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

Your Travel Wardrobe Is In Your Closet. Right Now.

You hear it all the time! Create a capsule wardrobe to be a successful traveler. It makes any potential packer think that they need to order and buy specialty clothes to only use when there’s a suitcase at hand. Not so fast! We, here at Babcia and YiaYia, think that you might be selling yourself and your closet a little short. That’s right, we think you probably have far more than you think to complete the perfect travel wardrobe.

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In fact, we think that you probably have clothes that you love to wear that could be the foundation for that super elusive capsule wardrobe that all the rage. But where do you even start? We’ve got some easy steps to help!

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Weed out what won’t pack well.

You already know all of the things in your closet that are high maintenance They wrinkle fast and never wash well. You probably pull them out once or twice a year. They probably won’t pack very well anyway. Additionally, you probably know what kind of weather your head toward so out of season stuff is not part of your packing equation.

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Choose a color.

You know the color. It’s your favorite one and you pair it with black and white all the time. Ours is blue. It goes with our complexions and never fails to photograph well. You probably have this color weaving in and out of every rack in your closet anyway.

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Set out your neutrals.

Black. White. Denim. The gang’s all here! These are the pieces that go with pretty much anything. These wardrobe basics are the foundation to your mix and match packing style.

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Edit out the cliche items.

It’s time to do a double take. Is there anything in your potential packing pile that screams tourist? Message tees? Super bold colors that scream “pick my pockets”? Shoes that say “I have no idea how to travel comfortably with style”? Now is the time to edit those items out of your capsule concept.

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Start to mix and match.

Now that you’ve got yourself focused. It’s time to start pairing items together so that everything you take pulls a double shift. We start with the amount of days from take off to laundry. Do you have seven days until laundry? Then you need 5 bottoms in cool weather and 6 bottoms in hot weather. (Why six? Try sweating all day and then trying to look refreshed for dinner.) Seven days also needs 6-7 tops. There are many people who will give you different numbers but sweat doesn’t lie. Match them together. Make those outfits. Then make sure each top has a different bottom that will make a new look.

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Minus one for dresses.

If you like dresses, simply subtract one for every dress you plan to pack. Just remember that every dress you take needs to pack well. It also needs to be useful. Dresses for a rafting trip won’t do you much good but an easy to use maxi dress might be just perfect for evenings in Paris.

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Weave in the layers.

No matter what the weather, we always pack a wrap, a cardigan, and a scarf. Sounds like overkill? Well, we find that we use every single item every single time. Wraps are perfect as a double for plane blanket or pillow. Cardigans cover up if it gets a little too breezy. Scarves can cover bare shoulders or shorts in a pinch if you need to cover up at a particular site like a church or mosque. The most important thing about these pieces is that they go with every single outfit we bring.

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Finish off with three pairs of shoes.

You are definitely going to need walking shoes. These will most likely be your bulkiest shows and you will most likely wear them on the plane just like us. Additionally, you are going to want a pair of shoes that turns all of your outfits into a smarter look for evening. This may be a pair of flats or sandals. The point is, they elevate your look somehow to give you a little oomph. Lastly, you may want to add in beachy flip flops or a second pair of walkers depending on your needs. The most important thing about any pair of shoes you choose is that they go with every outfit you just made for your travel capsule wardrobe.

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Take it for a test drive.

Now, weeks before your trip, take all of those picks and pack them up. Zip that suitcase closed and put it in the corner. Try not to open it for three or four days. Then, take it all out and decide if it’s a keeper. We promise you probably only need to change out a few items. You’re ready to make a shopping list of the very few things that may be missing.

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We bet you feel a lot better!

We told you! You DO have a lot of items to contribute to a great travel capsule wardrobe. While you may want to add in a few last items, your closet is already full of great pieces to travel with. One last tip: take things that you love but may be expiring soon. If you need to ditch them for a little extra packing space on the way back home, it won’t hurt too much. Happy travels!

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Babcia and Yia Yia!, Intro To Travel Lit

‘Tis The Season For Travel Lit

Okay! We know! Traveling during the holidays is usually far more of a hassle than a great experience. While some of us get the pleasure of enjoying a true travel experience under the tree, most of us are either tucked in at home or schlepping somewhere we’d rather not. We hear you and we know you are calling out for a little help. Our response to this SOS is to work on your library. Books? YES!

These days, we’ve been totally inspired by the curated library on the Holland America Rotterdam cruise ship. It was completely curated to reflect a traveler’s interests. It got us thinking that sharing a curated list of books and book inspired moments for the traveler may be the best way we can wish you the best of spirits this season. So, pour a glass of wine, get yourself a great latte, and get comfy under your favorite blanket. Let’s travel, book style! 

