For the past two weeks I traveled through six different states, and now it's about time to be home for a while.  I collected stories from the most random of experiences so I'd like to share some with you so you can be prepared the next time you travel!

the best blanket A couple years ago I sprung the $20 for a lightweight travel blanket at one of the kiosks in the airport. Up until then I relied on whatever coat or sweatshirt I brought.  Sometimes I'd even bring a bulky fleece blanket.  But this blanket has been a lifesaver! It balls up pretty small.. about the size of two fists. It's very thin, yet very warm.  Sometimes I'll even use it as a scarf.  On this trip it saved me from some cold flights, restaurants and car rides.

packing your checked luggage You really can never trust the people who handle your checked luggage, so much so that a lot of airlines do not protect you if jewelry or electronics are stolen from it.  So never pack anything of value in your checked bag.  I always keep my computer and camera equipment with me at all times.  Also, try not to check anything you couldn't bear to lose.  Recently I flew home from California, then Lance and I were going to drive to Tennessee.  Turns out they lost one of my bags.  In it was a bunch of stuff I was bringing back from dad's house to Alabama.  I could have lived without most of the items in the bag, except a teddy bear from my childhood that my mother bought me.  The thought of losing that bear made me so sad.  Thankfully they found my luggage, but it was a good reminder not to put anything, even of sentimental value in checked luggage. P.S. When I came home from backpacking through Europe, I found my pack on the luggage turnstile at baggage claim, ripped open and missing a bunch of my belongings.  You just never know.

keeping occupied Everyone who has a kid knows you need things to keep occupied. I'm like a kid.  While I can sit still for a while, keep me waiting in line for a flight for an hour or three hours on a layover and I get stir crazy.  My flight from San Francisco to Houston was delayed more than an hour, then I missed my connection.  When I got bumped to the next flight, that flight was delayed about two hours.  So I had a lot of time to kill on that trip.  It's really good to have a backup plan, especially if you're traveling by yourself like I was.  I brought five books with me to my California trip and six to my Tennessee trip.  In my carry-on I had four books, so I was very happy to fill my time with reading.  Checking the internet gets pretty boring after a while.  Besides, it's refreshing to read in your down time.  Try it! Reading is power.

candy & snacks to rescue This probably goes without saying. Bring snacks! When I went to Ireland with Karen I realized I've got a mean case of "hangry", meaning I get really mean/angry when I'm hungry.  She figured it out when we were walking around in the morning, and I told her I felt angry and upset but I didn't know why.  She figured out I needed some food, and when I did those angry feelings went away.  So now I'm a bit more aware that I need to be fed.  I stocked up on a bag of candy at the airport that save me on our long drive to the Smokies.  I was so hungry after our hikes.

a needle and floss Believe it or not, a needle and floss can save a lot of situations.  When my suitcase ripped apart on a trip to Louisiana, I used a pack of waxed floss and a needle to fix it.  Waxed floss is surprisingly durable.  In addition to my suitcase, I've patched backpacks, purses and sandals.  It's good in a crunch because needles are small enough to store and I always have floss with me anyway.  Good dental hygiene for the win!


"Awesome View" Cabin. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park. June 16, 2015 | Canon 5d markii 50mm 1.2L