Friday, January 11, 2019

How Low Can I Go – 10 Items for a Weeklong Cruise

I have long been an advocate of packing light.  It has saved me more headaches than I can count.  There have been times when I decided it was necessary to take a little more “just in case” and I always regret it.  Everything from broken wheels and handles to carrying my bags up stairs or over cobblestone streets has taught me that less is more. 

My usual go-to for travel anywhere is a rolling backpack and a tote.

 I can easily fit all that I need in them for my trip, but both are still lightweight enough, that if I must, I can actually pick them up and carry them.  Not checking luggage at the airport and getting on and off trains and buses is so much easier with just the 2 bags.

Now, I’m getting ready for what is called a Barefoot Cruise and need to rethink what packing light really means.  With only 10 – 12 passengers, small cabins and very little space I want to make this as simple as possible.  This will take a little bit of planning, but I love the thought of doing something in such a new and different way, it makes it feel like it’s even more of an adventure.

So here is my packing list - 2 swimsuits, 1 pair of shorts, 1 skirt, 1 dress, 2 t-shirts, underwear, flip flops and hat.  Just looking at that list gives me a bit of anxiety.  Is it reasonable to take so little and still be comfortable?  Aside from a small bag of essential toiletries – shampoo, deodorant and sunscreen what else do I really need?  If I were packing for a regular trip, I would take all the same things just more of them. 

What I will do is plan very carefully, exactly what those 10 items are. 

I will make sure that everything is lightweight and can be washed out by hand if needed.  The t-shirts will serve as swimsuit cover up as well as a nightshirt and it all must match.  When I look at it that way it doesn’t seem so bad, in fact it feels rather freeing. 

I do want to test my theory, so for my next few short trips I will try to pack this way and see how this works.  I will find out if there is anything that I can’t live without before I get out into the middle of the ocean where I won’t have access to anything.

When I was in my 20’s it was nothing for me to throw my swimsuit and a change of clothes into a bag for a quick trip.  But now that I’m in my 60’s my travel style has changed dramatically so this will be very enlightening.

I know this isn’t something that would work for everyone but the fact that it has piqued my interest tells me that I need to try it.  I would much prefer the focus to be on the experience as opposed to the things. 

I’ve been writing about independent travel for many years now and this may be my biggest challenge yet but I’m excited to try it. 

Are you a light traveler or do you like to take whatever you think you will need?  What are the biggest drawbacks of taking too little or too much?  Share your stories and join the conversation!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Every Great Journey Begins with a Bag


I travel for work and for pleasure, so my bags are always packed.  I want to be ready at a moment’s notice to go anywhere.  I keep a separate supply of my travel essentials so all I need to do is add clothes and go.  


It doesn't matter if it is a short day trip, overnight, a weekend getaway with friends, or a month-long holiday, I take the same basic supplies and always have everything I need.


You must have the proper luggage for each type of trip you are taking.

For my short trips and overnighters, I use a tote.  It is a fantastic carry-all for planes, trains and automobiles.  It has multiple zippered pockets to help me stay organized, big roomy interior and a great luggage handle sleeve so it doesn't slide around when I put it on my other bags.

Instead of carrying a regular handbag, I like to use a small crossbody bag that easily tucks away under my jacket or sweater.  It's stays secure and is small enough to tuck into my tote.


My favorite carry-on is a rolling backpack.  I love how lightweight it is but still has plenty of room for storage.  The first time I started using this was after the handle and wheel broke on my bag while I was traveling in Europe.  This bag makes getting around on those beautiful cobblestone streets so much easier.  Even fully loaded, it is light enough for me to carry.


I also keep a collapsible day pack with me.  It’s perfect for day trips or as an additional bag for those times when I need some extra space.  It is ultra-lightweight and folds to the size of an envelope. 


If I need more space or am checking luggage, I use a basic spinner suitcase.  It is spacious and easy to maneuver but still small enough to use as a carry-on.


These bags are all lightweight and versatile for all my needs.  I have taken them on longer trips and not had any issues at all.  They are all outstanding, and I don't travel without them!


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Happy Holiday Travel Tips


For me, the journey begins long before I depart.  I love the planning, preparing and packing before I go.  What I have discovered is the more organized I am the more I can relax and enjoy the trip.  Most of my trips involve multiple forms of transportation – planes, trains, buses and boats, so it is important for me to be prepared for all aspects of the journey without feeling the need to overpack.

