The past month has been a flurry of preparations for traveling overseas. One of my girls and I are going back to France to visit my family.
In the past, when I went home I did not do much traveling. I was there to visit my parents and that was that. This year, while I will visit my parents’ grave, I cannot visit with them. Instead, I have decided to see as many people as I can especially since most of my aunts and uncles are now in their 70s…some pushing 80.
There are also two friends to visit: Sylvie whom I have known since the age of 12 and Sophie since the age of 14. There is also a lady whom I have known my entire life and who is now in her 90s.
Lots of people to see and break bread with. Lots of love to give and receive.
This trip will take us to five locations leaving from Paris and returning to Paris. Mostly short trips with a 3 night stay in each place.
I am nervous and excited all at the same time.
Preparations have been in full gear since I bought my airlines tickets.
Travelling Overseas: The Basics
Luggage: Rolling Duffel Bag
I bought this travel bag over three years ago and paid exactly $28.10 for it.
Currently, the price seems to vary depending on the color you choose. There is certainly a much larger color selection than there used to be when I purchased mine.
I must say this piece of luggage has been a wonderful buy. So far, I have taken it on two transatlantic trips (soon to be three), two trips to the East coast (I live on the West coast), and three or four closer flights. These trips do not include multiple road trips.
This bag has been nothing but short of amazing. It holds a lot and has multiple pockets plus as I mentioned above, it has cute colors (mine is pink).
The only drawback which comes to mind is that it is not padded. Although, nothing in my bag has ever been damaged as a result. Moreover, this piece of luggage does fit in the overhead bin of an aircraft (IF you are allowed to take it on board). Some airlines have allowed me to do so and others not.
You can find this bag on Amazon.
I like to travel super light. This means I wear the same outfits over and over again and that I like to stay in places where I can do laundry. I am not going to France to make a fashion statement. Besides, I don’t cotton to lugging heavy suitcases,
Likewise, I also prefer to be comfortable when making clothing choices rather than desiring to make some kind of fashionable impression on the locals.
I am bringing a couple pair of pants, a handful of t-shirts or short sleeve blouses, two or three long sleeve light shirts, and a couple cardigans.
Layering is important.
I don’t care to take anything bulky, so no sweaters or heavy coats.
I will also take a light — but warm — jacket, yoga pants, and comfortable walking shoes. Add to list undies, sports bras, socks, and PJ.
If worse comes to worse, I can always buy something while on location (which I have never had to do) as I am not going away from civilization.
Luggage: Canvas Travel Weekender Bag
In the past, I took a backpack with me. However, I found it cumbersome and impractical. It is very heavy especially with a laptop in it. I also find it hard to find my snacks in it as it is a rather large and deep bag. And yes, my snacks are important to me, I can live off pretzels and airline food (which is a gamble).
The backpack does not fit easily under the sit in front of me. It requires much shoving. This makes it difficult to reach items I need on long flights while being smushed in an airline seat.
Lastly, my back does not care for the weight placed upon it when I carry it especially at the end of a long trip.
After hours of careful searching and reading too many reviews, I decided to use a canvas bag which will fit over the handle of my duffle bag for easy carry.
When making a choice, I wanted something relatively lightweight, not overly pricey, large enough for my 15-inch laptop, and able to accommodate snacks, Kindle, my crochet project as well as a few other items.
As of now, I have no way to know if my choice was wise. I plan on updating this post upon my return.
Upon first inspection after receiving it, I must admit I really like it. The real test will be the trip.
I found this bad on Amazon for $35.99.
Usually, I transport my laptop in a backpack (which I am not taking — read above) or if by car, haphazardly with nothing protecting, it which is not very wise considering the financial investment a laptop is.
I finally decided on a very simple — but pretty turquoise — sleeve which cost under $11.
It fits perfectly and I am satisfied with it.
You can find this item here.
I am not a big purse person. For years, I had a purse the size of a wallet and I was quite satisfied with it. Nevertheless, when it broke, I bought a slightly larger purse so that I could fit my cell phone.
Whenever I travel by air, I prefer to travel light. Moreover, during this trip, I will be visiting family members in five different locations which means I will be hauling my luggage by air and my train.
