When I'm about to jump on a 10+ hour flight overseas I need to make sure I have all my in-flight entertainment and necessities on hand. What you pack in your carry on can make or break your flight and the last thing you want is to be board or uncomfortable on a long international flight. So without further ado here are the items I find essential for those daunting long haul flights.
1) A Good Book. I know many of us sometimes feel like there's not enough time in a day to sit down and delve into a good book as much as we'd like but this is the PERFECT time to knock off some of those glorious books you've had on your list for months. If you're like me and tend to prefer the act of actually holding a book and turing the pages, I strongly suggest only packing one maybe two books in order to conserve space and added weight.
2) A Tablet. Now for those of you that are fans of reading books on tablets this will definitey benefit you when it comes to saving that much needed space and weight. You can load as many books as your memory will hold but make sure it has the capability of downloading games, music, apps, movies, etc. to keep you entertained as well. You will definitely want to download everything before you board as not all flights will offer wifi which also means some of those games/apps may not be available once your device is in airplane mode. Test your apps in airplane mode before hand so you know what entertainment you'll have access to on the plane.
3) A Quality Pair of Headphones. I cannot stress this enough as you will use your headphones for multiple reasons during the flight from listening to music, in-flight movies or playing games on your device. Yes, if you must listen to the whistling jingle and lightening sounds as you crush that candy, please be courteous to your fellow travelers and use your headphones. So which headphones should you use? There are 3 types to choose from, In-Ear Monitors such as earbuds, On-ear and Over-Ear headphones. While each type is great for different reasons I STRONGLY suggest going with the Over-Ear headphones as these will be best for noise canceling and comfort! I personally use Skullcandy Hesh 2 headphones for long flights as they don't squeeze my head or ears and provide such great noise canceling that I'll even put them on just for added piece and quiet. Over-Ear headphones aren't as compact or fashionable as those tiny white earbuds but trust me, this is NOT the item you want to trade fashion over comfort.
4) Magazines. Since you have your book and tablet of choice already I wouldn't recommend going crazy buying all the gossip magazines on the shelves. My strategy is to get 1 magazine that's stimulating (Psychology Today) and 1-2 for plain entertainment (Cosmopolitan and In-Touch). Learn a little, indulge a little.
5) A Cozy Blanket. We all know airplanes can get pretty cold so having a soft blanket will not only keep you warm but will make for a relaxing way to cuddle up in your seat and get some shut eye. Besides, nobody wants to use those paper thin blankets (or pillows) the airline may provide. Sizing Tip: A 50x60 blanket is perfect if using a large tote size carry on.
6) Fuzzy Socks. Again, keeping warm on a cold plane will make the long flight a little more bearable and fuzzy socks are a lot more comfortable than any regular socks with elastic. Although if you're at risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis then you may want to bring a pair of compression socks as well.
7) Immunity Goody Bag. You definitely don't want to be feeling under the weather before arriving at your exciting destination. I for one tend to feel like I'm getting a cold every time I spend an extended period of time cooped up in an airplane breathing all that dry recirculated air... yuck! So, in order to combat those cold like symptoms before I step off that plane, I started to pack a little immunity goody bag for those long flights. Most carriers offer complimentary beer and wine on international flights and some even have complimentary liquor! Yep, you read that right. But, while I'm all for imbibing in some free booze because lets be honest, drinks on domestic flights are expensive and I sure as hell aint paying for that, it's important to remember to drink plenty of water, Emergen-C and hot tea throughout the flight to ensure you stay hydrated. I also throw in some additional items for those "uh oh" moments that can pop up unexpectedly both on the plane and during your trip.
* So what exactly do you need to make an Immunity Goody Bag?
You can adjust the amounts depending on your needs. So if you are sensitive to jet lag you may want to bring a few extra sleep aides or increase the amount of Benadryl if you suffer from allergies.
So now that your carry on is squared away, all you need to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the flight. You'll be there before you know it!!
Tomorrow is officially the first day of Fall and my personal favorite season of all time. I'm always fascinated that one can sort of "feel" a change in the air when summer is fading into fall and winter into spring. Even though the temperature hasn't exactly cooled a whole lot, especially where I live, there is still a very subtle change in the way the sunlight streams through the window, the way the breeze feels on your skin and in my case the internal stirring of excitement and joy knowing that fall is around the corner. Now I, along with every other woman in the US, cannot wait for the enticing flavors of pumpkin spice everything to invade our lives since we live for that all year long.... Heeeello Pumpkin Spice Lattes!!!
