Gifts for Travelers

Gifts for Travelers
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It’s that time of year again: it’s officially the holiday season. I took advantage of Black Friday sales and did most of my shopping from the couch. Today, I have a few more items to pick up via Cyber Monday sales and then it’ll be time to pack everything up to ship to the East Coast. For those of you looking for gifts for travelers in your life, here are some finds that are sure to please even the most seasoned road warrior:

  • This wallet has spots for multiple currencies, a Passport, and travel documents
  • A leather tech roll is perfect for organizing cords and headphones and eliminating annoying tangles
  • Packing cubes are a game changer for separating items or outfits
  • This travel adapter charges multiple devices at a time
  • An in-flight cocktail kit is perfect for the person who has everything (six drink options to choose from)
  • This travel jewelry case takes up very little space and comes in five colors
  • An adjustable sleep mask is a must-have item for red eyes (or just mid-flight naps!)
  • A monogrammed throw blanket is an upgrade from the thin blankets airlines provide
  • These Nalgene bottles are truly leakproof
  • An alpaca cape is cozy and chic for both in-flight and on the ground

 

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Thanksgiving Travel Tips

Thanksgiving Travel Tips
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Many of you are traveling this week for Thanksgiving. Sometimes, I don’t know which is worse: flying or driving. (I’m experiencing PTSD just thinking about the 10+ hour drives between North Carolina and New Jersey I experienced in college.) For the second year in a row, we’re staying in the Bay Area for Thanksgiving, spending the holiday with friends and likely a day or two in Sonoma.

For those of you traveling, here’s a few previous posts of travel tips to get your through Thanksgiving and the winter holiday season:

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How to Survive a Low-Cost Airline

How to Survive a Low-Cost Airline

Ryanair. Air India Express. Spirit Airlines. easyJet. These are some of the low-cost airlines I’ve flown on and I can tell you that the experience can make a Greyhound bus seem like luxury travel. Although you’re paying vastly less by booking a flight with a low-cost airline, you’re also sacrificing leg room, being able to choose your seat, and sometimes even free beverage service! That being said, when you’re looking to get from Point A to Point B, taking advantage of a low-cost airline can make sense. That being said, it will take some legwork and research. Here’s how to survive a low-cost airline.

Avoid sticker shock. Low-cost airlines are notorious for charging extra for even the most basic amenities. Your cheap ticket might end up being much more expensive in the long run. Before booking your ticket, read up on the airline’s extra charges (e.g., selecting your seat) and always buy add-on amenities at the time of purchase as the price tends to go up as your departure date approaches. Of utmost importance is understanding luggage allowances as some low-cost airlines only allow you you one free personal item! Again, check this policy at booking and plan your packing accordingly.

Proofread. Carefully review all of your booking details. Some low-cost airlines will say you’re flying into Paris, for example, but actually you’re flying into an airport an hour or two away from the city center, which requires additional transportation. Similarly, carefully review the purchase screen and your ticket once it arrives in your inbox. Contact the airline immediately if there’s any errors.

Pack light. Once you know your luggage allowances, make sure that you follow them to a T. There’s going to be no wiggle room for a carry-on that’s an inch too big or a pound overweight. I recommend purchasing a luggage scale so you can be sure that the weight of your bag complies with regulation.

Check-in online. Low-cost airlines love to collect fees anyway they can, including at check-in. To avoid paying an additional fee to check-in at the airport, make sure you check-in online and print your boarding pass at home. And on your way out the door, triple check that you have the hard-copy boarding pass.

Manage expectations. By booking a low-cost airline you’re acknowledging a no-frills travel experience. Plan accordingly by packing your own snacks and a water bottle. If it’s a red-eye, know that you need to bring a pillow and/or a blanket unlike traveling on a legacy carrier. It’s definitely not glamorous, but you can make it tolerable.

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3 Days in Andalucia

3 Days in Andalucia
The impressive Alhambra in Granada

I say this in the nicest way possible, but Madrid was my least favorite city of my trip through Spain last month. In contrast to Madrid’s big city vibes, the towns we visited during our 3 days in Andalucia possessed so much Old World charm in their winding streets. The allure of these towns is that there’s not as much to see, rather you’re visiting for the pleasure of experiencing long lunches, sipping Spanish wines, and appreciating the quaintness of it all. I knew the day or so spent in each place wouldn’t be enough to fully grasp their character.

 

3 Days in Andalucia
Ripening oranges in Cordoba
3 Days in Andalucia
Afternoon sunshine in Cordoba

Our first stop in Andalucia was Córdoba. As with all of the towns through Andalucia, Córdoba’s architecture is representative of the melting pot of its inhabitants. You can spot the Roman influences as your stroll along its Roman bridge and its Islamic influences are felt visiting the Mosque of Córdoba. Stay: At the swanky NH Collection Amistad Córdoba. Indulge: Casa Tollin and Casa Pepe de la Juderia. Tips: Sure, the city center looks easy enough to walk to, but the cobblestone streets coupled with your luggage make it a workout. Take the path of least resistance and hail a cab at the train station.

3 Days in Andalucia
Morning in Seville
3 Days in Andalucia
Brilliant colors of Seville

After Córdoba, we spent just a leisurely afternoon in Seville and how I regret only penciling those precious few hours. Seville is meant for exploring: we kept stopping to peak into elaborately decorated courtyards and admiring the gardening prowess of the residents who adorn their homes with flower pots. Perhaps my favorite sight of the entire trip was the Alcázar of Seville (a.k.a. Dorne for fellow Game of Thrones fans!), which is worth a 2-3 hour visit.  Indulge: Restaurante Uno de Delicias. Tips: Take advantage of the luggage storage at the Seville train station. It made spending a day here very easy!

3 Days in Andalucia
Fountain on our way to the Alcazar in Seville
3 Days in Andalucia
Crepe myrtles in Granada

Finally, we wrapped our journey through Andalucia in Granada. Granada is home to the Alhambra, a sprawling Moorish palace and fortress, and a bucket list item of mine. Our afternoon at the Alhambra did not disappoint, but the real highlight was the summer palace, the Palacio de Generalife. Stay: At the quirky Gar-Anat Hotel. Indulge: VidaXtra Restaurant and Café 4 Gatos. Tips: Book your Alhambra entrance tickets far in advance. Even during a non-peak time, our entrance choices were very limited four weeks before our visit! Unwind after exploring the Alhambra with an Arabian bath experience and massage at the Hammam Al Ándalus.

3 Days in Andalucia
Street scene in Granada
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