When traveling, there has to be a level of organization in order to fit everything you need for a trip. Especially if it’s a long trip. I wanted to share some of the things that I have found over the years that have helped me in being organized as I travel around the globe. Most of the stuff can be found on Amazon actually, so it’s reasonably priced and you can get some of these the next day. I’m not advertising anything, just wanted to share what has helped me stay sane abroad! And for those that have asked, below you’ll understand how I’m able to pack for two weeks in Europe with just a carry-on!
First I want to share something new I just bought specifically for my upcoming trip to New Zealand in March! It’s a wine suitcase!!! I will be able to return with wine and not have to worry about it going in between my clothes in my regular luggage. Since I’m a light packer, I know I can fit clothes for my three week trip into one suitcase, so this will be my second suitcase. I have a list of about 15 wineries I’ll be visiting, so I’m super excited!!!
The thing I can’t live without when traveling are packing cubes. I first learned about them from my Australian friends, Cat & Kelly, while traveling through Scandinavia. Now I don’t know how I managed without them! I have two sets (pink & purple) which I have used in every single trip!
On the subject of organizing the inside my luggage, I also have an awesome toiletry bag. It fits a ton of stuff and zips up well. What I like about it is that it hangs! This is convenient when you’re in a small space (European bathrooms)! It has a mesh front so that nothing falls out when it’s hanging but you can still see everything inside. I love it! I don’t use it for make up, I only use it for toiletries. I normally don’t take make up with me when I travel aside from lipgloss.
On a long trip, I wash my clothes. In order to dry them, I use these nifty fold up hangers. Not all hotels abroad provide sufficient hangers. They come in a 10 pack.
I found an amazing “personal item” bag that fits EVERYTHING. My laptop, my iPad, Bose headphones, chords, books, wallet, etc. My laptop is pretty large so I had a hard time finding a bag that could fit it. This one does. Now, there are also tote compartment inserts that you can use for this bag but I don’t need them since in a long haul trip, I carry bulky items (blanket, headphones, etc). If I used this bag as a daily purse, then I would definitely use the organizer insert.
I mentioned a blanket. It’s a blanket-towel combo. I also use it as a pillow in airplanes. It folds up small since it Turkish cotton, soft and absorbent. You don’t know where those airline blankets have been, so I use this instead sometimes. Also as a towel when need be in hotels.
One more thing I keep in my bag are these rubber twist ties. My tech stuff stays organized and I can just throw it in my bag. Helps with all the chords and chargers I carry for my gadgets!
I haven’t traveled with my photography gear yet, so I’m excited to see how these items will hold up. This backpack holds everything (camera, 4 lenses, 7 filters, 4 batteries, camera cleaner, laptop, chords, camera harness, and tripod)! What I love the most is the side zip compartment. You can just unzip that section and pull out the camera without opening the entire backpack to access it.
This is my tripod. It expands up to 55” high and folds up in 18” with its own case.
I don’t like the over-the-shoulder camera straps so I bought a harness and I love it!! It keeps my balance and also has clips so I can pop out the camera body if I need to. It also has small pockets that hold extra batteries and memory cards. What I like best is the neoprene material that’s super soft and comfortable.
I caved and I bought a selfie stick. I found that as a solo traveler, it’s a necessity. I do my best to not be that “obnoxious tourist” that doesn’t adhere to etiquette. I try my best to be considerate of other people around me trying to get the same shot. It was relatively inexpensive, and good enough for my small iPhone.
That sums up my travel stuff. Hope it helps you plan your next trip! Can’t wait for mine!!
I have been practicing photography a lot this year. I took a camera lesson in January, and another private photography class. I upgraded my gear and bought a new DSLR during Black Friday. I’ve been going to various places around town taking photographs practicing what I’ve learned so far.
A couple of weeks ago I met up with my friend Dani in San Clemente and we had lunch. I took the opportunity to go to the pier to take some shots.
To celebrate my friends’ birthdays, I had a dinner at my house. We enjoyed food and wine. I practiced my close-up shots. It was a belated birthday for Luis, and an early birthday for Gerry.
