In October, I spent eighteen glorious days in France (including travel time) and as promised, I wanted to report back on the new items I purchased for this trip and which I mentioned in a previous post.
I have traveled extensively— often on very long flights—not to be picky about what I take and what I use. I hope you find this post useful in your travels as well.
Travelling Overseas: The Basics
Luggage: Rolling Duffel Bag: 5 stars
I am still beyond pleased with this purchase. A cheap bag which is tough and practical. I highly recommend it. It has made three trips to France with no issues and many more closer to home. I have owned it for over three years now. Best 30 bucks on a bag.
Canvas Travel Weekender Bag: 4.5 stars
I love my new carry-on/weekender bag.
I deducted a half a star because one of the tags for the zippers broke on the way to France. Overall, this bag is roomy and tough. I found it far more practical than the backpack I used on previous trips. I am as pleased as punch with this purchase.
This laptop sleeve serves its purpose like a champ. My choice of color—while in my opinion cute—was not very practical as it became dirty rather quickly. Nevertheless, I would purchase this sleeve again.
Fanny Pack: 5 stars
I loved this fanny pack. While not “cute,” it is amazingly practical. I had it with me at all times. It afforded me ease of movement while securing important documents and money on my person. I wish I had used it years ago. Now that I am home, I plan on using it on hikes and when doing touristy trips. I also plan on never flying without it.
An Adapter: 1 star
The Dandelion adapter fried within 24 hours of our arrival and I had to purchase another one from the hotel front desk which worked far better than this one. Moreover, I found the design of the Dandelion quite poor. It is top heavy and would not stay well in the outlets.
After it no longer functioned, we kept it anyway because the USB portion of the plug did work. However, the Dandelion found an early grave in a French trash bin and never made it back to the States. On the other end, my French adapter is safely tucked away ready for my next trip.
Smart Things to Have
Lightweight Grocery Bags: 5 stars
I brought two of these bags with me and we used both of them. They pack small and are quite sturdy. They were very handy. I would take them again.
Umbrella: 3 stars
The umbrella itself while of no great quality is okay. However, I would not take it again. Despite the rain, we used them once. Instead, I used a lightweight waterproof jacket which I bought on Amazon and which proved to be perfect for this trip. Light, warm, waterproof, easy to carry, it was a last minute—genius—purchase.
Travelling Overseas: Luxuries
Neck Pillow: 4.5 stars
The only con to the Huzi travel neck infinity pillow—as far as—I am concerned is that it is bulky. However, it is light and the travel case which I purchased with it made it easy to transport hooked over the handle of my bag.
Otherwise, this neck pillow is the bomb as they say. It is comfy, it works, it is amazingly soft, and I just love it! I plan on using it at home when in my chair reading a book, or while lounging outside watching a sunrise or a sunset. I am very happy with this purchase!
Eye Mask: 5 stars
I lost mine somewhere on the trip but I am buying a new one asap. This eye mask was invaluable especially in Paris where the nights are never quite dark enough. While the airline—Air France—did supply us with one, it was not nearly as comfortable or practical as my silk mask.
White Sound Machine: 5 stars
Paris is noisy —as are many French cities. However, even in the quiet countryside, this white noise machine created continuity in a foreign environment which enabled me to sleep very restfully and comfortably. I would take it again in a heartbeat.
More Luxury Items for Travelling to France
Noise Cancelling Headphones: 4.5 Stars
The headphones themselves are five stars and worked like a charm. I deducted a half a star because the little round cushiony part which fit inside the ear had a tendency to pop off which is very annoying.
Blanket: 1 Star
The blanket idea was not a bad one—I think it was quite good.
Nevertheless, the one I took—while soft and comfy—used too much room in my bag and it was impractical. I did use it while in hotel rooms when I was chilled.
While in France, I bought a scarf on market day which was 35% cashmere, 25% wool, and 40% viscose for 20 Euros. It is wide enough to use as a shawl in the airplane. This made the perfect blanket on the return flight.
Travel Insurance: 1 star
In the original post, I highly recommended that you purchase travel insurance. When my father was sick and I had to change my plane reservations, it costs me a small fortune…as in $800 I did not have.
On the other hand, insurance is rather cheap. However, with this trip, I learned you MUST read the fine print. While—in the end—all worked well for me, my first flight was canceled due to what I thought were weather conditions—it turned out to be mechanical issues. However, when I called the insurance, I shared my erroneous belief that it was the weather and learned that unless I was delayed over 6 hours the insurance would NOT help!
In the end, an employee at Air France helped me and I was able to get a different flight in a different city—Phoenix rather than Tucson—and since my flight for France was delayed out of LAX, all worked for the best. While I still plan to buy insurance in the future, I also plan on doing better research before making such a purchase.
We rented a car from SIXT which was amazing as far as their customer service. Driving in France definitely had a learning curve, but it—blessedly— all worked out for me despite a few hair-raising issues.
My GPS worked like a charm although it could not pronounce French names to save its life—which gave us a good laugh on occasion.
Not having a cell phone was no biggy except when driving but even then we managed by asking people—who were always kind and more than willing to help.
Where to Stay
Renting via VRBO and Airbnb worked very well although some things were a bit different in France, They were some owners who requited for you to bring your sheets and towels which is something which has never occurred in the States. Others offered the sheets for a fee—usually 25 euros or about $30. We went with rentals which provided everything including wifi and a washer.
Hotel rooms were always smaller than in the States—sometimes, significantly so.
Feedback From My Trip To France
It was an amazing trip, rich in memories with my daughter and my loved ones in France. I feel grateful and blessed to have had the opportunity to make such trek.