Drinking Champagne supporting Ukraine in the rain in Cologne, November 2014

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Drinking Champagne while supporting Ukraine in the rain in Cologne……

One of the true gifts of travel? The people you meet along the way.

Meet Laura. Laura lives in Cologne. She’s a medical doctor and during her studies she met Michael.  Michael lives in London and works in a hospital. This is how he met Jan. Jan is married to my cousin, Natasha. Confused yet?

Michael and I were invited to Jan’s birthday party in Hamburg. Michael invited Laura.  And this is how I met,  and became friends, with Laura from Cologne. Thank you, Whatsapp! I am sure I have some friends that are reading this shaking their heads. Yes, Katy (Scotland) and Kevin (Australia), you have Laura to thank (blame) for Whatsapp.


So how did I end up drinking Champagne while  supporting Ukraine, ( I held a umbrella) in the rain in Cologne? Because I am Flo……… and well it was Vera’s birthday…….


Travel Tips 2014 verison

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When I first started traveling the world, I would pack everything and the kitchen sink with me.  I eventually learned some little tips that helped make my travels easier, like a good suitcase. It was not tips that I picked up on just one trip, but over the course of my travels. In fact, I am still finding ways to improve my travels. So here are some tips that I’ve found that have helped me along the way.

  • Good suitcase– Price is not everything. Quality trumps everything. Every brand has various levels, like basic, good, better. I personally avoid the basic, but recommend the good, better is nice but  not always necessary.  My original suitcase was a Samsonite roller-board bag, the handle broke on a trip. Then I switched to a TravelPro Crew 22′ carry on. That bag traveled the world with me. Until I was is in Istanbul and Lufthansa refused to allow me to carry it on. So I switched to a Tumi Alpha 20” which has become my staple bag. It’s expandable, in case I over indulge in too much shopping. And in true Flo fashion, this bag was my gateway into Tumi.
  • Overnight Bag– you need a good bag for  that weekend jaunt to the City. You should not always have to carry your roller-board. I admit I have 2, a Coach Weekender, which is great but it’s hand held only  and if I over pack it, it can get quite heavy. So I have a backup bag , Le Sport Sac Weekender, because I wanted something that could be squeezed into the cargo hold on a safari plane and it has a shoulder strap.
  • Carry On Bag– If I am traveling domestically, I usually just take my purse, however when I travel internationally, I need stuff. If it’s a quick trip, I will use my Longchamp  tote. Its perfect for airline carry-on and as well as great for sightseeing. If I need to travel with my laptop, I’ve found the ,  Tumi Mansion Carry-All, which is the perfect bag! It’s got a padded pocket for laptop, and tons of pockets including one for jewelry. I’ve actually started traveling with my laptop so I can use this bag. Plus it’s shoulder bag! It’s really just a great bag!
  • Toiletry Bag- after several years of packing and unpacking my toiletry bag on each trip, I realized it would be that much easier to just purchase travel size doubles.  A good bag will be lined in plastic so you can clean when ,and not if, something spills.                      IMG_2588                                                                                                                                                                        In these days of the 3 oz liquid rules, a sturdy 1 quart bag is essential.  Flight 001 has some great bags. Get something colorful, easier to spot.
  • Umbrella- or don’t and get wet. Your call.
  • Power-  after a power surge that fried my laptop in Indonesia, I invested a Power Strip with a Surge Protector.  I have also have extra power cords for all my electronics. This way when I have to travel on the fly, I don’t have to worry about if I have all the cords I need to charge my various devices.
  • Travel Wallet-  Easiest way to loose your passport? Leave it uncovered. Get a nice colorful cover. Why colorful? Your less likely to loose it.
  • Packing Cubes– great way to keep you clean and dirty clothes separate. Flight 001 SpacePak bag is awesome because it’s 2 sided, clean/laundry.
  •  Travel Coat- coats add bulk but are a necessary evil. The best travel coat I’ve found is the Lands End Outrigger Jacket. I’ve never been too hot or too cold in this jacket. It’s kind of a mystery . And the best part? It has an interior pocket that is perfect for your passport.
  • Back up Power- the other day I was hunting for an outlet in Raleigh airport. I had to ask myself why? I mean with as much as I travel, why would I not invest in some power supplies?  This came in handy while on my recent 9 hour flight to Hawaii with out any Inflight Entertainment.

Stuff happens when you travel. You can not prepare for every instance, but it helps to stay organized while traveling to minimize stress.  The right tools can help you with that.

Return of the Passport Flu……

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For those of you who actually know me, you might recall a few years ago every time I would use my passport I would return home sick. It was so predictable that I would I would start making Doctor’s appointments, when I made my flight reservations.

And then I found a new doctor and bye bye “Passport Flu”. Until this year….. I’ve been struck down twice now. After my return from Mumbai in May and now from my return from Hawaii in October.

So there were no burgers in Boston…..

I did make it to Orlando for work, but sadly I must report no sun and sand in Seychelles.

But stay tuned, great adventures ahead, if I can ever kick this darn flu……