Friday, January 31, 2014

Packing the Essentials in a Quart Size Bag

If your goal these days is to only travel with carry on luggage then you'll need to fit all your liquids in 3.4oz containers that fit inside a quart sized bag. This might seem difficult but I promise you if I can do it then you can. Here are the products I bring in my bag:

3 hair care products
4 facial care products
toothpaste
contact solution
hand/body lotion
anti bacterial
perfume and make-up


And here it is all in its bag!

And here is my husband's bag: (thank goodness if I have any overflow I can put it in his bag!)


Our bags
Here are some other things that I bring on trips with me:

What do you bring on your trips?


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Liebster Award

I was recently nominated by Debbie from Buisson International for The Liebster Award! It really made my day! Debbie is an American expat from Houston, TX living in London with her husband. Since they have been living abroad they have been taking some amazing trips all over Europe and I love seeing her pictures and reading about their adventures!

The word Liebster has a German origin and has several definitions: nicest, kindest, lovely, kind, pleasant, cute, etc. And it's pretty much a new way to discover new, smaller blogs that would appreciate new followers. With this award I have been asked to share a little about myself - starting with 11 random things about me and then I answer 11 questions that my nominator has asked me. In return, I nominate a few more people for the Liebster Award, give them 11 questions to answer, and they follow along. It is kind of like those chain letters I use to get in middle school but this time I want to participate.  

You can read more about the award here and here.

Eleven Things About Me:
1 – I’m an industrial engineer and manufacture subsea components for the oil & gas industry
2 – I don’t eat vegetables…EVER!
3 – I watch ENTIRELY too much television!
4 – I dream about vacations that are years away
5 – I love, love, love ice cream! Even in the winter
6 – I study abroad in Norway
7 – I have been to Africa but I was only 1.5 years old and don’t remember it
8 – I hope one day to be an expatriate
9 – I have really bad road rage…thank you Houston, TX
10 – I have been to 27 out of the 50 United States (bucket list is to visit all 50)
11 – My dogs are pretty much my children

Eleven Questions from Debbie:
1 - What is the first website/app you usually go to when you initially get on the internet? via mobile phone – facebook; via computer – blogger.com
2 - What is the biggest obstacle you have faced while traveling? Until I was 25 I wasn’t able to rent a car… thank goodness my husband is a few years older
3 - In terms of behavior, were you good or bad in school? Good!
4 - Which would you rather play during a night out: ping-pong, darts, or pool? Pool
5 - Would you rather live at the beach in the winter or in the mountains in the summer? I would live on a Hawaiian beach in the winter without a doubt!
6 - What song gets you in the mood to sing and dance? Anything from the Pitch Perfect soundtrack… I LOVE that movie!
7 - What is the most amazing tourist attraction you have come across while traveling? Although I’m not much of an art person, seeing the statue of David was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen!
8 - Who (a celebrity) was your biggest teenage crush? Nick Carter of the BSB!
9 - What popular travel destination do you little desire to visit? Why? From what I’ve seen India looks kind of dirty… not sure if I’ll ever make it there.
10 - What is something you have never done that you are very proud of avoiding? I’ve never not given something my all
11 - If you could travel back in time, at what point in your life would you go and why? I would go back to college and study abroad more, my trip was only for a summer session (6 weeks) and I SO wish I had done more! But there wasn’t a lot of options in the college of engineering at the time :(

And the Nominees are…
Buisson International
(can you nominate the person who nominated you? oh, well. I just did because I love her blog!)
Creatrice Mondial
(Amy's blog is another good read if you are researching some destinations)
A Girl in Olsztyn
(Sydney's mom and my mom went to high school together and now she is a teacher in Poland!)
Oh, the places you will go!
(love Selena's blog! She takes you on such amazing adventures!)




Questions for My Nominees:
1 – What are your top 5 travel destinations that you haven’t been to?
2 – What is your favorite place you have visited?
3 – Where is the one place you want to visit again right now if you could?
4 – What’s the best pizza you've ever had?
5 – What is something you collect?
6 – Have you ever met anyone famous?
7 – What’s your number one bucket list item? Have you done it yet?
8 – Is there anything cool about your family history/ancestry?
9 – Do you speak a foreign language? Which ones?
10 – What was the coolest airline/hotel perk you ever received?
11 – What was the coolest concert/festival you've ever been to? 







Monday, January 27, 2014

Under Bite: The Tail of Two Bulldogs

I wanted to share a picture of my babies and brag about how they are the two most beautiful bulldogs ever! We took this pic last weekend.