Traveling can be very stressful, especially around the holidays so it is critical that I have a plan for how to minimize the discomfort and maximize my enjoyment.  It all starts with good advance planning.

Make a List

First, I write or print out my itinerary.  Then, for each day I make notes of what I will be doing and where I will be going.  That helps me plan my wardrobe for the trip.  I start with my travel days and what I will need to wear and have with me for the journey.  I add any special items that I might want to take.

Next, I print my master packing list and make sure that I have all necessary travel size items (toothpaste, shampoo etc.) before I begin to pack.  I have used this list for many years, making a few modifications along the way and it completely alleviates the stress of worrying about forgetting something important.

Packing

Over the years I have learned the importance of traveling light.  I will never forget the trip I took to Europe when the handle on my roller bag broke and I had to carry my bags over the train platform and down the stairs in the pouring rain to get to a taxi.  Every time I am tempted to overpack or even check luggage I think of that experience and remember how much easier it is if I pack light.

Before I begin, I select a matching color palette.  Usually it is black for all bottom pieces and blue and purple prints for tops and scarves.  That way I only have to take one color of shoes and everything goes together so I can mix and match to make several outfits. 

If I’m traveling to a different climate it helps if I have all color coordinated layers, so I don’t have to take separate items that I only will wear once or twice.  If I’m coming from or going to a very cold location, I wear my coat and put it in a space compression bag, which takes up very little room in my luggage. 

 Luggage

I am very particular when it comes to my travel bags.  I have found that having the right luggage helps me to limit how much I take and is easy and convenient for all my needs when I’m away from home. 

The 2 bags I take on almost every trip are my rolling backpack and tote bag.  I can take both as carry on for planes and trains, they are great, and I never have to check luggage.  I put all my clothes and shoes in the backpack and the items I need quick access to in my tote.  I know where everything is, and I don’t ever leave anything behind at hotels.

My tote is always packed with the same items, so it is ready if I’m staying overnight at my daughter’s house or taking a last-minute weekend trip with friends.  It is also where I keep my passport, spare phone charger, scarf and notebook so literally I can take a change of clothes and be out the door in minutes.

Supplies

I travel for work and pleasure, so I like to keep everything I might need with me.  Most people I know joke about how prepared I am but for me it is essential.  I like to be comfortable, especially with unforeseen delays and circumstances that arise with travel especially around the holidays. 

There are a few items I always have – coffee and tea, water, snacks, sewing kit, miscellaneous medical supplies (band aids, cold/allergy/pain medication, sleep aids etc.).  There is nothing worse than getting to your hotel at midnight after a 3 hour flight delay with no food available until the next day.  Being able to have a cup of tea and snack before going to bed makes me feel much less deprived.

Attitude

Just like anyone, I can get caught up in the stress and anxiety of travel.  I try to remember that everyone else is feeling the same way and try to make the best of the situation.  I truly love to travel, and it is always so much more pleasant when I can relax and enjoy the journey.

Wishing you safe and happy holiday travels,

Lynn



Do you go away for the holidays? What are your favorite tips for easier travel?  Share your stories and join the conversation!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Stay Aware and Stay Safe

There have been a lot of reports about women who have gone missing and even been killed while traveling recently.  I don't know if it is occurring more than usual or if we are just hearing more about it because of the internet and social media.   As a woman who travels solo, it always gets my attention and reminds me that I must stay aware so that I can stay safe.

Traveling is one of the greatest joys of my life and I am not willing to let fear change that.  Things can go wrong no matter where you are, so for me, it's very important to pay attention to my surroundings, whether I'm at home or away.

One of the best lessons I've learned from over 40 years of traveling is to always trust my instincts.  If something doesn't feel right, it isn't.  I don't need to know what it is, I just have to find the best way to remove myself from the situation immediately.   Not panicked or paranoid, just quietly and politely get away.  It can be as simple as changing seats on a bus or not getting on the elevator with someone who makes you feel uneasy.

Anything that gives you pause or the slightest discomfort is your intuition signaling you to beware.  It may be absolutely nothing but it is always better to be safe than sorry.  It is important to acknowledge those messages and not ignore them.  Women are often taught to suppress our feelings but it hasn't served us well.  It is important to develop a habit of becoming more self aware and listening to our inner voice.

