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Unpacking Memories

June 26, 2017

Unpacking Memories

My jet lag fog is lifting and the stomach bug that hit me a few days after landing is finally over, which meant that I needed to tackle the six suitcases I brought home. The big issue with this is that I really don’t have a place of my own to put all the stuff I brought back. Unlike many expats and nomads, I don’t have a storage unit. My few possessions live in a building on my parent’s property, in what we call “The Office.”

Before coming home, I had asked my Mom to clear some room in the closet and a drawer for me so I wouldn’t have to live out of suitcase for the month I would be home. She hadn’t gotten around to it by the time I arrived. Which ended up being good as yesterday she and I went through what used to be my old closet and unpacked some memories together.

The closet is now a mash-up of her off-season clothes, my nieces hand me downs, and clothes that have sentimental value. My prom dress is there. My Mom’s first formal is in there. All my sister and my oldest niece cheerleading jackets are in there. So with each handful, my Mom pulled out, we would say, “Remember this!” or she would say “You never saw this costume.” We had a great time looking at things we hadn’t seen in awhile.

Then there were the things my Mom hadn’t seen from my travels and Qatar. While I am not a big souvenir buyer, I do occasionally buy things. I have also been gifted many things over the years. We oooh’d and aahh’d over these things as they were unpacked only for most of the to be packed again. I am mostly sad that all my lovely things will not be on display again.

Memories continued when I took some things down to the office for long term storage. I found some knee high heeled boots from my New York days. They promptly went in the trash as the leather had dried out. I returned Christmas decorations that had been taken to Qatar to their box and admired the ones I hadn’t seen in awhile. I went through a few boxes and decided it was time to let go of a few things in them as well.

So many people have commented on the fact that I have gotten rid of so much stuff when I left Qatar, but that is just it. It is just stuff. I am sure that when I return home again, I will have forgotten half the things I have packed away on this trip. Just like those boots I had forgotten about!

What memories would you like to unpack?

Greece, Packing, Travel

What to Pack for a Greek Island Sailing Trip

February 27, 2017

What to Pack for a Greek Island Sailing Trip

Packing for a sailing trip around the Greek Islands seems like it should be easy, you just through a swimsuit, short and sunscreen and go right?! Well, that might be fine on a cruise, but reading the list provided by the sailing company I was unsure how to pack and what to pack it in.

Surprisingly I only found a few blog posts regarding packing for a sailing or boat trip. One was The Blonde Abroad’s post on packing for yacht week. The other was Her Packing List. Both are great lists but were not for a two-week trip, and only one was for a trip to Greece. My trip was for two weeks and included nights out for dinner almost every night.

I recommend only bringing cotton and linen items as you will feel much more comfortable in those fabrics, and they dry quickly. You may be able to get laundry done on one of the islands.

This post contains affiliate links. There is no additional cost to you but helps me maintain the blog.

Clothing

 

4-5 pairs of shorts – I only brought three and kicked myself for taking the 4th pair out at the last minute. Yes, I did laundry, but even linen takes time to dry in the humid air.

5-6 t-shirts and tank tops – I brought this many because I tend to spill on myself!

7-8 pairs of underwear- You can bring more or less depending on how much hand washing you want to do

3-4 bras – You will probably be in your swimsuit every day during the day

1 pair of pants – The nights can get chilly, and I was happy to have them

3-4 dresses – We went out to dinner every night, but one and I only brought 3 and wished I had one more for variety

Windbreaker – Preferably one that is waterproof. It rained one day and one rough sea day and mine kept me warm.

3-4 swimsuits – I brought too many! Probably isn’t a thing, but I wore my two bikinis the most.

1-2 coverups or sarongs – I wore my cover up when walking to beaches from the boat. You could also wear your shorts, but then they might be wet. I made sure mine were long enough to be comfortable to wear inside a shop or restaurant I might want to pop into along the way.

Hat – Make sure it has a strap to keep it on in the wind or attach it to your clothes with a clip.

Shoes

1 pair of flip flops – Essential for the beach.

1-2 pairs of sandals – Good for going out. Don’t bring heels. We walked far one some nights for dinner, and the streets are not even. If you must be high, bring wedges. The link I have included here are my favorite sandals from Aerosoles. They are comfortable and stylish. (I think I am on my third pair!)

1 pair of deck shoes with light colored soles – These are especially important if you plan on helping with the sailing of the boat. They will protect your toes from getting broken! These Nike ones had breathable mesh, and I loved them.

Toiletries

Sunscreen – Bring as much as you think you will need. You can buy it in Greece, but it will be very expensive. Don’t bring spray sunscreen as it can make everything slippery

Deodorant – It is hot!

Make-up – Most days I only applied this at night for dinner. For day, I either wore nothing or cc cream with sunscreen

Shampoo/Conditioner – For two weeks, I brought full sized bottles because I have long hair. You may be able to get away with less. The sea and the wind do take a toll on your hair, so conditioner is a must.

