Tag Archives: travel

Gimme 5 – Eating Healthy While Traveling

Today’s Gimme 5 is about Eating While Traveling. It is so hard to eat the right things while traveling. The grab and go is so easy – unhealthy carbs become your best friend while traveling. (I think we had pizza in each state as we drove across country this pasts summer.) And it is so easy to eat out all of the time and over indulge in great food while traveling!  I have worked really hard the last 15 months to lose weight and change my habits. One of the hardest things to change is how I eat while traveling.

 

Today’s tips are about the changes (like NOT ordering the burger and fries) I have made that have worked for me to keep me from gaining weight – I’m not sure it helped me lose weight, but at least I didn’t gain any! With Spring Break coming up, I wanted to share these tips for eating healthy while traveling!


  1. Plan ahead – I think this one is probably the hardest one to do on a consistent and regular basis. Think through whether there will be food where you will be while you are traveling (think plane, train, and automobiles) and where you will be going (airport, train station, or hotel). Will there be food on the plane? Will you have time to get anything before your flight or afterwards? Flying to the East Coast often means that I get in really late and often don’t have time for a regular dinner. I either have to bring something or plan to stop on the way to the place I am staying. All of this is a long-winded way of saying plan ahead.
  2. Bring Your Own – Along with the first tip of planning ahead, I usually bring food along. I don’t really like the food on the plane – no snack boxes for me thank you very much! And I never know if I will be served a meal on the flight, so I usually bring almonds, yoghurt, cheese sticks, hard boiled eggs or something with protein on the plane with me. I also usually have a power bar or two stashed in my bag along with the all important DARK CHOCOLATE!
  3. Appetizers are your friend – I have changed to ordering two appetizers rather than an appetizer and an entree. I usually order a salad or soup plus one of the smaller portions of an enticing entree. This results in less food being put in front of me and therefor, less of a temptation to overeat! It is very easy to keep talking and eating and drinking! Ordering smaller amounts is a great way to lessen the impact of eating out!
  4. An Apple a Day – this really means eat fruit, not sweets. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an apple, but it does mean choose fruit. It is better to stick with fruit when it is offered or available. Usually at conferences at 2 or 3 in the afternoon there is a plethora of sweets offered along with fruit. Choose the fruit, not the cookies. I know it sucks to not choose the cookie but your body will love you for it later. Or, if you really want the cookie – be prepared to run another mile or two the next morning (or swim or whatever your exercise of choice is)!
  5. Club Soda with Lime is Your Friend – OK, mea culpa — I love to drink! I love red wine. I love cosmos and martinis. But one of the worst things to do when traveling is to try to keep up with the sales team or other colleagues on a drinking basis. I find that these guys can drink forever and I, unfortunately, cannot. So, I have learned to substitute, substitute, substitute.  Working with sales, it seems like one long drinkfest with work throuwn in occasionally. I have recently switched to water, gin & tonics, or light beers. Although red wine is still my favorite, I stick to no more than 2 glasses through out the entire evening. This is quite a change for me, but the nutritionist definitely said to watch the alcohol intake and it has made a big difference!

What has worked for you! If you have a tip for eating Healthy while traveling, please leave a comment!

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Guest Blogger Monica L. on Packing Tips for Backpacking Across Europe

Today’s Guest Post is from Monica of Travel Knit Read who just spent the better part of the last year traveling the world. She had to travel very light and that meant she had to pack very little and could not pick up much along the way.  After writing about my packing efforts on a recent trip with my family, I thought, “wow, how did Monica travel for most of the year with just a roller bag?” So, I asked her to write a little about it — Enjoy!

Monica in Barcelona

“Well, a dear friend of mine just posted to her blog about her packing tips for her travels within the US with her 3 kids. I thought I would post some packing tips after my 7 months of travel through Europe as well. After all these travel sites, including Rick Steve’s travel list, I do have some lessons learned and tips as well. As I traveled in the summer, most of these are obviously tips for packing light:

  • 3 technical dri-fit t-shirts (they dry quickly when you are sweating in 100 F or 40 C weather. They are also easy to wash and dry quickly and they never stink like cotton t-shirts. They are also way lighter.) Under Armour, Reebok, Nike, Adidas make them.
  • 2 pairs of convertible pants (with long shorts zipping off so the zippers don’t cut into your thighs while you walk) I lived in my Mountain Hardwear Yuma pants for 7 months. They also dry very quickly.
  • 1 technical long sleeve shirt (light colored)
  • 3-4 pairs of sport socks (they take the longest to dry of all clothes)
  • 1 pair of “>Havianas flip flops (make sure to choose a rubber pair, the thong parts must have a lot of room above the foot if they are too close they will cut into sides of feet. The thongs you can wear when showering in not so nice places and they will dry quickly.)
  • 1 pair of leather ” target=”_blank”>Teva sandals with suede footbed (they have the mostsupport when walking around and most comfortable)
  • 1 pair of very comfortable running shoes for hiking/walking in the rain/walking alot.
  • 1 pair of ” target=”_blank”>Birkenstocks (Everyone in Europe wears them in the summers, suede footbed and very comfy. They are made differently in Europe than in the US. The ones in the US are very hard and uncomfortable.)
  • 6 pairs of panties
  • 3 bras
  • 1 swim suit (1 piece is usually more convenient than bikini)
  • 1 head lamp (many streets are not lit at night, sometimes needed for hiking, caves)
  • 1 dress
  • 1 skirt (over the knee)
  • 1 fancy top to match skirt
  • 2 tank tops
  • 1 Saree for the beach
    1 EnviroSac (nylon bag for the beach and shopping)  I like the Timbuk2 line of packable totes/backpacks.
  • 1 light fleece hoodie
  • 1 thermal long sleeve t-shirt (the best ones are ” target=”_blank”>Icebreakers made of Merino Wool made in New Zealand)
  • 1 sarong for beach coverup or travel towel
  • 1 windwall jacket (lightweight but warm on those cold nights – mine was from North Face)
  • Sunglasses (Maui Jims that are dressy yet light titanium wire frames so they are sporty as well)
  • Hat

