Falling in love with local wine one trip at a time

2011: Mendoza Argentina

So imagine yourself in a beautiful vineyard at a wine tasting enjoying one of the most amazing wines you have had in years.  It sounds like paradise right?  It is!  You then learn from the vineyard owner that they have a very small annual production and the wine is not exported; as a matter of fact the wine is only sold locally right here at the vineyard in Mendoza Argentina.  Oh no!!!

Sadly this scenario has become a common problem for me traveling around the world and discovering some of the very best wines are not exported.  After 10 years  I still crave a wine from Stellenbosch South Africa.

Wine tasting in Mendoza




How do you bring home these amazing wines?

There are a few options:

  • Ship it from the vineyard directly to your home.  This is an option that most larger vineyards provide however there are additional fees involved and it can get quite pricey quickly.
  • Buy it and then ship it yourself from a local post office.  This is usually a good option but does require some additional effort on your part and ideally you have a rental car to transport the wine.  It make take several weeks for your wine to arrive at your home and I would not recommend doing this with expensive wine.
  • Buy it and pack it in your suitcase.  My favorite choice! I have successfully transported wine from over a dozen countries as far away as Australia and South Africa.

How to pack wine in your checked luggage?

Let me start by saying that I have NEVER had a bottle of wine break in my suitcase.  I have packed up to 10 bottles into a medium roller board suitcase with no issues.  I sadly cannot guarantee your success of course but I have followed these simple steps dozens of times.

Wine + packing materials


  1. Utilize a t-shirt (or any clothing item) to wrap around the bottle of wine; wrapping like a present.
  2. Place the wrapped wine bottle into a plastic carrier bag or ideally large ziplock bag to avoid any clinking.
  3. Put the plastic bag that contains the bottle into a medium packing cube.
  4. Repeat the process for 2 additional bottles of wine that will all fit firmly into one medium packing cube.
  5. In the event that you have less than 3 bottles continue to fill the packing cube with additional clothes until firmly packed.
  6. I recommend putting your shoes on the bottom of the suit case for extra protection; then load the packing cubes on top.
  7. That’s it!   Get home and enjoy some amazing wine!

Reminder: Check the customs policies for your home country.  In many countries you are allowed 3 bottles duty free but if you bring more just declare it on your customs form.  There may be a small tax but well worth the price of amazing wine!


Seek your adventure!

5 must have items for every travel day bag!

P1010332All trips are unique and will require something different to be carried in your day bag.  However after 60 plus countries around the world these 5 items are always in my day travel bag regardless of where I am traveling.  In a prevoius post I wrote about “5 must have items for any flight!”  and today let’s consider what you should be carrying with you before you leave your hotel for any adventure.

  1. Water bottle:  I personally drink a lot of water and always have a bottle with me regardless of the situation. I could be traveling around a big city or in the rainforest no exceptions; there I am carrying a water bottle.   You could bring your own water filter  but I always take a flat packable water bottle to refill.
  2. Note pad & pen: This has been extremely helpful in international travel to write down the name and address of the destination we are going to as my pronunciation may not always be perfect.  Just grab the one from your hotel room before you head out for the day.
  3. Headache & Pain Relief Tablets:  There is nothing worse than being on a vacation that you have waited months for and not feeling well!  I always carry 2-6 tablets with me in a teeny tiny plastic bag  in case I get a headache, tummy ache or etc.
  4. Baby wipes:  Not just for babies anymore.  These really should be called “magic wipes”  as they resolve so many travel needs from washing your hands, toilet paper substitute, getting dirt off clothes and cleaning leather shoes.
  5. Collapsible shopping bag: This is critical.  You may have absolutely no intentions of buying anything while you are out for the day.  Yet somehow you end up unexpectedly at a local market or artisans fair.  In many countries you have to purchase a bag to take your purchases home; so bring your own!  I personally have been utilizing the same set of Envirosax bags for daily shopping for over 7 years now and they are still in great condition.

Seek your adventure!


How to avoid Montezuma’s revenge & travel gear antidote

Iguana Falls: Argentina side

I am so excited to share with you my latest travel gear purchase because I have never seen anything like this before!  As you can imagine my travel gear collection is quite extensive which has a dedicated closet in my home.   I have extremely stringent criteria for any new travel gear to ensure it will stand the test of time.

