Tag: top 10

10 travel tips for when you do not speak the language

10 travel tips for when you do not speak the language

Traveling to a country where you do not understand the language is a challenge. Period. However, I do have a few tips and tricks to help you navigate your way through that challenge. 10 of them, in fact. My foreign language travel tips are a 

Ten Reasons to visit Europe at Christmas

Ten Reasons to visit Europe at Christmas

As we might have mentioned once or twice, we spent Christmas this year in the Benelux region of Europe. Apparently, these countries are pretty small and close to each other geographically and culturally, so they get their own cute acronym. (BElgium, NEtherlands, LUXembourg.) We had 

10 Not-So-Fun Things About Travel

10 Not-So-Fun Things About Travel

Unfortunately, not-so-fun travel moments happen. It is not all hearts and flowers and there are definitely some unpleasant moments on the road. For me, those parts pale in comparison to all of the fun stuff. However, I think it might be worth mentioning the not-so-fun travel stuff for those who are new to travel and may be taken aback a little by them.

Not-so-fun travel experiences

When my coworker, who has done very little traveling overseas, returned from her dream vacation to Italy, she said to me, “you never talk about the hard stuff.” I thought about that for a moment and realized she was right. I don’t. I thought for another minute about why that is and came up with the following reasons: 1. My mother taught me to always focus on the positive; 2. When I think about my travel experiences, I usually only remember the good stuff; and 3. I figure some of the hard stuff is just the price one pays to see the world. But based on my coworker’s observation, I figured I would go ahead and share the 10 things I dislike the most about travel. Obviously, they are not enough to keep me from going on trips. But I suppose they are worth mentioning so that one can be prepared for those inevitable not-so-fun travel experiences.

1. Coming home

If you are like us, a vacation is something you look forward to and anticipate for much longer than you are actually gone. It is only natural to feel a little down when the vacation is over. I try to focus on the good things about coming home (e.g. sleeping in my own bed, having more than three outfits to choose from, etc.), but the truth is, the end of a vacation kind of sucks. R and I combat this by trying to have our next trip already in the books. That gives us something new to look forward to and helps with the end-of-vacation blues.

Clouds from a plane window, not-so-fun travel
Flying home.

2. Packing

As much as I look forward to going on a trip, I absolutely HATE packing. I am proficient enough at it (practice makes perfect), but that does not mean I enjoy it. In fact, every trip I take makes me hate it a little more. The sorting and trying to figure out my best options, keeping in mind things like unpredictable weather, is just not fun. Also, I try to pack light, so that adds extra pressure. We have all sorts of tips and tricks we use—which we try to share on here with you all. But even with all the tricks in the book, packing remains a very unpleasant part of travel for me. (I just need to figure out how to get R to do it for me.)

3. Tourists

We have talked about other tourists before and even wrote a post about how to deal with them. But regardless of how I deal with them, they remain one of my least favorite parts of travel. Yes, I realize I am a tourist. But there are different types of tourists out there and unfortunately, too many are disrespectful. And nothing ruins a moment faster than a tour bus full of people swarming all around you, selfie sticks waving to and fro. Tourist may actually top my list of not-so-fun travel moments.

Australia, great ocean road, tourist, not-so-fun travel
Tourists abound along the Great Ocean Road in Australia.

4. Expenses

I completely agree with the saying about how travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer. I have never regretted buying a plane ticket to a new destination. That does not mean it is easy to hand over my hard-earned wages. It is especially hard to pay for things that do not feel worth the price. In addition, as I have gotten older, I find my tastes have gotten a little more expensive (no more hostels for me). Thankfully, I make more money than I did at 21. Even still, I spend a lot of time searching for deals and comparing value. It helps if you have travel companions to split expenses with. The worst are those unforeseen expenses. Unfortunately, they are just a part of travel—a part I really do not enjoy.