All of the above should be very light for your very light backpack or roller bag. I used a convertible Eagle Creek Switchback 22″ bag, it converted from a roller bag to a backpack when the elevator did not work or when there was no elevator to speak of.

I have a few other hard-earned travel tips!

  • Do not pack jeans or wear them! They are heavy, do not dry quickly and hard to wash in the sink!
  • Sunscreen is a must. You should have 2 100 ml small bottles so that you can put it in carryon.
 Max out your tubes to the 100 ml or 2.5 oz size.
  • Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash, Moisturizer
 – Washing your stuff in hotel sinks is what I did mostly, so have 100 ml of detergent with you.
  • Don’t forget your meds! Antacids, Aspirin, Imodium, etc. in a small pill box.
 Sometimes if you travel with people, you will need eye mask and ear plugs.
 Buy the eye mask that has a nice fabric that is silk as they don’t leave marks on your face and are cool and feels nice on your face.
 Get the ear plugs that look like wax, they are malleable that conform to your ears. Only those block all sounds. The others will pop out and do not block noise.
  • If you are going to be gone for a long time, please get a light Netbook, iPad, or new 13-inch MAC but be sure to have combination locks for your luggage.
  • Try not to bring too much cash as you will worry about it more. Most places have ATM machines. The exchange rates for cash is always worse than ATM machines.
  • The best camera that people used was the ” target=”_blank”>Canon S95 (pocketsize) or Canon G11 (slightly bigger). I would have chosen the S95 if I had to do it again. I couldn’t take most night shots with my older camera.
  • Reading materials: Get yourself a Kindle or Kobo reader as carrying one lightweight item to read is way lighter than lugging around 3-4 books in your luggage. I read quickly and I left 4 books in different hotels around Europe which seemed like such a waste. I saw so many copies of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in hotel lobbies.

My favorite travel tip:
 After washing clothes in the sink, place clothes flat on a towel, roll up the towel, twist towel and wring towel tightly to wring excess water out of clothes. Then hang clothes to dry. Your clothes will dry overnight this way. Sometimes, you might want to have some fun t-shirts as you don’t want all your photos to be of the same clothes all the time so I did have a few Hello Kitty t-shirts that made for cute travel photos but they don’t last long and can be trashed and new ones can be purchased. That is all I can think of for now…”

Thank you for contributing Monica!

If you have travel tips of your own or tips for packing light, please leave a comment!

Gimme 5 – Great Places to Stay in Sedona

I travel to Sedona fairly regularly for work (I know there are places that are a lot worse that I could be sent to…say, Arkansas), so I have had the opportunity to stay in many different places there. While most of the hotels in Sedona are fairly small, a couple of the ones that I highlight today are big, and all of them are great for a family reunion or vacation. If you have a work retreat or event to plan, consider Sedona, you won’t be disappointed!

  1. The Enchantment Resort – this resort is a little out of the way, but it is very quiet and exclusive (rumor has it that we passed Madonna’s place on the way out to this resort). It was a great place to stay when my husband could travel with me. (We stayed there on election night which didn’t make the Bush – Gore election any more palatable). It is an amazing place. The spa was fantastic; the food was fantastic; the exercise classes were fantastic, but our favorite part was the location. You can literally walk out your door and go hiking on many different trails. It felt like we were on the edge of the earth. While they do have a conference facility on site, mine was not being held there, so we had to drive every morning for 20 minutes or so to get back into town and get to my conference. For work or vacation, this resort can’t be beat!
  2. The Hilton Sedona Resort and Spa – this place is great! I have spent the most time here and at the Amara, but this one is a mix of regular hotel, resort, and fun place to be. The hot rock massages at the hotel spa were wonderful and relaxing. I felt 5 inches taller walking out of there. The pool closes early and the hotel security didn’t appreciate a bunch of people climbing the fence to try out the hot tub after a late dinner! My favorite part was the golf course and being able to wake up and walk the course at sunrise. Rabbits and all kinds of wildlife were out there to say good morning!
  3. The Sedona Rouge – the Sedona a Rouge is a nice, peaceful hotel despite being on the main road, 89A,  in Sedona. The rooms were generously sized and appointed. The spa is quite relaxing and the tea served in there was a surprise. Sedona is a sleepy town with little night life. We had to pay the bartender to stay open later for our little raucous  group after coming back from dinner. The hotel is a little separate and disjointed but that’s what makes it quiet.
  4. L’Auberge de Sedona – the name should say something to you – like – “With my French name, I am going to be very expensive!” It is, but it is built into a hillside and backs up to Oak Creek and is very, very worth it. It is located at the North end of town on 89A and hidden down its own driveway – it looks like you are going to drive down an embankment into Oak Creek. The views from this side are stunning. The balconies of each hotel room back up onto the creek and make for a very peaceful evening.
  5. The Amara Creekside Hotel, Restaurant, and Spa in Sedona – this one is my personal favorite. The Amara is right next door to L’Auberge but is much, much less expensive. In fact, when I drove across country last summer and decided to stay a couple of nights in Sedona, I threw my idea of camping out the window and we stayed here. My kids loved the pool and being on the creek. I loved being able to sit out by the fire pit and have a glass of wine while the kids raced each other up and down the pool. The rooms are simple and elegant. The balconies are small, but the common area around the pool and creek  were much better for hanging out anyway. I had the best hot rock massage ever at this resort (the masseuse was named John) and they have since expanded their spa into a separate area, which is very tranquil.



