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I Believe in Sherlock

2 Jul

Back in Bismarck, Dad’s body is slowly failing.  Now we can add congestive heart failure and another liter-sized fluid draw from his lungs.  I don’t feel like blogging about that here.  I think that I said enough about that in this post.  I have plans to make two consecutive trips there; one next week, by myself, and the other with the Mister.  Though we know it’s just a matter of time, we don’t know what speed this particular clock is moving at so it’s hard to know what to do.

My answer to this to this question, for this week anyway, is to numb myself with Netflix.  Namely, the sugary TV show “Glee”.  It’s popular enough that I don’t have to share what it’s about but suffice to say, it’s hard to get too damn emotional when there is a saccharine duet about to break out any moment.  On Monday I watched until 3 a.m.  Last night was a repeat of the same.  I only broke up this serial binging with a trip to Target to get healthy snacks so that I’d at least have something to eat while I chose to engage with the world via musical numbers performed by 30 year-olds playing teens and used my iPad as a security blanket and endlessly played Hay Day.  Yes, it’s a farming game.  And you can’t “win” it so you simply keep going and going and going with the knowledge that you are wasting time.

I’ve specifically avoided watching the final episode of season three of “Sherlock”.  I’ve been saving this.  I absolutely adore the recent portrayal of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes by Benedict Cumberbatch.  Or as I call him “Cumberbunny”.  I’d hate to watch it and not quite pay full attention to it.  Each season of “Sherlock” is but four episodes long.  Granted, they are longer episodes of 90 minutes but that still isn’t much to watch.  “Glee”, while being less delightful is certainly far more prolific with something like 50 minutes treacle a show and 22 of those suckers a season.  No, you cannot truly glut on “Sherlock”.  You have to sip it.  And if you made the mistake of gulping it, like I did with the first season, years ago, you would be rewarded with regret.  I’d imagine it would be similar to spending hundreds of dollars on extraordinary champagne for a special occasion, only to wake up after a hard night of karaoke to find that you glugged that sucker down with a plate of Pizza Rolls.

“Sherlock” should not be squandered.  Martin Freeman as Watson, Rupert Graves as Lestrade, Una Stubbs as Mrs. Hudson and Mark Gatiss as Mycroft are perfectly cast.  And Cumberbunny is spot on.  Now, the nickname isn’t because I think that he’s gorgeous.  I just think he’s fantastic.  It’s something akin to me thinking that Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady is dead sexy but not finding him handsome at all.  It can be done.

The writing here is superb.  And whole production seems like a love letter to London.  After seeing it, how could you stop yourself from dreaming of rides in black cabs or seeing the changing of the guard?  Even the fonts used in the titling looks like that of the Underground.  Brilliant!

Sherlock Holmes is really my favorite fictional character.  I do have some misgivings about this because he isn’t female and he’s not someone that I’d want to meet in person.  Still, I can’t stop myself loving almost every incarnation of this misanthrope.  Well, except for “Elementary”.  I don’t know what kind of emotional turmoil I’d have to be in before I found myself queueing up that bit of poo.  Probably best not to start imagining the details.  I’ll leave that to my favorite highly-functioning sociopath – Sherlock.

[Editor’s note: Ah, sod it!  I just re-watched that Graham Norton clip and forget what I said about Cumberbunny not being handsome.  He’s sponge-worthy, folks!]

By George, I Think She’s Got It

27 Aug

Back when I wrote this post I knew that I’d have changes made to my itinerary… I guess I just thought that something else would make them.  Like Mother Nature, Delta airlines or a winning lottery ticket.  No, I’m the one who finds reasons here and there to tinker with what looks like a well-laid plan from the outside.  And now, with only a bit of certainty, I can say that I think I’m done.  Or rather, I freaking hope that I’m bloody well done.

At this point everything fits in place like a jigsaw puzzle that someone had all too much time designing.  If everything goes as planned we’ll be able to take in a whole bunch of sights and still have a vacation.  Meaning both the Mister and I will enjoy the trip which is important because I kind of like him. 

