Note: A version of this blog was also posted as a guest post on Femme Frugality.
Japan is a truly incredible place to visit. In 2016, my husband, Travis, and I visited friends who lived there, and we were struck by the proud history and majesty of this beautiful culture. One of the things that really stuck out to me about Japan is the low crime rate and the honesty the people showed. Let me give you an example. (more…)
It has been a crazy last few months with many big things happening in my little family, including new job for my husband, refocusing my goals when it comes to my career, and lots of things shifting. They are all ultimately good things, but sometimes change can be difficult. (more…)
These last two months have been full of traveling and seeing the world, but there is nothing like coming home to my Hobbit Hole, my routine, and my blog! Travis and I recently traveled to Oslo, Norway. It is an incredible place to explore and wander, and we had our fair share of learning experiences.
We flew into Oslo and rented a car for the 45 minute drive to the city. Pro Tip—If you are renting a car, make sure your hotel is car friendly. Life is all about adventures, and there is nothing quite like the adventure of navigating downtown Oslo’s myriad of one way streets, almost running over pedestrians jumping out in the middle of the street, or driving through tram-only stops in efforts to find a parking garage nearby to park your car for 3 days. Train might be the best way to go.
We got a private tour Oslo Highlight tour from the Oslo Guidebureau. It was incredible to walk around the city with an expert. Our guide was very personable and we were able to ask questions about what we were interested in. June was the perfect time to go because the streets were lined with Lilac trees and so many other types of flowers. It is a very walkable city with so much to see, including the Norwegian Parliament Building, the Royal Palace, and the Grand Hotel, which is the annual venue for the winner of the Nobel Peace prize.
The highlight of our Oslo walking tour was hopping on a boat and heading across the waters to the Viking Ship Museum. It was the ONE thing Travis wanted to do more than anything else on our whole vacation. It was absolutely fascinating to see these ships and what life was like for the Vikings. These ships were excavated in 1880 and 1903 and were found to be burial ships. The clay soil they were buried in kept them beautifully preserved. Similar to the Egyptian pyramids, respected individuals would be buried with their possessions and anything they would need for the afterlife. There were quite a few artifacts on display, but the majority of them are in storage beneath the museum. It is a smaller museum, so it didn’t take much time to see it in its entirety. They have plans to expand in the near future in order to put more items on display.
On our third day in the Oslo, we decided to make good use of the car we rented and take a little road trip outside the city. We ventured south of the city to Tønsberg, which is the home to the Saga Oseberg—a successfully replicated, sea-worthy Viking ship. It is also a pleasant scenic walk along the docks and through the town. After a few hours wandering, we hopped in the car again to explore the fjords and Norwegian countryside. It was gorgeous.
We only had a few days to explore the beautiful country of Norway, but as always, there is so much left to discover! Here are a few things that are on the bucket list for next time we visit:
—Norway in a Nutshell: This tour was highly recommended by quite a few sites I researched. We didn’t have time this trip, but I want to go back JUST to do this! You are able to explore the beautiful fjords of Norway. Like, we are talking Lord-of-the-Rings-epic fjords. You take trains, boats, busses to see some of the the coolest, most picturesque parts of Norway.
—The National Gallery: There are so many awesome pieces of art on display. Of the most notable, The Scream is one of the most famous paintings by Norwegian painter, Edvard Munch. There is also an entire (separate) museum dedicated to him and his works. in another part of the city.
—The Vigeland Sculpture Park: This park is the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist, Gustav Vigeland. There are hundreds of sculptures around the park made from so many different mediums: plaster, marble, wrought iron, and several more. I am so bummed we didn’t get a chance to explore it while in Oslo, but it will be one of our first stops when we go back one day.
Ah, airplanes. The glorious whales of the air that magically transport us from one destination to the next. It is crazy to wrap your head around the fact you are darting through the sky 500mph, 30,000 feet above the earth below, unaffected by the elements directly outside your window.
Now think of being in the belly of that beast for 10+ hours while soaring over oceans and continents. It can get a little—constrained? Cramped? Muscle-achey?
International flights are actually my favorite. I have gone over the Atlantic and Pacific more times than I can count. Along the way I have picked up a few essentials that make that sky darting experience a little more bearable. Besides drinking lots of water and having a good pillow, here are eight more things to put on your checklist:
No JetLag—I heard about this homeopathic supplement when I flew to Thailand and Myanmar. It is originally from New Zealand, and it really helps with jet lag. A whole pack can last you about 2 round trips. The instructions are pretty specific, so make sure to read them beforehand. You used to be able to get them at a local vitamin shop, but I just order a bunch from Amazon these days.
Sleep mask—Yes, you know those cute little lacy, satiny, frilly things girls use at sleepovers. But I am telling you—these things are essential. Not only do they block out light, but they help keep my eyes closed and relaxed when you are fitting in crucial shut-eye. They also sell super manly black ones at Target if the frills aren’t your thing.
Socks: Okay, there are lots of different opinions floating around on this one. I
generally wear flats or shoes that I can easily kick off, but I am a firm believer in a fresh pair of socks for every flight. Once, I didn’t have any socks and I could barely feel my toes halfway through the flight. Ever since that chilling moment, I have thrown in a pair of socks into my carry on and have them easily accessible. Because, please, for the sake of everyone, NEVER walk around the plane bare
foot. And a steadfast rule to live by—always wear shoes to the bathroom. Cuz nothing ruins your happy warm feet like wet socks. Yeah, let’s move on.
