aerial view of alps mountains
Notes on Planning and Packing

5 Escapes For That Reluctant Husband!

I don’t know about you but my husband is not a fan of travel. No matter how enthusiastic I try to be, his reaction is often “meh”. I think it’s because he doesn’t want to travel after so much time at sea in the Navy. Maybe it’s because he had the chance to love overseas and he has a “been there done that” attitude to it all. I also wonder if it’s because he thinks that travel is just too much work to use that precious vacation time. Mostly, I think he doesn’t like change. So, what’s a girl to do?! C’mon! Escape with us!

Maybe the best way to get the loves of our lives to tag along is to choose the perfect escape. Here are our picks for some premium travel time with that reluctant

Jackson Hole and West Yellowstone

photo of waterfalls during daytime
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Part of Big Sky Country and adjacent to the great Yellowstone Park, Jackson Hole has lots of ambiance in their eateries and lodges. There are plenty of outdoor activities to do each day whether you take in skiing in the Winter or you hike a waterfall in the Summer. For our complete coverage on Jackson Hole and Yellowstone, click here.

Alaska

Epic vistas, massive glaciers, and a Summer season chock full of things to do make Alaska a premium escape. This northern most state has plenty of wildlife, fishing, river rafting and pond hopper experiences to fuel the most reluctant of travelers. The bonus? Sled dog puppies. Alaska offers perfect road trip conditions as well as being one of the most famous places to take a cruise. For more on how to spend time in Alaska, click here.

fishing fun
black deer lying on plants near green trees during daytime
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Normandy

On June 6th, 1944, the world changed for the better right here in Normandy. Military buffs around the world will tell you that these fabled beaches along the coast turned the tables on evil and started the path toward ending World War II. The entire region of Normandy not only gives you that first hand glimpse but also offers orchards full of apples ready to provide you with Calvados. For more on everything Normandy has to offer, click here.

Belize

Turn the tables and head to the beach by escaping to Belize and it’s central American beaches. Belize offers world class everything from jungle excursions to surf side beaches. Look for SCUBA diving to be on the top of your list and follow that up with great food and some true down time. Click here for a great take on Belize from A Blonde Abroad.

wood landscape nature beach
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Ireland

One of the most amazing road trip the world has to offer is the western shore of Ireland. The wild Atlantic Way offers 1,500 miles of wind swept Irish goodness. Pick up anywhere and drive as long as you want. This part of Ireland is dotted with colorful villages, untamed castles, and once in a lifetime views. This rugged landscape delights with every person you encounter. So, pull up a chair, grab a beer, and listen in as the local musicians start tuning up and turning in. Click here to discover more about the amazing Emerald Isle.

Now, Escape With The Girls To These Places!

We all need a girls’ getaway and we here at TGC, know all about that! Check out our top 5 picks!

black and green luggage bag on brown carpet
Babcia and Yia Yia!, Notes on Planning and Packing, Study Hall: Essays On Travel

Plus Size Travel 2.0

It’s us! We’re back! Yep! We are back for another look at how the plus size traveler can conquer any challenge that comes her way. Whether it’s trying to find the best spot to sit on a plane or the challenge of streamlining your suitcase, we are here to make plus size travel just a bit easier for anyone who carries just a little more with them than the clothes in their suitcase.

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Plus Size Travel Writers That Are Keeping It Real!

Mary Fran is a plus sized woman who keeps the humor in day to day life as well as travel. She’s become so popular on TicTok that Good Morning America featured her in one of their human interest segments. Meet Mary Fran by clicking here to the original GMA article.

In A Letter To My Thin Friend by Lacie-Jade Christie, the author takes some time to give her friend her perspective on how a plus sized traveler feels dealing with big moments like hiking and little moments like sitting in an airplane seat. Read A Letter To My Thin Friend and link to more stories in this series by clicking here.

woman with cup sitting on couch while working on laptop
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Looking at our clothes

What are you self conscious about when you travel? For us, we are constantly striving to fit in and not impose on others. For us, embracing our size not only means caring for ourselves but also blending into the group we are with or the place that we are spending time. This balance may start with our mindset but always, always, finds its way to our wardrobe.

modern male clothes on hangers in closet
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Taking our clothes on a test drive.

