final destination.

7. Choose neighboring airports when possible. Fly into Midway instead of O’Hare, Maryland instead of Washington International, Oakland instead of San Francisco if you want less hassle and cheap flights.

8. Bring snacks. Just like there’s no reason to no book discount airfare, there’s no reason to pay airport prices for food. You can pack a whole meal if you want in your carry-on if you want and you won’t have to worry about wasting time during your layover to get food.

9. Check on your flight’s status before leaving for the airport. Don’t spend hours of your precious holiday time sitting at the airport if you don’t have to. On busy travel days it’s common for flights to get delayed and push back your departure time, so be proactive.

10. Arrive early. Sounds too simple right? Too many people think this rule doesn’t apply to them anymore, but you never know what shenanigans you’re going to run into at the airport. Maybe the kid in front of you in the security line throws up and diverting the line takes an additional 45 minutes. It’s gross, but totally plausible.

11. Start a bidding war. If the flight’s overbooked and no one is giving up their airline tickets, you are legally allowed to start your own bidding war. This only works, of course, if you have something of value to put up for bidding.

12. Take the first flight of the day. Getting up early is annoying, but you’ll be more likely to avoid delays and be able to find cheap tickets. Just remember that the earlier you get to your destination the more time you’ll have to nap before grandma asks you to help her with the green bean casserole.

13. Build in extra layover time. A lot of the discount airfare sites will offer minimal layover time. Try to manually set the time yourself on the site or call their reservation line to see if you can build in at least an hour, just in case.

14. Be prepared for security. You should know the drill by now: have your boarding pass and ID in hand, wear easily removable footwear, place all your carry-on liquids in a plastic baggy, and remove your laptop from your bag. There’s nothing more annoying than the person who takes 20 minutes at the conveyor belt because they’re not prepared.

Joseph_Lawsomier is a freelance writer who loves to travel around the world. He loves to write about his experiences and give tips on how to find discount airfare and cheap flights.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Joseph_Lawsomier

photo credit: Matt McGee via photopin cc

Things to Do and See this Month: November 2013

Nov 01, 2013

The autumn months give way to a host of agricultural harvest, wine and food festivals, while tree lightings, holiday events and quilt and gem fairs are popular in the winter - OregonsWashingtonCounty.com

Christmas tree at Pioneer Courthouse Square,

Christmas tree at Pioneer Courthouse Square,

 

Taking a trip to the Portland, Oregon area this month? You are in for a treat! There are dozens of wonderful things happening here in November, so bring on the holiday season!

We have listed some suggestions to choose from this month but encourage you to visit the following sites to help plan your upcoming trip! As always, we are here to help!

www.oregonswashingtoncounty.com
www.travelportland.com
downtownportland.org

The Northwest Food & Wine Festival November 16, 2013  

A wine and food celebration created to present a rich rewarding experience for wine lovers and gourmet food enthusiasts. Guests can expect a floor filled with over 600 wines and 50 restaurants and gourmet food tastes which feature an incredible array of options for guests. 800-422-0251

Upcoming Events at Bridgeport Village

  • Ducks vs. Beaver Pep Rally: Nov. 27 from 5:30-7:30pm
  • Light Up The Night Tree Lighting and The Beatniks Concert: Nov. 29 from 6-8pm
  • Bridgeport Express Train: Nov. 29 -Dec. 21 from 11am-2pm and 3pm-5pm daily
  • Holiday Magic Light Show: Nov. 29-Dec. 31 On the hour from 5-9pm daily. Watch as Center Court transforms into a Winter Wonderland of snow flurries. You won’t want to miss this magical show of light, sound and snow! Snow Shows every night at 7pm in Center Court

From TravelPortland.com

  • Holiday tree lighting: On the day after Thanksgiving, thousands of people gather in downtown’s Pioneer Courthouse Square to see the ceremonial lighting of the spectacular 75-foot-tall tree and celebrate the official start of the holiday season.
  • Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival: The Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival presents features, documentaries and short films by independent Northwest film and video makers. The offerings are chosen from more than 400 entries by a prominent member of the independent film community. Past judges have included local luminaries Gus Van Sant, Matt Groening and Todd Haynes. Founded in 1973, the festival attracts more than 6,000 attendees annually.
  • Wine Country Thanksgiving: During Wine Country Thanksgiving, more than 160 wineries and tasting rooms in the Willamette Valley open their doors for special tastings and holiday festivities over Thanksgiving weekend (Friday-Sunday), offering an opportunity to visit some of the region’s small, family-owned wineries that aren’t usually open to the public. Meet winemakers, enjoy specialty food pairings and live music, all while savoring the region’s acclaimed wines.Full article 
  • Holiday light displays: Some of Portland’s bright spots include ZooLights, a display of more than a million lights at the Oregon Zoo, and the Christmas Ship Parade, featuring brilliantly decorated boats on the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Many start the day after Thanksgiving, so you can enjoy the holiday cheer in November, too. Full article

Enjoy the Best of Bridgeport Village with our Lights, Camera, Action Package

Oct 28, 2013

pastini-pastaria-bridgeportNeed a night out with your better half?  Why not do it in style with a hotel package that goes way beyond your typical dinner and a movie?

