Tag Archives: travel list

Come Fly With Me ~ Part 4: Keeping The Memory Alive

Hi! One thing that you must know about me is that I love, love, love to travel, even though I don’t get to do it nearly often enough.  I love seeing new towns and learning about the history and the people of all these places I get to visit, whether it’s right here in the States or across the planet.  So, as I get ready to head on my next trip, I thought I’d take the next few weeks to share some tips and tricks I’ve picked up through the years that make my travel easier and more fun.  But I have one big rule: pack light, never more than I can handle myself, which is usually one carry-on and one suitcase. That being said, there are a few things that most people don’t think to bring that I find absolutely necessary.  Enjoy!

 Part 1: Where I Get All OCD | Part 2: You Look Mahvelous!
Part 3: Before You Go & While You’re There

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Come Fly With Me ~ Part 4:
Keeping The Memory Alive

This is such a fun post for me. I love keeping memories alive, and memories of my travels are some of the best.  Besides the pictures and journals, we all drag stuff back with us to remind us of our adventures.  Some do T-shirts, some do food, others choose post cards. But to me, those things either sit in a cabinet or don’t last.  Or, on the other side, you end up with knick-knacks that do nothing and you have to dust.  I have to confess, I do have my fair share of knick-knacks, though.  My favorite: a replica of what some say is the Holy Grail.  It’s on display at the cathedral in Valencia, Spain, and they actually sell little plastic replicas in the gift shop.  It was so funny forking over cash cash to a nun (and she looked mean – like the kind who’d slap you with a ruler if you didn’t have exact change) in a gift shop in a cathedral that is centuries old.

But I digress.  Over the years, I’ve started to hunt for specific items to bring back with me that remind me of my trip year-round and almost let me relive it in many cases.

    • Fragrances: Okay, I’m starting off with something strange, but stay with me here.  This is something you might already have in your bathroom cabinet! Every time I wear philosophy’s baby grace, I think of this:

      My hubby and I kissing outside the national art museum in Barcelona.  Why? I wore that every day on that trip.  Aquolina’s Pink Sugar takes me back to our babymoon/anniversary trip three years ago.  It’s like people who say a certain cigar smell reminds them of their grandfather, or the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking reminds them of their mom’s kitchen when they were little.  I’m sure there’s a scientific name for it, but I don’t know it.  It’s been accidental, but this year I’m going to actively try it.  I’m thinking of going with Victoria’s Secret Pear Glace this time. Just a note on this whole perfume/fragrance thing: don’t do something overpowering and don’t douse yourself with it, either.  A little dab will do ya.  Please be considerate of those around you.
  • Cookbooks: Better than bringing back food with me that will be eaten or will spoil and never seen again, I like to find cookbooks so that I can make those dishes back home and transport myself back. I’m a bit of a cookbook junkie, so this may not apply to everyone. In Spain, I got a great baking cookbook that’s by a group of nuns that take care of the cathedral in Seville.  Their simple baking has been keeping their convent around for ages.  And I have their recipes.  Just looking at it takes me back to the cathedral.
  • Jewelry: I started this years ago, right after high school graduation.  My ‘senior trip’ was to Cancun where everyone 18 and over went to get drunk.  I wasn’t 18 yet, and wasn’t really into the binge drinking thing anyway, so I opted to go with the French club to Europe instead.  Armed with the money I got as graduation gifts, I was determined to find something special.  And somewhere in Switzerland, I found it: a tiny, simple, diamond-chip and sapphire-chip ring.  I still love that ring and still wear it.  I think it cost me a whopping $45.  Since then, I try to find some sort of piece of jewelry when I go somewhere.  It’s not a must (like any of these souvenirs), but it’s nice to get if I can.
  • Christmas Ornaments: Over the years, we’ve gotten ornaments for our Christmas tree wherever we go.  In the States, it’s easy – any tourist shop has them.  But overseas, not every country has Christmas trees, so it’s been a little challenging finding something.  You have to keep your eyes open and brain working.  In Italy, I found little replicas of the big monuments (about the size of a quarter) and then super-glued some clamps to them when I got home.  In Spain, I found miniature castanets on the last day of our trip. I was so excited to find them.  Sometimes it can be a bit of a scavenger hunt, a fun little extra thing to do while we’re out and about. Now at the end of the year, when we put up our tree, we get to reflect on all the cool places we’ve been to.

