And I’m Leaving Some Baggage Behind
“I’d rather have a passport full of stamps than a house full of stuff.” Tbh, I did not even own a passport until ten years ago, having only traveled domestically. I am fortunate to have parents who love to travel. They would load all four of us girls in the car every summer, and we would go on driving trips. They would give us each a state to research. We got to pick out what places we would visit in that state. Of course, I believe this was my mom’s way of giving us homework over the summer. But it instilled in me a love of travel.
Traveling As A Child
Most of our trips took place during summer or winter vacations. They involved driving throughout the United States. My twin sister and I would rate the bathrooms at every stop by their cleanliness and décor (there are apps for that now, so perhaps we were onto something). We usually stayed at a Holiday Inn or Howard Johnsons. And if we were fortunate enough to go somewhere by plane, that was a special occasion. Mom would dress us up in nice outfits (all four in the same color so she would not lose us). Traveling by air was such a treat for us at that age.
Today’s Travel Experience
Today, getting to a travel destination is an exercise in patience and certainly not as enjoyable, but I am all in if it is a way to see the world. I traveled for work in my twenties and saw even more of our country. I would try to wrap my business trips around a weekend or add on some days to have time to travel and explore. And I knew that when I became a mom, I would want to instill a love of travel in my kids.
When my daughters were young, our trips involved activities, so we went to Disney, Busch Gardens, Atlantis, Paradise Island, and skiing at one of our favorite places, Park City, Utah. We also took them to New York City, Washington, D.C., and California when they were young. I had always wanted to go to Europe, having never been there before. A lesson I strongly believe is that life is short and tomorrow is not guaranteed. My opening quote, “I’d rather have a passport full of stamps than a house full of stuff,” is how I feel. We moved shortly after I became a widow. I had a house full of stuff that no one wanted. It made me realize it was time to start living my travel dreams.
I have been fortunate to travel to Europe on many Mother-Daughter trips since 2015. We create the most remarkable memories. I strongly believe that my love of travel over things resonates with my daughters. I am blessed to have been allowed to travel. My recommendations include accommodations, visiting places, tips, food, and more.
Pack light and minimally. You do not want to be lugging around suitcases, even if they are on wheels. Sometimes you may jump around from city to city or country to country, and putting a suitcase on a train is not fun, especially if it is heavy. I try to get an idea for outfits on Pinterest before leaving. It is a great way to get fashion tips where you only need a few bottoms, and you can mix and match them. Try the ultralight packing cubes from eBags.
Ensure your passport is current (with at least six months to spare). Do this at least three months in advance. Passports can be obtained from the Post Office or Courthouse. If you need to expedite a passport or visa renewal, try Fastport Passport. They are registered with the U.S. Department of State.
Register and enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). It is free to U.S. citizens and will give them important safety information from our Embassy and help them contact you in an emergency. I also have a Global Entry card. It renews every five years, two of which were lost to the pandemic.
I have Global Entry and Clear, which an American Express Platinum Card reimburses. Clear gives you expedited entry at 50+ airports nationwide without waiting in line to show your I.D. at airport security. I also am TSA approved, so I go by which line is the shortest. Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports. Global Entry is more applicable for international travel.
While you will want to bring some foreign currency with you (you can typically get currency for free at your bank), use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. Take a picture, and photocopy the international phone number for the card (and do the same with your passport). You want this in case your credit card is lost or stolen.
Keep a digital or written travel journal and add notes to your Google doc. I have shared much of my travel information with friends (and they have done the same for me). It is a great way to remember the details of each place you visit. Keep a digital copy on google docs. Also, email it to yourself if you lose your phone. I love this journal I got for my trips.
Over the years, I made plenty of packing mistakes. Take it from me; travel is complicated enough. Here are my top 10 travel item recommendations.
Places We’ve Visited Since 2015
Much has changed both domestically and globally since the Pandemic. Some of our trips were pre-pandemic. Some were taken during the Pandemic. And some were taken after the pandemic through today. I share places we’ve stayed, restaurant recommendations, and activities.