I took my parents to the Huntington and I was their personal paparazzi.
This past weekend I went to The Huntington with my friend Caroline. We went for the Chinese New Year celebrations. It was fun to see various performances. We went to a place called El Coraloense and had an awesome lunch!!
I’m excited to continue practicing and improving my “eye” for landscape photography. Cheers!
I hope you enjoyed celebrating the end of a decade and beginning a new one.
I have been very busy these past four weeks. On December 20, my cousin arrived from Peru and stayed with me 82% of the time. She also stayed with my parents a bit. She graduated university in Lima, so I decided to give her the trip of a lifetime. I began planning in August and gave her the news via video chat. As soon as she arranged her passport and visa, I got her plane ticket, all was set!
While our names are pronounced the same, they’re spelled differently. The funniest part is that we have the same birthday, just 15 years apart.
We did a lot while she was here. She met a lot of my friends (not all pictured) and enjoyed practicing English. We enjoyed cuisines from various cultures, but Korean was her favorite. That, and my chicken wings at home on movie nights. We took road trips, train trips, and she even cooked Lomo Saltado for my family and I on her last day here (traditional Peruvian dish). She left LA yesterday and it was hard to see her go. My brother, his wife, and I, all went to the airport and walked her through check in until she had to go through security. We said our goodbyes and waved at her as she disappeared through the crowds.
Here are some photo highlights of the fun we had while he was here.
Happy travels, Maylin. Until we meet again!
Howdy! If you’re popping in because you received my holiday card, HI! Thanks for stopping by! :-) if you want to read more about my travels through the year, scroll allllllllll the way down (if you’re on a phone) or click on the tags in the right (if you’re in front of a computer). Enjoy!
I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving week. Mine began rather eventfully. My family and I headed up north to the Sensorio display of lights. It’s been sold out for weeks so I was super happy to have reserved this a while back. My good friend Patty told me about it and it looked like something my family would enjoy. We drove up in two cars to make sure we were completely comfortable with all our winter gear. We arrived to the city, had a late lunch and freshened up at the beautiful craftsman home I rented on AirBnB. We headed to the display as the sun was beginning to set. Pictures just can’t do it justice. We got drinks (beer & wine) and enjoyed them as we walked through the display.
I hosted Thanksgiving dinner at my home and I began the preparations on Tuesday. I bought the turkey at Whole Foods and put it in a brine right away. Wednesday I made sure I had all the ingredients for the side dishes and desserts. Wednesday night I made pecan pie, creamed scones, and cranberry relish (Anthony Bordain recipe). Thursday morning I took the turkey out of the brine and let it come to room temperature. I seasoned the turkey and put it in the oven. Later in the day I made garlic-cheese mashed potatoes, rolls, and stuffing. My mom made gravy, and my brother and his wife brought 805 beer which my dad very much enjoys. It felt great to be able to prepare thanksgiving dinner for my family.
In the middle of the Thanksgiving hubbub, my friend Jane flew in from DC for a visit! It was great to spend time with her again!! We are obsessed with the show Jack Ryan so we agreed to watch all the episodes except the last. We watched the last episode together while yelling at the tv! So much fun!!!
Since Jane was here, we went out to dinner with our friend Caroline to celebrate both their birthdays. We went to 71 Above in downtown LA, where we ran into old high school classmates! We spent time catching up on old times! It was a great evening with great friends and an incredible view!
The last thing I did during Thanksgiving week was put up my Christmas tree. My parents, brother and his wife all helped put up the tree and decorate it. I had some custom ornaments made as well. I’m very happy with the outcome.
Looks like I’m ready for the holiday season. I’m looking forward to seeing family from abroad next week. From the other side of my family, I have a family member coming to stay with me for a month and we’ll be exploring California for a month, from North to South, visiting friends from all over. I’m so grateful for all the fun to be had, but more importantly to have my family close to me.
It’s been quite busy lately, getting ready for holiday mode.
