I'm a 37-year old Seattle girl who was bitten by the travel bug on my first tour of Europe in 2004. This personal blog follows my attempts to visit as many countries as I can, as often as my budget will allow. Since starting this blog in 2007, I've also worked as a freelance copywriter for an online travel publication. This only served to add even more must-see locations to my already extended list.
Follow me as I try to balance "real life" with exploring the world, all while trying to conquer a wickedly ironic case of homesickness.


Staying healthy

If there is one thing I feel I've perfected over the last eight years of international travel, it's my first aid/health kit. There is a fine balance between over-packing and being prepared. I like knowing I have just enough to get me through to a drugstore/chemist for whatever the problem may be. Whenever I travel, this is what I take with me. (not all items pictured, as I have some shopping to do!)

Staying healthy on the plane
Recycled airplane air is horrible, and the planes aren't really cleaned very well between flights. I'm one of those people that always used to catch a cold after flying. Here is how I learned to win that battle:
- Travel-size Lysol spray (spray seat upholstery/head rest upon boarding)
- Travel-size antibacterial wipes (wipe down everything else upon boarding)
- Ocean saline spray (keeps nasal passages moist; fights airborne illness)
- Antibacterial soap (airplane bathroom soap is a joke, and it smells horrible!)
- Antibacterial hand gel (to use before I eat if I can't get to the lavatory)
- Travel-size quality hand lotion (keep your skin hydrated, especially with all the antibacterial stuff you're using!)
- If I'm taking an overnight long-haul flight, I now bring a N95 grade face mask to block airborne illnesses while I’m sleeping. It seems silly, but it really works!

Fighting jet lag
Sleep is vital to staying healthy, but jet lag doesn't have to ruin a holiday:
- Melatonin (helps your sleep cycle transition naturally)
- Diphenhydramine HCI (name brand: Simply Sleep) for when melatonin isn’t enough

First aid
We always exert ourselves far more on holiday than we do on normal days. This leads to sore/fatigued muscles and sometimes some scrapes and bruises:
- (2) large Band-Aids/elastoplasts
- (2) small Band-Aids/elastoplasts
- Tube of Neosporin
- Travel-sized container of Aleve
- Small tube of Icy Hot
- (2) heat therapy patches (also doubles to keep you warm on a cold plane)

Food related illnesses
New cuisines often trigger indigestion, diarrhea or constipation, as your body processes something it's not familiar with. That doesn't mean you can't eat well:
- Pepto Bismol or Imodium AD tablets
- Travel size bottle of Tums
- (1) sheet of ranitidine tablets (acid reducer)
- (3) to-go packs of Benefiber powder

Those darn pesky colds/flus
As previously mentioned, this is the area I have the most experience with. These items should keep you going so you don't have to miss any of your trip:
- (2) Emergen-C or Airborne
- Travel-size bag of cough drops
- Enough cold medicine/fever reducer for a full day and night
- Vicks Vapor inhaler
- (2) Breathe Right strips (to help you sleep better)
- Small vial of peppermint oil
- 3 oz container of salt (to gargle with hot saltwater)
- (3) Travel-sized packs of quality tissues
- (3) bags of Organic Throat Coat tea

This list is in addition to normal things like lip balm and daily vitamins. And before you think this is excessive, consider that - when packed carefully - all these items fit easily into a small toiletries bags and a TSA-approved Ziploc. After the flight, they can easily be transferred from carry-on to day bag:

This homemade kit has saved my sanity countless times. Every item has been used at least once, whether it was for myself or someone I was traveling with.

I also advise bringing some non-perishable food items to keep your blood sugar up throughout your trip, since timely meals aren't always guaranteed when you're traveling. I like to bring protein bars, dried fruit, granola and/or nuts. I also like instant breakfasts packets. Add to a cup of milk and you'll be full for hours!

What about you? What is in your travel health kit?

London babymoon/anni itinerary

Our original plan had balanced time in London with a bunch of different day trips out to other parts of England, including Glastonbury, Brighton and Beachy Head. However, money reared its ugly head and we found ourselves "stuck" in London for almost the entirety of our trip. I was initially a little worried since this will be my seventh(!) visit, and I've already done/seen a lot in and around the city. Was I actually going to get bored in London?!