Here are some of my lessons learned.

  • Don’t rely on your memory for train schedules. 
  • Avoid scheduling visits to places just because someone said you should or because it fits the route best. 
  • Choose your splurges wisely and where they will give you the most bang for your buck. 
  • Remember that planning is supposed to be somewhat enjoyable and stop wigging out already.
  • Ask your travel partner questions and don’t be surprised when they have opinions too.
  • Soap containers really aren’t all that different.  Stop buying them.
  • It might be good to practice leaving the house as preparation for leaving the country.
  • It’s only a trip.  🙂

 

Carry On, My Wayward Whatever

12 Aug

Someone asked me a question about carry on bags the other day.  Strangely enough it was because they wanted to know and not because they like to hear me shoot random facts out my word hole.  So maybe you want to know or maybe you’re killing time waiting for Friday to finally be over so you can get your weekend on.  Either way, let’s boogie.

A carry on bag currently doesn’t have a standard.  And I don’t just mean domestic vs international either.  Carrier to carrier there isn’t a standard about what constitutes a carry on, how big it can be and how much it can weigh.  There are some common attributes so let’s start there before I go into the tailspin I like to call my disclaimer.

This slogan, splashed on posters by the Brits in 1939, makes just as much sense now as it did in 1939. Especially for your luggage.

Most domestic airlines have a requirement of 45 linear inches or less.  To figure out your bag’s linear inches, add the length, height and width.  A really standard way of getting to 45″ is 22″ x 14″ x 9″.  If you’re bag shopping, most manufacturers refer to these standard bags as a 22″ bag.  There are two big caveats with this whole 45″ business.  First off, the manufacturers measuring your bag might not be so good at math.  Most of them measure the inside of your bag.  So they are assuming that the pockets on the outside, the wheels and the frame aren’t included.  That’s just poppycock, people.  It’s not like you bought a bag with those things not to use them but they typically aren’t included when measured by the people selling them.

Another thing to know about the old 45″ rule is that not everyone follows it.  Some go a bit bigger, true.  But most go smaller, especially international carriers.  And if you’re hopping on one of those budget European airlines, sister, you better not have anything approaching 45″ unless you like checking your stuff… and paying more for checking your bag than your ticket cost in the first place.  And for once, I’m not exaggerating.

Always, always, always check with your carrier on the allowable size of carry on.  It is on their website and I remember it use to be on the paper ticket but I haven’t seen one of those in donkey’s years.  Also check with your carrier about allowable weight.  Most airlines aren’t checking this but don’t think for a moment that they aren’t thinking about it.  A serious conversation is being had about weighing passengers with their carry ons to see if any additional charges should be levied.  Fun.  And again, international carriers are much more strict about weight limitations and they will make you check. 

If you have a soft sided piece of luggage then you have a little wiggle room (pun intended, I guess) as far as getting it in the overhead bin.  That only goes so far because if you’ve overpacked the sucker the advantage is gone.  If you’re concerned about a carry on’s weight you can wear some of the extra on board.  Throw your digital camera in your pocket, wear your heaviest clothes and shoes, put your toiletries in your underwear.  As Tim Gunn is known to say, “make it work”. 

I’ll leave you here with two wise sayings from my Momo (mother’s mother in Swedish).  She said when you are traveling not to worry about your hair too much because you’ll never see these people again.  I have, unfortunately, applied this theory to my hair, traveling or not, but it’s still good advice.  The second bit of wisdom is that you should always take what you want but want what you take.  Meaning, if you really need to have a hair dryer the size of your last car then remember that there are drawbacks along with the warm fuzzy feeling of having your own stuff with you.  Just make your decision and be happy with it, basically.  And then come into the kitchen, I’ll make you some leftovers.

Shut. Up.

9 Aug

I'm still waiting for the day when Steve Madden will make heels this good convert into flats. And I'm going to keep on waiting. Sigh.

