No doubt about it – we are traveling in a post-pandemic world differently than we did before.
Some of the changes are small. We’ve needed to replace items, update a few things, and plan for multiple contingencies because things just aren’t going according to plan. The first trip of this year, I did such a poor job of packing, that I had stop by a Target store to buy all sorts of things I missed.
It’s gotten better. We’ve made the conscious choice (and budget decision) to fly business class on long-haul international flights. While it’s certainly more comfortable, and I love a comfortable pod and lie-flat seat, there are other practical reasons for the decision.
If something is going to go wrong, business class passengers have a priority for checked bags, rebooking in the event of a cancellation or delay, and lounge access. While that won’t solve all the problems, it goes a long way in making it more comfortable.
Here are a few more things that are making travel easier for us these days.
Summer Essentials for Travel
Here are our recommendations on products, books, movies, podcasts, websites, and recommendations for summer travel essentials. Make your summer travel simpler, easier, and more fun!
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A travel writing colleague first turned me on to this clothing line (thanks, Eric). Initially, Tony ordered a t-shirt. It fit well, wore well, and laundered up well. Everything you want in clothing, but are a bit skeptical about when you order online. We've now more, including t-shirts (long and short sleeves), socks, polo shirts, and sweats. It may sound crazy packing wool for two summer weeks in Italy, but it was perfect. He was able to pack light, had plenty of clothes to wear, and when he needed to wash them, it was easy in the sink and line dry. I just received some items from their new women's line and am anxious to give them a try.
Use the button below to get $30 off your first purchase of $75 or more (and I'll get a similar bonus).
Since we were finally able to return to Italy this year, we got in the mood by watching movies set there. From historical documentaries to classic films, from adventure to romance, we've rounded up 101 movies that are set in Italy. Love 'em or hate 'em, you'll find something to watch that will get you in the mood.
Regardless of where you're traveling, you can load up your favorite device with movies to watch on your next flight or road trip. We each have a Kindle Fire that works better for movies than our phones.
Whether I'm on a plane or a train, or just out for a walk at home or on the treadmill, I'm usually listening to my podcast queue. I'm not a big audiobook fan, I just can't seem to pay attention, but I love podcasts. My list is pretty broad and includes a range of topics from travel to current events, from popular television shows to local series.
But my favorite is Everything Everywhere Daily. It's a daily production by my friend Gary and is a bite-sized listening morsel on random topics. With an average length of about 10 minutes, it's an easy daily commitment. If you're building your podcast listening library, it's a good one to start with.
In keeping with the Italian theme, both Tony and I read this book which tells the story of making The Godfather. At times it read a little bit like a soap opera - a new director, actors with troubling backgrounds, the politics of Hollywood studios, all serving as an umbrella over a story of organized crime.
While what you read may not be essential, how you read is. Tony prefers reading a hard copy of a book, but that means he only has one or two with him when he travels. I prefer reading on my waterproof Kindle Paperwhite. When our trip home from Italy was delayed by over a day, it was nice to have my Kindle loaded up with lots to read (and Tony was left scrambilng to find something). As a bonus, my library system allows me to check out library books and read on my Kindle. Chances are your library system has a similar program.
We've been in Italy with so many delicious salamis, prosciutto, and cheeses to choose from, so it's not surprising that a charcuterie platter has been high on our dining list. Add in some honey, delicious chutneys and spreads, fruit, and olives, and you've got a perfect snack. Make it robust enough, and you've got a tasty lunch or dinner.
We make sure we have fixings for a charcuterie board when we travel, picking up fresh items at a local market. And we always pack a corkscrew and wine stopper. When you just don't want to go out, or perhaps don't want to be around a bunch of people, it makes for a good meal.
Limonana, a Jordanian mint lemonade, has very simple ingredients: fresh lemon juice, lime juice, sugar, fresh mint, and water. I had it everywhere I went in Jordan, and knew I would need to replicate it at home. It took a little bit of trial and error to get the right balance of flavor, and I added a little vodka for a craft cocktail version.
We find ourselves replicating many of the food and beverages we discover while traveling. I've found it's helpful to carefully watch preparation (when possible) and to have a notebook handy for getting tips from a chef or server.
Since we also sample a lot of wines when we're traveling, we've found the Vivino app invaluable for tracking our sips. When we make purchases, we track everything in our cellar using CellarTracker. If you are a wine aficionado, those apps will be very helpful.
Two years of not traveling resulted in leaving things behind. And it's usually been something gadget related. So far this year, we've forgotten external charging devices, every type of code, and very nearly a set of AirPods. It was getting really expensive really fast as we replaced everything (sometimes, numerous times).
What we realized, is that the non-descript gadget bag we threw things into was dark and easily got lost in an airplane seat pocket or a hotel chair. It blended in too much and we overlooked it. Plus, we tossed everything in and cords got tangled
Our answer was to pick up a couple of new organizer bags in bright colors, bright blue for Tony, a bright pink print for me. We've already put them to use a couple of times. They're so bright that there's no way we can miss them in a hotel room or on the plane. Problem - hopefully - solved.
I'll admit to getting spoiled by the quality of my AirPods Pro. They are noise-canceling, have soft silicone tips for a comfortable fit, and easily pair with all my devices via blue tooth.
Watching movies on a plane, however, generally delivers a sub-standard listening experience. I used to take a wired headset to avoid using airline-provided ones. Wired headphones, however, provided a less than optimal experience. I'd have to pull them out (of the plug or my ears) if a seatmate wanted to pass by me. If the plug-in was loose, I'd have to be careful not to move around too much and pull it out. It was often more trouble than it was worth, even in business class where there is more room.
Upon recommendations from a friend, we picked up this transmitter for use on our last flight. It takes a little bit of maneuvering to get it plugged in and synched up, but one done, you can watch your listen to your inflight movie on your AirPods (or other blue tooth headphones. It worked slick and will be part of our gadget packing from here on out.
Remember how I said we've become forgetful and are leaving things behind? One of those forgotten items is our plug adapters. We had a rag-tag assortment collected over years; for a while, it was a popular giveaway at conferences I went to. We left behind two on our recent trip to Italy, and that was in addition to two more than we left with our traveling companions. Our supply was depleted.
Time to order some new ones! We picked up a couple of these two-pack adapters. These include two USB posts in addition to the standard plug-ins. We'll be using them for our European River Cruise in July.
While we were in Italy, the United States dropped the requirement for a negative Covid test to return to the country. It wasn't a surprise, most other countries had already done so, and it meant that we gained a day for enjoyment that would otherwise have been spent scheduling, taking, and waiting for test results.
But although we've become more relaxed about wearing masked, we haven't gone crazy with our risk tolerance. Three days after returning from Italy, we took a home Covid test. We take an at-home test when we've been traveling or in crowds where we were at higher risk. We consider it part of our travel routine now.
Through a federal program, every household is eligible to receive free at-home tests. Order them today and keep them handy.
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