Ear plugs: Invest in a few good pairs of disposable earplugs—they’re are a lot cheaper than noise-canceling head phones. I buy a big box of 3M yellow earplugs (which, fun fact, fighter pilots use) and throw several pairs into a bag. The reason I like disposable is because I throw them away when I am done and it cuts down on the pollen and dirt and nasty stuff that can get in my ears if I reuse them! That’s just me, tho. Clean ears are happy ears!
Zquil and EmergenZ: I have a ritual when it’s time to go to bed. I go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, clean my face (see below), get comfy, ask the flight attendant for a small cup of water and prepare my EmergenZ. This is a double win because: 1) It has melatonin to help you naturally fall asleep, and 2) It keeps your immune system healthy on that germ invested vehicle. I then take a dose of Zquil to aid in a good night’s sleep, and put on my sleep mask, cuddle up with my pillow, and settle in for the night. Grab them together at Target in the sleep aid section.
Moist facial wipes: When I wash my face, I really like the hypoallergenic face wipes Yes to Cucumbers. I use one before I go to bed, then another again in the morning when I want to wake up my face. It is also a good idea to moisturize because planes are super dry! Which leads me to my next point…
Chapstick and lotion: Planes aren’t exactly known for their moisture and humidity, and I’ve had moments with cracked knuckles and blistery lips whilst sitting helpless at 30K. Oh that the chapstick on my dresser at home were with me now! It will help keep those things in your carry on at all times so you don’t forget, and it will be there when you really need it!
Fresh clothes: I always travel with a set of clothes to change into either before we land or when I get to the airport. It was something I hadn’t considered before I had gone on my first trip to Asia, where I traveled with someone who suggested it. I changed the next morning before landing and felt like a new woman. It all helps in the jet lag, long-travel-days’ process.
Growing up as an Air Force brat, I remember my fighter-pilot dad having a big, green bag packed at all times. It sat in the corner of my parents’ room ready at a seconds notice. I remember it being packed after 9-11 should he be called into action in the F-117 Stealth Fighter. This big green was his “Go Bag.” It had everything he needed ready to go at a moment’s notice.
I travel a lot for work and have a little Go Bag of my own going on. And though I am not waiting to fly a jet into enemy territory, I have my carry-on checklist down to a science. And my bag isn’t army green—he’s mostly blue and white.
In fact, I still remember the day I met my R2D2 suitcase. I first spotted him at Disneyland for $160. I was so tempted to drop the cash right then and there blaming my allotted splurge impulse. Instead, I looked it up on Amazon and found the exact American Tourister suitcase for literally half the price. We have been together ever since. He is often grouped with my hedgehog patterned briefcase carrying all my hand bag essentials that I need to grab on the go.
Carry-On Luggage 101:
—Liquids bag: I travel with a bag designated just for liquids meeting TSA requirements. This is awesome since I don’t want to pack massive bottles of shampoo/conditioner that have been known to explode all over my clothes in my bag, and they leave space in R2D2. I also can pull out one neat little bag when it comes time to security and not worry about what other liquids are floating around in my suitcase.
—Detergent pods: I keep these guys with my liquids. I seriously love that they make individual servings of detergent. I pack a few in a plastic bag just in case I want to wash something in the sink or there happens to be a washer/dryer where I am staying. I have hand washed in the sink certain clothes I need cleaned, or my hotel has a washer dryer that I can use. And I don’t have to pay for their overpriced detergent!
—“Tacos” and “Burritos”: These little handy dandy contraptions help keep your cords in an organized, de-tangled dream. I have all my charging cords and headphones wrapped up and put in one bag. No more searching my hedgehog briefcase when I want to plug in at the gate before my flight—I have my handy dandy go-to cords bag!
—Snack bars: As a Whole30 veteran, I always make sure I pack my own snacks to hold me over when I am stuck on a plane at lunch time. My favorite healthy snacks are Lara Bars and Epic Bars. Whatever suits your fancy, always have a stash in your carry on just in case your tummy is a’rumbling.
When You Have That Annoying Cold:
I cannot tell you how many times I have had to fly with a head cold. It is not a pleasant feeling for your ears or face. Or your happiness levels. So beyond a stack of tissues and a bottle of water, here are just a few more ideas:
—Airborne: Around my busy season of travel, I take an airborne every day. If I am sick or not, I want to avoid it at all costs.
—Benedryl: This awesome antihistamine, allergy relief medicine available at any drug store is awesome not only for those struggling with allergies, but it also helps when you’re stuffed up and are about to fly! I have had serious head colds and take one before I board my flight, and it really helps. Just a suggestion!
—Earplanes: I heard about these little guys from a flight attendant on one of my flights. They are designed to help with cabin pressure pain that comes with the joys of a sinus cold, or if your ears are uncomfortable flying in general.
What are your favorite things to pack in your carry on? Come back next week to read part 2 in our carry-on series—what to pack for an INTERNATIONAL flight.
It is that time of year again—time for the RE-solutions, RE-starts, and RE-dos. It is also that time to RE-evaluate the things that are important to you, time to RE-visit your priorities, and perhaps a time to reWARD yourself for all that hard work (see what I did there?). (more…)