OMG, I used to love me some What Not to Wear.  I’d watch Stacy and Clinton dish out help to the needy.  But I watched too many episodes.  I soon started yelling mean things about skinny jeans and glitter eye shadow without provocation.  I had to go through detox.  I may not watch the show anymore but I still remember all that they taught me.  While I’m sure that they’d both cringe at most things American travelers wear, I thought that I’d pick the ones that the overachievers.  And in a world where some have turned up at fancy restaurants in Paris wearing sweat pants, I’d say that there are a bunch of candidates, for sure.

Neither/Nor

Convertible pants, people.  Even devotees know that they are ugly.  I don’t own any so I’m not sure about comfort.  I do know that unless you are hiking or doing other outdoors activities you likely won’t need to go from pant to shorts in the same day.  They don’t look like dress pants and many of them are pretty heavy due to the hardwear that makes them go.  If you’re toting along lightweight pants and a pair of shorts it’s easy enough to put your spare in your day bag.  They are a great idea but I haven’t seen a company that executes on them.  Please feel free to prove me wrong here.  I want to believe.

Where Did It All Go Wrong

A bunch of travel and outdoor gear manufacturers had a great idea.  They started marketing shirts that look like dress shirts but are made of lighter weight material and less prone to wrinkling.  They would quick dry and so worked for those who sweat and those who do laundry in the their hotel.  Bueno!  Then it went horribly wrong.  Sometimes a good idea can go too far.  Some of these shirts now look like they are made out of your tent or have enough pockets to store an entire picnic.  If you’re getting a travel shirt of this variety sit yourself down and have a little talk.  What do you need?  Sun protection, pockets, easy care, etc.  Then just meet those needs.  No single shirt is going to make your life the easy-flowing dream.  You won’t automatically wake up with a valet and an assistant to organize your life.  That said, taken as they are, these shirts are really great.  North Face, ExOfficio, REI and Columbia have a good selection.

If you really want to see a designer who has jumped ship follow this link to meet the ScottEVest.  They make a sports coat with 26 pockets.  And the vest with 22 holds your iPad.  That’s one way to avoid checking your luggage, I guess.

Things Aren’t Working Out

Sweat pants are pretty rare for most travelers to try to pass off as casual wear but athletic shoes aren’t.  They make perfect sense for travel because they are comfy and you’re going to be doing a lot of walking.  It maybe wouldn’t be so bad if they were bright white but many are, making them hard to ignore.  Europeans totally don’t get our attachment to them but I’m not a fan of eating horse, so let’s agree to disagree. 

If you want to get sneakers that are a tad more stealth there are so many brands out there making it easy.  Sketchers, Mephisto, Keen, Simple, Clarks.  Do a search for walking shoe and check out the options.  And maybe lay off the walk fit idea.  If you’re traveling you’re going to be walking enough.  And your butt looks rockin’, by the way.

***

I could go on but just this once… I won’t.  At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if you look disheveled or geeky or just plain clueless.  I spent a good deal of our ’92 trip covered in ill-fitting Levi’s, giant marshmallow-like Nikes, an over-designed Lands End jacket and a really happy expression.  Get your hair done up like Carrot Top, who cares?  Whatever else you’re doing, you’re still on vacation.  After all, that mesh tank top that shows off your muscles probably packs like a dream.

Brusha Brusha Brusha

4 Aug

Packing a toothbrush for travel is a good idea.  If this is a new concept to you then you’re the chain-smoking, coffee-drinker who sat next to me on a Delta flight out of Phoenix.  If you do brush, please read on. Once you decide to continue that fantastic dental hygiene routine you’ve got going while traveling you might wonder how best to accomplish this. Or you might find you’re in Cleveland without a toothbrush and happy as a clam about it, I don’t judge. The point is that there are a bunch of people out there who have put way more thought into this than I have. And instead of you yawning through their opinions, I thought that I’d sum up the biggies here for you. Your pearly whites are thanks enough.

Yes, that's a deer holding toothbrushes and paste. And if I had it, it would complete me.

