Sure, it's hard to resist cool travel stuff but these are nine things you really don't need weighing down your bag.
Within my travel-loving soul, there lies a contradiction.
I love packing light. Like, I really, really love it. You know that joke "How do you know if someone travels carryon? They'll tell you!"? It was written about me. I not only love packing light. I equally love being insufferable about it. Oh, you just took one suitcase for your resort vacation? Well I used one backpack for a six week round the world trip and half the space was taken up with camping gear.
Like I said, I'm insufferable.
But I also love, and I mean LOVE, specialty travel gear. The more task and trip specific, the better. I am obsessed with travel supply catalogues and I haven't met a packing cube that I don't love. But the truth of the matter is that much of this stuff is, well, how do I put this? It's garbage. It's poorly constructed mass produced stuff that preys on our fears of being unprepared, the uncertain nature of the open road, and the shame that comes when you don't keep pace with fast fashion. All of this stuff has weighed down my bag at one point or another and I am here to tell you that you don't need it. Any of it.
What are the best souvenirs from Paris? We spoke with Jo Karnaghan, author of The Ultimate Paris Address Book, for her recommendations. This is what she has to say about everything from second-hand books to Chanel bags.
Long time readers of TurnipseedTravel are well acquainted with my friend Jo, the voice behind FrugalFirstClassTravel.com. Her hometown expertise for Sydney, Australia, has featured prominently in early blog posts here (like this one about the best sweet treats in Australia and this one about an insider's guide to the city). Over the years, we've not only connected in Sydney but also in Ottawa and even in Athens. Jo was by my side when I almost caused a bit of a scene in the Athens meat market! But if there's one destination that I always go to her for advice about, it's Paris. And there's no better person to connect with to chat about souvenirs from Paris.
Jo first visited Paris in 1991 on a bus tour of Europe. While she didn't stick with the formulaic group tours (can't blame you there, Jo!), she DID stick with Paris and has been back to the City of Lights about 20 times - and counting. In fact, she was in Paris when she conceived the idea for her blog. As she says: "It was mid 2011 and I was sitting in a cafe on rue du Bac. I literally wrote out my first "business plan" on the back of a paper napkin. (From memory I was eating duck confit as I did it)". Frankly, of all the possibly souvenirs in Paris, coming home with a vision for a travel empire seems like the best possible one of all! But for more every day gifts and souvenirs, I knew Jo would have amazing suggestions. After all, she packs light (so she knows a thing or two about being practical), she embraces frugality (hey, it's right there in her blog name!) and she always has an eye out for a first-class experience.
I chatted with Jo about her new book, The Ultimate Paris Address Book, and got her expert advice on how to source memorable souvenirs from Paris. (Plus - there's a special coupon code for readers at the end!) This is what I asked her...
Fun, easy, festive gifts for your pet sitter (and anyone else who deserves a little treat this holiday season).
People ask me all the time what’s the hardest part about planning my trips. They probably expect me to say that it’s arranging the visas or searching for cheap flights or maybe even just deciding where to go. But my surprising answer is always the same. My biggest challenge is Ollie!
Ollie is my beloved dog and he often does accompany me on road trips but for most of my travels, figuring out his care is a bit of an adventure. He can’t exactly come along when I’m on safari in Botswana or even when I’m at a conference in New York City. I want Ollie to be happy and relaxed when I’m gone and I want his pet sitters to feel the exact same way. I do everything I can to make sure their job goes smoothly. I set up meet and greets, I leave long lists of emergency information, and I make sure the house is well stocked with everything Ollie needs. And I go the extra mile over the holiday season. You can bet the cupboard is filled with ALL of Oliver’s favourite treats. And you’ll probably find a few gifts from Santa-Paws in there as well. But what about the sitters themselves? What do they need to feel comfy and cozy in my home? And how can I make sure their holidays are special too?
Afterall, you are counting on your sitter to take care of someone you deeply love, while they are counting on you to provide a safe, warm, welcoming work environment. You’ll talk about things you might not share with anyone else. But other things are more opaque. You probably know their professional qualifications much more than you actually know them. They’re staying in your home and caring for your beloved pet – but you don’t even know their favourite colour!
No wonder it’s so hard to find the perfect gift for your pet sitter. It’s a quandary! You want something professional but not formal, personal but not presumptive. Most of all, you want something that shows how much you value their work and the relationship they have with your pet. Here are some ideas to help you find that perfect present.
There's an easy way to make your hotel room feel more organized and homey. Here's why your ironing board is a travel hero.
Have you seen the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”? There’s a great scene in which the lovelorn Peter gets some unusual advice. Family members tell him to iron his shirts—even his t-shirts!—in order to feel better. I won’t spoil the ending, but let’s just say it takes more than sharp creases to turn Peter’s vacation around.
Though their advice didn’t help Peter, it has worked for me—albeit under less dramatic circumstances.
Whenever I’m feeling a bit rundown on the road, I know that some serious laundering and even the occasional ironing session will help put a spring in my step. Since those occasions are few and far between, I usually ignore hotel room ironing boards. However, a recent podcast had me rethinking ironing boards in general—and how handy they can be for travellers.
Here are five great reasons to set up your hotel ironing board on each and every trip, even if you’re not trying to rebound from a broken love affair!
