Saturday, June 29, 2019

Packing Light - The Simplicity Guide

Early in my travels, I learned the downside to overpacking for a trip. Dragging around too much stuff, worrying about lost luggage, and wasting time looking in zippered pockets to find things (and looking...again and again) was not ideal. If you are still suffering from any of these issues, read on.

To travel with less stress and more freedom, here are some tips.

Leave with one carry-on suitcase - 
This is a must. Not only will you start off your trip lighter, but you will gain precious time starting your holiday, not waiting at the luggage carousel for checked luggage.
And don't worry, keep reading for suggestions for handling shopping finds, souvenirs, etc.

Bring a one week wardrobe -
I follow this rule whether I am traveling for one week, or three weeks. Everywhere in the World, people need to wash their clothes. I have yet to find a country where I could not find a way to launder my clothes. Be mindful of your fabric choices also. Quick dry, hand wash items give you an edge on keeping laundry from being a chore during your trip. The rise of AirBnB has also made following this rule super easy, as many places have washer/dryer available.

Color choices are also important. I base my wardrobe on the anchor neutral (Black, Navy, Grey or Cream) that will pull all the pieces together. Being able to mix/match your wardrobe items will expand your options. Not overthinking what you are going to wear also leaves you more time to enjoy your trip.

Another option (I plan to try on my next trip) is to bring items that you have marked to give away to family/friends or to donate. Wear them during your trip, and donate along the way. *Research donation options before your trip. The intent is not for us to leave garbage when we travel. Make sure the items get disposed of in a helpful way.

Minimize your products/toiletries - 
I know some of us love our grooming and personal care products. But, simplifying can be done. One great product that I swear by is shampoo soap. They last around 50 washes with no TSA liquid limitations and hassles.

Re-think the electronics/personal devices -
If half of your suitcase is filled with chargers, gaming devices, and computers...decide whether you are really getting away from it all...or not. Modern technology does aid us in our travels, but we can all unplug a little more.

Shopping Abroad - 
Finding items that will remind you of your trip (my weakness is Christmas ornaments) is always a fun part of the journey. You can plan for these items in your packing strategy. I always pack snacks. Space becomes available as the snacks are consumed.  Also, I recommend packing a flat, expandable tote bag with luggage ID tag on it. It can act as additional luggage, and is also handy as a beach bag. Another option is to ship items back home.

Do a Test Run -
A good way to determine what you really need is to pack your bag ahead of time.
Waiting until the night before your departure when you are worried about watering plants, stopping the mail and the hundred other things you may have forgotten, is not that time.

Place everything in your bag (yes, the one carry-on bag). Make sure that all items fit comfortably and your bag zips easily.

Next, think through your trip (Day 1 - outfit, toiletries, lingerie, etc.) and unpack your bag.
As you remove items, determine whether you need everything that you have packed. Do you need all the shoes, too many short sleeve tops and not enough layering items? Go through the trip wardrobe and edit as needed. Once you have this formula down, all your trips can follow this pattern, adjusting for season/weather.

Packing Techniques -
I have made learning the art of folding and packing things a personal quest. However, It does not take an origami master to learn a few folding hacks.

Some people find success with rolling their clothes, with or without the use of tissue paper. I am not a fan of this time-consuming process, but try it out for yourself.

My favorite method is to group clothes by length, and cross items. First, I place pants and longer items flat on a bed. I then place shirts and sweaters over them in the opposite direction. Finally, I place socks, lingerie, and smaller items in the center of the cross. I fold the pants/longer items over the shirts, then cover with the shirt ends, making a square bundle. I place this bundle on one side of my suitcase.  *If you have larger clothes or thicker items, consider the rolling method.

Another tip is to wear your heaviest items (i.e, coats in Winter) onboard the plane, rather than packing in your bag.

Hopefully these tips will make your next adventure lighter & easier.
Happy Travels!

Monday, June 17, 2019

ETIAS - How Travel to Europe will change in 2021

I love traveling to Europe. The food, culture, sites and close proximity to so many neighboring countries make it so easy to love. With the added perk of having a common currency, the Euro, Americans have enjoyed multi-country hopping with little fuss within the European Union. However, that will no longer be the case for certain countries in Europe.

New changes are coming for American travelers. Although it is not a huge deal, here are the basics of what you need to know as of now.

 What is ETIAS?

(*The below is from the ETIAS website which provides reliable, up-to-date information)

"ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System.

The European Union has created this visa waiver program to protect and strengthen its borders. The main goal of the ETIAS visa waiver for Europe is to identify possible threats or risks associated with visitors traveling to any of the Schengen Area countries.

The ETIAS visa waiver program will be needed to enter a Schengen member country.

Beginning in 2021, all visitors that currently do not need a visa to enter Europe will be expected to apply for an ETIAS travel authorization.

The ETIAS for Europe will grant travelers authorization to visit the ETIAS Countries 

 So fellow travelers, before you pack your bag in 2021, please do & remember the 

1) Apply online for the ETIAS visa waiver.
     The application should only take around 10 minutes, and the cost is expected to be
     around 7 Euro. Quick & Easy!
2) Be sure that you receive your email confirmation.

3) "You can enter the Schengen member states for as many times as you want, for as long
     as your ETIAS is valid, and you have not stayed more than 90 days in a 180 days
     period." You will NOT need a separate waiver for each member country.

4)  Every traveler (including children and seniors) will be required to have the
     authorization. Those under the age of 18 and over 70 are exempt from paying the fee.

5) Just FYI, ETIAS and Schengen Visa are NOT the same.
     If you have the ETIAS, you do not need the Schengen Visa. More on that, if you are
     like me and just want to know more -

So, stay tuned! 2021 is not here yet. More countries are poised to join the EU, and there could possibly be more countries that become part of the new ETIAS program.

With a little planning, you can still enjoy a Belgium waffle, Italian gelato and German beer with one easy ETIAS waiver 💙