Long-haul Survival Kit

A few years back I went on the longest flight of my life – a 24 hour journey from Washington, D.C. to Chiang Mai, Thailand. The first leg of the flight was over 13 hours, something I was dreading. While it has taken me almost 4 years to be willing to even entertain the idea of another long-haul, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had originally imagined.

This January a very good friend and his husband went on a crazy long honeymoon, with a flight from San Francisco to Bangkok via Turkey. I put together a small long-haul survival kit for them with all things that have helped me in the past.

Wet Ones Wipes: Sanitize you body and seat area, especially tray tables (one of the germiest spots on the plane)
Emergen-C: Help your immune system fight off everyone else’s germs
Melatonin: Help your body rest and adapt to different time zones, take one tablet 15-20 minutes prior to sleep. Take it a few days at your destination an hour before bedtime.
Nuun Electrolyte Tablets: Your body also loses electrolytes in the air, replenish by popping one of these in a glass of water. (Also great when traveling a super hot locale like Thailand)
Benadryl: My go-to to help bring on some zzzzz.
Evian Facial Spray: Give your face some TLC.
Hand Lotion: More needed moisture
Lip Balm: Don’t forget your lips!
Colgate Wisp Toothbrushes: No toothpaste needed. Very handy for airplane bathrooms.
Shout Wipe & Go: In case of spills
Pen: Because you can never find one when you need it.

Pick up a big bottle of water once you’ve gone through security (hydration is key to help with jetlag) and don’t forget to pack some entertainment, an e-book reader, tablet, books, or maybe some cards to play with your traveling companion.

‘Experts’ say to change your watch to your destination’s time when boarding the plane and immediately adapt to that schedule. It’s good advice, but in reality, it doesn’t work for me. Maybe you’ll have better luck.



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Favorite Travel Apps

A smart phone is a valuable tool for traveling around the world. There are a multitude of apps to help in all areas of travel; here are some of my favorites. All are available for free unless noted.


Tripit Logo

Tripit – this is a must to keep your travel plans organized, and they can’t make it any simpler to use. I’m a pretty organized person to begin with and find this invaluable. Simply email your reservation emails from airline tickets, car rentals or hotel bookings and they will almost instantly appear in your travel plans. You can manually add and edit plans and share your trip with friends, colleagues and family. Works offline. The base version is free. There is a Pro version for $49 a year that monitors your flights, send real-time alerts, keeps track of rewards miles and more. Available for iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7 devices.


XE logo

XE Currency App – How much is 6,700 icelandic krona’s in US dollars? What is that €5 glass of wine in Italy really costing you? With the euro close to the dollar in value these days, it may be easy to do in your head, but if you’re in Vietnam and something is priced at 22,750 dong, it’s especially useful. Available for iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Windows, and Firefox OS devices.


Google Map icon

Google Maps – I’m a bit old school and still utilize paper maps, but wouldn’t leave home without Google Maps on my iphone. It is loaded with features. I personally love the transportation options letting you see how long it will take from getting from point A to B with different mode of travel. One lesser-known feature is the ability to download areas to use offline and save your data. What’s cool is since GPS still works, you can still see your location. Available for iPhone, iPad, Android devices.


Citymapper Icon

Citymapper – Another great transportation app. I prefer this over Google Maps when navigating public transportation options – it will combine options – for instance, when I was recently in San Francisco and needed to go to Oakland, options included combined Uber and BART. With Google Maps these aren’t combined. Other great features is sharing your trip with friends, sending a link allowing them to see your trip in real-time, a nice safety feature. It has a limited number of cities worldwide. Available for iPhone, iPad, Android devices.


Splittr– This has to be one of the best apps to have when traveling with friends and splitting expenses. Simply put in expenses as you go along, indicating who paid and who took part in the activity and at the end of the trip it creates a report telling who owes what to whom. It is the best $1.99 I’ve spent, hands down.


