Flo’s Birthday July 2016- Part 2

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I am solo traveler. I do what I want when I want to do it and well frankly I kind of of prefer it that way. I was little worried about traveling with 20 of my friends.

So how where we getting to Berlin?  Well before moving to Australia, I was very loyal to United Airlines. So I had a healthy amount of frequent flier miles. (If you want to learn more about earning miles, check out The Points Guy.)    Add in my 1k status and the choice was easy, Chicago to Frankfurt on United connecting to Lufthansa to Berlin.I was one of the last one’s to book my ticket. It was primary because I was not sure if I would be coming from Australia or the States.  After booking 6 friends on  one flight from Chicago, I realized it would make sense for me to book myself on that flight. Fun Fact: Lesley was the first one to book.

I’ve been fortunate to be able frequently fly in Business Class, alot. Most airlines provide a in flight amenity kit, some like Qantas and Virgin Australia give pajamas. Since part of this trip was for my friends to experience a “Flo” trip. I made special amenity kits for them. I was even able to include pajamas from Qantas. ( Thanks again Qantas!)


You probably already know about my love affair with Flight 001. So it should not be a surprise that I choose a Seat Pak for my amenity kit. I included stuff that I found to be helpful on flights. A pen, tissue, toothbrushes, hand lotion, lip balm, electronic glass cleaner, antibacterial wipes and in some cases a battery pack. My friend, Michelle made amazing travel cards that included the itinerary, contact information for the other travels, so Flo travel trivia and a crossword puzzle. She even wrapped them in vintage maps!


As with any trip, not everything went according to schedule. Apparently the Porsche factory was closed the week were going to be in town. There goes my dream of doing hot laps on the track in Leipzig.  Someone got a new job and had to cancel, another had to change tickets due to a wedding etc. Lots of shifting and organizing up until the last minute, including a last minute cancellation that had me sweating. Let me be very fair in saying, I was very clear to my friends that I would completely and totally understand if they were unable to attend, for whatever reason.  So when one friend, who had been making excuses for months, said that maybe they could not go about a week before, I made the decision to cancel.Only because if we are all being honest, said friend never had any intention of going on the trip.  I had to cancel the ticket, rearrange hotels, update transportation lists, etc. It was not a 2 minute fix. Fast forward to day before departure and I realized, I had no heard from that friend. Oops. Luckily the cancellation text message came in at 28th hour. Whew. That would have been a bit awkward at the airport.

I used my points to book most of us into the Grand Hyatt Berlin. Hyatt has this amazing program called Be My Guest. It allows diamond members to use their points to book rooms for friends and family and they get your diamond status benefits.  So everyone was upgraded to club rooms and given access to club lounge. Which was just ideal given the number of people traveling together. It gave us an opportunity to get together and just hang out. DSC_0052

I had coordinated with the hotel to ensure that everyone’s names where on their rooms and that everything was sorted ahead of time. Then I got an email the morning we were leaving confirming my reservations, minus a few rooms. Nothing like last minute panic. A quick email sorted everything out. And on our way we went.

We were all so excited that we headed to the airport early.I told the group that was traveling with me, that I would meet them at the gate. I was excited but not excited enough to give up my TSA Pre-Check. Stay tuned for the next part of the trip, actually going!


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.


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!

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.