Without further ado let me introduce you to….my new travel gear item is The Grayl water filter.  You may recall from previously posts that I am a strong advocate for always carrying a packable water bottle so that you can get drinking water anywhere and most importantly save your money for margaritas.  Well that solution does not work in all countries especially where the tap water is not safe to drink.  In most instances the locals are immune to the many issues associated to the water and it only affects us delicate travelers. You may be familar with a few terms “Montezuma’s revenge” or “Delhi belly” for common illness that many travelers endured from drinking water or food washed in the local tap water.


Alas, the Grayl water filter eliminates 99.9999% disease-causing bacteria, virus protection and protozoan cysts in addition it has been tested according to NSF/ANSI standards 42 + 53.

Iguazu Falls: Brazil side

The water filter is extremely easy and quick to utilize transforming stream or tap water into pure drinking water in mere seconds.  This avoids the countless trips to the local corner store then carrying heavy bottles of water back to the hotel.  In addition you no longer have to continual monitor your remaining water supply.  There have been numerous times I was ready to collapse into bed after a long day of travel only to realize that I don’t have any water left.  Ugh another journey out to search for water!   While the Grayl device is a little expensive I anticipate that after 3-4 trips it will have paid for itself and the luxury of convenience is worth every penny.

Seek your adventure!




Pill packing technique

IMG_6739Well friends,  I am guessing that most of us over the age of 25 have daily medications that you take even if that might only be vitamins. For many years I had been traveling with the 7 day pill organizer which worked perfect for short trips.   However for longer trips I would load up the 7 day pill pack then carry extra medicine to refill at some point during the trip.  UGH!  Who wants to be spending precious vacation time in a hotel room reloading pill organizers?

So I got creative and got super organized!  I now fill a teeny tiny plastic bag for each day with any pills that I need to take; which makes them very transportable to take anywhere including the airplane.  You can even find teeny tiny plastic bags with different designs if you need to keep morning and evening medications separated.   I previously carried a small bottle of aspirin, Alleve, Tylenol, etc when I travelled or even on a daily basis in my purse.   I have even replaced that small bottle with these teeny tiny plastic bags to save space.

I have found that these teeny tiny plastic bags can be recycled to be utilized for many other purposes:

  • SD card or SIM card
  • hair ties
  • stamps
  • foreign coins
  • little sea shells
  • hydration tablets

Please remember that medications should always be packed in your carry-on luggage!

Seek your adventure!

I don’t do jet lag!

I just returned from an amazing trip to Romania, Moldova and Bulgaria this past weekend which reminded me to share my routine to avoid jet lag.   Anytime I am going to cross 4+ timezones I have a process to avoid jet lag that what works for me.  Keep in mind that everyone is different but this process could become your solution to avoiding jet lag.

When I was living in the UK I would get terrible jet lag from traveling back to the US or vice versa.  Over the years I have learned a few tricks along the way to eliminate the sleepy, dizzy and nauseous feeling so common place with jet lag.    I am not completely immune to jet lag.  There are rare instances when I fall victim to jet lag; for example when returning from Bali to Chicago which involved over 42 hours of travel crossing 14 timezones.

So here is my typical process for US to Europe transatlantic assuming an overnight flight.

24 hours before the flight

  • No caffeine at a minimum of 24 hours before the flight but ideally 36 – 48 hours prior to travel
  • Eat only healthy foods 24 hours before travel; absolutely no sugar, alcohol or heavy meals

Day of departure

  • Get up earlier than normal
  • Get some physical exercise: long walk, bike ride, yoga, etc
  • Keep yourself hydrated and increase amount of water consumed early in the day
  • Consider taking an aspirin an hour before departure; consult your doctor for advice based on your medical history
  • Eat small and light meals or snacks throughout the day.