Google Translate icon

Google Translate – Another great app from the folks at Google. Text translation available for over 103 languages, with 52 languages available for offline use. You can use your camera to translate text in images in 30 language. Available for iPhone, iPad, Android devices.












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Want to save a few bucks? I’ve got some codes for you.

Many companies are marketing through the “Refer A Friend” model. I never purchase anything online prior to searching for coupon codes; it’s a great was to save a few dollars.

Here are a few referral codes from products and websites I have purchased from. (Yes, some of these I get something in return).

Travel Products:

Away.com – if you are looking for new luggage, definitely check out this company. Simple design, and a decent price for higher-end luggage. Both carry-on models include a removal battery pack to charge your electronic on the go. They also offer a 100 day trial. Save $20 http://fbuy.me/fySAp

Know Roaming SIM Sticker – I have this on my phone, but have not yet put it in practice, if you are thinking purchasing the SIM sticker? Use code CARCO65 for 30% off & $5 FREE credit.

Airbnb – Unless it’s a very short trip, I rarely stay in hotels. Staying in home is economical and makes one feel more like a native. Sign up for an account using code CAROLYNC4503 and get a $40 credit towards a booking.

SleepPhones – these are great if you don’t want bulky headphones, or earbuds annoy you (or fall out) Save 15%: http://sleepphones.refr.cc/carolyn


Rothy’s – Sustainable company that makes beautiful, amazingly comfortable ballet flats out of recycled plastic water bottles. They say they run true to size, but I had to order 1/2 size up. $20 off your first pair. 

ThredUp: Thredup is basically an online consignment store. Incredible buys can be found. New customers can get $10 off using this link: http://www.thredup.com/r/CH00KP


Hello Fresh: One of the many meal delivery services out there. If you’re curious to try, use this link for $40 off your first order.

Green Chef: Use this link and get 4 free meals.

Home Chef: $30 off your first order with this link.

Do you have any referral codes you’d like to share? Comment below. (also, please let me know if these don’t work.)



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2016 in Pictures

2016 was another terrific travel year, discovering four new states and two countries.  Most of the year’s vacations were long weekends, visiting Charleston for a girls’ weekend, Chicago for a ballgame, Philly, Montreal, and a bitter cold weekend in the mountains of Maryland “Becoming and Outdoors Woman” in an unheated drafty cabin. The big trip of the year was France, where I found the people, despite the reputation, to be lovely. I fell in love with Paris and will be back for sure.


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Not afraid. Not one bit.

Oh, well, okay, maybe a little bit, just a tiny bit.

I bought airline tickets to France two days before the attacks in Paris. My trip is less than a month way and the attacks on Brussels occur. My heart stopped a beat when I turned on the TV that morning. Are we nuts to go? Is this a much riskier trip? Is this an omen?

As the day went on I listened and read about the situation in Brussels; 4 days earlier the suspect in the Paris attacks was arrested, I read why Brussels is a hotbed for terrorism, how they don’t have the resources needed to track down the suspects.  Brussels is not Paris. It’s not France. I learned a great deal and I ignored (or tried to ignore) the hateful talk coming out of the Presidential candidates.

I don’t believe building a wall around the U.S. will stop these attacks; I don’t believe changing what we call the terrorists will make a difference. Isolating a portion of the population will only serve to play into their hands. And, staying in my little cocoon in a safe town in rural Maryland isn’t going to stop them.

Living close to D.C. puts me in a target anytime I go, or when I visit my sister who lives a stone’s throw from the Pentagon. I don’t give it a second thought, and I doubt any of my friends and family would either. No one would blink an eye if I took a trip to New York City – the site of a massive terrorist attack.

So, I’m going. I’m not afraid. I’m concerned. I’m smart. If my time to go is when I’m sitting in a Parisian cafe drinking wine and eating fine cheese with good bread, that’s okay with me.

I will keep on traveling.

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Snowzilla hit the DC/Baltimore area pretty hard, the Eastern Shore dodged the bullet a little bit, getting about 16″. After the shoveling, I decided to stay off the couch and play with my new camera.