The season for wood burning fires, pumpkin patches, cuddling, rainy days and my favorite fall fashion, the ankle boot, is upon us and I for one cannot wait for the holiday season to begin.
Last year I was debating whether or not to go to Italy solo or push my trip back for a second time in hopes that I would find a travel buddy to tag along. As the days flew by and my departure date quickly came upon me I decided to cancel my solo trip out of fear of the unknown. Deep down I know I would have been fine making this trip alone but even though there are many great perks to solo travel, there are also perks to having a fellow adventurer by your side. But what happens when you decide to travel across the Atlantic to a new country with someone that isn't exactly as adventurous as yourself?? Well that exact scenario is what I am about to embark on for better or worse.
My initial thought process was riddled with hesitation. Can two people, who are so alike in some respect yet so different when it comes to stepping out of their comfort zone, really co-exist on a 10 day international trip? Will the trip be a constant battle between exploring off the beaten paths and sticking to the well lit tourist zones? Will there be a disconnect between each traveler's expectations of the sights, accommodations or even food selection? So many questions and potential "trip ruining" situations swirled through my head but I decided not the let my fear of the unknown take control yet again. That's when I changed the filter of my thought process from one of hesitation to one of optimism. What if opposite personalities can travel perfectly well together? A sort of yin-yang effect. Or better yet, what if the less adventurous traveler begins to open up to all the amazing potential and wonder that happens when one leaves their comfort zone or simply tries to immures themselves in an entirely different culture? Becoming a local vs. touring the locals.
So with that mindset these two opposing personalities have booked their flights to Italy!!
Now comes the next stage of planning out the details of what cities to see, how much time to spend in each, where to stay, what sights to hit, etc. This stage can really give you some insight into how you may get along with your future travel compadre once you step off that 12 hour flight. For me, this stage started off a little rocky as my compadre wanted to hand everything off to me from the start since I have more experience with traveling both domestically and internationally as well as travel booking. But I'm bound and determined to keep an optimistic outlook for this trip so a simple conversation laying down the following points and expectations was in order, all of which are true for anyone bounding for adventure with multiple travelers.
My father was recently inducted into one of the most elite groups in the trucker world... the 2 Million Mile club! So to put that into some perspective thats roughly 80 times around the world or traveling to the moon and back 4 times!! Mind boggling I know.
So what do you get when you reach 2 million miles? Well an all expense paid trip to Dallas, TX filled with banquet dinners, guest speakers and a tour of the famous Dallas Cowboys Stadium of course! I know this doesn't sound like a super thrilling trip for someone who has theoretically traveled to the moon and back 4 times, but armed with his super fun plus one, that would be me, this trip became a stupidly fun adventure in the Big D.
Day 1 began with a 5am flight which is almost unbarable for me being that I'm more of a night owl, but one cat nap and a cup of American Airlines' finest black tea later we land at DFW ready to start the party. After a quick stop at our lovely hotel to drop off our luggage we snagged an Uber into Dallas to eat and drink our way through the city. First stop, All Good Cafe located in the Deep Ellum neighborhood also known as the hipster part of Dallas. This breakfast joint is like a diner meets grandma's kitchen with its mismatched coffee mug collection that patrons have so generously donated over time and no frills menu. There are tons of colorful origami swans and butterflies hanging from the ceiling that were left behind from a wedding reception a year ago and a stage at the back of the place where they often have live acoustic music. I highly recommend the South Austin Migas.
Next we decide to walk off that delicious diner food and explore the neighborhoods. Along the way we spotted a bike shop that had giant motorcycles that look more like art pieces, a Burlesque School that offers a 6 week intro to Drag Workshop and a Brewery that has happy hour from 11am - 4pm on the weekdays! So with that, we stop for a mid-morning "brunch time" beer at BrainDead Brewing with their cute wall taps made from old 1960's refrigerator doors. After our beer we continue to make our way downtown to the Texas School Book Depository stopping for drinks and getting to know the locals along the way. We even got all the conspiracy theories surrounding Kennedy's death from one of the tour guides for the 6th Floor Museum who was oddly grabbing a beer before work... hmmmm. And with that, we grabbed another Uber back to the hotel to get ready for that evening's banquet dinner, DJ and PhotoBooth fun. The night was filled with lots of food, ice cream sundaes, all the line dances imaginable (cupid shuffle, electric slide, you get it...) and the hilariousness that comes with silly props and a PhotoBooth. Now maybe it was the wine & beer, the loopiness from the lack of sleep or a combination of the two but we decided to end the night by hitting up a local dive karaoke bar by the name of G.Willickers. If you like the crazy crowd, cheap stiff drinks and smelling like an ashtray when you leave then this is the place for you. I must say I had an absolute blast minus the smoke (Yuck!) but we sure did Dallas right that first day.