IMG_7959During the flight

  • Stay hydrated during the flight and bring your own water bottle on the flight.  I never board an airplane without my own water bottle.
  • Wear compression socks
  • Try to keep moving.  It is becoming more difficult to get up and walk around on flights but at a minimum do some leg exercises in your seat just to keep your legs moving
  • Limit your alcohol ideally only 1 drink but definitely stop at 2 drinks
  • Continue to eat small and light meals
  • Bring your earplugs, eye mask, inflatable headrest, etc to attempt sleeping as much as possible on the flight
  • Consider taking some homeopathy pellets to help get your body back on track or even JetZone homeopathy chewable tablets

Upon arrival

  • Keep moving!  It is your first day perhaps in a new city so go for a walk.
  • Continue to eat small and light meals
  • Enjoy some caffeine to help get you through the day
  • Get your body adjusted to local time; stay awake as late as possible on your first day
  • Go swimming if your at a hotel that has a pool and utilize the jacuzzi to loose your muscles or consider taking a bath.

For the return journey from Europe to the US transatlantic I would suggest following the same steps with one very important difference.  On a day flight back to the US do not sleep on the flight except for a brief 20-30 nap.  Be sure to set an alarm to ensure you don’t nap for too long.

Do you have any routines to avoid jet lag that work for you?  Please respond with your comments or send me an email at 1girlwhotravels@gmail.com.

Seek your adventure!

What are UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

When planning a trip I review the UNESCO World Heritage Site list for inspiration on possible itinerary ideas. While not everything on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list is of interest to me I do find that any place I visit from the UNESCO list is never a disappointment.  I have a particular fascination with historic old city centers.  A few examples of historic city centers on the list include Quebec Canada, Prague Czech Republic, Tallin Estonia, or Sienna Italy.

Voronet Monastery Romania

There is a rigorous process for items to be qualified and reviewed while the list continues to grow.  However there are some places that are at risk to continue in existence.

Many travellers attempt to visit all of the heritage sites and there are some great blogs dedicated to UNESCO sites.   For those of you travellers looking for an app to remember all the amazing UNESCO places you have been this one is easy and free.

Seek your adventure!

Free wrinkle removal

2015 Cordoba Spain – Festival de los patios  parade participant

I have a confession to make; I hate to iron.   I know my local dry cleaners will get my clothes pressed to perfection and why would I want to compete with that.   I do not iron at home so there is no way that I am going to iron my clothes while I am on vacation.    When I am packing I try to bring clothes that are wrinkle-free so that I do not have to worry.

However there are a few occasions when you may need to travel with dress clothes perhaps a business trip, a wedding, or even a night on the town.   In last week’s post I shared my strategy for how to avoid wrinkles with good packing solution.   Yet now you have arrived and the worst has happened….the dreaded wrinkles.  UGH!

What is a girl to do?

My secret answer is simple and does not cost you anything.  Take the dress clothes into the bathroom and hang them on a hook somewhere while you are in the shower so the wrinkles are naturally steamed out.  I have on occasion been known to run the water a little longer if necessary.  I realize of course this may not be the best solution environmentally but I am obsessive about minimizing unnecessary water usage at home; so 1-2 times a year to steam my clothes I think we are even.

In the event that this solution did not work there is always the hotel laundry service or the local dry cleaners down the street.

Seek your adventure!



How to pack a business suit or dress

How to pack a business suit or dress


This past week I travelled for business to Las Vegas.  Yes really, I was working!   I was a guest speaker at a conference.   I travelled with business suit attire so I could dress the part.  You know I absolutely adore the packing cubes for keeping my suitcase organized.  However a business suit does not lend itself to arriving wrinkle free when you utilize a packing cube.  This requires a different strategy.  Are you ready?

Place your business clothes or dress on plastic hangers.  Then recycle that plastic garment bag from the dry cleaners by placing the bag over your clothes.  I use an inexpensive garment bag that I bought years ago from Ikea.  You may have something similar at home; perhaps the garment bag you received from a shop when you purchased a suit.  Here is another option for that you could purchase from ebags.com.


Now I wait until the very last moment to put the business clothes into the suitcase before heading to the airport.  It depends on the size of the garments; however I typically fold the garment bag gently into a trifold and place in the suitcase on top before closing.   Immediately upon arrival at the hotel I  open the suitcase and hang the business clothes!

IMG_7532                  IMG_7527

One alternative here would be to wear the clothes on the flight however given all the accidentally spills I have witnessed on flights I avoid that option.

In the event your clothes arrived with a few wrinkles I will disclose my secret to easily removing wrinkles without an iron in next weeks post.

