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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Heading to Palm Springs in Winter

We've started a new tradition where we get away from the cold, rainy weather in Portland and spend a week somewhere warmish. Last year we went to Tucson, and this year we're heading to Palm Springs. 

Though Palm Springs is definitely known for its golf courses – it hosts many tournaments each year – it has much more to offer, especially if you love outdoor activities. The desert location makes it an ideal destination for hiking and biking. The city has a long list of canyons and parks with outdoor trails. San Jacinto Mountain is one of the most popular points of interest in Palm Springs. Excellent hiking is available in the summer, and winter activities, like skiing and snowshoeing, when the mountain gets snow. Ride the aerial tram – the world’s largest rotating tramcar – the 8,500 feet to the top for stunning views of the city and the Coachella Valley and the chance to engage in some fine dining in the clouds.

Photo by Jess Joyce on Unsplash

By now, you know I'm not a hiker or much of an outdoor person at all. My speed is more viewing it from the aerial tram and a restaurant at the top. There's a museum and gift shops up there to explore if you don't plan on hiking, and of course there's the view. The weather can be drastically different up top than from the valley, so dressing warmly and bringing a coat is suggested.

You’d probably expect a place like Palm Springs to have some great museums, and you’d be right. Aviation fans can marvel at America’s largest collection of World War II flying aircraft at the Palm Springs Air Museum. Learn all about your destination at the Coachella Valley History Museum, that also features an early 1900s schoolhouse and home, plus a Sunday farmers' market. There's free admission the first weekend of every month. Visit the Palm Springs Art Museum to view some of the world’s most gripping art. The museum has 28 galleries, two sculpture gardens and more. Second Sundays and parking are free.

Photo by mark tulin on Unsplash

For travelers who love shopping at their destination, Palm Springs offers something for them too. From local artwork and antiques to upscale fashion stores and vintage furniture, you’re sure to go home with some great treasures. The downtown area is full of trendy and specialty shops and is easily walkable. Parking is also free and plentiful. I'll definitely be hitting up the Shag Store to indulge in my love of all things mid-century modern. I'll also be coffee shop hopping, because there are a ton of great ones on the main strip, including one that is dog-themed that donates to a local rescue.

Photo by Cesar Cid on Unsplash

Pretend you’re in Hollywood by exploring the Palm Springs Walk of Stars. Take a walking tour of the famous residents of the city who had contributed in some way to the community. Each of these former occupants have their own star on the Walk with their name and a golden palm tree and these stars can be found on Palm Canyon Drive, Tahquitz Canyon Way and Museum Drive. Go online to find an audio guide for an even more informative tour.

Photo by Bob Osias on Unsplash

I'm looking forward to to just seeing the gorgeous 50s homes and other buildings. I see that famous drag queen Trixie Mattel has a beautiful pink hotel in the city called the Trixie Motel. There's also a former hotel that Liberace purchased and turned into a lavish home. It's now a private residence, but you can still walk by and enjoy the gates and piano mailbox. I'm excited about seeing some new and creative street art as well. The city is full of murals and large art pieces. 

Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash

If local cuisine is a passion of yours, many of Palm Springs’ fine dining establishments are chef-owned. You can find food from all over the globe made with fresh and local ingredients. Experience more restaurants offerings during Restaurant Week, where you can eat a three-course meal for a set price. This usually happens during the first week of June. 

I've been to quite a bit of California, but neither of us have been to Palm Springs, so we're excited to check out the sites, the outskirts, and possibly hit up a beach at nearby Salton Sea, a large lake with a wildlife refuge.

If you'll be taking time to travel this winter, where will you be headed?

Saturday, November 19, 2022

How to Stay Healthy While Traveling

It's flu season, and Covid is still making the rounds, and there's now some new terrible respiratory thing (respiratory syncytial virus) out there. All of those things, including just a regular cold, suck. If you're traveling, there's a good chance of getting sick, so you may want to stay vigilant. 