There is tremendous benefit in being more aware of what is happening around you, not only does it help you stay safe but it also increases the opportunity to have deeper more meaningful experiences with people and places you may have missed otherwise.

Safe and Happy Travels!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

What to Wear on a Cruise

Packing for a cruise can be a bit daunting.  You will need casual wear for days and dressy or formal wear for evenings.  Most cruise lines have relaxed their dress code but still require certain attire for the main dining room and special events.

When I first began cruising this was a big concern for me as my style is much more casual.  I don't own any formal wear and I only take one small carry-on bag when I travel, so I had to do some research on what would be appropriate.

What I discovered is that casual resort wear is perfect for days at sea or in port and in the evening a nice cocktail dress or dressy slacks and top are more than acceptable.  You will still see people dressed in gowns and tuxedos but I haven't been on a ship that requires it.  Also, there are so many different dining options that don't have a specific dress code and you can always order room service and have dinner in your room.

My standard cruise packing consists of - 2 or 3 bottoms usually black slacks/skirts/capris, 5 or 6 print tops, 1 or 2 dresses, scarf, lightweight jacket or sweater, tennis shoes, dressy sandals or flats.  I make sure everything is color coordinated so I can mix and match to make several different outfits.



I try not to overthink it.  I just keep it casual and comfortable and it always works out great.  

Happy Sailing!




Monday, December 3, 2018

Little Things Make a Big Difference

I had a wonderful conversation with a man on my flight to Europe recently.  We started talking about where we were going and of course as you talk with fellow travelers the discussion almost always turns to where you have been and what you have encountered along the way.

The experience doesn't have to be extreme for you to develop an overall impression of the place you are visiting.  It reminds me of the old adage - you only get one chance to make a good first impression.  That is certainly true for the international travel and hospitality industry. 

This man had traveled from Germany to the US to give a lecture at a medical conference that was being held at the hotel where he was staying.  After arriving very late at night from his international flight he called room service to have a beer delivered to his room and was told he would have to wait over an hour.  After almost 2 hours and still no drink he went downstairs and collected it himself.  Just that one small request was all it took for this to be an unpleasant experience for him, so much so that he does not stay with that particular hotel brand when he travels and always shares that experience with other people he talks to. 

Anyone who travels on a regular basis knows that it is the little things that can really make a difference - for me it is having food and drink available at off hours.  There isn't anything better than arriving after a long flight and checking into my room to find 2 bottles of water with a lovely assortment of candy, nuts and sometimes even cheese and fruit.  If there is a mini bar or drinks available that is fantastic.  It really sets the tone for my trip be it business or pleasure.

While I understand and truly appreciate getting "special" treatment for being a member of loyalty programs it is even more important to see what effort you make when I am just the average paying customer.  If I can get something to drink and a snack before I go to sleep chances are I'll stay with you again and again. 

Master Packing List for Holiday Travel

Before every trip I print a copy of this list and modify it for climate, duration etc. but as of yet I haven't forgotten anything major without ever checking my bags.  For me, traveling light is critical for an easy, carefree journey and I hope this will help you as well.

Clothing:
Personal:
Miscellaneous:



Slacks
Shampoo
Tickets
Jeans
Conditioner
ID (Driver License)
Shorts
Bath Soap/Gel
Passport
Dress
Toothbrush
Cash 
Skirt
Toothpaste
Debit & Credit Card
T Shirts
Dental Floss
Back Pack
Tank Tops
Deodorant
Water Bottle
Blouses
Body Lotion
Sunglasses w/strap
Panties
Hair Spray
Book 
Bras
Makeup
Journal
Stockings
Face Cream
Glasses
Nightgown/Robe
Sunscreen
Personal Door Lock
Swimsuit 
Hair Brush
Camera
Flats/Heels
Hair Dryer
Sweater
Boots
Razor
Jacket
Tennis Shoes
Q-Tips
Umbrella
Sandals
Personal Hygiene Supplies
Scarf/Gloves/Hat
Belts
Sleep/Allergy Tablets
Jewelry-Watch
Slip/Camisole
Imodium, Dramamine
Cell Phone & Charger
Slippers
Advil
AC Int'l Adapter
Travel Space Bags
Ginger Tea
Kindle