Posts tagged ‘travel’

December 23, 2019

Travel Tip #22 – What to Do When You’re Feeling Peckish

When you’re feeling peckish, use this travel tip. A few years ago, my youngest son often announced he was feeling peckish. No one he knew used that word, but he’s a big reader with a huge vocabulary and it’s not uncommon for him to interject new words into the family lexicon. Once we determined that meant he was a little hungry, we asked him what he wanted to eat. After awhile, his use of the word diminished and my use disappeared…until yesterday when I was walking through the grocery store looking for suitable airplane/airport snacks.

Today, I’m flying to LA to visit my newest grandson. As I’ve mentioned before, I always carry gluten-free food when I fly. That way I’m prepared if I can’t locate something suitable in the airport or there’s a delay that means I must eat on the plane. Perusing the deli case, I suddenly saw boxes labeled PECKISH. Of course that got my attention.
The contents of these boxes turned out to be a protein pack with two “perfectly boiled” organic, free-range eggs and a cup of crunchy dip. The flavor profile of this snack is determined by the crunchy dip. “Fried Rice” dip contains organic quinoa crispies, dried tamari, carrots, toasted sesame oil, sea salt, green onions, garlic, and ginger.
Other flavor options include “Salt & Pepitas”, “Rancheros, “Maple Waffles”, and “Everything”. All flavors are gluten-free, diary-free, and sugar-free. Some are keto and paleo-friendly. Each flavor varies slightly in protein, fiber, and sodium content, but each box is filled with protein because of the eggs.

Once you peel open an individually packed egg and open the dip, you just stick the egg in the dip and take a bite. The inside of my dip’s foil lid is instructing me to double dip!

The already peeled, “perfectly boiled” eggs fall on the soft end of hard boiled. The yolk is not runny, but it is not dry and crumbly. The very center is orange and a tiny bit gooey.

This snack appealed to me not only because of its name, but because I often take hard boiled eggs as an airplane snack. I pre-peel the eggs and drop them into a zip top bag into which I’ve sprinkled a little salt and pepper. I was curious whether the flavored dips would be enough of an upgrade to justify the larger price tag or whether they would inspire me to create some dips of my own.

The “Everything” dip reminds me of the Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend from Trader Joe’s without the bitter aftertaste. Okay, I realize most people put that seasoning blend on something like a bagel and may not know there’s an aftertaste. I’m in the habit of testing recipes which requires tasting things repeatedly–when they’re hot, when they’re cold, a day later–and without embellishment.

Having been known to put strawberry jelly on scrambled eggs, I would expect to like the “Maple Waffles” dip. It does have a subtle sweetness and its lid tells me it’s so dippin’ good! I like the “Fried Rice” dip. It has a pleasing and less subtle blend of savory flavors. The “Salt & Pepitas” serves the purpose, but fails to make a statement. I’ll have to leave you in suspense regarding the “Rancheros”. I haven’t tried it yet.

I like the idea of using crisped quinoa to hold flavors like maple syrup and toasted sesame oil to blend with tamari, but I’m not likely to whisk up a batch of egg dip for one trip for one person. If I want something besides salt & pepper or a seasoning blend I keep on hand, it makes sense to purchase a PECKISH protein pack.

Of course these are also great snacks for road trips, the office, or a kid’s lunch box. If they’re not sold in your area, offers a subscription box feature. You build a home box by choosing 10 protein packs in any combination of flavors and have it delivered to your home at regular intervals.

If your office is into clean eating, keto, or paleo, you can also order weekly, biweekly, or monthly shipments to stock the break room. The office packs are single flavor boxes containing 30 eggs each or a box of 30 eggs without a flavored dip.

It’s good to know that when I anticipate feeling peckish on a trip, I can pack a high protein, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free snack that’s full of flavor without taking the time to cook. All I need to do is follow this travel tip–purchase a PECKISH protein pack.

That’s it for travel tip #22. Happy traveling and happy holidays!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


October 28, 2019

Travel Tip #21 – Be Prepared to Evacuate

When you travel, organize so you are prepared to evacuate. I’m in Los Angeles right now. Last Thursday, a wildfire broke out 1.5 miles away from my son’s house. While smoke billowed, I watched the news and packed a go bag as I prepared for the possibility of evacuation. I didn’t want to carry a large bag, but I wanted the essentials for a couple of days. No matter where you travel, you could encounter tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, or other unexpected difficulties that require you to leave quickly for safety.

Swiftly changing conditions can mean the necessity of relocation without much notice. In some cases, preparation time is a matter of minutes. An advance plan can assure that you’ll have what you need in the event you must leave immediately.
Here’s a simple plan you can follow:

Carry a 2nd bag.
If you’re traveling with a large suitcase that is cumbersome, make sure you have a second bag that will hold clothes, toiletries, water, and snacks for a couple of days. If I only carry a purse on the plane, I throw a soft duffel bag in the bottom of my checked bag. This trip, I have a small cloth bag as well as an under-seat carryon that is quite spacious. A backpack is another great choice.