Coco & Lola

Although bulldogs are cute I always feel like lecturing people when they oooh and aaahh over them. Bulldogs are pretty much like having a kid - at least ours are. Lola has a heart condition and is on meds for the rest of her days. She also has a skin issue and has to have a bath every week with a medicated shampoo. Coco just recently tore both her ACLs in her back legs and has been hobbling around the house. Please research them before you buy :)

This video will help you understand the bulldog better! Click here

Friday, January 24, 2014

Traveling with a Tour Group: Pros v. Cons

I have mentioned on here a few times that this next vacation of ours is going to be on a Trafalgar Tour. This will be my third tour with the company and I'm sure I will do more in the future (see my other tours here). I thought I would write a blog on the pros and cons of traveling with a tour and why I think it’s a good fit for us.

I like the tours because we'll get to see a lot in a short amount of time. We don’t live in Europe (I wish!) so traveling there takes time (a solid 15 hours of travel one way!); we both have full time jobs and have a total of 15 days off, not nearly enough to really explore. So I opt for a tour to give us a real bang for our buck!


Enjoying the bus ride; Germany to Czech Republic
Let's start with the pros of traveling with a tour company:
Pros
- Everything is planned out for you - From your transportation to/from the airport to most of your meals. You don’t have to do a single thing! Removing the stress is important for me.
- You don’t have to worry about purchasing venue tickets in advance and don’t have to wait in line. Trafalgar has already purchased your tickets and your tour director will lead you to the front of the line!
- The tour directors are locals and know whats up. They know when to arrive to places to avoid the crowds and they know how to spot pick-pockets and scammers and will hold the group back until they pass. And if for some reason you get lost you have someone to call.
- Always having someone to take a picture of you

Cons
- Some places you'll only get to see by night or by day. When we took our tour to Italy we only saw the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon at night and therefore picture taking was tricky.
- You don’t get to experience the city as a local might. During our upcoming trip we will be in Amsterdam for less than 24 hours!
- If there is something in particular you want to see you might have to take time out from an excursion or stay on an extra day to see it. When we traveled to Italy it was my first international vacation (not including the time I studied abroad) and I'll admit I wasn’t a "seasoned" traveler. So when we were in Florence we didn’t see the Pont de Vecchio and now I regret that (it wasn’t on Trafalgar's schedule and I didn’t Google our destinations before we went).


Rome sites by night

Bridge of Sighs at night and under construction

All-in-all it's really your call in the end. If you live in Europe there is no need for you to take a tour because you have any city at your disposal for a weekend, possibly even multiple weekends! Traveling from city to city in Europe is cheap; you can get round trip tickets for less than $100 most of the time. I can't even get a flight from Houston, TX to Dallas, TX for less than $100!

Have you ever traveled with a tour? If so how did you like it? 



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

First Class Menus from the Past

When my family started to clean out my grandparent's house they found a few interesting things. One of which was a file containing old first class menus from my grandfather's business trips to Europe. A few things went through my mind when we found these: 
1 - How cool is this?! 
2 - Why would someone keep these? 
3 - I'm glad he kept them because now I can blog about them!

Take a look at some of these menus from the late 70's early 80's

Austrian Airlines

Concorde

Swiss Air

KLM

I'm interested to see what our menus will look like on our flight over and back!

Does anybody have any vintage travel memorabilia?



Monday, January 20, 2014

Is Cruising Right for You?

I haven't really talked much about cruising on my blog. I have only been on two cruises in my life; one to Mexico and the other was a short trip from Oslo to Kiel, Germany when I was studying abroad. While I did enjoy them both I am having a hard time convincing my husband that it would be fun. I like them because you get a lot of bang for your buck and you only have to unpack once but you get to see multiple cities! Here are some reasons AAA of Texas likes to cruise.

{Crossing under the Øresund Bridge}
Value: For about $100 per person per day your vacation includes transportation, accommodation, meals, on board activities, and entertainment. You can pay extra for special amenities, but you don’t have to. On some luxury lines, items like bar drinks, tips, even shore excursions are included (and reflected in higher fares).

Camaraderie: Mom, Dad, kids, and grandparents can cruise together, each pursuing individual interests during the day, then gathering for dinner and sharing experiences. Singles can meet others in a fun, secure environment, and couples can share quiet evenings on deck. On a cruise, strangers easily become new friends.

{Carnival Cruise to Mexico} 
Safety: From 2002 to 2011, 223 million people (passengers and crew) cruised, according to U.K.-based maritime consulting firm G.P. Wild. During that time, there were 28 deaths attributed to marine accidents, 0.13 deaths per one million people. The 2012 capsizing of Costa Concordia claimed 32 lives, but such incidents, while tragic, are rare. In recent shipboard fire incidents, there were no passenger deaths or serious injuries. Cruise Line International Association, whose members include most major lines, has adopted a passenger’s bill of rights that covers such things as the right to disembark a docked ship if essential provisions can’t be provided.

Convenience: You unpack once; the ship carries you to your destinations. 

