Top 10 Travel Products

Top 10 Travel Products!

I travel more than 100,000 miles every year for work (yeah, you read that number right) and after people say, “Uh, wow!” and “Uh, how does your husband feel about that?” people always, ALWAYS ask the same thing: “Uh, got any travel tips?”

Uh, yep. In fact, I have more than tips, I’ve basically distilled my travel regime down to a science. I know exactly what I’m taking, where it goes in my suitcase, and the fastest route to the airport lounge for one last glass of wine to fill up my water bottle and to check my email like the responsible person I am.

Because I’m asked so often what it takes to travel so much, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of my must-have travel products. There’s more to the process of professional business travel than a quick shopping trip can do, but these 10 essentials will get you moving in the right direction!

  1. The Sherpani Soleil bag. My friends and colleagues have joked that I should become a spokesperson for Sherpani, such is my intense love for this bag (uh, Sherpani? I’m open.) It’s a sturdy tote that’s professional enough to carry to client meetings, yet will sling over your shoulder or torso messenger style, and ALSO becomes a backpack when you suddenly have your hands full, a sore shoulder, or find yourself doing a little surprise hiking (what, it happens!) It also has a luggage strap, so it will slide onto the handle of a roller board suitcase like buttah. BUTTAH. Laptop sleeve, water bottle pockets, and just the right amount of space make this bag the best $100 I’ve ever spent on travel accessories. BUY ONE RIGHT NOW WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS.
  2. Bose noise canceling headphones. You know that roaring in your ears when you get off the plane? That ain’t happening if you wear these headphones. They cut out the ambient noise just enough so that you can still hear the world around you, but it’s just low enough that you can block it out. Crying babies and overly chatty flight attendants on Southwest, I’m looking at you. It also sends a subtle message to your seat neighbor to pretty please ZIP IT.
  3. Vaseline. This is really a life essential more than a travel essential, but I won’t get on a plane without it, so it makes the list! Vaseline replaces about 10 other things in a cosmetic bag, from eye makeup remover to lip balm, hand cream to soothing a cut or scrape. The travel size pot is about two bucks at Target and they are in every suitcase and tote I own, just in cases.
  4. Burt’s Bees grapefruit face wipes. These are a life saver, especially for international flights or long layovers. The grapefruit smell is lovely and can make even the most tired traveler feel a little more pulled together upon arrival.
  5. E-reader. I use a B+N Nook and downloading books from the library couldn’t be easier. I spend more time on planes reading than watching movies, and the e-reader makes it easy to carry thousands of books – or at least the complete Outlander series. (I cannot be the only person obsessed with these books, right? RIGHT?)
  6. Oversize scarf. I usually reach for my pale blue pashmina from Paris, or this giant tartan, but any big scarf will do. I use them as blankets on the plane, to bundle up in case it’s cold, and to jazz up the basic blacks and grays that make up 90% of my wardrobe.
  7. iPhone and extra charger. While I dream of the day we all get tired of screens and go back to typewriters and letters, it’s not happening. I have a little folder on my phone just for travel apps. My favorites are WhatsApp for free global texting, CityMapper for navigation, the United app for checking in and mobile boarding passes, the AirBnb app to keep in touch with hosts, and Skype Qik to send fun videos to friends and family!
  8. Glass water bottle. Fo much flying is bad enough for Mother Earth without buying plastic water bottles and effectively punching good old M.E. in the face. I try to combat this in a small way by filling up my glass water bottle pre-flight and saying no to all those little plastic drink cups from flight attendants.
  9. Eye mask. A must for international flights, but sometimes I want to get a head start on sleep coming back from the East Coast, when I might land at midnight or 1 am. Eye masks help you sleep like a champ and help you channel your inner Holly Golightly, too.
  10. Airport-approved footwear. With admission into TSA Pre, I no longer have to take my shoes off and it’s like traveling in 1992 (thank you, Baby Jesus) but in those rare instances Pre is closed and you end up like Shoeless Joe, you don’t want to be that schmo holding up the line trying to unlace your gladiator sandals. These fly slip on sneaks are my current fave. And here I thought Aerosoles were just for grandmas!

What are your travel must-haves?! I’d seriously love to hear!