All of these hotels are in the nice to very nice range – the prices and service range wildly from reasonable to very expensive. But, no matter where you choose to stay the views will be stunning, the spas will relax you, and you will have good food!

If you have a favorite place to stay in Sedona – leave more information in the comments.

Gimme 5 – Travel Tips – Be Prepared for Bloody Marys in Your Lap

Today’s Gimme 5 is all about travel tips and being prepared. It makes me feel like a boy scout giving the advice to “be prepared.” I guess all the boys’ activities are rubbing off on me!
1. Refill, Restock, Replace
The first tip is to check any pre-stocked supplies when you are packing to see if anything needs to be refilled, restocked, or replaced. Or better yet, restock your supplies when you return from your current trip. This tip is especially important if you need medicine on a daily basis. A couple things I never need to replace or stock is shampoo/conditioner or a hair dryer – all of the hotel rooms I have been in lately (read, for the last 7 years) have those items readily available.
I also wanted to share a tip sent to me from Bianca:
“One thing I like to do when I travel (to minimize on the liquids) is to take a snack size Ziploc bag and fill it with cotton balls (I count one for each night I’m traveling and put in one spare) and then I squeeze eye makeup remover all over them. Then I close the bag and let them saturate. Then, while I’m on my trip, I just take out a moist cotton ball and use it to remove my eye makeup at night. No need to bring the bottle of remover!”
I liked this suggestion even though I don’t use eye makeup remover. It applies to all kinds of other liquids that come in bottles that are bigger than the 3 oz. travel size.
2. Label Your Luggage – 98% of bags are black.* Be sure to label your bag with current contact information. (I recently found one bag that I got out for the kids to use and it had a tag on it from when I was in high school.) Labeling your luggage means labeling it on the outside of the luggage, in the luggage, and around the luggage. I always have a laminated business card on each bag, along with a business card or identifying information inside my bag (actually I put a card in each zippered pocket/section), and I also have an identifying  handle wrap that is bright blue. This marking or labeling can mean putting some kind of distinctive marking on your bag like colored duct tape on the handle or bottom/back of the bag. These steps help distinguish your bag from others, especially if your bag is black. Or better yet don’t get a black bag in the first place – I can always find mine because it is a dark green!
* I don’t know this for sure. I made it up because it seems like 98% of all bags are black!
3. Carry Cash – I hardly ever carry cash, but I have run into some taxis and restaurants that don’t take cash. I make a point of stopping at an ATM by one of the gates that I fly out of frequently. It can be a very big pain in the butt to ask the taxi driver to stop at an ATM so that you can pay him. Having adequate cash on hand is very important if you travel internationally.
4. Mind Your Manners – Shit happens… delays, security snafus, a plane change, a security check  where everyone has to deplane with their bags, whatever it is; when shit happens, find something to do that is constructive, helpful, or positive. Listen to music, talk to someone around you, make a new friend, but don’t start complaining or worse, berating an airline employee – none of that will do any good, or make the security check go faster.

5. Be Flexible – I don’t mean do Yoga in the aisle of the plane, even though I have seen that done; what I mean is, shit happens (see #4 above). And when it does, Be Flexible.  I once had an entire Bloody Mary spill on me right after I got on the plane – we were climbing in altitude and about three seconds after the stewardess set it down on my tray, the entire drink slid into my lap. Yep, that’s right, an entire Bloody Mary, in my lap. It ran right down my leg, into my shoes, there was ice all over me and the seat, and everything soaked into my pants. I thought I could just wipe the tomato juice off and let my pants dry – and change my (not so) white shirt. Nothing doing – when I got into the tiny plane bathroom, it was clear that my pants were soaked all the way down the leg and were not going to be wearable. I went back out and got a complete change of clothes out of my suitcase. I changed into a different outfit (complete with a sheriff’s badge as I was coming from Texas at that time) and I proceeded to make 5 new friends on that flight.
If you have a favorite travel tip – please leave a comment. I look forward to hearing what your favorite travel tips are.

Red Cross, Johnstown Flood, Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami

How Can You Help with the Relief Effort for the Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster in Japan?

In 1889, the South Fork Dam broke, unleashing over 20 tons of water and massive amounts of debris onto Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a small coal and steel town of ~10,000 people. Officially, over 2,200 people died in the flood and ensuing fire, and many more went missing and were never found. To a small town like Johnstown, the scale of the disaster is not unlike the earthquake and ensuing tsunami disaster in Japan today.

As unlikely as it seems, one great thing came out of that disaster – The Red Cross began offering disaster relief services. Clara Barton, the founder of the Red Cross, led with disaster relief efforts after the Johnstown Flood. The Red Cross has been assisting with disaster relief efforts ever since. In 2007, I was lucky enough to visit the Johnstown Flood National Memorial and learn more about the Johnstown Flood disaster. The sheer scale of it was awesome. The videos posted of the tsunami disaster are even more awesome. The destruction is unbelievable and sad. My heart and prayers  go out to those who have died in this disaster and to those who are working like crazy in the recovery efforts.