Set your phone to receive weather and emergency alerts.
Although I’m 1600 miles from home, I received an emergency alert from the LAFD about 20-30 minutes after the fire started. The alert contained a link to a website where I could monitor alerts.

Create a list of critical items.
It can be hard to think clearly when you’re under duress. Having a note on your phone with a list of essentials allows you to be mechanical about the packing process. Knowing you have prepared for this possibility can help reduce anxiety.

Your list may surprise you. I removed my laptop and its charger from my go bag yesterday. I have a backup of everything essential and I can access most anything else I need from my phone. The laptop adds weight and takes up space.

I also left out my yoga mat, yoga clothes, extra shoes, swimsuit, jewelry, and jacket. I included cash, phone charger, underwear, socks, sleepwear, and a couple of changes of clothes as well as toiletries and makeup. If space were tight, I would have foregone the makeup.

Other items I considered essential were: a package of hand wipes, a zip top bag of snacks, and all of the bottled water and tea I had on hand. I used my cloth bag for these.

If you have prescription medications, you’ll want to put them in your go bag along with any written instructions you need. At times I have carried an EpiPen. Thursday, I kept the BENEDRYL® that was in my purse, but that was it for meds. I’d probably leave supplements that are not prescribed behind unless there’s only one or two or they are already sorted into daily doses in a small container.

My final critical items are my ID, credit cards, and keys. I keep those in my purse. When I can fit that purse in my go bag, I am especially pleased. If that doesn’t happen, it’s not a big deal because I typically travel with a crossbody bag that is easy to carry. I sit the purse on top of the go bag in my hotel room or AirBnB so in one grab I have everything I need.

Know where you are.
You don’t have to spend your vacation time planning extensive escape routes, but it can be helpful to review the hotel evacuation map on arrival and know what major highways or streets are nearby.

Store needed information.
Record reservation numbers; padlock codes; passwords for apps like AirBnB, VRBO, Lyft, Uber, Postmates, GrubHub or DoorDash; links to emergency alert websites; airline or event tickets; and addresses on your phone or paper. The phone is most convenient, but will render these inaccessible if you are without power until the battery dies. You also may not want to store passwords on your phone.

I know you’re probably thinking you don’t need passwords with you because you’ve told your apps to remember you or keep you logged in. On a recent trip to pick up groceries, I couldn’t check-in from such an app because it asked for my password and I did not know it or have it available. I also didn’t want to reset it. In the event of emergency, this can be nerve racking.

Knowing and noting where you are in relation to major highways can reduce the time it takes to choose an escape route and decide on the best mode of transportation.

Bring extra zip top or silicone stashable bags.
Zip tops are less bulky and weigh less, but silicone bags work as well. Having a few in multiple sizes allows you to reorganize or pare down quickly. These also keep hastily packed toiletries from accidentally leaking on your clothes in a tightly packed go bag.
Wear comfortable shoes.
Thursday, the TV news interviewed a woman pushing a child in a stroller to escape the fires. Her family was en route to pick them up, but the roads were blocked. While you may not anticipate walking, you may have to, so choose your most comfortable shoes.

You may also want to pack some kind of slip-on shoe in preparation for a night evacuation. My most comfortable shoes have laces. If I need to leave in the middle of the night, I want those in my bag and something easy to slip into by my bed.

Consider a flashlight.
Power outages are common in weather events. If your phone ties your hands too much or you want to preserve its battery, consider carrying a small flashlight.

Bring an emergency phone charger.
An emergency phone charger is a great idea for travel, especially here in California where the power company may preventatively turn off the power.

Review the diaper bag.
Most of us have a routine with the diaper bag. That means it’s always packed with anything appropriate for our everyday activities. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s packed with everything required for a couple of days.

Obviously, you’ll want ample diapers, wipes, formula, and bottles along with clothes. For breastfed babies, a baby sling that is also a nursing cover can take the place of a stroller.

Don’t forget comfort items like pacifiers, blankets, or stuffed toys (only if your child requires one to feel safe or sleep). I like to include at least one burp cloth, and a changing pad or blanket makes diaper changes more sanitary and comfortable. I also throw in small plastic bags for diaper disposal.

Toddler bags may need additional items like toddler friendly snacks, a sippy cup, a couple of small toys, or a book. Food pouches are easy to carry and don’t require a spoon. Oatmeal packets are filling and can be mixed with a packet of peanut or almond butter, or a pouch of applesauce for added nutrition and staying power.

