July 3, 2015

Happy 4th Of July

For my readers in the US, have a great 4th of July and a fabulous long weekend! I have family arriving for the long weekend and then will be taking a quick trip to the beach, so I am taking a short break to relax and savor the summer. 

Travel safely, wear sunscreen and enjoy every minute of your summer weekend...wherever you may be wandering...


July 2, 2015

Vacation Checklist, Part Two...What To Pack and What NOT To Pack

So...it is finally time for your big trip! All you have left to do is pack...
Illustration by Inslee Haynes
  If the prospect of packing for a vacation is enough to make you want to stay home, don't despair, here are some tips to simplify the process. Go here for a printable PDF file of these tips.

Vacation Checklist, Part Two
What to Pack

There is nothing worse than realizing that you have left some crucial items at home, the following packing tips should help you to better prepare.

  • Start by writing a packing list, be sure to check the weather forecast of the destination you are visiting and take into consideration the activities and outings you will be going on.
  • When packing an item think about how many times you are going to wear it. If you are not going to wear it more than three times, don't pack it!
  • Choose clothes that pack well and color co-ordinate. For example, choose a base color for trousers, skirts & shorts like beige or khaki and then match with a couple of highlight colors.
  • Be aware of local traditions and dress codes, especially if travelling to Muslim countries.
  • Accessorize, accessorize! Ladies scarves or wraps can give your limited wardrobe extra color. They can easily be used to dress up an outfit. Also, when visiting places of worship you will need to cover your shoulders so a wrap is perfect for this situation. Also, a few pairs of inexpensive earrings are fun to bring and can also change the look of your outfit.
  • Pack sunscreen and insect repellent.
  • Take a few plastic zip lock bags for carrying wet items or keeping things dry.
  • Check the electrical outlets and adapters needed for the places you are visiting.
  • If you wear glasses, pack an extra pair or at least have a copy of your glasses prescription.
  • To avoid problems when passing through customs, keep medicines in their original labeled containers. If a medication is unusual, carry a letter from your doctor attesting to your need to take it.
  • If you plan to wash some items in your hotel bathroom, take a travel clothesline, sink stopper & soap. Remember micro fibers dry quicker than cotton.
  •  If taking a digital camera clean out your photo card memory and get a back-up one and spare battery.
  • If you have any severe allergies write them out in English and translate to languages in countries you will be visiting. Write on business card size card and keep on your person. This is easy to do by using Google language tools.

What NOT To Pack

Remembering what not to pack can sometimes be as important as remembering what to pack. Follow this simple rule - don't bring anything you would hate to lose. Leave at home:

  • Valuable or expensive-looking jewellery.
  • Irreplaceable family objects.
  • All unnecessary credit cards.

Tips for packing your suitcase

  • Start by putting your name, address and telephone numbers inside and outside of each piece of luggage. Use covered luggage tags to avoid casual observation of your identity or nationality.
  •  Lock your luggage to prevent theft and tampering.
  • When packing, lay out the items you intend to take and re-evaluate your list to eliminate any unnecessary or single-use items.
  • Iron everything before placing it in your suitcase as you may not always have time to iron clothes when you are on tour. Button all buttons and zip all zippers to avoid items getting caught on them.
  • Pack chronologically, with items to be worn first on the top. This will make it easier to pull things out of your suitcase and save you time, handy for when you are on the go.
  • Pack items tightly so that clothes do not have too much space to move around and wrinkle.
  • Pack toiletries in plastic bags to avoid spillages. Individual containers with more than 3oz. of liquids are not permitted to be taken in your carry on luggage in many airports. They must be placed in your checked in luggage. Check with your airline or airport for up-to-date security restrictions.
  • To save room pack items in shoes (i.e. rolled socks etc).
  • Remember to pack your bag only two-thirds full to leave room for shopping and souvenirs.

Illustration by Inslee Haynes

 Go here for a printable PDF file of the checklist of things to do before you leave...and go here for more of my travel tips.

Happy travels! 

(Thank you to Insight Vacations for providing these suggestions.)

June 30, 2015

Vacation Checklist, Part One

It's summertime and the livin' is easy...that is until you get ready to head out of town and your "to do" list keeps growing longer and longer with things you need to do before your vacation! 

I have a lovely client who is leaving soon for a two week European tour...in answering some pre-trip questions for her, I came across an excellent checklist of things to do before you leave on a trip. Many of these suggestions are tips I have shared here before, but I thought it might be helpful to include them all in one easy list. 

Go here for a printable pdf file of this list so you can check things off as you do them.

Vacation Checklist, Part One

Things to do before you leave:
  • Forward your mail or arrange to have it collected by family, friends or neighbors. Alternatively, ask the post office to hold it.
  • Put a hold on newspaper & magazine deliveries. Or have a neighbor collect it. A full mailbox especially with bank statements and credit card bills can be a treasure trove for hackers and identity thieves (and suggests easy pickings for a home burglar). Pick up forms to hold or forward mail at any post office.
  • Don’t broadcast your travel plans on social networking websites.
  • Pay telephone, service provider accounts and bills before you go, so they will not be disconnected while you are away.
  • Ensure arrangements for your pets are in place.
  • Alert your credit card providers. Before you leave, let them know when, where and how long you'll be traveling. This helps fraud departments stop bogus charges if your plastic is used where you are not - and reduces the risk that your cards will be frozen due to "unusual activity" when you use them far from home.
  • Turn off any preset alarm clocks and all electrical appliances at the switch.
  • Alert the airline if you have any special food consideration – vegetarian etc.
  • Inform neighbors of your holiday dates.
  • Make sure your family & friends have copies of your travel itinerary and hotels you will be staying at, in case they need to contact you.
  • Some airlines will allow you to check-in online and select your seats before you travel. You can also register online to receive an email or mobile/cell text message if your flight is going to be delayed.
  • Leave your check book at home. You shouldn't need it if you have credit cards. Leave your bills and private papers at home too.
  • Carry a spare. In addition to your real wallet, carry a throwaway with a few dollars and maybe some old hotel key cards. If you're accosted, hand over the spare wallet while keeping the real McCoy. The thief may see money and plastic, and be off and running ... and so can you.