If you're worried about getting ill and ruining your whole vacation, you probably need some of these tips

I used to get sick any time I went on vacation, but I've since learned how to stay healthy on all my trips, including while flying. If you're worried about getting ill and ruining your whole vacation, you probably need some of these tips:

Bring antibacterial gel

Purell is a staple of my travel bag. A lot of airplane water tanks are dirty and full of bacteria, because they're super hard and annoying to clean. Because of that, avoid drinking water from the drink cart unless you get your own unopened bottle, and also don't wash your hands in the bathroom sink, as they come from the same tanks and you'd just be adding extra bacteria on top of bacteria. Just thoroughly coat your hands in gel, or use antibacterial wipes. (Tip: Make sure to let your hands air dry to properly sanitize your hands.)

Wash your hands often

I know I just said that you shouldn't wash your hands in the airplane bathroom, but make sure everywhere else you go, you wash your hands as much as possible. This will help with any gross germs you pick up from places where people have just touched or coughed on surfaces. 

Don't touch your face

People touch their faces an average of three times an hour, which means if you haven't washed your hands or used Purell, there's a good chance those germs on your hands are getting in your nose, eyes or mouth. Gross, right? Try to consciously keep your hands from your face, especially on the plane. 

Wear a mask

This is another way to keep from touching your face, and also from keeping germs out of your nose and mouth. You can wear a regular medical mask (just make sure it's the right kind and you're wearing it correctly and you dispose of it properly). I, personally, like something a little more fun, and I highly recommend the winged mask from The Barrier Method, or the neckie for something less fussy. I also have on their Just The Mask in the title pic.

Drink a ton of water

I bring along a reusable water bottle, mostly because we drink a lot of water when we travel, but also because buying a bunch of bottles is not economical and it's not environmentally-friendly. Once we arrive at the airport, I buy a cold water to fill up, and then when we get to our destination, we usually purchase a big gallon of water to put in the fridge, so we don't have to drink tap water and we have a good supply of clean water. My reusable bottle is a thermos and keeps our drinks hot or cold, so you aren't drinking awful lukewarm water in the middle of the day.

I also love to order a tomato juice while flying, because the altitude takes away some of the wonky flavor and it's also packed with vitamins, which are nice to have while flying.

Eat your veggies

When you travel, it can be hard to eat well, especially if you're eating out a majority of the time. I always make sure to get my allotment of fruits and vegetables, so I'm not losing nutrients that I desperately need, especially when I'm doing more activity than normal. I try to actually order extra veggies (that aren't deep fried) at least a few times when I'm out, or I get a good stash of fruits for breakfasts from the farmers' market or a nearby grocery store when we arrive. 

Take extra vitamins

With all the new foods and extra activity you're going to be faced with, it's easy to get a little lax with your health, so pack a box of immunity tabs, chewable tablets, or Emergen-C. I make sure we take one in the morning and one in the evening.

Get enough sleep

When I don't get enough sleep, I can be cranky and uncool. Nobody wants to be around me. In fact, *I* don't want to be around me. I make sure I give myself some downtime on my trips, because being go go go all the time is exhausting, and packing my days means I don't get to sleep as much as I need. A good night of sleep can do a world of good, plus you wake up feeling refreshed, plus you don't get sick from not allowing your body to recharge.

If you have problems sleeping, look for something that helps you drift on or stay asleep. A few of my favorite ways to do this is an herbal sleep spray, an all-natural sleep aid, a great eye mask and/or a good pair of ear plugs

Avoid excess alcohol

I love a tasty drink as much as the next person, but I try to limit my booze intake while traveling and I definitely avoid it while flying to keep from getting dehydrating. I may have a drink with dinner or while out at happy hour, but I also try not to drink much before it's time for bed, because it doesn't help me sleep better. In fact, I sleep really badly when I drink too much. You know your body better than anyone, so you can make sure you stay within your limits.

Staying healthy while you travel can really help you make the most of the time you have and avoid being miserable while trying to have a good time sightseeing. When you've got limited time in a place, you don't want to feel like you wasted money to go there. 