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Use books to start your next travel dream

We can’t get enough of the grand libraries and bookshops of the travel world. Book lovers everywhere are always keeping an eye out for those amazing little places that can never be anything but delightful. Be sure to seek out the bookshops and libraries in the destination that you are going to visit. Carve out time to find the dusty corners and the sleepy cats who supervise all of the stacks! We suggest that you plot out your latest reads with this amazing find: Plotted: A Literary Atlas

Some of our favorite- but not always famous- bookstores that are worth your time are:

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  • Shakespeare and Co., Paris: Let’s talk about the line! This most famous of bookstores on the banks of the Seine can have quite the queue! But it stands the test the time. Make enough time to at least walk by it.
  • The Red Wagon in the St. Germain area of Paris: Children’s and adult books are just steps from Luxembourg Gardens.
  • The American Bookstore on Spui Square in Amsterdam: A long held American outpost, this is the place to grab a quick read before sitting down at a canal side cafe.
  • The Strand in NYC- books as decor are on display on every single wall. This bookstore is a piece of art unto itself and is our bonus pick!

Connect to your reading in more ways than one

We can’t get enough of how digital media has made book reading more accessible and portable while giving us book junkies a way to connect and share. Two of our favorites are Audible which allows you to listen to books at your own pace and Goodreads, a book loving community that let you connect and create goals to aspire to. While both of these services are by Amazon, we are not partners with them but we do love this cute little page holder that makes a perfect stocking stuffer! We’ve been busy reading and have some great picks for all kinds of travelers. We’ve added an Amazon link to each pic to make it easier to connect with these fabulous reads!

For The True Academic:

Babcia says: Go back in time and find out how the world changed as each drink was formulated. It’s fun to try and guess what they are before cracking this book open and it’s more fun to learn how they influence us to this day.

Yiayia says: Enjoy this heart-wrenching Holocaust survivor’s story. This story demonstrates that the power of love can see us through the darkest parts of our lives. Lily was liberated in 1945. She is an extraordinary woman who speaks out on the hope that evil would not happen again.

For The Romantic:

Babcia says: The first in a series of easy breezy romance stories, Julie Caplin creatively sets the scene for her classic boy meets girl stories all over the globe. Fun and fast, this is a quick read for any romance reader.

Yiayia says: Opa! When things fall apart where should you head? Santorini of course. Enjoy this romance novel on the beautiful Greek Island. Take in the blue tiled villas and turquoise waters. Let the love and beauty of Santorini wash away all your sadness!

For the Power Planner:

Babcia says: This travel journal keeps memories in an easy to update format. It’s a can’t miss for me and I so enjoy adding to it every now and then.

Yiayia says: Who doesn’t have a bucket list? If not, get started. This book gives you places all around the world guaranteed to meet all your desires. You will find hidden gems, cathedrals, castles, etc. to make your trip complete. So stop dreaming about it and get out and do it.

For The Logistics Lover:

Babcia says: Getting organized has never been so polite and Marie Kondo’s philosophy of getting organized can help any traveler reduce and streamline to better focus on the long range travel plans we all crave.

Yiayia says: With the big movement of minimalism, this book is on target. The Swedish author, Margareta Magnusson, provides an element of humor to a daunting task. Get rid of things that are not needed and are just taking up space. Hold on to those things that are dear to you and family. Start cleaning!

For The busy busy mamas

Babcia says: with so much in the news, this book gives you a good look at how certain reads wound up being banned. It makes you want to enjoy a little taste of Kansas City’s great banned books landscape.

Yiayia says: This is a must read when planning a family vacation. This is a great assistant to the busy mom. It will give you great options from cruises to all inclusive resorts.

For the Murder Mystery Maniac

Babcia says: It’s a classic and it’s well travelled Christie brings her characters to life in this must read who done it.

Yiayia says: Reading a good mystery should be on everyone’s list. This one takes you on a destiny wedding off the coast of Ireland. Meet all the wonderful characters and decide who done it!

For the Outdoorsy Enthusiasts

Babcia says: Get back to basics as you explore the great outdoors and learn what nature is really saying to you.

Yiayia says: “I now walk into the wild.” Follow Christopher’s unconventional life choice as he leaves friends, family and job behind and heads into the wild of Alaska.

For the European Wanderer

Babcia says: You can’t miss when you get a story from a great piece of art and that’s exactly what Theresa Chevelier does with Girl With A Pearl Earring.

