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packing

On the IndependentTraveler.com Facebook page, we asked our readers to reveal the worst thing they’ve forgotten to pack on a trip. Their answers ranged from passports (tragic!) to pajamas (marginally unfortunate). Here are a few comments we received:

Lauren S.K. wrote, “My daughter’s passport (we went the next day). Second worst thing was underpants. I guess you know where I went first when I got to Germany: the department store.”

Said Carmen C., “I use the same packing list every year, never forget anything.”

Kudos to you, Carmen! And thanks for giving us an excuse to shamelessly plug our Interactive Packing List, a customizable checklist of more than 100 commonly packed items that you can print or e-mail. Making a packing list before you leave for vacation is a failsafe way to avoid having to purchase new underwear in a German department store.

What’s the most important thing you’ve forgotten to pack? Spill the beans on our Facebook page, or post your comment here!

How much aggravation must travelers put up with to save a few bucks?

spirit airlines

Last week, dedicated Spirit Airlines customer Richard Rosichan (known as RichardNika on our message boards), who has flown with the airline roughly 50 times in the past few years, made up his mind to never fly Spirit again — and is in the process of filing suit against the company.

For years, Rosichan was a faithful customer, logging more than 80,000 miles with the airline. As a member of Spirit’s $9 Fare Club, Rosichan estimates he’s saved as much as $4,000 flying with Spirit over the years (in comparison to standard fare prices on major carriers).

All the while, Rosichan remained undeterred by Spirit’s history of controversial practices and policies. A nickel-and-diming pioneer, Spirit was one of the first carriers to levy fees for beverages and checked bags in 2007. And Spirit’s gotten plenty of negative exposure from the offensive ad campaigns it has launched over the years (a recent Spirit ad poked fun at the Gulf oil spill). This week, Spirit made headlines after the airline started charging passengers for carry-on bags on August 1.

But it wasn’t the baggage fees that swayed Rosichan.

Rosichan’s positive relationship with Spirit Airlines changed drastically on July 26, after a canceled Spirit flight left him stranded. According to Rosichan, Spirit canceled its 6:50 flight from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale due to weather and offered only to rebook ticketed passengers on a flight leaving two days later. Rosichan posted about his experience on the IndependentTraveler.com message boards: “[Spirit was] dismissive and totally uninterested in cases involving connection problems, lodging, meals, parents with toddlers (at least two that I saw) and medical issues. … There were no supervisory personnel present. We were told no arrangements would be made with other carriers.”

Unfortunately, the airlines are not required by U.S. law to compensate passengers for delayed or canceled flights. But most major airlines have interline agreements with other carries, which means they can book stranded passengers on a different airline if need be. Since Spirit Airlines has no interline agreements with other carriers, a stranded Spirit passenger is in a particularly precarious position.

Rosichan eventually purchased a flight on Delta and made his way home. He is currently in the process of filing a grievance against Spirit Airlines in small claims court.

Rosichan’s change of heart raises the question at the heart of the matter. Notwithstanding Spirit’s flood of petty fees, Rosichan saved a significant amount of money flying Spirit, which sometimes offers tickets as cheap as $2 before taxes and fees — but was it worth it? Tell us what you think.

quiz Put your travel knowledge to the test — great prizes are at stake! The popular Travel Trivia section in our newsletter gets hundreds of responses each week. And the lucky winner (randomly picked from the correct responses) receives a fabulous prize. We’re currently giving away IndependentTraveler.com airplane comfort kits, which come with ear plugs, a neck pillow and an eye mask.

Here’s a recent question from our July 22 newsletter: What is the only city that sits on two continents? Quite a few people guessed “Panama Canal,” an astute conjecture. But the Panama Canal is not a city, and some experts contend that the separation between South and North America is the border between Panama and Colombia. The correct answer? Istanbul, which is located in Europe and Asia. The Bosphorus, a strait that bisects the Turkish capital, is generally thought of as the dividing line between the continents.

To get in the game — and get a shot at winning a prize — sign up for our weekly travel newsletter. Take a peek at this week’s newsletter and travel trivia question here.