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Back To Travel: Notes On Packing

I am in a travel funk! I have no mojo because I have nowhere to go!! You too? I have GOT to find something to get myself back into a travel state of mind! As we all start thinking about getting out and about again, right now may be a really good time to start looking at what is really needed when we pack. And in the age of travel products, there are so many choices. You could literally pack your entire suitcase with travel gear this and travel gear that! We work so hard to plan for every emergency and contingency while trying to keep our suitcase below the check in weight or within the carry on limits that we sometimes wind up not prioritizing at all. So, dear travelers, what ARE the things that are worth taking with you as we get back to travel?

woman walking on pathway while strolling luggage
Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Pexels.com

Notes on packing wants you to know that some of the links below are affiliate links. I only recommend products & brands I love and that I think you would love, too!

Now Boarding!

What kind of carry on do you use? A carry on can be a tragic mistake or a brilliant time saver. Truth be told, I have all kinds of bags that I’ve test driven and I’ve narrowed down to my favorite: the under the seat roller that fits my purse, iPad, scarf, papers, medications, and other essentials. I am the traveler that does anything possible to avoid the overhead bin wars.

woman walking on pathway while strolling luggage
Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Pexels.com

I have all of my essentials including these 4 last pieces of travel gear for the plane: my own headphones, sea bands, zip ties, and travel clippers. There is a method to my madness, I promise! I use sea bands so I don’t need to remember to take Dramamine. They work just as well. I use the zip ties to “lock” my suitcase up before I check it. String it right through the two zippers before you wave goodbye to it on the conveyor belt. The clippers are to cut the tie open on the other end. And, I am addicted to my earbuds and always download content to keep me entertained.

Pandemic Paraphernalia

Let’s face it, if we want to be traveling, we’ve got to take precautions while we are out there. Gone are the days where we simply board a plane and sit down. Now, we need to be vigilant about sanitizing our hands and wiping down our assigned areas on planes and trains. (Truth be told, I was a wiper downer before all of this… you too?) So, what’s new on my list? Well, I do take a lot more of those wipes but I’ve also got some new things, too.

people inside commercial air plane
Photo by Sourav Mishra on Pexels.com

Those required Covid tests to get back in the country is a start. Check, double check, and then go back and check again. You need to be sure that you have all of the up to date information on travel procedures. This means you need to meet the airline expectations, ensure you can clear customs, and meet the requirements of the State Department coming and going.

I also take my UV light surface sanitizer that takes on bedding as well as hard surfaces. This one is great for hotel rooms and cruise cabins as well as AirBandB’s.

I also take along a mask bag with my vaccine card in it. Have mask will travel and if you plan on going overseas at all, that vaccination card is your true ticket to enjoy.

Clothes Horse

This is the moment when I get on the struggle bus! As a plus sized traveler, I’m so nervous that if I need something, I truly won’t find it, so I pack things that are my size! You too? I need to quit and I do try to make better choices. Here are some successes.

black and green luggage bag on brown carpet
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels.com

Shoes: I’ve given up any sort of fancy shoes and stick to three tried and tested choices. First up are my walking shoes, I need them, it’s not a choice and I usually wear these on the plane to wherever I’m going. Next is a pair of comfy sandals in warm weather. Lastly, I rely on washable Rothy’s flats instead of any sort of dress shoe. So far so good on these choices!

unrecognizable woman in headscarf in car
Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

No matter the weather, it’s helpful to bring along the ever useful scarf. Chilly? Wrap your arms. Need a skirt to visit a church? Tie it around your waist. Raining? Wrap it around your head for cover. You can’t go wrong with an all purpose scarf. More importantly, you can’t go wrong when you pick one up as you travel. Don’t get me wrong, I use a very specific one while I’m on a plane, my trusty black and white one. But, one of my favorite travel purchases is a scarf from wherever in the world I am.

My Next Challenge? I’m working hard to stick to three colors so my clothes mix and match well. For me, black, white, and blue will do the trick. I know that if I pack two shirts for every one pair of pants, I’ll extend my choices just a bit. Fingers crossed that this actually works!!

Electronics

Here’s the deal, if you bring any sort of electronics with you on any trip domestic or foreign, you need to protect them. It’s that simple. I invest in a reasonable cube that takes care of surges, conversions, plugs and USB ports. So, I don’t leave home without it.

four white travel adapters
Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

I use it when there are not a lot of free plugs in the airport or I can’t get a seat near a charging station, I use it in a restaurant when I’m having lunch, I use it in a hotel room. Have charged phone, will travel. Which leads me to say that I also always carry a portable cell charger with me as well.

The Miscellaneous Mania

Oh Mother Earth! I promise I’m trying to reduce my carbon footprint and be responsible! I have two ways I do this when packing my travel bag. First I try to only buy environmental beauty products. We all try and here at TGC we test drive tons of them to give you a little insight.

On the other hand, I also find myself taking regular sized products with not too much left in the bottle. I trash those bottles before I return home (and that makes room for my souvenirs!) I was going to have to finish these standard size products anyway.

peaches in shopping bag
Photo by Sunsetoned on Pexels.com

I bring a medium sized nylon bag with me and use it all the time. I buy morning groceries, hold souvenirs, store my water bottle, and keep a map or travel guide among other things. When I’m not using it, I simply roll it up and put it in my purse. The more I take it, the more I use it.