Do you have a favorite way to stay healthy on vacation?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I will receive monetary compensation for any items purchased through these links, and I'll also be super grateful for your support.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Hitting the Road for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is coming and this year might be one of the busiest travel days in years. You're going to want to plan your road trip well ahead of time or be prepared to hang at the airport for long hours, as delayed flights are expected. AAA has put together some helpful tips and facts to help you along.

Thanksgiving is coming and this year might be one of the busiest travel days in years. AAA has put together some helpful tips to help you along.
We haven't traveled for Thanksgiving in about 5 years now, unless you count driving to our favorite casino to eat at the buffet. We have been going out instead of spending all day cooking and cleaning and generally getting stressed out about everything. We are a small family, so it's so much easier for us to make reservations, have an excellent meal that also leaves us with leftovers to bring home, and then chill for the rest of the weekend. 

Where will you be going for Thanksgiving, either traveling or for dinner?

*facts and figures have come from AAA, AAA, and See's Candies

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Winter Travel Packing Tips

Packing even for a beach trip in just a carry-on can be a little tricky if you aren’t used to packing light. Carry-on travel has become more and more popular as baggage fees have become the norm among most airlines. 

Carry-on packing can be difficult at first, but with some practice you can become a pro and save baggage fees.

Not only does packing light save money, but it also saves time, because travelers don’t have to stand around the baggage carousel waiting for their luggage to (hopefully) make it off the plane. Having minimal baggage can save your back, too. Not sure where to start when planning your winter travel bag? Here are some tips to keep your carry-on light, but still have a large wardrobe.

fall travel tops

Mix and Match

When you carry fewer items, you need all your clothing to work together. Throw out the idea of packing a whole outfit for each day and instead look to mix and match everything you bring. Pick a color palette and stick with it, or make sure either all your tops or all your bottoms are a neutral color. If all your tops go with all your bottoms, you’ll find your choices are more than expected.

Scale Down

The only one who will know that you’ve worn the same clothing separates more than once on vacation is you (and your travel companions). It’s unlikely you will see the same people more than once on a trip, and if you do, they probably won’t notice that your outfit is similar to what they saw you in before. The magic numbers for what to bring: Five tops and three bottoms. These, coupled with the outfit you’ve traveled in, net you over three weeks of unique outfit combinations.

Layer, Layer, Layer

Just because it’s cold today, doesn’t mean it will be tomorrow. Plan for days that can vary in temperature by packing layers. You might have an unseasonably warm day in the middle of winter or an unexpected cold snap in fall. Be prepared. Pack a few sweaters, a scarf and a mix of tanks and tees. When it’s warmer out, you can opt for a t-shirt. When it’s really cold, you can add two or more layers together to keep chill out. If you’ve brought a dress, toss a pair of tights into your bag to protect your legs. Don’t forget your favorite jacket, which you should leave out of your carry-on to save space for other necessities. It can double as a pillow on the plane or can be stashed under the seat in front of you.

Choose Two

Shoes are the biggest challenge of everyone’s travel bag, it seems. A pair of flip flops is a staple to any carry-on, as they take up little room and are perfect for quick jaunts to the lobby or to the hotel pool. Other than those, two pair of shoes is all you need. When your destination is projected to be cool, a pair of comfortable boots and another pair of walking shoes are going to be your best bet. Don’t bring anything you haven’t worn before or that you can’t walk in for long periods of time comfortably.

Wear your walking shoes on the plane and leave your dress up shoes at home. You’re not going to want to wear high heels after a day of sightseeing. If you really want to wear a pair of nice shoes out, look for a fun pair of ballet flats or wedge booties that will go with other outfits as well.


If you feel that what you’ve brought is kind of drab and not really exciting for a night out, then accessories will elevate those plain Jane items. A scarf, a belt and some statement jewelry can pack small and make a big impact. Jazz up your little black dress or a simple tank with a funky necklace. Even if you’re specifically planning to go to an upscale restaurant or clubbing, you probably won’t feel like leaving your fancier clothes at home was a bad idea. If you aren’t going to wear something two or more times, it is just taking up valuable real estate in your carry-on.

