Tag Archives: travel

You either Windsor you lose

A long time ago, a beautiful American girl got very frustrated with flat hunting and decided to leave the city behind… so she went to Windsor, drank a little too much beer, and walked around a castle slightly inebriated.

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Ticket prices to visit Windsor vary widely depending on a variety of factors (age, student status, whether you’re the Queen) but they all include an audio tour that’s incredibly detailed.  You can also book an evening tour.

I was disappointed to discover they don’t allow pictures inside the actual castle, but that’s par for the course from what I’ve seen so far.  I guess you’ll just have to go see it yourself…

Check out the rest of the pictures on Flickr.

PS: I think I need to lay off the puns… my post titles are starting to sound like ModCloth dresses.

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What’s in my carry-on?

I love flying.  I have no idea why.  I think it’s something I’ve picked up from my dad, who has always been obsessed with planes and was even working towards his private pilot’s license at one point.  Of course, he’s much more knowledgeable about them than I am – I might as well call them “Big Metal Birds With Non-Flappy Wings Way, Way Up In the Sky” for all I know about them.  Despite my lack of any workable knowledge, I’ve always enjoyed flying and gaining any new knowledge about planes.

But at the same time… flying can be a bit of a headache these days.  Tiny seats, crying babies, packets of tiny pretzels.  If you’re prepared, though, you can ease your way a little.  Here’s what I do to make the flying experience as stress-free as possible.

  1. The Outfit

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The biggest rookie mistake when it comes to flying is the clothing you wear.  You want to wear shoes that are easy to take on and off, both for the security check and the plane (do the rest of us a favor and only take off your shoes on the plane if your feet don’t reek, please).  Wear stretchy clothes: small seats feel restricting to begin with; don’t further constrict yourself with tight, confining pants and shirts.  Layer: the temperature on a plane can vary greatly during a trip, no matter the time of year, and you never know if the air vent will be easily accessible.

2. Noise-reducing headphones

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Bose headphones, $299

Poor babies.  No one told them flying would be so difficult, and then add to that the fact that their ears are popping and they have no idea why.  Still, when you’re on an 8-hour overnight flight crossing several time zones, chances are you’re going to need to sleep.  Since glaring at the poor mother trying to comfort her crying baby won’t do you (or the baby) any good, a good pair of noise-reducing headphones will help block out some of the noise and get you some rest.

3. Entertainment

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Kindle, $79

This is the one part I’m always tempted to over-do and I have to scale back.  I remember taking a flight in the early 2000’s (back in the day before iPod’s, Kindle’s, and smart phones) and my backpack was jam-packed with books, my CD player, and various notebooks for writing.  Now everything fits in one or two small devices.  I just have my phone (loaded with movies, TV shows, and radio shows) and my Kindle with a nice little cross-section of books, since I never know what I’ll be in the mood for.  That’s pretty much all you need.

4. Toiletries

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Burt’s Bees moisturizer, $12.19

Airplane air is DRY.  Maybe I’ve lived in Florida too long, but the minute I step foot on a plane I can feel the moisture being sucked from my skin.  Since dry skin is one of my fastest ways to discomfort, I always make sure to bring a face moisturizer and a water bottle.  Make sure the moisturizer is a TSA-approved size and that the water bottle is completely empty before you go through security.

5. Portable phone charger

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Sentey phone charger, $34.99

My phone’s battery can be erratic, so it’s been known to take me by complete surprise when it dies.  I bring along a portable battery pack for my phone just in case this happens.  That way, I don’t land and discover I have no battery to find my ride or let people know I’ve landed safely.

That’s all it takes!  Those five things can keep me happy on a flight for any length of time.  I hope this helps you ease your way too!

Leavin’ on a Jet Plane

I messed up.

“But Eileen,” I hear you saying, in that shocked voice you save for only the truly egregious things in life, “I thought you didn’t make mistakes!”

Well, I mean, I don’t, it’s just that this time-

Okay, I can hear you rolling your eyes.  Rude.

Anyway, there is a lesson to be learned from this mess-up, which is why I’m telling you in the first place.  It’s not like the time I broke my toe on a vacuum cleaner or tried to scalp Duran Duran tickets.  No, this one’s constructive.

So, it’s November 27th, right?  I just got my admission email from school.  I’m psyched.  I’m trying to figure out where to start.

I put the turkey in the oven (it was Thanksgiving Day).

Plane tickets!  I’m going to need a plane ticket.  Obviously.  So I check Google Flights, one way tickets, Orlando to London… $400?!  Seriously?  What a deal!  Can I buy ten?

But wait.  I don’t know exactly which day I’m going to leave.  Where I’ll be living.  When school starts.  So I don’t buy the ticket.

But I watch.  Every day I check Google Flights.  As my plans begin to take shape and solidify, I consider buying the tickets.  Then one day I check Google Flights and – BAM! – $700.

“They’ll go down,” I reassure myself, then force everyone else to as well.

But they don’t.  They go up to $890.  Then they dip back down.  Then they hover in between.  But they never go below that $700 mark again.

Eventually I scrape my jaw off the floor and recover enough brain power to remember I have some miles with Alaska Airlines.  On the vague chance they have a flight to get me from one point to the other for under $800, I check.  It turns out they do.  A direct flight*, in fact, which I never thought was possible in my wildest dreams.  And it only costs me $450 if I buy a few extra miles.  The only thing to consider is…

I’m just kidding.  I bought it.  How stupid do you think I am?  Wait, don’t answer that.

Moral (or tl;dr for you youngin’s): Don’t wait until your airfare doubles to consider purchasing.  Buy early and often (after checking to make sure they can accommodate your luggage).

*Side note: who would have guessed Alaska Air would have a partnership with British Air?  Not me.  Or anybody in Alaska.

Wanderlust

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Denali National Park

I’ve always wanted to travel.  When I was a kid we took an annual trip to Florida (yes, where I currently live) and the occasional trip to see relatives in Ohio.  Other than that, we stayed in Maine most of the time.  I guess that’s because most of my family lived in Maine, too.  In college, I had neither the money nor time to really go anywhere, although I took a few school-funded trips to Washington, D.C. that I really enjoyed (aside from the conferences, which were what we were ostensibly there to attend).

After college, my imagination ran wild.  I lived in Alaska, an experience in itself, but I never went anywhere else.  I daydreamed about all of the places I wanted to visit, although they seemed improbable.

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Central Park, New York City

Now I’m staring down a move to England.  I mean, if I just stay there for 2 years, I’ll be fulfilling about a quarter of all my travel lusts.  But just knowing I’ll be there, so close to the rest of Europe, I have to take full advantage of proximity and cheap transport.

I’ve gone a little crazy on my Travel Pinterest board recently.  It’s helped with waiting, although 2 weeks into a 9-month wait is hardly the definition of stir-crazy.  The hardest part isn’t just waiting, it’s waiting with nothing to do.  So I’ve given myself something to do: plan my trips.

Feel free to take a look at my board and give me suggestions!  I want to know about cool, little-known places to go and great ways to meet locals.

Eileen