Take a Travel Toothbrush
They are, after all, for travel. Some fold in half, the brush going into the handle. Others have the handle double as a container for the brush. There is also a new trend in toothbrushes where you carry along a small case that sterilizes the toothbrush after each use, if that’s your thing. I kiss my dog on the nose. I think you know which party I’m in. They all have different benefits and drawbacks, many of which involve a handle that feels temporary.

Take Your Everyday Toothbrush
Why not? You know it works. It’s already been in your mouth. Why bother with purchasing more stuff when you got that whole stuff thing nailed? You can buy covers for it too. These range from the cover over just the brush to a case that holds the whole thing… and possibly shoots UV rays through it to get it kleen. Apparently it’s not enough that we’re cleaning our teeth, we must also clean the brush. I’m not their target market, obviously.

Take a Regular Toothbrush with Modifications
Some ultra light travel blogs, and especially those for backpacking, recommend chopping the handle off your brush or at least most of it. There are also recommendations for toothbrushes that slide on your finger. Some are more similar to brushes and others are much closer to those grip stickers you put on your bathtub. I may poo poo the idea of cleaning your toothbrush during a trip but I’m not sure I’m on board with the finger brush. I’ve run into many an occasion on the road where I was brushing my teeth without a sink, using a bottle of water. Even with the use of a Wet Wipe and a prayer, I’m still not sure I”d want my mitts in my mouth.

Take Another Toothbrush
What I’ve done for the Mister and I is to go out and find eco-friendly toothbrushes at the local co-op. Why? They weigh less than the standard, overly-complicated toothbrush that we currently love. Co-ops are really great places to find stuff for travel as the goal is often to use less. That’s where I picked up our tooth powder and some solid shampoo. Be careful that whatever you’re picking up fits the bill. For example, don’t buy a zip top baggie that’s meant to keep your electronic doodads safe when it’s meant to biodegrade.

Don’t Take a Toothbrush

Maybe you’ve gotten use to relying on Colgate Wisps, the one use toothbrush with the toothpaste bead in the center. Or maybe you like to rub meat on your gums before you hit the hay. So be it. Remember, that unless you’re going to a place where people more closely resemble jack o’ lanterns than Vanna White, they’re gonna have what you need anyway. And maybe getting a Turkish toothbrush is why you left the house today.

Drop and Give Me Funny

3 Aug

Mom used to call me rubber face. And a good friend, who we’ll call “Kevin” used to tell me that I was a very attractive girl until I chose to make a face. If you know me, that’s apparently all I do. I verified this by being seated across from a mirror while telling a friend about the time the Canadians didn’t want me to drink whiskey. I’ve tried to put the kabosh on just how expressive I am but my face has other plans. If you read my blog from time to time you know that I’ll eventually tie this in to Europe, if you’re new here, trust me… it’s coming. Anyway, I’ve had some fun being funny. In fact, for five years I was lucky enough to be a roller derby announcer where literally tens of people giggled at things I said. Or they said they did and that’s enough for me, pal!

So I’ve been reading about the dos and don’ts in Europe and something that is true across the board is that humor can be dangerous. It can be bad manners or just plain unwelcome as a fart in an elevator. Jokes don’t translate well and most sources strongly suggest that you don’t try. They, truth be told, suggest it with the same authority that they’d likely use when telling you not to lick the pavement. Keep it business when you are dealing with the locals. And when dealing with other Yanks, keep it quiet. While Americans aren’t loathed abroad (just our foreign policy, but who can blame them? anyway…), the general impression is that we’re all pretty dang loud. And, friends, I’m not doing much to buck that stereotype. My voice carries, which is something I got from Dad, and I often swear like a truck driver, which is something I didn’t. I come from a chatty stock on Dad’s side and well-read folk on Mom’s. This explains why I’ve turned in to Cliff Claven at the not so delicate age of 33. I kind of feel like I’ve gotten off the topic here… oh, because I so totally have!