Activities: Depending on the ship, you can take classes in cooking, dancing, piano, and computers; you can go rock climbing, surfing, bowling, ice-skating, and even skydiving. Or you can lounge on a deck chair and watch the ocean, relishing the freedom of being cut off from the daily pressures of life back on land. Whenever we cruise, there’s always the feeling that something exciting is about to happen.

You can also check out Selena at Oh, the places you will go she as a lot about cruising the open seas! 

  



Friday, January 17, 2014

52 Places to See in 2014

The New York Times has compiled a list of places they think  you should see in 2014. Have you been to any of these places? Are you planning a trip there in 2014? See the interactive list here.

1. Cape Town, South Africa

2. Christchurch, New Zealand

3. North Coast, California

4. Albanian Coast

5. Downtown Los Angeles

6. Namibia

7. Ecuador

8. Quang Binh, Vietnam

9. Perth, Australia

10. Rotterdam, the Netherlands

11. Taiwan

12. Frankfurt, Germany

13. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

14. Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

15. Nashville, Tenn.

16. Scotland


17. Calgary, Alberta

18. Ishigaki, Japan

19. Laikipia Plateau, Kenya

20. Yogyakarta, Indonesia

21. Tahoe, Calif.

22. Yorkshire, England

23. Dubai

24. The Vatican


{Inside The Vatican, 2008}
 25. Uruguayan Riviera

26. Chennai, India

27. Seychelles

28. Krabi, Thailand

29. Aspen, Colo.

30. Highlands, Iceland

31. Umea, Sweden

32. Xishuangbanna, China

33. Andermatt, Switzerland

34. Indianapolis

35. Mekong River

36. Athens

37. Barahona, Dominican Republic

38. Arctic Circle

39. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

40. Downtown Atlanta

41. Nozawa Onsen, Japan

42. Subotica, Serbia

43. Elsinore, Denmark

44. Cartmel, England

45. Nepal

46. Vienna


{Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria, 2010}
47. Siem Reap, Cambodia

48. Varazdin, Croatia

49. St. Petersburg, Fla.

50. Belize

51. New Caledonia

52. Niagara Falls, N.Y.

If you have plans to visit any of these take some pictures and share!



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Movies that Inspire Travel

Over the past few weeks I have watched three movies that are shot in international locations and give me the travel urge even more! (As if I already don't have it enough!)

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - Walter has to go on this incredible adventure that takes him from his home in NYC to Greenland then Iceland then the Himalayas then to LA and then all the way back to NYC. A good portion of this takes place in Iceland and makes me want to visit the small country even more!

Frozen - Frozen is a cute animated film that got is inspiration from the beautiful country of Norway! Every time I see pictures of Norway's landscape it makes me want to go back there and take my husband with me so he can experience it's beauty as well!

Norway's beautiful fjords

About Time - I'll admit I wasn't too keen to see this but I did any way and I LOVED it! It shows so much of London and the U.K.'s country side and its beautiful. I loved the story too. Seeing this makes me want to see the slower side of the U.K..

Busy London!
Have you seen any of these movies? What did you think? Do movies inspire you to travel?

P.S. I like watching a movie/TV show and being able to say, "I've been there!"


Monday, January 13, 2014

When Vacation Attack!

In December 2013 Ferdinand Puentes was taking a short flight from Moloka'I to Oahu when the engine to the plane quit. He was filming the whole thing with his GroPro camera.

You can see all pictures and video by clicking this link.

{Source}

{Source}



Friday, January 10, 2014

Working Out on Your Layover

Traveling can be stressful for some people, the lines, the waiting, the sitting, it can really get to a person and bring their physical health down. Some airports have realized this and decided to help a traveler out by adding gyms. And the ones that don’t have gyms… well here are some tips!

Hit the Gym
Some airports are adding gyms to their terminals! Airportgyms.com has compiled a list of gyms either in the actual airport or gyms VERY close to the airport if you have an even longer layover. DFW has one and so does LAX. These gyms appear to be connected to hotels that are on the airport ground; such as the Radisson Hotel at LAX. SFO has their own yoga room, located in terminal 2, and is free to all ticketed passengers.

Use Travelators as a Treadmill
If you find an empty travelator you can walk against the moving belt and get some serious cardio in.

{Travelator, source}
Walking Loops
Some airports have walking loops that are marked so you know the distance you have walked and you can do this over and over until your flight is called.

I also just started using this app called Nike Training, I really like it because you can choose your level and if you don't want to use weights you don't have to; just go with the motions...something perfect for an airport! I usually like to get some nice stretches and lunges in before boarding a long flight. I’m not usually dressed for it though.

{Source}
Do you ever exercise during a layover? If so what are some of your go-to moves?