Turns out, absolutely not! This city has so much going on, I was able to find more than enough things we haven't done yet to fill our week. I also really like the laid back vibe this trip will have; it's rather fitting for the reasons we'll be there.

Arrive at Heathrow at 11am. I like to keep my arrival days loose. In case I didn't get much sleep on the plane, we don't have to keep a schedule in a haze of jet lag. We'll most likely wander around Soho, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square. We might include the London Transport Museum; their gift shop is fun! We'll grab an easy dinner somewhere and most likely retire rather early.

First stop: British Museum. We've been multiple times, but my husband loves it; it's one of the few things that make his eyes light up. Then off to Borough Market for one of their ridiculous grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. (These are the only two things my husband specifically requested on this trip.) Afterward, we'll wander down South Bank, which always includes a stop into the gift shop at Shakespeare's Globe to see what fun things are for sale. Later, we'll catch dinner somewhere easy. More laid back wandering.

Kensington museum day! The V&A, Natural History Museum and Tate Britain, all museums we haven't been to yet. Our major anniversary splurge will be dinner at Rules Restaurant, after which we're going to Love Never Dies at the Adelphi. Happy 5th anniversary to us!

UPDATED: Unfortunately, our original plan of meeting a friend from Scotland isn't going to work out, so we've decided to hop a coach to Brighton and the coast instead. While I'm sad to miss seeing my girlie, I'm thrilled to be able to finally see Seven Sisters! Here's hoping for dry weather!

We'll wake up early to jump on our coach trip to Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. It also includes time in Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water, and lunch in Burlford in the Cotswolds.

We're taking a morning train out to wander around Windsor and Eton.

We're taking a morning City Cruise boat down the Thames to wander around Greenwich. Once we arrive, we'll be using the City Walks self-guided walking tour. (Am I a huge geek for really looking forward to going under Tower Bridge?)

Wednesday is a wild card, and we're keeping it that way. Michael wants to climb to the top of St. Paul's again. There are a bunch of random things we haven't done yet, including Little Venice, the Museum of London, paddling the Serpentine, wandering through Selfridges, touring Kensington Palace or Somerset House. Or perhaps we'll spend the day returning to all our favourite places, like our bridge. What better place to celebrate an anniversary, after all?

We'll have a small handful of hours until we have to go back to Heathrow. We always like to keep those open in case there is something we don't make it to during the rest of the week. Afterwards, we fly home, hopefully satisfied.


Oversized boarding pass

Here is a great story for anyone that has ever contemplated messing around with a self-printed boarding pass.


BA Miles Millionaire

Not only do I adore this commercial,
my husband and I qualify to be entered in the contest!

Needless to say,
we've both already registered...


Matching miles

You may remember this decision several years ago. Since Hubs and I signed up for the Alaska Air Visa Signature card, it's worked out very well. We've been earning miles steadily while not paying a single penny of interest.

In the travel industry, however, the Capital One Venture card has been climbing the charts, and I had definitely taken notice. Comparitively, miles are earned faster, annual fees are less, and there are no foreign transaction fees. Honestly, the only reason we hadn't switched is because of the huge initial hassle of doing so.

And then I saw this commercial:

We currently have 35K miles on our Alaska account, enough for a single domestic round trip ticket. If we took advantage of Match My Miles, we'd earn not only the matched 35K miles but an additional bonus 10K miles after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days (easy, peasy!). That was the push we needed to switch, and I'm elated that we just earned enough additional miles for a second round-trip domestic ticket with a single phone call! It didn't even matter that we were already Capital One accountholders; this offer is available to anyone that doesn't yet have a Venture card.

I'm now in the process of switching all our finances over to this card, and I'm thrilled to be earning miles twice as fast. When traveling abroad, I used to have to choose between paying a foreign transaction fee and earning miles; not anymore! Since we pay off the balance every month, we won't be acruing any interest whatsoever. Finally, not only is the annual fee lower, it is also waived for the first year.

Match My Miles is honestly the best introductory offer I've ever seen for the best card for diehard travel junkies. If you're in the same situation and searching for the best budget travel possibilities out there, I'd recommend taking the plunge. This is budget-conscious traveling at its best!
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