Are the Europeans right in not appreciating humor? Well, first off, they do. They just chuckle at different things. And since the French dig Jerry Lewis and are credited with the invention of the “art” of mime, who are they to say that Tim Allen isn’t a gas? Well, anybody can say that and I’ll buy them a banana split. I think it’s enough to know that what tickles one funny bone can stick in another’s craw. Smiles aren’t even international as Germans see them as insincere unless you are truly happy. And the Swiss? Dude, they yodel. Either they have a fantastic sense of humor or we’re talking about a group with a strange relationship with cows and no inside man to make fun of them for it.

I’m hoping that if I do find myself attempting to be humorous that no one takes offense and I’m certain that will be the case for the most part. After all, the last time I got my toe nails painted red the Korean woman who did it said “oh, red! like whore?” and I’m still laughing about that.

Found this on the web. Apparently this is a single young German woman laughing. Enjoy!

They Blinded Me Science

1 Aug

The NY Times has an interesting article titled “Planning the Perfect Vacation” with real studies used to back up travel advice.  Using the term “perfect” to describe any vacation is asking for it but the tips they listed could help at least determine what will get you the closest thing to the dream.  Below is my take on the article that you can read here.

Antici……………..pation.

Actual scientific research backs up the idea that half the fun is getting there or planning for it, anyway.  The average person actually experiences more pleasure anticipating the fun that they will have on their trip than when they are in their in the living color.  Another bonus of planning early is that all the details can get ironed out and all that’s left to do is get your butt on a plane.

Shorter Can Be Sweeter

If you don’t have time for one big long trip like I’m currently planning for this might be a great thing.  Taking multiple shorter trips means that you get to anticipate (which is great, see above) three times instead of one.  The article does warn that a balance needs to exist between getting there and being there.  So if it’s gonna take you an entire day to get where you are going you might as well stay there for awhile and enjoy it.

Make Your Time Count

The brilliant suggestion is made to start off your vacation before you leave.  Plan time to pack and get loose ends tied up long before you need to so that you can start unwinding before you leave.  It’s less likely that you’ll forget something really important.

Smartphones are Evil

(Remember: this is my take)  If you can’t say “no” to checking email then make a standard time to check it and leave it at that.  Detaching from the real world means leaving certain things until you return.  I don’t plan on checking my email while we’re gone.  Instead I’m going to leave a detailed itinerary with a couple of people so they’ll know where to reach me.  I’m even planning on deleting certain addictive games (I’m looking at you, Pet Hotel) off my iPhone before we travel so that I don’t get hooked into them when I should be looking out the window or at the Mister.

Set Up Your Out of Office

I do this every Monday night before I leave the office so this is old hat for me.  By leaving a message on both my email and voice mail accounts I am able to set realistic expectations.  I let the person know when I’ll return and where they can turn for help.  When I’ve checked personal email on the road I’ve still put an out of office message on letting people know that I’m only checking sporadically.  But that was back when I announced for roller derby.  Now, I’m pretty sure that Groupon and Hotels.com can wait for me to get around to reading them.

Maybe Planning isn’t OCD?

I was shocked by this one.  Studies suggest that we can actually be more relaxed doing something then just laying around.  I know that I like to have things planned just so I don’t miss things that really matter to me but I try to leave a bunch of slack time so we can relax.  It seems that while relaxing is key, it’s best to do it by being somewhat active.  Going for a walk being better than sitting in a cafe for hours or visiting a museum instead of planting your keister on a bench.  I love it when science agrees with me.  I will try not to celebrate this special occasion too loudly.

Finish Line

The recommendation here is to plan for the end of your vacation.  Get some relaxation time in so that you don’t return to work looking worse than when you left.  Also plan something memorable for your last days so that you have a big key memory to focus on.  Our itinerary currently says that we’ll finish up in Venice.  So that gondola ride and a romantic dinner under the stars might be just the ticket.

More of My Opinions

The article doesn’t touch on this but I feel it’s worth mentioning.  Shitake happens.  The weather might suck, your hotel might be a lemon or you may find that your flight is delayed leaving you in the terminal from hell.  Bummers occur on every trip but some of my best travel moments have happened while dealing with them.  Not focusing on how rotten I feel helps.  Finding something to distract me from it is better.  I like browsing the airport shops for things I’ll never buy.  I make it a game to find the tackiest thing imagineable and asking “You sell a lot of these don’t you?”  If a hotel is depressing then that’s incentive to spend less time there and find somewhere to walk.  Even if it’s only to find cookies.