Do Laundry

There’s no way around it. If you pack light and you’re gone for more than a week, you’re going to have to do laundry. Schedule some downtime (which you should do anyway) to clean your clothes. It doesn’t sound fun, but you can take the time to hit the pool, watch a show or catch a nap. Just need to freshen up a piece? Spray some vodka on it. It deodorizes, and since it doesn’t have its own smell, you won’t reek of booze.

Carry-on packing can be difficult at first, but with some practice you can become a pro and save baggage fees. With fewer bags to deal with, you’ll feel freer as you waltz off the plane and get right onto your vacation while everyone else is still waiting for their suitcases. We just went to Paris for a 8 days with two small carry-on bags, so you can do it, too.

What are your biggest packing issues? Mine was always shoes.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Hit & Miss List For 2023

I gave you the top 5 wish list destinations in my last post, now let's talk about where to actually go and where to skip for 2023. Tourism is ramping up, which is good and bad, because there are places that were struggling and trying to get back to they were pre-pandemic, and there are places that are trying to do things differently. Let's take a look:

Tourism is ramping up, which is good and bad, because there are places that were struggling to rebound, and places doing things differently.
Photo by Matheo JBT on Unsplash

Skip: Lake Tahoe, CA/NV 

Go Instead: Saskatchewan, Canada

Lake Tahoe has become so popular that it's basically just you and all the other tourists. Cost of living there is quite high, meaning you're paying extra for a lot of things when you don't have to. It's too small to have to deal with such crowds. 

If you want the convenience of a city with plenty of outdoor things, like Tahoe, Saskatchewan has a lot to offer you. Head to Regina for arts and culture or go up north and explore Prince Albert National Park for hiking and kayaking.

Photo by Bogdan Dada on Unsplash

Skip: Venice, Italy

Go Instead: Ostuni, Italy

Since reopening after Covid shutdowns, Venice has exploded with tourism, which some days having over 350 tourists per local. Sure, there are super cheap flights sometimes, but that comes with pros and cons. 

Head all the way down the boot to the heel and find Ostuni, The White City, where you can lounge on the pristine beaches, wander cobblestone streets, and visit olive groves. Avoid the huge possibility of getting pickpocketed in the crushed streets of Venice and instead immerse yourself in the Greek and Roman history of this southern gem.

Photo by john crozier on Unsplash

Skip: Cornwall, England

Go Instead: Rye, England

I've not seen that much about Cornwall, but the home of the Cornish pasty is, apparently, a huge draw for tourists looking to get away to someplace quaint and cozy. Unfortunately, the crush of visitors make for a miserable life for everyone, including those affected by the housing crisis caused by vacation rentals to help support even a percentage of those coming. 

On the complete opposite coast (the east) gives you Rye, England, a cobbled, seaside town that also sits on a river and is full of medieval homes. It's a haven for antique hunters and foodies alike. It's also a 50-minute drive to Canterbury, if you're looking for a day trip for even more history and/or wildlife.

Photo by Jesper Brouwers on Unsplash

Skip: Amsterdam

Go Instead: Ghent, Belgium

Amsterdam is trying to restructure it's tourism structure. It's cracking down on cannabis tourism and have banned beer bikes from the city center. Tourist numbers can reach as high as the entire Dutch population smashed into just one city and it has taken its toll on the locals and doesn't really give a great impression to those who are traveling for authentic experiences. 

Plan a trip to Ghent, bypassing the more popular cities of Bruges and Brussels, where you'll find a booming art scene - I love amazing graffiti art - juxtaposed with historical places like Castle Gravensteen, canal boats, and amazing food to have with those Belgian beers that you were probably hoping to get down on elsewhere.

Photo by Isaac Ordaz on Unsplash

Skip: Maui, Hawaii

Go Instead: Kona, Hawaii

Hawaii is trying real hard to get back to traditional practices and it's hard when over-tourism is making it difficult just to survive. Though Maui isn't as bad as Honolulu in terms of tourists, it's still quite overrun and now there's also a water crisis and locals have been enduring water restriction, while tourists don't have that same issue.