Day 2 I skipped the breakfast and guest speakers, sorry dad, in leu of a few more hours of sleep and a Starbucks drink for breakfast before heading out on large tour busses with our box lunches, a la grade school, with the other Million Miler's to see the Dallas Cowboys stadium. If you're ever in Dallas you should definitely take this tour regardless of whether you're a Cowboys or even a football fan at all. This place is truly remarkable.
1) The stadium has its own network so while your waiting in line for your hot dog and beer the game can be seen in real time on all the flat screens, which they currently hold the world record for number of flat screens in a stadium.
2) Crushed lemons are pumped through the air conditioning units to keep the stadium smelling fresh and clean.
3) The speakers hanging over the field are the size of a semi trailer (this got our crowd's attention and appreciation.. lol)
4) The two screens suspended over the 50-yard line are the largest screens in the world and cost around $500/hour to run.
We toured the fancy lounges, the Press Box, the suites, the Cheerleader's and Player's locker rooms and my favorite part... the field! We ran around the field like kids, my dad pretending to make touchdowns and me working on my cheer moves while enjoying the view from the multi-millionaire player's perspective... it's quite breathtaking.
That evening was the awards ceremony where all the drivers were honored for their acheivements and presented with their medals for either 1,2 or 3 million miles. The dinner was more formal with steak and lava cake but ended earlier than the previous night as some groups had early morning flights to catch. For those that were lucky enough to have later departure times, that would be us thankfully, the party continued on in the hotel bar. Now I have a friend that recently moved to Dallas so I decided to venture back out to downtown and do some more exploring while my dad stayed at the hotel bar trading road stories with his new found friends. He rounded out this trip having buckets of Coors Light with his fellow truckers and I ended my night with Fancy Pants having fancy drinks with fancy views. It really was the perfect ending to this fantastic trip for both of us.
Overall I would say we rocked this trip and turned my dad's 2 Million Mile celebration into a non-stop fun, hilarious and wild adventure. Even though we were only in Dallas for 3 days I left feeling a little sad as I was just getting to know this awesome place that pulled me in from the moment we landed. Hopefully I'll be back soon as I know there is plenty more adventures to be had.
We all know life can be stressful and downright brutal at times but if you were to ask a random person on the street what their priorities are when it comes to maintaining a happy balanced life I bet things related to mental health would be pretty low on the list. It appears that our mental state has become something we just deal with instead of something we strive to keep balanced. I can't even count the numerous times I've heard statements like "Im really stressed out/ Im tired/ Im so busy" in response to "How are you?" These statements have become the normal response to everyday life and it finally hit me that this is not the state of mind I want to continue living in.
In response to this sort of depressing but culturally accepted frame of mind I decided to take my mental health into my own hands... a sort of mental health reboot if you will. There is an increasing number of studies on the strength between the mind body connection so its just as vital to keep your mental health in check as it is to work your body out to maintain physical health. That's when I decided to make my first appointment to see an acupuncturist. Treatments can target a whole range of issues and Im a huge fan of healing the body from the inside out so this was a no brainer.
Flash forward 7 months later and my journey with acupuncture has been amazing. Every appointment begins with a "check in" period which has become like a mini therapy session for me. I get to emotionally unload while my acupuncturist takes note of what happening internally by reading my pulse & checking my tongue for example which amazingly can tell a lot about what's happening with your organs. Next comes the actually needling that targets various things depending on what my body is needing at that particular moment. This part of the appointment has an added bonus while I "cook"... as I get to spend the next hour relaxing, re-focusing on my breathing/meditating, or catching up on some much needed sleep. Once the appointment is done I'm left in a completely zen state of mind and comforted in knowing my body as a whole is in the process of becoming a balanced unit.
Incorporating acupuncture into my routine along with going to the gym, practicing yoga and mediation has really had a significant impact on my mental health and I see the benefits everyday. Acupuncture may not be your cup of tea and everyone will have their own way of rebooting but what's important is to consciously make the effort to check in with yourself and reboot as often as necessary to keep your mental heath balanced because YOU should always be your priority.