5. Delays

There is nothing you can do about flight delays. They are frustrating beyond belief, especially if they cut into your vacation time. Unfortunately, if you travel, eventually you will have to deal with a delay or two. Maybe even a cancellation. They definitely belong on this not-so-fun travel list. I can think of fewer things that ruin a vacation faster.

airport arrivals reader board, delayed flights, not-so-fun travel
Airport departures around Christmas time. So much yellow!

Along with delays, I feel like I should mention losing your luggage. It has only happened to me a couple of times and always on my way home. I feel like the airlines are getting better at tracking luggage (as they should with all of the new technology out there), but losing one’s luggage is still a pain in the butt and something I do not enjoy about travel.

6. Humidity

We have discussed our general dislike (or rather loathing) of hot, humid places. We still visit them because I am not going to let a little sweat stop me from exploring. But I really, really dislike that part of travel. R put together some tips for what to pack when visiting hot and humid climates and even wrote about for how to survive the heat in a hot place. Packing the right clothes definitely helps, but I still feel miserable when the sweat is dripping down my back. Perhaps you feel about cold climates the way I do about humid climates. Regardless of your preference, climate will either be a pleasant or unpleasant part of your experience. Do your best to prepare for it, but do not let it ruin your experience.

Blue skies, San Juan, Puerto Rico
A beautiful but very, very hot walk around San Juan.

7. Periods

Sorry for the overshare, but dealing with a period on a trip is the worst. There are a few options a gal can try in an effort to not have to deal with a period while traveling (talk to your doctor), but those options are not always a possibility. Until I find the perfect solution, periods will continue to be one of the most unpleasant parts of travel for me and make my not-so-fun travel list.

8. Maintenance

We have mentioned that we are not terribly high-maintenance girls. However, we are still girls and as such, we do put some effort into our appearance. That means some work often has to be done before we leave on a trip. We might need to get our hair trimmed or maybe a get a spray tan (this was a great idea when we traveled to Hawaii in February). My least favorite activity however, is a bikini wax. I would not do it at all, except that it makes life easier while traveling somewhere where I will be wearing a swimsuit. This type of maintenance is not mandatory. But since it makes travel a little easier, I do it. I just do not enjoy it at all.

9. Shorter days

If you travel to colder climates in the wintertime, or anywhere near the equator, daylight is limited. Around the equator, it gets dark at 6 p.m. (year-round). We were surprised to find that the sun went down around 4:30 p.m. in Amsterdam around Christmas time. Shorter days really limit what you can do and see. I find it a hassle to worry about and do not enjoy it at all. It is manageable, but not a not-so-fun travel thing.

Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium, dust, not-so-fun travel
We tried so hard to get to this cemetery before dark.

10. Lack of comfort

Yes, I am talking about a very first-world problem here. But I really hate a cold shower at the end of the day…or first thing in the morning. I get frustrated when my hotel or Airbnb is not as described. I dislike loud noises when I am trying to sleep. When you stay in an unfamiliar place in an unfamiliar land, things are different. Sometimes they are better. But sometimes they are not and you just have to make the most of it. A lack of comfort is not-so-fun travel at its finest.

Airbnb, Azores, religious festival, parade, white house
This lovely Airbnb in the Azores was not quite what we were expecting and we had to have an uncomfortable talk with the host in order to get what we paid for.


Travel is wonderful, but there are certain parts of it that can be unpleasant. You can manage and prepare for some of the unpleasant stuff. However, if you want to have a good time and return home will good memories, you have to focus on the wonderful.