Is laundry detergent on your packing list? It may be and that’s great but perhaps the more important thing that needs to be on your packing list: the name and address of a local laundry mat. This idyllic laundry mat called Frania Cafe is located in downtown Krakow, Poland.

P.S. If you happen to have one, don’t forget your handicap parking tag. Your tag will work in Europe and can afford you easy parking and overnight city center parking.

Family Travel Hub

Star Light Star Bright… Family Travel and Hotel Ratings

Let’s talk hotels and stars, shall we? I read a lot of guides and websites that rate hotels by this system (or something similar). while traveling as an adult, I find this system efficient and pretty easy to use but when kids are involved…. well that’s a totally different family travel rating system!

For example, Great Wolfe Lodge ( found in Virginia among other places) deserved an F. F for Family! Take all your rugrats ! This place is a convention center for the little ones! It has everything including a magical scavenger hunt and an indoor water park. Consider GWL your one stop kid friendly get away extravaganza.

Now let’s think about the average hotel. We all know that we want a clean, moderately priced family hotel that serves a particular purpose and this is basically the type of hotel that any good guide book or website is going to recommend anyway, right? I mean who in their right mind is going to recommend a dump?! So let’s change it up and view our rating system differently!

To continue, hotels that have a B rating, work hard to provide the basics. There will be portable cribs but don’t expect Disney themed rooms. An establishment can have grade if a C for convenience (close to an airport for example) not much is offered at the hotel but you get what you need easily. How about D for destination? This hotel may not have a playroom but it does a great job of connecting you with the local area. Perhaps the hotel offers bike rentals or can set you up with tickets to a local show. Family Friendly Fabulous!

So how about this hotel I recently stayed in? The Martins Chateau du Lac gets a family travel rating of B. Not many kids in the hotel but they are willing to point out a few things in the area to do!

Chateau Du Lac : a family hotel? Maybe...

Join us at TGC for lots more travel talk about family friendly hotels, how things are changing in this industry and how you can enjoy it!

Family Travel Hub, Travel Dreaming

Travel to the library? Oh, yes!!!

Admit it, you haven’t thought about it in a long time. It’s been hectic and there was just no way to fit it into your all too busy schedule. Then, the whole Corona Virus thing brought everything to a standstill. Between dance class and self-quarantine, there is just no room in your schedule for yet another activity anyway. I know, I know! Me too! But the reality is that your local library offers so much more than just a good book selection. There are so many more activities and opportunities at community libraries than we even realize! So, in order to support all those hard working, book loving librarians out there during National Love Your Librarian Month, here is my best pitch to get you in those doors! Let’s travel to the library!

I recently looked at the August schedule for our local library and I was so impressed with the amazing array of events and activities that they are offering. There was everything from science to tax prep. I even saw YOGA! I don’t know about you but yoga may have been my favorite thing on the schedule! Yoga at the library! Seriously?! Absolutely. Libraries are so much more than the books that they keep. Monthly book clubs for adults and weekly story times for kids of all types and ages are just the start of how innovative this underused resource is.

There’s more….

Lots of libraries are involved with programs that incorporate and support STEM initiatives. They provide spaces for people to gather for all kinds of community interests and there is ALWAYS a reading incentive program. (That’s right, they are not just in the summer!) Looking for a class on sign language for babies? Check. How about a veteran’s book group? Yup. Like gardening? Yep, they meet once a month too! The library even offers a class called Pizza and Picasso! I’m in!

Two great resources for getting your kids ready to go to the library are “Between The Lions” (younger) and “Reading Rainbow” (older)- both products of PBS and both available in some way through YouTube. Together, they do a wonderful job of making the library exciting and interesting.

Library Lowdown

As for the global citizen, let me direct you right to the non-fiction stacks. The section you are looking for is all the way at the end. According to Mr. Dewey, you can travel the world in the 900’s. Specifically, section 910 is full of travel and geography. (Did you see my last post on maps?) and just next door in section 914, you will find a bit more about genealogy. That’s right! There is no better place to get started then at the library! Now, hop right on over to fiction and pick up a great European mystery or a Tokyo love story. So, c’mon! What are you waiting for?! Make the time and visit your local library now. Better yet! Make one of these fascinating libraries a bucket list stop on your next travel adventure:

New York Public Library

Located on iconic 5th Avenue, there is no better library in the world, hands down. Check out events and storytimes here.

The London Library

Located in historic St. James’ Square, check out the amazing collection and seriously good events on their calendar here.

The Chicago Library: The Harold Washington Library Center

Located on State Street, check out all of the cool STEM activities that are offered here.

The Central Branch Library of Kansas City

Located in downtown on 10th Street, the library is worth the visit just to see the outside. Check out their events here.

So, let’s travel to the library and discover a new place to find adventures right in your own neighborhood. The library can take you anywhere! Like this and want to see more? Join us at TGC!