This past weekend I had quite an amazing adventure! First and foremost I took my very first solo trip and flew to New York for a few days on a whim. Secondly, which is what sparked this spontaneous solo trip, I had the opportunity to attend the first ever TED Talks Live. For those of you that who don't know what TED is I high recommend you leave this page immediately and check it out... (but please come back)! And for my fellow geeks out there that are already TED patrons I don't need to explain how exciting this was to stumble upon. The icing on the cake for me was 1) it was taking place in New York which gave me the excuse to go back to my favorite city in the US and 2) The topic for the last two days of this week long event were on "Science and Wonder"... I mean common, could it get any more awesome?!
Oddly enough, being that I didn't know a single person in the room, there was something refreshing and comforting in being around so many like minded "TEDheads". Everyone in attendance, of varying backgrounds, education and age groups, came together with one goal in mind that night, to be inspired. The speakers and performers were phenomenal and brought forth an energy and enthusiasm that is the root of igniting the inspirational spark in everyone that watches. Each talk is innovative, creative, fascinating and jaw dropping in it's own way which is why the tag line for TED is "Ideas Worth Spreading".... this was by far one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life and one that I hope everyone gets a chance to experience at least once.
TED Talk Live New York was being taped for an upcoming PBS special that is set to air in Spring 2016. Set your DVR!
Hello my name is Amber and I am a worker-bee with a feverish lust for travel. I am also a firm believer in surrounding yourself with things that keep you inspired so while I'm in between travels I have turned my cozy little worker-bee cube into a Wanderlust inspired haven to keep that fever burning. How do you stay inspired?
When it comes to traveling I am the girl that tries to pack any and everything when I travel. I must admit I get a wee bit anxious when packing knowing I won't have access to my entire wardrobe on a trip. There have been many times where I've tried on an outfit, packed it, then when it came time to wearing it I just wasn't feel in' it anymore. But clothing aside as that's a topic all of its own, there's the packing of the hair products, makeup, perfume, etc.. the list goes on and on, that becomes a huge pain in my ass. Not only do females typically use more products than males to get ready but there's the annoying TSA restrictions that you have to take into account also. I don't know about you but I am not a fan of the shampoo/conditioner in one products and refuse to combine the two in order to save space, but trying to cram everything under the sun into a large suitcase then having to now lug that huge monster everywhere I go (e.g. on the train, through city streets, you name it) forces the question, why the hell am I doing this?
So with my next adventure possibly a few months away I decided to travel hack this packing situation I have going on to see if I could manage to pack for 10 days abroad in a single carry on.
First and foremost its important to turn as many of your liquid toiletries into solids as possible. There is actually a solid form of every liquid item you can imagine although some of you may not opt to swap your liquid facial moisturizer for a solid bar form, but making the switch will save you even more space in your already cramped luggage as well as the hassle of having to remove that clear plastic baggie at TSA. So without further ado here are some solutions to help cut down on space where toiletries are concerned.
Shampoo and Conditioner
I personally have and love the Jumping Juniper shampoo bar from LUSH but they have 13 other scents/types to choose from as well as 2 solid conditioners. I know it sounds weird but trust me it works and will save you the hassle of worrying about those exploding liquid bottles we've all experienced at least once while traveling.
When it comes to facial cleansers there are a couple options to chose from... solid cleanser bars and powdered cleansers that you can put into smaller tins for travel. I would recommend also packing makeup remover towelettes as these will help to cut down on the amount of cleanser you need to use.
Now when it comes to moisturizer you may prefer to go ahead and pack the liquid version for either face, body or both. When traveling on an airplane for an extended period of time it can be very drying to the skin so I personally like to stick with liquid facial moisturizers in pots to avoid pressure explosions as mentioned earlier however I've provided some solid options for those that would like to strictly stick to solids. The Full of Grace moisture bar is one of the few facial bars I've found but seems to be a great option. The Bee Bar Lotion is best for moisturizing small areas such as hands, heels, elbows, etc. however the solid body butter is actually used in the shower and eliminates the need for body lotion altogether!