You Can’t Spell Tsar without TSA!

31 Jul

Yes, it’s a stretch.  But it could very well mean that the TSA, like the Russian tsars, rule while their people quietly grumble.  Except a number of Russians were executed for quietly protesting, not frisked.  And I’m pretty sure that there were no 3-1-1 baggies, no matter how annoying they are, behind the Russian Revolution.  Anyway…

Whether we like it or not, the TSA is still in power and we have to play their reindeer games in order to fly.  That means taking off your shoes, your coat and any metallic business that will set off the metal detector before you walk through.  It also means making sure your laptop computer is in a bin or in a bag that the scanner can easily see through.  Then there is the whole list of things that you can’t bring on board.

That list is fairly long and boring.  This may be why the TSA has created a smart phone app that takes the guess work out of packing your carry on.  Well, kinda.  If you download the My TSA app you can type in the name of the airport in question and then the item you want to bring on board.  And it will tell you if you should check it, carry it on or leave it at home.  Sorta.  It will give you a suggestion as to the item’s fly-worthiness but then there is some fine print at the bottom that reads:

“Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns.  The final decision rests with the TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane.”

So basically a disclaimer that means you might be able to take it but then again… you might not.  Which is not great.  It’s somewhat understandable but it’s not great.  Assuming you’ve done your research on what you can tote along with you, your expectation should be that you’re hunky dory.  Some inconsistencies among TSA staffers and airports makes it hard to know what will, ahem, fly.

We are told to pack our 3oz or smaller liquids in a 1 quart clear plastic bag.  But what if the liquids aren’t factory labeled?  Some airports may snatch them and some might not.  The TSA is working on getting everyone on the same page for situations like this.  While the scenario I listed is a minor inconvenience, when these issues are multiplied it results in a lot of disenchanted fliers.  TSA has also been credited with a reduction in the number of fliers as some feel the hassle outweighs the convenience of flying.  Increased communication between airports is happening and the appearance of this app and improvements to their website have made it easier to get information on requirements.  The TSA is a newer agency, started after the tragedies of 9/11, so maybe we are witnessing the growing pains.

I’m not sure what I think of the TSA naming puppies after 9/11 victims though.  It’s not just any puppies, I know,  but explosives detection canines.  And there’s no arguing that having a cute puppy associated with your group is much better than a body cavity search.

Pack It Up, Pack It In

29 Jul

When it’s time to get the show on the road there is more than one way to get your junk in the trunk.  After finally finding the bag that’s going to hold all your Dippity Do!, it’s time to pack it.  There’s probably as many methods of packing as there are travelers.  There are pros and cons to them all, of course.  I’m going to highlight the biggies below. 

Packing Cubes

In a bag with no structure it can be good to pack into smaller bags.  If you don’t you may find that your belongings have devolved into a giant mass at the bottom of your bag after the hustle and bustle of modern traveling.  I use the cubes a bunch.  The Mister and I shared a bagon our recent trip to Bismarck.  It helped that I could just grab my cubes out without disturbing the delicate order that is the male packing structure.  It does add a smidgen of weight to your bag.  But I’ve also used a cube to double as an in flight bag and once, in dire need, as a pillow.

This picture is from http://www.independenttraveler.com. Click on the picture and you can find out why they think this bag is a FAIL.

Packing Folders

I have no experience with these suckers but they seem to be in every travel store.  The idea is that you can fold up your wrinkle-prone bits in here and arrive at your destination looking like you have a personal valet.  I’ve heard varying degrees of success on the folders so if this is something that is interesting to you it’s worth checking out.  While the cubes will allow you to pack just about anything in them the folders are a one trick pony.