Hair texturizer – You will not be able to blow dry your hair on the boat, so bring something to style your hair (if you want). The link it so my favorite sea salt spray.

Bar of soap – I found this much easier and one less liquid to bring on onboard.

Lotion – The sea and the sun will dry your skin out. Bring something that doubles as after-sun (something with aloe vera).

Bug wipes – There are mosquitos in Greece. I prefer bug wipes as again, one less liquid and it doesn’t spray everywhere. Get the unscented ones!

Bags

Rolling duffle bag – There is nowhere to store a traditional rolling suitcase. You need a bag that can be squished flat for storage. The one I chose had a small hard bottom, which offered some protection for fragile things and liquids.

Day bag – You will want something to carry while sightseeing.

Beach bag – I didn’t bring one but was given a tote on arrival in Athens, and I was so glad as I brought it to the beach.

Evening bag – You may want something to carry to dinner instead of your day bag.

Dry bags – If you bring a camera or any other electronics, you should bring at least one dry bag. This will keep it protected if you have to take the dingy to shore.

Technology

Camera – This goes without saying, but you will want your camera.

E-reader  – If you are a big reader like me, then bringing several books was easier with an e-reader.

Other

Beach towel – The company I went with did not provide beach towels, so I brought a Turkish towel for the beach. They are thinner than a regular towel, are super absorbent and can act as a sarong in a pinch.

Clothes pins – You will want to hang your clothes to dry, and the boat may have some pins, but if everyone hangs up at the same time, the pins go quickly.

Earplugs  – Some harbors are loud at night, and wearing earplugs helped me to get to sleep and stay asleep.

Have you been sailing? What do you recommend to pack?

Egypt, Europe, Greece, Italy, Middle East, Packing, Travel

My 2016 Year in Review

December 19, 2016

I know the general consensus from the world is that they would like 2016 to be over. While I agree some awful things are happening in the world, I would like to focus on the good things of 2016. This year I am going to tell you all the good things, not just the travel things. Here is my 2016 year in review!

January

As usual, I was looking to plan a trip right when I returned from my trip home. I quickly decided, with the help of my Mom, to head to Egypt in February! Not sure why it took me so long to decide to go there as I had wanted to go for a long time.

February

My trip to Egypt was the second week of the month, and I loved every minute of it. Seeing the pyramids was an experience I will never forget. It just baffles me that humans made them. Sailing up the Nile was another experience that I truly enjoyed. I can sit and watch the water go by for hours and not get bored. Not only that I got to see the sun set and rise over the Nile. Here is the video from that day.

 

I started working out with a personal trainer. This set me up to lose four clothing sizes over the next several months! If you follow me on Snapchat, you probably saw lots of snaps of me on the treadmill and pictures of the sunrise over Doha.

March

One of my friends invited me on a Dhow boat cruise, which I had only done once before. It was a warm day with great company. I met new people and watched the lights come on in Doha as the sun went down. I also took one of my favorite photos of the year that day!

 

April

A paper I wrote was accepted to be presented at a conference, and the conference just happened to be in Slovenia! Slovenia is by far the most beautiful country I have been to so far. I got to see much of its beauty because I drove from Ljubljana to Radenci, where the conference was being held. Not only was it beautiful, but the food was also amazing. Most of it was local, and you could taste how fresh it was.

I treated myself to a staycation at the W Doha. Staycations may become my new obsession! I felt totally relaxed after the stay, and there was no stress of having to travel anywhere.

SONY DSC

May

May was a month of prepping. By now I had lost all the weight and desperately needed new clothes. I was heading to Italy for a month at the end of May and had nothing to wear! Not that I am complaining. A good friend went with me to try on clothes, and it was a good thing she did as I would have left with clothes slightly too big because I wasn’t convinced yet that I had lost so much weight.

At the very end of May, I left for a month in Italy. Believe it or not, this was for work. I was taking a course on bookbinding and bookbinding restoration. The first weekend though was spent with my friends in Italy. They just happen to live close to the course and it was great to start of my trip with them. They live in a small village and when I arrived the Infiorata was happening.  Such a neat experience.

7 Unique Italian Things to do During a Summer Visit to Italy

June

June stands out as one of the best months as I finally discovered Florence! The second weekend in Italy, I headed to Florence for the first time despite having been to Italy twice before. I fell in love right away. So much so that I went back the next weekend. I enjoyed just walking around and looking at all the amazing architecture. It was like walking through an outdoor museum.

GPSMyCity

The fourth weekend I was in Italy, I spent it exploring more of Umbria. This was when I discovered the lovely towns of Assisi and Gubbio. I recommend you drive to these towns to see the wonderful Umbrian countryside.

July

Right when I returned from Italy there was a holiday in Qatar and headed to Oman. Every summer Oman has a monsoon season which, as you can imagine, is rare in the Middle East. For three days I didn’t see the sun!

 

August

In August, I need to attend a conference in the United States. I decide to combine the work trip with a visit home. This time I decided not to take a direct flight from Doha to Dallas. I wanted to fly business and the only way I could afford it was to fly American Airlines with a stop in London. Even though I prefer to go direct, the layover was short and it was nice to get a break from the plane.