Honestly, I had never even heard of such a thing before a week ago when I came across these adorably packaged solid perfume sticks from Aroamas. There are 24 different scents to choose from and even 4 man scents. This is a traveler's best friend as you can just plop them in your purse and freshen up whenever you need it... i.e. after running into a hot british guy in Heathrow after a 10+ hour flight ... Genius! There are also some great solid perfumes on the market that come packaged in a tin such as the one from LUSH below but I find that the stick form is much more user friendly. The beauty about solid perfumes is that its also something you can make at home using your own favorite scents. Not only will it save you space but it can even save you money! Cha-ching $$
Yep, you read that right! Another product I had no idea even existed until I took this travel packing hack on. I know travel size toothpaste doesn't really take up that much room as it is but its worth mentioning the alternatives as they do fall into the solid toiletries category. Toothy Tabs by LUSH would be a great swap for everyday use while traveling indeed (there are 7 different flavors) but don't forget those cute little Wisps for a pocket size breath freshener on the go.
San Francisco was a blast! We walked a million miles, ate our way through the neighborhoods and had some pretty awesome bouts of laughter.
Some tips from our trip....
We stayed at Park Central located in the SoMa neighborhood which I found to be a great central spot for doing a lot of walking sight seeing of the nearby neighborhoods however if walking isn't your thing, the hotel is located right off Market St. where you can catch a street car that will take you all the way down to Fisherman's Wharf.
Food & Drinks
As with most major cities there are so many places to try as the culinary scene is ever changing. Here are some of my favorite food spots and bars from this trip.
La Boulange (SoMa District) - There are two of these patisseries near Park Central Hotel which is great as they get busy. A perfect place to grab a coffee and a pastry before heading out for a day of sight seeing. My favorites are the London Fog Latte with Soy Milk and the Almond Croissant.
Ghirardelli Square (near Fisherman's Wharf) - You must stop for a hot chocolate on those cold breezy San Francisco days.
Bar Bocci (Sausalito) - Hop on the Golden Gate Ferry and have lunch in the charming town of Sausalito. The restaurant is located on the water with views of the dock and a bocci court on the waters edge. Sit back on the outdoor patio with a glass of sangria and a pizza and watch the charming colorful sail boats float by. Its so picturesque and the weather is about 10 degrees warmer since it doesn't get that cold breeze that seems to be constant in the city.
Foreign Cinema (Mission District) - Good food, beautiful ambiance and a unique experience. The outdoor patio is nestled between two brick buildings with lights strung between them creating a soft glowing canopy. The atmosphere alone is inviting but what makes this place a unique gem is the fact that one the walls between the buildings is actually a giant screen that they project old movies on! Perfect for a romantic date or a girls night out on the town.
Wilson & Wilson Detective Agency (Tenderloin District) - A small speakeasy, about 40 seats, located inside the Bourbon & Branch speakeasy... yes, a speakeasy within a speakeasy! The drinks are something to be marveled at as the menu is laid out as a three course meal. You start with aperitif then move on to the main and finally ending this glorious "meal" with the digestif. Each drink takes around 10 minutes to handcraft as these drinks are definitely a work of art but the wait is well worth it. Two things to note if you want to experience this darling gem while in San Fran... first, you must request a reservation online. If your request is accepted you will receive the password for Wilson & Wilson on the day of your reservation. Second, request the max time allowed for a reservation (i think its 2 hours) as you will want to sip and enjoy those decadent handcrafted cocktails!
Some Favorite Things To Do From This Trip
Golden Gate Ferry - The ferry takes you across the bay where you can get fantastic pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and San Fran itself.
Alcatraz - I know this is very touristy but it's still a must do. I highly recommend doing the last night tour of the day to really amp up the spook factor. Just be cautious when buying tickets online as there are a lot of fraudulent site out there. I booked my tour through Alcatraz Cruises.
Ferry Building - Great place to meander around the many shops tasting all the delicious food they have to offer. There's even a Blue Bottle Coffee located here which is a San Fran staple. Outside the building you'll see lots of street performers which can be very entertaining.
Street Cars - Not to be confused with the famous Cable Cars, its a great way to get around the city and feel like a local. They run roughly every 15 minutes from 6am - 1am and cost $2.25 per ride. Once you board you will be given a paper ticket which is good for 90 minutes so you could potentially get a few trips out of your $2.25. Tip: make sure you have exact change before boarding as the Operators do not carry change and they do not accepts cards of any kind. Happy riding!
I'm an avid lover of traveling, indulger in world cuisines and a Bon Vivant. Over the last few years I have been fortunate enough to be exposed to some amazing and life changing experiences and Im excited to continue exploring, learning and sharing my adventures and mishaps as a connoisseur of life.