I know many people are looking for a way to help with this recovery effort. The Red Cross is a neutral organization that assists in disasters like this worldwide. I saw a message today that United Airlines will even match miles as donations under their Charity Miles program when you donate to the Red Cross.  These miles will be used to help transport people to/from the disaster area in Japan. I am sure we will start seeing more and more programs like this to help Japan recover.

Please consider donating miles through your own airline affinity program or donating cash to the Red Cross.

Gimme 5 – Eating (for Success) in Airports

Gimme 5 – Eating (for Success) in Airports
I travel a lot for work and when I travel, my good eating habits tend to go right out the window. Over the last 18 months or so, I have tried to focus on eating more healthy  all the time, not just when I travel. When I went to Florida for a family vacation a couple of weeks ago, I had a rather rude wake up call about my efforts in this area. Most everywhere we went, the food was fried or greasy or in the carb category. Basically, the menus consisted of everything that I wanted to avoid AND have been trying hard to avoid for the last 18 months. Over this week of family/vacation travel, I thought about how eating and traveling can work with a healthy eating focus and I came up with a few tips for eating (for success) in airports.
1. Scope it out – don’t just stop at McDonald’s, Gordon Biersch or TGIFridays because it its the first thing you see or is close to your gate – check out a map to find a healthier alternative. One of my healthy favorites is the Jamba Juice store in the Charlotte airport. On this trip we found a new restaurant in the Phoenix airport in the US airways terminal (which is the award-winning Terminal 4). The BarFly had opened the day before we sat down for a meal before taking the red-eye. The BarFly menu contained interesting salads and grilled steaks – which we a better choice than fried shrimp! Although it was probably 1,00o calories, their Mac ‘N Cheese was fantastic – it was a grown up version of Mac ‘N Cheese with bacon or pancetta. To find this restaurant – we traveled the length of the terminal to check out  all of the food choices and then we decided on a place that had more menu choices than hot dog, hamburger, or fried “anything.” What ever your method of scoping out the restaurants, it will be better than just stopping at the first restaurant you find.
2. Be Picky – If you can find one of your favorite food places or a restaurant with healthy choices on the menu (for example, salads that go beyond the house salad of iceberg lettuce and an unripe tomato wedge)  you will have a higher likelihood of finding a healthy food choice! I tend to prefer Starbuck’s Coffee or Peet’s Coffee, because I can usually get yoghurt or fruit in addition to my favorite beverage. If I’m not picky about the place I eat, I usually find that the chili-dog at the airport bar looks great and goes with the beer I just ordered…
3. Drink water – Drink water when you are in the airport. Drink plenty of it! Go ahead…go ahead and drink tons of water while there is a big, convenient, and (usually) clean bathroom close by. It sure beats having to go in the tiny, cramped, and usually smelly airplane bathrooms! Besides you want to stay hydrated when you travel – it cuts down the chance of getting sick!
4. Small portions/take it with you – Eating successfully with a focus on healthy food usually involves eating less food altogether. I try to order something small if possible. If there isn’t any thing small to order small, consider ordering something that is easy to eat half of and then take the other half with you for a mid-flight snack. Half of a Muffuletta sandwich from the New Orleans airport is likely to be much tastier than anything the airline snack boxes have to offer! If I know I am going to arrive past 9 pm at my destination, I usually order a chicken caesar salad from Peet’s Coffee & Tea (in the San Francisco airport) and eat that for dinner. Unless I have gotten upgraded to a first class seat, I usually try to take something on the plane with me and avoid the snack boxes.
5. Choose one healthy item – If you are in a hurry, it can be rally hard to find a healthy choice. Most places have a few healthy choices. You can usually find yoghurt, fruit, popcorn, hummus and veggies, or hard-boiled eggs. Some places offer healthy sandwich choices – one of my favorites on the go is a Caprese salad sandwich.  The best Caprese sandwich I ever had was running to catch a plane to San Diego and there was a cart vendor outside the SFO gate with several sandwich choices and I just grabbed one because it looked good. Well, it turned out to be one of the healthier sandwich choices and it was fabulous! You can always find one healthy item among all of the unhealthy choices!
When trying to eat healthy in an airport – take a moment to think about it – just don’t get the first thing you see. If you do I guarantee you, you will pick something that sounds tasty but is NOT healthy. At least that’s how I am – because I will always end up with a carmel apple rolled in pecans from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory or something equally tasty, but not so good for you. Yeah, I know there was an apple somewhere in there under all that carmel… but I’m not sure that counts as healthy.
What is your favorite tip for eating healthy in airports? If you have tips for eating healthy while traveling, please share it in the comments below.