Recently, we’ve been working really hard to make sure every single thing we put into our bags has a good reason for being there. To test out our ideas, we’ve been giving our travel wardrobe a test drive. Here are some of the results! Note that some of the links below are affiliate links. I only recommend products & brands I love and that I think you would love, too!

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  • The jumpsuit solution: jumpsuits are in style right now and plus size women can seize upon this great wardrobe choice to make going out comfortable whether its day or night! Jumpsuits can look sporty or give just the right glam vibe no matter where you travel.
  • Raincoat regrets: There’s always one item that makes its way to the top of the should or shouldn’t I list and that’s our raincoat. It can be a waste of space or the best thing in our bag. I went to Victoria Falls and never pulled it out even though it was recommended and was in the sunniest part of Germany wishing I had one! Take it or leave it, it’s awfully hard to find one in a plus size when you are out and about.
  • Leggings: Whether you use them to work out or to keep warm or comfy, leggings pack small and find so many ways to be part of any capsule wardrobe. We confess! We fell into the rabbit hole of LuLaRoe and we apologize for even thinking this was a good idea. These days, you can find leggings in our wardrobe that don’t include tacos or palm trees. Some of our favorite leggings include great finds from LuLuLemon and Lane Bryant.     

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The classic V-neck: Plus size tops can be so very difficult. They stretch across our boobs, hang too low or act like an unsightly crop top or simply make us look far larger than we are! We are always on the search for V-necks that compliments our neck line so we don’t look like we are strangling ourselves and are just the right length to cover without shortening our legs so we look like oompaloompas. Call us when you find them.   

Bra Basics: The girls always need a lot of attention when you are plus size. Traveling brings a whole new set of challenges to lift, separate, and flatter. Bras need to be super supportive as well as washing and drying easily. It’s not an easy task! We love these super cheap strapless bras (with no clasp to break) as well as our Third Love bras. TL does a great job of fitting you correctly. Not always something that is done well.  We are hoping that plus size bras become more readily available but we don’t expect this to be something that  to be any time soon.    

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  • Scarves or pashminas: One way that we can save room in our luggage is to forego a jacket during fair weather travels. I mean, in the end, we barely use it especially when we’re ducking in and out of shops and museums. And when we do commit to the whole jacket thing we wind up in a sweat juggling a jacket with packages while my mother looks on in disdain. Can we say overheated?! Lately, our jacket alternative is a pashmina and a light scarf that both have a multitude of uses. It’s a blanket on the plane and a jacket that easily wraps around the handle of our handbag. A lighter scarf is a great accessory and a great way to add a little variety to a capsule wardrobe. Both pack small and both do a better job than a jacket.
  • Plus size swimsuits: Ugh. Can we just say this is one of our least favorite topics? We have, however, over the years picked up a few ideas that help. First, no matter what size you are, there is a two piece swimsuit for you. Two piece swimsuits offer plenty of coverage while being far easier to get on and get off whether you are dry or wet. Trust us! We’ve both been dealing with the swimsuit wriggle for far too long, we know what we’re talking about! The next thing that we highly suggest is to have a dedicated packing cube just for your suit. It will always be ready to go and it will take up hardly any space at all! Our cube is small enough to even fit in our bag.
  • Compression socks: This may be our favorite trip saver! Compression socks are known to help with swelling but did you know it also helps with fatigue which could aid in jet lag!? We’ll take it! Unfortunately, not all socks fit plus sized legs! Check out some of our picks below.

How Do You Streamline Your Luggage?

Pop quiz! If you raise your hand if your suitcase is always bigger than everyone else’s even though you have the same amount of stuff. We’ve come up with a few ways to help streamline the amount of stuff we pack up and here are just a few of those thoughts.

