The art of packing….

Packing when traveling is something I have never mastered!  I ALWAYS bring way more than I need, and usually come back from a trip with only half of what I packed actually used.  Now, I get that you have to be prepared for various weather situations, but it was clear to me that I wasn’t being as efficient as I could be.

My trip to Africa was my first foray into ‘thoughtful packing’. I had a friend assist me in packing up one 60L backpack to last me two weeks.  Not only that, but said pack also needed to hold my mountain climbing clothing, altitude layers, sleeping bag and resort wear for the last two days in Zanzibar.

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Not too long ago, I discovered the freedom of flying without checking luggage.  I flew to Toronto from Denver for a wedding and only brought a small roller carry-on.  It was exhilarating!  I was able to walk in, get on the plane, and walk off!

So a month later, I tried it again – flying from Denver to Bangor, Maine. This time, I was a bridesmaid.  I carried my dress in a garment bag and laid it on top of the overhead luggage. On the way back I just crammed everything into my carry-on suitcase.  It worked so well!

I started learning how to come up with coordinating garments that would allow me to make multiple outfits out of a few pieces of clothing without anyone really knowing.  One pair of jeans, a couple of blouses and jackets.

Then I started rolling my clothes to make more room.  And I came up with this on my most recent ‘checked-bag-free’ trip from Denver to Washington, D.C.:

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This was actually a business trip.  I had dress slacks, jackets and blouses in there, along with workout clothes, a laptop, and toiletries!!

What are some of your light packing tips?

 

The back-to-work blues….

Yesterday, I had that feeling. You know the feeling where you come back to work after a lengthy vacation and you can barely make it through the day?

For the first time in a year, I was able to manage more than a week away from work! In fact, I actually got THREE weeks off! We went on our first real vacation away to Las Vegas for the first week, hosted Christmas at our house for the second, and watched Netflix and cleared out our basement during the third. Fun times!

Loki's first Christmas tree!  And it stayed upright!

Loki’s first Christmas tree! And it stayed upright!

So yesterday, my alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. It was dark and cold out. I didn’t want to get up, but I did. Showered, dressed, packed my lunch and headed out into the darkness. It was great to be back and see my cool coworkers and even more reassuring to hear them talk about wanting more holidays.

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It’s too dark out!

 

I had my day all planned out.  I brought my own lunch and healthy snacks (New Years, you know), I had a lot of catching up to do and some products to create.  Well, I was hungry by 11:00 a.m., and by 12:30 p.m. I was feeling that weight and burn on my eyes that tells me I wanted a nap!  I went to the gym at 3:00 p.m. and felt better, but by 7:30 p.m. I was so done, that I actually forced myself to walk around and do nothing just so I wouldn’t fall asleep too early.  It was as if I was jet-lagged!

Folks all over the Internet have all these well-meaning suggestions in order to ‘bounce back after a vacation’.  It happens to all of us!  We get out of work mode and after feeling the ‘freedom’, it’s so hard to go back!

Here are my tips:

1. Go off the work ‘grid’ only partially. I kept my work ‘wireless handheld device’ with me and would check it every couple of days, deleting any emails that would expire or I did not need to keep.  I wasn’t glued to my phone, was able to enjoy my vacation, and had very few emails to sort through upon my return.

2. Create a schedule and stick to it.  During your first week back, make sure you have scheduled important and relevant things to do throughout each day.  If you don’t, it could be easy to stray, daydream, and become unproductive.  This will tire you more than actually doing things. Trust me!

3. Eat healthy and drink lots of water. When you return to work from a vacation, this is the prime time for your body to shut ‘er down.  You’re more prone to colds or other weird viruses your coworkers have brought with them!  Keep eating (fruits, veggies, protein) and drinking well to keep your immune system up.

4. Look and plan forward. Take the time off work to recharge, re-appreciate the little things in life, and use that experience to remind yourself of what you want to change/fix/adjust.

For me, today was a lot better than yesterday.  I kept my schedule up, went to the gym again, ate healthy, and felt as though I was going to work with a clearer mind.  I also realized and hopefully will remember that going a year without a few weeks time off is not a very good idea!

How many others felt that same challenge going back to work after the holidays?  What are your sure-fire ways of defeating the back-to-work blahs?

 

 

 

On the road again – and a Las Vegas Virgin

After two years without a vacation trip (spending all our money on real estate upgrades), we decided to treat ourselves to a week’s vacay in Las Vegas. I had never been and it was definitely a place I wanted to experience once.

I was only here less than 24 hours before I realized that my friend Girl Gone Good was in Vegas at exactly the same time. How weird is that!?! Her blog is great. She has a plan and updates it regularly with content about health, nutrition, fitness and travel, unlike me, who only remembers once and a while that I have a blog!! Her posts have inspired me to write about my Las Vegas experience, proving that every Vegas experience can be completely different!

After about an 8-hour, two flight journey, we arrived in Las Vegas just before midnight, local time, which put our bodies at about 3am!

We were going to just take a taxi to our hotel, but at that time in the night, the shuttle was just as fast and a little bit cheaper ($15.00 for both of us).

We failed in finding food and finally crashed, not really sure of our relative location on the strip, or any of our plans for the week.

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The 32 year old bear, Cuddly Crocket, who was thrown in the garbage by a VIA Rail porter on the last adventure (another story that’s still ongoing) came with us in spirit, as he appeared after we boarded the plane as a photo bookmark. He would have loved this trip!