My thinking on car seats, car seat carriers, and strollers is to leave them in the car. This gets you out the door and on the road faster. You can buckle the kids in once you’re in the car.

Carry special equipment.
If you are traveling with the elderly or those with special needs, pack essential equipment so it’s easy to access once you’re on the move.

In addition to medications, include any needed special food; feeding tubes; syringes; oxygen delivery devices; braces, canes, wheelchairs, or other walking aids; power cords and even a portable generator if one is needed for equipment and it’s possible to carry. You’ll need an ice chest for medication that must be refrigerated.

Don’t forget your pet.
If you travel with a service dog, emotional support animal, or pet, keep them with you. Last Friday, I was greeted by a small dog in a toy store. The owner of the store had brought him to work because of the fire danger. It was the only way to keep him safe.

Hopefully, you’re already carrying a travel container with food and bowls that are easy to carry. Bring a leash or harness, any required medications, and a roll of poop bags.

If space allows, include other useful items.
A travel pack of facial tissue or a travel roll of toilet paper can be helpful. If you don’t have either of those handy, you can tightly roll some toilet paper and put it in a zip top snack bag. Without a cardboard tube, you’ll be amazed how much will fit in a small bag.

In my bag, there’s almost always a package of plasticware that includes salt, pepper, and a napkin in addition to fork, knife, and spoon.

On any trip, I pack a trash bag in my suitcase for dirty clothes. It can easily be moved to my go bag. A large trash bag is light weight, easy to pack, and can function as a poncho in rainy conditions.

When fire threatens, it’s handy to have a mask to block the smoke should you end up downwind.

If you don’t want to carry the weight of water, carry an empty bottle that you can fill along the way.

I don’t carry surface disinfecting wipes, but they can be helpful in some situations and are available in convenient travel packs.

For toddlers who are potty training, including several pull-up disposable diapers will take the pressure off by preventing the necessity of finding facilities at the last minute. This is true for the elderly as well. Although your loved one may still be able to use the toilet under normal circumstances, adult diapers can prevent embarrassing situations and are often an appropriate addition to a go bag.

A baby carrier for children too large for a sling is more compact than a bulky stroller.

You may want to throw in the children’s Tylenol and a couple of band aids just in case.

Bottles with clearly marked volume indicators for measuring, a bottle brush, and extra feeding tube tips can all come in handy.
Of course you’ll want to create a list that works for your particular trip and your particular needs, but hopefully this plan will get you started. This morning, I was awakened at 4:40am by news of another fire nearby. That one closed part of the 405 freeway. Road closures like this can affect your route to an airport so be sure to allow extra time.

Go, go, go, and have a wonderful trip just be prepared to evacuate when a dangerous situation arises!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

May 23, 2018

Travel Tip #20: Use a Travel Agent

Travel Tip #20: If you’re ready to book a much needed vacation, use a travel agent. No, I don’t mean a web based travel search engine, I mean a real person. I know it’s tempting to book everything online. I do it all the time, but if you’re truly needing a break, there are benefits to having a knowledgable professional with good connections handle your travel plans.
travel agent
Planning a trip can be time consuming. If you’re already taxed from long hours, illness, or caregiving, that time can be better used for restorative activities like sleep, walking in the park or on the beach, yoga, or visits with friends. Using a professional will give you access to options you may never have considered. And if you run into a problem during your trip, a travel agent can find a solution while you relax. And that’s the key — relaxing.

Believe it or not, there are still thousands of travel agents in the US. The Bureau of Labor & Statistics listed 81,700 in 2016. Some agencies are available 24 hours per day (just like the internet) and many offer agents who speak foreign languages. A well-matched professional will offer a level of service technology just can’t duplicate.

I’m pretty independent and I don’t enjoy hiring a company that I have to beg to be responsive or do a good job. Because of that, I’m often tempted to just do things myself. I’m not kidding. I’ve cut my own hair, repaired my toilet, sold my house, repaired my washing machine, and other things I don’t know how to do. I suppose my get-it-done determination has some advantages, but it has some drawbacks as well.

Doing it myself can sometimes be the one thing that puts me past the point of exhaustion. It can be the thing that interrupts a project that’s more important. It can be the thing that keeps me from feeling that great feeling of being taken care of. I was recently reminded of that feeling when I hired a childhood friend to sell my cousin’s farm.

I thought it would take months to move that thing. The top part of the 109 acres was rocky and unusable. There’s no road through the property, no fences, and scrub trees have been running amok for a few years. I was very, very wrong. My friend sold it in a week for the price we wanted. Then, she gave me a gift certificate to my favorite store in that town. The whole thing felt great!

Last summer, I wanted to take a week off. I freed up the time, but ended up staying home. Planning a trip was more than I could muster. Did I know I could use a travel agent? Yes, I’ve had wonderful experiences using them before. The thing is, I sometimes make things harder than they could be. It’s not my best habit.