Gimme 5 – Packing Tips

Packing Tips
I figured that since I wrote about our trip last week and I still had packing on the brain that I would jot down a few packing tips while I still remembered them.
1. Bring Your Own Water Bottle/Food – bring a water bottle whether it is metal, glass, BPA free, whatever; but make sure to bring one. With the dry air on planes, you will get dehydrated. One of the best ways to travel safely and stay healthy is to stay hydrated. Bring a water bottle with you and fill it up after you go through security. Otherwise you will have to dump out the liquid to keep the bottle. If you don’t bring a water bottle, be prepared to buy bottled water once you clear security. Also, don’t rely on airlines to feed you, or more specifically, don’t rely on airlines to feed you anything healthy. I always bring almonds, cheese sticks, and energy bars in my briefcase because everything on the in-flight menu seems to be carb heavy. Airports seemed to be closed when I arrive from the west coast.
2. Roll Your Own – Clothes, that is. Clothes fit in your bag and can be more flexible when they are rolled up. Rolled clothes also fit into shoes and tiny spaces. I tend to travel with clothes that can be rolled and unrolled with a minimum of wear and wrinkling (because I hate to iron things). Over the years, I have assembled a few sets of designated travel clothes – all of which are very comfortable and travel friendly. More importantly they can be rolled and unrolled and still look good .
3. Pack What You Can Carry (or Roll) – Sometimes, if I have packed for a trip that involves a lot of files, I end up with too much paper in my bag and then it is too heavy to carry easily. Even with my briefcase sitting atop, my carry-on can be front-heavy. This means that one arm and shoulder will carry most of the weight burden and be two inches longer by the time I find a cab. This unwieldiness usually results in a sore shoulder and a visit to the chiropractor when I return. More likely, it will require a massage that I won’t have time for, which is a huge bummer! Nothing is worse than not being able to handle your bags or being exhausted from walking 50 yards with them through security. So, pack only what you can carry (or roll) easily. Note: Most new bags have 4 wheels and can be scooted along rather than tilted and dragged. This makes a positive difference for your body, but those bags with 4 wheels are hard to fit in the overhead bins.
4. Pack What’s Important to You – journals, reading material, teddy bear, inflatable neck pillow, noise canceling headphones, etc. Do what works for you, and for your comfort…but, be prepared to have to check a bag if it’s too much, too big, etc. If I have to check my bag (which sometimes they make me do on small regional jets, even though it fits under the seat in front of me), I take out my journal(s), knitting, and computer – everything else is replaceable. (Some would say the computer is replaceable, and it is, technically; but it is a HUGE pain in the butt to replace a a computer and restore a back up, if you even have it backed up AND my computer usually has my presentations on it). This “important” packing tip also includes meds. Don’t forget to pack meds that are important to you. I can go a few days without my thyroid meds, but I am sure there are other meds out there that I wouldn’t want to be without! Don’t forget to pack the meds you need for your trip, plus a couple of extra just in case.
5. Be Electronically Prepared – Nothing is worse than a dead phone containing your hotel reservation (and you have no print out of it.) Bring a charger, wall plug, USB charger, whatever you will be able to use on your trip. I bring both a wall charger and a USB plug to charge my computer, iPhone and iPad. I have chargers that live at home, at my desk, and in my travel bag. Yes, I have three sets – it’s that important… I once had to find an Apple store in Phoenix because I had forgotten to put the Computer power supply that lives in my travel bag, back in my travel bag (see the picture of it living peacefully in my pre-packed travel bag). Thankfully, I had enough time that evening and there was a mall not too far away, AND a local colleague with a car could give me a ride to purchase a new power supply. Unless you are into exploring malls late at night – don’t forget to be electronically prepared for your trip!

If you have any packing tips, please share them!

You packed what?!? In a carry on?