Avoid Cell Phone Bill Shock When Traveling Abroad
'Bill shock' is becoming increasingly common for international travelers, arriving home from their trip to a hefty cell phone bill that can be as much as the actual trip! Before leaving on your trip you can take steps to avoid returning home to an expensive phone bill:
  • Check international calling and text rates, disable data roaming and consider a prepaid service designed for international travelers.
  • An international cell phone and prepaid SIM card lets you stay connected and in touch with family and friends, and control your costs at the same time.

Security When Traveling Abroad

  • Monitor the media for any changes to security or safety in the regions you plan to visit. Your foreign affairs department will be able to provide you with the latest travel advice for your destination(s).
  • It is essential that you take out comprehensive travel insurance to cover all overseas medical costs for the duration of your travel. Your travel insurance should also cover any activities in which you plan to participate.
  • Make copies of your passport details, insurance policy, visas and credit card numbers. Carry one copy in a separate place to the originals and leave a copy with someone at home.
  • Consult your doctor regarding recommended vaccinations or other health precautions for your destination(s). Check that any medication you need to take is legal in the countries you plan to visit. It is a good idea to carry a prescription from your doctor for any medicines you take with you.
  • Weed out your wallet. Pickpockets love tourist destinations, so take only essential identifiers, like your driver's license and just two credit cards, one to carry, another to be locked in the hotel room safe in case your wallet is pilfered. Men, keep your wallet in a buttoned breast pocket or buttoned pants pocket. Women, wear a hand-bag with wide straps and locked clasps, diagonally across the chest and don't hang it over the door when you use a public bathroom.
  • Consider a temporary credit freeze. A freeze denies access to your credit history, so ID thieves can't open accounts in your name while you're away, but it doesn't stop you from using your credit card.
  • Use safer ATMs. Debit cards are best left at home, but if you need cash withdrawals ATMs in bank lobbies are less vulnerable to devices that robbers use to capture your card information. Bank lobbies generally have camera surveillance.
  • Be careful with hotel computers. Don't access financial data on hotel or other public computers or on public Wi-Fi networks. You never know what identity-stealing software is at work.
  • Beware of "front desk" fraudsters. A late-night phone call to your room from a "clerk" saying your credit card number is needed again may be a ruse by an ID thief. Ignore the request and call the front desk yourself.

Passport & Visas
  • Make sure your passport is valid for travel for all the countries you are visiting or transiting in.
  • Many countries require your passport to be valid during and beyond the length of your stay (usually a minimum of 6 months), so check what applies to your itinerary.
  • It is a good idea to carry two additional passport photos with you in case your passport is stolen or lost and you need a replacement passport while overseas.
  • Depending on your nationality you may need to obtain visas for the various countries you are visiting or transiting in. It is often essential that these are obtained prior to going overseas.

Next up, Part Two - Packing...

Go here for more of my travel tips...

(Thank you to Insight Vacations for providing this list.)

June 26, 2015

On My Radar Screen

Happy Friday!! These weeks are going waaaay too fast...I hope you have been soaking up the summer sunshine and enjoying every drop of this beautiful time of year.  Unfortunately we are expecting quite a bit of rain in Connecticut tomorrow...all the better for chilling out and reading Beatriz Williams' new book Tiny Little Things - I love reading local authors (she lives in Connecticut) and her book from last summer, The Secret Life of Violet Grant, is one of my favorites.

Vietri Sul Mare by Gray Malin, via

Here are a few things on my radar screen this week...

Travel tip of the week ~ Do you like to take off your shoes on long flights but don't want to deal with putting them back on every time you get up to use the bathroom or walk around? Save the hotel slippers left by your bedside at turn down for your flights...they are easy to slip on during your flight when you need to get up. 

via Waiting on Martha
I  agree with all of Waiting on Martha's 11 Tips For Traveling Like A Pro and the pictures are completely swoonworthy...
My blog buddy, Heather, from Style Mind Chic shares her favorite travel hacks in a recent post...

My friend, Carolyn, from The Buzz Blog shared details of her recent trip to Carmel and my friend, Anita, also went to Carmel - see her stunning Instagram Feed of her trip...

Nine TED talks guaranteed to give you wanderlust will have you packing your bags pronto - I particularly love Pico Iyer...

This is stunning...Watch as an artist creates the NYC skyline in a captivating time lapse video...

If only all teachers thought like this one...An  Italian teacher's summer homework assignment...

  "Brangelina" and their children fly coach??  Good for them!


That's it for this week...Almost time to open a bottle of rosé and kick back for the weekend! 

Wishing you abundant sunshine this weekend...wherever you may be wandering...