Traveling (sort of)

Google Earth is perhaps the greatest thing to happen to the world in the history of the internet. Seriously. Sometimes, when I am frustrated with the price of flights to Europe, or when it is Sunday and I have nothing else to do but wait for the laundry, I’ll play around in Google Earth as a way to release my wiggles about not being able to beam myself instantly to Paris and avoid paying the ludicrous airfare. It’s like traveling (sort of), only without having to put on pants. And it works (sort of!), only without any of the gratification of you know, actually being there. Plus, I get to visit places I’ll likely never actually get to in real life (and revisit places I have), despite my delusions of one day combing the globe and making my way through a string of foreign lovers (disregard that last part, Boyfriend).

Tromsø, Norway

Paris, France

Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden (say cheese!)

Brasov, Transylvanian Alps, Romania

Skye, Scotland

Grote Markt, Brussels, Belgium

Big Ben, my other boyfriend, London, UK

Arcade, Westcliff-on-Sea, UK (I beat my cousin in air-hockey here!)

As you can see, I’m not a tropical island, beach getaway kind of girl. Give me concrete, museums, and random European countrysides any day of the week over fighting to extract sand from places sand should never be. Maybe because I’ve been a city dweller my whole life, but I really love urban environments, crowded streets, and not having to slather spf 75 all over my paste-y figure.

In all of my traveling, I’ve come up with the following list of essentials to get me through a vacation:

If you’re going to be walking around a city, the best thing you can do is wear comfortable shoes. I’ve had three pairs of these Vans, and they are by far the lightest, most comfortable shoes to walk around in. The sole is cushion-y and the canvas material doesn’t rub and isn’t constricting. Unless you’re going somewhere in the winter when everything is gloomy and overcast, you’re going to need a good pair of sunglasses, too. These are my favorite. I have two pair. Why? Who knows, but I do.  A good bag is obviously ideal, and this one by Marc Jacobs (love of my life) is lightweight since it’s made out of nylon, but can hold anything and everything you’d want to stuff in it: napkins from restaurants you go to, your camera, a map to discreetly check without outing yourself as a tourist, a patent leather Passport holder, and extra band-aids (the last thing you want to ruin a nice stroll around the Tuileries or old cobblestone streets is a giant blister on your heel). This one can either be worn cross-body so you can have both hands free for taking tons of pictures, or under your arm for safety in crowds.

You know what can ruin a nice vacation faster than anything else? Traveler’s Diarrhea. Yes, I went there. Uncomfortable topics of conversation, this is what they look like! Just carry a box of Imodium and if you’re going somewhere risky, drink bottled water.

What am I forgetting? What are your travel essentials? This list goes hand-in-hand with this post, the perfect outfit for flying. Considering I don’t travel with kids, my list probably looks drastically different from those of you that do. Don’t worry, I usually carry a ziploc bag of Cheerios for myself.

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January 19, 2012 / Travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 32

32 comments

  • So are you really getting the lovely bag or was that just research for the post?? I’ve never seen it in nylon but I like it! I love my hobo, have I told you that? Yes I know I have a hundred times. I love it though.

    I like the romanian pictures best. But where’s the gypsies? Oh yes, they’re in Belfast. Who knew it was so pretty there?

    I’m feeling somewhat disgruntled that there’s no picture of London, or even England. Hurumph.

    I got salmonella in Peru and had to have an injection in my hotel room to stop me puking. I don’t think Imodium would have been anywhere near strong enough!

    Oh and where’s the bumbag? I thought that’s what Americans abroad carry? Do you have any idea how funny we find the term ‘fanny pack’? :)

    I’m going to France in three weeks and Italy in the Summer. Yeay!!!

    • Updated, just for you :) Apologies for my lapse in judgement and failure to include my other favorite city in the world. I’ve also added a shot of my favorite little seaside arcade in the town where my great-aunt lived. I could add a million more, but I’m restraining myself. Big giggles over all the Romanians in Belfast! My family roots go back to the Ukraine and Romania, and we eventually settled in England (on my mom’s side). My dad’s side is a mix of Swedish, Welsh, and English, I think. Both sides together should tell you why I am so, so pale.

      I think I might buy the MJ bag! I don’t know, though. I know I asked you about the handle drop and if it fits over your shoulder, but the dimensions are different on the leather bag vs this nylon one and I can’t tell if it will fit comfortably or not. I could always buy it and then return it if it doesn’t, right? Assuming I don’t fall madly in love with it first…You’re definitely a big advocate of it, though!

      And UGH, I’d NEVER carry a fanny-pack…except for the ages of 7-10 when I did on like, every vacation we took as a family. It stashed my little disposable camera perfectly. I love that fanny means something totally different over there, though! And I’m green with envy you’re going to France and Italy all within 6 months! Take me with you! I’m small! I’ll fit in your suitcase! xo

    • Also, I’m so sorry you got salmonella! That sounds horrible! I hope you weren’t too miserable xx

  • Five days in a Peruvian hospital. Which in all honesty, becuase it was private, was a lot nicer than most English hospitals. I had my own room and there were endless repeats of Everyone Loves Raymond, which must the worst sitcom ever made, right?