Kona, and the Big Island in general, has some of the best outdoor activities, beaches, and wineries. There are several coffee plantations, with one in particular opening a tasting room early next year. I just met with the Visitors Bureau for the Island of Hawaii and there's so much to do, without having to vie for space on the beach or the road to enjoy yourself. The Big Island is really to ramp up responsible tourism and teaching visitors through authentic experiences, voluntourism, and the that there's more to the culture than the Hawaii-lite version you get in the uber popular cities. I'll be writing more on a budget-friendly trip to the Island of Hawaii soon.

As much as I love to visit places everyone else is going, I also get a lot of joy from seeing places that aren't that popular and just engaging with locals, eating hyper-local foods, and not being the millionth person to take the same picture that week. It's really fun to be able to show people something new and off the beaten track.

What are some of your favorite travel gems?

Saturday, November 5, 2022

5 Wish List Destinations for 2022-23

Now that travel is back, people are dreaming of getaways, whether that means going alone, spending time with friends, or working while traveling, a good chunk of travelers have their sights set on some of the same places. I have 2 of these (the UK and Las Vegas) on my list pretty much all the time, so I understand. 

Now that travel is back, people are dreaming of getaways, whether that means going alone, spending time with friends, or working while traveling.

2/3 of people say they have a trip planned in the next 3 months and many are excited and optimistic about travel in general. The only thing worrying most people is the looming threat of recession, though most feel they will be better off financially a year from now. In the meantime, road trips are not as enticing, because of high gas prices. 

If any of these destinations also sound appealing to you and you're looking for things to do there, here are some ideas:
  • Florida - There's more to Florida than Orlando, but that's a big part of why people want to visit. Get out of the theme park city and try one of these other destinations inside Florida instead, like Tampa and the surrounding area.
  • New York - While there's more to New York than NYC, most tourists have concentrated on on the Big Apple.
  • Las Vegas - As you know, I visit Vegas 2+ times a year and I often run a new wish list and free and cheap ideas on what to do on and off The Strip every July. Here's my latest one, and you can find all the others by searching my blog for "Las Vegas Travel Tips".
  • Italy - I've not been to Italy, though I will probably find my way there at some point. I know quite a few people who used the cheap pandemic flights to take their families there. 
  • United Kingdom - I love the UK. We've been to London three times and made the trek to Scotland, finally, in 2019. Ireland (part 2) is still on our list, but I've had plenty of family and friends visit  and highly recommend many things.

What destinations are on the top of your travel wish list?

*Info from Destination Analysts' The State of the American Traveler Study from September 2022.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Prepare For Holiday Travel Headaches

The holidays are coming and that means braving the crowds and being ready for all the extra headaches that come along with it, including delayed and even cancelled flights. Soon you'll join the millions of people traveling to visit friends and family or, if you're lucky, going on a winter getaway. I definitely approve of those, because the holidays can be stressful and getting away from everything is always nice and relaxing.

The holidays are coming and that means being ready for all the extra headaches that come along with it, like delayed and cancelled flights.

The airport during the holidays is a madhouse and security lines can be longer than usual, so let's talk about how to get through them with as little annoyance as possible (at least when it comes to yourself). This year will see a lot more delayed and cancelled flights due to pilot and crew shortages. 

Sign up for TSA PreCheck

You probably have time to apply for PreCheck and get approved before the holidays, since the government has restarted processing applications. For $85, you get 5 years of bypassing the main security lines and going through a much shorter line with less strict rules. You can keep your jacket, hat, belt and shoes on and your laptop and toiletries can stay in your bag. When we were up for renewal, we decided to upgrade to Global Entry, which works internationally and also includes domestic PreCheck for just $100. We used it on our trip back from France and we were able to use the Global Entry monitors and skipped the long customs line and ended up going straight to an agent while everyone else was waiting. Both of these require you to go through a Federal background check for approval.

Get There Early
Longer lines mean longer wait times and the holidays means more traffic. Don't cut it too close to get to the airport. Give yourself at least two hours before your flight if it's domestic and three if it's international at the airport. Accidents happen, extra long lines happen, computer glitches happen. Just be prepared. Bring a book or magazine to keep you occupied if you end up having a long wait at the gate...or go check out your airport's art or do some gift shopping. 