Can you vacation for a week with only a carry on?
After traveling so much for work, I finally put together a packing list for my travels. I also put together my briefcase and travel bag so that they are ready for any trip at a moment’s notice. Now it takes me less than an hour to pack and get to the airport. This practice has served me well for work, but it also comes in handy for vacation travels too. Most people tend to over pack for vacations (and in general) and after a couple of mishaps where my checked bag didn’t arrive when I did, I have downsized things. This downsizing led me to stop checking any bags and just use a carry on suitcase along with my briefcase. Now, I even do the same thing when we are on vacation.
I just took a week-long trip to Florida to see the shuttle Discovery launch. The weather near Orlando and Cape Canaveral was supposed to be warm, with a chance of rain. Jacksonville was supposed to be colder with rain likely – both of these things led me to over pack for warm weather and rainy, colder weather…
I’ll admit, my carry on was bigger than what I usually take for business because it was for a family trip and I wanted to have enough entertainment on hand to minimize the whining and fighting among my three kids. Usually I have my pre-stocked briefcase, but this time I had to recreate that with a slightly bigger bag. I used one of my Creative Memories scrapbook bags that was square and big enough to fit a 12×12 album – this turned out to be perfect in many ways. I know it wasn’t quite the Sharon Stone “run off to Paris at a moment’s notice with a LBD and a thong in your purse” strategy, but it worked for me this trip.
Carry On Contents:
  • Book 1 – for me – Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation (you’ll need the tissues on this list) – I finished this
  • Book 2 – for the kids – Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (the original) – We never touched this book
  • Uno card deck – We never touched these
  • Phase 10 card deck – We never touched these
  • Bandana – used once
  • Golf ball – good for rolling out knots when you travel – definitely used
  • Tennis Ball – good for keeping kids entertained no matter where you are, and its good for rolling out knots
  • Mini-nerf football – good for keeping kids entertained, this and the tennis ball ended up in the kids’ bag as the trip went on
  • Jabra hands-free speaker phone and USB charging cable (I have small ears and don’t like to use a blue-tooth headset, is I bring this mini speaker phone that attaches to the visor)
  • Toilet Kit (in its very worn zip lock baggy)
  • Tissues
  • Lip Balm
  • Lip stick
  • Mints, meds (all in same tin)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hand Sanitizing wipes (in a travel pack)
  • Gum (2 packs – in in carry on, one in purse)
  • Chocolate
  • Hand cream
  • Sudoku (a few pages from our daily calendar)
  • Small binder clip (must have come from my briefcase)
  • 3 pens, 1 highlighter (I like to take notes while I read)
  • Business cards – you never know who you will meet (and you need one anyway inside each bag for ID)
  • Knitting projects – 3 projects in their own zip lock baggies
  • 1. Socks that I had knitted and wanted to knit again slightly smaller (I really should have started these before I left because I needed to see the You Tube Video on the figure-8 cast on method to start these toe-up socks)
  • 2. A new sweater project to be knitted out of this cool Japanese silk and stainless steel yarn – it is knitted in the round and much faster than than those darn socks that I had to start 8 times.
  • 3. Hat – knitting it for a friend of a friend of a friend to replace one she loves. Tried this twice on this trip – one crochet, which I undid, and one knitted, which is part way done.
  • Knitting kit (in a cosmetic bag) – scissors, stitch markers, etc.
  • Tape measure – not sure why this ended up in there, probably just moved it from my knitting bag
  • All in one tool – ruler, paper clips, stickies, tape flags (all useful for knitting and note taking)
  • Camera (very nice, 15 MP camera)
  • Telephoto lens
  • USB reader for camera memory cards
  • Camera charger – vitally important on vacation
  • USB Cable – for kids devices
  • 6 Magazines from my reading stack (this is what I thought I could read on the flights out – but with a read-eye, I slept the majority of the time –  this just made my bag heavier later)
  • Other printed reading materials (for work and pleasure)
Purse (I fit my purse in the carry-on)
  • iPad and travel keyboard
  • IPad wall charger
  • Headphones
  • iPhone USB charger cable
  • Business cards
  • Latest pictures of my kids
  • Gift cards
  • Lip stick
  • Lip balm
  • Travel/disposable toothbrushes
  • 2 Safety pins, paper clips
  • USB memory stick (8GB)
  • Fountain Pen refills
  • Cash/Change (I always get more at the airport just in case)
  • iPhone (in its case which doubles as my wallet)
  • Cash/Card case
  • Extra memory cards (I even bought more while there)
  • Vitamins
  • Sand – this was unintentional
  • Receipts – this was intentional
Suitcase Contents
1. Small Outside pocket
  • Eye Shades (I put this in there each trip)
  • Ear plugs
  • Allergy meds
  • Computer power cord
  • USB connector for phone/ipad
  • Spritzer (for moisturizing my face)
  • Tea bag (or two)
  • Energy bar
  • Conference pin
  • Cards (needed only for travel – i.e. Hertz)
  • Airline drink tickets (these are also in my briefcase)
  • Hair band, hair clip
  • Pen (or two)
  • Fountain Pen Refills
  • Nail polish (in its own zip lock baggy)
2. Bigger Outside Pocket
  • Pen for journals (I use a specific one for journaling)
  • 4 Journals (mine and each kids)

There was no room left for the usual magazines or work files this trip (the paper goods in this outside pocket can make this bag heavy and front heavy…)

3. Mini zip pocket on the big outside pocket
Plastic bag, zip lock bag (This saved me once from having to give up my newly purchased Japanese cosmetics at a security check point in SFO when they were clearly  unsettled in how to enforce their ransom regulations on liquids – because at that point they were all making it up as they went along).
4. Inside the Suitcase
Little top pocket
  • golf tees, ball marker
  • nail polish remover packets
  • jewelry (trip related) – this time, 2 necklaces (which I didn’t wear)
  • ceramic nail file (which I bought on the trip)
Bigger pocket
  • Girlie things – tampons and pads, individually wrapped (so they can go in your briefcase or purse if needed)
Trip specific Clothes – (in addition to what I wore on the plane – which was long pants, long sleeved shirt, cardigan, scarf, closed toed shoes)
  • 2 pairs of shoes (flat sandals and heeled sandals)
  • Long-sleeved pajamas
  • 2 bras (I could have taken just one other or none)
  • 2 bathing suits (I could have taken just one, but didn’t even end up wearing any swim wear)
  • Bathing suit cover-up pants – these were definitely for a beach trip
  • Jeans
  • Light weight pants (didn’t end up wearing these)
  • Cropped pants
  • Shorts
  • 4 long-sleeve shirts ( could have used less of these and more short sleeved ones)
  • 3 short-sleeve shirts
  • Scarf 1
  • Scarf 2
  • 3/4 sleeve sweater
  • Linen hoodie-type pull-over sweater
  • 4 pairs of socks – didn’t need all of these because I didn’t take tennis shoes
  • 8 undies – I always pack an extra (and one in the carry on if they make me check my bag)
*I completely forgot my rain coat and straw hat… which I would have worn on the plane (for the coat) and smashed/rolled into my bag (for the hat).
*I stuffed the (empty until you are through security) metal water bottle and baggy of food in the kids backpack, otherwise, that would have been in my carry-on too.
I know this seems like a lot once its put down on this inventory list like this, but most everything in my carry on or purse is very small or travel-sized. I usually color coordinate my clothes so I don’t have to bring 7 of everything for a week long trip. I rolled everything in the bag so that it fit better in the bag and in/around my shoes. My favorite part of this bag, and I have never seen one like it since I bought this one on a lark at Tuesday Morning, is the computer pocket on the side – the computer slips into its own pocket and lays cushioned between clothes.
Have happy and safe travels – please share any of your own packing tips and tricks.