We have partnered with Pastini and Regal Cinemas Bridgeport Village Stadium 18 to provide our guests the ultimate date night experience at Bridgeport Village.

When you book the Lights, Camera, Action package at Bridgeport Village, guests can enjoy a short walk  to  Pastinione of Bridgeport Village’s most popular restaurants, for dinner and drinks followed by a movie , before retiring to their luxuriously appointed guest room for the evening.

This package includes:

Each of our over-sized rooms and suites comes standard with leather furniture in the living room area, a working desk and ergonomic office chair, complimentary high-speed internet access (either hard-wired or wifi), refrigerator, microwave, coffee station complete with organic NW coffee and local teas and a double-sized bathroom complete with a separate shower and tub.  Our guests are also welcome to our workout facility, our indoor pool and spa, along with a  complimentary hot breakfast buffet.

Please call the Front Desk directly at 866-968-5757 and ask for the  ’Lights Camera and Action Package” to take advantage of this offer today!

Lights, Camera, Action! at the Grand Hotel at Bridgeport

 

 

Plan Your Trip for the 30th Annual Wine Country Thanksgiving!

Oct 17, 2013
Photo Source: Ponzi Vineyards

Photo Source: Ponzi Vineyards

We have said it before and we will say it again.  It’s GREAT to be in the heart of Oregon wine country, a destination that grows in popularity every year.

Thanksgiving is always a special time in the Willamette Valley.  Families and friends come together,  and our local wineries open their doors to celebrate the harvest and to kick off the holiday season!

More than 160 Willamette Valley wineries will offer special tastings, food pairings, live music, holiday discounts, and more during the 30th Annual Wine Country Thanksgiving, November 29 to December 1, 2013.

Now is the time to plan your weekend!  Visit  www.oregonswashingtoncounty.com/Discover-Wine-Country to see a list of  participating local wineries.   Travelers can also order The Guide to Wine Country Thanksgiving in early November by clicking here.

Special Wine Tour packages are available here at The Grand Hotel at Bridgeport that include eight wine tasting vouchers to 4 wineries (listed below), one bottle of local Oregon wine, and late check out.  This is the perfect way to make the most of the weekend by touring some of the valley’s finest vineyards and wineries and end your adventure with us for a night of relaxing bliss.

Our partner vineyards include:

Visit www.grandhotelbridgeport.com or contact our front desk at 866-968-5757 to learn more and reserve your package today! Visit www.willamettewines.com  for tips, recommended  routes, and turn-by-turn directions on your mobile phone with the Willamette Valley Mobile Wine Tour.

 

The 10th Annual West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta Coming in October!

Sep 30, 2013
West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta

Photo Source: City of Tualatin on Facebook

Have you ever seen anyone race a giant pumpkin across a lake in a quirky costume? If the answer is no, you don’t want to miss the award-winning West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta Saturday, October 19, 2013 10am-4pm.

Spectators come from all over the United States and Canada to partake in the festivities which include pumpkin boat races, contests, music, food, The Regatta Run (a 5K), and more!

Photo Source: West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta on Facebook

Now in it’s 10th year, the West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta has grown into one of Oregon’s more popular seasonal events. The 2013 great pumpkin races will be held in conjunction with Tualatin’s Centennial Celebration!

The event has drawn international attention and been featured by the Wall Street Journal, CNN, the Travel Channel, Better Homes and Gardens, HGTV, and Food Network Magazine.

So mark your calendars, book your hotel rooms (we are a short distance from this event)! This is a race you won’t want to miss!

The 10th Annual West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta
Saturday, October 19, 2013 10am-4pm
Tualatin Lake of the Commons – 8325 SW Nyberg St

Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway to Officially Launch!

Sep 12, 2013

Photo @Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway

Biking in Oregon is about to get even better!

The Washington County Visitors Association (WCVA), along with elected officials and cycling representatives, will officially launch the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway during a ribbon cutting and sign unveiling, Monday, September 16, 2013 at 9:00 a.m., at the River House at Rood Bridge Park (4000 SE Rood Bridge Road, Hillsboro, Ore.).

The bikeway was a multi-year effort among the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Travel Oregon, and the WCVA, in concert with representatives from biking and community groups throughout the region.

“The Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway will position Washington County as a premier cycling destination in Oregon,” said Carolyn McCormick, president and CEO of the WCVA. “This new recreational asset will attract a new segment of visitors to our area, which will, in turn, increase visitor spending at our wineries, restaurants, lodging properties and other attractions.”

