Posts filed under 'travel tips'

The princess, the pea, and long haul flights

I have become one of those people who I used to make fun of. In some sort of defense for myself (that perhaps is actually just stupidity) it took a lot of years. I first traveled abroad at 16 and from 22-29 took yearly trips abroad. But in these last 2 and half years I’ve been flying…a lot. And while not every flight is a long haul over night flight, they are becoming more frequently…several times a year. And with that, I’ve become a princess when I fly.

Well maybe not a princess. That assumes some great amount of privilege/wealth/respect/authority that I don’t have at all. So scratch princess…just a particular bag lady of air travel.

I don’t like flying. I love when I encourage someone to come visit or see a part of the world and they tell me they don’t like flying. Honestly? Does anyone like flying? I mean I know we’re supposed to enjoy the journey and all, but I don’t think they literally mean enjoy being crammed into a flying tin can with 1,000 strangers, confined to a foot-by-foot amount of space, being fed shitty food. And while I’m sure those in first class don’t mind traveling as much as us in steerage… I’m pretty sure there’s about a million things they’d rather be doing. Flying sucks. It it’s a means to an end. And I have finally stopped fighting against an unspoken rule I have in my head that there’s no difference in being utterly miserable and just kinda miserable in air travel.

So here are the changes I’ve made that are making my air travel better.

Headphones – really nice headphones. They were a birthday present and they have now made traveling so much better. I admit I was coming from the ear bud world so there was a lot of room for growth. But now I have Bose Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones. THEY ARE AMAZING. First, my ears don’t hurt from wearing them. Second, they really do cancel out ALL the noise. Third, they have Bluetooth and thus can be wireless. They also do have a cord for watching back-of-the-seat movies…. but it’s great to be wireless when I want to just listen to my peaceful piano playlist and try to go to sleep. But really…the noise cancelling is phenomenal! I wouldn’t wear these running, or walking…but for flights (or drowning out a snoring husband) they are amazing.

Eye mask – I’m not picky here. Fancy satin or a cheapie the airline gives you…essential. Because there’s always that one asshole that leaves his window open just sliver on the other side of the plane that lets in a laser beam of sun right into your pupil an hour before you needed to get up. I hate that asshole. Last year E (without eye mask) asked a flight attendant to get said asshole to close his shade, and she came back to say that unfortunately he was sleeping. I wanted to tell her to wake his ass up. Because there were at least 6 other people suffering for his asshole careless slumber…I digress…

Toothbrush – I rarely brush my teeth inside the plane because the tap water is gross and any water I have on hand I think the priority is to drink it. But it’s so nice to be able to brush my teeth right when I get off the plane. Or if it’s a super late one before I get on (extra bonus I’m deterred from eating gummy bears)

Motion Sickness Wristbands – I don’t get “sea sick” in the air very often at all. But when it comes on, it’s terrible. And it’s always the last 10 mins before landing when we’ve needed to circle around the airport before landing. On the plus side, I normally start yawning immensely right before I get nauseous and these are a serious relief. First string of ridiculous yawns they go on and while it doesn’t totally halt feeling crummy, but it really, really prevents it from making me horrendously ill. Bonus – I carry these in my purse at all times because on Scotland roads…. travel sickness sneaks up on you a lot.

Upgraded class – I can’t afford first class…or even business class. But on any flight over 5 hours, I have made the decision I can definitely afford the extra $100-$150 to upgrade to economy plus. A little more legroom goes a long freaking way. And if you are a frequent flier with an airline, you’re more likely to get bumped up to that new level that floats between economy plus and business…where you don’t get to lie down to sleep but you do get champagne. SCORE!

Lounge Access – You’d think we fly enough to be whatever level needed for lounge access right? We don’t because we use so many different airlines. E has a petroleum card for Air France that let’s us cut in line for security and boarding, but he doesn’t get a guest in the lounge with paying extra. Because we always have at least one 4-hour layover in a flight, we have made the decision to get a CC that gives us lounge access. That’s right…we now have the Case Sapphire Preferred. I haven’t been able to utilize this lounge access yet…but I will be very soon. E has though and he loves it.