How do you keep your travel memories alive?

Come Fly With Me ~ Part 3: Before You Go and While You’re There

Hi! One thing that you must know about me is that I love, love, love to travel, even though I don’t get to do it nearly often enough.  I love seeing new towns and learning about the history and the people of all these places I get to visit, whether it’s right here in the States or across the planet.  So, as I get ready to head on my next trip, I thought I’d take the next few weeks to share some tips and tricks I’ve picked up through the years that make my travel easier and more fun.  But I have one big rule: pack light, never more than I can handle myself, which is usually one carry-on and one suitcase. That being said, there are a few things that most people don’t think to bring that I find absolutely necessary.  Enjoy!

 Part 1: Where I Get All OCD | Part 2: You Look Mahvelous!

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Come Fly With Me ~ Part 3:
Before You Go and While You’re There
Planning and Sightseeing

Okay, so you’ve decided where you want to go, but what are you going to do while there?  We aren’t over-planners, so we do a little prep beforehand, but most of what we see is decided when we are actually at our location – most of the time the evening before we go.  Here’s a breakdown on how we plan our trips and what we do.

Planning & Research

  • Check Out Tour Companies: I went on one of those 20-cities-in-2-days kind of trips before, and it was alright, but not our style. Still, those tours are pretty good sources of information.  For a big trip, I’ll check out some tour packages to get an idea of where they go, how they organize the trip and the highlights of each town.  Just know that these groups often have a chartered bus, so you have to do a little research on how you’ll get from place to place.
  • Online Resources: The best online resources are your friends (also IRL) and social networks.  Post on FB and twitter to see if anyone you know/follow has any experience in your destination.  Someone will always have great feedback.  Also, Trip Advisor has great advice.  We’ve found some amazing small, historic inns through the site.  The comments have always been spot-on.

    Hosteria del Laurel in Sevilla, Spain – one of our Trip Advisor finds.

  • Old-School Books:  We love the Frommer’s books for logistics, and the DK books for activities and history.  It’s nice to have them at the hotel, since Internet connection isn’t always a given.

  • Money:  Some countries are going cash-free, and a lot of Europe is switching to the special-chip credit cars, so regular credit cards won’t work.  Also, let your card company know when and where you’ll be, otherwise they can freeze your account if they think it’s been hacked.

While You’re There

  • Ghost Tour:  Every town we go to, we try to take a ghost tour.  Not because we’re all into spooks and goblins, but more because they share stories of how people used to live in the past.  You get such a good sense of what daily life was for people who lived in that area centuries ago.  If ghosts aren’t your style, there are usually other local tours that are worth doing.  True, most are cheesy (for example, we’re thinking about doing a “Magical Mystery” Beatles tour), but they show you different parts of your destination, and they are usually cheap, so you can just ditch the tour if you don’t like it.  Plus, you’ll get to see stuff that you can go check out later.
  • Ditch the Nice Restaurants & Fast Food: Nice restaurants are the same everywhere – a matire’d, white tablecloths, steak and salad and a dessert tray.  Fast food places are all the same as well.  We like to go for the in-between.  Find local places, go for what the area is known for and go for the real thing.   Our one exception: Pizza Hut.  When we were in Hong Kong, a nurse at the hospital slipped us a take-out menu for Pizza Hut.  Considering we’d been eating Chinese hospital food (it’s every bit as delicious as it sounds), we jumped on the chance to get some pizza.  It was amazing.  So much better than Pizza Hut in the U.S.  Every since then, when we are international (except in Italy – that would just be wrong), we get Pizza Hut to try to test our theory.  So far?  International Pizza Hut pizza is uh-mazing.  This might make me one of those ‘ugly Americans’, but I really don’t care.
  • Speaking of Ugly Americans: Don’t be one.  Be gracious and strive to learn about the culture.  Speak the language – don’t assume that since English is one of the universal languages, that everyone should bow down and speak it to you.  Learn the basics: hello, please, thank you, can you help me?, how much?, goodbye.  Another phrase that I’ve found helpful is I don’t speak much [insert language]. That coupled with can you help me, please? always gets whatever shopkeeper I’m talking with to be nice.  They usually want to try out their English and teach you their language.
  • Night In: Our Pizza Hut night usually ends up being halfway through our trip.  We’ll have a night in to kind of recharge (this is usually the night I give myself a pedi like I mentioned in Part 2).  It’s nice to just relax and have down time, check out local TV, reorganize the stuff we’ve accumulated and make sure we haven’t missed out on anything we wanted to see.
  • Skip Restaurants All Together: A lot of times, we’ll dip into grocery stores and markets, check out all the local stuff they have, see how it’s all set up and get enough goodies for snacks and even a meal or two.  Then hit a park or the local riverfront with the goodies and have a great time people-watching.  One of my favorite travel memories is in Rome, where we saw an old-school butcher shop – the kind with sausages hanging all over and bottles of wine everywhere – and decided to check it out.  I ended up striking up a conversation with the butcher (in my butchered Italian, of course).  He talked to me about the fresh mozzarella and their amazing prosciutto, and that ended up being our dinner that night.  We went back to the little courtyard of our hotel and enjoyed our mozzarella and prosciutto – simply perfect.  Local markets and shops are such a great way to get the ‘flavor’ of where you are.
  • Know Where You’re Going: Some places have a dress code.  Other places only allow a certain number of guests each day, so you have to buy tickets in advance.  My hubby loves brewery tours, so we make sure to have a big breakfast those days, and make sure someone stays coherent (lucky him having a pregnant wife who doesn’t like beer anyway…).  If your heart is set on having a picnic by the Eiffel Tower, bring something to sit on.  Just know where you’re going and what you’ll need.