Day 8 – PEI or Bust – Oklahoma City to Hot Springs, Arkansas

Day 8 57196 odo 8:14 am

As we are leaving Weatherford, OK, the home of astronaut Tom Stafford, it is VERY foggy and overcast. It always takes longer to roust everyone out of bed and into the car than I think it will. It worked so much better when my brother and I drove across country in 2001 and we would get up around 7 and take showers. I would breast-feed McKinley then we would get on the road and drive for an hour before eating breakfast at some greasy spoon. You always felt like you had accomplished a lot before 8 am.

Getting the kids dressed, fed and into the car by 8:14 am should feel better than it does. Now we are headed to Oklahoma City to see the bombing memorial set up there a few years ago. One of the first things we saw was a license plate that said JASPER on it – an old rust colored clunker, like a Dodge Series K car. We see many pick-up trucks and old American cars and a lot of semi-trucks. Not much else on the road once you get outside of the SF Bay Area. We saw our second Mercedes today of the entire drive so far. We saw our first one driving from Albuquerque, which was a candy apple red one headed towards Santa Fe.

Bryce took one of the best sunset pictures from our trip out the window of our car driving into Oklahoma last night. Driving along the highway, you can see lots of funny things (see News of the Weird, below) including a unique guard rail system with poles and steel cable rather than the metal guard rail. I suppose the steel cable system would work just as well if the cables are tensioned properly. But the poles looked like a Semi truck would just take them with the truck and have a new hood ornament in place. Not too reassuring.

Jasper spotted an elk yesterday and a doe and fawn this morning. We saw more mowers today. We saw  signs for the “Canadian Valley Technology Center” about 20 miles outside Oklahoma City – sounded like an oxymoron all the way around to me. We passed towns names Church of the Rock (or maybe that was just a church name – I wonder what they worshipped), Antlers, Atoka, Muddy Boggy Creek. We saw Broken Arrow (instead of Broken Bow, where my Aunt and Uncle live). We passed Daisy, which had a population of 118 and where the Freewill Baptist Church welcomes you. And that’s where everyone was Thursday night.

The Oklahoma City National Memorial was simple, but moving. There is a long pool of water between gates marking the time of the bombing. We were there right after July 4th and saw a woman taking down all of the red, white and blue decorations. She was unceremoniously dumping the wreaths in a box on a cart. There were an amazing amount of tributes to the bombing victims on a chain link fence running the length of the memorial. It was the same way when we visited the Flight 93 Memorial in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

There was a museum at the memorial too. Jasper and Bryce weren’t very interested in going to this one, but by the time we got out of the museum and walked around the copper and glass chairs dedicated to each victim, they were suitably interested. Bryce was very interested in the interaction between your skin, the water and the copper. One of the more moving things at the memorial was the ability to put your hand in the pool of water (about 4 inches deep) and place it on the memorial wall to leave your hand print. It was a nice reminder of how we are all interconnected.

Once we left Oklahoma City, it started raining those Texas-sized rain drops, even though we were in Oklahoma… It started raining so hard, people were hydroplaning about the freeway. I kinda felt like I was back in Hendricks County (Indiana) during one of those freak summer thunderstorms, with hail the size of golf balls. In the pouring rain, we passed the Middle O’ Nowhere Market in Reagan, OK. Somewhere in all that rain, (now I feel like I’m back at home in the midwest and have to talk about the weather), I succumbed to the drive thru at a KFC and A&W RootBeer place to get chicken strips, green beans, a biscuit, and a Dr Pepper that tasted suspiciously like diet coke –  blech – on all accounts! I only made it through the biscuit. Note to self – stick to Starbucks!

Now we are headed to South Eastern Oklahoma and the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Not so surprisingly, we ended up on the road that was the most expeditious, which was a toll road – the Indian Trail Turnpike; although it was our first turnpike of the trip, it certainly would not be our last. We have somewhere entered into the Chocktaw Indian Nation. After my foray into the Navajo Nation, I’m sticking to the roads that aren’t faint and dotted on the map. I’m stickin’ to those brighter lines!

We stopped at the Visitor Center at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area to get our Junior Ranger booklets and go on a hike to explore the hot springs. Who knew there were hot springs in that area. During the torrential downpour that followed us the whole day, we had this amazingly lovely green dragonfly follow us on the trail. Then when we turned back, we spied an armadillo. We watched him for a few minutes – I kept getting closer and closer  to take pictures of him because my “would have been very useful at this moment” telephoto lens was in the truck. The armadillo (which has very bad vision as a species) finally spotted us and turned and waddled off. The boys got a great kick out of seeing an armadillo up close! (It reminded me of my friend Alison’s hilarious story about armadillos, more specifically, as she puts it, “blowing on an armadillo’s bum.”)

Soaked, we still had to pick up a bag of trash each to finish the Jr. Ranger program. I like the Jr. Ranger Programs where the kids have to pick up trash… makes them more responsible! We found about 400 cigarette butts. What a nasty habit! Yuck!!! There were so many cigarette butts that we made up our own game –  if you walked over one and then someone else behind you spotted it, then they could ask you to come back and pick it up. The Visitor Center building had been built by the WPA in the 30’s and felt like the heating system worked like it was still in the 30’s. Once I was frozen from the rain and ancient heating system, the boys finally finished their booklets and earned the Jr. Ranger badge. Outside, we spotted one of the cutest things  of the day: two little girls who laid down their giant golf umbrellas and scooted under them to play while they were waiting.