  • Staying Make up free is a great choice we’ve made to keep our skin fresh and our bags just a little lighter. Between both of us, we carry one gloss, a brow pencil and mascara. We are done.
  • Compression cubes shrink things down and can be a life saver when trying to stay organized. We use them for everything especially the “just in case” items like swim suits and rain jackets.  
  • Laundry options including where the laundromats are where you are going and Tide sticks is a huge piece of the puzzle for the “my boobs catch a little of everything I eat” crowd. A few dryer sheets in our shoes are not such a bad idea either.
a woman looking at a map
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What technology do you truly use when you travel?

Let’s face it: travelers need their technology to do double duty. We need items that earn their keep in our bags. In fact, even though we podcast and we have definitely committed to leaving the big camera and computer at home. Instead we focus on making our iPhone earn its keep!           

Stay Inspired

Amazing Race Couple Challenges Eliminated

person holding black android smartphone
Notes on Planning and Packing, Travel U for Kids

Travel U: Fun Family Apps

Have you seen them? Those lists of the 49 most essential products that you absolutely positively need before you travel 9 miles from home? And the 29 best apps that are not free that you need to download before you get in your car to go to the supermarket? It seems like no matter where you look someone is trying to sell you some sort of travel tech that is going to make your vacation the easiest and best vacation ever.

person holding iphone showing social networks folder
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The way I see it, travel gear falls into one of two categories: travel tech and everything else. And sometimes, that tech can get waaayyyy out of hand! Not so fast! I certainly don’t think the newest inflatable kid sized neck pillow that folds down into a bunny origami style is going to make or break your vacation. However, there are a FEW things that do stand the test of time. Note that some of the links below are affiliate links. I only recommend products & brands I love and that I think you would love, too!

The Basics

Travel Tech is a fast growing industry and kids are a big part of the market. From kid proof tablets to kid friendly travel apps, where does a family on the go even start looking?! For me, it’s a matter of need. I try hard to stay away from the fancy new things and stick to the basics. But, I’m weak! I eventually find myself checking out the latest and greatest gadgets that seem to always be popping up. So, let’s break down some of the all time best and have a chat about what’s needed and really not something to worry about.

When sifting through the latest headphones, the fanciest suitcases (more on those later) and the best travel toys, I think it can start feeling like you are putting your whole house into your suitcase! As a matter of fact, we were packing at home once and my daughter unplugged her little Alexa echo. I asked what she was doing and she told me she wanted it so she had music to fall asleep with. I told her to put it back and use her iphone. Seriously! So, how can you pack light and still have the techno world at your fingertips?

flat lay photography of person touching silver ipad on world map chart beside black hat
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Versatility matters…

I’ve got to say that I am a fan of a good, up to date, ipad. It’s, by far, the most multi purpose travel item I pack and does just about everything. Music, TV, online, reading, games, maps, a connection back home. Check. Between my phone and my ipad, I’m set. I don’t need to travel with a laptop, a camera, or any other piece of technology because I’ve got it all in one place. But an ipad may not do everything you need for the kiddos in your life.

Let’s face it, sometimes we depend on technology to entertain our kids while we are trying to get things done. And who could blame the harried parents of the world as we try our best to get from one place to another by waiting in lines, negotiating with gate agents, spend hours in a few seats on a plane or in a car and handle the check in and out processes along the way!

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I know that, back in the day,  as I traveled with my kids, I always made sure I had a book and a Nintendo DS at the ready, especially when I knew an inevitable 4 hours would be spent on a tour bus! Today, there are so many choices that can promote global understanding. Here are a few classics and a few new finds that help us feel better about ourselves as we remember “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!”

Stack The States/ Countries (App, school age and up)

There is something so mesmerizing about Oklahoma teetering on Hawaii or Fiji  dotting the top of Chile. Stack them as tall as you can before the tumble down and you need to start again.

stack the states

Trivia Crack (App, pre-teen and up)

Play against each other in Trivial Pursuit style, some questions make you feel like you are a smarty pants while others will make you question what you are missing.