I would love suggestions on making my trip better…Do you have any travel traditions?

Come Fly With Me ~ Part 2: You Look Mahvelous!

Hi! One thing that you must know about me is that I love, love, love to travel, even though I don’t get to do it nearly often enough.  I love seeing new towns and learning about the history and the people of all these places I get to visit, whether it’s right here in the States or across the planet.  So, as I get ready to head on my next trip, I thought I’d take the next few weeks to share some tips and tricks I’ve picked up through the years that make my travel easier and more fun.  But I have one big rule: pack light, never more than I can handle myself, which is usually one carry-on and one suitcase. That being said, there are a few things that most people don’t think to bring that I find absolutely necessary.  Enjoy!
Part 1: Where I Get All OCD

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Come Fly With Me ~ Part 2:
You Look Mahvelous
Clothes, Accessories, and More

Ah, packing.  This is my least favorite part of going on a trip.  What do I take?  Will it be enough? Will it be too much?  Will it be what I need? It’s so hard for me to know.  Here’s how I do it:

Clothes and Accessories

  • Clothes: Sigh…I’m struggling with this one this year.  I’m at that weird stage in my pregnancy where my regular clothes look strange, and maternity clothes are too big, and if I go up one size in regular clothes, I’ll just look frumpy.  Clothes are going to be a game-day decision this time around. But, as far as packing strategy goes, I usually plan for a day outfit and night outfit for each day, planning on re-wearing some items, and then pack an extra outfit or two.  A cardigan or two (or a jacket, depending on where I’m going) round out my wardrobe. And always pack extra undies.
  • Big Sunglasses: Big sunglasses make you look glamorous & stylish, protect your eyes from the sun, keep you from squinting (thus preventing crow’s feet).  But, the best part by far, and the biggest reason for having some with you at all times is that they are great for people watching because you can stare to your heart’s content and they’ll never know.  I never leave home without some big sunglasses. Also, they can double as a headband to keep your hair off your face.
  • Neutral shoes: I used to pack either brown or black shoes and plan my wardrobe around that.  This year, I’m trying something new.  I’m going neutral, which I think will open up my wardrobe possibilities.  I got these champagne flip flops and wedges that can go with a lot more clothes.  I love how the subtle metallic of the champagne color adds just a little bit of bling. Also, while we’re talking about shoes – I go for the ‘comfort’ brands of sandals (my favorite are b.o.c.) – these brands have come a long way in cuteness. I mean, five-inch wedges that I can comfortably wear all day?  Yes, please!
  • Jewelry: I leave most bling at home. It’s just more stuff to worry about. I go simple: a pair of earrings for day, one for night, and my wedding rings and right-hand ring (which I never take off).  I might bring a necklace.

