Welcome to our weekly series, the Sunday Bucket List! Every Sunday, we’ll share with you a place we’ve never visited but plan to see someday. Click here for all of our Sunday Bucket List posts. All photos in this post belong to the talented Margaret Zhang of Shine By Three.
Confession: I took four years of high school Spanish—including a course about social/political/economic issues in the Spanish-speaking world (where we could only discuss said issues in Spanish)—and I have never actually had any burning desire to actually visit any Spanish-speaking country.
Upon reflecting on this, I realized that for some reason, all the countries I’m dying to visit are countries in which I don’t speak the language, and I’m fairly ambivalent about the countries in which I’d actually have a fighting chance of being understood. I’d drop everything to visit Japan, Morocco, France, and Italy, even though looking at French words makes me panic and I don’t think knowing Italian musical terms counts as being fluent. Oh, and remember that I plopped myself in Austria without knowing a single phrase in German.
(Armchair psychologists, please diagnose me.)
So for whatever reason, this self-imposed language obstinacy is a weird barrier that’s hard to overcome. So, dear readers, it really takes something to turn my ambivalence into wanderlust. In my case, it was my favorite style blogger’s write-up of her time in Granada.
And the point that sold me? Music, obviously. I got to the bit where Margaret wrote, about Sacromonte, that ”it was so evident where original gypsy music came about, and how the Romantic greats passing through were inspired to communicate the community fire and passion for performance.”
…And I was suddenly reminded of a particular master class a few years ago in which I played Debussy’s La Puerta del Vino (a hazy impression of habanera rhythms in Spanish wine country) for a great pianist who begged me, “Get out of Germany! You’re being too German! Play it like it’s Spanish!“
Sharon wrote a short post a while back about the three things she always forgets to pack. It seems to have been quite useful since she hasn’t forgotten any of the items since! I, on the other hand, have consistently forgot to pack the same three things. So in the hopes of saving my future self and you from forgetting these essentials on the next getaway, here are the things I always forget to pack.
1. Power Bank.
There is little for which I don’t rely on my iPhone. Whether it’s checking into my flights or hailing a ride with Uber, my iPhone is the linchpin in my travel plans. It’s not unusual to land and discover my battery is already below fifty percent.
So when I saw power banks available in Taiwan at very reasonable prices, I jumped at the opportunity to pick up the doocoo. It packs enough punch to charge my iPhone and my iPad simultaneously. It’s also small enough that I often overlook it when packing!
2. Coffee fixings.
It’s no secret I enjoy my morning cup of coffee… and my mid-morning and afternoon cups of coffee as well. For reasons that escape me, not everyone shares my love for a great cup and so I often find myself swallowing swill.
I’ve written about this travel pour over stand before; it’s incredibly handy but insufficient by itself. Paper filters, great beans, a grinder (optional), and a hot water source are also required. Forget any one of these components and you’re out of luck.
There’s nothing worse than waiting for a flight with nothing to do. People-watching can help pass the time if the airport is busy, but there’s little else to stave off the boredom. That’s why Sharon and I constantly “pocket” articles. Find something intriguing? Pocket it. Receive an article from a friend? Pocket it.
If you’re not familiar with Pocket, it’s an incredibly handy app that saves and organizes online articles for offline reading. Simply add an article to the app via your iPhone, iPad, or laptop and Pocket downloads it to all of your devices. You can even tag, archive, and favorite articles. It’s incredibly intuitive and well designed. (But it only works if you remember to Pocket articles before your fly!)
So there you have it: my list of three things I always forget to pack. What do you forget when you get away?
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This is the inaugural Postcard Brigade and we’re kicking it off with our friends Jules and Christine (from Don’t Forget to Move) and Mallory (from Sweet Smores). So if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to any one of us!
Do you remember the time before email, when letters and postcards would arrive in a physical mailbox? (Yes, there was a time before the sound of dial-up interrupted our lives and the Internet brought packages to our front doors!) We remember it fondly. Don’t get us wrong, we lovethe Internet (after all, it’s how we’re able to connect with you!). But nurturing friendships through writing letters and sending postcards is quickly becoming a lost art.
That’s why we’re launching an experiment with you, one we hope you’ll join. The premise is simple: connect with travel lovers around the world to share stories via good ol’ postcards. Why do it? Because postcards are freakin’ awesome (who doesn’t like to receive a postcard in the mail???) and because postcards are a way to strengthen our global community.
So whether you’re traveling or you just returned home, join the fun! Here’s how it works:
By November 1st at 22:00 PST:
Sign up! You’ll be paired with a travel-loving buddy.
Share a tweet with the hashtag #postcardbrigade! You’ll help spread the word and encourage others to join.
Still with us? Great! We’ll announce pairings on November 4th via email, so keep an eye on your inbox. Once you receive your travel buddy’s name and email, connect! You’ll have the first half of November to get to know each other virtually and to send a postcard (or two). Just be sure to drop your postcard in the mail and introduce your new travel buddy via Twitter or your blog by November 15th.
A few more things:
Please contact your travel buddy within 72 hours (nobody likes to be stood up). If you’re travel buddy doesn’t respond with 72 hours, drop us an email.
Please add a story to your postcard. It can be a short tale about an adventure you had or hope to have.
Once you’ve connected with your travel buddy and sent/received your postcard, write a blog post! This is optional but highly encouraged. It’s a great way to introduce a new friend and say thanks.