Not all travel gear is great. I'm spilling the tea on 5 travel products I wasted my money on. Better luck next time!
I've said it before and I"ll say it again: I LOVE packing! And travel gear and gadgets? I love them too. I can spend hours browsing in travel stores and websites. While I keep my own kit pretty minimal, I'm always picking up new items to try out and seeing how they work with my existing stuff. Of course, not everything is great but even if things aren't perfect I can usually get some use out of them. But not for the five items in this post. This is about all the gear I didn't use, the stuff that never helped me out and never made my life easier. These are five travel products I wasted my money on.
An important point of clarification before we begin. Some of these products were disappointing to me through their function and design, while others found their way on this list in part because of me - they just weren't what I needed or wanted in the end, though their function may have been just fine for another user. So take this all with a grain of salt - if you're a devoted user, I'm glad it's working out for you!
While in Botswana, safari camping was at the top of our travel list. But it wasn't without challenges, like how to stay clean.
This picture of me, taken after one day of Botswana safari camping, says it all. I'm wide-eyed and smiling but you can see the worry in my eyes. You can also see plenty of sweaty hair and a cooling, wet handkerchief draped around my neck. And that was my northern Botswana and Chobe safari experience in a nutshell: awe-inspiring, monumental, a bit overwhelming, and really, REALLY sweaty.
In so many ways, I was ill-prepared for the rigors of Botswana wilderness safaris. I had done exhaustive research. I had been camping dozens of times. Heck, I had even lived in southeast Africa before. But the heat, sand, dirt, and sweat hit me like a ton of bricks. It wasn't that I was unhygienic, per se. I was just out of my element in so many ways and feeling cruddy sure didn't help.
Ryan, I suspect, was absolutely in his element. But I was at the outer limits of my comfort zone. And, trust me, life does NOT begin there, no matter what the philosophers say! This is the blog post about keeping clean on camping safaris I wish I could have read before my trip.
I should have been on vacation but I couldn't stop thinking about the next big thing to share with you. If you've dreamed about a travel scarf with pockets, you're going to love this post!
What does summer vacation look like for a travel blogger? Probably a lot like it looks for everyone else! First, there are plenty of indulgent snack foods (hello there, poutine, ice cream, and popsicles). Next, there's a lot of laziness and lounging about in the sun, enjoying the breeze and watching the leaves ripple on the trees. There's even a good amount of time hanging out by the shore, collecting feathers and shells, and generally being thrilled to put social media on snooze.
Of course, there's also the unexpected rain - but we'll get to that in a moment!
This year, our summer vacation brought us to Craigleith Provincial Park for four nights of southern Ontario camping. Ryan and I stuffed our car with camping gear, beer, extra beach towels (but no pillows.... not our finest moment), a backpack brimming with books, magazines, and board games - and, of course, our dog, Oliver! Aside from the pillows, just one thing was missing and this one was intentional. My laptop was left at home and I couldn't have been happier!
But while I had officially banished work, I couldn't turn off the blogging side of my brain. Case in point: while camping, I was able to try out an incredible travel scarf with pockets, something I've been enamored with ever since I first heard about it. And I couldn't wait to tell you all about it! An infinity scarf with pocket features has been on my travel wish list for a while now. Originally I had visions of cuddling around the campfire in a chic scarf, looking glamorous while keeping my phone and keys safe, but Mother Nature delivered a heck of a rain storm that really let me put things to the test.
Check out our video showing just how gorgeous Ontario camping at Craigleith Provincial Park really is - on clear days and stormy ones alike! Then read on to learn more about my new favourite travel scarf (and enter to win one for yourself....)
What's the secret to minimalist packing? Maximizing the space in your bag by using straps and paracord, the stealthy workhorses of the travel world.
Five shirts - never four, never six - some brightly colored packing cubes, a couple of hot chocolate sachets... You probably know my minimalist packing list as well as I do! But there are a few items among my otherwise discerning selection of gear that may just catch you by surprise. One of them is a stick of menthol body glide. It keeps blisters and chaffed skin at bay. Another random addition is the handful of colorful pens I always toss in my purse at the very last minute. After all, you can't have ill-coordinated lists, even when traveling! And the most unexpected item of all? Rope.
Yes, this light packing, anti-adventurist gal carries rope in her backpack. Well, not rope exactly, but, depending on the trip, webbing, straps, and paracord might come along! No, I haven't secretly taken up mountain climbing or hang-gliding or even off the grid camping. Can you imagine? Yet this unusual gear is one of the unsung heroes of my packing success. And with our incredible round-the-world trip looming on the horizon, it is going to be more important than ever before.
Can you take bath bombs on an airplane? What about packing bath bombs in carry on luggage? Our readers ask the BEST questions about TSA carry on rules and we can't wait to help!
I absolutely love it when readers send in their travel questions - and often those questions focus on packing, specifically packing and carry on luggage. And this month's question is an especially good one: Can you take a bath bomb on an airplane? The answer is yes. But I know you don't come to me for short answers! You want details! You demand explanations!
As a lover of relaxing baths AND easy to pack luggage, I am only too happy to dig a bit deeper into this particular query regarding toiletries and TSA carry on rules.
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