What to do in Boston Depending on Your Length of Stay

What to do in Boston Depending on Your Length of Stay

Recently, R and I spent a day in Boston, Massachusetts. Now one day may not sound like much, but even a short amount of time in Bean Town is better than no time at all and I am going to share with you some tips 

10 Surprising Things about São Miguel Island in the Azores

10 Surprising Things about São Miguel Island in the Azores

R and I spent five and a half days driving around and exploring São Miguel Island in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores. Locally, it is referred to as The Green Island. I just called it stunning. Turns out the Azores make a great micro 

Ideas for a Girls’ Weekend or Micro Trip

Ideas for a Girls’ Weekend or Micro Trip

Girls’ weekend getaways and micro trips are the best. Wouldn’t you agree? As part-time travelers and single ladies, our lifestyle is quite conducive to mini vacations. So we take full advantage of that whenever we can. Below are 10 ideas for a girls’ weekend getaway or micro trip. I recommend you grab your girlfriends and start planning ASAP.

girls' weekend, two friend, California north coast
Girls’ weekend to the northern California coast.

But first, what is a girls’ weekend or micro trip?

Well, its anything from a weekend to a week (or more) spent with your closest friends. It’s a time to try something new. Or enjoy an old tradition. The whole point is to vacate your regular life and bond with your girlfriends. Honestly, what you do is not nearly important as actually getting away together.

Camping makes for a good girls’ weekend getaway near me

Okay, so not everyone likes to camp. But for those that do, camping is a fun and affordable girls’ weekend option. We are blessed here in Idaho with an abundance of places to pitch a tent. We even have some good places to go glamping. Once you have all the gear you need, it is simply a matter of packing up, gassing up and hitting the road. The hardest part is deciding where to camp. North, south, east or west, the great outdoors is just waiting to be explored by you and your girlfriends. This summer, make plans to spend at least one girls’ weekend camping.

Sawtooth Mountains, ideas for a girls' weekend including camping in Idaho
Just one of the many beautiful places we can go camping in Idaho.

Attending a concert is a great girls’ weekend activity

Unless you are new to our blog, you are well aware that R and I attend a lot of concerts. We enjoy live music and support our favorite artists whenever they come to town. We also plan a lot of trips to see the bands we love. These trips often result in a full-fledged girls’ weekend complete with a road trip, a new experience or two and a meet up with a friend who loves the music as much as we do. If you are looking for ideas for a girls’ weekend getaway or micro trip, just check your favorite bands’ tour schedules and start planning.

Explore a new state or city, they make awesome girls’ weekend destinations

We live in a big old country with lots of places to see and explore. I recommend you get a map out and see how many places are within a four-hour drive of where you live. How many of them are new to you? Start there. After you have exhausted your road trip options (if that is even possible), look into flying somewhere new. R and I recently explored St. Louis (check out our post for our top five things to do in St. Louis). It was a fairly easy flight and we were both surprised by how much we enjoyed everything St. Louis had to offer. It made for a most-excellent girls’ weekend.

St. Louis Cardinals, baseball, girls' weekend
Baseball was on the list of activities for a girls’ weekend to St. Louis.

My favorite girls’ trip: leaving the country

Leaving the country is best suited for a micro trip. An extra-long weekend is definitely enough time to explore some close-but-foreign lands and have an epic girls’ weekend. We have enjoyed short girls’ trips to both Puerto Rico and Iceland. Do I wish I had had more time there? Of course. But any time spent with my girls in a foreign land is better than no time at all.

Girls' weekend, blue lagoon, Iceland, mud masks, friends
Girls’ extra long weekend to Iceland!

Lose or win at a casino during your next girls’ weekend

I am not a big fan of losing money, so casinos are not my first choice of fun. But they really do make good girls’ weekend getaways. You and the girls can catch a show, eat delicious food and bond with total strangers at the craps table. You can read about our weekend getaway to the casinos of Jackpot, Nevada.

Plan a spa day for your next girls’ getaway

Nothing says girls’ weekend like a spa day. This past summer, I flew to Florida to spend a long weekend with some girlfriends. It was a fairly packed weekend, but we made time to get a massage and lounge about in white robes. I would have had a good time regardless of what we did. But my spa treatment sent me home feeling relaxed and very thankful for my girlfriends.