Aerosoles slip on shoes
lordandtaylor.com

Linea evening shawl
$36 – houseoffraser.co.uk

Bose
bestbuy.com

Bkr fragrance
ahalife.com

Iluminage eye mask
nordstrom.com

Therapy lip care
target.com

Mura tech accessory
luxurylaunches.com

Advertisements

Santorini

Santorini

Part two of our mediterranean journey takes us to Santorini. Thus far, our big plan is to rent a Vespa and scoot from one glass of wine to the next while wearing a giant sun hat.

That last part might just be me.

Advice?

Viva Italia!

Italy

I almost can’t believe it, but our 1-year anniversary is just around the corner in September. To celebrate – and because we never took a proper Honeymoon, unless you count that overnight at ye most glamorous Westin in Park City on our drive back to SF – we are taking two weeks off and spending them in the Mediterranean. First stop, ITALY.

Recommendations? Places to stay, eat, and see? If you were landing in Naples and had absolutely nothing else planned yet (ahem) for seven days…what would you do?

Thanks a million

xo

Manners over Culture

Manners over Culture

Do you make people take their shoes off in your house? Unless you live in a Japanese temple, you shouldn’t get to do this. I HATE taking off my shoes just to go in the house. I slide all over the floor, I know my outfit is ruined, and I will spend the rest of my time in your home worrying about how we’ll safely escape in case of fire, because we’ll be those idiots who ended up barefoot in the front yard. I am in no way related to Honey Boo-Boo, so standing barefoot in your yard is not something that appeals to me.

And yet. If you invite me into your house and ask me to take off my shoes, I will.

“Manners cost you nothing; ignorance can cost you everything.”

I love this quote because it’s so true! And if I could modify it slightly, I’d say that manners cost you nothing, but mean everything. Good manners trump everything else.

While this wild and crazy idea of manners being important is true no matter where you are – family holidays come to mind, ahem – I notice that it’s especially important while traveling.

Part of why we travel – or at least, part of why I travel – is to lose myself and gain a little bit of the world. If you could somehow carry home the sophistication of the French, the wry humour of the Brits, the hospitality of the Singaporeans, and the sheer joie de vivre of the Tanzanians, well…wouldn’t you?

Yet, what I see so often when I’m abroad are people very stubbornly clinging to their own culture, despite the fact that they’re in a new place, and their home culture doesn’t hold much water.

For example, in France it’s considered basic good manners to say hello to a shop proprietor as soon as you enter, and to thank them upon leaving, even if all you did was browse around. Same goes for entering and exiting a city bus, and leaving a restaurant or museum.

In America, we don’t place as much importance on the hello/goodbye ritual, and it’s rare when someone actually calls out, “Thank you!” to the driver of our local Muni bus before she pushes through the melee, myself included. It’s not our culture in America to do all of this greeting and thanking all day long. Perhaps it should be, but it isn’t. So when Americans catch French shop owners rolling their eyes and giving icy replies in French, though you heard them speaking English just moments ago, it’s not because they’re rude, it’s because YOU ARE. You didn’t say hello, you didn’t abide by the good manners of the country you’re visiting.

In certain Asian countries, it’s considered rude or invasive to look someone in the eye for an extended period of time. In America, sustained eye contact is good manners and part of a respectful culture. In those particular Asian countries, it’s very bad manners, invasive and rude, and so, I look away, even though it makes me feel awkward.

When I was traveling in Tanzania, my friend and I were invited for a family dinner in someone’s home. Being the eco-pretentious 23 year old I was, I was proudly vegetarian with no flexibility. Until they brought out the beef stew they’d spent all day making in honor of our visit. It was not within my culture to eat meat, but good manners mandated that I eat, smile, and say thank you, I’d love more! 

It can feel uncomfortable or inauthentic to give way on your own culture, but the savvy traveler knows that manners trump culture every single time. Researching a bit about the manners and culture of the country you’re visiting, and being observant of the locals around you can help you fit in and travel more seamlessly. Remember, nobody likes The Ugly American and nobody wants to be one either. If you can’t stand the smoking, stay out of France. If you can’t handle the meat, stay out of the East African’s kitchen. It’s pretty simple.