Trivia Crack for Travel tech

Kindle Reader (multiple platforms, all ages)

Use that Amazon Prime account and get reading no matter where you are. Easily used offline, Kindle works as an app, on its own reader, or on a regular computer.

Kindle for travel tech

Audible (Multiple platforms, all ages)

Quality recording of unabridged literature including Harry Potter and Percy Jackson allows young readers and teens to enjoy hours of escape in the pages of a book without lugging the book around. And maybe with a little less stubbornness since the reading is done for them!

Nat Geo Kids (Website and app, Preschool to Preteen)

Animal interest and culture pieces made just for kids let young minds explore for hours. Available both on website and as an app. (Check out the Weird But True app by Nat Geo too!)

Nat geo kids

Worldle on Facebook

So, are you caught up in the Wordle fandom sweeping the hallowed halls of Facebook? Well, dear traveler, there’s a new figure it out in six steps trend ready to distract you from your inbox once a day. Meet WorLdle: check out the shape of the country, and figure out where you are in the world you are in six guesses. Good luck!!

Travel tech that goes past the app…

Apps and games aren’t the only thing out there for the savvy traveler. There are strollers, carriers, foot rests, tray table cloths, inflatable booster seats, travel games, art packs, owl shaped suitcases, suitcases that charge, suitcases that you can ride on, suitcases that you can literally take a ride on. The list goes on and on…. Here’s my opinion on all of it. Stop. If you seriously plan on traveling with your kids, take the time and invest in one quality product that will serve you both at home and away.

You don’t need one stroller at home and another for trips if you take the time to find a lightweight, quality made stroller that fits your specific needs. Why pay $200 for a big one and $150 for a small one when you can get something that works across the board for $250? The same goes for luggage. You can buy a cute doggie backpack with matching roller bag that holds about half of what your child needs and lasts about two years instead of buying one brightly colored roller bag that will last until he or she are a teenager.

Rethinking our needs

In Japan, school children buy one back pack to last them from first grade to eighth grade. It is well made and they care for it. How come we don’t do the same? Why not buy one really nice backpack and have it dry cleaned once a year? Why not use it for school and travel? I’d rather spend my money on artwork while on a trip anyway. In short, the savvy traveler buys for their lifestyle and buys once with quality. Don’t get taken in by all the hype. There’s just no need. (I think I may have just lost every future sponsor I could have!)

So, you’ve got your tablet (and perhaps a separate one for your kids-each), you’ve got a good suitcase, and you are leaving the majority of your house at home. There are a few odds and ends that will make your trip a little better. A quality cover that protects that tablet is a good choice along with a good pair of reasonably priced headphones so you don’t have to listen.

Can I take a minute here?

As a teacher, I deal with headphones literally everyday. I can not begin to tell you how many parents I have to talk to about replacing headphones because they purchased the cheap $5 ones instead of leveling up to a better pair that only has a wire that comes out of one side or actually stays together for more than two uses. Please believe me, there is no worse money spent than having to buy a new set of headphones from an airport vending machine. (There goes another sponsor!) AND earbuds do not work for little kids! They do not know how to use them independently and they hurt their little ears! A reasonably priced pair of over the head headphones (wired or wireless) are the best way to go.

Getting Kids Onboard

When your kids are geared up and excited for what’s to come, they will take on so much more that the world has to offer! Contrary to popular opinion, I think surprises while traveling can wind up becoming overwhelming meltdowns. Instead, use technology to help you get the kids ready to take on all that your travels have to offer. Let them research destinations with books and videos like the one below. Let kids be the teachers along the way. Choose a time each day to go over the next day’s plans.

I want to leave you with this, I put my money where my mouth is, I use (or have used) every one of these apps and products while I travel or work with kids as they become global citizens.