The highlight of September was going to Sedona to attend my good friend Yaneisy’s wedding to Rafael. It was such a lovely, intimate ceremony and I felt honored to be part of this small group of people that had the privilege of witnessing such a beautiful event. I stayed a few extra days and had the opportunity to explore Sedona and its natural beauty. I even had dinner at a great restaurant with tables right next to the creek. What a treat!
I subscribed to a new streaming service that has wine content all day long. Like Netflix for food & wine. As a subscriber, I had the opportunity to go to a live filming with a Master Sommelier. I took my wine buddy Gerry with me. Then we went to Fogo de Chao for dinner. Quite the day nerding out on wine!
I’m so grateful to have so many friends who enjoy wine over at my house for various wine dinners. From two of us to eight of us, it’s always wonderful to share great moments and create new memories.
On October 12, 2018 I went to the James Beard Award VIP Dinner at the SLS hotel in Beverly Hills. While enjoying the various food offerings I met a woman named Patty. In the past year we have become good friends and have shared some really great times. Fast forward to October 12, 2019 and we went back to the SLS hotel to celebrate our 1 year friendship anniversary at Somni. It was a phenomenal dinner to celebrate such a great friendship.
Last Sunday I went to a Kaskade concert with my friend. I danced for a good 6 hours. It was so much fun! I got sick afterwards but definitely worth it!
I’m looking forward to some family time up north in Paso Robles next weekend and hosting Thanksgiving at my house. I hope I can squeeze in a wine dinner with friends in December.
Thanks for stopping by! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since Chris went to heaven. I am so grateful that I have tons of beautiful memories with him and can look back at the wonderful times we had. I don’t feel sadness anymore, but I do miss my best friend. As I look through old photographs, I feel content and satisfied that we enjoyed life to the fullest. He made life so fulfilling. I always feel humbled that such a great man chose me.
Part of the ability to now be in a good place is due to the great support of my friends. I love the quote, friends are the family you choose. I have chosen an amazing, loving family whose friendship has allowed me to flourish and stand here today. I’m so grateful for all of these wonderful people.
Thank you all for being part of my journey. As I receive more and more pictures, I will update this post.
I haven’t posted since I returned from Morocco, but that’s because I’ve been having too much fun! I’ve been meeting up with friends, catching up, and enjoying some fun outings!
Last month, my wine buddy Gerry and I went up north for the day to check out some wineries. We had way too much fun and geeked out in wine!
I had the chance to attend an all rosé tasting with some great wine folks I get to see twice a year! We totally killed all the bottles!
I had the opportunity to visit The Huntington a bit more. It’s so wonderful to see all the effects of summer with the flowers in full bloom!
I flew to DC to visit my friend Jane to celebrate her birthday about a month early. I. Had. A. BLAST!!! We went to Monticello in Virginia which is Jefferson’s home. We also went to Jefferson Vineyards where of course I bought wine!
I’m grateful that Jane is also a foodie because we went to several restaurants that were amazing. First we tried Estuary! And we ran into Michael Voltaggio! We chit chatted, introduced ourselves and got some scoop on a new place opening in LA soon!
We also went to Gravitas.
We had famous Maryland crab at Cantler’s in Annapolis. DELICIOUS!!!!
While in Annapolis, Janes friend Cara joined us, and we all walked around the town, and then went sailing in the harbor. What an awesome time we had!! And I got to drive the boat!!!
My friend Patty invited me to a pop up dinner in Santa Monica and it was super interactive and fun with fire fire fire!!!!
With school starting, I’ll be hunkering down for the next four months to focus on my work. Not to say I’ll be a hermit, I still have some fun things in the pipeline. But it won’t be as frequent.
I am am excited for my trip next month to see my beautiful friend Yaneisy marry her beloved.