Ziploc Bags

If they can keep the carrots separate from the green beans in your freezer drawer, imagine what they can do with your undies!  I like to bring a few along on trips.  They come in handy for keeping things organized and even, gasp!, holding food for picnics.  They suit me a bit better on shorter trips or for things that you aren’t going to be using daily as they will eventually fall apart.  The freezer bags last longer.  It’s also fun to put stuff in them, squeeze the air out and then close it up quickly to see how much space you’ve saved.  It’s just not good to rely on this technique unless you have a bunch of back ups.

These plastic baggies also like to slip around quite a bit leading to wrinkles or general disorganization.  They do have the added benefit of being cheap and readily available.  Oh and the TSA crowd likes them because they can see what’s in your bag without having to get too personal.  I’ve even read of light travelers using a bag as a portable washing machine.  You can bet your sweet bippy that I’ll be trying this theory out soon.

The Bundle Method

This seems to be especially popular with the fellas.  I read about it at www.onebag.com, 1bag1world and in the Packing Book by Judith Gilford.  By wrapping larger items of clothing around a central bundle (say, a small packing cube or all your tube socks), you will run into less wrinkles and more happiness.  I don’t like to buy clothes that get wrinkled because I know that this is likely how they will stay.  So I’ve given this method very little thought but if you are not me and you don’t like looking like you slept in your car, you should read up.  The people at Red Oxx, a made in America luggage company, have created a PDF that walks you through the motions.  Or you can read this post where bundle is equated with bliss.

Anything Goes Method

I’d guess that many people fall into this category and if it works for you, keep on truckin’.  My goal is always to travel with a bag that will hold only what I need with a little room for a couple of souvernir t-shirts and postcards of dead people.  The smaller the bag, the easier the whole overhead bin tango is going to be.  If yours is the dance of the checked bag then this maybe doesn’t concern you.  Although, I have to say that if you do like overpacking, you can overpack more by doing it neatly.

The TSA would like it if you packed neatly too because we all know terrorists aren’t tidy.  And it’s easier to see what stuff you have when it’s sorted out.  They have nice pictures on their website with examples of Mary Poppins-type tidy, though I cannot imagine a reason to travel with half as many Marks-A-Lot pens as they have displayed.  Oh, wait.  Now I can.  I’m sure I’m confusing this site with one for an after school special on huffing.

Anything You Can Do… I Can Also Do

22 Jul

When I tell people that I have a theater major they are not all that shocked… or impressed.  It’s because almost everyone has some experience with acting, no matter how limited.  And some people also believe that they could do it if they weren’t busy doing whatever it is that they do.  It’s not like they are saying that I have a degree in karaoke or handclapping.  I just get the feeling that even after four years of study they aren’t sure that their monologue from the Goonies wouldn’t be better than mine.  (Oh, it so totally would!)

"Anyone know where there's good WiFi around here?"

Writing a travel blog is really similar.  Everyone has their own bank of knowledge on travel.  So even though I devote far too much time to reading about this topic others still have every right to think my take is wrong.  And why shouldn’t they?  If there is one thing that I’ve learned for sure while doing all this research is that being right is usually only temporary.  Or case-specific.  Or totally about your own personal preferences.  Or your destination.  Or your budget… or so many darn things that I could list here.

I can tell you that it’s best not to assume anything.  Airlines don’t have to pay for your hotel stay if your flight is cancelled or your bag if it’s lost.  In fact, it’s only recently that they’ve had to refund your checked bag fee let alone pay for the contents.  You also can’t count on saving money on package deals or by taking a train in Europe.  And just because the luggage is called carry on or some label says “TSA approved”, that’s not necessarily so.

What to do?  Take everything with a grain of salt and do some leg work.  Or at the very least, travel with someone who has.  I’ve traveled with next to no information and had a great time.  I’ve relied on others for the planning and been really pleased.  I’ve also gone on trips where I ended up spending twice the money for half the trip just because my travel partners couldn’t plan their way out of a 3-1-1 bag. 

There are guidebooks and websites for every kind of travel, I guarantee you.  You are also surrounded by experts.  Or at least people who think they are… including one theater major.