Today I am writing to you from my economy(+!) seat, heading to Madrid for my very first international trip with Brit, my service dog. She’s currently laying on the floor, exhausted from the sprint to meet our connection in Houston. Kidding, that’s me. She’s exhausted from all the floor licking she’s done.
So, last I left off, we were talking about Harrison’s visit to California to meet my family, which went about as well as possible. He returned home just before Christmas, which was good, because for Christmas my family and I crammed four (and a dog) to a room in the Disneyland hotel.
It was actually super cool going to Disneyland for Christmas, and Brit did an amazing job as my service dog, diligently cleaning up any and all crumbs that I spilled.
A mere four days after Harrison returned home I flew out to Israel for a visit. Sadly, Brit wasn’t able to come with me, as Israel requires a rabies titer test (it takes an entire month to process!) and I hadn’t had one done yet.
As an aside here, I know some of you have probably seen my post about PTSD. There’s obviously no miracle cure, but I severely underestimated the effect Brit has/has had on me. So this trip was really difficult, as being separated from her is just…the worst.
Separation aside, this trip was cool for a couple of reasons, the first being that Harrison and I spent New Year’s in Georgia, which is next door to Azerbaijan and equally as weird.
We spent a total of five nights in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, and all of it was wonderful.
Georgians celebrate Christmas on January 7th and we arrived December 30th, which meant I got to celebrate Christmas all over again. Mostly it meant that the Christmas markets were alive and well, and the whole city was dressed up for the holidays.
As you all well know, Christmas is my most favorite thing in the whole world, so it was awesome to rewind myself five days and have more Christmas!
-Carissa, Brit “Floor-Snack”, and Harrison “Please Is Christmas Over Yet?”
So, today I’m going to do something a bit different. I began writing this blog as a catch-all for travel- from rewards points to fancy hotels to stories about the things I do. But lately it feels like all I’ve done is tell you guys these stories. And that’s good, really it is. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.
The thing is, I’ve got more to say. So I’m gonna try this a bit. Maybe some reviews on cool travel items I’ve found/used (no, they don’t pay me for it…yet (Though I did join Amazon’s affiliate program so if you buy through the linked photos they will maybe give me money? Who knows!)) Or some recommendations for what to pack based on where you’re going. Maybe even inspirations for dream vacations (I did a couple of these some months back, but wasn’t sure of the reception)
Do these things interest you guys? Let me know in the comments!
And without further ado, my abbreviated list of the coolest and best travel gifts for the holidays (and no, not the awesome novelty ones that you’ll use once and throw into the back of your closet):
1.An excellent travel backpack:
I found my current backpack, an Osprey FarPoint 40, using this list. And it’s gone with me everywhere. I switched from a rolling bag to a backpack fairly early on, because cobblestones are hell and most of the world isn’t paved.
I know, these sound dumb. I was as skeptical as you, believe me. But then I got some, and my life was changed. These things squish your clothes smaller than you would have ever thought possible, and keep everything super organized so when you get to where you’re going, you can unpack in seconds.
3.A plane amenity kit:
I can’t tell you how many flights I took before I finally gave in and accumulated my amenity kit. Half the time airlines will give you bits of these free- but if you don’t want to take forever to gather it all, buying premade ones is cheap- and worth it. My own kit has a pair of socks, chapstick, an eye mask, earplugs, breath mints, a toothbrush/toothpaste, and some lotion. Trust me, they make a huge difference on the plane.
4.Noise canceling headphones.
This probably seems obvious to a lot of you, but I can’t recommend these enough: I initially went with a huge, bulky pair (like the ones you’re probably thinking), but I got tired of carrying them around all the time. Now I use noise canceling earbuds, and they’re both tiny and effective. Awesome!
Look, travel isn’t always glamorous. And if you’re gone for a long time, your clothes are gonna get dirty. I always keep these laundry sheets in my bag, so any sink I come across can be turned into a makeshift washing machine and I don’t have to keep turning my underwear inside out.
6.A universal adapter:
I actually forgot this once, in Australia, and ended up paying $25 Australian dollary doos for an Australian adapter. Don’t be like me. Bring your own. This one is good for basically the whole world and costs much less to purchase online.
7.A microfiber towel:
I’m going to guiltily admit to you all that I don’t have one of these. But I wish I did. I have dried myself off with t-shirts…at least 5 times. Do yourself a favor. Save your clothes. Bring a towel.
8.A reusable tote:
Raise your hand if you buy souvenirs on vacation! Right, that’s 99% of you who said yes, and 1% who were lying. I always bring my extra bag with me because I end up bringing more crap home than I left with. I also use it as my mini bag on planes, in which I stash all my carry on necessities (amenity kit, iPad, cellphone, etc), so I never have to take my backpack out of the overhead bin. These things can cost 99. cents and take up no room. Get one!
9.A portable battery charger:
People make fun of me for this brick- I don’t blame them, because it is literally the size of a brick and who needs that much charge? But I’m the one laughing after I’ve recharged both my iPad and my cellphone 4 times without needing to rejuice this thing. It’s excellent for things like camping trips where you’ll be away from electricity for a day or two.
Ok, this one can be changed up, truly, depending on how attached to your laptop you are. But I didn’t want to haul a heavy computer around the world, so I invested in an iPad and a keyboard case, and saved myself a lot of back pain while managing to stay relatively functional. (I do all my blogging on here, even).
11.A laundry bag:
Again, something really simple but really necessary. I hate packing dirty clothes with clean ones, and a cheap bag keeps everything neatly separate.
12.A packable rain jacket:
Something small, light, very foldable and super useful when it’s yucky drizzling outside.
So there you go. I realize this list isn’t all that glamorous- I mean, soap, really? But these are the kinds of gifts that will make a big difference in the quality of your travel. I’ve tried and error-ed in a lot of big ways through my trips, (falling into a volcano, anyone?), and these are the trusty things that have made the cut and earned a permanent place in my bag.