A few days ago when we crossed the Continental Divide and accidentally hit a chipmunk, I made a joke about road kill and a smart ass remark about it making a good dinner in Arkansas. McKinley didn’t get the joke, so that meant I had to explain it to him. Not good when you have to explain your own prejudicial joke to your child. But it did give us a chance to chat about stereotypes and eating other types of animals that you hunt.

Speaking of animals you hunt, we saw lots of long horns today. We passed a town named Frogville, which made me wonder if they had frog jumping contests like the ones in Calaveras County, CA. Last night when we filled up, we pulled into an empty gas station next to an adult bookstore which had a full parking lot. I always wondered what men did in places like that looking for “books.” I’m still wondering… I was already kind of annoyed from seeing these sexist freeway safety ads – “My daddy works here and will daddy be home tonight? Be alert be safe…” Don’t they have any working moms along the freeway? Probably not – they have better things to be doing!

We discovered that Broken Bow, OK is right next to the North Pole near the corner of Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. Who knew… Once we made it into Arkansas, the bridge surface was lumpy and road quality dropped significantly. Thankfully – that didn’t last the entire time we were in Arkansas. We saw a ton more political and campaign ads in Arkansas – most of them were hand painted or spray painted. I was impressed that people cared enough to state their opinion and put it out in their yard. We passed Wagon Wheel Dance Land, which was a dance hall. Sounded like it might be a fun place to square dance! We passed Cane Creek, Mud Creek, and Rolling Fork River – which made me a little worried about what we might find in Arkansas. Can you tell it was my first time there and that I had a lot of preconceived notions about what Arkansas would be like???

We had called to home to make sure McKinley made it back safe and to cub scout camp and my husband, Greg, mentioned that we should go to the Diamond mine and see what we could find. We briefly toyed with the idea of going to the Crater of Diamonds State Park to look for my retirement package. But since it was so late and I didn’t know if they had a campground, I decided to keep going North and ended up going to Hot Springs instead.

We arrived at Hot Springs at about dinner time – with enough daylight to find a camping spot, see a little of the area, and then make dinner. There were mosquitos galore, rain drops kept falling on my head… it was incredibly humid (and made me very thankful I live in a no humidity area). Once we were done with our preliminary look at the Hot Springs main street, we hopped back into the truck to go find the campgrounds. We then found out that the campground was temporarily off-limits because of some multi-car accident, which was blocking all three entrances to the campground. Hmmm, they weren’t able to give us an estimate of when it would be cleared or even if there were open camp sites. Not a good omen.

Undeterred, I drove back out the way we came in and then to the south side of town to the entrance way on the other side, and waited. Actually, I didn’t wait very patiently,  I parked and got of of the truck to go talk to the Ranger holding up traffic.  I’ve never been one to accept the stock answer that it can’t be done… as I was walking over to the Ranger, what turned out to be the last tow truck, brought out a very mangled car. He yelled something at the Ranger who then opened up the roads — just like that, we were in. We decided to camp in an RV space because the only two tent spaces left looked dicey, as they were next to guys working on their motor bikes and they did not look like they were going to go to sleep too soon even if there were kids next to them.

We figured out their automatic camp site payment machine and then went to find a grocery store to get something for dinner. The boys decided they wanted to grill hot dogs. We learned that you don’t want to raise (or lower) the grill with the hots dogs going the same direction as the grill slats… you end up with hot dogs in the grill, not grilled hot  dogs. Nothing a little water wouldn’t fix… The camp site we picked turned out to be sheltered from most of the rain… I slept a little bit uneasily waiting for the mosquitos to quit buzzing around me – for some reason they really like me – and I was trying to discern if the rain was heavy enough to come through the trees and get us wet enough to hop back into the truck (because we didn’t have a tent). Well, about 7:30 am the next morning, we found out that the rain WAS heavy enough to come through the trees and get us wet. And we also found out that the boys can get dressed, packed up, and back in the truck in 5 minutes flat when it really did start raining on us!

News of the Weird (and fabulous facts):

  • Why is Diamond Bank’s logo a star?
  • A sign rusted so badly that we had no idea what it actually said
  • Gas was $2.49/gal. in Weatherford, OK
  • International Paper in Oklahoma
  • Gas is only $2.34/gal. near Hot Springs, AR
  • Awesome horse farm outside Dierks, AR
  • Amazing white column house and horse ranch outside Pearcy, AR
  • Weyerhauser in Arkansas means tons of logging trucks and mills,
  • McKinley Hardwood truck
  • First non credit card gas pumps I have seen in years
  • Ambush Adventures for River Rafting (not sure that is who I want planning a river rafting trip…)
  • Sign – Do not drive into smoke – what are you supposed to do? Stop and wait? Yup! Too many grass fires to know what you’d be driving into.
  • Sign – Drive Friendly – not sure what this meant? Don’t flip anyone off? Don’t tailgate? Wave to everyone? Find a driving buddy?
  • NM drivers in NM don’t move over, but they do move over in other states.
  • License Plates spotted today – SC MS

Day 8 – PEI or Bust – Oklahoma City to Hot Springs, Arkansas

Check out the full post here. It has taken awhile to post all of these blog entries from our trip and I wanted to leave them in order for my readers.

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