I had a great time and had some amazing highlights of the trip. While driving to Casablanca our tour director has us go through the whole alphabet noting the trip’s highlights. So here is the list... it may not mean anything to you, but it’s meaningful to me. So I will end my Morocco chronicles with this list, and know that I’m back home :-)
Morocco lessons from A to Z
Flag special Moroccan beer
Goat in the trees
Hamam steam bath
Independence of Morocco in 1956
Imam leads prayers inside mosque
Jalaba (men and women wear it)
Kasbah as a fortress
Kasbah as an in
Kingdom of Morocco
Oranges with cinnamon
Phosphate is main export of the country
Pastella- fish eaten
Rabat the capital
Tim Buk Tu
University oldest in Fes
Veil Moroccan women wear
Water men (we took our group pictures with them at the Souk)
Yallah means let’s go in Arabic
Ziz valley and river
We left Essaouira at 8 and drove up the coast headed to Casablanca. This road is like California’s Pacific Coast Highway. It was a beautiful stretch of beaches and small little towns, with scattered homes and villages. We made it past Safi which is where they had a phosphate plant. Phosphate is the number one export of Morocco, and it was stinky.
We stopped for lunch at Oalidia and I was able to enjoy raw oysters on the half shell and Spider Crab. It tasted just like regular crab. After lunch we continued on inland a bit to expedite our trip and it was a smooth ride so I passed out. I didn’t even notice when our Tour Director came around the bus to collect our evaluations.
We made it to Casablanca by 5 and we had until 6:30 to get ready for dinner. Since I have an early flight tomorrow, I started to organize use all my packing into now, two suitcases. I didn’t finish so I just went to dinner and had a wonderful goodbye with everyone. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped by Rick’s Cafe from the movie Casablanca, even though it was filmed in Hollywood. It was cool to take a picture of it!
We left at 8:30am this morning. I slept well since I was exhausted last night from walking 7 miles all day. We drove west toward the city of Essaora which will be our home for the night.
En route we stopped to see goats on tress. These goats are on Argan trees, and help farmers with pruning. Afterwards we stopped at a co-op of women that produce argon oil. They sold several products that contain argan oil. I was able to taste honey from the argon flower, it was very very sweet! I did not buy anything because I felt as if these prices were a bit inflated. I also walked next door to a wood shop where they had gorgeous items made of beautiful wood. A tray I liked was $500 US dollars which I thought was absolutely nuts. I did look at the details of it and it was beautiful, but I didn’t buy it. We continued to our hotel and right away I went to my room and I got ready to go out. I researched the best seafood restaurant and walked there on my own. Most of the people in group went to the rooftop or across the street where our Tour Director suggested. As my usual, I went against the grain a bit. My lunch was absolutely delicious and I had a nice time in my own enjoying my food and view of the beach.
I asked one of the people who worked at the restaurant where I could buy argan oil where locals go. They told me exactly where to go. So I walked about 20 minutes north into the Médina and I found the place they suggested. I ended up buying the same products as at the co-op for half the price. The girl that worked at the store told me that they charge twice as much at the co-op because they are giving demonstrations of how the oil is made. I was happy I didn’t buy anything at the co-op! Since I was in the Médina and I had a lot of free time I de used to keep walking and I found a little place that sold shoes for super cheap so I got a pair. Then I found a wood worker who sells his woodwork and it was literally a 10th if the cost from earlier in the day where our Tour Director had taken us to. He showed me his pictures of the wood he works with and showed me how he makes his pieces. I could see he was the actual maker of the products and I could see his workshop. So I was happy to buy directly from him. I found a beautiful tray with mother of pearl embedded into the wood. I continued walking around a bit then decided to head back to my hotel to relax a bit.
After relaxing for about an hour, I met with my tour group at 5:30 and we were taken to the Médina. We walked around and I was able to see the other side of the Médina which I had not made it to previously. We also went to where cannons used to be for a view of the whole city. It was a nice walk.
I chose to return to the hotel and freshen up then met for dinner at 8. We drove to a rooftop restaurant to watch the sunset and enjoy some tapas and drinks. There was a couple from Australia celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. I told our Tour Director about it and they received a desert dish, then had a dance to Peter, Paul, and Mary. Now, I don’t believe in coincidences. This is the same trio that sang mine and Chris’s wedding song. Not sure how I held it together but it was very emotional for me. It truly made me miss Chris so much! I held it together and we ended our evening and went back to our hotel. It was a wonderful day!