Fly With Just a Carry-On
I've been flying with just a carry-on for a decade now. I've gotten my packing down to almost just the bare essentials, since I now know what will get worn and what won't. The trick to packing small in the winter is layering and not caring if all your pictures are you wearing the same coat and scarf (maybe two). Here's a post I did on packing light in the winter.

Don't Wrap Any Gifts
If you are visiting friends and family and haven't shipped your presents ahead (which I highly recommend), don't wrap them and stash them in your carry-on. TSA may very well want to inspect them and will not be sorry for you if they have to unwrap them. So, I suggest packing small gifts and saving the wrapping for when you arrive. This takes up much less room too.

Go Left
Most people get to the security lines and head right to go through the x-ray machines. This makes these lines longer. Instead, go left if given a choice. These lines are shorter, making them a bit faster. Try skipping any lines with small kids, because they usually take longer.

Keep a Zip-Top Bag On Hand

Always have a bunch of things in your pockets? If you don't have an empty accessible pocket on your bag, have a plastic bag with you and then empty your pockets into it, so it doesn't get lost in the bottom of your bag or you don't have to stand at the end of the conveyor picking everything out of one of those little round bins to load your pockets back up.

Have Your Liquids Bag and Laptop Easily Accessible 

This is super annoying. All your liquids need to fit in a one quart see through bag in 3.4oz or less containers. Have this out and ready to toss in the security bin along with your shoes and laptop. When you're holding of the line rummaging for things that you knew you needed to have out, everyone gets that much more irritated and grumpy. You saw the signs. Don't pretend you didn't.

Wear Slip-On Shoes

Having to tie and untie your shoes to get through security is just another hassle you don't need. Pack those in your bag and wear some easy on easy off shoes. You will thank me. Anything that's hassle-free is nice, and can get you on your trip faster.

Don't Wear Any Accessories 

If you can get away with it, skip the jewelry and watch and belt. Those are just more things you'll need to take off to put through the scanners and nobody wants to wait behind you while you're spending an extra five minutes de- and re-accessorizing.

Download Your Airline's App

Carry one less thing. You're already walking around with your phone, so download your airline's app so you can easily check in, get updates and have your boarding pass on hand instead of stuffing it into your pocket or a book and then having a small panic attack when you can't find it. You can have everyone's boarding pass in your party on your app. Another brilliant tip: screenshot your boarding passes in case your app logs you out or the airport has shoddy WiFi right before you need to show it to someone. This has totally happened to me more than once. Never again!

Your Chill

Don't be that person who gets all irritated when things don't go your way. Everyone's trying their best, the airline employees are already dealing with dozens of jerky people everyday. Don't make their life harder. Just close your eyes and breathe before you start yelling. Find your chill. Ask if it's really that important. Everyone's having a hard time, but they're dealing with it. Lots of things can't be helped, so you being grouchy and mean isn't going to change anything.

The holidays are supposed to be a happy time. Smile, even when you don't want to, think of the awesome trip you're about to go one, play games with your travel buddies and think of this as just another part of your adventure.

Don't Forget:
With Covid still hanging around, make sure you're staying safe, because having to quarantine from everyone in the middle of a trip due to sickness isn't going to be fun at all. We still wear our masks on planes, in the airport, and crowded indoor and outdoor spaces (ex.: we wear them in grocery stores and while waiting in line at amusement parks.) 

Aside from voluntary (but I think still necessary) masks, make sure to bring hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes, and a few Covid self-tests for each person in your party. If you're trying to make your flight more comfortable, a short list of must-haves is:
With a little pre-planning, you can make holiday travel as comfortable and stress-free as possible. Stats say that 60% of Americans won't be traveling at all for the holidays, because of both the high cost of flights and rental cars and Covid. So, while there may be fewer people on the road, there may be more people at the airport due to flight delays and safety protocols. 

Where will you be going for the holidays?

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links and I may be financially compensated if you make a purchase through one of the links. This allows me to keep this blog running, so thank you in advance.
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