Get out your boots and head to the rodeo

The Pendleton Round-Up is one of our very favorite girls’ weekend trips. We have actually spent many weekends going to rodeos. They are fun. The people watching is great (especially if you love cowboys as much as I do) and the food is delicious. Of course, there are plenty of rodeos held here in Idaho. However, getting out of town is what makes it a girls’ weekend instead of just a night out.

Pendleton Round-Up, tipi village, teepee, rodeo, ideas for a girls' weekend
The Pendleton Round-Up in Oregon.

Winter girls’ weekend idea: go skiing

Living in Idaho, we are surrounded by good options for skiing. But a good girls’ weekend calls for something other than a trip to your usual ski resort. Perhaps you can drive to a neighboring state. Utah’s ski resorts are definitely road trip-able for us. However, I am not a fan of the price of their lift tickets. If I am going to spend that kind of money, I would rather make a weekend out of it somewhere new. That is exactly what R and I did one May. We flew to Canada and did a little spring skiing in Whistler. We got to ski, see and explore someplace new—all in one, fun-filled weekend.

Head to the beach/coast for a girls’ weekend away from it all

We do not live real close to the ocean. However, it is not hard at all to get there. In fact, R, C and I recently flew to Sacramento, rented a car and spent some time on the Northern California Coast. It was lovely and made for a relaxing girls’ weekend. If the beach is too far to drive, look into a quick and cheap flight to your favorite seaside destination.

ideas for a girls' weekend include exploring redwood trees in California
Just some girlfriends spending time with the redwoods.

Visit a National Park or two with your girlfriends

As mentioned before, R is a big National Park buff. My visits to our nation’s parks have increased tenfold since she and I became friends. One thing R’s love of National Parks has taught me is that they make excellent girls’ weekend getaways. For example, one weekend we traveled to Washington to hike and explore North Cascades National Park. Another weekend, we took a road trip to Yellowstone. If your girlfriends are into nature, check out the National Parks near and around you. In addition to having fun, you will get to see something real purty.

ideas for a girls' weekend include hiking north cascade national park in Washington
Hiking in North Cascade National Park in Washington. Isn’t it pretty?


Girls’ weekends and micro trips are a great way to unwind and have a little fun. We’ve shared our ideas for a girls’ weekend, but there are plenty of activities to choose from. And does it really matter what you do when you are spending time with friends? I say no. So pick a weekend, pick an activity, grab your girlfriends and go have fun.

ideas for a girls' weekend at the blue lagoon in iceland
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Ten tips for packing for a business trip

Ten tips for packing for a business trip

I am currently in Kansas City for a week. The reason: work.  Now, packing for business travel is very different than packing for a personal trip. In general, it requires more clothes. Luckily, I work for a very casual company and the dress code is 

10 Things to Do in Sun Valley and Ketchum, Idaho

10 Things to Do in Sun Valley and Ketchum, Idaho

I grew up about an hour west of Sun Valley and Ketchum, Idaho. Yes, I saw plenty of celebrities and I made a lot of money cleaning houses in the summer. But I rarely did anything fun. I was either working or running errands, and 

How to Travel with Your Parents

How to Travel with Your Parents

Travel with parents, grandparents, first-timers and other novices is a different experience and requires a little different preparation. A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, with my parents. My dad has Lyme disease and we were told a specialist there might be able to help him. Now, my dad will always know more about cars than me and my sewing skills will never compare to my mothers. But travel, that is my game.

As my mom began making plans for a trip north, she asked me for some travel advice. It did not take long before I realized a trip, even one as small as this, was going to be challenge for them given their limited travel experience. So I offered to come along and try to help make things a little less stressful for them. I wanted my dad to focus on his treatments and not be distracted by anything else.

Travel with Parents

Perhaps your parents are old hats are getting around an airport and renting cars. Mine are not. Below are some suggestions for how to travel with one’s parents. In addition, R also wrote a post on how to travel with your family.

Note: some of the things I learned could also be applied to anyone traveling with first-time or novice travelers.

