vintage globe near blank frame and cup of tea placed on book in office
Babcia and Yia Yia!, Notes on Planning and Packing, Study Hall: Essays On Travel

Framing Your Travel Memories

So, you’ve done it! You’ve been on the trip of a lifetime and have officially become a true travel junkie! You’ve dragged your suitcases through the front door and with a tired satisfaction, you drop onto your bed, grateful to get a good night’s sleep in your own surroundings. Dream well, dear traveler! Dream all about those experiences that you were just able to enjoy.

As you unpack bag after bag, you take out ticket stubs or a little bookmark or perhaps a pretty little print you picked up from an artist. The pile of memorabilia grows larger and larger. So, what do you do with it all? I have a few suggestions for you…

Photo by Oleg Magni on

Facebook Memories 

Let’s face it, Facebook memories are probably the biggest no brainer on the list but with all the changes in social media, Facebook memories might be a thing we may have to arrange. While I love the convenience of memories just popping up on my feed, it may be a prudent move to not rely on Facebook for every memory we have. As Facebook changes and becomes far more interested in marketing, cool features like daily videos of your travel photos no longer exist. There’s another choice:


Have you ever noticed that purple app with the star on your iPhone? It’s iMovie and it’s here to take all your photos and set them to a slow pan with music. Simply click to select the photos that you love, choose the pan option and speed, grab some background music and you are a movie maker! Your movie is ready to share on social media or with friends. Free, easy, and FUN!

Photo by cottonbro on

Make a travel photo book 

…and I’m not talking about one of those old fashioned albums with the sticky pages! It’s time to use technology to your advantage and be a bit fancy!!! Choose your favorite digital pictures and get started on a site like Shutterfly. Photo websites are an easy choice when you can have the site do the work or be in charge of every aspect of your project depending on your comfort level.

As for me, I am truly a fan of the 8×8 photo book which is just right to give as a gift to those I traveled with or pop in my purse to share with others. Don’t forget to be creative and include items that may be unique. When I created a book for my trip to Ireland, I included Irish song lyrics representative of where I was. I’ve included thank you notes to my Mom and top five sing at the top of your lungs songs that we all enjoyed on a road trip. The possibilities are endless and the end result is a treasure.

a woman holding a camera
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on

Amazon Photos

Another very quick way to access your travel memories is by using the Amazon Photos app. Using the app does two quick things. First, it gets all of your photos into one spot. Second, and maybe more importantly, you can sync your photos and make them your screen saver. This gives you a digital photo frame without having to purchase one!

assorted paintings
Photo by Medhat Ayad on

Framing Your Memories

Okay, okay. I’ve given you enough digital photo options! What do you do with all the other little bits of paper you’ve collected. What do you do with the maps, tickets, brochures and wristbands that remind you of all your fun times? My suggestion is to frame them! Check out some of the photos below for ideas on how to get things out of the junk drawer and up on the wall like a great piece of pop art! It takes me about one hour to use just a poster frame, scissors and scotch tape to mix and match all that travel fun into one place.

Take It A Step Further

Scratch off maps and posters can be a fun and easy way to keep track of all those memories and dreams that you’re so excited about! Check out the link above for a review of maps and how they work.

Notes on Planning and Packing, Study Hall: Essays On Travel

TSA Travel Troubles

A few months ago, I was flying within the states and had to, of course, get through TSA travel line. Like everyone else, I prepared to stand in line and wait out the inevitable. The longer I waited, the more irritable I got with the people who were obviously not ready to effortlessly glide through the TSA line well prepared and not holding up the burden of waiting in the never ending cue. I rolled my eyes when computers and cell phones were not boxed separately. Then I made a snide comment to the couple who didn’t remove their belts. I even had a bit of a temper tantrum when there was a question about whether or not shoes needed to be taken off. Yes! That’s the answer! We all do it!

Then it was my turn. Shoes, check. ipad and cell phone, check. No liquids in my bag thank you very much. I was ready to zip through the screening machine when the unthinkable happened! I was PULLED to the side to be WANDED!!!! How on earth could this have happened! I should already be finding my way to the terminal bar!


I had no chance!

It turns out that I was pegged to be pulled over from the moment I entered the line because my pants were cuffed at the bottom! CUFFED AT THE BOTTOM!!! I had no chance of evading the detainment. I had been defeated by the very system I had been out to beat. Now, your first question to me is why didn’t you go through the pre-check line? Don’t you have pre-check?!

The answer is no. I have not paid for pre-check or global entry and I don’t intend to. Those lines, take a look, are getting to be just as long as others and TSA is coming up with ways to better control line waits all the time. Even at Reagan National, I have only waited a maximum of 5 minutes for the regular TSA line, other airports are much longer though. Additionally, I also get a complementary pre-check on my ticket with participating airlines, so I gamble on the chance that I will win the pre-check lottery.