    Lordy you’re as jumbled up as Fitz! Love how you say ‘we settled’ like you were there along the whole journey. :) What a fascinating heritage though. Where’s the surname from? Is that English?

    Mostly I use it as a shoulder bag using the long strap. It’s awesome. Did I tell you that? And your keys stick to the magnetic closer so you don’t lose them. I don’t think that’s intentional though.

    You’re not small enough to fit in my fanny pack though!

    Thanks correcting the photographic ommission and I’m glad that Southend is up there with the greats.

    • Oh my god, that sounds terrible. Not the Peruvian hospital bit, but that you were subjected to endless reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond. That is torture enough. Weirdly similar, Boyfriend got salmonella paratyphoid A (still don’t know wtf that is) a few years ago in India and spent a week in a private Indian hospital with a fever of something like 106. No vomiting, thankfully. He had the same thing to say about the hospitals there versus here. Minus the crap tv.

      I really am too many different nationalities to really identify as anything specific, but the only place I still have family is England, so I think I have more of a connection to that part of my heritage? But yes, Fitz and I definitely commiserate over being total mutts :) The surname is technically German, but none of us are German, and considering we’re Jewish and my family lived in Eastern Europe during WWII, we don’t particularly like the Germans anyway. Not sure how we picked it up, to be honest. I’d have to ask my Mommom or Mom about it.

      I love the Hillier so much, and your constant praise isn’t making it any easier to refrain from clicking “BUY NOW.” I love that keys stick to the magnet because I am always rummaging around trying to find them to get in the door. I’ve taken to keeping them in my coat pocket but then I’m a nervous wreck they’ll fall out and I’ll lose them and have to live on the street. Not to be dramatic or anything.

      Still laughing about fanny packs. And you’re welcome, I thought I might as well include the Southend on the list, as it’s where I’ve spent the second-most amount of time in the UK. There’s a casino not too far from there where I won 20 quid at blackjack. Made my night.

      • It’s half six am here and I don’t have my glasses on so my eyes are blurry. I totally read that as ‘I love Hitler so much’ which I thought was a bit odd, given the previous paragraph!

        Wow, that’s all so interesting. My family apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Ireland is as exciting as it gets.

        • Hahahahahaha Hitler. That’s hilarious. And I love that you’re reading my blog that early! But you should totally be sleeping.

          Being Irish is exciting! Heck, being born in the UK is exciting, trust me. I’m jealous.

  • I should put up the photo of you getting sand on your fingers. Hahahahaha!

    • Oh gosh, can you? I think people need to understand the degree to which I’ve hated sand since the moment I first came into contact with it.

  • I may need to come back tomorrow and read this post since this morning I was subjected to spoiled-brattish (funny how that tried to correct to “spoiled-British”) wailings of “We never go anywhere anymore! I just want to go to another country.” Picture this with much gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair (mine), and you’ll get a bit of a picture of what my morning was like. Next stop Sweden, in just over a year, but we can’t tell him yet.

    Remind me to tell you about the time Callum and I were taking a walk along the Danube in Hungary and I saw a group of men and immediately thought, “Gypsies!” Turns out they were just fishing. I guess I just did tell you.

    • Hahah, gypsies! It’s actually not a stretch, even if they were fisherman, given the location. You can never be sure! I’m sure that’s 10 different kinds of racist, but oh well. My people were gypsies way back when. I think. My mom also threatened to sell me to gypsies when I was being brattish (haha, British) as a kid. It was a good threat! Feel free to use it on Callum and scar him for life ;)

      Jealous you’re going to Sweden! I hope to end up there this year. We shall see…

      • Lauren that’s so funny! And anyway, how do you know it wasn’t gypsies fishing? or do they not do that? Have you heard of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding? If not, check it out. It’s bizarre. And is what inspired Kate Moss to get married. Can you be racist against people who aren’t a different race? I don’t know.

        Who was being brattish? Or British? Callum or Neel?

        • I think that show just aired over here! My mom watched it and said it was so bizarre but she couldn’t turn it off. Don’t they get married at like, 16? In enormous ball gowns?

          • Enormous PINK ballgowns, I think. I really think it was just guys out fishing for a nice Sunday afternoon, but later that week we were sitting in an outdoor cafe in Budapest and we saw real-life gypsies. A young boy, maybe seven or eight, walking along the cafes (white shirt, red kerchief and everything) and begging with his mother and sister walking several paces behind. Crazytown.