Provide instruction beforehand

When you are traveling with someone who is new to flying or who has not flown for many years, do not assume they are up-to-date on the latest rules and regulations. For example, my mom was under the impression that she could not take any food on the plane. She also did not know that toothpaste is considered a liquid and needs to be packed separately if you are carrying it on the plane. Given the constantly changing rules and the media’s inability to accurately report on anything, it is not surprising she was a bit confused. So the more instruction and clarity you can provide beforehand, the easier the experience will be for everyone when you are going through security.

I opted to visit my folks the weekend before we left so I could answer questions, help my mom with her packing list, make sure their luggage was the right size, etc. A little prep work with them beforehand definitely contributed to smoother experience in the airport.

travel with parents, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, dad, boat
My pops, enjoying the sun and blue skies in Coeur d’Alene.

Get ready to answer questions

When you travel regularly, you tend to forget how strange and different that world really is. R and I hop on plane, pop in our headphones and pull out our books. But with someone new, that is actually kind of rude. I found myself experiencing a flight through my parents’ eyes and it made me look at everything a bit differently. I answered questions about things I have not thought about in a long time. My mom was delighted to find out she can play Candy Crush on her phone as long as it is in airplane mode. Being ready and willing to answer questions will assist both you and your folks through the experience.

Note: be sure to explain the flight attendant call button to your dad BEFORE he accidentally pushes it.

Keep everything under one reservation

If possible, keep everything under one reservation. I discussed logistics with mom, but then I went ahead and booked the flights, car and VRBO for all of us. The main reason I did this was to keep things simple. I was the only one who needed to keep track of our reservations and check in for our flights. It was me who dealt with the rental car agent. I was the single point of contact for our VRBO. Trust me, booking, coordinating and tracking is easier if one person takes the lead—preferably the person with the most travel experience.

Also, having one reservation resulted in a couple of bonuses:

  • Bonus #1: more rewards for me. My parents do not belong to any reward programs so there was no advantage to them paying for their own trip. I, on the other hand, do track and earn rewards for travel. Booking everything at once meant triple the rewards for me.
  • Bonus #2: TSA PreCheck for all. Although there was no guarantee, my folks did end up with TSA PreCheck because they were connected to me. The airports we traveled to and from were small and lines were short. But TSAPreCheck meant my dad did not have to take off his shoes, which is difficult for him. When R and her mom flew to Seattle last week, her mom also got TSA PreCheck. (R booked both flights using her Delta SkyMiles.)

Be ready for new experiences

After checking our bags, retrieving our boarding passes and making our way through security, my dad realized he did not have his pain pills. He was due to take one in about an hour and by the time our flight landed, he would be in a lot of pain (if he doesn’t stay on top of his pain management, it can get pretty bad). We all talked about it and made a valiant effort to convince ourselves that dad would be fine. However, I could tell my mom was upset because she forgot to take them out of his checked bag (or remind him to do so) and I could see my dad getting more and more anxious.

Finally, I went and talked to the gate agent about retrieving a checked bag. Apparently, it is possible to retrieve and recheck a checked bag. It was a brand-new experience for me. Honestly, the only reason I felt it worked was because the airport is small, it was a slow night and our flight was delayed. Thankfully, everything worked out and we all learned a couple of valuable lessons in the process.

Rethink how you use technology

Smartphone and apps have changed the way we travel. I can hardly remember what it was like to travel without my iPhone (or even get through my day, sadly). But my dad does not have a smartphone and my mom does not have any travel apps. So I needed to rethink how I use my phone for travel and adjust according to my parents’ needs.

First off, there would be no electronic boarding passes. We went old school and printed them off at the airport. I still kept track of all our reservations in Google Trips, but I was not able to share that information with my mom. I ended up emailing her our itinerary instead. On the other hand, Google Maps was a lifesaver. As we navigated an unfamiliar town, trying to find our lodging, the doctor’s office, places to eat, etc., the voice in my phone directed us on where to go. Even my dad, who claims to hate modern technology, stated how grateful he was for the convenience Google Maps provided. I had to give some thought to which technologies would work best on a trip with my parents. But in the end, I think we struck a nice balance.

