Raleigh, North Carolina- October 2015

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You ever have one of those days were you just wake up on the wrong side of bed and yet your day turns out to be so crazy you can’t even remember why you were cranky in the first place?

I never thought that I would met a really nice guy (he had me a Tumi), pick out a ring, go to a chapel and find a reverend. All on the same day that did not start out so well.

I woke up insanely early for a Saturday morning. I was excited to see my friend, Michelle, but I was uber cranky about having to actually go to the airport.  I usually take the back roads to the airport, but for some odd reason I took the expressway. It’s not a secret I have a lead foot. BUT the lovely truck drivers on 290 thought better of allowing me to use it. Turns out they were ALL doing me a favor. There were like 20 police officers pulling people over right and left. I have to admit my mood increased a bit, and I thanked God for for those truckers.

Of course the line for TSA Pre Check is about 100 deep.

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I finally cleared security in Terminal One and go to look at what gate I am leaving out of. Terminal 2, F19. Seriously?

About an hour later, I get to my gate and plop down and decide to catch up with what was going on in the world via Twitter. One of the travel bloggers I followed,OneMileataTime posted about being a flight with a celebrity.  Well boy was I surprised when I say that same celebrity walking down the terminal to my gate. I did a double take at first, because I was reading a blog about said celebrity and here he was right in front of me. I turned to the lady sitting next to me and just said “how strange is this”.  There was a little boarding area bonding with other passengers as we waited to board. It should be noted, said celebrity was using a “flip” phone. But I must say what baffled many of us was that this was a United Airlines EXPRESS flight. There was no first class, just crammed together coach seats.  I am pretty sure I had one of the better seats on the plane, 1A, so we were all curious to know where he was sitting. 5A for those of you interested.

It was during these conversations when my eyes discovered some “candy”, by candy I mean nice Tumi suitcase,being used the Nice Guy.  As easily distracted as I was by the bag, I was soon pulled back to reality when they announced boarding. I was going to run on the plane, even though I had no carry on bags  so I could get some spy photos of the celebrity. Well turns out while I was oggling the Tumi, I missed the celebrity boarding the plane.

Since I was in the bulkhead, I had asked the flight attendant if she had room in the closet for my purse. And then I said, Where is he? (Yes, it’s a creepy as it reads) She said 5A but he’s going to move. So I sat down to plot my next move. Well divine intervention worked in my favor. 5A had his bag in the closet and needed something so up the aisle he came. I said “Sir, would you like my seat?” **It should be noted, I used my full “Flo” smile. He turned smiled at me, put out his hand and said “It’s nice to see you”.  Well, forgot the spy photo. I asked if I could take a picture, he said sure but only with you. And this is how I found the Reverend.

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After we landed I headed downstairs to wait for Michelle. She was about 10 minutes out so I just took a seat. Well the nice lady I had been chatting with in Chicago came up to me and said did you notice the other celebrity on the flight? I said no, wait who? She showed me a picture, it was Tumi Man……. I am not proud of what I did next. I proceed to walk over to the baggage claim carousel. Yes, I was on a day trip, so no I did not check any bags. I asked my new friend to confirm that Tumi Man was one and the same and she said yes.  I then proceed to march right up to him and admit that A. I had not checked bags, and B. Is he a celebrity, when’s he not being good looking Tumi man? and C. Could I take a picture?  I must say he’s a good sport, that or he saw the crazy in my eyes and decided it was safer to just play along.

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Of course now that I found the Reverend and a M an with great taste in luggage, it was on to the next stop. The Chapel of course, Duke Chapel.

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All that was left at this point was to pick out some some rings! Thank you, Sara at Hamilton Hill.

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Who knew I could accomplish so much in 1 day? I had a wonderful time visiting with Michelle. It was great afternoon, the kind with beautiful weather, good food and of course great company. We ended the afternoon visiting Duke Gardens, where ironically we found a wedding.

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And then back to reality, no celebrities and cranky flight attendants.

In case you do not recognize the celebrities, that would be Reverend Jesse Jackson and Tumi Man, Jay Williams.

And here are some  photo’s of my attempts of being paparazzi….

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Clearly I need to work my spy photo’s. Maybe a new camera? Any suggestions?

Until next time, Safe Travels.

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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!

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.

And I am off….

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I guess I should clarify something with my posts, they are not in real time. They are days behind. So if you arre reading this thinking, hmm I think I am going to find Flo in Germany, yeah I am probably already home.

My usual travel pattern, when heading to Europe, is to take a 6:00pm departure,  so I have a chance at sleeping. Well due to the schedule for the next day, I took the 2:20 pm from Chicago to Frankfurt. Rookie Mistake #2.

I also booked my ticket late, so the choice seats where gone. Rookie Mistake #3.

So I ended up in the middle seat sandwiched between 2 men, both who where armrest hogs. The one to my left was  not as bad, elbows touch someone would move. However, the guy to my right? I am pretty sure he was trying to get his cuddle on.

So 7.25 flight time, I watched 3 movies, so maybe 2 hours of sleep? Arrived in Frankfurt at 5:20 am, ready to go to bed rather then face the day.  But the next day, was the big day, and I was way to excited to sleep.

Originally the plan had been to meet up with friends in Frankfurt and we would drive down to the Audi Forum in Neckarsulam. I had booked a hotel room at the airport so we could refresh before fhe drive.  Well plans changed, flights cancelled and I made rookie mistake 4. Don’t prepay your hotel unless your willing to lose it.

So I walked over to the Frankfurt Hilton Airport to refresh and drink about 4 expresso’s.  The Hilton was located in the Squaire, which right next to the train station for the long distance trains. So it worked out great given my bad situation.

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I had prebooked the train, at risk, because the price difference was so signficant it was worth it. Next stop Stuttgart……….

 

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Rookie travel mistakes

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I am usually a short haul traveler. I can usually travel with a carryon and I very rarely check bags. So planning for 12 days in Europe was eye opening for me.  Oh boy did I make some rookie mistakes.

1. Overpacking- there is this amazing thing called laundry, you can even pay someone to do it for you.  No need for 12 days of clothes.

2. Trains, planes, automobiles and stairs?- only pack what you can carry because at some point you will encounter a sitaution that requires you to carry,lift, pull your bags.

3. Make a list- less likely to forget something.

4. If packing multi-bags, try to put what you need the first few days in bag 1, so your not having to shift thru bags every day.

I started with my 2 rollerboards fully expanded and very heavy. I ended up with, having to do laundry at some point. But for 12 days it could have been worse.

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