  • Those pictures are amazing! Before kids, I was definitely a city/museum/historical architecture type of traveler. For now we are a beach and skiing/snowboarding family. Though, I find myself asking whoever will listen: When is the right age to travel abroad with kids? I definitely want to infuse the travel bug and appreciation of other cultures into my kids.
    I have been coveting that MJ nylon bag. I always love a bag with exterior side pockets and the nylon seems easy to maintain (ahem, keep clean). The smaller strap does fit on your shoulder, but it’s snug…i.e., I could see it easily slipping off and, thus, causing much aggravation. I think it may be more of a top handle/wear on your arm type of strap? Anyway, keep us posted if you pull the trigger.
    Traveling essentials? Definitely sunglasses, good walking shoes, and a big scarf (to throw over you head on the plane and/or cover your nose on public transport).
    PS~My husband’s cousin works at Vans. I’ll let him know you approve.
    PSS~Getting sick while traveling is NO BUENO! My sympathies, girls.

    • I can imagine it’s easier to bring children to a beach than it is to schlep them around a city and keep them entertained the whole time. That’s why I’m dying to fit in as much travel as I can in my 20s. The best thing my parents did for me was take me on vacations and teach me about other cultures. When you feel comfortable taking your kids abroad, I’d obviously recommend it. As someone that doesn’t have to be there on the day-to-day while you’re juggling 2 kids in a foreign city :)

      Thanks for the info about the MJ bag! That was my biggest concern. I’m not generally a cross-body kind of girl, and I love having the option to just put it on my shoulder, but I wasn’t sure if it was snug or not. Good to know! And yes, the nylon looks easier to clean than leather, and I could be my normal careless self and not have to worry about it, haha.

      Tell your cousin-in-law I want some free shoes! Haha

    • We first took Callum to Europe when he was under 18 months old. Maybe 15 months? It was hard, but do-able, and less fun for him. However, I will say he loves the fact that he’s been there and has the photos to prove it! Greece was just before 2nd grade and that was great. He still remembers is, was old enough to really get a kick out of everything we did (although I can’t say there weren’t tantrums…mostly fatigue based). Hungary in 4th grade was awesome too. He loveloveloves to travel. He would go absolutely anywhere. If we had unlimited means, we’d be on the go a lot more. I will say that we do travel differently with him in tow, and try to vary our outings between kid and adult friendly stuff (let’s just say we see more caves than museums…although in NYC he loved the MET more than the Natural History Museum) and always spend a day at some outdoor kind of event (beach, mountain, etc.). Keep ’em fed. Keep ’em moving. You’ll do fine!

      • So jealous of Callum! He’s quite the little world traveler! And he has excellent taste in museums.

  • Ladies, you crack me up… I will skip the MJ chatter as you seem to have it all covered!!
    I fell like grandma right now!!!
    Well, age and wisdom have its benefits! I am german, father romanian, mum from Israel. Jewish and don’t consider myself german either… Funny, eh?
    Glad you included Romania, London and Southend? Gosh, even I have been to Westcliff-on-sea.

    Definitely am urban chick. Remember when Samantha went to stay with Carrie in the country? So loved that episode.

    Happiest when am city travelling, preferably with sea nearby like Nice in the South of France or Forte dei Marmi/Viarregio in Italy… anywhere in Tuscany will do! A superfan of Europe!

    Love to walk cities or hire scooter or smart car… nearly always wear trainers so am not plagued by foot pain or blisters. Sunglasses a must! Bag for carrying sketchbook, camera etc and comfy clothes for plane travel, albeit short ones!

    Oh, and Erin can I give you some hips and padding? Have tons and happy to share:)

    • Horray for more European Jews! But you are definitely more Jewish than I am, I bet, especially if you your mom is from Israel! I was never Bat Mitzvah’d and never went to Hebrew school…or synagogue for that matter! Yikes. I guess I’m just in it for the food and the presents? Haha.

      I love Westcliff-on-Sea! My great aunt lived there and the rest of my family in the UK lives not too far away. I remember getting fish and chips by the water in the summer and playing at that arcade…sometimes I swear I was born on the wrong continent. So long as it’s a city, that is. I’m with you on the Samantha reference, that is exactly how I feel! I’ve never been to Italy, but Tuscany sounds incredible. You’ll have to let me all about it one day!

      I have hips! They’re just super pointy and can cut glass if I’m not careful. I maintain that I have the body of an 11 year old boy. It’s pretty accurate. :)

      • OMG are we having an ‘I’m more Jewish than you game’? Because I can’t join in and that’s not fair :(

        • Well, we can open it up to a “Who’s more religious” contest, so it doesn’t exclude you!

          • I’d still lose.

            • Good! Me too. :)

              • If someone can help me figure out how to answer the sweet Catholic boy who asked us what religion we were, that would help me out!

      • Yes, that doesn’t count:) is your dad jewish? Food and presents, eh? For my sins, both parents jewish and went to jewish boarding school etc etc, Now am quite non-jewish in lifestyle so no sweat there guys. Mostly forget that I am…

        • No, my mom! My dad was technically Lutheran but was the most unreligious person in the world. Jewish boarding schools? Sounds intense!

    • Tasseltastic indeed! And her name is Erin! This is a sign.

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