 

 

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Butt pillow – Not for the every man, but for me. I cracked my tailbone in high school (official x-rays not taken as my parents were away and we didn’t have health insurance and since there’s nothing you can do about a broken tailbone it didn’t really matter) playing soccer. I did sit on a donut at school and I couldn’t play for weeks. Since then my tailbone would act up maybe before a big storm (my butt could tell when it would rain, ha!) but was fine for about 15 years until last year. I know the exact trip home my tailbone started acting up…I’m blaming long flights, hospital chairs, and I’m sure horseback riding doesn’t always help (especially since I really have worked how to sit the canter well or come down lightly over a jump all the time). Anyway, I carry a butt pillow. I don’t care if it’s embarrassing. Ass pain is no joke.

Spotify Premium – In total transparency what I am insisting you have to make your travel more enjoyable, I no longer have. But if you have Spotify premium and can download playlists so you can listen to them without wifi…most importantly, said Peaceful Piano playlist, life is so much more enjoyable. Or maybe it’s a Home Coming playlist that you like to hear to get you in the mood to that beautiful Chicago skyline as you land…I did have premium for 5 months of so…but then I got a horse and E said we needed to cut costs. So my great sacrifice was Spotify Premium…my friends think this is a very funny exchange but shhhh, it seems E hasn’t run the numbers yet.

Neck pillow – I don’t always carry this. To be honest, the ass pillow takes up a lot of space. And if for whatever reason it’s a packed flight and I can’t get a window seat I don’t bring it. And if I am flying with Stella…no way. Because airlines do provide you with a little pillow…but bliss is a neck pillow with the addition of leaning into the little window nook. But to be honest, I brought a neck pillow ONCE last year. Though now I judge less when I see people with them.

So that’s my list of the little things that make a flight that much more enjoyable tolerable. As I stated, I don’t have all the things on the list for every hour flight down to London. It depends on the time I’m traveling, duration of flight, where I’m going, the company I’m with…. but I am over being embarrassed for being a bag lady if that’s what makes god awful air travel more tolerable.

What are your must haves for a long flight?

Travel Trials & Tribulations

Ask people what they would do if they won the lotto or didn’t have to work anymore and a lot of them would say “travel”. Obviously, there are a lot of great benefits to travel, one of which is it sure isn’t work. It’s easy to think travel is…well easy. The gorgeous photos, the limited mention of funds spent, the adventure…. I totally add to that delusion in my blog posts. So I want to set the record straight. Travel is fantastic, but don’t think everything goes as planned. And I tend to plan EVERYTHING. I’m pretty Type A when it comes to travel with restaurant reservations, itineraries; I even make lists of what I’m wearing on which days. It’s kind of surprising I even like travel…. given that no matter how well you plan, shits going to go wrong.

So, for your amusement, and perhaps a dose of reality, here’s a sampling of the shit that has gone wrong when I’ve traveled.

♠The most recent travel woe was when our flights to Tromso were cancelled, 2 hours before take off. Resulted in an unexpected night over in Oslo, frantic rearranging of our schedule, and E taking an extra day off work. Flexibility is key!

♠The trip right before Tromso, we got to Chamonix and didn’t have any luggage and made a rookie mistake of not having a carry-on bag. Lessons learned!

♠My first trip abroad was to Paris with my parents and friend, who was sustaining off of Coke Light and baguettes. When she finally did brake and need some real food, she ordered a sausage. Once she cut into it, this awful smell hit all of our nostrils. She took a bite and nearly gagged. It took a while, but finally through language barriers, came to find out the sausage was made out of intestines.

♠While driving across Italy, E stalled a car right around a corner from a busy round about. We were all screaming since we were sure a car was going to slam into us…E couldn’t take the pressure and just jumped out of the drivers seat and abandoned us…. In correcting that error (with my brother now driving) we nearly got stuck (literally stuck) in an alleyway. We had to fold in the mirrors and we all held our breath…some guys on the street were nice enough to move ladders, garbage cans, and cats to make sure we could fit through. Come to think of it, there are about 4 other “incidents” with that car in Italy. Let’s just say, we all actually thought we were going to die or have to pay for extreme amounts of damages at least once.

One of the many times we almost died...here we were in Austria, before we got to Italy.

One of the many times we almost died…here we were in Austria, before we got to Italy.

♠Last year we were in Croatia for my birthday. For my day, I planned a nice hike up to a cave. This was on the way to another destination, and so there was only this one-day to do it. Nature had other plans and as soon as we came into the town it started hailing so hard we had to pull over on the way there. We tried to wait it out but after 30 minutes there was no end in sight so we carried on…to celebrate my birthday with (surprisingly good) pizza – that I accidentally dropped half on the floor of the restaurant. Happy 30th.

