Travel Tips September 2015 Verison

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You would think given the amount that I travel that I would have my travel strategies locked down, some sort of organized way to travel. The answer is NOPE……

(This blog is for my family and friends to share my experiences. I am not advertising for any of the products I link to and no I am not making money off of the clicks. I just find them useful and thought I would share.)

I personally believe every repetitive activity should re-evaluated every now and then, because technology and products change. There maybe something to improve you process. So this is my updated list of 2015 travel tips.

Good Suitcase- it was clear when I flew to Australia earlier this year that I was not going to be able to pack just carry on. So I did what I had to do

IMG_4336Yes I realize, now, that it would have been easier if I had just bought 1 bigger bag. The current carry on limits are 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm), including handles and wheels. (Check with your airline, before travel). The international airlines, especially the ones I encounter in Europe, are really strict with this limits. Since I’ve started talking longer trips, I decided it might make sense to invest in bigger piece that I could actually check it.  So I began my research into the land of luggage.  I learned that “20” and “22” equals a “26“. Thank you to Sharon, the manager at Tumi Oakbrook store, for giving me that piece of luggage wisdom. It’s based on the capacity of what each bag can hold.

Internet- I normally like be unconnected when I travel. I received a Skyroam as a gift and it’s been a nice edition to my travel bag. It’s great for short trips or trips that span multiple countries. It’s $10 day or $8 if you buy a pack of 5. It gives you unlimited data for 24 hours to up to 5 devices. It only has a 8 hour battery, but if you are a travel pro you’ll have a back up battery and if not, keep reading.

Back-Up Power- I originally purchased a brick of a power pack. Then I realized I still needed the power cord until I found this one. It’s perfect, the cords are built in and it’s light weight. This should be a staple in everyone’s travel bag.

Travel Bags-  I love me some Longchamp totes (maybe a little too much). They are ideal for travel, because they can fold up. I also swear by PacSafe bags. They are great for places known for pickpockets, like Rome or Barcelona. You should find a bag that is functional for you that meets your travel needs. I have several bags, I know big surprise, in various sizes to suit my various travels.

Entertainment- If you have Amazon Prime, you can now download movies and tv shows to watch later. It appears it for mobile devices only as of now. I just finished watching the first season of The Royals.  It was actually more interesting then I thought it would be. I now working my way thru season 1 of Unreal, I am only on episode 3, so I will report back.

Socks– it’s getting to be sock season here in Chicago. The last think you want when you have to take off your shoes for security is to have holes in your socks. So do yourself a favor, clean out your sock drawer. Apparently I am a recovering sock hoarder. I just cleaned out my sock drawer. There will be no holey socks in my near future.

Dual Voltage- must current electronics are dual voltage. I did not realize you are not supposed to use your heating electronics ( hair dryer, flat iron, etc.) with a converter. To avoid blowing up your blow dryer ( which I did in Australia) make sure your items are dual voltage.

Shoes- invest in a good pair of travel shoes. There is nothing worse your feet hurting from trying to be cute when you travel. Study and safe are your friend. I wore new sandals in Paris this summer, they were thrown away when I got to Italy. There was just no coming back from that pain.

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I may not be winning any fashion awards with this get up, but my feet were quite thankful.

Online Back Up- in this digital age that we live in, we really should have a good online back up. I apparently have several. I realized that is a good and bad thing. You may want to organize your back up system and set it up to auto back up. This way those great photos you take on your phone will auto sync to the “cloud” somewhere and if something happens to your phone, you still have your pictures. I will be taking my own advice this week, I realize my “cloud” is scattered over several continents.

Bag for the Plane- In the last year, I’ve 2 ipods and a Kindle on my flights. I got the Kindle back, but the ipod’s were eaten by the lovely seats on United Airlines. So bought I a SeatPak ( in my defense I had a coupon). I had previously tried using one of the bags from an amenity kit, but it was like a black hole. I am hoping my new SeatPak will keep me organized on my next flight, no more lost Kindles.

Toiletry Bag- I am pretty sure I have 5 mini tubes of toothpaste in my toiletry bag. I really need to clean out my bag. And replace the stuff that need to be replaced. Like hair ties, I buy them in packs of 20, you know the ones for $.99? I can never find one when I need one? How is that possible? So after you finish with the sock drawer, maybe do an inventory of your toiletry bag.

Well I am off to clean out my toiletry bag and pack for my next adventure….. heading to see my friend Katy…. which is just dangerous for my liver and my wallet. Stay tuned ………. Until next time safe travels!

Where will I go next? July, 2015

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As most of you already know, I am on the quest for 50 before 40. I have not doubt in my ability to hit 50, but I am wondering where to next?

According my calculations, I am on 47. So where will 48, 49 and 50 be?

I just booked a ticket to return to Australia. I realized that I am not helping my quest with returning the same places. But stay tuned, fun news about Australia to follow soon.

So after locking down a few appointments, I realized I have some extra days available on this trip to just relax for a few days. I know Flo, Vacation, Relax, don’t normally fit into the same sentence.

My flight from the States (long haul) lands me in Sydney. I will be heading to Brisbane for a few days, but I don’t need to head there immediately. So I figured it would be best to catch a flight from Sydney to somewhere. Off to Google Flights I go. If you are not familiar with Google flights, I apologize now. If you are like me, you will spend hours just playing on it looking at flights, you will probably never take.

*** Side note: Google Flights is great for looking at flight possibilities. If you know your Departure City, you can leave the Arrival City blank.  You can also choose from the various drop downs. I always choose first class, even though I am flying economy, because you just never know,and that economy ticket looks like a bargain compared to first class.

So I entered my departure city as Sydney and only parameter, non-stop. And GO.

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Loads of options!

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Since I am trying to add to my country count, I decided to check out the islands. Well did you know, most of them over “owned” by someone? How much fun it must have been back in the day, sailing the world, finding an island, and saying oh I think I’ll claim this for France or Spain or Portugal.

I am going off the United Nations list of countries for my count. So I am using their map to track. I’ve highlighted the countries I’ve been to in yellow.

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Looks like I need to study up on some South Pacific Islands. Any suggestions on where I should go?

Stay tuned for how this adventure unfolds……

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.