Seek your adventure!

#1 tech gear organizer

You may already know of my love for packing cubes  that are perfect for holding items within your suitcase and carry on.  Well let’s take this one step further.  What if there was a custom packing cube just for all your cords, chargers and general tech stuff.  Say what?

IMG_7404My dream has come true!  Introducing the new addition to my suitcase….Eagle Creek ETools Organizer!

It is simply divine. It is durable yet petite in size 10.6 x 7.9 x 1.2 inches and will fit perfectly into my carry on.  It has a great handle to grab on the go.  I only wish it came in a variety of colors to help me quickly identify it in my bag.  It is a little on the pricey side for a packing cube but worth the price as I was tired of my cords roaming around freely in packing cubes.



Check it out and for anyone who travels with phone, laptop, camera, iPad etc this is a must have item.     Unless of course,  you enjoy emptying your suitcase contents on the airport lounge floor digging for that one cord you need.  Yes I saw you!

Seek your adventure!

How to plan for any trip (Part 2)…final countdown

So last week we started planning for a trip by sketching out an itinerary.   Here are some additional planning steps to consider for your trip and suggested timeline.  Let’s start by setting a countdown clock and get excited about your trip!

Two months before the trip:

  • Check your passport expiration date as most countries require it is valid 6 months from your arrival date.  In addition confirm that you have at least 2-3 blank pages for immigration stamps which is required in most countries. Don’t be that guy who gets put on the first flight home because you don’t have a valid passport; this is sadly a true story.
  • Check state.gov for any travel visa requirements or entry/exit taxes.
  • Review the CDC website for any potential vaccinations or immunization requirements.  If you are uncertain of anything call your local travel clinic.
  • Review the exchange rate trends for the last 3 months for any foreign currency needs.   I utilize xe.com website or download their app.  Unless the exchange rate is drastically changing daily or weekly I generally never pre-order foreign currency before my trip.  The best exchange rate you will get is to utilize your credit card but first confirm the credit card has no foreign transaction fees.  The second best rate is withdrawing cash from a local ATM once you arrive.  Unless you are desperate never purchase currency at the airport because they give you a crappy rate and usually charge an additional fee.  Don’t even ask me about traveller’s check;  we have moved on from the 1970’s folks.
Directions from Cape of Good Hope

One month before the trip:

  • Review the logistics of your daily sketched out itinerary.  Look at a map.  Are all of these places you want to visit nearby?  Remember to check out the app Tripso.
  • Is there anything you can book in advance?  For example:  Pearl Harbor tickets are free to all visitors but there is a limited quantity and generally should be booked 30+ days in advance.  I waited too late so I ended up on a tour in order to get transport and admission ticket.
  • Review your wardrobe for key essentials travel items: walking shoes, swim suit, etc.  Go shopping to update essential items if necessary or perhaps treat yourself to something new.

Two weeks before the trip:

  • Review your selected assigned seat
  • Review hotel reservations and search to see if prices dropped if necessary make a new reservation/cancel previous.  For example  just before my trip last November my hotel and car rental combination package dropped over $200; that is a lot of pina coladas!
  • Do you know how you are getting from the airport to the hotel?
  • Check the weather forecast before you start pulling out the items pack your suitcase
  • Identify travel reading material, download movies, etc
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies that you are traveling especially international travel
  • Confirm exchange rates on xe.com

Two days before:

  • Confirm your summary itinerary  in the Worldmate app has all your details and print a hard copy of your itinerary with all of your confirmation numbers.
  • Confirm your seat assignments.  I know I am obsessed by this but those without seat assignments on an oversold flight are the first to get bumped off.   Besides who wants to sit in the middle seat?
  • Start trimming down your packing items based on weather forecast.  Will you actually wear that dress?
  • Ensure you have your passport in your carryon bag!  Don’t be that guy who puts the passport in checked luggage.

 One day before:

  • Check in online when the 24 hour advance window opens
  • Put all your items into packing cubes and load the suitcase
  • Try to get some sleep
  • For international travel – no caffeine or junk food.  This is step 1 in my jet lag remedy we will cover in another post!

 Just remember regardless of how much planning you do that we have no control over the weather.


Seek your adventure!