Yiayia says: You don’t want to pass this on by. Go along with Katy as she takes a trip she is has been waiting years to take to Positano. She is only missing one thing, her mom. Journey with her and witness how she reconciles with the past.

And one for the kiddos!

Lauren Pelkey Wally the Wandering Wallaby! This great first look at how amazing the world can be! We had the pleasure of chatting with Lauren and learning all about her travel journey and how she became a children’s author. Check out our conversation in our podcast. You can click the link below.

Try This Scandinavian Tradition

Take on the Icelandic custom of Christmas Eve reading. Pop some popcorn, put on some low music and have everyone crack open a brand new book. Happy holidays! Love, Babcia and Yiayia!

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Babcia and Yia Yia!, Travel With Terri: USA 101

8 Ways to Experience Alaska

Alaska is one of the hottest destinations around these days. Road Trips and National Parks are the new buzz words in the travel industry. I think it’s safe to say that we are all going to be enjoying a lot more nooks and crannies of our country in these next few years as the travel and tourism industry dusts itself off and gets back on its feet. So, where do you even start? Well, when it comes to the ultimate American trip, I can think of no place better than Alaska!

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I always say it! When we are out traveling the world, don’t just look at it, do it! And Alaska is a paradise for those who like to join in and experience things first hand. Whether you choose to visit by cruise, RV rental, tour package, or in your own mini-van, Alaska has something for absolutely everyone! In fact, there are so many choices, you may not be able to get to all of them. So, grab the kids and Grandma! Check out this great list of 8 of the most family friendly activities that Alaska has to offer!

Animal watching in Denali National Park

Whether you know it as Denali or Mt. McKinley, this central point of Alaska and its surroundings never ceases to amaze! Once you are in the park, you can take on a hike on your own or jump on a school bus and enjoy a guided tour. Be prepared for a little ranger history and a few distant animals. If you’re lucky, you will get a chance to see the grand daddy of them all: the moose! This is definitely a trip to bring binoculars!

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Gold panning in the streams of Juneau

Step back in time and try your hand at a little gold panning in the shallows of the brisk streams that surround the area. Kids will love getting elbow deep as they search and scoop and dig for treasure. It’s a can’t miss!

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Whale watching in Glacier Bay National Park

While much of Alaska can be a bit overcast and gray, Glacier Bay sparkles! Learn about the glacier ice and catch a calving as the ice gives way to the water below. Watch the chunks of striped ice float by you and, if you are willing to get up early, you may run in to a pod of whales enjoying the morning light.

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Fishing in the waters off of Ketchikan

Whether you are a fresh water fisher or prefer the salt water, Alaska has something for everyone. I highly suggest a guide that will make the most of your time. Guides are also helpful in keeping you safe from uniquely Alaskan dangers like bars while you fly fish or whale bubble nets while you fish for salmon. Many guides also include the processing and shipping in their fees. Our salmon arrived perfectly packaged on our door step the day after we returned home. Brilliant!

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Salmon Bake in the woods

For an enchanting meal, try out a salmon bake. These outdoor venues nestle themselves in the woods and allows guests to get comfy around a campfire. We felt like little pixie fairies could show up at any time as we made s’mores. Watch out though, the squirrels are onto the marshmallows and may try to take one or two!

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Dog Sled Mushing and puppy hugging

Get ready to try out Alaska’s best sport! Dog Sledding! Having the chance to visit a dog sled camp is quite the treat. Most of the year, these amazing animal athletes are preparing for the Iditorad race. As a visitor, you can help out these furry friends by allowing them to pull you as they mush (you are a fraction of their winter haul). They are so excited when they know they are going to run! After that, socialize with the newest generation. They need to get to know lots of people in order to be successful on the race circuit. So, take a ride with the big dogs then go cuddle with the newest members of the pack- the puppies!.

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River Rafting on a glacial river

Zip up your dry suit and get ready for the thrill of a lifetime! Alaska has some of the best rapids going and they are picture perfect in the Summer months. The water is cold and the great rafting guides will take you through some of the most beautiful bush country Alaska has to offer. Be sure to ask about the expected rapids level so that you are comfortable with the activity level.

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Zip Lining in Talkeetna in Central Alaska

Talkeetna lies in central Alaska. This quirky town is a great day trip and has an excellent zip lining course. With a super family friendly attitude, you can spend the afternoon, zipping and repelling to your heart’s content. The finale of your course is a great over water run that will keep your heart racing! This is my mom taking on the long fly across! So much fun!

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