More important than all of that is what can you do to make the TSA shuffle a little easier and less painless the next time you are off on an adventure. Here are some basics:


Plan your carry-on.

Take the time to ensure that what is in your carry-on is what you really need. If you check your bags (I am a big believer in the checked bag) then you shouldn’t need much.  Your basic electronics, your plane needs, and your paperwork. I also carry a change of clothes (leggings and a shirt plus undergarments) that don’t take up much space, a solid shampoo and conditioner bar, and a disposable bamboo toothbrush.

Be liquid ready.

If you do plan to carry on everything, you need to ensure that your liquids meet all of those TSA requirements and are in the TSA approved clear bag. You also should put them in a convenient place so you can easily put them through the scanning machine on their own.


Leave the kitchen sink…

… and everything else you don’t need. If I’m flying from Montana to Arizona, I’m going to leave my winter coat and boots in the car. I can make it to the terminal in my flats thank you very much! While, I’m at it, I change purses to ensure that my Mary Poppins purse doesn’t provide me any TSA surprises. You never do know what you’ll find at the bottom of your bag.

Minimize the accessorize.

I love to wear jewelry and I want to look nice but TSA is not interested in nice or my cute new bracelets. Instead, I just put all my bling into a little zip bag in my purse and put it on when I get through. It’s one less reason to get pulled over.


Time your line.

TSA is usually a much bigger deal for people who are running late. A much bigger deal. The best advice for timing your trip comes down to three things. First, gauge your lead time based on the BOARDING time of your flight. You should be inside the airport one and a half hours before that time at a minimum. Next, use the MyTSA app to adjust this lead time based on the airport you are flying out of.

MyTSA does a great job of communicating the busy times and the down times from coast to coast. Simply, choose your airport and check out all the 411 on your pre-boarding experience. Last, check your gate location. While this may seem not necessary, trust me, it is. In some bigger airports have gate A1 compared to gate ZZ-99 can be a difference of walking 20 or 30 minutes more than you could have planned.                                                                                                                                         

Get the kids ready before you leave.

Choose clothing that makes them comfy on the plane and will get through that security check quickly. Remember, no cuffed pants! Ensure that their in flight entertainment is easy to scan and that they haven’t hidden any extras that can hold you up. Personally, I don’t think that every kid needs their own personal backpack to go on a plane. The less stuff the better. For super young ones, go online and scout out the easiest places to take care of diaper changes, feedings, and play space once you are in the terminal. And yes, breast milk  and formula are both permitted through TSA just be prepared to take a few extra minutes to look through that bag.

Follow the nonsense.

One of my favorite Instagram feeds is TSA. They have a great instahumor to their posts and often use the ridiculous to showcase what is and is not allowed.  Giant teddy bears that take up an entire seat? I think not. While you are at it, follow them on Twitter as well. You can get to them quickly if you have lost anything or you have left anything behind.

My TSA Travel App
TSA travel lines can be a breeze or a nightmare
Photo by Connor Danylenko on
Study Hall: Essays On Travel

Travel Time Out!

As we get back into the process of planning for travel, we are all excited to get out there and get going. When we dream of our future travels, we sometimes forget how important it is to remember we are not invincible. In fact, we want to pack so much in that we forget to plan a little travel time out. It’s okay to plan a beach day or a lazy day. It will be well worth it! Here are my pre-coronavirus thoughts on that very subject.

I Don’t Need A Time Out!

I hear you! You are not two years old! Can I just say this? Adults have more temper tantrums than kids. Can we say “hangry” people? No one enjoys a nap more than an adult. And no one, I repeat, no one wants to be around you when you are tired, cranky, and grumpy. We all need a time out and we deserve them! So, say thank you and really enjoy it! You are on vacation after all! So what does a travel time out look like?

Back in the Summer of 2019…

I’m on day one of my European holiday and Belgium 🇧🇪 has not disappointed! The weather is glorious and the airport, while rather dated, was a breeze from runway to rental. I’m traveling with my mom as I often do and we have stopped in this sweet little location for the night before we take in the Normandy region of France 🇫🇷 in the next week. So, why stop at a place like this? Well, this is a great spot to take a time out and recharge after international travel or after up time at a bigger venue. Genval has a lovely bistro full of locals, a beautiful old hotel with plenty of rooms and a lake to just enjoy! Yes, there are paddle boats and stand up paddle boards but, no, there is no swimming. I did check with the front desk and there are bikes for rent. Lastly, nearby is Waterloo with a modern museum that does a great job explaining why Napoleon met defeat here at Waterloo. #quietfind #berlintoparis?