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Pack Like a Pro

Packing a bag takes skill. To many people it can be a work of art. Utilizing space and being spot-on about what items to include can take years to perfect. Below are a few tricks of the trade to help you become a Master Packer!

Consider the weather and what kinds of activities you’ll be doing: Visit weather-related sites to check out how the weather will be at your destination. Ski trip? Pack thermal underwear, wool socks, ski clothes and ski goggles. Beach-bound? Pack a swimsuit, sandals, hat and sunglasses.

Buy travel-size containers for your toiletries: You can always drop into a local shop to restock if you run out. Seal up containers in airtight plastic bags to prevent contents from leaking into your suitcase.

Coordinate your wardrobe with pieces that mix and match: Choose 2-3 color schemes (neutrals are always a safe bet) so each item can work with more than one outfit. Dress in layers so you can adapt to changing temperature.

Call the hotel prior to leaving home to inquire about items that come with the room (hair dryer, iron, robe, etc.): Otherwise, pack travel-sized items. If you’re heading overseas, don’t forget to bring the right plug adapter.

Pack clothing using the “roll” technique: Lay two or three items on top of one another, smooth out and then roll them up like you would a sleeping bag. This saves space and helps prevent wrinkles. Always zip zippers and button buttons.

Organize your suitcase: Place your garments in the order in which you plan to wear the items. Wrap breakable items, like jewelry or glass, in socks and tuck inside the shoes in your luggage. Fill corners and edges with shoes and other cumbersome items. Top off with lighter items.

Winter Air Travel Tips

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I have written repeatedly and at length about excessive delays and cancellations, passenger strandings, and airport woes, and these can happen anywhere. Although there are now federal regulations to prevent delays in excess of three hours, we are essentially still at the mercy of the airlines when snow and storms strike. Below are some tips to help you avoid some of the worst weather-related air travel problems.

1. I have found that the biggest, meanest problems for travelers frequently occur at connecting airports. If your first outbound flight is canceled and you end up returning to your own home from your local airport, that’s one thing; if you are stuck in your vacation hotel hoping to get a flight home, that’s a bit worse. But when you’re stuck in a connecting airport in Texas calling hotels and praying for a place to stay, you’re in what we call yer worst-case scenario, pardner.

For this reason, you should fly nonstop whenever possible. To find nonstop flights, do all your initial flight searches with the “Nonstop Flights Only” button checked. If you also use search options like “Show Nearby Airports” and “My Dates Are Flexible,” you’ll have a very good sense of how best (and how much) to get from Point A to B without Point C for Connection. Continue reading

Winter Driving Tips

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When it comes to driving during winter, there is really only one concern you need have: safety. It’s not miles of rubber on the road that you should concern yourself over; it’s what gets between the rubber and the road that causes most of the problems. Here are some tips on how to get ready for winter driving conditions, and how to handle them once you’re in the thick of a winter storm.

1. Put some extra clothing and emergency items in your vehicle; these will come in handy if you break down in very cold weather. It doesn’t take much — assemble a basic kit including a pair of gloves, weather-resistant pants and/or coat, maybe an old pair of boots, a blanket, jumper cables, a flashlight with some extra batteries, and a windshield scraper (and maybe a de-icer), and you should be in good shape. You might also toss a few nutrition bars in as well; those things won’t spoil until the next millennium, are packed with calories and can bail you out in a pinch.

2. Make sure your car is checked over for winter weather readiness. In particular, you or a mechanic should inspect your tires before the first big winter storm. For folks living in northern regions, checking tires during the fall is an almost sacrosanct ritual, and it’s a good idea even if you’re just a weekender in the snowy parts of the country. Continue reading