This is the storm the came in on my birthday in Croatia.

This is the storm the came in on my birthday in Croatia.

♠In high school I had a teacher who had gone to Rome the summer before. It’s all she could talk about and spent a full class in detail of the Vatican, passing around a book and doing a slideshow of her pictures. I was religious (catholic) at the time and I wanted to see the Sistine Chapel more than ANYTHING. Years later when studying abroad in London, I took a trip to Rome with a guy I hardly knew (un-romantic) who was a huge douche bag. We stayed at an awful hostel, got lost/trapped at some insane only-in-Europe Rave, and I had a splitting migraine the whole trip. Alas, I was going to see the Sistine Chapel. We were going to do it on Sunday, and we flew out Monday morning. We get to the Sistine Chapel and it has closed 30 minutes earlier for the day. I sat on the ground and wept. It felt like I got sucker punched and someone was playing a mean joke. This is probably the reason I am so insane in my travel plans and probably why I gave up on god.

Finally made it to the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel

Finally made it to the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel

♠Also in studying abroad…. I spent 4 nights in Dublin without pajamas. Which shouldn’t be that big of a deal…but I was in a cold hostel and only had skin-tight jeans that had booze, and more than likely some remnants of puke on them.

♠On our honeymoon in South Africa, E got “mugged”. It’s in quotes because it wasn’t a mugging in the traditional sense, it was E being a chump and inadvertently giving a guy his atm card AND the pin code. Luckily, it was a bank we didn’t keep much money in and after a lot of stress and tears, got it all sorted away…and eventually got refunded the money despite the fact that basically all banks declare if you’re a dumbass in South Africa, it’s not their problem.

♠Oh you think that’s the only bad thing that happened on our honeymoon? Think again. The last bit of our honeymoon we were in the Seychelles. We had hired a private tour of the island that ended with a few hours on a private beach and a picnic lunch. At some point…. right about here:

Lovely photo...E's ring was probably sliding off his finger right now.

Lovely photo…E’s ring was probably sliding off his finger right now.

E lost his wedding band. The white gold, engraved, not-yet insured wedding band. Poof. Floated away in the sea. There were a few hours of a seething newly wed there.

♠When we went to Turkey, we forgot our real (or any) camera. We only had our phone to capture the memories. Thus, no photos can be blown up and displayed.

Would be great if we got high quality pics of this experience...

Would be great if we got high quality pics of this experience…

♠We went to London to meet up with E’s friend who was to be in town (from Texas) to see the Dallas Cowboys game. He had a bunch of friends in the UK, so through his organization we all got tickets together. Then he realized he couldn’t come. Luckily, his friends were nice and we got along swimmingly…otherwise it was going to be a real awkward night.

♠The same trip to London, we had tickets to see Phantom of the Opera. I dressed to the nines. It poured down rain that night. Umbrellas broke. Streets are flooded. I showed up looking like a drowned rat. Still…a great show!

♠I think the most recent time this happened was in Istanbul…. but it’s definitely happened prior to. When you put your bank card into the cash machine and it gets flagged and not only do you not get money, but you don’t get your card back leaving you with no access to paper money. ALWAYS bring back ups and alert your banks people.

♠Using expired sunscreen and burning to an absolute crisp in Turkey. And before the burn totally settled in, going to a weird chakra massage where I was put naked on a table with hot oil water boarding me. I smelled (and felt) like a fried chicken by the end. The oil trapped in all my internal body heat and I spent the night with E putting cold towels on me, and having them turn actually hot to the touch every 5 minutes. Then the next day, despite painfully running through Charles De Gaulle, missing a connecting flight and suffering with my third degree burns in a shitty hotel until I could get on a flight the next day, and find some aloe vera relief.

♠Flying across the Atlantic when you realize that new prescription for your dog has a domino effect, and she now has to pee. Badly.

"What?! I would never disrupt a flight with a need to pee."

“What?! I would never disrupt a flight with a need to pee.”

♠Thinking that you’re checking into an amazing AirBnb…. only to arrive to a slightly dirty, slightly moldy, room with weirdly stained towels. But the view is great….