Selfie in front of a hydroelectric plant in northern Idaho travel with parents dad
Selfies are still new to my dad.

Bring something to do…for your parents

R and I always board a plane with something to pass the time. (We had a situation on a flight to Hawaii that reinforced our need to do so.) Thankfully, I told my mom ahead of time that she should bring some reading material for my dad. He subscribes to a couple of magazines and she would not let him read the latest issues until we were in the airport. Having something new to read gave him a way to pass the time and thinking ahead meant they were not spending airport prices on reading material.

Do your research

Of course, I did my usual research when it comes to travel and made a list of all the places I wanted to see and all the things I wanted to do. For the better part of two days, I was on my own and able to explore to my heart’s content. Belatedly though, I realized my list did not include too many dad-friendly activities. During the time I spent with my folks, I struggled with finding ways to entertain my dad. He cannot walk far so exploring on foot was not an option. And his hip gets stiff if he sits in a car for too long.

We ended up going on several mini road trips with stops along the way for him to get out and stretch. This was a great way to explore, but I wish I had done a little bit better of a job researching the area beforehand. And I really wish I had packed my Idaho for the Curious: A Guide by Cort Conley. We could have rolled along while mom read to us the history of the area. My Idaho atlas would not have been remiss either. Lesson learned on that one on how to travel with parents.

Walking around the boardwalk in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho travel with parents
Once around the boardwalk was about all my dad’s poor feet could handle.

Set realistic expectations

R and I are not foodies, but we do enjoy sampling the local fare and searching out the places and dishes unique to an area. I actually did quite a bit of research on places to eat since that is something I figured my dad would enjoy. The places I suggested were not exotic, but he still preferred to eat at a name he recognized. We did manage to go to a couple of local places and I got to one on my own. But overall, my experience eating in Coeur d’Alene was not what I expected and I could have done a better job managing those expectations. Plus, I could have saved myself some time researching.

Don’t forget to pack your patience

In general, when it comes to travel with parents, patience is key. There is a lot of waiting around and things are bound to go wrong. When traveling with family, patience is doubly important. After all, nothing tries your patience like family. For whatever reason, when nerves are frayed and tempers are short, we tend to take it out on those we love. Overall, our trip went very smoothly and I rarely needed to remind myself to be patient. But who knows what might happen on future trips and patience is always a good thing to keep in mind.

Find joy in the little things

My dad loves to fly. He turns into a little kid when he climbs on an airplane. In fact, he insisted on the window seat and after we sat, he pouted and said, “I got the wing.” Luckily, we were able to move so he could look out the window and enjoy the scenery below. He has an enthusiasm I lost a long time ago. But I found his excitement contagious and it made me enjoy a take off again.

Other little things I enjoyed include teaching my mom how to use Google Maps, introducing my dad to hummus and watching my folks take their first Uber ride. Travel with parents brings with it challenges and obstacles. But it also brings with it fun and adventure and I thank my parents for highlighting some of the more fun parts of travel.

Lunch next to Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho travel with parents
My parents enjoying lunch on the lake.


Travel with parents and grandparents is very different from travel with your best friend. It brings with it challenges; however, if you take certain steps, it can be a lot of fun. I enjoyed my time in Coeur d’Alene with my parents very much. I also enjoyed sharing my love of travel with them. Best of all, when they fly back in September for a follow-up appointment, they feel confident they can do it on their own. Passing on that knowledge is very rewarding.

10 Small but Useful Things to Pack for Every Vacation

10 Small but Useful Things to Pack for Every Vacation

Without a good small item packing checklist, you may well forget something super useful on your next trip. When it comes to packing, I am not a big supporter of “just in case” or “what if.” That is the fastest way to over pack. Plus,