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Let’s face it: no matter how fun or fulfilling travel may be, it can take a physical toll. On a getaway I often find myself doing more walking and less sleeping than I’m used to, and as a result I end up feeling a little worn down.
So how do you recharge yourself, with limited resources, on a getaway? You may not have the time or budget to cram a spa retreat into your travel itinerary—but you can still pamper yourself! Here are my tried-and-true methods for indulging myself on the go!
1. Treat those under-eye dark circles.
My eyes are like that guy who sucks at poker because he can’t bluff. As soon as I start losing sleep, bam! Dark circles, totally unashamed, hanging out under my eyes and letting the whole world know that I didn’t get that much sleep. I try not to let it bother me, but I get really annoyed when I look at all the photos afterwards and I look sick and tired in each one. Unfortunately, getting more sleep is just not something I can do that easily, since travel and not sleeping kind of go hand-in-hand.
So I’ve started bringing packets of under-eye masks with me—they take up practically no space and they’re really easy to use. All I do before I got to sleep is take them out of the packaging, stick them under my eyes, and go to bed. I picked up a whole sampling of under-eye masks in Taiwan, and I recommend the gel kind because they’re cooling and are better at staying on your face than the cloth/paper kind. (My favorite eye mask of the moment: My Scheming’s Crystal Whitening gel mask.)
Don’t expect an under-eye mask to completely erase your dark circles, but I’ve found that they do make a difference and, if nothing else, it’s fun to pretend you’re all fussy and high-maintenance, in the privacy of your hotel room.
2. Use foot cream (and socks) for battered feet.
All the walking around that happens on each getaway ends up doing weird things to my feet. I’m talking dry patches, calluses, and other very attractive things. Normally I pay no attention whatsoever to my feet—the most I’ll do is slap some nail polish over my toes and call it a day—so when they require assistance I’m kind of clueless about what to do.
Luckily I wised up on the last trip and brought with me a little travel tube of foot cream. (For those interested: it was a trial-size Burt’s Bees Coconut foot creme.) Post-shower and pre-sleep, I slathered foot cream all over my poor woebegone feet, washed my hands, and hopped into bed…
…Slipping and squelching all around the hotel room on the way. I’d forgotten to bring socks to put on over my gooped-up feet, and ended up stumbling round the bathroom like a total idiot. So learn from my mistake: when you throw foot cream into your bag, don’t forget the socks.
3. Bring the proper makings for your hot beverage of choice.
I’m dating myself here, but there was a time, back when Facebook was only for students, that Facebook pages didn’t exist and groups were more like meaningless things you joined just for the sake of having a funny group name on your profile. I bring this up because one day I joined a group called “A Cup of Tea Solves Everything.”
It sounds like a silly, meaningless slogan, but holy cow, never underestimate the power of a cup of tea. And don’t underestimate how earth-shatteringly life-ruining it is when you retire to your hotel room after a long day and all you want is a comforting cup of tea and YOU CAN’T HAVE IT.
Obviously I’m exaggerating here, but after several trips in which I had to drink tepid leaf-water made in a coffeepot, and one getaway punctuated by a disappointing cup of Earl Grey from room service, I said “No freaking more!” to pathetic attempts at having my tea. Bryce, who is a bonafide coffee snob, also had it with powdered instant coffee and pre-made sludge water. (Also, I was totally spoiled in Taiwan, where every hotel is civilized and provides you with a hot water kettle and a teapot and legitimately good tea. America, get it together.)
So even though we are hardcore minimalist packers, we make it a point to bring the makings for our hot beverages of choice. Since neither of us brings a lot of clothes, we have enough room between us to bring a hot water kettle, a hand coffee grinder, tea, and coffee beans. (For more about brewing fresh coffee on the road, check out Bryce’s post on it—coffee drinkers really are high maintenance, aren’t they? All I need is my hot water and my tea.)
I get my tea, by the way, from Lupicia, which sends travel-friendly tea samples when you sign up for their newsletter. I also always bring a few bags of Lipton black for when I need that caffeine jolt.
So go ahead, pamper yourself on your next getaway. These little methods will go a long way in making your trip more relaxing.
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Welcome to our weekly series, the Sunday Bucket List! Every Sunday, we’ll share with you a place we’ve never visited but plan to see someday. Click here for all of our Sunday Bucket List posts. The photo above is from the Costa Rica Treehouse Lodge website.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but here at Getaway Brigade we loveunusualhotels. With our bucket list featuring such things as underwater hotels and beer barrel beds, I don’t think we have to worry about our lives ever getting too boring. Well, here’s another one for the list: one day, we’ll stay in a treehouse.
Not the kind that kids have in their backyards, and not even the kind that we’ve already visited. The kind that is a real-deal, for-sleeping-and-eating, actual house in an actual tree.
Don’t you want to book a treehouse hotel, like, right now?
Unlike the underwater hotel dilemma (Cliff Notes version: there are only two actual underwater hotels in existence right now) the problem with wanting to stay in a treehouse hotel is that there are so many of them to choose from.
So while I may have helped you out with prices and booking info in our other Sunday Bucket List posts, I’m just going to leave you here with a bunch of links, in no particular order, to figure your treehouse plans out yourself. (Sorry-not-sorry if it seems I’m phoning it in—this weekend was our four-year anniversary and we’ve been celebrating accordingly. C’est la vie, blog.)