♠When E came to visit me in London (when studying abroad), we took a weekend trip to Paris. Our first night, even though it was late, I wanted to show him the Eiffel Tower. We got on the metro, and somehow read the map wrong, we went all the way to end of the metro- the wrong way. And it was the last train of the night. We had no idea where we were or how to get home. We tried to hail a cab but none would stop. We found a restaurant that was open and tried to figure out a cab but no one spoke English. This was before smartphones people! We went out and just started walking, eventually stumbling upon a cabstand and finally getting a cab home.

We finally made it to the top of the Eiffel Tower

We finally made it to the top of the Eiffel Tower

♠That same Paris trip…we were broke college kids and booked the cheapest hotel we could find. It was on the 5th floor, of course no elevator, in a pretty rough neighborhood. And better still, the metro stop closest was closed down for construction, so we had to get off a stop early and walk up a massive hill every time. It was just a warm up for the 5 flights of stairs. I swear I lost 5lbs that weekend.

♠And my own fault, there are have been a couple times when I let my guard down, and became a little over-served. This resulted in hellacious days on holiday the following day. Glad I got to see the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, but I barely pulled it together and would have had a better time if I didn’t have to put my hands on my knees and my head in-between my legs every 10 minutes to stop from passing out. And it probably wasn’t my finest moment, and definitely one of the most painful travel days returning from Lisbon after staying out until the sun came out, running to the hostel to get our things (and puke) and then head to the airport. Not sure how many germs I picked up lying on the Lisbon Metro floor but…. let’s not think about that.

So yeah, travel definitely has its downsides. But like seeing how other people live, eating new foods, speaking a new language…there’s plenty to learn from the nightmares of travel. Like be careful with your debit cards, don’t buy your husband nice jewelry, always have a carry on bag, sunscreen expires after a year, you can’t control the weather or the airlines, and how to adapt to change.

What’s the worst thing that’s happened to your on a trip?

 