I spent about a week with my family. I did my usual see doctors and get a haircut routine. It is always great to spend time with my family even though it was short.

The conference I attended was in Atlanta, and one of my good friends lives within driving distance. I hadn’t seen her in 3 years, and she volunteered to drive down for the day to see me! We spent a day catching up at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens seeing the Chihuly Exhibit.

 

September

The sailing trip up the Nile in February inspired me to find a sailing cruise for later in the year. So I headed to Greece the first week of September to sail the Greek Islands for two weeks.  I know you may be wondering, why haven’t I seen a post on Greece yet!? They are coming, I promise. I took several blogging breaks this year and happy to say I think it has improved the blog post quality and I am motivated again.

 

October

I hadn’t planned on going anywhere in October, but I found a conference I wanted to attend. The conference just happened to be in Florence! I was thrilled. The conference was being held in the Uffizi Gallery Library. While most of the time was spent at the conference, I got to stay in my favorite Florence hotel. I also got to wake up in Florence on my birthday!

November

While I didn’t travel anywhere in November, I had three Thanksgivings! It was great to catch up with old friends and make new ones. One of these Thanksgiving was an invite to the Four Seasons Doha to taste their Thanksgiving buffet. It was a beautiful meal offered at their Italian restaurant, El Teatro.

December

The first weekend in December, I was invited by the Intercontinental Doha the City to enjoy a staycation! The room offered a stunning view of downtown Doha. I really enjoyed watching the lights come on as the sun went down from the couch.

InterContinental Doha the City

Now I am back home again enjoying time with family. We are having the usual crazy Texas weather where it is 70 during the day and then drops 50 degrees in one day. My parents have a fireplace and I am loving the fire. Christmas celebrations at our house include getting presents and stockings from Santa. Our Christmas tree has a train around it and elves climbing the side.

This will be the last official blog post of 2016 as I will take the rest of the year off to enjoy being with my family before heading back to Doha.

What was your best memory of 2016? Share with us in the comments.

Packing, Prep, Rome, Travel

Travel Rules I Break and Why!

February 28, 2015

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Everyone one has a travel style. Many people avoid checking bags, only bring backpacks, look for the cheapest flights and take tons of photos. Others do the exact opposite and over pack, bring lots of suitcases and buy tons of stuff.  I probably fall somewhere in the middle of all this. Here I explain my reasoning for why I travel the way I do.

Packing light – No, I don’t pack everything I own and I do try to pack only what I think I will need, but I don’t think you need to pack light. You should enjoy your trip and if that means having your favorite clothes and shoes then pack them! (Or for me, my favorite travel pillow) Travel should be enjoyable and that means feeling good about yourself. You should wear what makes you feel good. I also like to have a backup outfit. You never know what can happen (staining your shirt or being invited to a party) and I don’t want to waste my travel time by shopping.

Checking bags – So this goes along with the first. I rarely don’t check a bag. This is for several reasons. I don’t like to carry a backpack as my only suitcase. I am very short and they get very uncomfortable for me. Usually my shoulders hurt by the time I have arrived at my destination and that is only with carry on items in it. Of course, this could be that I am out of shape!! I also have a hard time getting suitcases into the overhead bin because of my height. I also usually don’t change hotels once I arrive somewhere, so it isn’t a big deal to me to roll my suitcase to the hotel and back to the airport.  I have the four-wheeled ones that are great for this! I also usually fly Qatar Airways and I don’t have to pay to check a bag. That being said, I also don’t mind paying for one bag. It is a small price to pay for not having to lug my stuff around on my back!

Cheap travel – We all love a good travel deal, but I also want the schedule to be right for me. That usually means as few stops as possible (non-stop is best) and not traveling overnight. I know how my body operates and I need sleep. I am a terrible person to be around when I have had very little sleep and my joints ache. This means I usually end up paying $200-$300 more per flight as I want the schedule that everyone wants, but I also enjoy my trip more. It also means, I look for good deals on hotels or Airbnb instead. On my trip to Rome, I scored an Airbnb apartment for one week for $500!

Photos – I fall into the takes lots of photos category. Not thousands, but hundreds. Since I travel alone, this isn’t a big deal as I am not making someone stop to take photos. I also tend to take several shots of each scene to get it right. This is because I am trying to improve my skills. That being said, I still want to see the things I came to see without the camera. Take time to look at everything. I read a study that said taking lots of photos causes us not to remember what happened.

Talk to strangers –  I talk to strangers! I am from Texas and this comes naturally to me. It doesn’t matter if I am traveling alone or with someone else. Sometimes it doesn’t happen because I am in a place where English in’t spoken and my poor language skills don’t allow for it. But I will speak to strangers. I love learning about people and their stories! It’s one of the main reasons I love living abroad. Just do it, you won’t regret it. Start by saying hello or commenting on what you are both looking at.

What are some of your travel “rules”? Is there anything you can’t live without while traveling?

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