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The Check-In: Understanding Black Friday travel deals, toiletry bag essentials, and more

What you need to know about the travel industry this week

Welcome to The Check-In, our weekend feature focusing on all things travel.

Is it worth it to hunt for Black Friday travel deals?

Black Friday is just around the corner, and while we all know it's the day to get steals on things like televisions and vacuum cleaners, is it worth it to put down the pumpkin pie to search for travel deals as well? The experts say yes, it is — but keep a few things in mind.

Jennifer Yellin at The Points Guy recommends doing some prep work prior to Black Friday — for example, get on airline and hotel email lists beforehand, so you'll have deals sent directly to your inbox, and start tracking prices now for tickets you're interested in so you'll know on Black Friday (or Cyber Monday) if it's actually a decent saving. Just because something is a deal, it's not necessarily a steal, and doing your homework in advance pays off.

We're almost back up to pre-pandemic levels of travel, and because there's such high demand, many companies that "are trying to bounce back ... don't have the incentive to offer a lot of deals, because everyone wants to travel," Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with DealNews.com, told The New York Times. Instead of price cuts on Black Friday, look for added benefits being offered instead, like dining credits tied to a room reservation. Ramhold also highly recommends reading the fine print on any deal that's enticing — you should know upfront if it's nonrefundable or subject to blackout dates.

Before's Jamie Collins recommends ... 5 toiletries he can't travel without

As the co-founder of the self-care company Before, Jamie Collins puts a lot of thought into the toiletries he packs — and feels traveling is not the time to try something new. "I tend to stick with what I know and have had success with," he told The Week. Collins shared the five must-have toiletries he takes with him on any trip, and how he ensures they make it to his final destination in one piece:

  • Osmosis Skincare MD - Rescue: "The best serum around for keeping my face healthy and clean when traveling. Ultra-soothing and feels like water. A little goes a long way."
  • Cetaphil Daily Face Moisturizer SPF 50: "I don't like complicated products and my skin can be sensitive, so this one hits well. I use it morning and night."
  • Tom Ford Noir Extreme Cologne: "This is one of my faves and doesn't take up much room in my toiletries kit. I love discovering new colognes when I travel to Europe, they have such a great passion and nose for scents."
  • Davines This Is A Sea Salt Spray: "I don't like a lot of products in my hair, but this spray gives me enough hold and is easy to use. It also smells great without being overpowering."
  • Before Purifying Toothpaste - Whitening: "We just spent three years developing the perfect toothpaste. It's called Before and it tastes and feels incredible. Plus it's full of dentist-approved clean ingredients and features eco-friendly recyclable packaging, and it looks beautiful in any hotel bathroom."

When it comes time to pack everything, Collins places items like floss and dental picks in baggies and makes sure to grab travel-sized, not full-sized, products. "I typically carry my toothpaste, toothbrush, and deodorant in my carry-on in case a connecting flight is missed or luggage is lost," he said. "I missed a connector from Italy to Canada this summer, and happily enjoyed the evening in Munich knowing I had what I needed."

Jamie Collins.

Courtesy of Before

5-star gift idea: Hotel Kit Plus from FluffCo

The holiday countdown is on, and if there's someone on your list whose favorite part of traveling is staying in a hotel, help them recreate the experience at home. FluffCo makes luxe bedding and bath items at more affordable prices, and their Hotel Kit Plus bundle comes with a plush robe, comforter, towel, and two pillows (soft and firm). It's everything your hotel-loving bestie needs for a staycation that never has to end.

The Hotel Plus Kit.

Courtesy of Fluff Co.

Plan accordingly: Upcoming events to add to your calendar

Let's Glow SF — billed as the largest holiday projection arts festival in the United States — will light up downtown San Francisco from Dec. 2 to 11. Every night from 5 to 10 p.m., different works of art will be projected onto notable buildings like the Pacific Stock Exchange, with each one telling its own story. This year, 15 artists are participating, including the Los Angeles-based collective Liquid PXL. Six of their giant Electric Dandelion steel and acrylic sculptures will be on display at Mechanics Monument Plaza — flowers by day, they transform into fireworks at night.

Let's Glow SF

Courtesy of Downtown SF Partnership

Lucia Day has been celebrated in Sweden for 400 years, bringing light to the darkness of winter. Every Dec. 13, candlelight processions are held, with participants donning white gowns and singing songs. They are led by a girl chosen to be that year's "Lucia," wearing a wreath of candles (almost always electric) on top of her head. Visitors to Sweden can attend celebrations across the country, at churches and town halls, and if you aren't near an in-person event, some are aired on television or over the radio.

For more travel news and features, sign up for The Week U.K.'s Travel newsletter, delivered to your inbox every two weeks.

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