5 Reasons Air France is the WORST

Just Say

  1. Their food sucks.   I’m not sure how a French airline sucks at croissants, but they do. I mean your flight is coming directly from Paris. How do you even find croissants that bad in France?! If I was French, I would have to quit my stewardess position as it would be unethical for to hand out such an abomination of an excuse for the pastry of my people. I could get a better croissant at Lidl in Aberdeen. And I won’t go into depth…but a “Radish and Pesto” sandwich? WTF is that? And where the hell is the Coke Light? No one likes Coke Zero. Give me the good stuff damn it!
  2. They are always on strike. It’s like everyone decides it would be a great time to go to Ibiza and so they just schedule a strike….like every other month. They apparently make it known their dates of holiday strike, but unless you’re getting French news, you’re not going to know about it. Because they still let you book flights on the days there will be a strike and don’t bother sending you an automatic email of their current holiday strike plans. And then they wait until the day before their holiday strike and they email you letting you know your flight has been cancelled- no guarantee to get you out, but give them a call and they’ll see if they can figure something out. What type of policy is that?! It seems airlines have no problems blacking out days of travel, why not start blacking out the days all your employees are going to take off?!
  3. They approve you for the shortest, stupidest, most unrealistic connection times that there is in no way possible for at least (if not more than) 50% of travelers. See: people over the ager of 50, people with children, people with carry on bags without wheels, people who aren’t aerobically fit enough to run a 5K at at least a 9:39 min mile pace. My last connection left me sprinting through Charles de Gaulle, boots and winter jacket in hand, trying not to slip on their stupid floors in my socks, not even getting a chance to see what the seasonal macaroon flavors are from Lauduree. If we weren’t Priority Access which allows us to cut some security lines (and weren’t runners), there is no way in hell we’d make half our connections. And last time, despite the fact that we made the connection, our bags didn’t. And this isn’t a one-off occurrence. I actually cannot remember the last time I didn’t have to SPRINT through Charles de Gaulle. At least carpet all your floors so I don’t have to worry about tearing an ACL on top of my worry of making my flight.
  4. Which brings me to #4. Not 100% an Air France problem, but because their hub is Charles de Gaulle, it goes into the pile of hatred for Air France. The flight to Aberdeen from Paris leaves from the same terminal every time. It’s always a little commuter plane, and you always have to take a shuttle bus out to walk up into the plane. I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve (sliding into the line at the next security check point (whether that be passport control or a full on security screening), panting, sweating, and totally unnerved at the fact I am going to miss my next flight) and the airport employees brush me off. Every time I find an employee and explain to them that my flight take off time is in 20 minutes, they look at the gate number and tell me that it’s fine…the gate is right down the (slippery, tiled) hall, I’ll make that flight after standing in hellacious line. I then try to explain to them that no, I have to take a bus to the actual plane, the last bus leaves 15 minutes before the take off time (if I’m lucky, sometimes the last bus leaves 20 minutes before take off time.) Whether it is the language barrier (doubtful) or just the fact they are unaccommodating assholes, they don’t seem to understand this and just do a half-ass reassurance that I’ll be fine…not letting my skip to the front of the line. Do you know how hard it is for E to restrain me from finding that ass clown and absolutely freaking out on them after we miss connecting flights because the last bus already left?! I’m going to start taking pictures of them, hiring a PI, and sending them dog shit in the mail. Charles de Gaulle employees are the absolute least helpful, least sympathetic, and quite frankly seem to lack any moral compass or soul when it comes to the 3 minute difference between making a flight and not making a flight. Even when I am doing all in my power running through airports, hurdling luggage and children, and not eating macaroons. And what’s most frustrating is that I actually haven’t missed my flight…my flight is still out there waiting to take off…but I missed the last bus out to my flight. Which for some reason they can’t figure out a system to have a little backup van waiting or just arrange for another shuttle to take the 3-10 people out to the plane. I won’t even get into the massive dudes with machine guns walking around and being sequestered in little parts of the airport with 5 people per square foot for security lockdowns that seem to happen with alarming regularity…. No lie, on one connection we got put on lock down 3 different times on the way to our gate. But because there were 15 people held up in that- they arranged for an extra late shuttle.
  5. The accommodation they provide when you miss your connecting flight…or more likely, miss the shuttle bus out to your connecting flight. After we have been traveling all day (2 or 3 flights in Turkey to get to Paris) and then they wouldn’t let us cut the line or provide another bus to take us to our taxied plane, they give us vouchers for a hotel and dinner and directions to another shuttle bus to take us there. Despite the fact that our luggage is in the airport (because if you didn’t make the flight, your luggage sure isn’t), they can’t give it to you. So you get on the 20 minute shuttle and check into your shitty, shitty hotel (Ibis I think?) where they don’t have any simple hotel amenities (like a free toothbrush or a kiosk to buy contact solution), and E has to wander from hotel to hotel in the area collecting the essentials because you’re in the middle of nowhere with 0 stores of any sort. Then you eat from the weirdest and probably most disgusting buffets you’ve ever encountered (only made more disgusting from the fact you smell like a whirling dervish who has raged for 24 straight hours) and head back to your room to get out of your smelly clothes and shower, thinking you’ll just sleep/lounge in the towel (heaven forbid there is a bathrobe here) while you hand-wash your unmentionables and then use the 1 Shetland-pony-powered hair dryer to try and dry them for tomorrow…. only to discover the towels aren’t even big enough to wrap fully around you and the hair dryer smells like burning. UGGGGGGGH.

air france devil

Seriously. Air France is the worst. You’ve been warned. If you have the option to take an Air France flight, or ANY OTHER FLIGHT IN THE WORLD, take your chances elsewhere. I mean, I think Malaysian Airlines would probably be a better bet at this point.

Do you have an Air France horror-story to share? Or any other airlines you suggest I avoid in the future? I wanna hear em!

American Haul

I mentioned in my last post that we successfully (in my opinion) won the baggage options on our flight home this year. Last year was an utter mess resulting in about $500 of extra fees (eeeek! You live and learn.). This year we were much more strategic. Erik and I each have one normal sized carry on. Going to the states mine had my computer stuff, dog stuff, and workout clothes. My large checked bag had a folded up duffel inside and a lot of gifts (including a bottle of gin-heavy!) and things like extra sweats and running shoes I was leaving at home for my next return.

Erik’s carry on was full of all the extra heavy gifts (books, the heaviest box of chocolates ever, the board game stramash made of wood and marbles, etc). So full that he actually had to take stuff out because his puddle jumper first flight out of Aberdeen airport weighed it- oppps. His other bag had his clothes and some more gifts. As I was hoping was the case, on his layover in Frankfurt he bought me the large Longchamp weekender duffle (duty free and didn’t count against weight!).