A game of frisbee is fun no matter what the weather.

A game of frisbee is fun no matter what the weather.

A black dog in the snow has to be one of the hardest exposures to get right.


Lolli, the neighbor's corgi, peeking through the fence.

Lolli, the neighbor’s corgi, peeking through the fence.

Nandina - a burst of color.

Nandina – a burst of color.


One of the historic homes in town.

One of the historic homes in town.



Window at the library – is that snow inside?


I love how these little seed heads poking out of the snow resemble a landscape of trees blanketed in snow.

I love how these little seed heads poking out of the snow resemble a landscape of trees blanketed in snow.

Lots of textures.

Lots of textures.


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On the flip side…

What is the opposite of a Bucket List? A “Hell, No” List?

There are not too many places I wouldn’t venture out to, given the funds and the right traveling companion. Scrolling through my twitter feed every morning I see photos and posts of lots of faraway, exotic locales, some/most elicit a positive reaction, others not so much, and then there are the oh, hell no locations.

Take the Mount Hua in China.  It’s the world’s most dangerous hiking trail leading to a Tea House. Parts of the trail are simply planks of wood somehow attached to the side of the mountain with chains to hold on to – and it’s a two way path. What happens if you are halfway across and you become paralyzed in fear? It’s mindboggling. I really don’t like tea that much.*

Luckily the world is huge and there are plenty of safe, less adventurous places.

* I  must admit I had to watch more than one YouTube video of hikers on the trail. It’s like a train wreck.


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My [everchanging] Bucket List

Bangkok, Thailand. One location I was lucky enough to be able to cross off my list.

Bangkok, Thailand. One location I was lucky enough to be able to cross off my list.

If anyone asked me what my absolute travel bucket list is, one that I could never change, I’d be stumped. There are too many places I want to see and it changes constantly. Ten years ago I had no desire to travel to France, now, after trying to get a trip together for over 3 years, I can’t wait to go this spring. I usually don’t work off any list when planning travel, trips often come about organically, like last year’s jaunt to Iceland, which happened thanks in part to WOW Airlines dirt-cheap fares. Or my trip to Thailand and Vietnam, that evolved from discussing a trip to the UK. Honestly, when I look back, my trips often happen for one of two reasons – I find a cool location that is budget friendly, or it is a birthday trip.

Well, since it is the beginning of 2016… what are my top 10 on today’s bucket list? (not in any particular order)

  1. France – Paris and Provence. This one gets top billing since it’s happening.
  2. Amsterdam – It’s always been a contender, my wish is to live on a houseboat while there, and continue on with a bike/barge tour.
  3. Europe for the Christmas Holidays – Germany, Austria, Switzerland, something that is quintessentially Christmas, complete with Christmas markets and good chocolate.
  4. Florence, Italy – I want to get back here, next time for a month or so. This city charmed the pants off of me and dream of living there. ✓
  5. The Amalfi Coast – perhaps this will be a side trip while I am staying in Florence
  6.  Belize – Excellent snorkeling & jungle adventures, it’s gotta be good.
  7. Montreal/Quebec City – another that I should be able to cross off this year. ✓
  8. Australia/New Zealand – some day I will be able to face another long-haul flight
  9. Grand Tetons/Yellowstone – besides brief business trip to Montana, I have not been in that part of the country to explore.
  10. Cuba – Hope to get there sooner than later before the rush of American tourists change the landscape.

Where do you hope to go?






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2015 in Photos

2015 was a good travel year, taking me through 14 states and one foreign country. Discovering things near and far, embracing the great outdoors, tasting many fine, and many not so fine, wines and exploring brew-pubs throughout the U.S (the big trend seems to be IPAs – not my fave). There were cultural experiences, such as the National Portrait Gallery, which I can’t believe I had never visited before, and on the opposite spectrum – South of the Border. I ate local delicacies, stone crab legs in Florida, BBQ in North Carolina, blue crabs in Maryland, and tried whale, puffin and reindeer in Iceland. I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings.



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Iceland in Photos

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