This also, I think, applies here in the states. We live in a neighborhood with a very strong immigrant population and part of the culture of that population entails a lot of shoving to be first, to get in front, to get ahead. Because I’m in my own country and intimately familiar with my own culture, I feel no remorse about looking the shovers in the eye and firmly moving myself back to where I was in line.

And while I do, I’m always thankful I have my shoes on.

Chocolate + Cheese

Bruges Cafe

Fellow travelers, foodies and culture lovers!

My lovely company is sending me to Belgium and France next month, and in a very fun turn of events, my mom will be joining me! A full week of hopping from Brussels to Bruges, then Paris to Versailles, and possibly some fun day trips in between. We can’t wait to eat cheese, drink beer, and bring loads of chocolate home.

What are your favorite places to eat, stay, shop and see in any of those cities? We’ve never been to Belgium at all, it’s been five years since I’ve visited Paris and it’s ll maman’s first trip ever! To say I’m excited to explore Paris with her is quite the understatement.

We’d love your recommendations for anything!

British Lessons

QE2

“God, it’s positively cracking out there today, innit?”

“Uhhhh, what?”

This is a recent conversation I had with a client who’s from Northern England. “Cracking” she explained, is what certain Brits say when it’s so hot outside it could crack the flagstones and pavement. An extremely warm day – and they do have them across the pond! – would be termed “cracking the flags!” by the hot and cranky Brits up North.

One of my favorite (or should I say favourite?) games to play with my international clients is about idioms and phrases. While in London a few weeks ago, in addition to a trip to this fabulous restaurant and this hilarious show, I had the pleasure of working with clients from London and Northern England. As Americans, we tend to think of all of England as one riotous Kate Middleton and Harry Potter-fest where everyone talks like Eliza Doolittle and wears Union Jack dresses and says “Blimey!” into his glass of beer. Not only is that all pretty much completely wrong (minus the K-Mid, because yes, she’s on every rag in every Waitrose about town) but it also ignores the differences between London and the rest of the country.

For example, baps. In London, a bap is a type of bread roll used for sandwiches; it’s like a flatter English muffin or crumpet. Up North, a bap is a breast. My client told of purchasing a giant bag of 24 fresh, soft baps to take home to her husband, just because she thought it was so hilarious. She said,”for all that men chase after women to get at their goods, in London I found out you could just buy them at the store!”

A few other hilarious phrases and how they differ from the North and South.

Biffers

North: a certain brand of trash can

South: a certain brand of woman – a large, ugly one – with whom you’d never want to sleep. Ever.

Now, then!

North: Hi!

South: a transitional phrase that moves you from one sentence to another.

Badgers

North: Lady bits

South: Just a plain ol’ woodland creature

Having a bit of a strop

North: An epic adult temper tantrum

South: Huh?

Know of any other fun idioms and phrases from abroad? I’d seriously love to hear them in the comments!

Jubilee Queen print from this great Etsy shop!

Pool Side!

Pool Side!

We are fortunate enough to be going on a little wine country weekend in a few days. It’s the perfect chance to swim, read by the pool, eat a gourmet dinner and have a glorious sleep in without those oh-so-special city sounds waking us up in the middle of the night.

We have a neighbor with a blender that sounds very much like Jason and his chainsaw and a trash man who relishes nothing more than waking us all up at 5 a.m. because he’s awake too. Or so I imagine. Maybe the trash man really is just enjoying the hell out of his morning and banging cans brings him great joy? We’ll never know because I will never ask him. Mostly because that conversation would go like this:

Me: grumblegrumbleGRUMBLE! 5AM! Grumblegrumble

Him: BANGBANGBANGBANG !!!

Me: OHFORGETITGRUMBLEgrumble

My two most important beach bag categories are sun protection and reading material. Pale nerds, unite! As long as I have SPF 45 (aka, liquid snowsuit), lip balm with sunscreen, a hat, and about seven books loaded on my nook, I’m all good. Cute sandals, trashy magazines, and face wipes that keep me looking like a dainty lady are all bonus. Even the swimming suit is a bonus, really. I’m very content to lay about reading in whatever outfit, this is what a bad style blogger I am.

In real life, I’m going to load up my trusty monogrammed L.L. Bean bag with an assortment of things. But in blog life, I thought it would be fun to design a beautiful dream beach bag.

What do you put in your beach bag?