Inspiration for this post from Samantha Brown.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Shutterfly & Bulldogs

Today I want to complement Shutterfly on their AWESOME customer service! Every year I create a calendar featuring my dogs and this year was no different…except I forgot to update my account and it mailed the calendar to our old house :( boo! Once I realized what happened I called them up and they didn’t even question if it was my fault they just asked for the new address and even rush shipped it FedEx to deliver before Christmas. I was so pleased! Thank you Shutterfly! I will use you again and again!



And here are pictures of my sleeping beauties! 

My sleeping babies!



Monday, January 6, 2014

Travel Without Breaking the Bank in 2014

Yahoo! Travel has compiled a list of places to travel to without breaking the bank in 2014. Here is the list:

Nicaragua: Round trip airfare will run you about $500 and your best value is travel during their green season, May through September.

{La Catedral de Granada in Nicaragua (Photo: courtesy of the Nicaraguan Tourism BoardSource}
The Azores: Only a 4 hour flight from Boston and air and hotel packages starting at $1,099 for a six night stay why wouldn't you want to visit these islands between New England and Lisbon?

French Polynesia: You can spend 5 nights at the InterContinental Moorea Resort, including air for less than $2,000!

Alberta, Canada: Banff and Jasper Nation Parks are known for having some of the lowest hotel and lift tickets in North America. Winter is the off season so go between November and May.

Waikiki, Hawaii: Anytime is a good time to go to Hawaii! Busy season is in the summer and during holidays.

{Blue waters of the Big Island, Hawaii}
Ecuador: Round trip tickets to Quito from New York and Miami have been under $500. Ecuador is a year round destination but its most busy June through August and in December during the holidays.

New York City: This city is full of free attractions to help keep you on your budget. To stay on your budget stay outside of Manhattan.

{From the Top of the Rock}
Mexico City: The city has over 175 museums and four UNESCO World Heritage sites. The best weather is in the spring between March and May.



Thursday, January 2, 2014

Travel RoundUp

1 - A Boeing 747 clipped a building in Johannesburg injuring a few grounds crew.

2 - Check out these awesome pictures of London on a foggy day

{Source}

3 - A French coffee shop will sell you coffee for less if you ask for it politely.

“A coffee” costs 7e. “A coffee, please” costs 4.25e. And “Hello, a coffee please”, costs 1.40e. {Source}
4 - This one happened here in Houston; a man flying from Louisiana fell asleep on his flight to Houston and was left on the plane. He woke up to a dark plane and then called for help.

5 - This Hawaiian town is sick of tourists. See why here.

6 - Feel like you’re not getting enough paid time off? Check out these countries… I think a move is in order! 


8 - Dubai set the world record for fireworks while welcoming in the new year!

{Source}

9 - Airline CEOs predict the next 100 year in aviation

10 - The best Airline club lounges...I have been to the one in IAH!


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 is Gone, Welcome 2014

I hope everyone had a happy and safe new year! Did you accomplish all that you wanted to in 2013? Here is how I panned out: 

2013 Blogging Goals
·   Reach 250 page views a month (I know that’s not a lot compared to some of you bigger bloggers out there) Nov '12-279 views-4 posts; Dec'12-325 views-11 posts (clearly the more posts I make the more views I get). Done – I get over 1,400 pages views a month now. Sometimes over 1,700
·   Start my new series, Extreme Travelers (monthly post) 10 out of 12 isn’t bad
·   Continue the Travel RoundUp series (monthly Post) Done
·   Let you get to know me on a new Pinspiration post. This will be where I can show you some of the small projects I work on around the house from ideas that I get from Pinterest. Done
·   Travel to one of these places this year: Chicago, Washington DC, or Niagara Falls Well we didn’t do any of these. The only traveling I did this year was driving to Destin, FL with my friend from Norway. BUT… We are going to Chicago in 2014!
·   Use a Groupon Getaway Nope, didn’t check this one off

2013 Personal Goals
·   Lose weight (isn't that on everyone's list?) I was able to keep 11 pounds off since joining Weight Watchers in December 2012     
·   Read more – Surprise, surprise. I did read some books, 4 to be exact. I read Orange is the New Black, and all three Fifty Shades of Grey books. (I’m actually reading the series again!)
·   Take our baby pup, Coco, to Galveston to see how she likes the water Didn’t happen. I don’t think she is quite ready for this, maybe another year.
·   Save one entire paycheck! We need to save for a new house and our trip to Thailand! Buying a house can make it hard to save money…and we’re no longer going to Thailand. Europe here we come!

2014 Goals
For the blog I am just going to keep doing what I have been doing; keeping up with my regular posts and trying to post three days a week. We have a few trips planned for 2014 so we’re going to focus on those and we are also hoping to make it back to Hawaii if we can get some free flights using our mileage points!

Other than that this year I don’t really feel like making too many goals. Are you planning on making any goals? Any place you wish to go to this year?



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