In the past two days, I’ve hired 3 new people to help me while I split my time between work, landlord, and caregiving duties. Next up, a vacation — time to call a travel agent!

November 30, 2017

Travel Tip #19 – Pack Light

When you get ready to make that holiday trip…pack light. I’m a planner. I can be spontaneous and I don’t have to nail down every detail in advance, but I need to feel that I’m prepared for the possibilities. Being prepared for everything that I imagine might happen on a long trip can leave me at risk for severe overpacking. The fact that I always carry at least one book and usually two doesn’t help.
When I was preparing for my first trip to Europe, an older, wiser, well-traveled coworker advised me to pack my bag then remove half the stuff and pack again. Once the bag was packed with the half that remained, she told me to remove half of what I’d packed that second time. Then, she said, you’ll have what you need.

I might have ignored that advice, but just prior to receiving it, I’d learned about the concept that the size and weight of the bags you carry reflects the size and weight of the emotional baggage you carry. I was pretty sure I wanted to appear as though my emotional baggage was small. And so, I packed a fourth of what I had planned to take.

As it turns out, that advice was worth its weight in gold! That particular trip to Brussels, Amsterdam, London, Paris, and Moscow was filled with unexpected walks while toting my bags – a task much more easily accomplished when the bags are light. The surprising thing was, I actually had everything I needed.

Learning that 3/4 of what I’d originally packed wasn’t necessary made a believer out of me. In a couple of weeks when I head back to LA, it will be with a fourth of the things I feel like I might need while I’m there. Don’t worry, I’ll still have a book in hand (the old school paper kind). I’ll leave the computer behind.

Lugging around too many large, heavy bags will soon wear on you. You want to arrive at each destination feeling energetic and excited, not overloaded and exhausted. Packing light will give you a great start toward feeling less burdened and more carefree. And isn’t that’s why we want to get away in the first place?

There are many advantages when you pack light. They include:

No need to purchase large suitcases.
Faster, easier packing before you leave.
Less stress on your shoulders, back, knees, and feet.
Easy transfers when changing modes of transportation.
Fewer bag fees.
Room to pack items you purchase during a trip.
Fewer things to keep up with.

If you can’t imagine packing lighter, here are a few ideas to explore:

*Many hotel, condo-style hotel, Airbnb, and VRBO accommodations offer laundry facilities. If you are making an extended trip, laundry access will allow you to carry less and still have clean clothes without interrupting your planned activities.

*Carrying neutral, solid colored items that can be layered, mixed and matched, or accessorized differently will allow you to vary your appearance. A couple of bright colored scarves can totally change the look of basic black pants and a sweater.

*Only packing for predicted weather variations can reduce your load. Check the weather forecast. While forecasts are notoriously inaccurate, they can be relied on to give you an overview of the likely extremes. Pack for those. Could it rain unexpectedly? Of course, but you can always pick up an inexpensive umbrella at a gas station or dollar store.

If an unexpected cold front comes through and you need a new fleece hoodie or a coat, think of it as a shopping opportunity. If your budget is tight, even small towns often have a discount store, thrift store, or flea market with an option that will serve you well. I’ve made some great purchases from thrift stores in Austin, Texas; Santa Monica, California; and Fayetteville, Arkansas.

*A pair of multipurpose shoes that can be enjoyably walked in for miles while looking dressy enough for a casual dress is a great investment for your travel wardrobe. Shoes are bulky and heavy. The fewer you have to carry, the better. It’s worth it to purchase a pair of comfortable, versatile shoes.

Of course it’s best if the shoe color is neutral and coordinates well with both light and dark clothing. It may take time to find the perfect pair, but in my experience having them can reduce the weight of my suitcase by several pounds. For most trips, I can wear one pair of shoes and take some $1 flip flops and have all my needs covered.

*Reducing the contents of your purse to the essentials means you can carry a small crossbody bag with convenient organizational pockets for travel. Pare down your credit cards to a couple of essential ones. Take only critical keys. Choose one lipstick. Leave your checkbook, library card, grocery store rewards card, old receipts, coupons, full size pill bottles, and additional keys at home.

*A review of your travel history can reveal unnecessary items you’re in the habit of packing. Do you pack workout clothes? If so, do you regularly work out when on a trip? If not, skip the workout clothes. Do you regularly use a hotel pool or hot tub? If not, and you’re not planning a beach vacation, don’t carry a swimsuit. In other words, not preparing for activities you rarely take advantage of will result in lighter bags.

Getting away can provide rest, inspiration, and a sense of feeling carefree that helps relieve stress and provides renewal. Packing light can encourage that carefree feeling. I want that!