When we repacked, all of E’s old undies got thrown out (hallelujah!) making room for his new (thank god). I got a new (smaller) mac book pro so it now fit in my (massive) purse instead of my carry on and left the old mac at my mom’s. Additionally I got global entry so I didn’t have to deal with the hassle of taking anything out of my bag. My carry on had a lot more space to go to things I wanted to bring back to the UK, as did my original checked bag. The two extra duffle bags (while impossible to fill to 50 lbs) got stuffed to the brim, along with E’s carry on and his normal checked bag.

So we came back with 2 extra duffels each costing $100. As far as I can tell, this is the best mode of transportation. To get more weight on the extra bags back, the only other option is buying extra suitcases stateside and filling them up to 50lbs (instead of bringing our own duffels from the UK originally). I feel that the cost of suitcases though negate that value. I have also heard of people packing shipping boxes full of clothes, etc and checking that as your extra luggage piece (lightest weight so the most poundage of goods) but with all our stuff that sounds like a nightmare to carry/move/fit in a car.

So with all this strategy….what did my haul back to the UK have in it?  I now realize I should have taken pictures at least of ALL the luggage, with or without opening the zippers so that you could see what a packing wizard I am.

  • Pumpkin Pecan Trader Joe’s Oatmeal
  • Kind Bars
  • Pumpkin Bars (by TJ)
  • Pumpkin coffee
  • Pupperoni – 2 lbs!
  • 2 bags of Target rawhides
  • 2 bags of Charlie bear dog treats
  • 1 dog toy
  • 1 light up dog collar
  • 1 dog vest
  • 4 sleeves of golf balls
  • Golf ball scoop/club
  • 4 books
  • new American full size sheet set for our guest room
  • new American full size duvet cover for our guest room
  • ipad mini
  • day planner
  • 1 supersize Charleston chew (what I couldn’t resist)
  • 3 Dylan’s candy bars
  • Beef jerky
  • Moscow mule mugs
  • Prescriptions
  • Nyquil
  • Massive bottle of Tylenol pm
  • 2 bottles of ibuprofin
  • hot water bottle
  • Garmin Forerunner 235
  • 4 bras
  • Gloves – work gloves, running gloves, and mittens
  • Stocking cap
  • 2 mascara
  • 2 pairs of lululemon tights
  • 2 vests
  • 4 shirts
  • Gravy boat & mini ladle
  • Sport bra
  • Sweatshirt
  • 2 running tops
  • 1 pair of breeches
  • half chaps
  • so many socks
  • 2 pairs of earrings
  • Trader Joes’ Balsamic glaze
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Browning sauce
  • Set of 4 tartan appetizer plates

Erik’s haul?

  • Aero coffee press
  • So many socks
  • Golf balls
  • 4 pairs of new dress pants
  • 2 sweaters
  • 4 new dress shirts
  • new running pants
  • so many new undies
  • poofy vest
  • deodorant

Would I die if I couldn’t bring back anything? No, but things can be so much cheaper stateside. Bringing back Stella treats sounds so stupid I know, but they are so cheap and the ones she likes. Here if I get a package of about 10 rawhides it costs £5, at Target I get a bag of about 50 for $12.99. Other things were gifts that I do want so of course I’ll bring those back. Clothing options and prices are 1000000x so taking advantage of that (thank you black Friday sales, ebates, and a friend that works at Under Armor.) Throw in some uniquely American pumpkin treats for me. And deodorant of course- I’m not switching to UK spray deo. And the drugs, ohhh the American Costco quantity drugs. Thank god for the drugs. Do you have any idea how much ibuprofen (running, lifting, basketball, horse riding, stable work) we go through in this house? What about allergy pills as we’re both sorta allergic to our dog and I have a hard core horse and hay allergy? Do you know sleep aides are illegal here? Not even just talking Tylenol PM, but even melatonin…so I got melatonin (275 tablets), Tylenol PM (375 tablets) and a big jug o’ Nyquil.   And don’t forget about all the cold & flu drugs I’m reliant one (hopefully only) once a year when I get sick and don’t get out of bed for 3 days.

So yeah…you might feel this list is a tad ridiculous…and that’s okay. If you’re an expat- what do you stock up on and bring from your motherland? Not an expat? What things would you bring with you on a checked bag under 50 lbs?