I have decided upon a small fanny pack to carry my essentials — ID, money, credit card, small camera and phone (which will not work unless I have wifi — or ‘wee fee’ as the French call it).
The Day Tip money belt comes in two — boring — colors: black and light brown. It costs $13.99 and comes with RFID technology which was important to me.
Upon receiving it, I can say it is rather roomy and should work wonderfully for my purposes.
Silicone Containers And TSA-Approved Bag
To transport my liquids such as shampoo and such, I — at first — bought some containers at Walmart. They worked but weren’t very practical. Getting product in or out was no easy task. They did not seal tightly so I had to tape all the lids shut which was a pain. I also bagged everything in small plastic baggies in case they spilled their contents, which is wasteful and impractical.
Then, I found these silicone containers which I love. Wide mouths, squeezable bodies, and tight seals!
I also purchased a transparent quart size reusable TSA-approved toiletry bag for my carry on. I was frustrated using quart size Ziploc bags I just threw away.
I purchased a new adapter for this trip. My other one is decades old — as in pre-USB port old. Not having a USB port was a pain last time. We had to plug a USB charger into the adapter. This means this contraption stuck a good 3-inches from the wall which was a pain and gravity had a tendency to make the whole contraption fall to the ground.
The Dandelion adapter has great reviews. I will report on my opinion after my trip.
Smart Things to Have
Lightweight Grocery Bags
Last time I went to France, I realized some grocery stores do not give you shopping bags, you have to buy them. Therefore, I decided to bring my own. I had two requirements: light and sturdy.
I own two of these bags and I use them for carrying groceries, craft projects, beach towels, or whatever I choose. They fold Into a really small size, in a built-in pocketand are both strong and lightweight.
I like the Chico brand since that’s the one I have.
One cannot travel to France — especially in the Fall or Spring — without expecting some rain. While in the American Southwest I can get away without owning an umbrella, visiting France without one could make for one soggy — and cold — tourist.
I bought a cheap umbrella on Amazon. So far, it works but I have not used it in the rain. One downer is that it is not automatic — which was disappointing but was completely my fault since I did not read the description as well as I should have.
Travelling Overseas: Luxuries
My last travel overseas, I used a typical C-curve neck pillow which did not hold my neck up and therefore was useless as well as took quite a bit of room in my carry-on.
A few months ago, I saw a different kind of neck pillow which look promising: the Trtl (pronounced turtle I am told). It costs around $30 and some individuals really love it. Upon doing further research I was not sure this pillow was for me although it was my second choice.
While doing the research, another — unconventional — neck pillow caught my attention: the Huzi Infinite Pillow. Here are some of the features which caught my attention: comfortable, multi-purpose, bamboo fabric, washable and comes in nifty colors.
I hesitated for a bit because of the cost: $39.
However, there is nothing worse than being stuck in too small seats for too long unable to sleep. My total time in the air will be short of twelve hours (longer on the way back thanks to the jet streams).
Usually, I arrive in France exhausted and not having slept a wink.
This time I am hoping it will be different.
Finally, I decided to buy the infinity pillow and try it out. I could always send it back if I hated it and it did not perform as expected.
So far, I love it although it has not been thoroughly tested (as in a 12 plus hour flight). I will do so when I travel in a few weeks. I will report further when I get back. The only con so far is that it is big. However, I decided to purchase the travel case.
Around here, we affectionately refer to my eye mask as “the shutters.”
I did not buy it for the trip, I already own one which I love. I wear it when I nap or when the sun wakes me up too early in the morning. I prefer silk for the fabric because it is ultra gentle on my eyes.
White Sound Machine
I used to sleep very soundly. However, after becoming a mother, this proclivity left me. I now hear everything: the crickets outside, the fridge softly closing, as well as the kids talking or playing.
I first bought a white noise machine to help to drown out the small sounds which awaken me or stop me from falling asleep. It worked like a charm. As a matter of fact, it worked so well I bought one for my small kids (it is very soothing), and hubs asked for one for the fire station.
Don’t laugh, but I also have an extra for when I travel and I have bought one for my daughter-in-law.
I am taking an extra with me to France. Paris can be rather noisy.