Makeup and Toiletries

  • Makeup: I don’t wear much makeup on a day-to-day basis, but I do when I’m on vacation, simply because we take so many pictures and I want to at least try to look cute in them.  I don’t go overboard, though.  I take the basic day-makeup stuff and then a couple of items to dress up for evening (like a dressier eye shadow and an extra lip gloss or two, and a makeup primer if I have the space).
  • Pedi Kit: Your toes take a beating walking around all day.  I take a little pedi kit  so I can  give myself a quick pedi once or twice during the trip.  We usually have a night where we recharge and stay in, and this is a nice little relaxing thing to do on that night in.  You can always book a quick trip to a local spa for a good pedi, but I’d rather spend my time and cash on things that I can’t do back home.
  • Sunblock, Sunblock, Sunblock: Protect yourself.  It’s good for your skin in the long run, and that burnt-to-a-crisp-tourist look just doesn’t cut it. My moisturizer has sunblock in it, and I touch up throughout the day with this.

How do you look marvelous when living out of a suitcase?

Come Fly With Me ~ Part 1: Where I Get All OCD

Hi! One thing that you must know about me is that I love, love, love to travel, even though I don’t get to do it nearly often enough.  I love seeing new towns and learning about the history and the people of all these places I get to visit, whether it’s right here in the States or across the planet.  So, as I get ready to head on my next trip, I thought I’d take the next few weeks to share some tips and tricks I’ve picked up through the years that make my travel easier and more fun.  But I have one big rule: pack light, never more than I can handle myself, which is usually one carry-on and one suitcase. That being said, there are a few things that most people don’t think to bring that I find absolutely necessary.  Enjoy!

____________________________________

Come Fly With Me ~ Part 1:
Staying Organized and Clean

This is where I sound like a germophobe and OCD freak, but really, I’m not.  However, if you’re going to live out of a tiny hotel room for days on end, I think special care needs to be taken to keep things under control.  It’ll make your trip nicer and it will help you get out the door faster so you can enjoy your vacation!

  • Olay Daily Facials (the dry ones, not the wet towelettes) and Buff Puff singles: they already have cleanser in them, weigh nothing, pack flat, and there is nothing that can spill in your suitcase.  I take both with me, but just what I’ll need on the trip.  The daily facials are great for everyday use (they even remove makeup), but after sightseeing all day, sometimes I want a little more exfoliation to get rid of the grime and sweat.
  • Soap sheets or small bottle of soap: It’s amazing how many bathrooms don’t have soap, and how nasty places can be.  I used to be able to find soap sheets in the Target trial size section for $1, but haven’t seen them in a while and everything else I see on the market is way more expensive, so if I know I’ll be out a lot and taking a lot of trains and stuff, I’ll take a tiny bottle of soap with me (I usually use one of those keychain-sized purell bottles and refill it with soap).  Sometimes you just want to wash off when you are out and about, not just use antibacterial gel, you know?
  • Common meds: Especially when you’re traveling internationally, you don’t know what the medical equivalents are or where to find them.  Plus, if you get a bad headache or blister, the last thing you want is to have to stop your vacation and hunt for a drug store to find some advil or band-aids.  If you have a small kit with you, you can take care of yourself and go.
  • Febreeze: I always have a travel-size bottle of this stuff for two reasons. First, sometimes when you stay in older towns, the buildings are old and have a bit of a funk. Some people take travel candles, but I like the odor neutralizers.  Second, as your vacation progresses, you pile up dirty clothes, or you need to freshen up clothes that you plan on wearing again.
  • 2 Trash Bags: I keep dirty clothes in one and sometimes if I’m doing a lot of hotel-hopping, I’ll put clothes that I plan on rewearing in a second bag.
  • Zip-top bags: I always take a couple with me, and always end up using them for many reasons.
  • Take stock and simplify: Make your life easier by making sure you’re only taking what you need.  For instance, my Kindle, P&S camera and cell phone all use the same type of charger.  That means I don’t have to lug more cables with me. If you are traveling with someone, combine and conquer – figure out what you can share (toothpaste, shampoo, q-tips, chargers, etc.) so you don’t have more junk to lug around.

What about you?  How do you stay organized when traveling?