Travel Tip: Trainers

Packing for a trip can be hard….so many clothes, so little space. Especially as airlines get more and more strict about baggage weights and allowances. My biggest struggle is looking cute, but still being dressed practically. And really, the biggest concern about practicality of your outfit traveling is footwear. Generally you’re walking A TON on holiday in Europe. I mean, there are times you’re on a beach, or hiking and need specific footwear for that, or it’s a million degrees and you want sandals, but generally speaking, the wrong footwear can really ruin your trip and comfort is key on your travels.

 

Even now on trips to Paris, where my main goal is to relax, soak it up, drink wine and eat cheese, I end up walking a ton. Doesn’t matter that I’m not darting about trying to see all the biggest tourist attractions. It’s just a big city and in big cities you walk a lot.  There are trips where you won’t walk as much though.  Our trip to Croatia isn’t very walking heavy: the cities are small, we’re doing outdoorsy things 4 days (hiking/kayaking/cycling) where I’ll wear running shoes, but otherwise I brought sandals and Tieks.  But think about if you go somewhere like Rome for the first time- you’ll be walking everywhere trying to make the most of your trip and see everything!  It’s a big city with a lot of proper “sights” to see.

 

While I yearn to look cool and not touristy and bring all my fabulous shoes, they aren’t the most practical. Especially in the fall and spring when I prefer to do most of my travels.  Fabulous shoes:

  • Aren’t always the most comfortable.
  • Cost more, which is worthy of consideration with lost luggage, hotel theft, and the fact you’re bringing less shoes, if you encounter some unexpected weather and ruin fabulous suede oxfords in rain…it sucks.
  • Can take up more space. I would love to wear riding boots in my euro adventures but they are so big…and then there’s the possibility of swollen calves and not even fitting in big ole’ boots.

 

And thus, you need cool trainers- that aren’t for working out. Because even cool booties tend to hurt after 10 miles of walking uphill in Edinburgh in a day. Running shoes are too sporty and stupidly colored. Cons aren’t my thing and don’t offer enough support. Sandals don’t offer enough padding for lots of walking. I’m not a Toms person so I have no idea about them. Sperry’s make my toes grip at every step and then cramp up. Ballet flats might go the blister route and pairs like Tory Burch Reva’s don’t offer enough support (although Tieks give it a great shot and they do tend to make it on all my trips, maybe a review on that…). But that’s why I have 2 pairs of my go-to travel trainers- both Nikes.

Why two pairs? Because I’m a nazi about black and brown. While some rare occasions work where you’re mixing black and brown. Most times you’re not and you shouldn’t. And a brown purse should never be worn with black shoes in my book….but I am also not a minimalist traveler or packer…or minimalist anything if I’m being perfectly honest with myself.

Two trainers I totally recommend for travel:

Nike Internationalist GPX Grey & Black are the ones I have but they have great colors and patterns being released all the time.  imgres nike-internationalist-gpx-ladies---black-white-flower

Nikes + blazer + skinnies = just cool enough for paris.

Nikes + blazer + skinnies = just cool enough for paris.

Nike Women’s Pre Montreal Vintage Racer Beige to go with everything, but notice the sole isn’t white, it’s off white…must keep in mind white will get wickedly dirty.

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skirt + trainers = perfect for a spring stroll in a park

skirt + trainers = perfect for a spring stroll in a park

I have to say I love the Internationalists the most. Not only is the pattern great (they are actually men’s shoes for some reason), but they are the most comfortable pair of trainers to walk about in. The Montreal Vintage Racers are cool, but a little thinner soled and their tread is a bit nubbier which I don’t think is as comfortable. But they’re both solid shoes.

 

I used to travel in Nike frees and then not need socks, but the problem with that is your feet and then your shoes stink like all get out. I’d recommend getting some no-show socks to absorb sweat but not be seen, and you can wear these shoes with anything and still look cool: shorts, jeans, even a skirt or dress if you style it right.

 

If you’re a person who travels a lot but is sidelined the second day with blisters and sore feet, it’s time to up your shoe game with some comfortable but wicked cool trainers.  Where do I get all my cool trainers?  This random, german website I found: 43einhalb!  The shipping fees suck, but they are super prompt and helpful with every order (and send you poprocks gum!).  I also am a big fan of Asphalt Gold’s website but have yet to order from them.  They both have great instagram feed that leaves me lusting over shoes way too much…currently negotiating these beauties with myself.

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