Set in the heart of Washington County, the 50-mile bikeway features the best of the northern Willamette Valley, from friendly downtowns to fertile farmlands and lush natural areas, and includes the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. For more information about the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway, please visit the Oregon’s Washington County website or Ride Oregon’s website.

Photo @Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway

Download a PDF of one or both of the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway Maps:

For more information, updates and road closures along the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway, “like” them on Facebook. For more information about this and other scenic bikeways in Oregon, visit Ride Oregon Ride.

Story Source: Washington County Visitors Association (WCVA)

Book Your Trip for the 2013 North Willamette Harvest Trail and Grand Tasting

Sep 12, 2013

Photo @North Willamette Vintners

North Willamette Valley is considered by many to be the gateway to Oregon’s wine country. In fact, this region has earned a strong reputation of producing some of the best Pinot Noir in the country!

The annual North Willamette Harvest Trail and Grand Tasting, hosted by the North Willamette Vintners, is an opportunity for Oregon wine lovers to spend a day tasting and experiencing all that goes into making your favorite wines.

Photo @North Willamette Vintners

Photo @North Willamette Vintners

The 2013 North Willamette Harvest Trail and Grand Tasting is coming up Saturday October 5th. Buses will depart from Tualatin Estate Vineyards at 10am for a tour of three vineyard wineries and return for the Grand Tasting at 4pm – 6pm.

Harvest Trail guests are treated to a comfortable guided bus tour to three NWV wineries for complimentary tastings, nibbles, and hands-on harvest activities at each winery. Tickets include a wine country lunch with four different menu options, courtesy of 1910 Main – An American Bistro! The day will conclude with a Grand Tasting event (4-6pm), including tastings from more than 25 NWV wineries, appetizers, a NWV wine glass, and specials on wine from all NWV wineries!

Ticket prices to the event are $95 full-day tour and Grand Tasting / $45 Grand Tasting only. For more info email info@NWVintners.org or call 503.941.0609. Click here to purchase tickets.

Why not make a weekend of it in one of our luxurious rooms and suites? Please email us at reservations@grandhotelbridgeport.com for rates and availability. You can also reach us by phone locally (503) 968-5757 or toll-free at (866) 968-5757.

Let us Help You Keep Your Cool for Back-to-School

Aug 30, 2013

Back to School

September is almost here and for many of you, it is time again for a new school year, which means it is time to stock up on supplies, electronics, backpacks, clothes, shoes, socks and more!

We want to help you get your star student off to a great start this year by showing you where you can find great back-to-school deals that are also TAX FREE! That’s right, there is no sales tax in Oregon on goods and services!

Below, learn more about some of our most popular and diverse shopping destinations perfect for back-to-school shoppers:

Bridgeport Village

Not only is Bridgeport Village across the street from our hotel (really, it is) this popular shopping destination is a mix of upscale and local retailers. Be sure to check out the children’s section of Saks Fifth Avenue’s OFF FIFTH where you will find incredible bargains. You will also find other popular retailers like American Apparel, Urban Outfitters and Free People along with an18-screen IMAX Theater where you can unwind at the end of the day. Tip: Book the Grand Hotel Shopping Package and you will receive a $25 GiftCard to Woodburn Premium Outlets or Bridgeport Village!

Bridgeport Village photo credit: camknows via photopin cc

Bridgeport Village

Bridgeport Village

Woodburn Premium Outlets

Conveniently located right off of Interstate 5 between Portland and Salem, this popular Woodburn, Oregon outlet mall is the largest outlet center in Oregon. Here, you will find impressive savings at over 110 outlet stores like Adidas, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Cole Haan, Disney Store Outlet, Eddie Bauer, Fossil, Gap, J.Crew, Max Studio, Nautica, Nike, The North Face, Polo Ralph Lauren, Puma, Tommy Hilfiger, and more. Tip: Book the Grand Hotel Shopping Package and you will receive a $25 GiftCard to Woodburn Premium Outlets or Bridgeport Village!

Photo Source: www.tripadvisor.com

Woodburn Premium Outlets

Washington Square

This Tigard shopping mall features all of the biggest department stores including a multi-level Nordstrom’s (the largest in the state)! Shoppers can find great back-to-school savings at stores like JCPenney, Macys, and Sears and more.
Smart Tip from WVCO: Washington Square Mall absolutely loves visitors. At the guest services center, bust out your out-of-area I.D. for a complimentary “Shopping & Dining Rewards” coupon book full of savings.  Photo Source: WCVA

Washington Square

Washington Square

The Streets in Hillsboro, Oregon

This destination is worth the short drive from The Grand Hotel at Bridgeport! The latest fashion trends can be found at affordable prices in stores like H&M, Crazy 8, Charming Charlie, and more.

The Streets of Tanasbourne in Hillsboro

The Streets of Tanasbourne in Hillsboro

Story Source: www.oregonswashingtoncounty.com

adidas photo credit: BrittneyBush via photopin cc

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